The existing performance capacity of mobile end devices, drones, electric vehicles or within the framework of stationary storage of renewable energies would not exist today without correspondingly powerful lithium-ion batteries. The range of lithium-ion batteries is divided into different cell types depending on the application. Depending on the application area of the cell, various components and material combinations are used.
The numerous combination possibilities result in many possibilities for the optimization and adaptation of lithium-ion cells - also with regard to their specific application. The development of post-lithium systems also offers enormous optimization potential. The investigation of new bonding systems for electrode production, the generation of higher SI components of the anode to increase capacity or the investigation of magnesium-sulfur cell chemistry are just a few examples of the potential development opportunities in the lithium-ion battery segment.
In order to remain at the forefront of technological development, CUSTOMCELLS®, together with numerous interdisciplinary partners from research and industry, is continuously involved in public cooperation projects to research new materials and concepts and to develop new innovations for special applications.
New Li-ion batteries meet the highest safety standards at temperatures up to 150 °C. Even under extreme application conditions, such as in deep geological drilling, they reliably supply energy for sensors and can be charged on site. The batteries are available for a variety of other applications. Conventional lithium-ion battery cells only guarantee safe use and an acceptable life expectancy within a limited temperature range (typically 0 °C to 40 °C, maximum 60 °C). Other energy storage systems such as lithium metal batteries allow higher application temperatures, such as those found in deep drilling, but at the same time have a high risk potential and are not rechargeable. When operating so-called MWD (Measurement While Drilling) devices, in which the measuring equipment is integrated into the drill string behind the drill rig, the sensors used must be supplied with energy. This is done by a generator in the drill head, which is driven by the drilling fluid, but does not provide the same power throughout. Therefore, batteries that can withstand the extreme conditions are needed as an energy buffer.
The product and its innovation
Stimulated by the need for MWD equipment to measure boreholes, Custom Cells Itzehoe GmbH, the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT) and the Canadian company Evolution Engineering Inc. have set themselves the goal of developing lithium-ion batteries that are particularly safe and can be discharged and charged at high temperatures. This would eliminate the need to change the batteries that were previously necessary for drilling. In the ZIM cooperation project, ISIT has developed a concept for magnetic field-reduced cells in Li-Ion technology, while Custom Cells Itzehoe concentrated on the development of high-temperature resistant battery cells based on a novel Li-Ion cell chemistry with new material combinations. The Canadian partner Evolution Engineering Inc. was responsible for assembling the cells into battery packs, adapting the battery management system and conducting field tests.
The market and customers
As a result of the development and production of the first sample series, CUSTOMCELLS® offers customer-specific configurable Li-ion battery cells that can be reliably charged and discharged in the temperature range from 0 °C to 150 °C, offer a high degree of safety against thermal penetration and metal fire and can be used with a long service life even under harsh environmental conditions. The market potential for high-temperature lithium-ion batteries is large. In addition to the already existing use in borehole measurements, there are many other possible applications. They are suitable as energy suppliers, for example, for the wireless energy supply of medical technology devices that are hot sterilised, for monitoring safety-relevant or particularly hazardous areas where high ambient temperatures can occur, or as energy back-up systems for actuators in safety-critical areas where high temperatures occur in the event of a disaster.
The cooperation partners
Custom Cells Itzehoe GmbH, founded in 2012 as a spin-off from the Institute for Silicon Technology of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (ISIT), is one of the world's leading companies in the development of application-specific lithium-ion battery cells. The Fraunhofer ISIT in Itzehoe is one of the most modern research institutes for microelectronics and microsystems technology in Europe. In close cooperation with partners from industry, miniaturised components for power electronics and microsystems for sensor and actuator technology are developed here. For more than 20 years, research has also been conducted at ISIT on new Li accumulators. The Canadian company Evolution Engineering Inc. of Calgary (province of Alberta) participated in the cooperation project without ZIM funding. Founded in 2011, the company focuses its research and development on sensor-based solutions to various technical problems and is a specialist for MWD devices.
The aim of the joint project is to demonstrate the performance of a new reversible energy storage technology based on magnesium and sulphur in an industry-compatible battery cell. This project follows on from the developments of the MagS project (2016-2018).
