b-science.net
Description Use Cases Blog About Us Register Log In


Blog

  • Recap - The Battery Show North America - Novi, MI (USA) - September 13-15, 2022
    Posted on 2022-09-19

  • Many thanks to Adrian Tylim from Blue Solutions for the informative joint session at the The Battery Show North America on 'Divergent Approaches to Solid & Semi-solid Batteries for EVs'.
  • They have deployed solid-state batteries in e-buses together with Mercedes-Benz AG based on lithium metal electrodes that might soon become thinner & cheaper (collaboration with Li-Metal).
  • E-magy and Ionic Mineral Technologies presented novel Si active material architectures while Prologium Technology explained that progress has been achieved towards increasing the Si content in its negative electrodes towards 50-100% in combination with its hybrid electrolyte (presumably based on oxide or phosphate and polymers).
  • The novel stacked high energy (liquid electrolyte) cell architecture by ENOVIX is manufactured based on their micro-scale electrode positioning capability (with the help of Laser-patterned positioning pins). Such high yield manufacturing capabilities might eventually enable manufacturing of bipolar solid-state Li-ion battery cells.
  • Image Solid / Semi-solid Electrolyte Decision Tree
  • This post was also published on LinkedIn.
  • Recap - Solid-state Battery Summit - Chicago, IL (USA) - August 2-3, 2022
    Posted on 2022-08-09

  • Swappable Solid-liquid EV Batteries
  • At the recent Solid-state Battery Summit in Chicago organized by Cambridge EnerTech, the merits of combining a minor amount of liquid / ionic liquid / low-melting salt (e.g. Li0.8Cs0.2FTFSI with melting point of 40 °C, patent filing by CATL) with solid electrolytes were controversially debated. Such solid-liquid electrolyte approaches make hypothesis-driven research and assessing product development results challenging.
    FTFSI: fluorosulfonyl-(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide
  • However, let's look at NIO's efforts of enabling about 600 miles / 1,000 km range in Q4/2022 in its existing EV models based on a novel swappable 150 kWh / 360 Wh/kg hybrid solid-liquid battery (presumably provided by WeLion).
  • This agile, data-driven approach should allow for optimizing product-market fit by tuning components through large amounts of real-world application data (incl. A/B tests). Premature pack degradation or potential safety issues can potentially be dealt with in a pro-active manner, by swapping such packs out before problems multiply.
  • While swappable battery EVs might be viable only in markets with high population density, the resulting optimized battery cell configurations can be incorporated also into non-swappable battery EVs.
  • https://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html
  • This post was also published on LinkedIn.
  • Recap - Battery Experts Forum - Frankfurt am Main (Germany) - July 12-14, 2022
    Posted on 2022-07-15

  • At the recent Battery Experts Forums, the implications of higher lithium salt prices on battery cell costs and how it usually takes several years to bring new lithium salt mining capacity online were much-discussed topics. This means that product development investments to reduce the amount of lithium per unit of energy density (in Wh/kg) as quickly as possible will be even more valuable than before.
  • Key approaches:
    • increase voltage (higher energy storage per cycled Li)
    • decrease separator/electrolyte layer thickness (less Li needed to provide for ion conductivity between electrodes, make sure safety does not suffer)
    • decrease separator porosity (less Li needed to provide for ion conductivity between electrodes)
    • decrease electrode porosity (less Li needed to provide for ion conductivity in pores, carefully tune pore size distribution)
    • increase electrode thickness/loading on current collector (converts into reduced mass ratio of separator/electrolyte layer vs. electrodes and therefore more effective use of Li for cycling)
  • The last 3 approaches can result in reduced power performance, and are therefore viable only to a limited extent if high power is targeted.
  • This post was also published on LinkedIn.
  • Recap - Battery Cells & Systems Expo - Birmingham (United Kingdom) - June 29-30, 2022
    Posted on 2022-07-03

  • My take-away from the panel discussion on 'Solid State Powered Cars in 2024? When and How the Remaining Barriers to Commercial Production Could be Overcome' with Richard Clark from Morgan Advanced Materials with Dr. Juyeon Park from the National Physical Laboratory UK is that the likelihood that NIO will proceed with launching a high-range (about 600 miles / 1,000 km) semi-solid battery EV around Q4 / 2022 appears fairly high now. With only a few months remaining, most of the preparation steps must have been completed already.
  • Even if these semi-solid batteries still contain a bit of liquid (presumably 10-20 mass% in relation to solid electrolytes), this would be a big step towards validating Li-ion conducting solids as key electrolyte components in EV batteries (presumably coated oxide particles combined with polymers and salts, operated at room temperature).
  • Uncertainties related to planned solid-state battery EV market launches for 2024 and later (many of them based on deploying sulfide electrolytes for the first time) remain substantial as these timeframes implicate that multiple sequential steps have to be completed as planned prior to launch.
  • This post was also published on LinkedIn.

