The first edition of the annual conference of the Maritime Battery Forum to be held outside of Norway. The 2 day conference will cover the latest developments of batteries for the maritime industry, discuss different maritime applications using batteries, and networking opportunity with maritime battery experts from all over the world. There will also be a visit to a battery powered ship for a real demonstration of how the technology is developing.

The conference will be held on 8-9 March, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The conference will take place on board the SS Rotterdam, a steam ship from 1950’s now used as a hotel.

More information, the agenda and registration available here.

The Conference on Results from Road Transport Research is back in 2023, and will be held from 14-16 February, at BluePoint in Brussels. The conference will cover Horizon2020 projects results and impact, next steps, and center around the essential areas for road transport: Green Vehicles, Urban Mobility, Logistics, Intelligent Transport Systems, Safety, Automated Road Transport. The conference will feature 67 speakers from 62 projects, across 16 sessions in 3 days.

Registration and the full agenda can be found at rtrconference.eu

RTR Conference 2023

BEPA was proud to celebrate its two-year anniversary at its 5th General Assembly on Tuesday 6th December 2022. The assembly took place in a hybrid format, both in Brussels and online. Over 120 participants attended the event, including approximately 40 online. Around 80 people seized the opportunity to meet face-to-face at Sofitel Brussels Europe Hotel at the occasion of the 5th BEPA General Assembly.

Following the welcoming remarks from BEPA President Michael Lippert, Secretary General Phillippe Jacques and other members of the BEPA Executive Board highlighted the main achievements of BEPA in 2022, including the finalisation of Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-24, which will see around 225 million EUR from the Horizon Europe budget being earmarked for battery R&I. The integration of the BEPA working groups with those of Batteries Europe was also discussed, which will reduce the time burden on the battery research community. Other highlights were the further collaboration with other Horizon Europe Partnerships, and the many outreach activities conducted in the past months.

During the meeting, the BEPA members officially welcomed 21 new members into the association, and voted on changes to the articles of association. Among them, an update to the criteria of membership and the definition of Europe in the Bylaws was proposed to allow for UK members to continue to participate in BEPA activities. BEPA now counts over 200 associate, industry and research members working together on the future of a more sustainable battery value chain.

The 5th General Assembly marked the end of the first mandate of many members of the BEPA Executive Board and Association Delegation, and members voted on the open elections. Congratulations to all those re-elected, and to new Association Delegation members Jaakko Soini, Moritz Teuber and Victor Trapp for the Automotive, Recycling and Research positions respectively. The General Assembly confirmed that BEPA Chair Michael Lippert will continue in his role, as are Industry Vice-Chair Kurt Vandeputte and Research Vice-Chair Simon Perraud.

Philippe Froissard – Head of Unit for future urban and mobility systems in DG RTD in the European Commission – joined the 5th BEPA General Assembly in-person and commented on the great progress of the BATT4EU partnership in 2022, namely the very promising work programme 23-24 done with close collaboration between BEPA and the Commission, and the synergies grown and forged with other partnerships and EU battery initiatives during the year.

Along with the ongoing work schedule for the working groups, 2023 will see several events such as the 3rd edition of the Battery Innovation Days, themed workshops with other partnerships, a workshop on innovation uptake, and based on the poll result, more opportunities for networking among members. The budget plans for 2023 was then presented, where Philippe explained that despite the current inflation, BEPA will not raise its membership fees.

In line with the stated desire of members to have more opportunities for networking with other members, the BEPA Office proudly presented in the afternoon of the same day, following the general proceedings, a Matchmaking event for the recently announced 2023 Horizon Europe Batt4EU calls open also to members of other Partnerships. Nine (9) project proposals in line with the calls were pitched to more than 100 attendees, setting the scene for future consortiums and synergies.

Find the presentations showed during the Matchmaking event here >>

Manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries is currently facing key challenges, among which ensuring they are environmentally sustainable. The 2021 Batt4EU Work programme included a call for proposals that would build on the pilot line research which has been done within the context of LiPLanet: the call expects the project to mark Europe as a distinguished player for sustainable battery manufacturing, and as such, the EU foresees to contribute with 20M EUR for 4 projects. The technological level targeted is TRL 5-6, signaling that the solutions will reach the demonstration phase at the end of the project and will be eligible for further uptake activities, either through another Innovation Action within Horizon Europe, or through other European funding channels such as European Innovation Fund.

