No more storage blues


Automobile manufacturers are driving high demand for increased energy density and safety in battery technology. The race to e-mobility has venture capitalists and car manufacturers alike pushing significant investment towards the industry.

According to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Energy Storage Association, more than $2.3 billion has been poured into such technologies over the past two years around the globe. 

Recent car manufacturer investment has veered toward solid-state technologies, which can provide the opportunity for greater energy density, while also eliminating flammable liquid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries. Volkswagen, for instance, invested $100 million in QuantumScape in 2018, while Toyota and Panasonic started a joint venture to develop solid-state batteries in January 2019. Both Ford and Hyundai have also invested into Colorado-based Solid Power. These are welcome developments in the market where Blue Solutions’ battery technology has been deployed in mobility for years. 

Francisco da Silva Passos, business development manager at Blue Solutions, says: “We have more than 300 million kilometres covered by cars and electric buses,” adding that Blue Solutions has been focused on intense use cases for car sharing. Since 2011, Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP) batteries have proven their reliability and robustness, powering fully electric cars and buses for millions of kilometres and energising many off-grid and on-grid installations around the world. 

Historically, the first lithium batteries were built with lithium metal. One challenge for those batteries is that of dendrites. This is a crystal-like build-up of lithium metal that creates a contact between the anode and the cathode resulting in a short circuit or even a fire. 

Many players in the battery sector decided to bypass the risk of dendrites by using other materials such as graphite. However, the risks linked with the use of a liquid electrolyte were not solved. A liquid electrolyte is flammable, which can cause those Li-ion batteries to combust under high pressure, heat, or current. Another solution to avoid dendrites is the use of a solid-state electrolyte.

Today, Blue Solutions is the only one to master and commercialise a lithium battery with a solid electrolyte. This expertise comes from the two centuries of production of thin paper derived then for the production of plastic and now of polymer electrolyte. 

Ultimately, Blue Solutions lithium batteries—as opposed to the mainstream liquid or gel electrolyte batteries—offer better energy density, safety and robustness (no sensitivity to external temperatures). The holy grail of rechargeable batteries—the solid-state lithium metal battery—is now on the way to provide safer batteries adapted to the harshest environments and the toughest safety requirements.

There is no risk of fire, leakage or off-gassing and there is no risk of thermal runaway. Their effective functioning at temperatures reaching from 60°C to more than 105°C allows easier thermal management. In fact, DCDC efficiency up to 98% is achieved regardless of the ambient temperature. These batteries are also insensitive to climate conditions. No cooling system is required, leading to enhanced performance, greater reliability and simplified maintenance. This ultimately ensures a satisfactory lifespan, even in hot conditions. 

This article was originally published in The Global Power & Energy Elites 2020. Read the full article here.