3D Electrodes: The New Standard in EV Battery Technology and the Benefits Behind the Shift
With the need for electrification becoming more time sensitive, industries wanting to move away from fossil fuels are looking for the best possible solutions to make the transition to a more sustainable option. For some industries, the focus is using energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power. In the transportation industry, the focus is on EVs to reduce emissions from personal and commercial vehicles.
Currently, traditional batteries are made with the less efficient 2D-structured electrodes, which suffer from mechanical structural limitations including a high internal resistance and heat dissipation issues. Replacing the existing 2D-layered structure of electrodes with an advanced 3D structure, will lead to a number of benefits for EVs including the reduction of production costs, increased lifetime, a higher energy density, an extended driving range and a lower retail price.
Lower Production Costs
A More Efficient Drying Process
By using 3D electrodes with a porous structure, this technology embeds the active material, distributing it more evenly and making the dying process more effective. Indeed, with a greater surface area to spread the active material on, there are more contact areas with this type of architecture, allowing the heat to spread faster and the drying time to accelerate. Furthermore, the robustness and surface area of the electrode improves adhesion of the active material with the current collector during the drying process. Therefore, the conductivity via the metal framework is able to help in reducing drying times by providing a thermal pathway deeper inside the electrode structure.
A More Affordable Option
An important factor holding back EV adoption is the retail price these tend to go for. With the average price of a new EV about $18,000 more than the average price of a new traditional combustion engine car, many consumers choose to stick to the lower price point. Furthermore, as the battery is the most expensive component of EVs, finding a way to reduce the costs surrounding it will help lower the retail price. Ways to do this include using AI and improving the drying process.
For the former, by using software that integrates into a battery’s hardware, a smart and complete solution can be built. Indeed, it will create algorithms that can predict and determine the best structure according to the application requirements. Furthermore, the AI-based, drop-in technology is designed for production and can seamlessly be integrated into any existing assembly line, allowing battery makers to reduce their production costs while increasing manufacturing capacity. For the latter, the drying process is usually carried out by applying a semi liquid active material on the current collector. It then needs to be dried in an oven, which takes 12-24 hours and adds expenses in terms of energy for battery production. By using dry coating instead, where the active material on the current collector is already dry, this would remove or at least minimize the need for a drying process.
Fewer Materials Needed
Smart 3D Electrodes require less materials and reduced processing times. Indeed, with fewer pairs of anodes, cathodes, and separators required to achieve a given energy density, this reduces the amount of expensive materials needed in the battery including lithium, copper, which can be reduced by up to 30%, cobalt, and nickel. Additionally, with the cost of separators amounting to over 7% of the total cell cost, the reduction of layers leads to direct consumer cost savings.
Reduced manufacturing costs are also an advantage to Smart 3D Electrodes. With fewer layers used, processing steps such as coating, drying, calendering and slitting need to be carried out less times. Additionally, not only is less binder material needed, but a cheaper binder can be used due to the improved adhesion between the electrode material and the current collector.
Designed for Production Technology
Ready-for-production technology is designed to be seamlessly integrated into existing manufacturing lines, regardless of the chemistry, new or existing. Indeed, the industry is adopting this new 3D metal architecture for cell design as by being a drop-in solution, it’s cheaper and easier to integrate. Additionally, it can improve any kind of battery technology and chemistry, including li-ion, silicon, solid state and more. As a result, this technology can have a huge impact on the entire industry while at the same time, support companies in their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions and the global effort of decarbonization.
Increased Lifetime and Safety
With improved mechanical stability and heat dissipation, 3D design can optimize various areas including heat dissipation and mechanical stability, to reduce battery degradation and increase lifetime.
Optimized Heat Dissipation
The 3D structure of the metal framework enables a more homogeneous temperature distribution throughout the battery. At the same time, the low internal resistance of the porous structure allows more effective heat dissipation and transfer than with traditional electrodes. This lowers the internal resistance and enables faster charging and discharging, as well as general working at high currents. Consequently, the battery is less likely to suffer from extreme hotspots, which cause a high rate of battery degradation.
Improved Mechanical Stability
In traditional 2D electrodes, the active material is layered on the metal. As Smart 3D Electrodes have a larger surface area, they have a higher mechanical stability as some of the layers are integrated instead. Indeed, instead of there being individual layers in the single-layer cell, the anode and cathode are both directly integrated with their active material. In batteries, layer separation can take place when a lot of stress is applied over and over again. However, if the active material is already integrated in the metal, it becomes harder to separate the layers, leading to higher mechanical stability. This improves capacity retention by allowing a more efficient charge transfer and reduces the risk of formations and layer separation within the battery which can degrade its lifetime.
A Longer Driving Range with a Faster Charging Time
Higher Energy Density
While traditional battery architecture consists of an anode and cathode with active material coated on the metal current collectors, and a separator between the anode and cathode to prevent short circuits and allow ion transfer, Smart 3D Electrodes contain a porous metal structure that holds the active material. This creates more space to integrate the active material in a given volume and allows for more of it to be loaded. As a result, the battery will have a higher energy density while its battery size is either preserved or reduced.
Reduced Internal Resistance
With reduced internal resistance and improved capacity retention, Smart 3D Electrodes enable high power rates in parallel to high energy, which minimizes the energy / power tradeoff. At the same time, this also allows a faster charging rate. Indeed, high energy batteries suitable for a long range are currently made with thick electrodes. However, these thick electrodes suffer from a short lifetime, slow charging time, and high degradation rate as they are less mechanically stable and suffer from an inhomogeneous temperature distribution.
Goodbye Energy/Power Tradeoff
By changing the battery structure, the active material is integrated in the electrodes rather than being layered like with regular 2D batteries. Moreover, by reducing internal resistance and improving heat dissipation, this leads to higher energy batteries and EVs with a long range at the same time as high power batteries with a fast charging rate. Hence, as range anxiety is still a decisive factor for consumers avoiding switching exclusively to EVs, improvements in battery performance will allow better results to increase the range while cutting down charging time at the same time.
Switching to Addionics’ Smart 3D Electrodes
While new battery design is an often overlooked solution to improve battery and electrode structure, Addionics’ manufacturing process is a drop-in solution that can be seamlessly integrated into any production line and is compatible with any battery chemistry. By using Addionics’ Smart 3D Electrodes, the EV industry would be able to save on costs while at the same time boosting performance and enhancing the driving experience. Moreover, thicker and porous structures enable next-gen technologies in various battery chemistries, including a more effective LFP, solid-state, silicon, and dry electrode process and alternative binder recipes. Indeed, engineering 3D microstructures is a general path to more highly-optimized porous electrodes. Moreover, Addionics’ electrochemical deposition is environmentally friendly and scalable for manufacturing and integrating into existing battery designs.