Battery Materials

The energy source of tomorrow’s world

Batteries are a complex technology comprised of a number of highly specialized components. An energy storage cell is the unit that stores and releases energy chemically, for controlled use as needed. Two of the highly specialized inorganic components that require thermal treatment are the cathode and the anode. In batteries, these two inorganic materials are separated by a membrane and a conductive electrolyte. The porous separator stops any chance of short circuiting internally and the electrolyte is a specialized conductive material to allow for the effective transfer of charge between the two electrodes.

How Batteries Work

Currently and with much interest, the cathode material often consists of a lithium compound and the anode is made of a carbon-containing material such as graphite. Using Li-ion cells as an example: When a battery is charged, lithium ions migrate from the cathode to the anode through the conductive membrane. This transfer also involves the movement of electrons, which flow freely around the external circuit and combine with Lithium at the anode. If an external load is connected, the circuit is closed and the battery begins to discharge. The reverse migration occurs and lithium ions move back to the cathode, to their minima position. The electrons, once more decouple, flow to the cathode via the external circuit – supplying electrical energy to the load device.

Battery Performance Parameters

The potential performance limits of rechargeable batteries have been by no means reached. Lab-scale research on the newest battery materials is not yet exhausted and industrial scale process development of the material requires new realizations with every advance. At the core of this parallel lab and industrial R&D race, is the desire for improved batteries with increased lifetimes, more capacity, a decreased weight and an inherent safety. The current demand environment for improvements over existing batteries creates an opportunity for profitable economic gain. In other words, the development race is far from over.

The key research and development concerns of batteries are as follows:

Energy density

  • Gravimetric and volumetric energy densities express how much electrical energy is stored, relative to the weight or volume of the battery. High energy densities are desirable for portable applications such as electric vehicles or smartphones.

Loss of capacity (degradation)

  • All batteries have a limited lifetime: upon cycling, batteries start to loose capacity, due to a number of different degradation factors. In recent years, capacity lost during the initial years of service has been reduced considerably. For sustainable batteries of the future, it is imperative that capacity loss be brought to an absolute minimum.

Costs

  • To reach the breakthrough point where large, high-quality rechargeable batteries become a truly mass produced product, the costs of production will have to drop considerably. Economies of scale will deliver reductions in the price per kilogram while additional research is being conducted into more economically viable and available battery materials.

Maximum charging/power current

  • To make batteries generally useful, they must charge quickly. Nobody wants to wait for hours while their car charges. The current that the battery can delivers is an important factor for its performance. Charging and discharging speed is another factor that will determine how widely specific batteries are used.

Safety and Legislation

  • Safety regulations for a high-performance-technology like batteries are complex. At IBU-tec, we have experience meeting these regulations. That will reduce the risk of your battery materials not meeting regulatory standards.

Developing New Battery Materials for Better Performance

All of the characteristics mentioned above are determined mostly by the materials used in the battery and by their engineered quality. The focus of current research is on developing new materials that meet growing performance demands. Most of the materials under current consideration are inorganic and require thermal treatment. At IBU-tec you will find the perfect setup for carrying out thermal process steps. With our large vast capacities and many decades of experience with thermal processing technology, we can help you develop and produce the battery materials of the future.

Our experience to date includes a variety of materials for anodes, cathodes and other battery components. If you need assistance with projects related to battery materials, please contact us. We will be happy to advise you.