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3M investing in development and manufacturing of silicon anode technology for higher-capacity Li-ion batteries

3M is investing in the research and manufacturing of novel silicon (Si)-based anode materials for Li-ion batteries. 3M was recently granted another US patent (8,071,238) for its silicon-based anode compositions that can increase cell capacity by more than 40% when matched with high-energy battery cathodes. (Earlier post.)

The new patent, “Silicon-containing alloys useful as electrodes for lithium-ion batteries”, covers a composite electrode material with the formula SixSnqMyCz where q, x, y, and z represent atomic percent values and (a) (q+x)>2y+z; (b) q≧0, (c) z≧0; and (d) M is one or more metals selected from manganese, molybdenum, niobium, tungsten, tantalum, iron, copper, titanium, vanadium, chromium, nickel, cobalt, zirconium, yttrium, or a combination thereof.

The Si, Sn, M, and C elements are arranged in the form of a multi-phase microstructure comprising: (a) an amorphous phase comprising silicon; (b) a nanocrystalline phase comprising a metal silicide; and (c) a phase comprising silicon carbide phase when z>0; and (d) an amorphous phase comprising Sn when q>0.

3M says that its current Si alloy anode materials offer twice the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of graphite anodes, and can increase cell capacity by 20% or more, depending on cathode energy density and cell design.

The company has invested resources and expertise toward commercialization of battery technology for the past 15 years. 3M’s investments into the high-energy metal-based anode for lithium ion batteries include matching a recent US Department of Energy (DOE) grant for $4.6 million as part of efforts to build more energy-efficient vehicles. (Earlier post.)

The research will help to develop and integrate new cell materials that will make a transformative change in energy density and in cost in lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles. Especially critical to the project success is 3M’s Si-based anode material. The 3M investment in research and development includes putting in 3M’s best battery materials technology for cathode, anode and battery electrolyte additives into the project.

3M has a proven track record of being an innovator in battery materials, and we are committed to supporting the growing US and global lithium-ion battery industry. Our investment into research and development, coupled with our experience and portfolio of more than 40 core technologies—including nanotechnology, adhesives, precision coating, fluoromaterials—give us the tools and confidence in our ability to develop next-generation materials for better cells.

—Chris Milker, business development manager for 3M Electronic Markets Materials Division

In addition to its investment in research and development, 3M recently completed the first phase of silicon anode manufacturing capacity expansion in early 2012 in its Cottage Grove, Minn., facility. The expansion included the installation of large-scale manufacturing equipment specialized to 3M and its proprietary anode chemistry. The US-based facility will provide Si anode material to 3M’s global battery customers.

3M has developed three critical battery materials used in lithium ion batteries. These include silicon anode chemistry; novel cathode technologies (nickel, manganese, cobalt); and electrolyte (salts and additives).

Besides battery cathode, anode and electrolyte technologies, 3M also offers tapes and adhesives for assembly of consumer electronics and fluids to manage heat during the manufacture of electronic devices.



This is the type of investment required by 1001 major US firms to develop future lower cost higher performance batteries for lower cost future electrified vehicles. USA has all it takes to develop and mass produce all the batteries required. We do not have to rely on or wait for Asia and EU to do it for us.


Creative patent language.


This battery can be installed in a compact, well build cheap and power efficient electric hydrogen fuelcell car put on sale near where i live.


This may not end up being the highest performing silicon based anode but it does have the advantage that it can be easily introduced as a incremental anode improvement in virtually any battery chemistry and manufacturing process. Indeed, it could simply be added as a minor constituent in any normal carbon based anode to give it a little more capacity. Perhaps the only thing that needs to be adjusted is the electrolyte composition, and I am sure 3M has work out an optimized electrolyte for typical cathode combinations.


Stanford has done silicon anodes, the anodes do not seem to be the problem, the cathodes are. Add some vanadium to the phosphate and get on with it.

Bob Wallace

There's a great need for someone who has good battery technology knowledge to establish an EV and/or grid battery site.

A central place where these different technologies can be described, tracked and evaluated.

I'd like to see pages for each company/technology that get updated rather than floating off the page. Perhaps a self-contained EV/grid battery wiki.

But a bit different than wiki in that there would be room for on-page discussion. And keep the most promising pages up front while letting the stale ideas float to the back.

There's so much happening that I can't keep it all properly wet-stored.

(If I had the background I'd be so all over that....)


It is a matter of "show me da money" who will pay for the site? Every site has sponsors, even if it is an independently wealthy individual that hires people to do it. I would like to see lots of things, but I don't expect to see them for free.

Bob Wallace

There are tons of sites that are run on a non-profit making basis. They support themselves by "Google ads and user contributions".

What it would take is someone with the desire to pull information together in a manner which would help others understand where we are in the development of adequate batteries.

Information input would likely come for free by users. If you look at what happens on this site those who comment are constantly bringing in new information and critically evaluating new ideas and technologies.

The big work would be to do a periodic update of the 'top of page' articles. And that could even be farmed out to 'trusted users'.

I've started working on pulling info together on some of the various approaches, such as 3M above, but don't feel that I have either the battery technology or site management skills to do the job.

If anyone is interested I would be very eager to assist.


It is too narrow, it is batteries for industry, not a large enough audience. I would imagine that the DOE and others have collections of data about current technologies available to industry sponsors, just like there are publications you pay for to get advanced research papers.

The people that need to know do know. The interested public will have to look around and educate themselves. If you feel strongly about this, start an internet location to do just this, I wish you all the luck funding it.

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