/High-energy solid-state batteries with novel liquid-processed nanocomposite electrolyte

High-energy solid-state batteries with novel liquid-processed nanocomposite electrolyte

PhD - Genk | More than two weeks ago

At the forefront of solid-state battery research

Global efforts towards reduced CO2 emissions are pushing towards a rapid implementation of electrification of transportation. A steep deployment of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is expected in the coming decades. However, to convince the average consumer to buy electric, the electric vehicle should be affordable, safe and with the comfort of large enough driving range and short enough charging time. A range of 700km is considered a turning point in consumer interest. Cells of >1000Wh/L (>500Wh/kg) will be needed to reach this driving range. Today’s lithium-ion cells can deliver a little less than 700Wh/L (230Wh/kg) and thus a significant boost in energy density is still needed. However, it is expected that without significant breakthrough in materials, the energy density of the lithium ion cell will stagnate around its practical limit of 800Wh/L (300Wh/kg). The solution proposed to break through this 800Wh/L ceiling, is a switch to all solid-state lithium-metal battery cells, targeted for late-2020’s. The general idea behind the all solid-state lithium-metal cell is simple: replace the relatively thick graphite negative electrode in current-day Li-ion battery with a much thinner lithium metal electrode to increase the energy density of the cell. The solid electrolyte enables the use of lithium metal for rechargeable cells, which is inconceivable with liquid electrolytes because of safety issues. All solid-state cells with lithium metal (Li-metal solid-state battery) have been indicated as generation 4b on the EU battery technology roadmap. At imec we have developed a novel solid nanocomposite electrolyte concept which is processed from liquid precursors. The PhD project entails the development of processes for the fabrication of solid-state battery cells using our unique liquid-to-solid processed solid electrolyte which is easily impregnated into the electrodes providing multiple advantages towards cell performance and upscale manufacturing.

The electrolyte material remains somewhat elastic after solidification, and thus compliant with the volume changes in the electrodes, guaranteeing a long cycle life of the solid-state cells. Control and understanding of the impregnation process and of the mechanical properties will be important to control tight interfaces for good cell performance and cycling lifetime. The liquid processing approach makes that the solid-state cells can be produced on existing cell assembly lines with minor adjustments which lowers capital investment and promises suitable production technologies at a competitive cost. The work will be executed in the state-of-the-art battery lab with dry room in EnergyVille in Genk.

Required background: Chemistry, materials science, nanotechnology

Type of work: experimental

Supervisor: Philippe Vereecken

Daily advisor: Mohammed Mezaal

The reference code for this position is 2022-070. Mention this reference code on your application form.