It takes years to advance a consequential new battery from concept to commercialization. For proof, look no further than this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Stanley Whittingham developed the first lithium-ion battery in 1976, John Goodenough improved cathode performance in 1980, and Akira Yoshino made it practical for commercialization in 1991—a total of fifteen years from start to finish.
The lithium-ion battery has powered the mobile revolution since its introduction. However, a significant new advancement is needed to deliver on the promise of a comprehensive mobile future—from wearables to electric vehicles. It is generally accepted that the next significant advancement will be replacing the carbon anode in a lithium-ion battery with one that is predominantly silicon. But the challenge has been to substantially increase energy density without significantly reducing cycle life.
We’ve been developing a next-generation lithium-ion battery with a high-capacity silicon anode for over a decade. Throughout this year we’ve achieved milestones towards our goal of commercialization in 2020. Here’s a chronological look back at key events in 2019 (clink the links for more information).
January – IEEE Spectrum opened the year with, “To Boost Lithium-Ion Battery Capacity by up to 70%, Add Silicon.” The article states that, “…to date, the amount of silicon in anodes has been minimal. But expect that to change in 2019. Enovix is expected to introduce an anode that is made entirely of silicon and silicon oxides.”
February – We published our path to production and commercialization. It announced that we had produced a smartphone-size battery with a high-capacity silicon anode to deliver over 900 Wh/l energy density with over 500 cycle life. In addition, we were sampling our prototype 3D cells with leading mobile product producers, their feedback regarding energy density and cycle life was overwhelmingly positive and, as a result, we were negotiating with several global OEMs to develop and qualify cells for their next-generation mobile products. Finally, we stated that we were evaluating and procuring equipment for our initial fabrication facility (Fab 1), and we expected to begin full-scale production in 2020.
March – Dr. Murali Ramasubramanian, Enovix co-founder and vice president of research and development, delivered our first public technical presentation at the 36th annual International Battery Seminar. Murali described how, through innovative 3D cell architecture, Enovix has developed a lithium-ion battery that enables a high-capacity silicon anode to increase energy density by 30% to 80%, depending on cell size. Murali further described how our patented 3D cell architecture contains silicon expansion within the cell core and maintains high cell-stack pressure to eliminate external swelling and silicon particle pulverization, enabling high cycle life.
April – Akshat Rathi authored a comprehensive series of articles for Quartz under the banner, “Batteries: Big Oil’s Big Challenge.” In the first article of the series, “The complete guide to the battery revolution,” he identifies Enovix as a battery startup to watch. In the last article of the series, “How we get to the next big battery breakthrough,” he describes us as a Silicon Valley Startup that that has worked over the last decade “to develop a commercially viable anode made completely from silicon.”
May – June – Benchmark Mineral Intelligence provides advisory services for lithium-ion battery, electric vehicle and energy storage supply chains. It also publishes an informative well-written quarterly review. The Q2 issue featured an article titled “Silicon’s Rally,” by Paul Harris. It includes projections from Persistence Market Research that see lithium-silicon batteries growing in dominance. The global silicon anode battery market was valued at US$90 million in 2015 and is anticipated to register a compound annual growth rate of 21.5% in the 2016–2024 period. The article identifies Enovix as a leader in silicon battery development and describes our patented 3D architecture, product performance, and our commercialization plan to enter the portable consumer device market first, where superior performance commands a premium price, and address the more price sensitive electric vehicle market a few years later.
September – Speaking of electric vehicles, Cam Dales, Enovix COO, attended The Battery Show where he participated in a panel discussion moderated by Michael Sanders, Avicenne Energy Senior Advisor, “Is Innovation Valued in the Fast Growing xEV Battery Market?” Cam’s simple, direct response to this overarching question was, “No, the sole focus of the EV battery market today is decreasing cost.” However, he provided more granular answers to three foundational questions discussed by the panelists: 1) What are the key drivers for innovation—cost, safety, durability, other? 2) How is value created in innovation, and are there market dynamics that limit the potential? 3) What are the significant hurdles that innovation needs to overcome to capture value? Read a summary of Cam’s answers to the discussion questions.
October – BloombergNEF is a research organization that helps energy professionals by synthesizing proprietary data into clear narratives that frame the financial, economic, and policy implications of emerging energy technologies. They produced a very comprehensive two-part report this year, “Next-Generation Lithium Battery Technology Advancements.” Part one examines technology advancements. It identifies Enovix as a startup working to better control the life cycle of a silicon dominant anode. Part two provides company profiles. Its introduction to Enovix reads, “Enovix has a lithium-ion rechargeable battery with a 100% silicon anode. The unique cell architecture applies uniform pressure through a stainless-steel case around the cell. This allows the silicon to expand and contract internally and uniformly during cycling. As a result, the cell experiences less than 2% swelling after 500 discharge cycles.”
November – We published an update to our February path to production and commercialization announcement that described milestones we achieved this year: 1) Signed agreements with two category leading companies to develop and produce silicon-anode lithium-ion batteries for mobile computing and communication devices, worth an anticipated $200 million in annual revenue. 2) Agreements include capacity reservations for the Enovix production facility, Fab 1, presently being equipped at our headquarters in Fremont, California. 3) Completed the first phase of a research program with a leading international automobile manufacturer. 4) Signed a partner agreement with a major Asian lithium-ion battery manufacturer to help accelerate our manufacturing ramp to meet customer demand, including for the electric vehicle market.
We’ve attained other achievements since November, which we’ll share with you in the New Year. Happy Holidays!