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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Xerox PARC Launches ARPA-E Funded Printed EV Battery Project

PARC, a Xerox company, has launched a project with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) under the 2012 Open Funding Opportunity. The Printed Integral Battery Project will leverage a PARC invented co-extrusion (CoEx) technology to demonstrate a lithium-ion battery manufacturing process that deposits the entire functional battery in a single pass. This innovative approach can dramatically reduce cost while simultaneously improving battery performance, helping make high performance and affordable electric vehicles (EV) a reality.

The Printed Integral Battery Project is part of a portfolio of research within the PARC Energy Technology Program aimed at developing practical solutions to make clean and abundant energy available across a wide range of applications. This includes a focus on improving energy storage for EVs, consumer electronics, and electric grid support through better ways to make, monitor, and manage batteries. Today’s news from PARC follows a recent address by President Obama where he said, “We can support scientists who are designing new engines that are more energy efficient; developing cheaper batteries that go farther on a single charge; and devising new ways to fuel our cars and trucks with new sources of clean energy – like advanced biofuels and natural gas – so drivers can one day go coast-to-coast without using a drop of oil.”

The conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing process requires that the two halves of a battery be made in two separate steps, and then combined together in a third step – each step adding cost that contributes to the high price of the final product. PARC’s Printed Integral Battery deposits the entire battery cell–cathode, separator, anode–in one single pass. PARC’s CoEx technology allows multiple materials to be deposited simultaneously while still maintaining fine features in the finished product.

Implementing CoEx for solar, PARC has partnered with a solar company for mass manufacturing of silicon solar cell gridlines, and is currently seeking partnerships with battery manufacturers to use CoEx as a drop-in replacement for conventional electrode deposition equipment that can improve the performance of current battery chemistries by as much as 30%.

“PARC’s battery technology portfolio is all about allowing users to get the most out of today’s batteries,” said Rob McHenry, Energy Technology Program Manager, PARC. “We’re working on disruptive developments that address the critical challenges that are holding batteries back from taking off in industries from automotive, to airline, to electric grid support. Building on our technical strengths, we’ve developed technologies like CoEx that can deliver an immediate leap in performance to an existing battery manufacturing line, a low-cost fiber-optic sensing system that can for the first time monitor what’s happening inside of the battery in real-time to detect faults and improve safety, and intelligent energy asset optimization systems that can ensure batteries operate efficiently. With the Printed Integral Battery Project, PARC is taking manufacturing costs on in a big way.”

The ARPA-E funded Printed Integral Battery Project will be executed with partner Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Over the next twelve months, the team will develop the high-viscosity battery material inks capable of co-extrusion at high-speed; the three-dimensional print-head configuration that simultaneously prints structured layers of cathode, separator, and anode; and the process details to ensure a reliable and high-yield manufacturing capability. PARC will then print integral batteries and document performance to help foster investment and adoption by battery manufacturers. Single pass printing of the three layers will reduce costs in deposition, calendaring, laminating, and yield loss. Because it inherently incorporates CoEx technology, the structured electrodes can simultaneously increase energy density, or deliver equivalent energy density with less active material to reduce the overall cost even further.

ARPA-E seeks out transformational, breakthrough technologies that show fundamental technical promise. These projects have the potential to produce game-changing breakthroughs in energy technology, form the foundation for new industries, and have large commercial impact. The projects funded through the 2012 Open Funding Opportunity support President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to solving our nation’s most pressing energy challenges.

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