Energy at its best: German battery pioneer CustomCells unveils new brand identity
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Energy at its best: German battery pioneer CustomCells unveils new brand identity
Career opportunities with a sustainable future: Boosting battery production, hiring skilled workers
German government supports training center for battery specialists in Itzehoe with 20 million euros
Reinhard Ploss appointed advisory board chair of CustomCells
CustomCells urges comprehensive strategy for German battery technology expansion
Another step towards electrified aviation: CustomCells enters cooperation with Vaeridion
Faktor 3 AG
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), “Integrated and Accelerated Process Optimization for the Production of Prelithiated Electrodes for Energy Storage with Machine Learning Methods – InProMaL” is a collaborative project, involving partners Batterieingenieure GmbH (BI – Coordinator), Forschungszentrum Jülich, Helmholtz-Institut Münster (HI MS), and Wacker Chemie AG (WACKER).
InProMaL’s overarching objective is to introduce a novel approach to optimizing the processing of alloy-forming electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries. This will be achieved by systematically linking a Design of Experiment (DoE)-based experimental design with customized Machine Learning (ML) algorithms. The computational development approach will be employed to integrate the innovative processing step of electrochemical pre-lithiation of electrode materials. This process results in higher energy densities and longer life for lithium-ion batteries with high silicon content, positioning them as a high-capacity replacement for graphitic materials in the negative electrode. This aligns with the goals of battery cell manufacturers.
Through the development of solid-state batteries, improvements of conventional lithium-ion batteries can be achieved in several areas. By replacing the mostly flammable liquid electrolytes with solid lithium-ion conductors, the safety of the cells can be significantly increased. In addition, by using anode materials with high energy densities such as elemental lithium, cells with extremely high energy and power densities can be produced. In the BMBF-funded project “BiSSFest”, solid-state batteries with sulphidic solid-state electrolyte and lithium anode are to be developed. This class of solid-state electrolytes is particularly characterised by high lithium ion conductivity and good processability. Starting with the (further) development of the materials, via their processing into electrodes and cells, up to the definition of the operating conditions of the batteries, all aspects of this new cell type will be illuminated. CustomCells will be responsible for the cell assembly and the characterisation of the sulphidic solid-state batteries within the framework of the project. Particular focus will be placed on investigating the necessary manufacturing and operating conditions of the cells. In addition, CustomCells will manufacture solid-state batteries under completely inert and dry room atmospheres and subsequently compare their performance. The work in the project can thus make an important contribution to the commercialisation of this new, promising battery technology.
The 3beLiEVe project aims to strengthen the position of the European battery and automotive industry by delivering the next generation of battery cells, developed and manufactured in Europe, for the electric vehicle market. CustomCells focuses on the development of automotive battery cells with high performance (high energy density, fast charging capability, long lifetime) that are free of critical raw materials such as cobalt and natural graphite. In addition, the integration of sensors in and on the cells is being investigated. This should enable intelligent, adaptive operating strategies and advanced diagnostics to extend the useful life of the battery in applications. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 875033.
The NeuroBatt project aims to generate a database by systematically testing lithium-ion batteries with integrated optical sensors. By means of cyclic and calendrical aging tests as well as dynamic impedance spectroscopy, an AI-supported prognosis tool for the condition determination and lifetime prediction of electrical energy storage devices will be developed and evaluated. In the project, CustomCells is developing intelligent pouch cells that provide the data for the prognosis tool by integrating sensors. A particular challenge here is the direct integration of an optical fiber into the electrode coating of the cells, which will later provide data on local pressure and temperature differences in the cells via optical measurements, among other things. The AI-supported evaluation of this data makes it possible to optimize the operating strategies of electrochemical energy storage systems in order to limit aging effects or to detect them at an early stage.
In the InterBatt project, CustomCells is developing a new type of cell technology which, based on an “all solid state” concept, is to be projected onto the processes currently in use. To achieve this goal, systematic adjustments are being made to the manufacturing technologies. Anode materials and coated anode foils will be developed and further processed in cooperation with the partners. A cathode specially designed for the construction of test cells is to enable rapid market access for this technology after the end of the project. The electrochemical characteristics of the cells will be integrated into the evaluation of the market situation.
