© Warsaw University of Technology

New generations of batteries are being researched. However, there are limitations that hinder their development and application possibilities, such as temperature, fast battery charging methods, or procuring raw materials for production. Warsaw University of Technology is involved in developing the battery industry, writes the Polish university in this press release.

In search of new materials and technologies

“At the Faculty of Chemistry at WUT, we are looking for new materials and technologies for battery manufacturing. We are very successful in this field” says Prof. Leszek Niedzicki, PhD, DSc, Eng.

The Energy Conversion and Accumulation team are working on various cell components. Its specialization is the battery component that saturates the others – electrolyte. Because it is the only one in contact with all other components, it also has very high requirements for chemical, thermal and electrochemical (voltage) resistance. It must also conduct electricity well and not cause interference when in touch with other battery components.

Solution on a European scale

“We were the first in Europe to develop a new electrolyte, while also using a less toxic material. Using this material, the cell ages more slowly and is far more resistant to external factors. This is the second such compound in the history of batteries. It has similar electrical parameters to the one used for the last 30 years, but substantially improved temperature and chemical resistance” emphasizes Prof. Leszek Niedzicki, PhD, DSc, Eng.

This compound, known as LiTDI salt, is manufactured by the French chemical company Arkema, under license from the Warsaw University of Technology. It has already been used in smartphones and in the newest electric cars.

Battery life increased by up to three times

The usage of the new salt increases battery life by up to three times, which means it will most likely not have to be replaced during the lifecycle of the car. This is important because the battery accounts for a large portion of the cost of an electric car.

The new electrolyte also allows the battery to work at much greater temperatures without damaging it — it can safely function up to 90°C. This eliminates restrictions on appliances and reduces the need for battery cooling, such as in those found in electric vehicles. This reduces the energy required to maintain the temperature and, as a result, increases the range of the vehicle, especially on hot days.

The use of a chemically resistant compound developed by WUT reduces production requirements for battery factories, resulting in lower production and construction costs for new factories.

On the way to cheaper and safer batteries

Our researchers are also working on other battery components and new generations of batteries, especially with a solid electrolyte for electric cars. Such cells will not be able to ignite, reducing the risk that currently exists in the event of a serious e-car accident. “We are the only team in the European Union’s ASTRABAT project from our EU region.” says Prof. Leszek Niedzicki, PhD, DSc, Eng. This team also includes other employees of the Faculty of Chemistry: Marta Kasprzyk, PhD, Eng., Joanna Tańska, MSc, Eng., and Magda Bedecka, MSc.

The team’s research also focuses on developing a new generation of electrolytes that are devoid of fluoride, which is highly toxic in the case of a fire and is currently present in every battery. “Our invention works – no one has ever succeeded before. We are the first to do it on a laboratory scale. So far, it has been believed that an electrolyte devoid of fluorine is not achievable.” says Prof. Leszek Niedzicki, PhD, DSc, Eng. “I am working on it with my doctoral students, including Klaudia Rogala, MSc, Eng., and Marek Broszkiewicz, MSc, Eng.” he adds.

Getting rid of the toxic elements

As part of the DESTINY consortium implementing the European Union’s Horizon 2020 project, the researchers will try to transfer the achievement on a larger scale and produce working prototypes of batteries. They would not contain fluorine or any other toxic or difficult-to-access elements. In addition to increased safety for people and the environment, as well as cheaper production costs, they would be easier to recycle — in the spirit of sustainable development.

Prof. Niedzicki is working on the project with a PhD student from Bolivia who is undertaking research at the Faculty of Chemistry. – Claudia Limachi Nina, MSc, Eng., Prof. Władysław Wieczorek, the Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry is The DESTINY project manager, with CIC Energigune in the Basque Country in Spain being the partner institution. The goal is to make batteries for cars, energy production, and mobile devices less expensive and safer for both users and the environment.

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