Solid-state batteries can advance electromobility. In the new application-oriented ALANO project, partners from industry and research are working on next-generation lithium batteries under the coordination of BMW AG: Lithium metal as an anode material and a solid electrolyte make it possible to increase the energy density at cell level and thus the range of electric cars with a high degree of safety to extend. The Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU), which was founded by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Ulm, is involved in the project funded by the Federal Ministry of Research.
Light and powerful, inexpensive and safe – batteries for electric cars have to combine different requirements. Battery researchers and automobile manufacturers have therefore been increasingly turning to solid-state batteries for some time. With this design, both electrodes and the electrolyte are made of solid materials. The solid electrolyte in particular promises safety advantages: it is flame-retardant and cannot leak. The new joint project ALANO (alternative anode concepts for safe solid-state batteries) deals with next-generation lithium batteries and focuses on the lithium metal anode as the central component. ALANO aims to increase the energy density of a solid-state battery with a high level of safety.
Higher energy density – longer range
“Lithium metal as an anode material has the potential to significantly increase the energy density at cell level and thus significantly extend the range of electric cars,” explains Professor Stefano Passerini, Director of the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) involved in ALANO and head of the research group Electrochemistry of Batteries at the HIU. In the ALANO project, partners from research and industry are evaluating different lithium-metal-based innovative anode concepts for solid-state batteries in order to optimize the reactivity, safety and performance of the anode and to integrate them in a robust cell unit with high energy density.
The decisive factor here is the combination with a solid electrolyte. In contrast to conventional liquid electrolytes, which react strongly with lithium metal, solid electrolytes are less reactive and thus open up the possibility of forming kinetically stable interfaces. This in turn promises further advantages: “Firstly, safety is significantly improved because the cells do not contain any liquid and easily combustible components,” explains Dr. Dominic Bresser, head of the Electrochemical Energy Storage Materials research group at HIU. “Secondly, the robustness of the cells increases, which makes handling, cooling and system integration easier.“ In this way, costs can be reduced at the cell, module and system level. At the same time, the lifespan of the cells increases, which contributes to sustainability.
Research and development along the entire value chain
The ALANO project aims to cover the entire value chain of solid-state batteries with lithium metal as anode material: from the selection of the materials to the manufacture of the components, processing into cells, scaling the batteries for use in vehicles and other applications to recycling. Integration into the circular economy is also taken into account. In the ALANO project, partners from industry and research work together across sectors and disciplines.
The coordinator of the consortium is BMW AG. Other industrial partners include Applied Materials GmbH, ARLANXEO GmbH, DAIKIN Chemical Europe GmbH, RENA Technologies GmbH and VARTA Microbattery GmbH. In addition to the HIU, research partners include the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST, the Research Center Julich (FZJ), and the Battery Research Center Munster Electrochemical Energy Technology (MEET) at the University of Munster , the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Wurttemberg (ZSW) and the University of Gieben. BASF SE is involved as an associated partner.
ALANO started this September 2021 and is scheduled to run for three years. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding ALANO in the “Battery 2020 Transfer” area (battery materials for future electromobile, stationary and other industrial applications).
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4 thoughts on “BMW & Helmholtz Institute are researching safe solid-state batteries”
Better late than never… Especially in the battery sector, Asia is what F&E concerns, far ahead. Of course, there is also massive support and investment from the state. Nevertheless, it is in the best interest of European companies to lead the technical development. This should then be used, especially in the case of financially strong companies, not to always wait for state support, especially since political decision-makers are rarely visionaries..
Unfortunately, large stock corporations do not have a structural advantage in this regard when the smallest common denominator is once again sought on the supervisory board. And charismatic managers with vision are also rather rare. What is ultimately lacking is the courage to take risks and invest in projects that only promise profits in several years.
Sounds very promising, but it will be many years before we have these things on the market. It’s hard to imagine if you’d started these research activities 3 or 4 years ago and now had marketable results. But better late than never.
What role does BMW play here, they say they don’t set up their own production, but they’re researching it? How useful can that be. In the end you buy what is available on the market.
I want to mention this information here as well.
And if it should become even cheaper with solid-state batteries, then so much the better.