Sila Nanotechnologies Biggest Battery Breakthrough in Last Ten Years

Hyperchange has a conversation with Sean Mehta, a battery scientist at Sila Nanotechnologies, about the potential of transition metal-free Cathodes. This has the potential to disrupt the battery materials supply chain.

Batteries are being developed that have high energy densities and cheaper materials.

Nature – Aqueous Li-ion battery enabled by halogen conversion–intercalation chemistry in graphite

In 2019, they created a 4-volt-class aqueous Li-ion full cell with an energy density of 460 watt-hours per kilogram of total composite electrode and about 100 percent Coulombic efficiency. The anion conversion–intercalation mechanism combines the high energy densities of the conversion reactions, the excellent reversibility of the intercalation mechanism and the improved safety of aqueous batteries.

SOURCES- Nature, Hyperchange
Written By Brian Wang, – Brian owns shares of Tesla

26 thoughts on “Sila Nanotechnologies Biggest Battery Breakthrough in Last Ten Years”

  1. Twizzies would still need to stop for red lights and give ways, their parking wouldn’t be that much more compact ( you need room to get into them, and allowance for ‘Braille parkers ), and their speed would be limited by human reaction times, both of the drivers and of their victims -er, pedestrians and cyclists. A raised rail system running in one direction, with each stop on a separate short feeder line, could pick up the punter, accelerate to 100 kmh, and maintain that speed till it diverted off the main track at the destination. It wouldn’t need batteries either, or to waste power accelerating and decelerating them. You could still keep your big 4WD for carting the toys round at weekends, but the commute would be much quicker and stress free, ferrying the kids around wouldn’t be necessary, and there’d be a lot more room on the roads for bikes, tradesmen, and truckies. It should be as efficient as your own on-call helicopter, without the racket and the cost. Probably more so, since stops could be set closer together than helipads would be permitted.

  2. One thing about “transport pods” as they are usually presented (not saying that your particular sketch is doing this): usually someone sits down, thinks about what is needed, and comes up with a little 2 or 3 person pod, maybe 1m wide, 2 m long, perfectly adequate for 99% of transport needs.
    And logically, this is so.
    BUT, there is nothing stopping people from making current, road based vehicles of the same size. Something like a Renault Twizzy or so. And a city where most people got around in a Twizzy would have effectively 4 times the road and parking capacity.
    Traffic jams and congestion would largely disappear, providing you could then resist the temptation to jam even more offices and shops into one location, now that transport was no longer holding you back (note that this temptation also applies to mass transit “solutions”).

    BUT… very few people are happy to go around in a Twizzy sized vehicle. Instead they want a light truck, 5.5m long, 2m wide, weighing 2+ tonne. Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover, Audi Q7, Toyota Prado. “Girlytrucks” as they are called in my area, because they are trucks, and they are loved by women drivers. (Men like the same thing, but with more macho styling. But at least some men want a little sports car. )

    There is still a single driver, maybe one passenger, 15 kg of shopping… it could all fit in a Twizzy with no problem at all.

    In conclusion: people don’t like little, efficient, pods.

  3. I’ve got a hang glider and several bicycles in my garage ( not my glider, it belongs to a lady visiting, whom I taught to fly a few years ago.) On a glide, a hang glider gets about 12 to 1 distance to height lost ratio. A bicycle can keep coasting without stalling down a much flatter slope – it’s more efficient. Steel wheels on steel rails are even more efficient. It should be possible to design a modern mass transit system which is fast, convenient, and accident free, for less cost than enough flying cars to serve a city. It should also be much quieter and less obtrusive – certainly more so than the wall of gas belching cars that make nearly every major street in every city now such unfriendly places to be. An elevated rail system with on-demand pods would have to be cheaper than Musk’s proposed underground rabbit warren, no matter how cheap he can make tunnelling. The main obstacle is, it would take central planning and up front capital, which seem to be scarce.

  4. Problem with electrical planes is that even with twice as good batteries they would not work well for longer trips, for short ones say 200 km they would be very nice.
    Unlike cars swapping batteries makes some sense on planes. Specialized cargo containers are standard same with swapping out drop tanks and weapons in the military.

    Hybrid planes is another step, here you can use electical engines for extra power during takeoff, nice for short takeoff, water and perhaps even vtol for smaller planes.

