3M has a new battery innovation that could enable gadgets to run for 40 percent longer once charged. The company has developed a new kind of battery anode made of silicon that can deliver a significant boost in energy density for regular lithium ion batteries.
According to 3M, its silicon anode is made up of a silicon alloy (silicon with lithium) that enables a 20 percent higher energy density when paired with a standard cathode. However, when the anode is paired with 3M's own specialized cathode, the silicon anode can deliver a 40 percent improvement in energy density for a battery.
Graphite has traditionally been the anode material for batteries, but is bulky and does not hold as much energy as manuacturers want. 3M's silicon anode has a different material architecture which can hold more energy and bands with the lithium in the cycling process.
3M is targeting consumer electronics-focused battery makers, for its anode, and anode/cathode combo technology which has taken close to ten years to create. In 2011, 3M received a $4.6 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop the silicon anode technology for electric vehicles, and recently began to scale up manufacturing of its silicon anode technology at its factory in Minnesota.