New German High-Energy Li-ion Battery Consortium Headed by BASF; €21M Investment from German Government
|Embedded metal oxide compounds for Li-ion cathode material. Source: BASF. Click to enlarge.|
Under the leadership of BASF Future Business GmbH, eighteen partners from industry and science have formed the cross-sector consortium “HE-Lion” to develop and bring to market safer, more affordable high-energy lithium-ion batteries over the next four to six years for use in plug-in hybrid automobiles and electric-vehicles.
The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the HE-Lion project with €21 million (US$28.5 million) as part of the “Lithium Ion Battery LIB 2015” alliance for innovation. (Earlier post.) The partners in the consortium will contribute the same amount.
In November 2008, the German federal government announced plans to take strong measures towards electric and hybrid vehicles in the next ten years, with the goal of putting one million electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles onto Germany’s roads by 2020. (Earlier post.)
This alliance is an essential contribution to strengthening Germany as a heartland of innovation. In research, we must make the decisive breakthrough with new battery materials as soon as possible. Only then can we make electromobility affordable and free it from its niche existence.—Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF and Research Executive Director
The BMBF initiative LIB 2015, with a total sponsorship volume of €60 million (US$81.4 million) for several consortia, aims to bring to market by 2015 higher performing, safer and affordable lithium-ion batteries for future propulsion systems such as plug-in hybrid automobiles.
With companies of the chemical industry, battery industry, the automotive and energy sector and numerous partners from universities and institutes, HE-Lion is the largest consortium in LIB 2015. As energy stores of the future, lithium-ion batteries are a key technology for a more climate-friendly energy supply.
While the existing first and second generation of lithium-ion batteries are already being used in laptops, smartphones or cameras, a newer and more stable system has to be developed for the third and fourth generations, BASF says. Key factors for the success of the new batteries are high safety, high effectiveness and an affordable price. The aim is to achieve two to five times more energy density compared to previous battery systems.
Achieving this will require improving the cathode of the battery, BASF says. BASF is developing a portfolio of innovative cathode materials using metal oxides produced by high-temperature synthesis. These activities include the conceptual design of the materials, laboratory synthesis and scale-up, i.e. transfer to the production scale. At present the materials still account for more than 50% of the cost of lithium ion batteries.
With representatives of all technological disciplines, we now have the opportunity to reinvent the battery in the truest sense of the word. With a globally competitive technology, our partners will be positioning themselves as leading worldwide suppliers of materials, components, cells and batteries.—Dr. Thomas Weber, Managing Director of BASF Future Business GmbH
Until the new battery can be tested in a VW Golf in a few years from now, however, the inventors will have to carry out more than 10,000 different tests. By today’s standards, a lithium-ion battery for a Golf would be as expensive as the vehicle itself. Modern production processes are needed to assure high quality and environmentally friendly manufacture and to significantly reduce costs. To achieve these goals, materials research experts are needed as much as system developers.
The industrial consortium covers a broad range of activities extending from material research to system integration:
BASF, Freudenberg Vliesstoffe and SGL Carbon are responsible for material manufacture.
Prototype development and cell technology are provided by Fraunhofer Institute Itzehoe and the companies Gaia, Leclanché and Bosch.
Implementation in the vehicle is being undertaken by Volkswagen.
The EnBW energy company will develop models for integrating the high-energy batteries into a new power supply concept for load balancing.
In fundamental research, cooperative projects are ongoing with the universities of Berlin, Bonn, Clausthal, Darmstadt, Giessen, Hannover, Münster, the Paul-Scherrer Institute in Switzerland and the Leibniz Institute of Dresden.