Sustainable energy storage for renewable energies

Small power plants on the balcony are booming. But where to put the electricity generated when nothing is being consumed in the household? This is where rechargeable stationary energy storage systems come into play. Dual-ion batteries (DIB) do not contain any harmful metals and are made of materials that are available in Germany. This novel technology promises lower costs, safety, independence as well as sustainability.

The dual-ion battery (DIB) is a fairly recent development based on graphite cathodes. By using graphite, critical materials such as cobalt or nickel can be dispensed with. The DIB approach convinces with a long service life, high energy density, low costs and unproblematic use of raw materials. Previous studies focused on the material level and the production of laboratory cells. Pouch cells and other industry-relevant cell formats have so far remained largely unexamined. The same applies to scaling up to pilot scale.

Transfer to industry as a major goal

The TransDIB project ("Development and Transfer of Cost-Efficient, Sustainable and Safe Dual-Ion Batteries for Stationary Energy Storage Solutions") now aims to transfer this battery cell technology to industry. To this end, the project partners want to produce prototypes on a lithium-ion battery (LIB) pilot plant. Based on this, the planning of industrial cell production for DIBs is to take place so that graphite electrodes can ultimately be produced on a large scale in a roll-to-roll process. To this end, partners from industry (VARTA Microbattery GmbH, SGL Carbon GmbH, E-LYTE Innovations GmbH, Sixonia Tech GmbH) and research (Dresden University of Technology, Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS, Westphalian Wilhelms University Münster) are working hand in hand in the project.

Qualification of new materials

To achieve the goals, fundamental aspects of DIB technology must also be further developed. This primarily concerns material developments for highly concentrated electrolyte formulations and new graphitic electrode materials. The aim is to increase the capacity of cathodes and anodes, develop water-based electrode slurries or increase the energy density of the cells.

Advantages of DIB

In a DIB, the electrolyte acts as the active material, as both anions and cations are stored and released simultaneously in the anode and cathode, respectively. Since the path of the ions is only half as long as in classic lithium-ion batteries, the charging and discharging process is correspondingly faster. The use of graphite also has other advantages. For example, the cathodes can be produced from aqueous formulations. This is not only sustainable, but also cheaper than conventional lithium-ion batteries. In addition, the batteries are very safe because no oxygen needs to be used in the electrodes and the graphite electrodes remain stable even at high charge rates. Last but not least, DIB cells can be manufactured entirely from materials that are available in Germany. This promotes German technological leadership and leads to independence from critical raw material sources.

Promising applications

Stationary energy storage systems are mainly used for the intermediate storage of green electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. Compared to current storage technologies (e.g. pumped storage power plants), stationary batteries are characterised by lower land consumption. This reduces investment costs. Since they are also modular, these storage systems can be easily scaled and are thus just as suitable for commercial applications as for household grid applications.

TransDIB project

The project "Development and transfer of cost-efficient, sustainable and safe dual-ion batteries for stationary energy storage solutions - TransDIB" runs from February 2023 to January 2026 and is funded with 2.3 million euros by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the guideline "Battery materials for future electromobile, stationary and other industry-relevant applications (Battery 2020 Transfer)".

Project consortium:

  • VARTA Microbattery GmbH (project coordinator)
  • SGL Carbon GmbH
  • E-LYTE Innovations GmbH
  • Sixonia Tech GmbH
  • Dresden University of Technology (TUD)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS
  • Westphalian Wilhelms University Münster

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About VARTA AG

VARTA AG produces and markets a comprehensive battery portfolio ranging from micro batteries, household batteries, energy storage systems to customised battery solutions for a variety of applications and sets the industry standards as a technology leader in key areas. As the parent company of the Group, it is divided into the segments "Micro Batteries", "Lithium-Ion CoinPower", "Consumer Batteries", "Energy Storage Systems" and "Other".
The "Micro Batteries" segment includes micro and hearing aid batteries, "Lithium-Ion CoinPower" small-format lithium-ion round cells for OEM applications. "Consumer Batteries" represents the business with household batteries, rechargeable batteries, chargers, portable power (power banks) and lights. “Energy Storage Systems" includes energy storage solutions for primarily private, but also for commercial applications. The "Other" segment includes the "Lithium-Ion Battery Packs" and "Lithium-Ion Large Cells" business units (high-performance lithium-ion round cells for industrial applications in the automotive and non-automotive sectors).
Through intensive research and development, VARTA sets global standards in many areas of lithium-ion technology and in micro batteries, making it a recognised innovation leader in the important growth markets of lithium-ion technology and in primary hearing aid batteries. The VARTA AG Group currently employs around 4,200 people. With five production and manufacturing facilities in Europe and Asia as well as distribution centres in Asia, Europe and the USA, VARTA AG's operating subsidiaries are currently active in over 100 countries worldwide.