High-performance battery storage systems that are simultaneously sustainable, safe and inexpensive are the goal of the European research initiative BATTERY 2030+. The participating research institutions and companies have now published a roadmap that both defines the characteristics of the batteries of the future and lists measures for accelerating development.
Three main research directions have been identified: “We want to accelerate the search for new materials and the right mix of materials, launch novel functions and establish manufacturing and recycling concepts,” says Professor Maximilian Fichtner, head of the Energy Materials Department at the Institute of Nanotechnology of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and scientific spokesman of the Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe (CELEST). “With BATTERY 2030+, we are now bringing together and coordinating expertise in the respective subareas throughout Europe. This gives us the opportunity to be at the forefront of battery development worldwide, even in competition with the USA and Asia.
Artificial intelligence speeds material development
To learn how certain materials behave and how they must be used to produce certain properties, Battery 2030+ will initially be used to create a globally unique Materials Acceleration Platform (MAP). The combination of automated synthesis, characterization and material modeling, as well as data mining techniques and AI in test evaluation and design, is expected to significantly accelerate the development of new battery materials. Building on this common platform, BATTERY 2030+ will focus on the analysis of material interface properties, such as the interface between electrode and electrolyte or between active material and different additives. This “Battery Interface Genome” (BIG,) will help researchers to develop promising approaches for new, high-performance batteries.
External factors such as extreme temperatures, mechanical stress, excessive power during operation or simply ageing over time have a negative effect on the performance of a battery. The researchers of BATTERY 2030+ have therefore set out to jointly develop intelligent, networked sensor concepts that will in future be able to observe chemical and electrochemical reactions directly in the battery cell. They could detect early stages of battery failure or undesired side reactions that lead to battery ageing.
In addition, next-generation batteries are to be equipped with “self-healing powers”: Damage inside a battery, which would otherwise lead to battery failure, can be compensated for by skilful use of materials. Sensors and self-healing should make the batteries more reliable and more durable in the future. In this way, used cells of high quality will also become attractive for a second use. In addition, Battery 2030+ is already pursuing the goal of maximum sustainability during development. Parameters such as resource-saving manufacturability, recyclability, critical raw materials and toxicity are directly incorporated into the algorithms of the MAP-based development of new battery concepts.
The first projects from the roadmap for BATTERY 2030+ have already been approved by the EU and can now start. The CELEST research platform is considered a key player in the project for accelerated material development, modelling and data evaluation using AI and the associated autonomous robotics.
The roadmap can be downloaded here.