The aim of this cooperation project is the development and implementation of high-capacity anodes for Li-Ion cells. This is to be achieved by using composites of a novel active material, Si-Nanowires (Si-NW) and graphite, as anode active material. The work will be carried out together with the material specialist ENWIRES ».
In this project rechargeable Li-Ion cells are developed, which are suitable for an extended temperature range.
The aim of the project is to explore innovative solutions along the value chain of lithium-ion technology and to validate them in demonstrators.
At the end of the project a competitive production unit with a production capacity of about 6 GWh p.a. will be developed. In the future, this unit can be built modularly and in many ways where the corresponding capacity is needed. Eleven work packages, each led by one of the partners and worked on in teams, will focus on topics such as energy-autonomous infrastructure, cell design, innovative production processes and materials, industry 4.0 or recycling strategies. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the number 03XP0142. This will create the basis for the establishment of large-scale production of Li-ion cells in Europe.
In the project ECOLOGICAL COMPOSITES FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES - April 2016-December 2018 the aim of the project EIT Raw Materials Project ECO COMB'BAT was to combine and scale the combination of the most ecological and high-performance materials possible for the next generation of high voltage Li-Ion batteries.
The KomVar funding project is aimed at setting up series production of high-quality lithium-ion battery cells in small to medium volumes at the CSTOMCELLS® site in Tübingen. The BMWi-funded project was officially approved on 01.09.2019 and, with a total volume of 8.2 million euros (4.7 million euros in funding) over a period of 24 months, is accelerating the development of a "competitive variant production for lithium accumulators with a service character for lithium-ion cell development and for the production of small and medium-sized series for niche markets.
3beLiEVe aims to strengthen the position of the European battery and automotive industries in the future xEV market by delivering the next generation of battery cells developed and manufactured in Europe for the electric vehicle market of 2025 and beyond. The project activities focus on several areas: Development of vehicle battery cells with high performance (high energy density, fast charging capacity, long life) and free of critical raw materials such as cobalt and natural graphite. Development and integration of sensors in and on the cells to enable intelligent, adaptive operating strategies and advanced diagnostics to extend battery life in first and second life applications and improve safety. A comprehensive manufacturing approach that is focused from the outset on recycling management and industrial volumes. This includes green manufacturing processes for cells, modules and packaging as well as the assessment of the recyclability of components and the target life cycle cost of 90 €/kWh on a scale.
How can lithium-ion batteries be produced more sustainably? The binders used in the electrodes also play an important role in answering this question. They should be harmless to health and contain as high a biobased proportion as possible in terms of bioeconomy. The Technical University of Braunschweig, the Thünen Institute and the Custom Cells Itzehoe as well as Schill + Seilacher "Struktol" as an associated partner tested the suitability of biobased epoxy hardener systems as substitutes for the petrochemical and halogenated binders commonly used today in a research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) via the Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR).
More and more decentralized, flexible units generate electricity and are dependent on fluctuating factors such as solar radiation or wind. This causes considerable additional fluctuations in the power grid, which must be permanently balanced to maintain power system stability. As the number of conventional power plants that so far balanced these fluctuations, is expected to decrease, alternatives need to be developed. In this context, the energy storages have a special role, since they can serve both as temporary loads and as sources. They hence provide a unique flexibility in terms of system services in order to stabilize the public power supply. The intelligent combination of stationary and specifically designed mobile storage systems, optimally harmonized to each other, will effectively contribute to the renewable resources feeding the public electric power demand. This will allow fostering the use of emission-free electric vehicles in urban areas in a sustainable and efficient manner. Our intention is to conceptually design charging stations, which enables to simultaneously and rapidly charge a multitude of electric vehicles at any time without the risk of destabilize the public power grid. For each charging station, a maximum charging power of 400 kW is envisioned. If several vehicles need to be charged simultaneously, the charging power per vehicle will be reduced. We further aim at a new battery technology installed in vehicles that will allow to quickly recharging within a period comparable to a "classic tank-stop" of less than ten minutes. The previous disadvantages associated with fast charging in terms of life of battery and safety will be radically reduced by this novel technology. In the Power400 project, manufacturers of battery cells, research facilities and universities are working closely together. This joint research project is an important step towards the decarbonisation of the public transportation system, and hence towards climate protection.