The first project to fully explore the environmental impact and circularity of solid state battery cells being produced, and the development of solutions to reduce embedded carbon and enhance recoverability at end of life.
WHO WAS THE CUSTOMER?
This project is part of an £8.2m UK Faraday funded collaborative R&D project into the development of a solid state battery cell that integrates high silicon content electrodes to enable automotive level performance. It is led by Ilika and features partners including Nexeon, Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), University College London (UCL), Imperial College London, University of St Andrews, as well as industry steering from BMW Group and WAE (Williams Advanced Engineering).
WHAT WAS THE BRIEF?
Solid state batteries are being touted as a breakthrough battery technology that enables lighter, safer, faster charging and longer life span battery packs. The technology is however still under development and not produced in any significant volume. This coupled with other initial production / material sourcing challenges makes them expensive to produce currently, and their costs prohibitive as a viable alternative to li-ion today. The HISTORY project exists to support Ilika to get to a minimum viable product, as a starting point to then scale the technology to Giga-watt scale. The other challenge is that the materials, product design and manufacturing processes of a solid state cell are different from a li-ion cell. A lot of work has been done in the past 7 years to understand the carbon footprint and circularity of existing li-ion cells, but no-one has sought to understand and optimise how this should be done for solid state cells.
WHY WERE HSSMI BROUGHT IN?
HSSMI are experts both in the development of EV battery production facilities, and in the development of low carbon, circular supply chains for batteries. We have developed knowledge, models and methodologies for assessing the sustainability of li-ion batteries, but we have not done any work on solid state batteries before. As such, there was a perfect fit for HSSMI to be part of this consortium – a chance to share our approaches with other companies, whilst developing new knowledge into solid state batteries.
WHAT DID HSSMI DO TO DELIVER THE RESULTS?
The project kicked off at the beginning of April 2023, so it is still very much in its infancy. However, the HSSMI team have already mapped out the forward supply chain of the solid state cell based on the Bill of Materials (BoM) and have just completed an initial life cycle assessment (LCA) into the associated carbon impact of each supply chain step, from raw material extraction to cell manufacturing. The next steps will be to 1) extend the LCA to cover the use phase and end of life, 2) identify the hotspots of highest embedded carbon intensity, 3) identify and model solutions to tackle those carbon hotspots, and 4) investigate the end of life recoverability and definition of remanufacturing and recycling processes.
WHAT IMPACT DID THIS MAKE?
This project is being treated as a stepping- stone to de-risk the pathway to high volume manufacturing. Based on an already strong foundation of existing product and process IP, Ilika and the consortium will support the UK to establish itself as a global leader in SSB development and manufacture. This will unlock further benefits to the suppliers and customers working with Ilika and bolster the UK’s innovation engine for new research into groundbreaking battery technologies.
PROS OF SOLID STATE BATTERIES:
- Solid state batteries could reduce the carbon footprint of EV batteries by almost two-fifths as they store more energy with less materials. This would further increase EVs’ advantage over fossil fuel vehicles.
- As solid ceramic material is used instead of liquid electrolytes, the batteries are lighter, faster to charge and have the potential to eventually be cheaper.
- There are new mining methods such as extracting lithium from geothermal wells, which have significantly lower climate impacts than more commonly used sources such as lithium from hard rock mined in Australia and refined in China.
- Research suggests that solid state technology could reduce the climate
impact of batteries even further – by 39% compared to current lithium batteries – if solid state batteries are made using the most sustainably sourced materials.
(Solid state batteries can further boost climate benefits of evs – study (2022) Transport & Environment)
Contact us today for a short initial conversation on how HSSMI can help your organisation achieve its strategic goals.