New battery chemistries

With R&D in full swing to develop new battery technologies, there are numerous press releases about alternate chemistry and systems. What 7 critical improvements will new battery technologies affect?

  1. Battery density Wh/kg
  2. Weight – a function of density
  3. Recharge cycles over lifetime
  4. Lifetime
  5. Speed of charging and discharge
  6. Mechanical size, shape and stability
  7. Price

Battery Density Key to New Applications

Battery density is important for transport – planes, trains and automobiles.

  1. Lithium Ion (nickel based) 250 Wh/kg
  2. Lithium ion phosphate (LFP) 180 Wh/kg
  3. Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) 50-70 Wh/kg
  4. Nickel Metal Hydride: 60-120 Wh/kg
  5. Lead acid: 35-40 Wh/kg
  6. Vanadium flow 10-20 Wh/kg
  7. Alkaline: 100 Wh/kg (poor recharging)
  8. Lithium – sulphur 1,300 Wh/kg (R&D)
  9. Lithium air: 500Wh/kg (R&D)
  10. Human fat cell: 37,000 Wh/kg or 250-760Wh/L. 10% efficient. (Why losing weight by exercising is almost impossible!)
  11. Jet fuel: 12,000Wh/kg. 40% efficient and depends on turbo props vs jet and speed.
  12. Petrol: 10,000 Wh/kg, 20% efficient into motion.
  13. Coal: 10,000 Wh/kg (33% efficient to electricity)
  14. Hydro: depends on height and flow. see DoTheMaths
  15. Uranium: 19 million Wh/kg (76 million J/kg)

Battery Chemistry Or Type

Many times new battery technologies are about changing the composition of the anode (usually graphite) or cathode technologies (lithium). Rare earth elements (ready more) maybe incorporated as well.

A full list of about 70 is found on Wikipedia

Vanadium Flow Batteries

Vanadium Redox Flow batteries are a good option for stationary battery storage but are not suited to EVs. 

  • Specific energy 10–20 Wh/kg (36–72 J/g)
  • Energy density 15–25 Wh/L (54–65 kJ/L)
  • VRFBs have a lifespan of 20+ years
  • VRFBs can discharge 100%, without any damage to the battery
  • VRFBs are non-flammable
  • Vanadium electrolyte can be re-used and does not need to be disposed of
  • The batteries can be cycled more than once per day
  • They use only one element in electrolyte – V2O5

92% of the global demand for Vanadium is to strengthen steel such as making rebar stronger. Vanadium is most often co-produced out of the slag in steel refining, and 72% of 2020 global supply comes as coproduced by steel mills. 18% comes from direct extraction, and 10% recycled out of oil refineries. China is the world’s top vanadium producer, accounting for 60% of global vanadium supply in 2020. Most of its vanadium was derived from co-production. Russia is the second-largest producer and South Africa the third-largest, accounting for 17% and 7% of 20201 supply, respectively. (BushVeld Minerals

Often high purity alumina 4N HPA used in clean energy and high technology applications are associated with V resources. 

There is no existing vanadium mined in Australia, but Australia’s Queensland Government has approved the development of Multicom Resources (‘ $183.23m (A$250m) Saint Elmo project, the state’s first vanadium mine, at Julia Creek. 

If Redox flow batteries get traction in grid storage, Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) demand is projected to be 36ktpa in 2030, equating to ~23% of the vanadium market.

Australian ASX junior minor stocks have pivoted from copper to vanadium and changed their names. There are 7 vanadium mines in Australia in the development phases. (Stockhead Report)

  • Multicom Resources (private) Saint Elmo at Julia Creek.
  • King River Resources (ASX:KRR), previously King River Copper in the Tenant Creek area
  • Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) which has flatlined for 5 years – at Ganintha in WA
  • Vanadium Resources (ASX:VR8), previously Tando Resources,  a junior vanadium developer who owns 74% of the world class, tier 1, Steelpoortdrift Vanadium licensed mining project in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The Steelpoortdrift titaniferous magnetite deposit is located in the prolific Bushveld Geological Complex within a known mineral and vanadium producing area within reach of proven processing plants, railway and road options and ports. The Steelpoortdrift mining project is the world’s largest vanadium deposit with an indicated and inferred JORC resource of 612 Mt @ 0.78%  V2O5 in situ, incl. 167 Mt @ 1.07%  V2O5 with an in-magnetite grade of c. 2.2%  V2O50
  • Golden Deeps (ASX:GED) from Namibia, Abenab project
  • Liontown (ASX:LTR) has some vanadiun in its lithium areas
  • Neometals (ASX.NMT) turns slag to recover V in Finland / Scandanavia
  • Technology Metals (ASX:TMT) Ganaintha vanadium, right next doore to AVL
  • TNG (ASX:TNG) Mount Peak is titanium / vanadium and has partnered with V-Flow from Singapore.
  • QEM (ASX:QEM from Julia Creek vanadium and oil shale in Qld is low grade but big.

