Project duration: 1 January 2021 – 31 December 2023
Li-ion batteries are a key technology for e-mobility. To supply the rapidly growing battery industry with sustainable and high-quality carbon additives, the low carbon footprint Acetylene Black of Orion and the resource-efficient Carbon Nanotubes of Arkema will be upscaled, combined and commercialised. The materials will be evaluated on lab and pilot scale by the Fraunhofer, Aalto and Customcells. An LCA will be performed by University Bordeaux.
The solution (technology)
Lithium-ion batteries are a key technology for the trendsetting European industries such as electric vehicles, portable electronic devices or a wide range of other applications where renewable energy is stored and supplied. The wide spectrum of applications opens a large market for the battery cells but also sets challenging requirements related to their energy/power density and cycle life. To reach these requirements, stable and high-performance carbons must be used as conductive additives.
Orion Engineered Carbons S.A. is the only European company that provides the newest technology to develop and manufacture high purity Acetylene Black (AB) conductive additives for lithium-ion batteries. Acetylene Black aggregates form a three-dimensional network to lower the internal resistance of battery electrodes and cells by enhancing the electronic conductivity. This material ensures that charge and discharge processes are performed effectively and Ohmic losses are minimised. Its high intrinsic electronic conductivity and purity, as compared to other Carbon blacks, leads to significantly higher power densities and longer battery cycle life.
Arkema, a strategic European material producer, is the only producer worldwide to produce carbon nanotubes (CNTs) from bio-based feedstocks in a 400 ton capacity pilot plant in Mont – Nouvelle Aquitaine Region – France. The resulting multi-wall purified nanotubes with a diameter between 12 and 15 nm, provided either as dry pellets or as liquid dispersions to improve the safety issues generally associated with CNTs, are tailored to customer-specific requirements in terms of metal impurities. The CNTs are compacted and purified downstream with a minimum of handling. This aspect is particularly important, since it allows the specific gravity to be increased by a factor of almost 3, which mitigates powdering, handling complexity and safety issues, and decreases the purification and transportation costs. Furthermore, this step dramatically improves the dispersion of the CNTs in solvents, as is desired by many customers.
In the HiQ-Carb project, the important step of “wet-beading” the AB will be scaled-up, resulting in a market-ready high-purity Acetylene Black Beads (AB BDS) to meet rapidly expanding market demands. Arkema will upscale the improved thinner CNTs having a diameter of 8-9 nm and already manufactured at a pilot scale. Together, Arkema and Orion will combine these two conductive additives in the form of a Carbon Mix dispersion. European lithium-ion battery manufacturers require a reliable, high volume supply of all critical raw materials from an EU-local source. This emerging industry will benefit from Orion’s Acetylene Black production at its site in France, from the fact that AB is produced almost without emission of CO2 and is non-toxic and from Arkema’s CNTs produced from a renewable bio-based feedstock.
The planned project consortium includes the leading materials producers Orion and Arkema as well as the cell producer Customcells. Application-oriented R&D, education competences and a Life Cycle Assessment are provided by the RTO Fraunhofer ISC, Aalto University and the University of Bordeaux. In total, three CLCs, three European countries and all edges of the EIT RawMaterials knowledge triangle will contribute to the HiQ-Carb Project.
- Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. (Fraunhofer), Germany (Lead Partner)
- Aalto University, Finland
- Arkema France, France
- Custom Cells Itzehoe GmbH (CCI), Germany
- Institut Polytechnique de Bordeaux, France
- Orion Engineered Carbons GmbH, Germany
- Université de Bordeaux, France