Testing and Validating a Novel Electrode Manufacturing Process for Layer-by-Layer Coating
The biggest challenge facing the energy storage business is designing batteries that have both high energy density and high power density, while reducing manufacturing costs. Until now, industries have met this challenge by designing around material and manufacturing constraints. For this reason, much research is focused on developing new materials that can meet cost and performance requirements. However, today's lithium-ion technology still has room for improvement and a drastic expansion of the entire performance envelope is desperately needed.
Big Delta Systems (BDS) has developed a novel method of manufacturing battery electrodes using a layer-by-layer coating process, which focuses on electrode design that can reduce manufacturing cost. BDS’s coating process provides precise control over the spatial arrangement of electrode materials, as well as giving manufacturers the ability to tailor the relative composition of electrode layers. Using a semi-roll-to-roll electrode coating equipment prototype, BDS has successfully manufactured longer-than-two-meter electrode samples and has also demonstrated the manufacturability of micro-engineered electrode designs.
BDS’s next step is to demonstrate and validate the performance enhancements and cost saving achievable with their novel coating process. To do this, BDS is looking to develop Li-ion cell prototypes using their unique electrodes, as well as a scaled-up coating line, by solving key scaling problems utilizing Argonne National Laboratory’s Cell Analysis, Model and Prototyping facility to build industrially relevant prototype cells using the BDS electrode pairs. If successful, BDS will use data obtained from these cell tests to further improve their electrode design and manufacturing process. The cell prototypes and technical data on the cost and performance of these cell tests can validate BDS’s technology but also provide BDS a strong platform to engage with potential customers and secure funding for further developments.
PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES
BDS’s coating process can enable economic manufacturing of thick battery electrodes with maximized power density, which cannot be manufactured using today’s state-of-the-art coating process, but which are necessary for lowering the cost and increasing the energy density of batteries for mass markets. BDS thinks that, along with new material development, novel electrode designs are necessary to develop Li-ion batteries that will meet the energy and power requirements of the energy industry.
Reducing battery costs opens up new, cost-competitive markets in the electricity and transportation industries. Electric transportation can displace fuel use while utility-scale battery storage can help power providers manage loads.
Displacing fossil fuel use with better battery technology reduces associated pollutants, including greenhouse gases. Better power management can also allow utilities to keep older, less efficient fossil fuel plants offline, further reducing emissions.
Battery storage can act as backup power and better load management reduces risks for brownouts and blackouts in the event of grid disruption.
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