Zinc bromide batteries

  • Large
  • Non-perishable storage batteries
  • Used for Energy storage at lower costs than lithium ion and other batteries

Hydrogen bromine (HBr) flow batteries

  • HBr serves as electrolyte
  • Low-cost advantage

Grid-Scale Batteries

There are not many grid-scale batteries around the globe, although there are many battery manufacturers. But the grid-scale batteries have 2 components.

  • Modular battery – that can be scaled
  • Control system that manages the charging and discharge, frequency etc.

Solid State Batteries

In the hunt for new batteries, solid state batteries are a contender. The largest battery manufacturer, CATL warns

The first generation of solid-state batteries, which have roughly the same energy as current lithium-ion batteries, is expected to emerge by 2025, with their market share approaching 1% by 2030, CATL said. It added that second generation solid-state batteries with new cathode and anode materials are expected to emerge after 2030, and the next generation of solid-state batteries is expected to enter the market after 2035.

CATL via GreenTechnica Jan 2022

Solid state batteries replace the gel material between the anode and cathode with a solid material. The challenge is that lithium can grow “dendrites” from the cathode out, and eventually cause a short, then fire. Studies include non-ceramic solid-state electrolyte based on a graphene oxide (GO) aerogel framework filled with polyethylene oxide. Read more at AZO Nano.

Organic Polymer

Polyjoule has announced research (10,000 battery scale) that use electrodes made of conductive polymers. Simply put, a conductive polymer is an organic-based compound that is not a metal, but can act like one. At the core of a conductive polymer chain, alternating carbon-to-carbon single and double bonds connect to form a conductive backbone that allows electrons to flow along the polymer chain.

  • Uses traditional methods of construction i.e. standard roll-to-roll processing in non-cleanroom environments,
  • Alternating anodes and cathodes interwoven and connected in parallel to form a cell.
  • 6 times faster discharge than LIOn
  • Recharge in under 5 minutes
  • No heating or cooling required
  • 12,000 recharge cycles
  • 100% discharge
  • No lithium required

Manufacturers of Systems

This list can be added to as suppliers enter the market. For the top 50 in the USA, check out this site. In Australia the main players are:

  • Tesla – use Megapacks which are normally based on the 2170 batteries
  • Doosan – from Korea. Unclear which batteries but their software is at Doosan Energy
  • RedFlow Cell – Australia.

ABB has a good dataset of new battery technologies (Full Report Here)

There are other startup companies and University based research announcements. From lab to production is costly in time and money.

CompanyDetailsBattery TypeLinks/ Notes
Solid PowerInvestment, from Ford, BMW, Hyundai, Daimler, SamsungSolid State
Quantum Scape$300m investment from VW. Claims a battery that can charge to 80% in 15 mins.Solid State
BlueSolutionsInvestment from DaimlerSolid State
InnolithEnergy density of 1000 Wh/kg,Lithium-ion
Ionic Materials$65m investment from Renault-Nissan MitsubishiSolid State
Libtec consortiumHonda, Nissan, Toyota, PanasonicSolid State
ProLogiumEnovateSolid State
SVOLTSolid State
AMTE PowerSilicon anode
EnovixSilicon anode
EnevateSilicon anode
Hibar SystemsAcquired by TeslaLithium-ion
Sila NanotechnologySilicon anode
OXIS EnergyLithium-S
Métalectrique Research & Development (MAL)LG Chem, Sanyo, Johnson Matthey, the UK MoD (DSTL) and Southampton UniversityAluminium Air
Maxwell TechnologiesAcquired by Tesla, Maxwell is a specialist in ultra-capacitors and Tesla is interested in its dry electrode / solid state batteriesLithium-ion, Solid State
NanoGrafGraphene anode manufacturerLithium-ion
Kreisel ElectricCollaboration with ShellLithium-ion
QuantumScapeRecently listed on the stock exchange and partnering with VWSolid state
DysonDyson continues with investment in solid state technology despite abandoning its EV car project.Solid state
SESSolid state
StoreDotCollaboration with EVE Energy. Daimler, BP, Samsung and TDK have investedSilicon anode
FoxconnLimited production by 2024Solid state
ToyotaLimited production by 2024Solid state
1414 DegreesSiBox 1MW based thermal energy 1414 degrees is molten SiSilicon Heat1414 Degrees
Swiss Clean Battery (SCB)Protected electrolyte with anode from solid lithium metal conductor (not graphite). Scaling from 1.2 GWh to 7.6 GWH by 2023Solid stateSwiss Clean Battery AG High Performance Battery is designer
PolyJuleOrganic polymer. Research phase, 10,000 cyclePolymer Polyjoule Lithium free battery

Battery Technology Announcements

There are so many announcements of improvements it can be confusing. The route from research to production is very slow and only some of the technology makes it to the end. Announcements tend to be either about energy density, longevity, charging speed or changing chemistry.

