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Delivering the 3b generation of LNMO cells for the xEV market of 2025 and beyond

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - 3beLiEVe (Delivering the 3b generation of LNMO cells for the xEV market of 2025 and beyond)

Reporting period: 2021-07-01 to 2022-06-30

The urgent need for rapid and deep decarbonisation of our economies and way of life is becoming ever more evident, with recent extreme weather and related events all over the globe forcefully underscoring this.
Transport accounts for around one-fifth of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and road transport accounts for some three-quarters of those transport emissions. A rapid shift from combustion-engine-based vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) can make an important contribution towards lowering transport-related emissions, provided battery and vehicle production, as well as vehicle charging, are based on renewable energies.

At present, battery technology is emerging as the leading energy storage technology for the electrification of road vehicles. Both the commercial availability of battery electric vehicle (BEV) models, as well as the registration statistics for new vehicles show clearly that BEVs and hybrids currently play the leading role in the shift away from the combustion engine, at present clearly ahead of other technologies such as fuel cells or synthetic liquid or gaseous fuels.

To further increase the adoption rate of EVs, these need to become cheaper, acquire better performance (range, lifetime), and be flanked with a build-out of electric charging infrastructure. Since the traction batteries in electric vehicles account for a significant share of the vehicle's total cost, are central to its performance in terms of range, power and acceleration, and their production significantly impacts the sustainability profile of the vehicle, improvements to the battery are key in promoting the adoption of EVs. 3beLiEVe addresses the areas of performance, safety, and sustainability of batteries for automotive applications.

The overall aim of 3beLiEVe is to develop and demonstrate production of the next-generation (3b) of high-energy LNMO cells with sensors suitable for xEV applications and compatible with a circular economy, as well as to demonstrate European manufacturing capability to cover the whole value chain from cell to system level. This overall aim is broken down into five key objectives:

Objective 1: Develop a Cobalt-free Li-Ion battery cell for xEV applications with a high volumetric energy density (>=750Wh/L), fast charging capability (3C+), and long first cycle life (2,000+ cycles) using LNMO cathode, Si-C anode, and LiFSI electrolyte.
Objective 2: Develop a portfolio of sensors for cell and module monitoring that supports smart diagnostics and system management to increase the lifetime and useable energy of the battery.
Objective 3: Develop inline automated quality control equipment for manufacturing (electrode inspection).
Objective 4: Demonstrate the battery technology pack at TRL 6 and MRL 8; demonstrate upscaling of production processes to gigafactory volumes.
Objective 5: Demonstrate the fitness of the 3beLiEVe cell, module and pack technology for a circular economy.
In reporting period 2 (July 2021 to June 2022), the following progress was made.

Materials and cells:
-Final high-voltage electrolyte and thus, final chemistry for the 3beLiEVE cell have been selected.
-Cathode and anode active materials have been successfully upscaled on pilot plant and optimal loading and compaction values have been determined
- Printed circuit board for fibre-optic-based sensors have been successfully sealed in the cell.

Sensors and BMS:
-All sensor designs are essentially finished, waiting for final parametrizations when the final cell format is produced.
foxBMS 2 master and slave boards have been designed and implemented as hardware demonstrators. Communication for all sensors to slave is done via I2C bus
-Adpative algorithms for SoX determination and cooling system actuation have been completed.

-Cooling and control concept has been defined
-Module and pack designs have passed decision trees; tooling for cooling plate production has launched: coolant routing in pack design is done

-Optical acquisition setup (camera and illumination system) for battery electrode scanning with 10µm resolution at 2 m/s was implemented, marking a five-fold improvement on resolution versus the previous prototype. A multi-class (e.g. agglomerations, blade trails, etc.) defect detection model was trained based on human-annotated training input data. Validation was performed on a single-class defect detector. Activities have been completed and contributed to multiple publications
-Cell manufacturing process modeling. A full process chain for 1 GWh/a 3beLiEVe cell production in a Gigafactory environment was modelled in 2D and partially in 3D.
The battery market today is still dominated by cell chemistries that are either inexpensive but have relatively low energy density, or cells with better energy density but containing critical raw materials such as cobalt. Battery cells with LNMO-based cathodes are still not commercially available.
If successful, 3beLiEVe technology will raise the bar in terms of energy density on cell level by demonstrating the feasibility of cell systems based on LNMO cathodes and silicon/graphite anodes coupled with high-voltage electrolytes. It will also improve the sustainability profile for the complete battery pack system, since the chemistry is inherently cobalt-free, and the module and pack are designed from the outset with a circular economy in mind.

Most importantly, the project builds the capacity of all involved partners to contribute to a competitive European battery value chain, and contributes to the spread of knowledge through its open science practices.
Overview of the major 3beLiEVe project steps
Specific objectives of 3beLiEVe