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Imec doubles energy density of its solid-state Li-metal batteries to 400 Wh/liter

Imec, a research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics, digital and energy technologies and partner in EnergyVille—a collaboration between the Flemish research partners KU Leuven, VITO, imec and UHasselt—has developed a solid-state Li-metal battery cell with an energy density of 400 Wh/liter at a charging speed of 0.5C (2 hours).

Imec also announced that it has started to upscale the materials and processes in a pilot line for fabrication of solid-state pouch cells at the EnergyVille Campus in Genk (Belgium) and is set-up in collaboration with the University of Hasselt. With its engineering roadmap for solid-state batteries, imec aims to surpass wet Li-ion battery performance and reach 1000 Wh/L at 2-3C by 2024.

Today’s rechargeable Li-ion battery technology still has room for improvement, but not enough to significantly improve e.g. the range and autonomy of electrical vehicles. Therefore, imec’s researchers are working to replace the wet electrolyte with a solid material, which provides a platform to further increase the energy density of the cell beyond that of cells based on liquid electrolyte.

The solid nanocomposite electrolyte that the R&D center has developed has an exceptionally high conductivity of up to 10 mS/cm with a potential for even higher conductivities. A distinguishing feature of the new material is that it is applied as a liquid—via wet chemical coating—and only afterwards converted into a solid when it is already in place in the electrodes. That way it is perfectly suited to be casted into dense powder electrodes where it fills all cavities and makes maximum contact, just as a liquid electrolyte does.

Using that solid nanocomposite electrolyte in combination with a standard lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode and lithium metal anode, imec has now fabricated an improved battery with an energy density of 400 Wh/liter at a charging speed of 0.5C (2 hours)—a record combination for a solid-state battery.

With this result, imec managed to double its results of last year, following its roadmap to eventually reach densities over 1,000 Wh/liter at a charging speed of 2-3C (less than half an hour).

Cell

Volumetric energy density for selected cathode materials in full cell configuration with metallic Li as anode from a paper by BMW researchers published in Journals of Material Chemistry A in 2015. The different curves refer to different loadings. Calculation based on practical volumetric energy density values for the cathode. Yellow dots indicate for the various materials the typical coating densities nowadays achievable. Green bands: targets at cell level.


In addition, imec has commenced the upscaling of the cells in a state-of-the-art lab for this new solid-state battery technology, including a 300 square meter battery assembly pilot line which includes a dry room of 100 square meters. This conventional A4 sheet-to-sheet wet coating-based line is well suited for processing of imec’s innovative solid electrolyte.

As such, the assembly of the new cells could be done by slight modification of existing manufacturing lines for Li-ion batteries. This means the new technology would not need expensive investments to switch from wet to solid-state cells.

The new pilot line, which is located at the EnergyVille Campus, and is set-up together with the university of Hasselt, allows manufacturing of prototype pouch cells of up to 5Ah capacity. It is ready to become a cornerstone for research groups and companies doing R&D projects on these batteries.

Resources

  • Dave Andre, Sung-Jin Kim, Peter Lamp, Simon Franz Lux, Filippo Maglia, Odysseas Paschosa and Barbara Stiaszny (2015) “Future generations of cathode materials: an automotive industry perspective” Journal of Materials Chemistry A doi: 10.1039/C5TA00361J

Comments

Engineer-Poet

At 400 Wh/liter, a 100 kWh battery occupies 250 liters.  That's 10 cm high, 1.5 meters wide and 1.67 meters long.  That will fit in the floor of almost any vehicle.

That pretty much seals the deal for batteries.  Only resource constraints can keep them from pushing everything else out of the LDV market.

HarveyD

Yes, this is a good first step towards extended range BEVs with 100 KW battery pack. The 30+ minutes charge time is still too long and will have to be addressed. The next generation 1000 Wh/kg version may solve both size/weight, range and charging time?

Can it be mass produced at an affordable price?

SJC

Sion has 500 Wh/kg and 1000 Wh/L, the cycles need to improve.

Sheldon Harrison

You need to address recharge time as well. Believe it or not, some people make use of the 5 minute recharge/refuel capability, even for LDVs. I look at my own situation and there is no BEV that is available or on the horizon that can do what I demand of my vehicle at any price. For some folks, autonomy has to be no less than 400 EPA miles (or about 300 - 350 real miles under real conditions and full recharge in no more than 10 minutes (even 10 minutes is long enough that some planning starts to become necessary regarding vehicle usage). 300 miles at 75 - 80 mph Interstate Highway is less than 4 hours of driving and can easily be done without a significant stop if tere are no congestion issues.

HarveyD

The only vehicles with extended all weather range and ultra quick refill capabilities are FCEVs from Toyota, Honda and Hyundai?

Lad

Most people will easily adapt to charging overnight and 1/2 hour quick charging on the road. There should be few exceptions once the range of EVs exceeds 400 miles.

gryf

This GCC post is really about two different stories, though both are very interesting.
The title story is about IMEC and their solid state battery electrolyte.
An Electronic Design article also describes their work:
"The solid nanocomposite electrolyte that the Belgian R&D center developed has an exceptionally high conductivity of up to 10 millisiemens/cm (mS/cm), with a potential, the researchers said, for even higher conductivities. A key feature of the new material is that it’s applied as a liquid via wet chemical coating. Only afterwards is it converted into a solid when already in place in the electrodes."
That is as almost as good as standard liquid electrolytes and their process can easily be adapted to existing battery production systems.

The second story is about Cathode Materials by BMW researchers. The chart and the reference: "Future generations of cathode materials: an automotive industry perspective” describe this subject. You can read the full article after going to the reference if you click on "Download author version (pdf)" on the right side of the article. A good read.

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