One of the main objectives of this call is the sustainability of electrode production. Removing the use of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), such as N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), is consequential on carbon footprint levels of cell manufacturing. Although widely known as the dominant technology for preparation of the electrode slurry, the recovery of VOC s during drying process are costly and energy- intensive.

There are two main alternatives to electrode processing with VOCs, water-based and dry: the former simply substitutes NMP with water, making the process significantly cheaper and safer. However, the adaption is hurdled by the quality of the electrode produced by this method; for example, formation of lithium compounds on Ni-rich cathodes due to residual moisture. The slurry solution might not meet the expected rheological properties (resulting in unwanted scrap rates in further steps), and the electrodes resistance increase due to inhomogeneous distribution of conductive network.

The second technological innovation is dry processing of the electrodes. As the name suggests, the technique can potentially eliminate the drying process, which can result in 30-35% and 10% lower energy consumption and production cost, respectively. Facing with similar challenges to the water-based process in terms of conductivity, this method also imposes the problems with probable compromised environmental footprint and electrode properties during dry mixing and coating. However, the dry electrodes provide the possibility of adapting the rapidly growing technology of 3D patterning, an approach that will have significant cost benefits and improve the cell quality by limiting the randomness of the electrode structure and properties after drying.
Dry manufacturing also enables the implementation of hydrophobic surface treatment of electrodes, paving the way for next generation materials such as high-voltage Ni-rich cathodes and lithium-metal anodes.

Projects are, furthermore, asked to address other concepts within their scope: the ability to integrate the findings into digitally-driven larger production lines; proposals of technical solutions to ensure workers and users safety; and, investment in a “Design to Manufacture” approach, the latter being crucial considering the ambitious EU battery goals – which imply that a huge part of applications need specific batteries. On the other hand, a large number of chemistries are standing behind the starting line, ready to debut on the market in the upcoming years. There put emphasis on the need to minimize production, as well as environmental costs of disconnected design-to-production procedure.

Once completed, this idea can enforce the European battery manufacturers leverage. One of the concerns of OEMs in their transition to electromobility is the adaptability of cells to the diversity of their products. Growth in the non-European market supply and their manufacturing maturity already signals low profit margins for competitors. Therefore, the extra cost of production-oriented re-designing should be treated as an unnecessary burden.

The following projects are selected by the EU commission to tackle these challenges and be part of the collective research activities aiming for a circular and sustainable European battery value chain.

Smart and novel cell designs improved quality through adaption of advanced manufacturing technology at lower costs. The continued efforts to optimize the material performance has delivered rapid progress in energy density and affordability of liquid electrolyte lithium-ion batteries (LIB) employed in electric vehicles and as stationary storage in the grid. Yet, the limits of LIB are anticipated to be near.

Despite the improved characteristics of LIB cells in recent years, marginal rise in the performance capability (e.g, energy density and charging time) of the cells signals the need for alternative or next generation technologies. Moreover, safety matters are becoming a concern due to the presence of organic and flammable electrolyte in conventional LIBs which prevent a range of applications from replacing their fuel source with batteries.

Solid-state batteries (SSB) present a convincing performance prospect that promise a competitive alternative to the current liquid electrolyte LIBs. In SSBs the flammable liquid electrolyte is replaced mostly by inorganic solid electrolytes (SE). The electrolyte substitution offers solutions to many issues of LIBs, such as voltage window limitation, instability of electrolyte/electrode interface and opens the possibility of extensive use of lithium metal anodes which in turn offers considerable benefits in terms of cost and weight.

The technology can enhance the adaption of electrification in other sectors, such as aviation where the conventional lithium-ion batteries fail to comprehensively meet the requirements. Notable advancements in safety, high energy density, fast charging and reduced environmental footprint are among the many key performance indicators (KPI) that SSBs are potentially capable of improvement.

