Nanotechnology in the next-gen Li-ion batteries.
DAIMLER ACCELERATES THE DEVELOPMENT AND COMMERCIALISATION OF LI-ION BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES IN A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH SILA NANOTECHNOLOGIES INC, A LEADING US BATTERY MATERIAL SPECIALIST, TO PAVE THE WAY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF POWERFUL ELECTRIC MERCEDES-BENZ CARS.
Daimler AG has acquired a minority equity stake in US battery material specialist Sila Nanotechnologies Inc (Sila Nano) as part of its research and development activities. Founded in 2011, Sila Nano is a leading developer of new battery materials that outperform existing lithium-Ion technologies. With its latest developments, the company sets a new standard for battery performance, harnessing the potential of silicon to enable safe, scalable, high-energy density batteries, which can unleash new possibilities in electrification from consumer devices to electric vehicles and beyond. Along with the acquisition of the equity stake, Daimler will get a seat in the Board of Directors of Sila Nano. The investment forms part of the latest round of financing, which was led by Daimler.
“We are on our way to a carbon free future mobility. While our all-new EQC model enters the markets this year, we are already preparing the way for the next generation of powerful battery electric vehicles. Lithium-ion technology is currently the most efficient battery technology available, and still shows plenty of potential for the future. The advancements Sila Nano have made in battery performance are very promising. We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation, pooling our know-how on further development and fast commercialisation,” said Sajjad Khan, Executive Vice President for Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Electric Mobility, Daimler AG.
While the battery is a key component of electric vehicles, it is not an off-the-shelf product, but an integral part of the vehicle architecture. The intelligence of the battery lies in a highly complex overall system that defines the characteristics of the vehicle with respect to performance, range and charging times. As an integral and important element of Daimler’s electrification strategy, competencies for the technological evaluation of materials and cells, as well as research and development activities, are consistently expanded. These include the continuous optimisation of the current generation of Li-ion battery systems, the further development of cells bought on the world market, and research of the next generation battery systems.
Innovative chemistry for next generation of electric vehicles
Improvements to traditional Li-ion battery chemistry have reached their limits and Sila Nano’s cross-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers has pushed forward the development of the next generation of battery chemistry, harnessing the power of silicon to be safe, robust, and scalable for mass production.
“This breakthrough chemistry demonstrates up to 20 percent improvement today, with the potential to reach further improvements over state-of-the-art traditional Li-ion. We’re excited to be working with Daimler to bring better, more energy-dense batteries to their fleet and bring our shared vision for the future of electric vehicles to life for more people,” said Gene Berdichevsky, co-founder and CEO of Sila Nano.
The company, headquartered in Alameda, California, replaces conventional graphite electrodes entirely with its proprietary silicon-dominant composite materials that enable high energy density and high cycle life, which translates to more powerful, longer-range and enduring sources of power for electric vehicles. These materials easily drop into existing Li-ion factories, making it possible to deploy efficiently and at scale.
Mercedes-Benz Cars’ electric offensive
Mercedes-Benz Cars is quickly picking up the pace with regard to the electrification of the automobile. By 2022, the entire Mercedes-Benz Cars product range is set to be electrified. This means that different electrified alternatives will be available in every segment – from the 48-volt electrical system (EQ Boost), plug-in hybrids (EQ Power) and more than ten all-electric vehicles (EQ) powered by batteries or fuel cells. Daimler expects electric models to make up between 15 and 25 percent of Mercedes-Benz Cars’ total sales by 2025 – depending on the framework conditions such as the development of the infrastructure, the individual customer preferences, and the further development of the particular market-specific legal situation.
Mercedes-Benz Cars is investing around €10 billion in the expansion of its EQ brand product portfolio. Furthermore, Daimler is investing more than one billion euros in a global battery production network within the worldwide production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The company purchases the cells on the world market and is instructing the suppliers to produce based on special specifications. In this way, the company is securing itself the best possible technology. With the purchase of battery cells worth more than 20 billion euros, the company is establishing the preconditions for the consistent change towards an electrical future. In the future, Mercedes-Benz Cars’ global battery production network will consist of nine factories on three continents.
CASE – these letters will shape the future of mobility. They stand for the fields of networking (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric powertrains (Electric). The four CASE fields are an integral part of Daimler AG’s corporate strategy. The aim is to shape intuitive mobility for customers through intelligent dovetailing of the CASE topics.
Mercedes-Benz Cars already plays a leading role in all four areas. For example, all activities in the area of connectivity are focused on the digital brand Mercedes me, which gives customers access to an extensive and personalised range of services by app, website or straight from their car.
On the way to autonomous driving, for many years Mercedes-Benz has been a key driver of development and has repeatedly set the benchmark. To this end, the Mercedes engineers use what is known as sensor fusion. The data from different sensors, such as cameras, ultrasound and radar, are intelligently combined and analysed. With smart vision EQ fortwo, the smart brand is also demonstrating what driving without a steering wheel could look like in the future of carsharing.
The inventor of the automobile already has a leading role in the Sharing & Services sector: the mobility joint ventures of Daimler AG and BMW Group are used by over 60 million people, and range from free-floating carsharing (SHARE NOW), ride-hailing (FREE NOW), parking services (PARK NOW) and charging (CHARGE NOW), right up to mobility platforms (REACH NOW). See the April issue for the full report on this joint venture.
Mercedes-Benz is pursuing a holistic approach to powertrain electrification. Apart from the EQ brand with a family of vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is also developing a holistic ecosystem, which, alongside the vehicle itself, also comprises a comprehensive electric mobility offering. This ranges from intelligent services to energy storage, and charging technologies to sustainable recycling. On the road to emission-free driving, Daimler is systematically pursuing a three-pronged powertrain strategy to be able to realise maximum environmental compatibility across all vehicle classes (including commercial vehicles, vans) – with an intelligent mix of state-of-the-art internal combustion engines and partial electrification through 48-volt technology, tailor-made EQ Power plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles with battery or fuel cell powertrains.
By focusing on CASE, Daimler is preparing for the intuitive mobility of the future. More information can be found at: http://www.daimler.com/CASE/en
Sila Nano develops materials that set a new standard for batteries. Through new battery materials chemistry, Sila Nano enables lighter, safer, higher energy density batteries for mass adoption of electric vehicles; smarter, longer-lasting portable electronics; and broader use of renewable power sources. Founded in 2011 by Silicon Valley battery engineers and a Georgia Tech Professor of Materials Science, Sila Nano is headquartered in Alameda, California. Company investors include 8VC, Amperex Technology Limited, Bessemer Venture Partners, Chengwei Capital, Daimler, In-Q-Tel, Matrix Partners, Siemens’ Next47, Samsung, and Sutter Hill Ventures. For more information, visit www.silanano.com
Editor: with the growing commitment to electric vehicles around the world, battery technology will be a critical factor in the rate of transformation – watch this space!