Rechargeable, lithium-based batteries are the future for numerous applications, from new generation wearable and implantable devices to powering electric vehicles or balancing renewable energy supply and demand. Battery manufacturers therefore aim for higher energy storage capacity, a longer product lifespan and shorter charging times. In this fast-growing market, short production times at the lowest possible costs are essential for success. Holst Centre, Eindhoven, Netherlands, has announced that the Province of Noord-Brabant, the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy and TNO are investing in a pilot line for new 3D solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Aim is to develop a prototype that proves the technology works and can be mass-produced.
3D solid-state batteries
TNO experts at Holst Centre are developing a revolutionary battery type that is based on 3D technology and solid-state layers. Compared to the currently used ‘liquid’ lithium batteries, these ‘3D Solid-State Thin-Film’ batteries are lighter and safer. They recharge in no-time and have a long product lifespan. Solid-state batteries are made by covering billions of posts with ultra-thin layers of functional material, creating a 3D structure with a very large surface area and very short distances between both battery electrodes. The lithium-ions only have to travel a short distance, speeding up charging and de-charging times. The advantage of solid state is that there is little or no danger of fire or explosion. The first applications are expected to be incorporated in wearables, in which unsafe lithium batteries currently prevail. In the longer term, larger batteries will have to be developed for vehicles.
Investing in a promising technology
The grants are used to develop a pilot line of different tools that will be used to prove the technology works. The Province of Noord-Brabant contributes €1.5 million and the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy €3 million. Ton van Mol, Managing Director of Holst Centre for TNO: “Our researchers are pioneers in the field of 3D solid-state architecture. By applying spatial Atomic Layer Deposition (sALD), a technology developed in Eindhoven by TNO together with industrial partners, the battery layers can be uniformly deposited on a 3D structure, resulting in a new battery technology that can vastly improve the safety, charging speed and lifespan of existing lithium-ion batteries. We are delighted that the Province, the Ministry and TNO also believe in this important development for the Netherlands and invest in a pilot line. With this, we can build a prototype that will demonstrate that this promising technology is suitable for large-scale battery production.”
The Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy contributes to the project with a €3 million investment, emphasising the importance of keeping the technology in the Netherlands. State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy: “In the Knowledge and Innovation Covenant concluded last year between knowledge institutes, businesses and the Dutch government, an important role is attributed to the innovation of key technologies. This investment is a concrete example of how we ensure that we remain one of the leading economies in Europe and that we maintain our strong competitive position.”
The Province of Noord-Brabant invests €1.5 million in the project, a valuable technology for this high-tech region. Provincial Executive Martijn van Gruijthuijsen: “Brabant believes in high-tech solutions for the societal challenges we are all facing together. The energy transition demands solid battery storage capacity and we are proud of our high-tech manufacturers who devise solutions in this area. Additionally, production takes place in Brabant, decreasing our dependence on other parts of the world. This way, we invest in the Brabant economy of tomorrow and beyond. “