BATTECH, the leading battery R&D and innovation centre in southern Europe, has kicked off four strategic European projects this quarter worth more than €4 million. They are designed to unlock sustainability and the circularity of materials in the electric mobility value chain by improving the recovery of lithium-ion battery materials and developing new composites and architectures.
One of these projects is FREE4LIB, allocated a €1.6 million budget for BATTECH and which is to design technologies for sustainable and efficient lithium-ion battery recycling processes that achieve higher raw material recovery rates at the end of the batteries’ useful life.
The European consortium is coordinated by CARTIF and aims to develop six innovative and sustainable recycling solutions consisting of new dismantling and pre-treatment technologies together with four highly efficient material recovery processes which will improve the supply of secondary resources in the European Union. It will also deliver technologies to enhance three processes for reusing metals and polymers and electrode synthesis to re-manufacture new batteries which will drive circularity in the industry.
This project “is developing new electrode coating strategies coupled with new tools for advanced battery health assessment,” says Alberto Gómez, BATTECH’s technology promoter. It is also “working on the assembly of second-life batteries which will significantly decarbonise the transport industry.”
The project is to include a ‘Battery Passport’ methodology to improve traceability and data availability in lithium-ion battery value chain processes.
Meanwhile the IntelLiGent project, which is coordinated by SINTEF and features a €921,000 budget for BATTECH, seeks to develop a new generation of lithium-ion batteries that will enable widespread and increased uptake of electric vehicles. It will furnish them with greater range and safety and lower their cost while focusing on recyclability and lessening their environmental impact by reducing the need for nickel and eliminating the use of natural cobalt and graphite.
“Conventional lithium-ion batteries are reaching their performance limit in terms of energy density and face serious safety issues,” points out Alex Morata, an IREC researcher. “This means it is strategically essential to develop new generations of batteries such as solid-state ones in which the liquid electrolyte, which is toxic, unstable and flammable, is replaced by a solid electrolyte.”
The ADVAGEN and SPINMATE projects, coordinated by ABEE and with budgets of €857,000 and €287,000 for BATTECH respectively, are geared towards crafting new generations of these safe, high-performance and cost-competitive solid-state batteries. BATTECH will bring its expertise in evaluating and developing new materials to the projects.
Achieving market penetration of this technology calls for progress in a number of areas in materials and also in the stages of the value chain such as raw material production, processing and recycling. In terms of new materials development, improving the stability and performance of individual components and the contact surfaces formed between them is of paramount importance.
Here, the ADVAGEN project is to roll out a highly innovative solid battery technology consisting of a blend of two types of electrolytes based on a mixture of oxide and sulphur chemistries. This groundbreaking approach brings together the higher stability associated with oxide electrolytes with the superior conductivity and low temperature processability of sulphur-based electrolytes. The project’s purpose is to deliver a hybrid technology which will make battery manufacturing in Europe more competitive with other producers, especially in Asia.
BATTECH, specialised research, testing and innovation in batteries Set up and supported by the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC) and the Eurecat technology centre, BATTECH delivers specialised research, development, testing and innovation in batteries to enhance knowledge transfer to industry in this field. It draws on a circular economy and sustainability approach to cover the entire battery value chain as a flagship R&D and innovation centre.
BATTECH encompasses everything from developing the materials making up the cells as key parts of the batteries to embedding large batteries into energy and sustainable mobility systems coupled with the second life and recycling of these batteries.