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Carbon Nanomembranes for Energy Storage Applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CNergy (Carbon Nanomembranes for Energy Storage Applications)

Reporting period: 2021-05-01 to 2022-01-31

CNM Technologies (CNMT) has developed a highly permeable and selective composite membrane with a nanometre thin carbon nanomembrane (CNM) as active layer, which is – in the FET-open project ITS-THIN – introduced into demanding water separation applications. CNMT plans to introduce these membranes into the water filtration market. Recently, scientists at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena (FSU) showed in the framework of the Graphene FET-flagship a high proton and lithium ion permeance of CNMs. Combining these findings with the ability to produce large-area CNM-composite membranes, a fully new technology is emerging: the use of ultrathin CNMs as separator membranes or proton exchange membranes (PEM) in battery and fuel cell applications. Thinner membranes promise a faster and more selective ion transport resulting in smaller, more powerful, and more reliable energy storage devices. This new window of opportunity has been explored in this feasibility study.
The overall objective of CNergy was to lay the foundation for the use of Carbon Nanomembranes (CNMs) in energy storage applications. Based on the work in the project, it was decided that CNMs can have a positive impact as part of separator or proton exchange membranes in batteries and fuel cells. An action and business plan for future work in order to introduce CNMs into batteries and fuel cells was derived.
The work in CNergy was structured in five work packages, each with its own objective. Starting in WP1 with a technical evaluation of economically producible CNM-composite membranes compared to “pure CNMs” and in WP2 with an evaluation of the market needs and analysis of the competitiveness of the proposed approach, a decision could be made to follow the vision of using CNMs in energy storage applications. A review of the intellectual property situation in WP3 demonstrated CNMT’s chances as a knowledge-based SME in this field. Interactions with end-users, technology partners and further stakeholders in WP4 supported the setup of an action plan for future activities after the end of the project. A business plan and an investment pitch developed in WP5 will lay the commercial and financial foundation for CNMT to follow up this action plan.
The results of the technical and competitiveness analysis have shown that CNM-based separator membranes can prevent dendrite build-up in metal-(Li, Na, Zn)-batteries by regulating ion transport. Dendrite growth is one of the most pressing issues preventing metal-based batteries with their potentially 2 to 3 times higher energy density compared to today’s highest performing Li-ion batteries from entering into many applications. This is particularly true for Li-metal batteries but even more for Na-metal batteries in view of their great potential replacing Li-based batteries with their supply chain (limited lithium resources) and environmental (impact of lithium mining) concerns.
Ultrathin free-standing Carbon Nanomembrane support by a metal grid.