The aim of the project is to increase the silicon content of the anode up to 25 % – and thus significantly compared to the state of the art – by means of novel nanoporous silicon powders, which can be manufactured via a cost-effective, environmentally compatible (free of hydrofluoric acid) and easily scalable process. The project also aims to combine the newly developed anode with a commercially available next-generation cathode (high nickel content) to produce a large-format pouch cell. Computationally, this development is expected to increase the energy density above 350 Wh/kg and 1,000 Wh/l in pouch cells. CustomCells will participate in the anode paste development and battery cell production as part of the RoSiLiB project.
Sustainable, high-quality carbon additives are essential to further enhance the performance of Li-ion batteries. In the HiQ Carb project, high-purity conductive additives and high-quality carbon nanotubes are being developed and manufactured by the leading European material manufacturers. The developed high quality carbon additives and carbon nanotubes will be used to manufacture the high energy and high performance cathodes. CustomCells will use the developed carbon additives and optimized recipes to scale up electrode manufacturing and produce pilot cells with high power density and high energy density, respectively.
The SOLIFLY project has three vertical objectives. First, to explore and further develop a non-conventional formulation of a semi-solid Li-ion battery material suitable for structural batteries: NMC622 (cathode), Si/C (anode), and bicontinuous polymer ionic liquid electrolyte (BCE), i.e., NMC622|BCE|Si/C. Second: Enabling the functional integration of this material within CCF and RMS concepts, targeting the level of a representative aeronautical stiffened panel structure. Third, the SOLIFLY demonstrator aims to achieve a cell-level gravimetric energy density between 100 and 180 Wh/kg at a nominal discharge rate of 1C. The cell shall be capable of 300+ cycles at 0.1C with 90% capacity retention. Overall, the concept shall be at a TRL level of 4. CustomCells is creating an industrialization concept for this innovative technology in cooperation with the partners. This project has received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101007577. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Clean Sky 2 JU members other than the Union.
CustomCells develops the next generation (3b) of battery cells in the HighSpin project. HighSpin aims to develop high-performing, safe and sustainable generation 3b high-voltage spinel LNMO||Si/C material, cells and modules with a short industrialisation pathway and demonstrate their application for automotive and aeronautic transport applications. The project addresses in full the scope of the HORIZON-CL5-2021-D2-01-02 topic, setting its activities in the “high-voltage” line. Funded by the European Union. Views and Opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessary reflect those of the European Union or Horizon Europe. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
CustomCells develops and upscales electrodes and cell designs for next generation batteries (3B) based on Si-Gr/LMnO. The IntelLiGent project answers to the need for general public acceptance of EVs, by facilitating the industrial deployment of next-generation batteries allowing for an increased driving range, fast charging capabilities, low cost and increased safety. Funded by the European Union. Views and Opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessary reflect those of the European Union or Horizon Europe. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
CustomCells develops and scales a all-solid-state battery technology with an halide electrolyte up to a prototype cell production environment. To support the upcoming short-term needs of the battery industry, it is imperative to have new differentiating European battery technology for 4b generation batteries on the market from 2025. Halide solid state batteries for ELectric vEhicles aNd Aircrafts (HELENA) responds to the need of the development of a safe, novel high energy efficiency and power density solid state battery (4b generation batteries) cells, based on high capacity Ni-rich cathode (NMC), high-energy Li metal (LiM) anode and Li-ion superionic halide solid electrolyte for application in electric vehicles and, especially in aircrafts. HELENA will support Europe, in this sense, on its transition towards a climate-neutral continent since electric aviation is poised to take off within the next five to 10 years, with innovations already being pursued for electric vehicle batteries. Moreover, HELENA will avoid dependence on Asia for battery production. HELENA is built by a multidisciplinary and highly research experienced consortium that covers the whole battery value chain and proposes a disruptive halide-based solid-state cell technology with the overall aim to significantly increase the adoption of these batteries on aircrafts and EVs The technical challenges that are presented by current conventional battery technology and the consumer needs will be overcome – especially the reduction in costs of battery devices, enable scalable and safe cell manufacturing, increasing their capabilities for long distance traveling and fast charging, ensuring a high safety of the battery. Funded by the European Union. Views and Opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessary reflect those of the European Union or Horizon Europe. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
The HiBRAIN project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) as part of the 7th Energy Research Program of the Federal Government “Innovations for the Energy Transition”. In order to support the strategic goal of the energy transition in transport, the project focuses on the development of new cells for electrochemical energy storage. The HiBRAIN project involves representatives from material, electrode and automotive production as well as software developers, universities and research centers with expertise in battery materials, mathematical modeling and model-based (stochastic and numerical) simulation. The HiBRAIN project thus strengthens the link between basic research and industrial application with regard to suitable simulation methods to support electrode design. The aim of the joint project is to develop an effective tool for the virtual design of new electrodes, based on the selection of suitable materials, the choice of microstructure (e.g. size and shape of primary and secondary particles), the additional coating of active particles and the structure and thickness of the electrodes. The challenge for the HiBRAIN project is to develop a holistic approach that also involves the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize electrode design. The extensive database required for this shall be generated primarily by model-based simulations, which will be supported by specifically collected experimental data. Within the framework of this project, CustomCells will primarily deal with the production of specifically tailored, performance-optimized electrodes and cells for the testing and validation of the developed simulation tool.