European R&I activities on solid-state batteries in Horizon Europe programme

Advanced Li-ion batteries facilitate the user acceptance and will help to reduce GHG emissions of the transport sector: within this framework, they will be supporting EU’s efforts to become climate-neutral by 2050. Innovation on advanced materials contribute to the creation of a sustainable European battery manufacturing value chain, and secures the future of its giga-factories.

The European funding of solid-state electrolytes research has already been initiated in one of 2019 work programmes  (LC-BAT-1-2019) in the framework of Horizon 2020 programme. The importance of development of solid-state batteries has been underlined in the BEPA Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, published in June 2021, where batteries with solid state electrolytes are classified as 4th generation of lithium-ion systems. The strategic research actions outlined in the SRIA target the following three subcategories:

The strategic R&I actions for SSB development and mass production propose short term (2022-2025) Research Actions (RA) to be focused on electrolyte and Li anode development. These activities are to be followed by targeting higher TRLs through Innovation actions (IA) in mid-term (2025-2028), along with long-term concrete activities of upscaling and uptake by 2030 and beyond.

Our SRIA defined the KPIs for solid-state batteries as:

The disruptive next generation of lithium-batteries will not only have to incorporate one single material innovation, but a number of changes in all parts of the battery cell and respective production process. To keep up with the pace of progress in non-European countries, parallel actions must be taken toward enabling the large-scale manufacturing of solid-state batteries. European giga factories should be equipped with sufficient research-driven knowledge to adapt to new battery chemistries with minimum additional capital cost. In addition, a considerable number of announced giga factory projects will approach to full capacity when the material and cell development for Gen 4. are expected to fulfill their KPI targets, which necessitates immediate provisions for innovation uptake.

To accelerate the roll-out for SSBs for electric mobility, the Batt4EU Partnership has introduced two calls addressing the material development and manufacturing of generation 4 lithium-ion batteries in the 2021 Horizon Europe work programme. The winning proposals has already been announced and the projects have officially launched in Summer 2022. All projects are composed of teams of consortiums that cover large parts of the value chain, and include leading European representatives from university research centers to OEMs.

HORIZON-CL5-2021-D2-01-03: Advanced high-performance Generation 4a, 4b (solid-state) Li-ion batteries supporting electro mobility and other applications

An EU contribution of 8-9 million Euros for a total of four projects (36 million in total) was foreseen in the call, where the activities are expected to achieve TRL 5 by the end of the project. Aside from the aforementioned KPIs for the electric vehicles, the call expects the charging rates of up to 10C for aviation purposes and energy density of >500 Wh/kg for other sectors such as heavy-duty.

The expectations for Gen 4a. (solid state with conventional materials) batteries include reducing the anode thickness, increasing solid electrolyte conductivity while confining the electrolyte thickness, improving interface design and developing coating strategies for current collectors.

For Gen 4b (solid state with Li metal-based anode materials) projects are expected to improve the characteristics of electrodeposition process; find novel solutions for Li metal manufacturing; and accelerate application of new materials at every level of cell components to increase the energy density.

The following table lists the announced projects for this call:

HORIZON-CL5-2021-D2-01-05: Manufacturing technology development for solid-state batteries (SSB, Generations 4a – 4b batteries)

An EU contribution of 6-7 million Euros for a total of four projects (26 million in total) was foreseen in the call, where the activities are expected to achieve TRL 5-6 (up to pilot-level proof of concept) by the end of the project.

The call aims to position Europe at the industrial production lead in the international race for next generation, SSB technologies all through the value chain. The proposed technological advancements in production should be extended to core components of solid-state batteries, from electrolytes to Li metal anode, while preserving the environmental objectives such as low-emission and low carbon footprint.

The topic calls for development, and, if necessary, reinvention of processing routes, such as finding novel approaches to compatibility challenges, originated from electrode-electrolyte coating. Integration of digitalization in production lines is another crucial element to enable achievement of production at economy of scale with reasonable product costs.

