VARTA initiates and coordinates new project for next-generation energy storage

Consortium of 15 companies and universities researches and develops sodium-ion batteries / The aim is to develop industrially usable, high-performance and environmentally friendly cells / Federal Research Minister Stark-Watzinger presented the funding decision on Thursday.

Sodium-ion batteries are seen as a beacon of hope for the future of sustainable and resource-saving energy storage: sodium is readily available, inexpensive, safe and can be easily disposed of or recycled. The challenge is to transfer this technology into industrially utilisable and scalable cells. This is where the ENTISE project (Development of Sodium Ion Technology for Industrially Scalable Energy Storage) comes in, which is being driven forward by a consortium of 15 companies and universities, with VARTA acting as initiator and coordinator. ENTISE is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Research and Education with around 7.5 million euros. On Thursday, 2nd May, the official approval for the project took place with the handover of the funding decision by Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger. Dr Nicolas Bucher, Head of Funded Projects, and Rainer Hald, CTO of VARTA AG, accepted the certificates on behalf of VARTA Microbattery and VARTA Storage. The project is scheduled to start on 1st June 2024.

ENTISE aims to develop a high-performance, cost-effective and environmentally friendly cell chemistry for sodium-ion batteries and to transfer it into functional cell formats that can and should also be used in industry. Rainer Hald, CTO of VARTA AG: "For the German battery community, this project represents a milestone in the development of sustainable sodium-ion batteries. In order to further advance the future of decentralised energy storage and use, other innovative and powerful storage technologies are needed in addition to lithium-ion technology. In addition to existing technologies, sodium-ion batteries can make an important, sustainable contribution to the decarbonisation and electrification of many areas in order to actively shape the energy and mobility transition. The funding of this project is an important sign that the research and development of cutting-edge technology in the battery sector can have a future in Germany and Europe. Our thanks as a consortium therefore go to the German government, which has agreed to support ENTISE despite the reduction in funding for battery research."

ENTISE focuses on the further development of existing material concepts and processes. From a technological perspective, the aim is to improve the storage capacities of the cathode and anode in particular. This involves optimising the materials used, including the electrolytes. Cycle stability, i.e. the ability to ensure stable cell performance even after repeated charging and discharging, is also to be improved by developing and using new materials, optimised electrode materials and coatings. A central component of the project will be the production of sufficient quantities of the necessary materials to build individual resilient laboratory samples through to prototypes in round cell design. In the final phase of the project, the individual components will be upscaled and transferred from the laboratory to the pre-industrial sector (piloting) in cooperation between the industrial and institute partners. The final product of this upscaling will be a small series of round cells that will enable a reliable assessment of properties in practical application scenarios such as electric vehicles and stationary storage systems. The end of the project has been set for mid-2027. An accompanying technical, economic and ecological evaluation will round off the project.

Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (centre) with the project consortium of ENTISE, with Dr Nicolas Bucher, Head of Funded Projects, VARTA AG (third from left), and the CTO of VARTA AG, Rainer Hald (fourth from left). Credit: DUCKEK




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.