This project is part of the European Union’s Horizon Europe initiative, and brings together 17 companies, including Sustainable Innovations, the Polytechnic University of Valencia and CIC energiGUNE.
Europe knows well that it must speed up its pace if it wants to have something of relevance in a battery sector which is clearly dominated by China, and in which the United States has begun to bet heavily through the Inflation Reduction Act passed last summer.
Last October, the European Union presented the Upcell Alliance initiative, aimed at positioning the Old Continent in the world battery scene.
Now there is another one called NEXTCELLwhich focuses on the development of new technologies that improve the performance and profitability of lithium-ion batteries, which currently monopolize the market.
Gel Cell Batteries
Today’s lithium-ion batteries are made up of porous solid electrodes bathed in liquid electrolyte. This technology has shown its worth in recent years, but the industry knows that it must find a way to take it to the next level.
NEXTCELL’s bet is the gel cell lithium ion batterya system that those involved describe as “innovative”.
Specifically, the statement from one of the three Spanish entities involved in the project, CIC energiGUNE, states that “This research will allow a highly innovative technology to be put into practice”.
The same document explains that this technology consists of “a cobalt-free cathode and polymer gels as an electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries”.
“Its development will mean a new generation of high-capacity lithium ion batteries”, which the Basque organization affirms will be able to “reach higher voltages than current technologies, guaranteeing excellent performance thanks to its high energy density”.
The project intends, on the one hand, to advance in the gelation of the electrodes and, on the other hand, in the separator, “so that by combining it with a high voltage stable gel electrolyte, a complete gel cell concept can be obtained”.
Costs, safety and sustainability
According to the members of the NEXTCELL project, the objective is not only to make viable a technology with superior performance to the current liquid electrolyte.
It is also important to set new standards in terms of cost, safety and sustainability, all aspects in which current lithium batteries have a lot to improve.
«The technology developed by NEXTCELL will optimize manufacturing processes, reducing capital and operating expenses of future factoriessince it will prevent the evaporation of polluting solvents in the electrolyte filling stage,” reports the CIC energiGUNE statement.
“Too will guarantee a reduction of around 50% in energy consumption. Furthermore, it will lead to the production of intrinsically safe cells, since these cells do not contain low-boiling components in the electrodes and the separator,” he adds.
A project of the European Union
Led by FEV Europe, NEXTCELL is made up of CIC energiGUNE, ABEE, Solvay, Nanomakers, Universitat Politècnica de València, Politecnico di Torino, Sintef, Inegi, the French Commission for Atomic Energy and Renewable Energies (CEA), Varta Innovation, FIAT Research Center (CRF), Nanocyl, Univerza v Ljublani, Sustainable Innovations and Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt.
As far as Spanish organizations are concerned, Sustainable Innovations will be responsible for financial supervision, communication and dissemination tasks, as well as the strategy for the future commercialization of the technologies born as part of NEXTCELL.
For her part, the Polytechnic University of Valenciathrough the CMT Research Institute, will be in charge of the performance and life cycle tests of the cell prototypes, as well as the security modeling.
Finally, CIC energiGUNE He will lead cell design and production at the battery pouch level, as well as anode characterization.
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