Lithium-Ion Graphite Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries
Graphite is an important raw material for the production of lithium-ion batteries. Currently, most batteries use graphite as an anode, but alternative materials such as silicon nanowires or conductive polymers are under development.
The dominance of China as a global graphite supplier has left EV automakers and battery makers feeling vulnerable about sourcing the raw material for their anodes in sufficient quantities to meet demand. In December, Tesla and SK Innovation, a South Korean battery maker investing billions in two US battery plants, called for a waiver of 25% tariffs on artificial and natural graphite imported into the US from China, citing supply chain concerns.
In a December 2021 article for Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Simon Moores, an industry expert and author, says that Western automakers need to diversify their sources of natural graphite to reduce the risks associated with relying on one country’s dominance in this critical material. He points to the recent agreement between Tesla and Syrah, a manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries in Vidalia, Georgia, that will provide Tesla with 10,000 tons of graphite anodes a year for four years.
A major driver of global lithium-ion battery production is the growth of electric vehicles, which have soared in popularity and market share in the past decade. These electric vehicles require graphite anodes to function effectively and safely.
Graphite anodes are electrically conducting, low-voltage materials that can intercalate lithium ions into their lattice to store electrical charge with minimal volume expansion. They are also highly stable during charging and discharging, and offer a high energy density.