We interviewed Professor Robert Dominko, professor at National Institute of Chemistry, and affiliated professor in materials chemistry at the University of Ljubljana.

What are the major challenges battery technologies face in the coming 5-10 years?

I think we have heard that many challenges are in front of us today. I would say education, people that are willing to work, that are willing to contribute with the right skills…That’s the first challenge. Then, I would expose materials supply chain, and then I would also expose technology.

What will be the major breakthroughs expected in the battery industry in the coming years?

The main breakthroughs in battery industry are continuous improvement, even in lithium-ion battery technology, that was considered like 15 years ago as a technology that had already reached the maturity point. But, nowadays, we see that with the continuous improvement, we can get even better performance, longer lifetime, safer performance… In the future, of course, we are moving to the new generations, also called “Generation 4b”, which will be, again, a new breakthrough; actually a new technology changer. But, in a long-term perspective, I see more sustainability within the batteries, coming to the elements which are sustainable, easy-recyclable and cheaper.

What can the battery industry do to address the scarcity of raw materials?

I think we are faced here with two points: First point is potential raw materials supply chain; that we don’t have enough raw materials. But another one is also energy that is consumed for recycling. And the question here would be “Do we need to recycle back to the elements?”, or “Can we keep components?”, or even “Can we keep on the electrode level and just refreshing electrodes to the point that they can be reused again in assembly?”.

What do you think about the Basque battery ecosystem?

If I compare Slovenia, which is approximately the same size as the Basque Country, investment in Slovenia is far much lower compared to here. In my opinion, you are on the good direction. You can do it but, of course, you need to work hard!

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