GM, OneD to Merge Battery Power Expertise for the EV Revolution
General Motors and OneD Battery Sciences collaborate to create low-cost battery packs with enhanced energy density and lighter, smaller form for longer-range driving.
General Motors Co. (GM) and OneD Battery Sciences (OneD) have announced their entry into a joint research development agreement.
Under the agreement, GM may use OneD’s silicon nanotechnology within its Ultium battery cells to improve its performance, cost, and driving range. GM and OneD hope their combined expertise and continued development into their respective technologies will drive forward mass EV adoption. OneD secured $25 million in a funding round with Volta Energy Technologies and GM Ventures as investment participants.
Image used courtesy of OneD
General Motors’ Ultium Battery
To power up an all-electric future, GM has created a modular EV platform underpinned by its proprietary Ultium battery technology. The company’s batteries utilize a Nickel Cobalt Manganese Aluminum (NCMA) chemistry, which was formulated to reduce levels of the toxic metal, cobalt, by over 70%.
The Ultium battery cell utilizes a pouch cell format which can be stacked like pancakes to save space when making a battery module (or a grouping of battery cells). The cells can also be packed vertically in a row. These stacking capabilities are said to be unique within the automotive EV battery industry. A lower cabin floor can be achieved when stacking the Ultium pouch cells, which yields more interior space than would be possible with cylindrical cell formats used by competitors.
According to GM, twenty small cylindrical can cells would be required to generate the power of a single Ultium large-format 100 amp-hour (ah) cell. Battery options range from 50 kilowatt hours (kWh) to more than 200 kWh. This is enough to satisfy GM’s estimated vehicle driving range of “300+2 miles on a full charge.”
The word Sinanode is a portmanteau or combination of three words: silicon (Si), nano, and anode.
According to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, silicon has a theoretical capacity of over 10 times that of graphite which means (at the very least) the material can enhance the capacity of graphite-anode batteries twofold. One primary limitation of silicon-based anodes in lithium-ion batteries is their behavior during charging. During charging, silicon anodes expand by as much as 300%, absorbing a significant number of lithium ions. This swelling causes the anode to crack, which reduces the battery's performance.
Video used courtesy of OneD
To solve this challenge, OneD created its Sinanode silicon nanowire technology. The technology uses silane gas, nitrogen, and electricity to attach silicon nanowires onto EV-grade graphite powders (which are used to coat EV electrodes).
During charging cycles, electrons pass from the graphite to the silicon nanowires. Lithium ions flow into the nanowires and cause silicon-lithium alloying. The lithium also interacts with the graphite. These events increase energy storage density and the charging speed.
During discharging cycles, OneD says that both Li-ions and electrons are released quickly, increasing power density. Compared with silicon nanoparticles, OneD says that silicon nanowires confer a much more stable structure and the nanowire-graphite interface stays mechanically and electronically intact.
General Motors and OneD Unite
For GM and OneD, bringing together their respective technologies is a means of expediting the transition from fossil-fuel-based to electrically-powered vehicle transport.
GM is working on scaling up its Ultium platform to achieve a yearly manufacturing capacity of 1 million units to satiate consumer demand in North America by 2025.
OneD has built up a staggering number of patents across 15 years of research and development efforts, enabling licensing of its Sinanode technology to partners in the industry. OneD is using its business model to scale manufacturing at a reduced cost. The company’s recently procured funds will continue research and development for its Sinanode technology. The funds will also push forward pilot production and support battery and original equipment manufacturers with EV manufacturing.
Featured image used courtesy of Adobe Stock