A new process for manufacturing lithium batteries that results in both lower costs and more environmentally-friendly batteries than current methods allow, has been developed by researchers at Aalto University in Finland.
The new method means that a harmful solvent, which is normally used in the production of electrodes – methylpyrrolidone (NMP), can now be substituted with a safe substance, that of water.
Removing the NMP solvent from the manufacturing process both simplifies battery production while also making it safer for employees.
“Improving production methods is important, as the use of batteries is rapidly increasing around the world. The increase in electric car use in particular will strongly increase the global demand and production of batteries,” said Tanja Kallio, Adjunct professor at Aalto University.
The discovery also makes it possible to reduces production costs by as much as 5 per cent.
The cost-savings accrue from a reduced need for transporting and recycling harmful chemicals, and also the lower exposure-risk of employees, researchers point out.
The project presented several challenges as its success hinged on researchers being able to find a water-soluble agent that was also chemically, electrochemically and mechanically ideal for this purpose.
Eventually researchers found the new binding agent, acrylic S020, which satisfied the requirements.