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New materials and manufacturing process gives cheaper and greener batteries

Picture of a girl working on a machine
SINTEF is coordinating a European research project that will provide better batteries with a lower climate footprint. Photo: SINTEF/Smidesang and Lyng
A new European research project will make the battery production more affordable and more environmentally friendly. The batteries will be safer and more effective.

To gain the targets of reducing the greenhouse gas emission by at least 55 percent of the 1990-level by 2030, and for the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, emissions from the transport sector must be reduced as quickly as possible.

Advanced battery technology plays a key role in the rapidly growing electrification of the transport sector. The battery industry in Europe is growing and in change, and lithium-ion batteries are expected to dominate the transport sector’s market for advanced batteries over the coming decade.

Safe and sustainable batteries with higher efficiency

The demand for batteries in Europe is estimated to reach 200 GWh in 2025 and up to 450 GWh in 2030. To achieve this, and to enable a sustainable transport sector without emissions in Europe, the entire life cycle of batteries must be improved. Currently, the lithium-ion batteries' energy density, charging capacity and longevity is good, but there is a need for further development to, among other things, attain a more affordable production and a lower carbon footprint from the produced battery cells.

Manufactures, suppliers and the public are interested in making batteries more accessible and sustainable, while at the same time making them more efficient and having higher energy density, giving electric cars longer range - for example.

-      The industry and the general public are expecting batteries which provides good range, fast charging capacity, and to be safe and have a low cost. There is a strong need for industrial development of next-generation batteries, says senior researcher and head of SINTEF’s battery laboratory, Paul Inge Dahl.  

Longer lifespan, faster charging

Today's batteries consist of materials that are under high demand because we have little access to them and are going to run out of them, or they are produced far away with long crossings at sea to reach the market. The EU is therefore looking at ways to change the production so that one can be self-sufficient on one's own continent.

Access to materials and other input factors to the production is the main reason why many people have to wait a long time for their electric car, for example. In the future, most of the production consists of circular circuitry without having to travel several times across the globe along the way from the extraction of the material to the end product.

-       We will eliminate the use of cobalt and natural graphite and reduce the need for nickel in the battery cells that will be made in this project. Instead, we will use an advanced high voltage lithium nickel manganese oxide together with a synthetic silicon graphite composite that is produced in Norway using renewable energy and therefore has a low CO2 footprint. These changes result in batteries with higher energy density, longevity and charging speed than today's state-of-the-art batteries, says Senior Researcher and Coordinator of IntelLiGent, Nils Peter Wagner.

The actual production of battery cells will take place through sustainable processing where solvents are replaced with water in the production of the electrodes inside the battery. In addition, the project will focus on advanced development of electrolytes and innovative concepts to prevent capacity loss in the batteries.

Co-creation all the way from lab to industrial scale  

IntelLiGent is part of a number of projects where SINTEF coordinates or participates as a research and innovation partner on next generation batteries. Here you can read about Hydra, another SINTEF-coordinated project that addresses the battery chemistry, sustainability and production process.

-       We are honored to once again have the opportunity to contribute to the next generation of batteries to support the EU and European industry in realising a self-sufficient and sustainable battery industry on the European continent. Quantum leaps in electrochemistry and advanced production is necessary and projects like this, where outstanding industry and research players gather to co-create all the way from lab to industrial scale, is the method that will take us there, says Eli Aamot, Executive Vice President at SINTEF Industry.

Volkswagen participates in the project as an active industrial advisor. Norwegian Vianode is also an industrial partner, together with Custom Cells, Millor Battery, Haldor Topsøe A/S and E-Lyte Innovations. The independent research institute SINTEF coordinates the project and in addition, AIT – Austrian Institute of Technology, Institut de Recerca en Energia de Catalunya, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and the University of Oxford participate as research partners.

-       More environmentally friendly and efficient batteries are essential to enable a climate-neutral EU by 2050 and to make the production process of batteries sustainable. Vianode has ambitions to establish large-scale production of the anode material synthetic graphite in Norway. In an average electric car, these materials today make up to 70 kilograms. Through clean power, self-developed technology and processing, we can reduce the emissions in this part of the value chain by more than 90 per cent, compared to conventional production. At the same time, we are working on recycling of the materials and through the IntelLiGent project we continue the advanced research on silicon graphite composite as anode material in the future, says Stian Madshus, General Manager of Vianode.

Facts about the project

  • The project title is IntelLiGent, and it is funded by the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon Europe with 6.8 million euros. 
  • Industry participants in the project collaborate on a new lithium-ion battery that will be piloted and scaled up to industrial production for use in electric vehicles.
  • The project duration is three years.

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