Batteries, both for stationary applications and for mobile use (car, drone, truck, plane, bicycle) have specific needs that must be respected in material development.
The EnergyVille battery research covers the entire value chain, from basic materials research, cell architectures and new battery concepts to battery management and system integration. For the next generation of lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion), we focus on solid-state batteries. In our dry room pre-pilot line, we are scaling up processes to demonstrate up coin cells and amp-hour pouch cells. The materials, processing and scale-up tasks are supported by strong modelling methods and advanced characterisation expertise. In addition, we are looking at an exploratory chemistry beyond 2030. We also study more sustainable technologies such as lithium-sulfur (LiS)-based batteries and aim to improve their performance towards next-generation batteries used in lightweight applications such as drones, e-bikes, aerospace applications as well as stationary or car batteries. Furthermore, our focus is also on sodium ion (Na-ion)-based technologies with a natural abundance of sodium as an important advantage.
Which battery materials do we explore at EnergyVille?
- Electrode materials: Besides direct production of advanced material compositions and morphologies, we work on surface modifications of electrode powders such as the synthesis of core-shell materials. Characterisation of the physical, chemical, and electrochemical properties of electrode materials provides us with fundamental understanding that is a crucial advantage in further steps and optimisation.
- Solid electrolytes: We have the facilities and expertise to synthesise and characterise solid electrolyte materials. Our research and development of solid nanocomposite electrolytes is unique in the world and exhibits record-high ion conductivity.
- High-capacity dense electrodes: A key differentiator of our nano-SCE technology is that it is made from a liquid precursor. This allows it to be easily inserted into dense porous electrodes in liquid form, where, once in place, it solidifies. From a technological point of view, only minor modifications are needed to existing tool sets for (wet) Li-ion batteries, a development also carried out in our pouch cell pre-pilot line. From a performance point of view, this enables high volumetric capacity, as solid dense electrodes with a high ratio of active material are now possible.
- Functional buffer layers: The introduction of high-voltage positive electrodes (“5V materials”) is hindered by a lack of electrolytes with a sufficiently large electrochemical window. In our cell integration work, ultra-thin buffer layers are applied to isolate the ion conductors from the electronic conductors. Fundamental material research on the so-called dual-conductor materials will pave the way for ultra-dense electrodes with fast charging characteristics.
- Lithium metal anodes: Since their invention in the mid-20th century, lithium metal anodes have been the holy grail of rechargeable Li-ion batteries. It is generally believed that solid-state battery technology will eventually enable lithium metal anodes. However, besides chemical stability, there are many more issues that need to be addressed. Various approaches are being evaluated in our laboratory, and a combination of two or more approaches will likely be necessary to arrive at a technologically feasible solution.