A necessary development for the future of mobility and green energy

Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Energy (IMDEA Energy)
  • The project NanoBat aims at enhancing the industrial production and testing of batteries, with an expectedly large industrial impact
  • The NanoBat consortium is an international endeavour uniting 12 partners of 7 European countries
  • The results are expected to impact on a market estimated to become as large as 250 billion Euro by the year 2025

 

The sustainable storage of electrical energy is one of the key challenges in the road towards a green energy mix. One of the main problems of renewable energy is that most of its sources (with the possible exception of geothermal) cannot currently guarantee a constant, stable power supply. That is an added difficulty for the phasing out of fossil fuel-powered plants.

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The impact of renewables, such as solar or wind power, will benefit largely from suitable large-scale energy storage.

Being able to efficiently store for later use significant amounts of the energy harvested during the moments when renewables are most productive would allow to make up for the aforementioned problem, notably for solar and wind energy. Also, more and better batteries are to become pivotal elements for the future of mobility as well, where the electric car will take a central role.

 

How to improve current battery production practice?

One of the most important challenges that need to be tackled for improving battery production is the decrease of the cost of the solid electrode interphase of batteries (SEIs). These components are electrically insulated layers that avoid electrolyte decomposition, importantly contributing towards battery [function] and a longer useful lifetime. SEIs account for close to one third of the production cost batteries.

In addition to the previous, the availability of reliable methods for the measurement of the quality and performance of batteries is another of the challenges to be met to attain a competitive manufacturing value chain for sustainable battery production in Europe. In connection with that, the project NanoBat aims to develop a radiofrequency nanotechnology-toolbox to test lythium-ion and alternative advanced battery designs with a transformative potential in the industrial production of batteries. The toolbox will contain novel high-frequency GHz methods to test and quantify the electrical processes at the SEI which are responsible for battery performance and safety, but which are otherwise difficult to characterise and optimise.

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Detail of a Li-Ion battery. About one-third of the manufacturing cost is due to the Solid Electron Interphase (SEI) component.

The development of the project has four main areas of action: a) the development of four new scientific multi-scale readiofrequency instrumentations for off-line, in-line and real-time measurements; b) the establishment of modelling and predictive analytics tools for the SEI layer including physics-based GHz models; c) the study of advanced cell materials and first demonstrator tests in the smaller pilot lines; and d) the scale-up considering the specifications and needs of the industry.

 

NanoBat expected Impact

An estimation provided by the European Commission quantifies the market potential of the sector is about 250 billio Euro by the year 2025, which showcases the timely and large impact that the project NanoBat can have. “Covering the EU demand alone requires at least 20 large-scale battery production facilities”, said tje Project Coordinator Dr. Ferry Kienberger from the Austrian branch of the company Keysight Technologies. “We are confident that the NanoBat technologies could effectively support European manufacturers and small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to exploit this enormous market potential and keep up with global competition”, added Kienberger.

In the course of the project, the developed methods undergo testing in pilot-lines focusing on batteries for electric cars and specific applications in aerospace. Upon project conclusion, the green production methods can potentially be scaled up through the involvement of global players in the automotive industry. This can subsequently be followed by the spread to additional markets, such as those of speciality batteries for satellites, green buildings, GHz-materials and modelling software.

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The transition towards electric car-based mobility will greatly benefit from better, large-scale battery production and testing.

The targeted radio frequency nanoscale techniques for battery testing are to be a significant improvement over previous testing methodologies. In addition, the reduction in battery production costs is by itself a sound contribution towards the ongoing shift to increased use of clean power, as well as for the mobility transition.

 

The NanoBat consortium

The NanoBat consortium comprises twelve academic and industrial partners with complementary expertise supported by an Advisory Board including end users, science communities, EU policy makers and standardisation authorities. The project fosters technological cooperation by establishing a stakeholder group including key industry partners both within and outside the EU.

Together with SOMMa member IMDEA Energy, the full list of partners includes the Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria), Centro Ricerche Fiat (Italy), European Research and Project Office GmbH (Germany), Federal Institute of Metrology METAs (Switzerland), Keysight Technologies Austria, Johannes Kepler University Linz (Austria), Kreisel Electric GmbH & Co KG (Austria), Pleione Energy S.A. (Greece), QWED (Poland), Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany) and Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany).

The NanoBat developments will have, along with the fostering of the EU industrial competitiveness and innovation capacity, a positive impact on sustainable mobility, the circular economy, as well as on the environmental footprint of battery production, as more precise testing methods will result in a decrease of energy and raw material use and decreased waste generation.

 

 

Image Credits:

Frontpage Wind and sun energy picture is in the public domain and was downloaded from Pixnio.

Wind and sun energy picture is in the public domain and was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Lithium-Ion battery picture was downloaded and modified from Wikipedia, and licensed via a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

Electric car picture is in the public domain and was downloaded from Pixabay.

Ongoing collaboration