DOE issues battery manufacturing Lab Call for solid-state and flow battery manufacturing

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced partnering opportunities for industry to work with National Laboratories on manufacturing scale-up and associated verification and validation for flow batteries and solid-state lithium batteries.

Topic 1. Developing Innovative Solid-State Battery Manufacturing Capabilities: All Topic 1 projects require a cost share of at least 20% of the total project costs. DOE seeks projects that focus on the following RD&D manufacturing areas:

  • Translating fundamental solid-state electrolyte R&D into large format/high- volume manufacturing RD&D. There are significant barriers to overcome before commercial use. The technical gap between optimized cell chemistry and design in solid-state batteries results from the paucity of capability or facilities dedicated to translating fundamental solid-state electrolyte development R&D into large format/high-volume manufacturing techniques that might differ from those commonly used in LiB manufacturing;
  • Enhancing precision processing and fabrication of solid-state batteries in large format cells. Without a widely available, high-quality material and the ability to dependably fabricate large batches of sufficiently sized cells, it is very difficult to ascertain the true state of readiness and performance of any proposed cell (solid-state electrolyte, interlayers, Li metal anode, and cathode). The lack of dedicated facilities for solid-state cell fabrication inhibits solid-state electrolyte development. Because of the variance in processing techniques and tools used in coin cell fabrication and testing in the lab, reliable comparison of solid-state electrolyte chemistries can be difficult. Some of the many fabrication and operational parameters that could be manipulated for specific battery chemistries and conditions in the lab are not practical, or even possible, in a real-world production line. More work pushing nascent methods from the laboratory scale to industrial readiness must be done to transition these batteries from the lab to the factory floor 14; and/or
  • Verification and validation (V&V) of solid-state battery scalability. Solid-state battery research still needs to: 1) assess the state of technology (i.e., commercial readiness) accurately with standard methods for high-quality, larger fabricated cells; and 2) develop the capacity to rapidly verify the scalability of breakthroughs in solid-state battery cells.

Topic 2. Developing Innovative Flow Battery Manufacturing Capabilities: All Topic 2 projects require a cost share of at least 50% of the total project costs.

Flow batteries, which consist of electrochemical cell stacks, storage tanks, and flow systems, have been widely recognized for their potential, especially for stationary energy storage systems. The modular design and scalability of these batteries make it possible to decouple power and energy needs, to simultaneously charge and discharge, and to achieve excellent operational lifetimes. Flow batteries also have much lower safety risks than other battery technologies as they can be designed with aqueous or non-flammable solvents.

DOE seeks projects that focus on the following RD&D manufacturing areas:

  • Manufacturing for new (or enhanced) cell/reactor architecture and configuration. A well-designed, flexible architecture and configuration for high power- and energy-dense flow batteries will accelerate adoption of the systems in varied use cases. Desired projects will be expected to consider architecture designs that are targeted for simplicity, adaptability, and/or scalability for specific use cases; and/or
  • Developing manufacturing/process standards. To take full advantage of flow batteries’ inherent modularity and scalability, the nascent flow battery industry would benefit from strengthened technical standards for component (e.g., cell, stack, electrode, bipolar plate, and/or membrane) manufacturing/process, testing, and validation. Developing such flow battery standards can accelerate the adoption of automated manufacturing to decrease the costs.

Two phases. These opportunities are part of a two-phase Lab Call.

  • For the first phase, National Laboratories have identified their respective resources, facilities, and capabilities that can be leveraged. DOE has published this list to stimulate collaboration between the National Laboratories and industry.
  • In the second phase, National Laboratories will develop full proposals with one or more domestic industry partners. A Cooperative Research and Development (CRADA) between each lab and its partners will be required to govern the work responsibilities for the project.

This lab call is funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO). Projects funded through this lab call will support DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge and the Long Duration Storage Shot. This lab call will also advance the mission of the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB), a federal agency working group committed to ensuring a domestic supply of lithium batteries for a robust and secure domestic industrial base.

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