  • At Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), researchers have developed an approach to anode fabrication that could lead to extremely fast-charging lithium-ion batteries. The group used poly (benzimidazole), a bio-based polymer that can be synthesized from raw materials of biological origin as the precursor material for the anode. They achieved very fast charging (XFC) 18.6 A g−1 and had minimal degradation over 3000 cycles (Mining.com) with over 90% charge retention.
  • In Nature researchers showed at at 1,300kW/kg lithium-sulphur batteries may be practical after all: 4000 cycles with negligible degradation, 650mAh/g energy density, which is something around 6x higher than the best lithium-ion battery.

Energy Density and Volumentric Density Relationship

Energy density, cost, recharge time, lifetime are all important depending on intended application. Airplane, EV or grid storage need to be dense.

Battery Cell Energy Density
From https://www.epectec.com/batteries/cell-comparison.html

Compressed Air Batteries

Compressed air storage works on a similar theme to pumped hydro, using times of low prices to “charge up” and store significant amounts of energy. Instead of using water, rare in remote areas, it compresses air in suitable caverns, the type that can be found in old mines. One company, Hydrostor’s has A-CAES technology and claims to be able to deliver vast amounts of storage – in the case of the Broken Hill project in Australia up to 1,500MWh – enough to supply the town for days or even weeks.

Hydrostor announced in Jan 2022 it had secured a preferred equity financing commitment of $US250 million from Goldman Sachs for over 1.1GW, 8.7GWh of Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) projects in Australia and California.

Hydrostor's advanced compressed air energy storage (A-CAES) pilot plant in Ontario, Canada
Image from Hydrostore https://newatlas.com/energy/hydrostor-compressed-air-energy-storage/

Heavy Blocks

Energy Vault is the first off the blocks and funded via a SPAC and plan to build made from recycled and locally sourced materials such as waste mining material blocks and use gravity / kinetic energy. Inspired by pumped hydro, but minimal capital cost and automation provides the operation.

Energy Vault completed mechanical construction of the first of its kind, grid-scale unit located in Switzerland (Ticino). This commercial-scale system a 1:4 scale pilot system built and operated in 2018, where all core technology elements were tested and validated. The CDU is connected to the Swiss national utility grid and is being utilized for continued testing and software commissioning.

The Energy Vault system goes from fully charged (left) to empty (right)
Heavy blocks – 30 tonnes each from Energy Vault https://www.energyvault.com/

Warning: Much hype. (See AFR) The potential for Energy Vault’s gravity-based, building block storage technology has attracted some of the world’s biggest participants in the decarbonisation journey – Saudi Aramco, BHP and now Korea Zinc. A potential $US32 billion ($44.6 billion) of projects using the technology could be deployed over the next five-10 years, the Switzerland-based company says.

Saltwater Redox Batteries

There have been announcements but unclear if they have progressed. Ewe Gasspeicher’ss GMBh battery, called brine4power, is based on a system developed by the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, which uses saltwater electrolytes with recyclable polymers as the active molecules. Those materials, the team says, are far more environmentally friendly than the heavy metal/sulfuric acid mix that other redox flow electrolytes are often made of.

The brine4power system was to be set up in the Jemgum gas storage facility to make use of two huge underground salt caverns, which are currently used to store natural gas. Each of these cavities has a volume of 100,000 m3 (3.5 million cu ft), giving the battery a capacity of up to 700 MWh and output of up to 120 MW.

Solid State Batteries And Companies

From Syrah Resources Dec 2021 Report

New Lithium-Ion Technologies

All the while these new technologies are moving from research lab to production, lithium ion batteries are improving

Stockhead Reports on that researchers from the University of Queensland have developed a nanotechnology that more than doubles the lifespan of high-voltage Li-ion batteries. Professor Lianzhou Wang and his team from the School of Chemical Engineering and Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology have designed a unique atomic-thin layer on the surface of a high-voltage cathode, which is the source of lithium ions and a critical aspect that limits the cycle life in a battery. They’ve demonstrated a battery which remains stable for more than 1000 charge/discharge cycles. They usually only last several hundred cycles.

“Our process will increase the life-span of batteries in many things from smart phones and laptops to power tools and electric vehicles,” Professor Wang said. “Corrosion in one form or another is the reason that batteries degrade over time. “This new approach features a minimal protective coating at a scalable process, paving the way for the deployment of these abundant high-voltage materials for next generation high energy batteries.”

Images of New Battery Technologies

New battery technologies include New Electrolyte that could advance all Solid-State Batteries
Graphene batteries – check out the publication at https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.langmuir.1c03432
Back to Top
Scroll to Top