3D-printed sodium-ion batteries by 2025 Consortium plans mass production of solid-state batteries
Safer, cheaper, more sustainable and more flexible with increased performance – these are the attributes of a new generation of batteries: Solid-state batteries that rely on sodium instead of lithium and enable the production of variable volumes and geometries through 3D printing processes. Technische Universität Braunschweig is part of a German industry and research consortium that aims to make the previously validated laboratory results for 3D-printed solid-state batteries ready for mass production within the next three years. This project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action with over 25 million euros.
The chemical system of sodium-ion batteries is comparable in parts with lithium-ion cells. A significant advantage of sodium batteries is that raw materials are much easier and more environmentally friendly to obtain with comparable technology. The availability of sodium is many times higher than lithium and the price is significantly lower. In addition, the raw material does not have to be imported from outside Europe like lithium.
Moreover, the construction of a solid-state battery cell not only increases the energy density, but also leads to an improvement in many safety aspects of the battery at the same time. The prototype production of sodium batteries is designed in such a way that a wide variety of active materials can be used. Product-specific adjustments to the battery at cell level can thus be made quickly and cost-effectively. The printing process plays a decisive role here and allows volumetric optimisation in addition to geometric adaptation.
The Institute for Particle Technology (iPAT) at TU Braunschweig is taking on two tasks in the project. “On the one hand, we are developing the process of scalable paste production from the starting materials by means of extrusion. For this, we are supporting Blackstone accordingly in the implementation in production. Secondly, we are carrying out safety tests and conceptual trials for recycling,” says Dr Peter Michalowski, head of the Battery Process Engineering division at iPAT.
Test in real operation
The 3D-printed solid-state batteries produced as part of the project will be installed in an electric bus belonging to the Berlin company Eurabus in order to demonstrate their performance in real-life operation. The company Zeiss is contributing its extensive expertise in measurement technology and microscopy. The Fraunhofer Institutes for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM), for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) and for Surface Engineering and Thin Films (IST) as well as the Battery Process Engineering division at the iPAT of TU Braunschweig will work on process validation, process development, recycling, safety and economic-ecological life cycle assessment.
The project “3DPrintBatt – Nachhaltige, flexible additive Fertigungstechnologie für Natrium-Ionen-Festkörperbatterien” is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action with a total of 25 million euros, of which TU Braunschweig receives a share of 966,281 euros. The project started on 01.03.22 and ends on 29.02.2025.