  • b-science.net participates in the Newchip accelerator program
    Posted on 2022-06-12

  • We have been accepted into the renowned US-based accelerator Newchip. This equity-free, fully digital accelerator has helped over 1,500 founders from more than 50 countries raise over $450M in funding thus far.
  • Hydrogen Tech Expo - Telford (UK) - March 30, 2022
    Posted on 2022-04-20

  • The joint presentation between Michelle Lynch from Enabled Future and Pirmin Ulmann from b-science.net that was also held at the Hydrogen Tech Expo can be accessed below.
  • Please register here if you wish to be informed about future videos as part of our triweekly patent updates.
  • Joint PlugVolt Webinar by Fenwick and b-science.net
    'The IP Landscape of Silicon and Lithium Metal Anodes in Lithium-Ion Batteries'
    Posted on 2022-03-26

  • PlugVolt (San Diego, USA) kindly hosted our webinar on March 23rd, 2022.
  • The presentation by patent attorney Howard Lim from the US technology law firm Fenwick and by Pirmin Ulmann from b-science.net focused on:
    • Silicon-based and lithium metal negative electrodes for lithium-ion batteries
    • Interface aspects with liquid, semi-solid and solid electrolytes
    • Technology evolution and IP protection
  • The recording is available (99 USD, 50 min presentation, 5 min Q&A).
  • Recap - Battery Show Europe 2021 - Stuttgart (Germany)
    Posted on 2021-12-03

  • Technical discussions and presentations in Stuttgart provided important insights how positive / negative electrodes and electrolytes emerge and converge towards solid-state and semi-solid Li-ion batteries.
  • Amprius impressively illustrated their capability to produce 100% Si negative electrodes that permit for energy densities in liquid electrolyte cells of up to 450 Wh/kg / 1,300 Wh/L, albeit still for niche applications at this stage. A key point that still has to be addressed for EV applications is calendaric longevity (target: >10 years). These results can be seen as a harbinger for gradually increased Si-content also in large scale applications like EVs.
  • E-magy presented a novel and potentially low cost Si melting approach for the formation of porous Si. While for liquid electrolytes, the question could be raised if such a material has to be encapsulated inside a (costly) shell, this might not be necessary in combination with solid electrolytes. With solid electrolytes, excessive SEI formation can more easily be avoided even in case of a comparably high negative electrode / electrolyte interface area.
  • SVOLT presented its single crystalline, Co-free, doped NMX material, which contains more than 70% Ni and less than 30% Mn. Outperformance with respect to NMC811 was claimed with respect to all performance aspects aside from a slightly lower energy density (ca. 6%).
  • Factorial Energy made a business-oriented presentation that highlighted the massive interest by EV makers (including their partners Daimler, Hyundai / Kia, Stellantis) in solid-state or semi-solid batteries. As Blue Solutions and Daimler have put EVs and E-buses with lithium metal solid-state cells on the road (cell operation at ca. 80 °C), lithium metal negative electrodes that can be operated at room temperature are being fervently pursued.
  • The b-science.net presentation focused on combinations of different solid electrolyte material classes in cells, which can lead to performance and cost benefits (see image). Such electrolyte combinations could allow for bipolar cells, improved inherent safety and increased upper operating temperature limits (potentially 120-140 °C), resulting in further prospective energy density benefits at the pack level.

    Image Potential Synergies Oxides or Phosphates / Polymers
  • Reactions to this recap can be found on LinkedIn.
  • A LinkedIn post on the b-science.net presentation by E-Magy can be found here.
  • Recap - Battery Technology Show 2021 - Coventry (United Kingdom)
    Posted on 2021-11-04

  • Although the pandemic has not yet passed, it was nice to meet up with new and existing contacts in Coventry.
  • Solid-state Li-ion batteries and the many materials options that are under consideration in particular for EV applications keep attracting a lot of attention.
  • Meanwhile, supply chains for the existing liquid electrolyte Li-ion battery technology are being reconfigured towards increased localization.
  • In our presentation, we tried to illustrate how not only the choice of the solid or semi-solid electrolyte for prospective future high energy Li-ion batteries is a key decision, but also the selection of lithium metal vs. silicon-based negative electrodes. For the positive electrode, commercially available NMC / NMCA / NCA (or LFP) are pursued as comparably low-risk options, while Mn-rich spinels or Li-rich layered oxides potentially offer substantial cost and energy density advantages, respectively in connection with the risk of yet to be scaled cathode material manufacturing processes.
  • At the cell architecture level, bipolar designs start to attract increasing attention as another lever to increase energy and power density at the pack level.
  • Recap - The Battery Show & EV Tech Europe Digital Days
    Posted on 2021-05-26

