The lithium-ion battery market is a rapidly growing industry that supplies rechargeable batteries for a wide range of applications, from portable electronic devices to electric vehicles. The EU-funded NEXTCELL project team aims to develop a revolutionary gel cell concept for high-capacity, high-voltage lithium-ion batteries. NEXTCELL's approach, led by the EV industry, and involving leading EV manufacturers across the value chain, will address the three key parameters hindering further market penetration of EV batteries. Lithium: costs, safety and sustainability.
The Li-ion battery (LIB) market is now entering a period where energy density improvements and cost reductions are levelling off for the current generation 3a. To continue with this trend while keeping pace with the increasing industry demands for cost reduction, user-friendliness of electric vehicles and safety, breakthrough innovations at material level and cell design are needed. Within this context, NEXTCELL overarching goal is to provide a new 3b LIB cell generation for both high capacity and high voltage applications developing and validating a ground-breaking gellified cell concept.
The project workplan revolves around a three dimension-based methodology: (i) Prototyping the gellified cell concept up to TRL6 (20Ah), (ii) Modelling the gellified cell concept, and (iii) Evaluation of technical, safety, sustainability, and costs improvements.
NEXTCELL’s approach will not only provide Europe with cutting edge 3b cells but will also tackle three key parameters hindering a greater market penetration of LIBs technology: (i) Costs: optimising its manufacturing processes, reducing capital and operating costs of future Giga-factories by avoiding evaporation of solvents and the electrolyte-filling step. (ii) Safety: Producing intrinsically safe cells, avoiding the presence of low boiling point components in cell components. (iii) Sustainability: Reducing energy consumption by 50% against SoA and avoiding the use of toxic organic solvents (NMP).
The project is led by the electric vehicle industry, from the project coordination by FEV (leading vehicle and powertrain international service provider) to key industry manufacturers along the value chain, such as SOLVAY (polymer, binders, and separators), ABEE (cathode production), VARTA (LIB manufacturer) or CRF (research centre for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group). Thus, NEXTCELL has a solid determination towards fast and successful commercialisation of the novel cell design and its new components after the project.