Behavioural science towards the promising next generation of batteries
You have probably already seen them in various public places: e-bikes, electric scooters and steps, electric vehicles ... Global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions are pushing towards a rapid implementation of electrification of transportation. Therefore, a steep deployment of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is expected in the coming decade. However, not everyone has yet embraced these new transportation alternatives. To convince the average consumer to buy electric, and thus enable this growth, the electric vehicle should be affordable, safe and with the comfort of large enough driving range and short enough charging time.
A driving range of 700 km is considered a turning point in consumer interest. Cells of >1000Wh/l (>500Wh/kg) will be needed to reach this range. The solution proposed to break through this ceiling, is a switch to all solid-state lithium-metal battery cells, targeted for mid-2020. Here also lies a prime opportunity for Europe to regain its competitiveness in the rechargeable battery market which is nowadays dominated by Asia.
The main question now is: How to achieve the switch to all solid-state lithium-metal batteries? The LifeSBat project - methodology for the prediction of performance and lifetime of all solid-state battery composite cathodes - was launched to help us do that. How? The LifeSBat project aims at speeding up the introduction of this new generation batteries by developing a reliable tool that can predict the long-term dynamic behaviour of all-solid-state cathode/solid electrolyte (SE) composite materials.
Speeding up the introduction of next generation Lithium based batteries
Although lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) are nowadays dominating the market, this technology shows its limitations in terms of safety, form factor, and ultimate reachable energy density. All-solid-state Li ion batteries (ASSBs) can be made thinner, more flexible, and can contain more energy per unit weight than conventional LiBs. In addition, the removal of liquid electrolytes can be an avenue for safer and long-lasting batteries.
However, major challenges for ASSBs are the very long development cycle and the high R&D cost. The latter is applicable for battery technologies in general. The time to full market introduction for new battery technologies is very long (between 10-15 years) due to the multiple experimental design and testing phases (coin cell design, pouch cell design, module design, battery system design, application integration and testing). The present battery R&D workflow is mostly experimental in nature and model based virtual design tools are only very recently emerging.
The innovative scientific project objective of LifeSBat is to build a physics-based experimental/modelling platform for composite cathode (CC) materials to enable a faster, more cost-effective design of new systems and prediction of their performance under dynamic cycling and ageing conditions. This will enable researchers to eliminate many time-consuming trial-and-error experiments, which will help accelerate the development of all solid-state battery composite cathodes. The intended final output of LifeSBat is a tool that can be used for the design and optimization of CC materials for all-solid-state batteries (ASSBs). It will be an enabler for accelerating the development cycle reducing the R&D and battery cost if used in a hybrid R&D workflow integrating experimental development and model based virtual design.
LifeSBat is one of the 2 projects that will start this year within the new battery program of SIM. In LifeSBat, VUB and Imec join forces to build a consortium with a unique combination of competences comprising: (1) design and fabrication of composite materials and structures at Imec, (2) advanced characterisation techniques at VUB and Imec, and (3) multiscale (from atomistic over molecular dynamics to continuum level) modelling expertise at VUB.
Feel free to contact us if you are you interested in joining the user group of this project or in submission of your project in this program.