3D printed batteries to transform energy storage
Solving a global problem
Photocentric has formed a research team to try to improve energy storage by unleashing the game-changing possibilities of creating electrodes in 3 dimensions rather than 2.
Novel additive manufacturing techniques
We can achieve order of magnitude improvements in battery performance by using novel visible light polymerisation in particle rich slurries. By selectively hardening photopolymerisable compounds across very large areas at resolutions down to 5 microns we can rapidly create significantly greater inter-facial electrode contact.
We can do this at low cost- theoretically no greater cost than the binders used in the conventional process. LCD screens enable large areas to be encoded with light at low cost and deliver polymerisation at very high resolution. Our novel viscous material dispensing system for particle-rich slurries allows large areas to be dispensed rapidly.
Increase energy density
Conformal to device topology
Photocentric is focused on delivering benefits of low cost and production scale.
- Industrialising the 3D printing of battery electrodes, enabling the additional power created from the freedom of geometry in three dimensions.
- Creating batteries designed to fit the machine.
Watch the full interview below.
We are currently leading Battman, a major Innovate project with an investment of £1.4m.
In BattMan3D we will develop innovative new industrial 3D printers for the manufacture of battery cells designed for electric vehicles. By improving manufacturing techniques, we will support the UK in establishing world-leading capabilities in state-of-the-art battery production. Our industry-specific formulations and printers will be designed to produce electrodes with complex geometries, with improved energy density. Our process will print entire battery cells, from anode through electrolyte to cathode, including the casing. We will demonstrate the technology during the project using typical lithium-ion battery cell chemistry, but our printers will be designed to be ready for future battery technologies, with capabilities to print a range of cathode and anode materials as well as solid-state electrolytes.
By the end of the project, we will have developed: A 3D printer for battery cell components, suitable for commercialisation at a retail price below £250k. Printable formulations, utilising functionalised nanoparticles, to produce cell electrodes and separators. Demonstrator battery pack, validated and benchmarked against conventionally produced batteries.
This will have significant benefits for the battery industry: Replacement of a 4-step process (coating, drying, calendaring, notching) with simple deposition and cure. Reduction of production costs for a 24kWh auto battery by more than £480. Removal of environmentally damaging N-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP) solvents from cell production process. Up to 85% reduction in waste management expense.
In this way we will improve vertical integration in the cell manufacture process, improving UK capabilities and resilience of supply. We will also remove high energy processes and high-risk materials from the manufacturing chain, while benefiting from the cleaner energy mix of the UK grid to improve the overall environmental footprint of automotive battery manufacture.