Solid-state battery research shifts focus to production

Solid-state battery research shifts focus to production

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Further development of the lithium-ion battery could provide the decisive impetus for electromobility in just a few years. Professor Helmut Ehrenberg from the FestBatt competence cluster at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is convinced of this: “Solid-state batteries do not require liquid and flammable electrolytes, their chemistry enables higher energy densities and shorter charging times. In addition, toxic and rare materials such as cobalt can be dispensed with.” The FestBatt competence cluster, launched in 2018, is developing this key technology on behalf of the German government and is now entering its second phase. The work is taking place in the context of strong international competition – in order to open up future markets for Europe as quickly as possible, the competences of 17 scientific institutions are bundled here. Among them are universities, Helmholtz institutes as well as institutes of the Fraunhofer Society and the Max Planck Society.

The focus of the new FestBatt funding phase is on the development of cell components and entire solid-state battery cells based on promising electrolytes; in addition, material and process technologies for their production are to be developed. However, a number of scientific and technological challenges still need to be solved before solid-state batteries can be mass produced. The characterisation platform coordinated by KIT will, among other things, carry out characterisations of contact and interface surfaces with X-ray, synchrotron and neutron radiation as well as various microscopy techniques on complex multiphase systems. Among other things, a research group at KIT will make the cathode materials provided with special protective layers available to the partners within the platform. Later, these materials will serve as reference materials for all other collaborative projects involved in FestBatt for complete characterisation.

In the first funding phase of FestBatt, more researchers identified suitable materials and synthesised different solid electrolytes in transdisciplinary thematic platforms. The characterisation platform systematically investigated the materials: The most important influencing variables in the synthesis of solid electrolytes and critical material changes in composites were identified. The further development of solid-state batteries in the second funding phase of FestBatt is now building on this. Only through the development of standardised measurement protocols was it possible to reliably determine the performance characteristics and to classify the very different cell concepts that are being developed with great intensity worldwide.

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