  5. As a matter of fact – FAA and EASA are hoping to address flight automation with a thing called UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management). It has gone operational in EU (SESAR joint undertaking). Remarkably, noise isn’t the main issue for the public acceptance. Visual pollution is. It seems that the triple conundrum limitation (size, noise, endurance) needs a 4th dimension here.

  6. What would something coming from these breakthroughs look like? Would it look like batteries getting better and better at a rapid rate?

  7. Read those king of amazing breakthroughs since beginning of this blog.
    There were amazing nanotech breakthroughs decade ago reported which could easily fit into 2020
    Nothing never comes from them, Why?

  8. Electric flight becomes viable does not mean personal flyer in your garage.
    We’ve had fuel powered flight for well over a century now, and no fuel powered flyers in the average person’s garage. And it isn’t because a fuel powered engine is too expensive. It’s because everyone having a private aircraft launching from their home is a recipe for mass death.

    If personal flyers do become viable, it’ll be a computer pilot thing, not an improved battery thing.

    Then we still have to solve the noise issue.

  9. Tesla’s vision in disrupting automotive industry can only be realized through the cost and affordability aspect. Musk confirmed that battery tech needs reaching 500Wkg in order to go airborne. He’s predicted in happening by 2030, meaning – there is plenty of battery technologies capable in these specific energy densities to date, but going from TRL7 to TRL9 takes exponentially longer than from TRL1 to TRL6 – a decade to be more exact. Then, you can expect you personal flyer in your garage for <$50k.

  10. I hope and pray that it will be the case — that would mean that Tesla’s original goal of forcing electrification of the automotive fleet is working better and better.

  11. Tesla is in a position to buy anything promising. If they haven’t, there’s probably a reason. And any battery company would want Tesla as a partner or be taken over by them. They keep their eyes open.
    They are going to have to make a lot more vehicle models. Each is an easy opportunity to upgrade the battery chemistry.
    The only thing that could mess them up would be something truly dirt cheap good enough for 300 miles (non-lithium). That could lock them out of the low end of the car market. Maybe a zinc, sulfur or aluminum battery. But there should be plenty of money in the mid and high end. Also, the personal flying drones to whisk you to work, are going to require advanced chemistry batteries. They are in a good position to take advantage of that…well decent. They need to work on drone design, before the batteries show up.

  12. I think it might be too hot and dry for helicopter seeds to sprout and grow little helicopters to roam arround. 😉

  13. The EV range is already technically solved. There will be 500 mile vehicles in a year or two, just a mater of getting the factories built and operational. The real prize is electric aircraft and automated, flying, people carrying drones. The savings in fuel and engine overhaul in airplanes is huge. Most people would not mind slower electric airplanes if the tickets are half the price…which they easily could be. Jet engines generally have to be overhauled after 3,000-5,000 hours of operation. For electric that may be quite a bit longer, and may simply be a battery replacement which probably means a lot less downtime. I think advanced stainless steel, carbon fiber or titanium would be a good marriage with electric aircraft. If well designed, these vehicles could operate a hundred years or more. Aluminum aircraft are limited by metal fatigue. All metals fatigue eventually, but aluminum is fairly quick compared to the other possibilities.
    Flying boats could also be back. They fell out of favor because you needed very powerful engines to take off. But in the air, their size and weight meant inefficiency and higher ticket prices. The advantages were that they did not have to pay landing fees to airports. And in today’s world, it also may mean shorter waits to get on the planes. Electric motors have lots of power at low airspeed which is great for getting off the water. And without large size and weight. The possibility of large seaplanes to fight fires is also attractive.

  14. Ok buddy, call us back when these batteries are commercialized. Tesla is ahead because their batteries are proven, just because you can make something in a lab that is promising does not mean it can be used in normal circumstances.

  15. Excellent report Brian! Will they be able adapt this to micro-layer tech to create a fast charge, or will that be the province of carbon nano tubes? The world desperately needs a ultra-fast-charge battery for EV’s with enough range to eliminate anxiety… TC

  16. I have to agree, although maybe not quite that harsh of a standard for a futurist site. “Pre-production samples are being reviewed by customers” would be a good stage to pay close attention at.

  17. Personally, I think they should explore Venus by dropping several tons of 1 inch helicopter seeds from orbit onto the surface of Venus… with that setup you could cover more ground than mar rover in less than 20 minutes….

  18. Tesla fanboys are going to have an aneurysm, the firmly believe that they are ten years ahead anyone else.

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