NoVOC (Eliminating VOC from Battery manufacturing through dry or wet processing) – CustomCells further develops dry processing of electrodes with the aim of sustainable and solvent-free battery production. The project NoVOC addresses the Topic Environmentally sustainable processing techniques applied to large scale electrode and cell component manufacturing for Li ion batteries. The activities of NoVOC are tailored to the challenges addressed by the call topic: 1. Lower carbon footprint cell manufacturing in Europe 2. New sustainable electrode and cell manufacturing techniques with low energy consumption, and no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emissions 3. Electrode coating production techniques eliminate organic solvents reduce the capital costs associated to the solvent recovery system 4. Dry manufacturing techniques with next generation materials 5. Industrializing closed loops and process design to return low-value chemicals from manufacturing processes to high-value products. In NoVOC we aim to design and demonstrate two competitive cell manufacturing technologies aqueous and dry cell manufacturing technologies for automotive batteries intended for production in Europe. The innovations proposed in NoVOC centre on improvements of cell manufacturing process by integrating two novel electrode manufacturing processes into the currently available cell assembly process and demonstrate manufacturability of automotive cells in two formats (pouch and cylindrical) with no toxic organic solvent at the fraction of the cell manufacturing cost that is currently available today. Next generation cell manufacturing processes developed in Europe for electric vehicles batteries.
The aim of the revoLect research project is to create new types of electrodes with lightweight fabric-based current collectors for lithium-ion batteries (LIB) and to significantly increase the specific energy density. The work will be divided into corresponding subprojects of the individual partners. The aim in the subproject of the partner CustomCells Itzehoe GmbH is to carry out a coating of the novel substrate with an electrode paste under industrial conditions. In subsequent electrochemical measurements, the performance of battery cells with the ultralight fabric-based current collectors is to be investigated. This will not only demonstrate that the material can be processed as a substrate for lithium-ion batteries, but also that it is worthwhile.
In NEWBORN, CustomCells is developing a certifiable battery to support a fuel cell powered powertrain in the aviation sector. NEWBORN focuses on realistic and commercially viable project outcomes significantly exceeding the Call topic Expected Outcomes. This is the only path to bring a real impact, well beyond paperwork and test rigs. With this in mind, the project applies the steppingstone principle and intends to bring aviation graded fuel cells into the market as soon as safely possible. This will generate operational data to support certification on CS-25 aircraft. It will further provide vital acceptance gap mitigation in the conservative air transport environment. The 18 multi-disciplinary partners, including 3 non-traditional aerospace partners and 2 SMEs, will work on 28 key enabling technologies. They will be matured and optimized to support an EIS of CS-23 aircraft by 2030 and regional aircraft by 2035. The ambition of the project is to achieve an overall propulsion system efficiency of 50% by 2026, calculated as a ratio of energy on the propeller shaft to the hydrogen lower heating value. This ambition greatly surpasses the expected outcome of the HPA-02 Call. Similarly, by the end of 2025, the project will demonstrate widely scalable fuel cell power source technology with a power density of >1.2 kW/kg and stack power density of >5 kW/kg. Technologies will be adaptable to different maximum flight altitudes of ≤ FL250 and ≤FL450, and scalable down to ~250kW and reusable for secondary power in SMR flying altitudes by 2026. An innovative cryogenic tank concept will be integrated, demonstrating a gravimetric index of 35% for the CS-23 aircraft and scalable up to 50% for regional aircraft. The project will also address high power density high voltage energy conversion, propulsion systems, and the next generation microtube heat exchangers, along with an accurate digital twin of the overall system. Altogether, NEWBORN will develop a technology demonstrator prepared for flight demonstration in Clean Aviation Phase 2.
