Battery research - SkaLiS project funded with 2.2 million euros
Powerful, compact, and affordable batteries are needed for the energy transition. Groups at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) led by Prof. Yan Lu, Dr. Ingo Manke, and Dr. Sebastian Risse are conducting this research. They are investigating and developing novel types of electrode materials based on sulphur and silicon. Risse is now also coordinating a large project involving teams from HZB as well as from the University of Potsdam near Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin, the Technische Universität Dresden and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS Dresden.
The SkaLiS project will commence July 2021 and receive a total of 2.2 million euros in funding over the next three years from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). SkaLiS stands for "Operando analysis-supported, trans-scale and scalable electrode design for increasing the performance of lithium-sulphur pouch cells".
The participating research groups in SkaLiS (FKZ: 03XP0398) intend to produce a lithium-sulphur (Li-S) demonstrator battery in pouch cell format whose cathode simultaneously exhibits structure at several scales. This approach should enable the Li-S battery to be considerably safer, offer longer service life, and higher performance than previous battery cells. For the assessment of industrial relevance, the consortium is supported by an industrial advisory board consisting of representatives from Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Wingcopter, Customcells and E-Lyte.
The HZB Institute for Electrochemical Energy Storage has already set up the appropriate infrastructure to accomplish this work. It is known as the Pouch-Cell Line – experimental batteries in flat pouches can be produced in the facility from raw materials in a few simple steps (see video clip).
In addition, the SkaLiS project will also make a six-figure investment in a new detector system for a small-angle X-ray instrument. It is currently being set up at the Berlin-Wannsee campus in Risse's electrochemistry group and is particularly suited for studying materials such as battery electrodes.
Prof. Yan Lu, head of the Institute, and her team of chemists produce the cathode material themselves. It consists of finely ground sulphur particles embedded in a carbon powder substrate that features specific porosities. After the experimental battery cell has been fabricated in Berlin and Dresden, the electrochemical performance, safety, and service life are analysed in detail by the research groups headed by Manke and Risse using operando methods. This allows immediate conclusions to be drawn about cell fabrication and cathode material synthesis, which are also important for industrial-scale applications.