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Business | September 12, 2012

German research into safe battery technology for electric vehicles

Over the next three years, 15 partners from German science and the automotive and supply industry will research how the safety of lithium ion batteries can be further improved for electric and hybrid vehicles.
A focal part of the research will be new materials, test methods and semiconductor sensors for use in lithium ion batteries. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this research work in order to further develop Germany’s top position as a center for industry, science and technology, and to accelerate the shift to more climate-friendly and cost-effective mobility.

The German government has also elected SafeBatt as one of nine “lighthouse projects” of Germany’s National Electric Mobility Platform (NPE). SafeBatt stands for “active and passive measures for intrinsically safe lithium ion batteries”.

SafeBatt makes lithium ion batteries safer

Quality and safety are top priorities for the German automotive industry and are what distinguish Germany in the global marketplace. Quality and safety aspects are also to be ensured in the area of lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles. The SafeBatt project will play an important role in this respect.

The SafeBatt partners will investigate among other things how the cell chemistry can be optimized to increase the (intrinsic) safety of lithium ion battery cells; in particular that of the cathode material and the electrolytes.

In addition, research will be done into totally new semiconductor sensors made of material never previously used in this area, such as graphene, in order to record the relevant safety parameters of the battery cell. This includes for example chemical processes, the increase in pressure and the temperature cycles inside the cell.

Another objective of the research is a “digital battery pass”, which continuously records, evaluates and stores safety-related battery parameters during the battery’s operational life. The SafeBatt team also wants to develop new safety models for battery cells, which ascertain the correct operating status of the battery and at the same time take into consideration all possible extreme situations.

Such extreme situations include for instance the complete discharge of the battery in low temperatures or an excessive rise in operating temperature at the height of the summer, for example when the battery temperature control fails. In addition, SafeBatt experts want to optimize and standardize the test procedure for the product approval of batteries, since the test procedure used at the moment does not cover all conceivable extreme situations.

SafeBatt – a BMBF lighthouse project

SafeBatt was started in July 2012 and will end on June 30, 2015. SafeBatt is a lighthouse project of the NPE. By designating it a lighthouse project, the German government has picked out a particularly relevant topic in electric mobility, one which is making an important contribution to technological progress and cost reduction in electric mobility. The project will cost about Euro 36 million. The industry partners are putting in around Euro17 million, while the BMBF is participating in the funding of SafeBatt with about Euro 19 million.

SafeBatt project partners

The SafeBatt project partners are BASF SE, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Deutsche ACCUmotive GmbH & Co.KG, ElringKlinger AG, Evonik Litarion GmbH, Infineon Technologies AG, Li-Tec Battery GmbH, SGS Germany GmbH, Volkswagen AG, Wacker Chemie AG, the Institute for Chemical Technology ICT of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Technical University of Braunschweig with the Institute for Particle Technology iPAT, the University of Münster with its battery research center MEET as well as the Technical University of Munich with its Department for Electrical Energy Storage.

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