The “TwinTRACE” joint project brings together industry and researchers to shape the factory of the future and sets itself the goal of developing a digitization technology with which the quality and traceability of a variant-rich battery cell production can be brought to a world-leading level. To this end, technical solutions are being developed and validated at the three innovation levels of transparency, networking, and autonomy. For the innovation level of transparency, the process and product data are to be fully recorded in forward production and the traceability of each material/product component is to be made possible. With the innovation level networking, the collected data is used to develop a virtual representation (digital twin) and consequently to map the system behavior, taking into account logical and physical processes. This virtual representation offers manufacturers the possibility of maintaining products and systems in advance, as well as determining production quality, machine availability, and the qualitative classification of the end product in advance. The last innovation level, autonomy, is intended to achieve a direct influence on the process and product quality by having autonomously acting solutions take over process control in real time based on data and bring about a significant increase in quality.
As part of the ProMoBatt project, the process step of cell stack formation will be systematically and sustainably optimized by developing performant process models. CustomCells will deal with the optimization of the already existing Z-folder. By creating a digital twin as well as integrating new inline analytics, an increase in stack accuracy and speed as well as a reduction in production waste will be achieved. As a result, not only can cells be produced with higher quality and safety, but cell production can be made more sustainable at the same time.
With participation in the GUTBatt project, CustomCells continues to aim for in-depth technical knowledge and further development of the dry coating process in-house. The project brings together all the necessary expertise from industry and science for the integral development of a dry coating process for electrodes for use in lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) and lithium-polymer solid electrolyte batteries (SSBs). The primary goal is to develop a scalable dry coating process for the production of battery electrodes using different innovative materials. The knowledge acquired from a similar project coordinated by CCI, ‘‘ProLit‘‘ will be used as a basis for targeted process optimization. The entire consortium will examine possible solvent-free process routes and safety concepts, and a dry coating process for LIB will be established on a laboratory scale. For this purpose, the active material (AM) graphite will be used on the anode side and higher nickel AM on the cathode side. Based thereon, the dry coating process will be scaled up on the mixing process side and the resulting powder mixtures processed on a pilot calendar using the dosing technology developed in the project. The established process route will also be tested for polymer SSBs. On the anode side, a novel silicon-containing anode AM will also be transferred to the process route. The purpose therein is a complete understanding of the material-structure and process-structure-property relationships. In addition to this, an integral analysis of the process chain will be carried out to determine the scalability and adaptability of the process. Finally, based on data obtained from the project, a cost/benefit evaluation of the dry electrode production and a comparison with the conventional liquid-based process route will be performed.
QuW-LiB sets standards and develops innovative and scalable qualification concepts to quickly and sustainably address the shortage of skilled professionals in the field of lithium-ion batteries. The focus of the QuW-LiB project is the combination of the training process and its facilities with digital learning environments in order to carry out skilled worker training in the most resource-efficient and dynamic manner, aiming to train or further educate an annual number of 600-900 skilled professionals at various levels of the German Qualifications Framework (DQR) from the year 2026 onwards. A novelty and a quality feature of the project is the systematic definition of what professional competence means in the rapidly evolving battery industry and how once-trained professionals in this field can remain lifelong learners and adaptable. In addition, QuW-LiB emphasizes resource-efficient lithium-ion batteries to enable sustainable industrial transformation at the German economic location. The training and further education initiative is implemented by five equal partners: the battery manufacturers CustomCells and Northvolt, the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT), the industry network Renewable Energies Hamburg (EEHH), and the further education company Heinze Akademie GmbH. The project is sponsored by VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH.