The European Union is betting on the batteries of the future
Key objectives can be brought into focus with the Battery 2030+ roadmap just defined. These are: achieving cleaner lithium batteries, with lower CO2 emissions, lower use of critical raw materials, at more accessible prices, with better performance and 100% recyclable. The main group consists of 17 organisations from 9 European countries. One of these is Kaitek Flash Battery.
Here’s the roadmap for Battery 2030+. Europe is betting on itself and the ability of its industry to fill the gap in the value chain of new-generation traction batteries. Battery 2030+ is the most innovative part of the European Battery Alliance (EBA) project . Its purpose is to develop “the sustainable batteries of the future and to enable Europe to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal”.
A market worth 250 billion euros
The energy transition game is also being played at the energy management level, in terms of the possibility of storing energy for later use as needed. Batteries are, therefore, right at the centre of a market worth an estimated 250 billion euros from here to 2025 and today monopolised by Asian manufacturers. And the EU wants to get a bigger slice of the pie than its current 5%. The plea comes from automakers engaged in the new frontier of electrically powered vehicles.
The transition towards electric mobility is one of the objectives laid down by the European Union to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, which in Europe amounts to 275 million tonnes of petrol and diesel every year. According to DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook 2019 report, in 2032 fully electric passenger vehicles will represent half of the total sold worldwide. Battery costs have dropped drastically: the cost today is 156 dollars/ kWh while just ten years ago it was 1000 dollars/kWh. Nevertheless, it still represents more of one third of the value of the car. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in 2023 the cost will be down to 100 dollars/kWh. This means the cost of owning an electric vehicle will match that of a conventional one.
Don’t leave the leadership in the hands of Asia
A battery industry is lacking in Europe so the old world is forced to buy batteries from Asia. This is inevitable in the short term and given the current technology, but things could change with the technological leap expected over the next decade. The competition is already at work. Samsung, one of the top manufacturers in the world, announced that it developed a solid-state battery prototype ensuring a range of up to 800 km in a 50% smaller package compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries.
Key objectives can be brought into focus with the Battery 2030+ roadmap just defined. These are: achieving cleaner batteries, with lower CO2 emissions, lower use of critical raw materials, at more accessible prices, with better performance and 100% recyclable. The Fraunhofer research and development centre for electric mobility at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) of Würzburg is coordinating the project. “Currently, we are contributing to over a dozen national and European battery-related collaborative projects, providing our know-how on production processes and materials” stated Henning Lorrmann, head of the Fraunhofer ISC research and development centre.
The main group consists of 17 organisations from 9 European countries, coordinated by Kristina Edström, professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Uppsala. The project is funded, among others, by the Horizon 2020 European research programme. Participating for Italy is the Polytechnic University of Turin, represented by Chemistry professor Silvia Bodoardo.
Three key objectives: materials, electronics and sustainability.
The roadmap of research has pinpointed three directions:
- improvement of the battery’s active materials and components;
- integration of smart functionalities;
- manufacturability and recyclability.
In the first case, work is being done on researching and developing the best interface between electrode and electrolyte. Having real data on battery life cycle is essential here. For this reason, the BIG-MAP (Battery Interface Genome – Materials Acceleration Platform) was launched to develop a shared European database.
In the second case, the work focuses on integrating smart functionalities to increase battery duration and safety. This involves developing sensors to detect chemical and electrochemical reactions in order to implement continuous monitoring of the battery’s state of health (SOH) and state of safety (SOS) and even enable the cell to self-repair. This means creating smart batteries that integrate new detection technologies in the battery management system, which is the “brain” of the accumulator. “Battery design and development is stepping into the digital era”, summarises Edström, who is also Director of Battery 2030+.
Lastly, cross-cutting battery manufacturability and recyclability areas must nurture the discovery and development process from the very beginning of materials that can be manufactured and recycled in a sustainable way, and this not so much for the costs involved, but to reduce the environmental impact.
Italy pitches in with the Polytechnic University of Turin
The only Italian institution involved is the Electrochemistry Group of the Department of Applied Sciences and Technology of the Polytechnic University of Turin, headed by Silvia Bodoardo. However, several Italian companies are participating in the individual projects: FPT Industrial, Comau, Piaggio, CNH Industrial, FIAT’s Research Centre, Lithops (Seri Group, the only Italian manufacturer of Li-ion cell electrodes), Archimede Energia, Manz, GM, FEV, MAVEL, and Kaitek Flash Battery.
ENEA is also expected to enter after the second call in January (the first closes in May). Meanwhile, the Polytechnic University of Turin opened a European Masters on energy storage technologies, one of the first in the continent.