  • Together with Xiaoxi He from IDTechEx (UK), Holger Althues from Fraunhofer IWS (Germany) & Marc Copley from Warwick University (UK), Pirmin Ulmann from b-science.net joined the panel discussion on 'Solid-state battery feasibility: when & how will we get there?' with 273 attendees.
  • Over the last few months, a close to unanimous industry consensus has formed that solid-state batteries will be adopted in EVs, albeit initially based predominantly on solid electrolyte layers that might still contain some liquid electrolyte, along with Si-carbon negative electrodes.
  • Presumably, solid-state battery EVs will start capturing market share at the high end in 2022 (NIO: 150 kWh battery, 10% or more liquid electrolyte, 90% or less solid electrolyte), followed by gradual market share expansion over many years, driven by continuous cost reductions and further energy density improvements.
  • Many questions came from the audience as to how these new battery chemistries will affect pack design. These projections can be made:
    • Solid-state EV batteries will almost exclusively be built with pouch or prismatic cell form factors in which electrode / electrolyte layers are arranged in a stacked, not wound manner.
    • Operating temperatures for future solid-state battery chemistries will allow for an increased maximal operating temperature of 80-140 °C in EVs (currently with liquid electrolytes: 50-60 °C).
  • The feasibility of building bipolar cells at large scale is a major potential advantage of solid-state batteries, which is expected to reduce inactive parts in EV packs from ca. 30% to 12% (ProLogium). Toyota is also pursuing bipolar cells, along with others. Both ProLogium and Toyota appear to pursue Si-containing negative electrodes for now, which raises the question as to whether bipolar cells can be implemented with Li metal negative electrodes - and if not yet - whether Li metal negative electrodes will deliver sufficient energy density improvements at pack level to compete with bipolar cells with Si-carbon negative electrodes.
  • The debate as to whether oxides, sulfides and/or polymers will be used is still very much open considering that substantial breakthroughs have recently been made at the materials level, while challenges remain:
    • Oxides: suppression of lithium dendrite formation at high currents has been achieved (QuantumScape), but successful commercialization depends on an ambitious upscaling effort that is still to be accomplished.
    • Sulfides: suppression of toxic hydrogen sulfide gas emissions in ambient air has been achieved (BASF together with Waterloo University, Prof. Linda Nazar and coworkers), but the extent of hydrogen sulfide emissions upon contact with water is not clear (important in case of an accident and during recycling). This makes projections on the necessary safety features at pack level difficult.
    • Polymers: it is not yet clear if it will be possible to avoid liquid electrolytes if a polymer battery is to be operated at room temperature.
  • Recap - International Battery Seminar & Exhibit VIRTUAL
    Posted on 2020-08-04

  • Our key takeaway from this great event is that the secular growth of the battery industry continues. The crisis due to COVID-19 is expected to cause only a temporary slowdown during 2020 (for example presentation by Avicenne Energy).
  • Diverging opinions exist regarding solid-state batteries. Speakers from large current Li-ion battery suppliers (such as Bob Gaylen, recently retired from CATL and Celina Mikolajczak, Panasonic) pointed out the high costs and significant time necessary to scale up production for a new technology to the scale of liquid electrolyte Li-ion batteries.
  • At the same time, many established automotive players (such as Toyota, VW, Hyundai/Kia, Ford, Daimler, BMW) see a chance in establishing increased vertical integration by bringing a solid-state battery technology to market, frequently in collaboration with startups.
  • b-science.net hosted the virtual breakout discussion on 'solid-state batteries - key technology approaches & time-to-market', in which insightful discussions took place between attendees from big corporations, startups and academia.
  • In parallel, improvements are being made regarding the incorporation of silicon-containing composite material anodes into existing liquid electrolyte Li-ion battery manufacturing processes (e.g. by Sila Nanotechnologies).
  • Prof. Whittingham (Nobel laureate in chemistry 2019) and Prof. Dahn pointed out opportunities and challenges with regards to high energy cathode materials, while Andrew Miller from Benchmark Minerals pointed out how resource bottlenecks could occur by 2026 regarding lithium, cobalt and potentially also nickel.
  • Further efforts towards increased energy density, reduced cobalt content in cathode materials and recycling are therefore crucial.
  • Recap - Battery Japan in Tokyo
    Posted on 2019-03-07

