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SINTEF supports AI-driven design in EU's most ambitious battery research project

EU invests €20 million to accelerate the development of the next generation of high performance and sustainable batteries.

Batteries play an important role in our daily lives, powering smart phones, computers, and cars. As the world races to reduce CO2 emissions, the development of sustainable and high-performance batteries takes on an even more important role enabling the large-scale storage of renewable energy, electric shipping, and even electric aviation. 

Supporting the Green Transition means that the next generation of batteries must use sustainable materials and store more energy with less weight. New breakthroughs in battery materials, interfaces, and cell designs are needed quickly. That is a big challenge. Battery development in the past has followed a trial-and-error approach that has been successful but is also expensive and time consuming. 

The BIG-MAP (Battery Interface Genome – Materials Acceleration Platform) project will accelerate the speed of battery development by fundamentally changing the way we invent batteries. Combining a central artificial intelligence (AI) platform with self-directed robotics to synthesize and test new materials, vast databases, multiscale simulations and physical models, future sustainable and ultra-high-performance batteries can be developed 10 times faster than today.

In addition to accelerating the pace of battery development, BIG-MAP will help ensure that the next generation of batteries can be produced sustainably and at very low cost to make the large-scale storage of renewable energy from wind and solar cost competitive. This requires not only discovering new materials, but also improving fundamental understanding of the atomic scale processes in the battery that ultimately determine its efficiency, lifetime, and performance. BIG-MAP will allow researchers to study these critical battery processes in unprecedented detail.

The BIG-MAP project is coordinated by Prof. Tejs Vegge at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). It fulfils part of the vision for the future of battery development, set out in Europe's recent Battery2030+ Roadmap, coordinated by Prof. Kristina Edström at Uppsala University in Sweden. These combined activities are helping to establish the Scandinavian region as a hub for battery development. 

SINTEF plays a central role

The BIG-MAP must be able to combine, understand, and learn from a vast amount of data obtained using many different experimental techniques on many different scales. To help make sense of it all, a common knowledge-based representation of the battery system is needed. SINTEF will lead the work developing a method to accomplish this task and support the versatile use of the vast variety of data generated in the project. 

Increasing the pace of battery discovery needs modelling tools that can quickly and accurately predict the properties of battery materials on the atomistic scale and efficiently feed those findings to other research platforms. SINTEF will contribute to the development of accelerated atomic-scale simulations by implementing cutting-edge models to predict the properties of materials and better understand how they will perform in real batteries. 

SINTEF's work in the project is being coordinated by Dr. Simon Clark, whose research focuses on using physics-based models to design customized high-performance batteries. 

"BIG-MAP is a revolutionary endeavor in the battery field." says Clark. "When the inventors of the Li-ion battery won the Nobel Prize last year, they noted that invention thrives on the exchange of theories, data, and discoveries across many different disciplines. The challenge is that going from idea to product typically takes a very long time – and that is a luxury we no longer have."

"We live in a golden age of computing and information. By creating a common battery language, we can leverage the incredible computing power and AI-platform we have available to quickly analyse and exploit data from across the different battery disciplines." explains Clark.

"BIG-MAP will be a powerful tool to help us achieve the goals of the European Green Deal, establishing Europe as a leader in battery technology and becoming the world's first climate-neutral continent."

FAST FACTS
Project Duration: September 2020 – August 2023.
Project Budget: €20 million 
Coordinator: Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
Funding Source: European Commission, Horizon2020, LC-BAT-12-2020

 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 957189

BIG-MAP project websitewww.big-map.eu 
Battery2030+ Initiative: www.battery2030.eu 

Published 01 July 2020
Research Scientist