The work of the Basque center is part of the European NEXTCELL Project, in which it participates together with 16 entities and companies of the continent with the aim of obtaining a fully gelled cell that offers high energy density and excellent performance at high cell voltages. CIC energiGUNE will lead the cell design and manufacturing work and will participate in the electrochemical characterization of the cells, with the aim of identifying and mitigating the main ageing mechanisms of this new lithium-ion battery technology.

CIC energiGUNE, the Basque research center of reference in battery storage, thermal energy solutions and hydrogen technologies, and member of the Basque Research & Technology Alliance-BRTA, is working on the design of a new battery cell, based on the application of an innovative electrolyte “gelling” system, which will allow the manufacture of more economical and safer lithium-ion batteries. This development is part of the European NEXTCELL project, financed by he EU through the Horizon Europe Program, in which the Basque center participates together with other 16 companies and entities of the continent.

According to those responsible for the project at CIC energiGUNE, tis research will make it possible to implement a highly innovative technology with a cobalt-free cathode and polymer gels as electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries, which is the leading technology on the market for many applications. Its development will lead to a new generation of high-capacity lithium-ion batteries that can also reach higher voltages than current technologies, guaranteeing excellent performance thanks to their high energy density.

The innovative concept of gelled cells proposed by NEXTCELL is based on overcoming the current cell model, composed of solid porous electrodes and filled with liquid electrolyte. To this end, work will be done on the gelation of the main components of the cell through the design and integration of several innovations in its materials. On the one hand, progress will be made in the gelation of the electrodes and, on the other hand, work will be done on the separator, so that by combining it with a stable gel electrolyte at high voltage, a complete concept of gelled cell can be obtained.

CIC energiGUNE advances in the design of gelled cells for the next generation of high-performance lithium-ion batteries

As envisaged by the project partners, NEXTCELL will not only provide the European market with the state-of-the-art cells, but will also address three key issues that currently hinder the further market penetration of lithium-ion battery technology: cost, safety and sustainability. .

Specifically, the technology developed by NEXTCELL will optimize manufacturing processes, reducing capital and operating costs of future factories by avoiding the evaporation of polluting solvents at the electrolyte filling stage. It will also ensure a reduction od around 50% in energy consumption. In addition, it will lead to the production of intrinsically safe cells, as theses cells do not contain low-boiling components in the electrodes and separator.

Within NEXTCELL, CIC energiGUNE will lead the work package on cell design and manufacturing, and will participate in the electrochemical characterization of cells in order to identify and mitigate the main aging mechanisms. In this sense, the Basque center will continue the work started in this direction withn the CofBAT project, focused on the generation of cobalt-free batteries.

Led by FEV Europe, NEXTCELL is made up of CIC energiGUNE, ABEE, Solvay, Nanomakers, Universitat Politècnica de València, Politecnico di Torino, Sintef, Inegi,, the French Commisariat for Atomic Energy and Renewable Energies (CEA), Varta Innovation, the FIAT research center (CRF), Nanocyl, Univerza v Ljublani, Sustainable Innovations and Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt.

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