  • The conference adjacent to Battery Japan in Tokyo once again provided excellent insights into ongoing R&D activities and market developments, thanks to simultaneous translations from Japanese to English.
  • Mr. Hideo Takeshita from B3 Corp. explained how market growth for Li-ion batteries continues in mobile/IT and xEV applications, while the ESS (stationary energy storage systems) market is growing as well, albeit from a smaller base. Li-ion batteries are starting to encroach on lead-acid batteries in automotive SLI (starting, lighting, ignition) and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) battery applications.
  • Both Mr. Takeshita and Mr. Yosikazu Watanabe from Tukushi Shigen Consul (TSC) do not believe lithium & cobalt supply will pose an insurmountable supply risk as the Li-ion battery industry grows further, because there are many new mining projects that will lead to increased lithium supply, and because cobalt content in cathode materials has already dropped to 5% for NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum) and to 15% for NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) materials.
  • A further highlight was the presentation by Dr. Shinji Nakanishi from the Advanced Material Engineering Division of Toyota, who illustrated how they modify interfaces in solid-state batteries with the help of advanced surface treatment processes. These processes can be applied to materials in bulk powder form rather than at device level. This leads to high process throughput at large scale and manageable costs. Solid electrolyte particles are deposited using a liquid coating process in the presence of a binder, which again, as a rule is more efficient and robust than powder compression & sintering in devices.
  • Toyota expects a higher energy density for solid-state batteries, but a low power density as compared to Li-ion batteries based on liquid electrolytes. Although high power densities are achievable with solid-state batteries, there are likely negative effects on longevity upon applying high currents (crack formation). The presentation by Toyota together with the targeted acquisition of Maxwell Technologies by Tesla supports our prediction from 2018 that supercapacitors will be combined with solid-state batteries in automotive and ESS systems.
  • Recap - China International Battery Fair (CIBF) in Shenzhen
    Posted on 2018-05-26

  • With 1,250 exhibitors and ca. 40,000 visitors, the CIBF has been a tremendous opportunity to learn and engage with new and existing contacts. We thank the organizers for providing us with a favorable exhibition space in Hall 1.
  • On the streets of Shenzhen, it was apparent how electric vehicles have become increasingly abundant as compared to prior visits. This subjective impression is consistent with the fact that Shenzhen is the first city in the world that replaced its whole diesel bus fleet with electric buses.
  • After demonstrating a summary of our energy storage innovation & patent review to a three figure number of visitors at CIBF and The Battery Show Europe, we can state that individual visitors from large and small industry players confirmed our findings are of high interest and granularity. Nobody contested our observations, which we think further supports the validity of our machine learning based approach towards the global energy storage patent literature.
  • seif Impact Academy
    Posted on 2018-03-23

  • During the next five months, we will participate in the Zurich-based seif Impact Academy, which supports impact enterprises during the growth phase. Our coach is an IT security executive from the Swiss financial services industry.
  • Making Technology Less Manipulative
    Posted on 2018-03-09

  • In this thought-provoking Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders presentation, Tristan Harris (Time Well Spent) explains how Internet businesses that finance themselves through advertising employ machine learning techniques to attract users to spend as much time as possible on their site.
  • According to Tristan, if a user pays for a service on the Internet, the interests between the user and the service provider are better aligned towards solving a problem within the shortest time possible.
  • As it is our purpose to facilitate energy storage research, our target is that users spend as little time as necessary on our site to increase innovation productivity. Consequently, it is our intention to finance ourselves through user contributions rather than through advertising.
  • Commercialization of Battery Materials
    Posted on 2017-11-12

  • A recently published article by Prof. Vinayak Dravid from Northwestern University and coworkers very nicely illustrates the challenges of converting battery-related inventions demonstrated at the R&D bench level to real life applications.
  • A systematic framework is proposed based on observations from the pharmaceutical industry. Because battery performance is typically limited by interface effects, it is important to emphasize that the more different material combinations are tested at each successive technology readiness level, the higher is the likelihood that a battery material will be incorporated into a real life system.
  • Machine Learning as a Prediction Tool for Researchers
    Posted on 2017-05-17

  • This article in the Harvard Business Review describes very well what the role of machine learning should be for knowledge workers, a prediction tool that allows for better-informed judgements.
  • Machine learning can be very helpful to search and filter data to assemble a comprehensive set of relevant information at a speed that was not feasible previously.
  • The creative task of designing experiments and judging among different options should remain firmly in the hands of the researcher, and should always be driven by a clearly formulated hypothesis.