Batteries – particularly those of the lithium-ion variety used in e-mobility and in portal electronics – constitute a substantial waste of resources and present a recycling headache, as they release hazardous substances back into the environment. But a laboratory unit has been opened at the (BLB) at the technical university there in order to better understand how battery cells age and how they could be adapted, or tailor-made, to last longer.
On the new diagnostic line at BLB, hermetically sealed, gas-tight “gloveboxes” will be used to expose different kinds of battery cells to various operating scenarios and kinds of environmental pollution, in order to simulate their performance over time.
Once the batteries have been opened, researchers will scrutinise changes to electrodes, electrolyte and separators in physical-electrochemical analyses. Climatic, mechanical, chemical, electrical and electrochemical influences will all be taken into consideration. In order to pinpoint critical ageing factors, “aged” components could be reassembled with new components or materials into new cells, for example.
Through this systematic and detailed analysis, it is hoped that cell applications can be optimised, and new materials and models can be developed to increase efficiency and cell life. For example, in batteries used for mobility, electrode structures and cells could be tailored to the requirements of the application and its environmental stresses. As electric mobility ramps up around the world, batteries of the future will need to be more reliable, durable and reusable, or at least easier to recycle.
The project is funded with EUR 500,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) until October 2021.