EU project Nextcell to develop batteries with gel inside


The Nextcell project, funded by the EU with €8 mn, aims to develop a new generation of high-performance lithium-ion battery cells. Led by FEV, 17 partners from ten EU countries seek to establish “gellified battery cells” in what sounds like an approach to semi-solid state cells.

According to the announcement, the concept of gellified (sic!) battery cells addresses aspects such as cost, safety and sustainability. The battery cells currently available on the market – whether pouch, round or prismatic cells – would use solid, porous electrodes, solid separator foils and a liquid electrolyte. By far, the most widespread approach for the next cell generation was to switch to a solid electrolyte, the statement summarises the current state.

Within the framework of Nextcell, the 17 companies and institutes want to explore another way: the gelation of the main components of the cell. In such cells, both the electrodes and the electrolyte will come in the form of a gel – wet but not running liquid. The partners expect the cells prototyped in the project to have a high energy density, “enabling excellent performance in high-voltage applications”.

In addition to the development, potential manufacturing processes must also be optimised to reduce future factories’ capital and operating costs. One approach is to avoid the evaporation of polluting solvents in the electrolyte-filling stage. The project also wants to forego low-boiling components in the electrodes and the separator. Finally, a reduction of around 50% in energy consumption will be guaranteed.

Nextcell involves FEV, ABEE, Solvay, Nanomakers, Universitat Politècnica de València, Politecnico di Torino, Sintef, Inegi, CIC energiGUNE, the French Commission for Atomic Energy and Renewable Energy (CEA), Varta Innovation and FIAT Research Center (CRF), Nanocyl, Univerza v Ljublani, Sustainable Innovations and the Ingolstadt University of Technology.

The Nextcell project has received €7,995,019 in funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.