Electrical storage: game changer in the energy transition
Electrical storage has a key role to play in the energy transition. Not only to bridge the period between generation and consumption of renewable electric energy, but also to improve electricity transmission, extensive research is being carried out for better, safer and more efficient battery technologies. The following battery technologies are being investigated at EnergyVille.
New battery cell structures developed at EnergyVille
Conventional liquid lithium-ion batteries
Liquid Li-ion batteries have been around for quite some time. Though their theoretical performance might be an obstacle in electric vehicles, they have proved themselves in phones, laptops, home batteries, etc.
- High energy density
- Long cycle life (1000-10000 cycles)
- High round-trip efficiency
- Safety (thermal runaway)
- Battery Management System (BMS) is required
- Energy density has reached its theoretical limit
Solid-state lithium-ion batteries
To obtain greater autonomy, a shift is underway from liquid Li-ion to solid-state Li-ion batteries. Developments in solid-state batteries will enable electric cars to achieve a driving range that matches and eventually surpasses vehicles with an internal combustion engine. Battery cell roadmaps foresee that cells of 1000Wh/l will be available in 2030.
Solid-state Li-ion batteries?
- Higher density (enabling a trip from Belgium to the south of France without charging)
- Faster charging: 400 Wh/l at a charge rate of 0.5C has been achieved at EnergyVille
- Safer than liquid Li-ion batteries
In addition to lithium-ion batteries, EnergyVille is also researching lithium-sulphur batteries, which have greater inherent sustainability. Sulphur is the third most common raw material on earth and is often considered waste, making it inexpensive. Due to their low weight, lithium-sulphur batteries have the potential to store 5 times more energy per unit weight than current lithium-ion batteries. First, obstacles such as lifespan and the number of charging cycles have to be cleared. Initial applications are expected in drones and mobile electronics.
Sodium is chemically similar to lithium, but is much more abundant. This potentially makes sodium-ion batteries more sustainable and inexpensive than lithium-ion batteries. Sodium-ion batteries are suitable for stationary storage applications such as home batteries. The further potential of these battery technologies is being investigated at EnergyVille.
A novel nanomesh material has been developed at EnergyVille that may result in a breakthrough in a variety of sustainable applications. The new nanomesh material is a three-dimensional nanometer-scale (metal) grid structure with highly regular internal dimensions. Thanks to its unique material properties combined with its ease of manufacturing, its wide use is expected in sustainable industrial applications such as more efficient batteries.
Improving battery technologies
In addition to new materials and technologies for batteries, we are also looking for solutions to optimise existing battery technologies. The ultimate aim is to extend their range, lifetime and performance, and increase the charge rate without sacrificing safety. Thus extensive research is being conducted into optimal utilisation schemes for all sorts of batteries. Optimal battery use results in a longer lifespan and a higher return on investment.
An example of this is BattSense technology. This battery management system not only continuously monitors the individual cells within the battery, but also manages the system in such a way that its intrinsic capacity is maximised and its lifespan extended.