Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BATMAN (Feasibility study of a high energy BATtery with novel Metallic lithium ANode)
Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2016-02-29
The core novelty of the solution lies in the approach to solving the problem of irreversible phases formation on carbon and metallic lithium battery anodes. This has thus far prevented the usage of new metallic materials (such as mixed Li, Sn, Sb, Si nanostructures) in commercial rechargeable batteries, as well as current state high energy carbon materials at high cycle rates in case of metallic lithium dendrites growth. The proposed technological concept is based on the synthesis of protective nanostructures on the surface of hard carbon based anode. Such coating will stabilize the surface and prevent dendrite nucleation and growth during cycling at wide range of charge/discharge current.
The specific objective of BATMAN SME Instrument Phase 1 feasibility study was to define the technical and business conditions for successful commercial application of Li-ion batteries with the new nanostructure coated anode. In particular, the following goals were set:
• Elaboration of a long-term business plan to define the most profitable market entry strategies as well as further development and commercialization directions;
• Determining the key technological limitations, such as the maximal content of added nanostructures to anode material, its chemical composition, increasing of charge/discharge current and cycling efficiency to determine the power and capacity characteristics of the Li-ion battery;
• Conducting a freedom-to-operate study to ensure no other patents are infringed by the proposed innovation project.
1) Economic feasibility study and business plan development
The core objective of the economic feasibility study was to determine the most profitable key market application area for the proposed technological concept. Based on the chosen application area, further strategy for market entry and business development directions was devised.
As the main result of the BATMAN economic feasibility assessment, we established a strategic partnership for further development and commercialization of the proposed coating technology. The key market application for MikroMasch technology is in the energy storage systems (ESS) market for power levelling, hybrid diesel generators, and alternative power generation (primarily wind and marine waves). Our technology allows building energy storage systems (ESS) for residential and industrial users and electric vehicle (EV) batteries that reach over 7-10 times higher life-time compared to the state of the art storage systems at a substantially lower energy storage cycle cost.
The core business model foresees direct sales of full ESS solutions to the residential and industrial users: while the production of MikroMasch coating material will remain in-house, the deposition of the coating and the assembly of full ESS systems will be performed at our partner’s premises. The first market that will be addressed is Germany, after which Scandinavia, Baltics and other European countries will be targeted. The selection of target markets is based on the usage of renewable energy in gross inland energy consumption as well as the overall purchasing power of the residents.
2) Technical feasibility assessment
The technological feasibility study primarily focused on conducting various tests for optimizing and determining the precise chemical content of the coating material. Specific tasks included identifying the key technological parameters of the solution in by conducting tests in the following domains: maximal thickness of protective layer, the layer’s precise chemical composition, maximal charge/discharge current, and stability during cycling. Detailed specifications of the envisioned anode coating material characteristics and its manufacturing technology have been documented and will feed into the core product development activities of Phase 2 of the innovation project.
3) IPR and freedom to operate study
The IPR study was performed in collaboration with a renowned patent specialist. The search results show that there are various aspects that are covered by patents in the field of hard carbon silicon anode materials. In total there were about one hundred patent documents related to hard carbon silicon anode materials. 18 most relevant documents were selected for further analysis based on capacity criteria. As a result, none of the existing patents are found to limit MikroMasch freedom to operate in the target markets. The search results show that most of the relevant patent applications have been filed in US, China, Japan, Europe and are still in application phase.
The most appropriate IP strategy for MikroMasch is to combine different protection instruments: non-disclosure of confidential information or regulating the treatment of sensitive information by specific contracts, trademark protection in the target markets, and patent protection. To start the patenting process quickly and get the priority, European patent applications as first filings will be prepared. After that the most important regions for MikroMasch to obtain patent protection in are United States, China, Japan, Korea, Europe. The patent study results will be followed up within the Phase 2 of the innovation project.
Based on favorable results obtained from the feasibility study, we will pursue the SME Instrument Phase 2 innovation project. The core objective of the main innovation project is the final development and optimization of the high energy hard carbon coating material with optimized nanostructure additive component structure, integration and validation of the coated mixed metallic Li-Sn-Sb-Si material in a commercial battery cell, and final optimization of the nanostructure material manufacturing technology. As well as founded solution will be piloted and prepared for full scale market entry from the commercial side of project activity.