CSIRO partnership to develop next-gen lithium battery tech

Max Blenkin

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and Japanese specialist chemical manufacturer Piotrek have partnered to commercialise Australian-developed battery technology that features high energy capacity and lower fire risk, providing applications for space exploration and defence.

That has potential application everywhere lithium batteries are now used, from space to portable electronic devices, drones and electric cars.

CSIRO and Piotrek have partnered to develop the next generation of solid polymer electrolytes (SPEs) for lithium batteries using CSIRO's proprietary RAFT (Reversible Addition-Fragmentation chain Transfer) polymer technology and Piotrek's ion conducting polymers (ICP).

Piotrek general manager Ihei Sada said combining the CSIRO SPE with Piotrek ICP will give his company a big market advantage.

"This partnership will help Piotrek make our batteries safer and more efficient, and with our industry reach, we will get our advanced batteries to the market faster," he said.

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"Together we will develop the world's safest, longer life solid state high energy battery."

Solid state batteries are a class of lithium batteries that typically use a lithium metal anode, the highest specific energy of all battery anodes.

 

That will enable next-generation batteries with twice as much energy as current lithium battery technologies. There are no volatile or flammable liquids inside a solid state battery to catch fire at low temperatures if the cell is damaged.

CSIRO battery research leader Dr Adam Best said that with several companies already active in this field, solid state battery enabled devices could be on the market by 2025, if not sooner.

"Our RAFT technology allows us to tune our SPEs' properties to expand their versatility for different types of batteries and fuel cells and will also significantly reduce the cost of device assembly and manufacture," he said.

CSIRO's Dr John Chiefari is a co-inventor and co-developer of the RAFT polymer technology, and worked with Professor Maria Forsyth and Professor Patrick Howlett from Deakin University's BatTri Hub to develop the SPEs.

Dr Chiefari said the exciting collaboration with Piotrek will bring together battery technologies from both organisations to fast track development of an SPE for use in high energy (4.5-5V) lithium batteries for electric vehicles and drones.

"By developing and exploiting disruptive technology platforms, we're supporting the creation of new businesses and industries for Australia and the world," he said.

"This development will underpin the growth of high energy batteries for the electric vehicle market."

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