CIC energiGUNE, committed to sustainability and the European Energy Storage Strategy, is involved in the development of a new generation of cobalt-free high energy density lithium-ion batteries with an extra-long-life cycle and low cost through the European CoFBAT project.

In the race for a more sustainable European Union, renewable energy sources play a crucial role. However, the fluctuating nature of these clean energy sources represents a challenge to achieve this transition and meet the targets set.

CoFBAT proposes a solution to this problem by developing the next generation of batteries for different stationary storage applications that can meet the need for decentralized energy production and supply for home and domestic storage, large and small-scale industrial power grid, renewable energy deployment, and small robotic devices.

The challenge of developing high energy density and safer batteries is addressed by the research of high-voltage, high-capacity active materials to build a cobalt-free cathode, together with a novel gel electrolyte -a prelude to the solid-state-.

Impact on the entire value chain

Energy storage is growing in Europe. Residential applications represent €1.4 billion per year, and electric vehicle storage systems are expanding, currently estimated at €130 million per year.

Aligned with this huge demand, CoFBAT´s approach covers the entire value chain; from materials development, to cost-effective technology validation (optimized in performance and cost), assembly and cell optimization, to achieve cobalt-free batteries with the following characteristics:

  • Longer lifetime (≥10,000 cycles).
  • Lower cost (up to 0.03 euros/kWh/cycle)
  • Improved safety
  • More efficient recycling (>50%).

CoFBAT joins Europe in becoming a competitive player in the global value chain of energy storage systems, which is highly dependent on the materials used in their production.

It is well known that cobalt, commonly used in lithium-ion batteries, is one of the least abundant materials in nature, which results in an increase in its price on the market. In addition, there is a supply risk attached to its extraction, mainly concentrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, the estimated demand for cobalt in the coming years continues increasing. This provides a clear indication to the scientific community of the need to move towards cobalt-free cathode technologies. Hence the relevance of the research undertaken at CoFBAT as an important step in addressing these issues.

In order to develop advanced materials for environmentally friendly cobalt-free lithium-ion batteries, CoFBAT is studying several formulations, such as spinel cathodes based on LMNO, titanium niobates and silicon-based nanocomposites for the anode and gel electrolyte. These are optimal in terms of safety and stability, although with a lower energy capacity compared to Li-ion batteries that are currently available on the market. Nevertheless, this is balanced out by their high voltage operation and the possibilities of reducing costs, which is of particular interest for stationary applications.

On the other hand, this European project works on the inclusion of a polymer electrolyte in gel that replaces the conventional liquid electrolyte, which is the prelude to the introduction of solid-state electrolyte technology, which increases the safety of the cell by reducing the potential risks of flammability.

To carry out the research, the project proposes the adaptation of the electrode formulation to active materials, in order to achieve greater cyclability. Also, the electrode formulation is studied to optimize the final morphology and porosity for maximizing its performance.

CIC energiGUNE´s role in CoFBAT

CIC energiGUNE has an important role in the project, as it leads the materials characterization activities, since it has the most advanced platforms and facilities in southern Europe. Specifically, it focuses on the investigation of electrodes in different states of charge and discharge of Li-ion batteries in order to determine the degradation mechanisms and thus provide information to materials developers and ensure a longer lifetime.

During the early stages of the project, it has been proceeded the optimization of high energy density materials for the cathode, anode and polymer gel membrane. Also, it has been scaled up the manufacturing process of these optimized materials in order to be able to produce higher amperage pouch cells in the next stage.

In parallel, CIC energiGUNE developed the disassembly and component separation protocols to effectively characterize these materials in laboratory cells and evaluate electrochemical compatibility and aging. For this purpose, different techniques are used to determine the morphological, structural and physicochemical changes in the materials due to battery cycling. This task is crucial to the achievement of CoFBAT´s objectives.

In short, the new cobalt-free storage system and safe polymer electrolytes developed at CoFBAT strengthen European competitiveness in the field of advanced materials, manufacturing and the battery-related value chain.

The removal of cobalt means lower cost in new-generation batteries as well as improved safety, durability and sustainability throughout their life cycle.

The research has a strong environmental impact through the recovery/recycling of critical materials, and will reduce Europe´s dependence on raw material imports to secure the supply chain.

Cookies on this website are used to personalize content and advertisements, provide social media features, and analyze traffic. You can get more information and configure your preferences HERE