The Project FiveVB has two primary objectives for the next-generation of Li-Ion (lithium-ion) battery cells:
The first is to achieve a higher energy density cell by using innovative actives materials to develop a high voltage cell as well as an assessment of the aging phenomena evaluated by testing and modelling.
The second is to develop a methodology with the project team that demonstrates how it will be possible in the future to assess and to evaluate advancements in materials that will speed up the development of even better cells after the project is finished.
Despite the fact that the world-wide annual production of lithium ion cells is meanwhile more than one billion units per year there is still demand for considerable improvements in respect of costs, life-time and energy density. Moreover, in the future lithium ion batteries will have to be more specific to different demands, such as long calendar and cycle life, temperature range, high energy or high power etc. – especially in case of automotive applications.
First goal is an academic knowledge coming out of the material science. Second goal has to be achieved by affordable materials and processes, which can be economically used in mass-production to reduce the costs.
End of 2013 BMW introduced the highly innovative i3 to the market with a pure electric driving range of approx. 150km. The base-cell for the BMW i3 is a 60Ah prismatic hardcase cell with a nominal operating voltage of 3,7V. Just recently BMW introduced its i8 (PHEV1) with an electric range of approx. 37 km and a PHEV1 format Li-Ion cell with a nominal capacity of approx. 20Ah and a nominal voltage of 3,7V. Since there is no European supplier available so far, the Li-Ion single cells for i3/i8 need to be imported from Asia. The i3 and i8 EVs are an innovative and proven technology today. However the market acceptance would be even higher if the single cell would show 20% increased specific energy or energy density and 20% lower costs. Thus a strong European supply chain is necessary to reduce the dependency from Non-European suppliers. This requires also tremendous R&D efforts to compete with the so far more experienced Asian cell suppliers and achieve the above mentioned challenging targets.
The vision of this FiveVB project is to push European’s Lithium battery industry and academia to take over a leading role in the development and manufacturing of Lithium Ion cells and materials to provide cost and performance competitive Lithium Ion cells and batteries to European and Non-European Automotive Industry.
By leveraging this potential, FiveVB will:
- help to integrate the industrial partners in the value chain both vertically and horizontally,
- give the industrial partners the opportunity to refine innovative advanced materials for the specific use in a high-energy, high-voltage Li-Ion cells,
- create a joint common reference cell that serves as an orientation point for further developments,
- create a working methodology that serves as a reference for future cell developers, to be able better leverage the knowledge and experience of materials suppliers,
- establish the initial requirements on manufacturing technology to ensure potential scale-up according to technological success and market pull.
Asian developers have much more experience than the rest of the world in terms of battery development when it comes to Li-ion batteries, mainly because of their success in the portable electronics industry. Europe has to find new pathways when attempting to catch up with the far eastern competition. A new intelligent approach may be just the right recipe.
Advances in materials science are currently very dynamic. Thus it would be negligent to focus development efforts on one single set of materials and attempt to optimize this combination for both performance, cost and lifetime. But rather identifying a favourite materials portfolio and develop new means of cooperation during the electrode system design process that would enable the consortium to more effectively tap in the future dynamics of materials innovation.
The detailed objectives of FiveVB are:
- Improved cell technology of a PHEV1 format cell, which is defined as the state-of-the art and reference for the FiveVB project, the improvement in numbers: +28% gain in energy density and at the same time a reduction of cost by 20%
- Assessment of industrialization requirements of the advanced cell technology in Europe using a research prototype line with the capability of fast scale-up to automotive series demands (TRL 5)
- Proven durability of 2000 full cycles (until 80% capacity retention from initial capacity) for a new combination of chemistries in an early development phase
- Standardized test procedure focusing on life cycle, safety, and calendar life testing for this FiveVB high energy battery type
- Proven feasibility for PHEV1 application demonstrated on prototype cell and virtual module/battery level
To achieve those objectives, the partners from FiveVB will first make use of optimizing most promising materials like high voltage cathode and high capacity anode active materials and also safe and environmentally friendly electrolytes. For the second step, the processes for electrode and cell manufacturing will be developed to match the unique processing requirements for those new materials. With the third step, the material and cell performance will be evaluated to be developed standardized and accelerated test sequences and finally the feasibility of this advanced technology for electric vehicles will be provided by virtual integration in typical vehicles, e.g. BMW i3 or i8.