Rapid manufacture of solid-state battery structures by additive manufacturing and Flash sintering

Lead Participant: LUCIDEON LIMITED


With the UK government's mandate to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, together with the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, there is no doubt that the battery market is going to experience rapid growth over the next 10 years. Solid-state batteries are a key technology to augment and replace current lithium-ion technology due to their increased safety and potential to achieve greater energy/power densities.

Project partners, Lucideon, KWSP and Loughborough University will assess two complementary technologies, Additive Manufacturing (AM) and contactless Field Enhanced Sintering (c-Flash) to manufacture thin, textured/designed films of solid electrolytes for Li-ion and Na-ion batteries. This new method of manufacturing addresses three of the main technological challenges with solid-state batteries: thin film processing, increasing electrolyte/electrode interfacial area and minimising ion volatilisation. This project will simultaneously target benefits in resource and energy efficiency, assessing the possibility of combining two novel and highly efficient technologies to exploit the strengths of both systems. The processes and pilot scale manufacturing will be developed in parallel to expedite technology exploitation.

AM offers significant benefits such as digital production flexibility, reduced material waste and component weight reduction. The exceptional design freedom inherent in AM will facilitate thin film deposition ultimately aiming for interpenetrating 3D structures of anode, electrolyte, cathode in solid-state, eliminating the conventional constraints and breaking the energy-power limit of current systems. c-Flash, developed for processing thin ceramic films, has significant benefits such as dramatically reducing sintering times and lowering peak sintering temperature. Enhanced ceramic electrical and mechanical properties are also possible, via microstructural changes from c-Flash processing. An increase in ceramic strength would enable thickness reduction and lower resistance with benefits for solid-state battery design and performance. c-Flash can be used to rapidly densify electrolyte material resulting in significant reduction of ion volatilisation during processing.

The project will be guided by an industrial steering committee, representing a cross-section of the battery supply chain. The committee will offer advice and discuss/steer exploitation of technology as objectives are met.

A breakthrough from this project could create a unique technology for exploitation in the UK. This technology would allow the UK to become a leader in low energy and low waste manufacturing methods. Solid-state batteries made by this route could take significant shares of the EV battery market and adoption by the UK battery supply chain would reinforce the UK's ability to grow and compete in this sector.

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