Will the German super-battery help the electric car break?
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Researchers from Baden-Württemberg have developed a type of battery that allows electric cars with a range of 1000 kilometers. If Innolith fulfills its promise, it can mean the advancement of electromobility. And much more.
IIn the energy and technology industry, a breakthrough in battery cell research is announced every few weeks. If rechargeable batteries end up not adhering to what their inventors promise, they usually still have to prove themselves. But the dream of cheap, safe, and powerful electricity storage for electromobility is spurring more and more researchers to achieve maximum performance.
You could not dream much more than in Germany so far. The high-tech nation recently broke in the scientific field of electrochemistry. The fact that the local automotive industry now has to import the central component of electricity economy of the electric vehicle of Asia is considered by many as an unsustainable condition.
The Federal Government, therefore, invests much time and energy in the idea of establishing its own production of battery cells in Germany. The plan pursued by the Minister of Economy, Peter Altmaier (CDU), has not only friends in this country. Why waste taxpayers' money on a property that has long been marketed by Chinese companies?
A legitimate objection. However, it no longer counts on whether European inventors should be able to generate technological added value and thereby once again surpass Asian competition. A potential game changer now wants to have found in Bruchsal, near the technology based in Karlsruhe, of Innolith. The company, based in Basel, Switzerland, plans to introduce a new battery technology based on inorganic electrolytes later this week.
The benefits seem almost too good to be true: no exotic material, no fire hazard, and a good charge cycle ten times higher than conventional lithium-ion batteries. The Innolith battery, the company announces, is not only safer and has significantly lower charge cycle life: "It makes the electric car with 1000 miles range possible." We are talking about 55,000 charge cycles with half an hour of change and a depth of charge between 0 and 100 percent. "And that's not a theoretical value," says Alan Greenshields, CEO of Innolith, in an interview with WELT: "We measured it."
The technical innovation is obviously to avoid contaminated organic and combustible electrolytes. By abandoning the organic substances, an "absolute advance in energy density" was achieved, which was four times higher than lithium-ion cells. The company, which claims to have about 60 engineers and technicians in research and development in Bruchsal, plans to be ready for mass production in two to five years.
Scientists also speak of a "breakthrough"
"We want to build a first automatic production line in Bruchsal," said the WORLD of Greenshield. The goal is then to license the technology to battery manufacturers, while Innolith wants to focus on research and development and the production of electrolytes. Since 2017, Innolith has already used a large-scale battery called Grid Bank in the US state of Maryland that is being used to stabilize the power grid.
"This is one of the biggest individual innovations I have ever seen," says electrochemist Walter van Schalkwijk, author and battery specialist at Microsoft, who has been with the company for several years. In an interview mediated by Innolith, van Schalkwijk spoke of a "breakthrough." Also the applications in mobile communication devices are basically possible with the technology.
If Innolith can deliver on its promise, the federal government will face a difficult choice: in fact, it wants to quickly put one or several billion-dollar battery cell factories on the green field. In fact, if Innolith technology soon turns out to be the advancement for which it is being promoted, state aid could have been spent a long time on what may have been obsolete technology.
A vision that does not concern the head of Innolith. He sees – at least for a period of transition – enough space for different technologies. "A rapid market saturation is not expected, as each battery needs to be replaced," says Greenshields. However, with lithium-ion technology, with its relatively low number of charge cycles, "production numbers are rising to infinity."