Newly developed prototypes of the aluminium ion pouch cell for use in the INNOBATT demonstrator system © INNOBATT / Fraunhofer IISB
Rethinking batteries: Innovative aluminium battery systems
Under the motto "Rethinking a battery", the joint project INNOBATT is pursuing a new approach for application-specific battery storage. Within the framework of the project, a new type of high-performance and resource-saving electric battery system is being developed. The holistic approach for application-specific battery storage takes into account the entire value chain from the basic material to subsequent recycling.
The aim of the consortium of science and industry is the joint development of a sustainable and intelligent electrical storage system that is designed from the outset for resource-saving production, outstanding operational reliability and easy recyclability. The starting point is the cell chemistry of the aluminium-ion battery (AIB), which uses low-cost, non-flammable materials and dispenses with critical raw materials such as lithium, nickel, cobalt or lead.
Smart partners for a smart aluminium-ion-battery system
The partners in the INNOBATT joint project are Fraunhofer IISB as consortium leader, the Chair of Electronic Components (LEB) at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, the Research Centre for Energy Storage Technologies EST at TU Clausthal and the companies HIMA Paul Hildebrandt GmbH Brühl and ACCUREC-Recycling GmbH Krefeld. The project is also funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the "Battery2020Transfer" programme. The partners are pursuing the goal of developing sustainable battery systems due to an improved eco-balance and the availability of raw materials from materials compared to established battery systems. The focus is currently on the development of rechargeable battery systems based on aluminium. Aluminium has advantageous properties for this application. The theoretical volumetric capacity of an aluminium-metal anode is four times higher than for metallic lithium. In addition, the costs are significantly lower compared to lithium-ion systems.
As part of the project, the consortium is developing a revolutionary module design with an innovative battery management system (BMS). Quantum-based, highly sensitive sensors provide much more precise monitoring of the operating parameters of individual battery cells. A secure, wireless communication concept ensures high-resolution data transmission between the battery modules. Wireless communication enables significant material savings in cabling and opens up additional design advantages in the battery system. The well thought-out cell and module structure in combination with the simplified system architecture enables a resource-efficient storage system that is designed for sustainable material use and recyclability right from the start of development. Finally, the performance of the newly developed battery system is demonstrated and tested in a demonstrator.
Energy transition requires powerful energy storage systems
The increasing demand for flexible and powerful energy storage systems is making itself felt above all through electromobility and the energy transition. While at the beginning the focus was mainly on technical and economic issues, the mass production of electric battery systems has now taken on an industrial policy significance. The spread and use of established battery technologies are leading to increasingly pronounced macroeconomic, environmental and societal impacts that go hand in hand with profound technological change.
In this respect, both industry and research are currently facing complex challenges that require new and holistic approaches to solutions. Research and development in the field of battery technology must cover the entire value chain from the starting materials to the recycling of battery systems. Numerous aspects must be taken into account, which should be addressed as early as possible. Depending on the intended use of a battery storage system, questions arise about the cell chemistry used, the cell concept and even the module and system design, including system monitoring and safety. However, application-specific system development does not only include the electrical performance data, the construction effort and the practical suitability. The use of materials, the subsequent dismantlability of the systems and the individual components as well as the possibilities for the recovery or further use of the raw materials used must also be considered.