The following table lists the announced projects for this call:

BEPA was present at the International Congress for Battery Recycling 2022 which was held in Salzburg, Austria, on 14-16 September. The conference featured Battery recyclers from all over Europe, along with many international representatives from Asia, North America, and elsewhere. While many different topics and perspectives were presented, the tone was clear: European battery recyclers are ready and willing to mee the demand of the growing battery market. While many admitted that Li-ion battery recycling is commonly thought of as an up and coming technology for the near future, the presenters and exhibiters made clear that this is no longer the case, the technology is here, it is effective, and it can significantly help the growing material challenge. While new raw materials will likely always be needed, battery recycling can play a huge part to alleviate this growing cost. Many recyclers are proudly able to retrieve more than 90% yield from used batteries, recovering nearly all of the valuable materials. In a world where international competition and raw material scarcity make batteries more and more expensive, the ability keep 90+% of the materials in use in a circular economy is a huge benefit.  

Another point frequently mentioned in the conference centred on the upcoming Batteries Regulation, setting standards and requirements for battery recycling. A presentation from a representative of the European Commission gave an update on the regulation, and explained that battery recycling is a strategic imperative for Europe. Battery recyclers responded to this by explaining their eagerness to contribute, and with their confidence in meeting – and exceeding – recycling targets. Another presenter pointed out that while there are not yet formal standards in Europe for recycling, dozens of presentations outlining strikingly similar processes prove that most are operating in a standard way regardless, and thus the prospect of official standards being introduced are not viewed with concern.  

That being said, there are naturally several topics of debate among the battery recycling industry. Recycling batteries versus reusing them for second life applications remains a hot topic, along with the more practical debate of disassembly versus crushing used batteries. The limiting factors for disassembly are generally do not necessarily be solved by new technology, but by different business decisions. Battery producers can encourage disassembly by taking disassembly into consideration in their design and refrain from design decisions like the use of 6 different sizes of screws in one battery pack, for example. In such cases, crushing the battery whole then becomes the easier option, though this limits the recoverable materials from the battery. Re-using old batteries for second life applications also has its challenges, however it was also demonstrated that both are possible, by discharging used batteries help power the recycling facility, for example. 

Some of the other challenges relate to the business case, like receiving enough batteries to make the recycling operation profitable on one side, and finding buyers for black mass and recovered materials on the other. This is also depends on the chemistry of the batteries received, with the materials inside having a big impact on the business case of the recycling operation. Certain chemistries are not currently recycled, simply because it is not profitable to do so in the current economy. However, battery recyclers remain optimistic that with the rising demand for materials and growth in the demand for batteries, these challenges will soon be a thing of the past.  

BEPA is very encouraged to hear the optimism and eagerness of European battery recyclers to fulfil their role in the battery value chain and help create a circular economy. Recycling remains one of the core areas of interest of the Batt4EU Partnership, with 3 grant calls launched in 2021 and 2022 and more calls to come in the future. Many battery recyclers are excited to demonstrate their ability, and look forward to the upcoming battery recycling topics in the next Horizon Europe Work programmes. To provide input on new battery recycling topics under Batt4EU Partnership, and the strategic agenda for battery recycling technology, and to join a large and growing network across the value chain, battery recyclers are encouraged to participate in BEPA. 

The BEPA Office attended the 23rd Advanced Batteries, Accumulators and Fuel Cells conference in Brno, Czech Republic in August to connect to the latest developments in battery R&I in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The encounter was facilitated by a roundtable discussion organised by the Battery2030+ consortium. In this first of four roundtable discussions, Battery2030+ is reaching out to long-term research initiatives that happen on national and local level around Europe.

The national representatives of Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic present shared the current state of the battery landscape in their countries and the efforts that were ongoing to tie the booming local industrial activities to their research ecosystem. One conclusion is that while there remains a lot of work to be done to create synergies at a national level, there is an urgent need to connect with European initiatives and join consortia in European projects. More contacts with their European counterparts will help these countries to take a place within the new European supply lines for sustainable batteries. The Battery2030+ consortium partner EASE will organise 3 more meetings with representatives of the Northern, Southern and Western European regions and then bundle their findings into a report for the European Commission. BEPA will remain in contact with the national representatives and the other organisations present at the conference to ensure that BEPA also represents the voice of central and eastern European research in their dealings towards the Commission. The conference also showcased many exciting research projects carried out by students and young researchers entering the European battery ecosystem in Czech Republic and beyond.

The BEPA Office would like to thank the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication of the Brno University of Technology for hosting us and bringing us into contact with battery researchers from all over Europe and beyond.

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