Commercial interest in silicon anodes and investments into start-up companies has continued through 2021 – IDTechEx estimates that $1.9B of funding has now made its way into silicon anode start-ups.
Beyond investments, there has also been greater activity regarding companies beginning to license technologies, enter into supply relationships or commercialize technologies in early adopter markets, highlighting that the promise of silicon anode technology may soon be realized.
For example:• Enevate entered into a license agreement with batterymanufacturer EnerTech International• Enovix went public via a SPAC that valued the company at $1.1B• Elkem established a separate silicon anode company Vianode• Group 14 entered into a joint venture with SK materials for the supply of silane gas• Sila Nano launched their battery technology in the Whoop fitness wearable
IDTechEx estimates that cumulative funding for silicon anode start-ups has reached $1.9B. Source: IDTechEx – “Advanced Li-ion and Beyond Lithium Batteries 2022-2032: Technologies, Players, Trends, Markets“
The above examples of commercial development and investment highlight the ongoing and significant interest in silicon anode technology. Much of this stems from the potential for silicon to significantly improve energy density. But beyond energy density, silicon anodes also have the potential to improve fast charge capability, cost, and safety.
In short, fast-charge capability is feasible due to the high porosity inherent to silicon anode solutions, cost can be reduced due to the high capacity of silicon material resulting in lower material requirements while safety improvements stem from the reduced risk of lithium plating and dendrite formation.
Though cycle and calendar life may need to be further demonstrated, improvements are being made. Combined, silicon anodes present a highly valuable proposition for electric vehicles and indeed the largest opportunity for silicon anode material lies in BEVs with the possibility of silicon being used as an additive or as the dominant active material.
Demand from other EV segments and consumer devices still represent a significant opportunity for silicon anode material and IDTechEx forecast that by 2032, demand for silicon anode material will reach $12.9B.
However, with nearly 30 start-up companies looking to commercialize silicon anode solutions, not to mention development at more established materials and battery players, competition in the silicon anode space is intensifying.
Start-ups and earlier stage companies find themselves in a race to lock in investments, partnerships, and orders. While the market is beginning to look increasingly crowded, the rewards for succeeding will be significant, and this competition will play a role in accelerating the commercialization of the better, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly batteries that are needed for better products and electric vehicles.
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