The project research efforts range from the development of high voltage and high energy density electrode materials and a thermodynamically stable, functional electrolyte to cell prototype and module (demonstrator) manufacturing processes (both low-cost), diagnostics, simulation, testing, and multiple analysis.
The work flow in eCAIMAN is divided in two major parts: “Materials Development & Improvement“, and “Proof of Concept & Prototyping”. The tasks are combined in eight work packages (WPs) with a synergetic balance between R&D, end user (=OEM) demands, and prototyping.
Materials Development and Improvement
In WP1-3, development of active materials and optimisations will take place. The cathode material of choice, a state of the art high-voltage spinel with a preferential composition of LNMO has already been developed and optimized at lab scale. It will be improved as necessary for pilot scale production for the demonstrator module to be assembled in WP5. Alternative ways of solving issues presently associated with LNMO materials will be proposed, based on in-depth knowledge and expertise of three of the partners (CEA, SP and CERTH).
The development of modified carbonaceous anodes and conductive additives will be carried out by IMERYS. IMERYS, together with POLITO, AIT and CERTH, will conduct research on increasing reversible capacity and electronic conductivity of the negative electrode material by partial replacement of the carbon with finely dispersed nano-particles of tin, antimony etc. or their alloys, oxides, sulphides and derivatives. With upgraded materials developed in WP1-3, and taking into account the weight of optimized inactive components including separators, binders, conductive additives as well as current collectors, a final formulation of both cathode and anode will be delivered to WP4. Moreover, special attention will be paid to the solid/liquid interface interactions of cell components, thus maximizing the cell harmonization and the efficiency of the operation.
IK4-CIDETEC will carry out the first stages of electrode scale-up optimisation and provide processing inputs for further development of double-side coated electrodes to LITHOPS at pre-pilot. Both will cooperate with AIT in tailoring the type and amount of binders and conductive additives to the particle size of active materials. To improve the energy density of cells, separators for 5V materials provided by ARKEMA and thin current collectors will be used.
Work that will be carried out in WP5 by LITHOPS concerning electrode casting will subsequently apply strategies to eliminate costly organic solvents in slurry preparation by utilizing eco-friendly water-based process and coating techniques. The cathode thickness will be increased to enhance cell-specific capacity. Some of the time-consuming steps, such as wetting and formation, will be optimized for the enhanced energy density as required in eCAIMAN.
Two generations of prototype cells will be prepared:
- The first prototype will be used to for electrical, mechanical and abuse testing. It will utilize the first generation of materials improved within WP1-3.
- The second generation prototype will be used for characterization, lifetime assessment, and to validate the safety tests done with the first generation of cells containing the final electrolyte formulation obtained in WP3. This generation of the cell will be used for assembling of the module demonstrator. Further the electrical, thermal and safety tests will be carried out.
Proof of Concept & Prototyping
In the "Proof of Concept & Prototyping" group- WP4-6 - the assembled cell and module prototypes will be tested. Safe Operation Area in terms of voltage, current and temperature of the cell will be examined by SP. To ensure basic functionality and safe operation of the modules for testing, control electronics and Battery Management Systems (BMS) or Module Management Systems (MMS) are useful.
AIT will provide some already developed electronic components and a BMS which has been checked for its functionality, and will adapt the BMS and the module electronics to be compatible to various cell configurations. The design and software will be updated to fit the voltage levels and characteristics of the new cells. The modularity and easy integration of the developed cell and module will be evaluated for light (moped), passenger (car) and heavy (truck) vehicles by OEM consortium members (PIAGGIO, CRF, and VOLVO), according to their own specifications/requirements. The OEMs will then pursue module harmonization based on the specifications of their own vehicles and contribute this to WP5.
Testing and Simulation
In WP6, current testing procedures to meet high energy/high voltage requirements will be updated (CRF, PIAGGIO, VOLVO), the new cell will be benchmarked, and lifetime, safety behaviour (AIT, IK4-CIDETEC, VOLVO), and ageing effects based on electro-thermal simulation (AIT, IK4-CIDETEC) will be carried out.
Realistic models for future integration of the pack and supporting BMS will be built. The technology’s economic and environmental aspects will be subjected to life cycle analysis (LCA/LCC by Thinkstep). CRF will compile a materials roadmap to gauge long-term supply security for the cell’s raw materials.