JM in solid-state battery consortium

24. August 2021

JM in solid-state battery consortium

Johnson Matthey is one of seven UK-based organisations to have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop prototype solid-state battery (SSB) technology, targeting automotive applications. The preliminary design for a prototyping facility has been developed and funding is being sought.

SSBs are described as “the Holy Grail of battery solutions”, with “significant potential advantages over conventional lithium-ion batteries”. These include the ability to hold more charge for a given volume and thus improving the range of electric vehicles (EVs), plus reduced safety management costs. They are projected to take market shares of 7% in batteries for consumer electronics and 4% in EVs by 2030 and to grow rapidly from 2040.

The consortium is led by the Faraday Institution, which carries out electrochemical energy storage research. Also involved are: gigafactory developer Britishvolt; E+R, a designer of manufacturing equipment; the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre; and the Universities of Oxford and Warwick.

In other battery news over the summer, Cellforce Group, a joint venture between Porsche and Customcells, has selected BASF as the exclusive cell development partner for its next generation Li-ion battery. BASF will supply high-energy HED NCM cathode active materials (CAMs) to Cellforce’s facility in Germany, which is due to begin operations in 2024.

The choice was made in part because of BASF’s ability to recycle lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese from batteries at the prototype plant it is building at its CAMs in Schwarzheide, eastern Germany. This is due to start up in early 2023 and will also process off-spec material from producers of cells and battery materials.

Also advancing in EV battery recycling is Solvay. Together with energy giant Veolia, it has demonstrated proof of concept for a process that involves using Veolia’s chemical extraction process from shredded battery cells, followed by Solvay’s hydrometallurgical technique to purify cobalt, lithium and nickel for reuse in new batteries. They are now moving on to a demonstration phase, which will be built in France.

Meanwhile, also in France Arkema has invested “several million euros” in Verkor, a start-up in battery technology. This took place during a recent €100 million round of fundraising, which will help to build Verkor’s innovation centre near Grenoble, France, then launch the first gigafactory dedicated to battery production. Construction is expected to start in 2023
Albemarle, the only US-based producer of lithium metal anodes, has opened its Battery Materials Innovation Centre (BMIC) at Kings Mountain, North Carolina. This features the synthesis of new materials, material property characterisation and analysis, material scale-up and material integration into battery cells for performance testing.

There is also a dry room with a multi-layer pouch cell line that can create cell-phone sized batteries to demonstrate critical aspects of battery performance and accelerate the transition of new products. In addition, the lab will also develop lithium metal anode technologies to boost battery energy density by rolling lithium foils 20 microns thin.

Finally, Japan’s Daikin Industries and OCSiAl, the world’s largest producer of graphene nanotubes, have signed a cooperation agreement to produce them for next-generation Li-ion batteries and fluoropolymers. These nanotubes are said to “demonstrate exceptional performance and definitive advantages over standard additives, opening-up new horizons for these applications”.

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