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HIGH SPECIFIC ENERGY ALUMINIUM-ION RECHARGEABLE DECENTRALIZED ELECTRICITY GENERATION SOURCES

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ALION (HIGH SPECIFIC ENERGY ALUMINIUM-ION RECHARGEABLE DECENTRALIZED ELECTRICITY GENERATION SOURCES)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-05-31

The need for efficient and sustainable way to store energy is an urgent necessity of the modern society. The large-scale application of renewable energy production is limited by their intermittent production and by the inability to store the produced energy, which is currently less than one percent of the whole production.
ALION (High Specific Energy Aluminium-ion rechargeable decentralized electricity generation sources) focuses on the development of Al-ion battery technology for energy storage application in decentralized electricity generation sources. It is then participating in the development of new generation technologies for energy storage and then contributes to the growth of the renewable energies. ALION pursues an integral approach comprising electroactive materials based on “rocking chair” mechanism, robust ionic liquid based electrolytes as well as novel cell and battery concepts, finally resulting in a technology with much lower cost, improved performance, safety and reliability with respect to current energy storage solutions (e.g. Pumped hydro storage, Compressed air energy storage, Li-ion battery, Redox Flow Battery…).
The project covers the whole value chain from materials and component manufacturers, battery assemblers, until the technology validation in specific electric microgrid system including renewable energy source (i.e. wind turbine, photovoltaic system…). Thus, the final objective of this project is to obtain an Al-ion battery module validated in a photovoltaic microgrid, with a specific power of 500 W/kg, a voltage of 48V and a cycle life of 3000 cycles.
This objective was partially reached as a module of 48V was assembled and tested with simulated data of a photovoltaic microgrid. The target of power and cyclability were largely exceeded in lab cell, obtaining 90% of capacity retention at 100C (potentially 20 kW/kg) for 500,000 cycles.
During the whole project, more than 100 of electrode materials were tested, resulting to up-scaling of the most performant one to 1 kg. At the laboratory scale, different cell systems based on ionic liquid electrolyte were assembled, showing a specific capacity of 100 mAh/g for more than 500,000 cycles at a current density of 100C. Another configuration based on aqueous electrolyte enabled also to reach high power density, with a C-rate of 360C. At higher scale, pouch cells and 18650 cells were assembled, addressing the issues of electrolyte corrosivity and components electrical connection.
Moreover, a model of the Al battery has been set up, revealing the influence of various design parameters on the battery performances. In parallel to this work, the life cycle assessment of the technology foresees that the impact of the Al cell production on the environment is half than the one of Li-ion cell. Al battery recycling have also been studied, leading to the design and proof of concept of an efficient (more than 50%) and low-cost process.
These results were presented in more than 30 conferences and led to the publication of 12 scientific papers in scientific journals.
The Al-ion battery technology, with an energy density of 20 Wh/kg, could be a good candidate to substitute Lead-acid batteries in applications such as Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS) for Data Centers, Base Transceiver Stations for telecom operators, Solar and emergency lighting, Residential and small industry energy storage or Solar panel tracking.
The results obtained are comparable to current state-of-art in term of performance at lab scale, but first prototypes were also assembled. The development of these prototypes enabled to acquire more knowledge on the barriers to overcome for cell production at pilot scale. The competitiveness of the Al-ion technology will be the material costs, the cyclability and the recyclability, which could be determining for some application like stationary battery. Moreover, aluminium is cheaper and more available than lithium that comes from a few countries. The sustainable supply of aluminium makes it a more favourable alternative to many active materials used for battery storage. ALION will also help for the implementation of materials enabling low carbon energy technologies. Indeed, an ionic liquid-based electrolyte of milder corrosivity has been formulated and demonstrated to be suitable for application in aluminium batteries. In terms of aqueous electrolytes, a milder aqueous electrolyte has also been formulated and demonstrated as a viable electrolyte for Al-ion battery. Its high-power performance will open the application of the battery to new applications such UPS systems.
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