A unique infrastructure is available in the Battery Lab of EnergyVille to accelerate the development of new battery chemistries and designs.

Lieve De Doncker

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Lieve De Doncker

Business Developer Solar and Storage Materials at EnergyVille/UHasselt
Bart Onsia

Contact

Bart Onsia

Business Developer Solar at EnergyVille/imec
Description
Technical Notes

Safe, durable, and non-expensive batteries are more and more Dry Room Battery Lab
desired to cope with the ever increasing need for higher shares of renewable energies into the energy mix and electrification of the transport sectors. Development and maturation of new battery technologies (e.g., all-solid-state, and beyond Li-ion) is a complex process and requires an efficient holistic approach with attention to chemical, processing, and manufacturability aspects, starting from early stages of design. In this regard, the potential for scale-up from low capacity coin-cells to high capacity multi-layer pouch cells, together with advanced characterization methods, are real assets to a battery R&D lab. Such a unique infrastructure is available in the battery development lab of EnergyVille to accelerate the development of new battery chemistries and designs. 

Advantages

EnergyVille with its unique combination of battery experts and advanced infrastructures offers a state-of-the-art battery R&D environment. In addition to a coin-cell line, the battery lab benefits from a unique capacity for preparation of porous electrodes up to A4 size, using a series of advanced mixing, coating, and calendering equipment. High quality pouch cells can be assembled inside a 85m2 dry room with a dew point of -45°C. The dry room accommodates an automatic pouch cell line with pneumatic cutter, automatic zig-zag stacker, ultrasonic welder, pouch sealer, and a vacuum chamber to facilitate the electrolyte injection and resealing after the formation cycle. Moreover, a group of ex-situ and in-situ characterization techniques are available to assess the electrochemical and physical properties of the cells and battery components, i.e. electrodes and electrolyte.

Slurry & electrode processing:

  • Slurry mixing: planetary ball mill, horizontal bead mill, vertical vacuum mixer, planetary centrifugal vacuum mixer
  • Desktop coater (tape casting), automated coater (tape casting & slot-die) with hot-air drying head
  • 30 ton calendering unit with heated rollers

Pouch and coin-cell assembly:

  • Coin cell: pressure-driven coin-cell crimper inside glove box
  • Pouch cell: semi-automatic pouch cell assembly in dry room: cutter, zig-zag stacker, ultrasonic welder, sides and tab sealer, vacuum chamber for electrolyte injection

In-situ & ex-situ characterization of cell, electrode, and electrolyte:

  • Electrochemical: 8-channel battery cycler (up to 15A), 16-channel potentiostat for advanced electrochemical characterization techniques (up to 400mA), with cooling and heating chambers, rotating ring-disk electrode (RRDE).
  • Physical/chemical: helium pycnometer for measuring the electrode porosity, liquid density meter for liquid electrolytes, Karl Fischer titrator for measuring the water content, In-situ coin-cell calorimeter for thermal characterization of a battery under load, zeta-potential analyser for concentrated solutions, rheometer for both rotational and oscillatory rheological tests, gas mass spectrometer for in-situ analysis of gases during formation cycle of batteries.

Applications

A broad range of projects can be realized, from evaluation of new battery concepts to optimization of existing technologies.

  • Investigation and optimization of new formulations for battery components (electrode, electrolyte, separator).
  • Demonstration of new battery concepts and designs in high capacity pouch cells.
  • Detailed analysis of electrochemical and thermal signature of cells.
  • In-depth analysis of aging phenomena, fault detection, and post-mortem analyses.
  • Compatibility assessment of new battery/component designs with existing industrial battery production norms.

Customers

Producers of battery components

  • Active-materials
  • Conductive additives
  • Binders
  • Solvents, salts, and electrolyte additives
  • Separators and packaging materials

Battery end-users (e.g. residential storage, electric vehicles)

  • In-depth analysis of a battery design/chemistry for a given application
  • Proof of concept and demonstration of new battery designs in pouch cells

 

The main equipment in the Battery Lab, together with Battery Lab
their technical specifications are summarized below: 

Mixing, coating and drying
  • Vertical vacuum mixer: 250ml capacity, 20,000rpm (6000rpm under vacuum)
  • Horizontal bead mill: milling chamber of 50ml and slurry volume up to 750ml, bead sizes from 0.25 to 1mm
  • Planetary ball mill: 250ml jar, final fineness <1mm
  • Electrode coater: coating width 200mm, knife and slot-die, speed of 0.1-1 m/min, hot-air drying system
  • Calendering unit: roller width 300 mm with heating option (150°C), compacting pressure of ~1500N/m (30t @ 200mm)
  • Thermal vacuum ovens: 55 litre, up to 200°C and pressure down to 0.01mbar
Coin cell assembly inside Ar-filled glove box
Cell assembly (@ dry room with dew point of -45°C)
  • Electrode puncher (cutter): pneumatic cutter for anodes and cathodes with a default size of 32*46 and 31*45mm
  • Z-fold electrode/separator stacking unit: automatic pick-up and positioning of the electrodes from anode and cathode trays, automatic winding/unwinding of separator roll, pneumatic control of tension on separator
  • Ultrasonic tab welder: ~20kHz ultrasonic welding unit for battery tab
  • Side and tab pouch sealer: sealing length up to 300mm
Characterization
  • Battery cycler: 8 channels, 0-9V, up to 15A, cooling/heating chambers -5 to 100°C
  • Potentiostat: 16 channels, up to 450mA, 0-20V, 1nA resolution, 8 channels with EIS
  • RRDE: ~100-8000rpm, 15ml sample volume
  • Zeta potential analyser: pH 0-14, up to 60% solid content
  • Rheometer: force range ~0.01 to 50N, angular velocity ~10-8 to 300rad/s
  • Helium pycnometer: gas displacement for measuring the porosity of porous electrodes
  • Liquid density meter: density range of 0 to 3g/cm³, resolution of 0.001g/cm³
  • Gas mass spectrometer: 200amu, <500ms response time, sensitivity <5ppb, 5.10-15mbar
  • Battery calorimeter: in-situ thermal characterization of coin cells between -5 and 80°C, 0.1mW to 0.5W heat flux detection
  • Karl Fischer titrator: water detection in a range of 1ppm to 5%