6. December 2023 | Press releases:

Environmentally friendly rechargeable batteries Efficient production processes for sustainable sodium-ion batteries

EAS Batteries, IoLiTec Ionic Liquids Technologies and three institutes of Technische Universität Braunschweig have joined forces to develop sustainable and cost-effective production processes for sodium-ion cells. Sodium-ion technology is expected to complement lithium-ion technology in the future and meet the growing demand for energy storage in an economically and ecologically sensible way. The “NaNaBatt” research project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with around €1.6 million from the “Battery materials for future electromobile, stationary and other industry-relevant applications – Battery 2020 Transfer” programme (funding reference 03XP0569). The total volume amounts to 2.2 million euros. The research project is coordinated by EAS Batteries.

Sodium-ion batteries are seen as an attractive storage technology for the future. Sodium is available in much larger quantities than the critical raw material lithium and can be extracted in a more environmentally friendly way. The real environmental impact of sodium-ion batteries lies in their manufacturing processes, such as the electricity and heat they consume. This is where the “NaNaBatt” project comes in, optimising the production processes of sodium-ion cells to create a sustainable storage technology that is on a par with lithium-ion cells in terms of performance. Although the relative energy density of sodium-ion cells is lower than that of lithium-ion cells, this can be compensated for by a cell volume that is around twenty percent higher. In the future, sodium-ion cells will be suitable for stationary energy storage and mobile applications. They have safety advantages over lithium-ion cells and are expected to have a longer lifetime, which will significantly reduce their overall cost.

Process transfer: sustainable, innovative and cost-effective

The aim of the “NaNaBatt” research project is to transfer established, efficient processes for the production of lithium-ion cells – in particular their electrodes – to sodium-ion technology at an early stage. In this way, environmentally friendly rechargeable batteries can be brought to market more quickly. Active materials will be used that are readily available, easy to source and easy to recycle. The result is to be demonstrated in the form of large cylindrical cells, which should have a “State of Health” of at least ninety percent after one thousand charge and discharge cycles. The processing techniques developed for the innovative and environmentally friendly process strategy will then be evaluated in a life cycle assessment.

The research project will run for three years, ending on 31 October 2026. The results will ensure the long-term development of German battery cell production. New know-how will strengthen Germany as an industrial location and the products developed will open up new markets. This will create skilled jobs and international competitiveness.

The Partners

Founded in 2003, IoLiTec Ionic Liquids Technologies GmbH (IOL) is an award-winning innovative technology company that develops and manufactures highly specialised chemical products for various industries and university research and development. The standard portfolio currently includes around 350 ionic liquids (ILs) for laboratory scale and over 20 ILs for pilot and industrial scale. IOLITEC also specialises in R&D services and custom synthesis for IL technology.

The Battery LabFactory Braunschweig (BLB) is a research centre of TU Braunschweig dedicated to the entire value chain of battery cell production. The BLB combines the transdisciplinary expertise of 18 members, three of whom work together in “NaNaBatt”:

The Institute for Particle Technology (iPAT) at Technische Universität Braunschweig, headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Arno Kwade, deals with process engineering issues related to electrochemical storage technologies, from basic research to process and production technology for industrial electrode manufacture. The main focus of his work in the field of battery process engineering is the systematic investigation of the process steps of material synthesis, mixing and dispersing, coating, drying, compacting and post-drying for the production of electrodes, recycling and safety investigations as well as the simulation of the individual processes.

The Schröder group at the Institute of Energy and Process Systems Engineering (InES) at TU Braunschweig has many years of experience in the electrochemical analysis of cells and has carried out numerous preliminary studies in the field of optimisation of Na-based cells and the components used, which are currently being extended by operando measurements (gas analysis with GC-MS, confocal microscopy, ultrasound and acoustics). The Novák group focuses on the electrochemical and operando/online analysis of battery cells and their components, with particular emphasis on clarifying the interactions between the individual components of the composite electrodes in order to better assess the safety and lifetime of the battery cells.

The Chair of Sustainable Manufacturing & Life Cycle Engineering at the Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology (IWF) at TU Braunschweig under the direction of Prof. Dr Christoph Herrmann has extensive expertise in the ecological, economic and simulation-technological analysis and evaluation of industrial production and recycling process chains. The IWF is a founding member of the Battery LabFactory Braunschweig and coordinates the cross-sectional field of “Sustainable Value Chains and Factory Systems” with the topics of energy and material flow modelling, factory/process chain simulation as well as Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The IWF is also responsible for organising the annual International Battery Production Conference (IBPC) in Braunschweig.

Large-format wound cells, LFP as a safe cell chemistry, energy-saving extrusion and an efficient contacting method are among the most attractive ideas in a quarter of a century of EAS history. As a highly specialised niche supplier, EAS Batteries has been developing innovative cell and battery solutions for 25 years at its production site in Nordhausen, Germany, including extremely robust and powerful cells for applications in the marine, aerospace, aviation, NRMM (Non-Road Mobile Machinery) and automotive industries. The EAS brand emerged from GAIA Akkumulatorenwerke GmbH, which was founded in Nordhausen in 1996. EAS Batteries GmbH has been part of the Monbat Group since June 2017.