Lithium ion batteries have revolutionized mobile electronics and are in principle well suited to enable electro-mobility. However, designing a battery system that lasts for more than 10 years in an automotive environment remains a challenge. From a technical point of view, battery lifetime is strongly correlated to operating conditions and cell design and batteries with high energy density degrade quickly under fast charging conditions. To guarantee the lifetime that consumers expect, car manufacturers thus actively limit fast charging for daily use, even if they promise fast-charging capabilities on the road. Long charging times, however, are amongst the highest barriers for widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
In this project a method to manufacture battery electrodes that allow fast charging without degradation is developed. The key element is control over electrode microstructure, resulting in improved lithium ion transport properties. This shifts the onset of degradation to higher charging currents, such that the charging time can be cut in half without influencing battery lifetime. With this technology, cell manufacturers can provide their customers with the battery performance and lifetime they expect.
What is special about the project?
The technology developed during this project is fully compatible with existing manufacturing processes, materials, and equipment and allows improving battery performance while reducing fabrication costs. Cost reduction is achieved by avoiding an expensive processing step of the raw materials, which is made unnecessary by our process. The ease of retrofitting existing production facilities enables fast market entry.
Asian manufacturers from China, Japan and Korea dominate the battery market, which is currently in a phase of extreme growth. Worldwide fabrication capacities now stand at about 35GWh annually (2015 lithium ion battery market ~22 billion USD) but are expected to double/triple in the coming years based on investments made by the industry. The three biggest players (Samsung, Panasonic and LG) provide about three quarters of the world supply. However, as fabrication capacities are aggressively ramped up worldwide, the winners of the battery race are still unknown. Japan has a long tradition in battery manufacturing but its battery production is stagnant and has been outpaced by Korea, which now supplies most of the world’s batteries. Large investments in battery production in China make Chinese companies the fastest growing battery suppliers, but the winner of this race is not yet clear. In this market environment, key technology, such as the one developed in this project, is of cardinal importance for Europe to play a role in the worldwide change towards renewable energy storage.
This project has lead to the foundation of Battrion AG, a spin-off of ETH Zurich, the generation of intellectual property, and the publication of several scientific papers. Battrion develops and markets the innovative fabrication technology aimed at increasing the charging speed of high energy density cells. The internationally oriented company now has operations in three countries on two continents and continues to drive technology innovation in Switzerland with international partners.
Ebner et al., Adv. Energy Mater. 7 (2013) 825.
Ebner, Marone, Stampanoni, Wood, Science 342 (2013) 716.
Ebner, Chung, García, Wood, Adv. Energy Mater. 4 (2014).
Ebner, Wood, J. Electrochem. Soc. 162 (2015) A3064.
Lagadec, Ebner, Zahn, Wood, J Electrochem. Soc. 163 (2016) A992.
Persons involved in the project
Last update to this project presentation 17.10.2018