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Artificial graphite and natural graphite are the most widely used anode materials for lithium battery. Among them, artificial graphite is superior to natural graphite in terms of cycle performance, safety performance, charge and discharge rate, and its cost and gram capacity are close to natural graphite. This makes it the mainstream choice for anode materials for lithium battery.
At present, high-end graphite materials on the market can already reach a capacity of 360-365 mAh/g, and accordingly, the improvement of energy density of lithium batteries is quite limited, and silicon-based anode materials with higher theoretical capacity are considered to be the next generation of high energy density lithium-ion battery anode material with great potential. In terms of technical route selection, silicon-based anode materials are mainly divided into two types:
Japanese and Korean companies started early on this route and are in a leading position, and have launched a variety of relatively mature SiOx products. Chinese manufacturers have also begun to try to bring SiOx anode materials to the market in recent years, but there is still a certain gap compared with Japanese and Korean manufacturers.
Some Chinese companies have already achieved mass production of silicon carbon anode materials. Hitachi Chemical is the world's largest supplier of silicon carbon anodes, and it supplies the silicon carbon used by Tesla. The industrial application of silicon carbon anodes in most Chinese companies is in progress, and the action is relatively slow.
Although silicon-based anode materials have absolute advantages compared with graphite materials in terms of capacity, due to the large expansion of silicon materials and poor electrical conductivity, there are still technical problems to be solved in order to achieve large-scale applications. Due to technical barriers in both R&D and application, large-scale mass production has not yet been achieved in China. But there are also four in the works.
BTR: In 2013, it realized the industrialization of silicon-based anode materials and sold them in batches. It is one of the earliest enterprises in China to mass-produce silicon-based anode materials. In 2022, the company announced that it plans to invest in the construction of a silicon-based anode material project with an annual output of 40,000 tons in Guangming District, Shenzhen.
Shanghai Shanshan.: A pilot production line has been built for silicon carbon anode materials, and the volume has begun to gradually increase, but the current proportion of shipments is not high. The high-capacity silicon alloy anode material has been industrialized and has been supplied to CATL.
Guoxuan Hi-Tech: In 2016, a 5,000-ton silicon-based anode material project was invested. In January 2021, the 210Wh/kg soft-pack lithium iron phosphate battery was officially released, and it was announced that the silicon anode material was successfully applied in the lithium iron phosphate chemical system for the first time.
Putailai: Cooperated with the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences to establish a pilot plant, and the second-generation silicon-based products already have the basic conditions for industrialization; a silicon oxide pilot line has also been established in Liyang. The series of silicon carbon anode materials developed by Putailai's wholly-owned subsidiary Zichen Technology can be used in 3C digital batteries, energy storage batteries, power batteries, etc.