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Lithium-ion batteries: promising greater energy efficiency for transportation

Li-ion Batteries

Published on 1 December 2016
Liten has been actively involved in lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery development since the early 90s. Liten's current Li-ion activity spans the entire value chain, from the synthesis of new active compounds, to component and cell manufacturing, extending all the way to final battery pack assembly. Our technology research efforts are geared towards the development of batteries for diverse applications, with a particular focus on electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Our primary goal is to develop lightweight batteries with small form factors that pack in enough energy to ensure extended vehicle range.
 Liten has become a reference in the field of Li-ion batteries, as it is the only institute to cover the entire battery development process. This means that we participate in every stage of the battery development cycle—preparation of active materials and their implementation as electrodes in cells and installation of complete battery packs on board electric vehicles—as well as post-production monitoring and evaluation of system performance and of the technology's safety. We also develop indicators for examining the batteries' state of charge (SoC) and state of health (SoH) and improve recycling methods. This research leverages an array of resources that include Liten's cell and battery pack manufacturing platform and CEA Grenoble's numerous chemistry laboratories, as well as dedicated electrical test benches located at INES in Chambery.
One particularly noteworthy innovation born from this work is Liten's lithium iron phosphate (LFP) technology, which, compared with other chemistries using nickel or cobalt, makes electrochemical cells safer. In industrial cell manufacturing, LFP offers the significant advantage of being adaptable; in 2008, Liten transferred the technology to Belgian company Prayon. LFP, along with various other innovations developed at Liten, also spawned a startup, Prollion, in 2009. The company, a joint venture between Alcen and CEA Investissement, designs, develops, and manufactures Li-ion cells and battery systems.
 Today, Liten's researchers are focusing a large part of their R&D efforts on doubling battery life. Their two-pronged strategy consists of enhancing Li-ion technology using new lithium-rich oxides in the positive electrode and silicon in the negative electrode and developing "post lithium-ion" technologies, specifically lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries—a technology that may be commercialized as early as 2020 or 2025. 
BENEFITS
Covering the entire value chain
 For chemical companies: With almost twenty years of experience in new active materials science, Liten has developed significant expertise in the field, becoming an authority on the subject and an architect for joint R&D programs. Liten partners can choose from several forms of cooperation: manufacturers can bring their own materials into Liten's facilities; they can develop new materials with the help of our researchers; or they can use materials that have already been developed at Liten to improve their products. Liten is one of the only research institutes to offer state-of-the-art equipment to assist with the transition from synthesizing grams of materials in lab conditions to synthesizing up to a kilogram of powder at the test-manufacturing scale. 

  • For battery manufacturers: Liten offers many advantages, including access to multipurpose cell prototype lines, manufacturing of manufacturers' own designs, access to manufacturing equipment suitable for small production runs, and the ability to integrate chemistries that are different from those used on manufacturers' existing production lines.
     
  • For end users: We not only offer Li-ion expertise but also advanced knowledge of other chemistries, from lead-acid batteries to redox-flow systems, from comparative performance tests to battery lifespan assessments and more. We also have the ability to design 100% personalized batteries that respond to specific end-user needs (printed batteries, flexible cells, batteries for medical implants, aerospace, and defense).
 
PROJECTS
Since 2009, Liten has been a partner of the electric bus project Ellisup, directed by Iveco Bus and supported by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME). Liten's research has been centered on the development of ultra-high-power lithium-ion batteries for use in Iveco buses. 

  • Liten is a member of Renault's electric vehicle battery development program, initiated in 2010. Our research led to the development of the battery system used in the Renault concept car prototype, Eolab, a high-performing hybrid vehicle that consumes 1 liter of fuel per 100 km.
 As part of the Forewheel project led by Michelin and backed by the French Single Interministerial Fund, Liten has developed a battery pack that can be integrated into the floor of electric vehicles. In 2011, cars equipped with the test batteries logged in 11,000 km. 
  • Liten used its expertise in integrating cells into battery packs in the E-Fan electric plane. Developed by Airbus, the E-Fan crossed the English Channel in July 2015 at a speed of 160 kph. Range proved to be an impressive 60% greater than that of currently-available batteries.
     We are partners of the VUE-FLEX project, supported by Bpifrance, which is looking to develop a 3.5-ton commercial utility vehicle engineered to optimize electric energy usage, providing a flexible, smart, and economical alternative to combustion-powered commercial vehicles.
    Liten is also involved in many European programs including:
    • Mat4bat, a consortium of seventeen partners looking to better understand and improve the aging mechanisms of batteries. The project is broken down into two parts: one is dedicated to assessing commercial batteries in order to identify the best charging conditions and the longest lifetimes. The second deals with the development of a new generation of lithium-ion batteries with longer lifetimes that can reach a specific energy of between 200 Wh/kg and 250 Wh/kg. These will eventually be used in electric vehicles or for stationary energy storage. The project is also dedicated to research on innovative packaging meant to improve cell safety.
    • Liten recently entered into a new European project: Esprit (2015–2018). The goal is to develop personalized rapid transit solutions (otherwise known as light public transportation); Liten is developing the power electronics for the drivetrain, shared load system, braking, auxiliary systems, trajectory control, and command-control systems for the road vehicles and trains developed under the project.
    • Everlasting is a European project (2016-2020) with 11 partners in the consortium. The objective is to accelerate the deployment of battery electric vehicles in Europe. Everlasting will develop innovative technologies to improve the reliability, lifetime and safety of Lithium-ion batteries by developing more accurate, and standardized, battery monitoring and management systems. The developed algorithms and new battery architecture will be tested and validated on vehicles.
 
FACTS AND FIGURES
  • 200 researchers assigned to batteries
  • 250 patents
  • Publications:
 
Delmas C, Maccario M, Croguennec L, Le Cras F, Weill F. August 2008. Lithium deintercalation in LiFePO4 nanoparticles via a domino-cascade model. Nature Materials 7: 665–671.

 
Boulineau A, Simonin L, Colin JF, Bourbon C, Patoux S. August 2013. First Evidence of Manganese-Nickel Segregation and Densification upon Cycling in Li-Rich Layered Oxides for Lithium Batteries. Nano Letters 13.8: 3857–3863.

 
Waluś S,  Barchasz C,  Bouchet R,  Leprêtre JC,  Colin JF,  Martin JF,  Elkaïm E,  Baehtz C,  Alloin F. August 2015. Lithium/Sulfur Batteries Upon Cycling: Structural Modifications and Species Quantification by In Situ and Operando X-Ray Diffraction Spectroscopy. Advanced Energy Materials 5(16).
Find out more
  About the ultrasound emitted by the batteries (click here).

  About lithium-sulfur batteries (click here).

  About Liten lithium battery cells tested for Ariane 6 (click here).

visuel Na ion.jpg  About sodium-ion batteries (click here).

  About a novel test for accelerated aging tests (click here).

  About an electric-powered train for tunnel construction projects (click here)

 
Videotraversée de la manche Efan.mp4

FACTS & FIGURES

  • 200 researchers assigned to batteries
  • 250 patents