A sustainable battery innovation project established by the EU’s raw materials consortium has concluded after a successful pilot phase.
The ECO COM’BAT project, which ran between 2016 and 2018, was initiated by EIT RawMaterials, the raw materials arm of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), with the aim of deploying sustainable battery innovation to develop the ‘next generation’ of sustainable high voltage lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries. The project, co-ordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research, saw 10 organisations from the industry and research sectors work in partnership under the brief ‘to combine green and high performance materials and to upscale their production for the next generation of high-voltage lithium-ion batteries’.
Project co-ordinator Dr Andreas Bittner of the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research said: “The main task of the ECO COM’BAT project was to substitute conventional, often expensive, rare or even critical materials as cobalt in the electrodes and of fluorine in the electrolyte.” The research team produced optimised materials and high voltage electrolytes with reduced cobalt and fluorine content, with structured carbon additives to shore up the energy capacity and power density of the new battery; the materials were integrated into pouch cells for greater cycle stability.
A report by the Fraunhofer Institute said: ‘To come from experimental laboratory level to producibility, usually several upscaling steps are necessary. Within the ECO COM’BAT project the partners combined innovative materials with well-known production properties in order to come up with only a few upscaling steps to a relevant pilot level of batch sizes with up to 20kg. For the optimization of the ECO COM’BAT materials and cells, a comprehensive simulation of the battery performance and aging was performed. Moreover, an efficient recycling concept was developed and tested to recover precious materials like nickel, cobalt, graphite and lithium and to achieve a high degree of sustainability. The commercial impact of the project results for a new generation of sustainable high-voltage batteries, is promising, as the different battery materials shows excellent performance and processing properties. The materials are ready for the near-to-production upscaling once enough market demand is obtained.’