Silatronix has recently been awarded a $1 million contract from the US Navy, Office of Naval Research (ONR). The contract, entitled “Organosilicon (OS) Electrolytes to Enable Safe, High Stability LTO Based Li-ion Batteries” is intended to improve the commercial viability of LTO anode systems by addressing their poor high temperature performance while maintaining the other attractive performance attributes of LTO technology. Silatronix will do this by applying Organosilicon electrolytes into LTO anode systems.
The US Navy has a growing need for high performance batteries that can support the increased electrification of naval systems. Radar, communications, weapons, propulsion, and navigation systems all contribute to this demand, but require safe reliable performance over a wide temperature range. Accordingly, some of these systems are currently supported by a large deployment of lead acid batteries. High performance batteries that can safely deliver improvements in power and energy density with lower total cost of ownership (compared to lead acid) are in great demand for current and future Navy energy storage needs. Li-ion batteries are a leading candidate to meet these needs. Unfortunately, the graphite anode systems widely deployed today present significant safety concerns, particularly for shipboard applications.
Li-ion batteries using LTO anodes could prove to be a solution for many of these applications if the high temperature performance limitations of LTO can be overcome. LTO performance degrades rapidly above 45°C. This is largely because of gas generation that results in poor cycle life and energy retention. Silatronix will work to solve this problem by applying Organosilicon electrolytes to stabilize the LTO system for high temperature operation. This would allow the Navy to fully leverage the benefits of LTO anodes, such as excellent cycling life (15,000 to 25,000 cycles), significantly improved safety profile, and faster charge time (when compared with traditional Li-ion graphite anode systems).
Silatronix CEO, Mark Zager said, “While Navy applications are the focus of this research, there are many more commercial applications that LTO could potentially be applied to if high temperature performance is improved. One application is with 48 V, under-hood automotive start-stop batteries. This application target, specified by the USABC, has challenged Li-ion battery manufacturers for years. The high powered, fast charging and long cycling life of LTO coupled with the temperature stability of OS enabled electrolytes could be an ideal solution. This improved performance should broaden the commercial appeal of LTO, helping to make it a more cost competitive solution as well.”
Dr. Deborah Gilbert of Silatronix explains further, “There is potential to improve the commercial viability of LTO by improving performance. By leveraging OS electrolytes we expect to see improvements in both high and low temperature performance, rate capability, and ultimately cycle life. We are optimistic on achieving a positive result as preliminary testing of our OS3 material at 55°C resulted in no gas generation. These improvements should make LTO much more appealing for a wider range of applications both within the Navy and more broadly in the commercial sector.”