Next year, a Dutch company will equip drones with a new kind of battery that, if all goes according to plan, will allow the drones to fly 50% longer than with standard lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. is going to be Flight time will be closer to an hour instead of 34 minutes. The improved drone won’t weigh more than before, and even though it provides more power, the new battery is actually smaller than the old one.
Fixed-wing and multi-rotor drones are just the beginning. Also targets LeydenJar Electric car The company’s business developer, Tim Ahnhane, estimates that the company’s batteries will give electric vehicles a range of 800 or 900 kilometers, about twice the current market standard.
“The battery industry is advancing rapidly,” says Ahnhane.in Leidenjar battery Uses silicon rather than graphite anodes. This component, also known as the negative electrode, is where negatively charged particles called ions lose electrons. The electrons then travel through an electrical circuit and are supplied with an electric current.
Europe needs to stay in the battery technology race
there is only one start up Many people in Europe are working on improving battery technology. A key goal for many in this space is a battery that offers high energy density, significantly more power than existing lithium-ion options. It tends to be measured in the amount of energy available (Wh) per unit volume (liter, l) or mass (kilogram, kg).
Especially in countries such as China, research and development is progressing at a rapid pace, and there is no time to spare. Europe will be left behind if it doesn’t develop seriously good battery technology soon.
LeydenJar has over 70 employees, has raised €100 million in funding to date, and is currently testing prototype batteries. Ahnhane and others plan to open a large factory in the Netherlands in 2025. Annual production at the facility is targeted to reach a total battery capacity of 100 MWh, which is roughly equivalent to the energy needs of up to 100,000 households.
“Silicon as a material can store ten times as much lithium ions as graphite,” says Ahnhane. For the battery as a whole, this means up to about 70% more energy yield per liter (1,350 Wh/l or 390 Wh/kg).
Battle of the Bulge
Leidanger says it has solved a key problem that has prevented the use of silicon anode batteries in the past: excessive swelling. Traditionally, these anodes swelled significantly when charged, shortening their life and potentially making them unsafe. To combat this, Leidanger manufactures the anode by growing tiny pillars of silicon a few microns thick on copper foil.
“There’s a space between them,” explains Ahnhane. “There is porosity within these columns, too.”
The significant space in and around the silicon pillars means that most of the bulge is contained within the battery material itself, and the bulge of the entire battery cell is comparable to that of a graphite anode battery. , he says. Aanhane added that this limited swelling behavior appears to be stable over hundreds of cycles, the process of repeatedly charging and depleting the battery.
To date, Leidanger has tested the battery for about 500 cycles, with Ahnhane suggesting it is aiming for over 1,000 cycles. A further advantage of the technology, he said, is that it may be more environmentally friendly as it requires far less energy to produce than that required for graphite anodes. Safety tests have also shown no high risk of fire or explosion so far, which is an important consideration in the development of new battery technology.
In recent months, Asian battery makers have touted the imminence of higher capacity, with Gotion claiming its new Astroinno battery cans as an example. Providing electric vehicles with a cruising range of 1,000km. His CATL in China is also an event to watch.The company claims a battery capacity of 500 Wh/kg Could power future electric aircraft. And Japan’s Toyota says it is developing battery technology that can provide astonishing amounts of energy. Electric vehicle range to reach 1,500km by 2027.
“The reliance on China in this evolving industry is already growing at an incredible rate,” said CEO and co-founder of Lionbolt, another Dutch-based battery technology start-up. Founder Karl McGoldrick admits: He has 16 employees in the company and so far he has received €16 million in funding, of which his €11 million is in the form of grants and grants.
LionVolt is working on All-solid battery It does not contain liquid lithium, which is common in standard lithium-ion devices. Instead, it uses billions of tiny pillars with ions flowing between them. McGoldrick explains that this increased surface area inside the battery allows for a 450 Wh/kg increase in energy density.
He also claims that LionVolt’s technology doesn’t produce dendrites, the growth of metallic filaments that can cause dangerous short circuits in batteries.
Innovate, Adapt, Overcome?
One of the most interesting things about the development of higher energy density batteries is the huge variety of technologies currently underway. In Italy, Bettery, a startup spun out of the University of Bologna, is working on a flow battery using semi-solid electrodes.
In this case, a semi-solid is a fluid with particles suspended in it. Co-founder Alessandro Briloni said he and three other co-founders had found a way to prevent particles from settling in the sediment.
However, choosing this approach has tradeoffs. Flow batteries are not as energy efficient as lithium-ion batteries. Briloni says the life expectancy should be longer.
He and his three collaborators are currently in the process of setting up their first dedicated lab, and even have a small prototype battery powerful enough to power a laptop computer, for example. Briloni says the technology should allow him an energy density of over 500 Wh/kg. The company has raised €420,000 so far.
thin and flexible
Finally, Poland’s The Batteries has developed solid-state devices made using powder-based electrolytes, which the company says has significantly reduced production costs.
Spokesperson Isabella Bunny suggests that the battery can be manufactured in a thin and flexible format and could soon power sensors, wearables, IoT devices and built-in emergency lighting. ing. Batteries has raised $12.4 million (€11.9 million) to date.
Another advantage, he added, is that the technology is impervious to combustion or explosion, even with manufacturing defects. The battery targets an energy density of around 1,200 Wh/L.
This is just one example of the approaches emerging among European battery tech startups, and who knows which will succeed in the next few years. But McGoldrick stresses that investing in new technologies — attacking young companies — is essential for Europe to stand out in the big battery race.
“We have to be more courageous,” he says. “Otherwise, we would be buying all our batteries from China.”
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