Behind the HELENA Project #1 | Interviewing Dr. Pedro López-Aranguren (CIC energiGUNE)
Europe´s commitment to achieving leadership and guiding the global Energy Transition is total. A clear example of this is its support for the many initiatives across the continent that seek to electrify some of the most polluting industries, such as transportation. Through this series of contents, we intend to know the perspective of the researchers involved in the HELENA Project regarding the virtues of the halide solid-state batteries developed.
CIC energiGUNE is one of the most important energy storage research centers in Europe, specialized in batteries, thermal energy solutions and hydrogen technologies. Since 2017, our protagonist of today has been working here: Dr. Pedro López-Aranguren. Associate Researcher at this center, his research activity is focused on the field of solid state batteries and he has extensive experience in the participation and coordination of national and international projects.
What advantages have HELENA batteries against others in the market?
HELENA belongs to the breakthrough all-solid-state battery Gen.4b expected to replace the current Li-ion (Gen. 2) technology. In Gen.4b, the combination of a thin Li metal anode with a thin solid electrolyte and a high voltage-based cathode composite will drastically increase the energy density of the cell. Indeed, Gen. 4b batteries fulfill gravimetric and volumetric energy density specifications demanded by electromobility segments and stationary applications. In addition, the replacement of flammable liquid electrolytes, commonly used in Li-ion batteries, by a non-flammable solid one can improve the safety without compromising the high energy density.
Comparing to other solid-state batteries, Gen 4a. with a graphite silicon anode will improve safety although energy densities will be closer to common Li-ion (Gen. 3a and 3b). In this regard, the manufactured HELENA cell will be a disruptive energy storage device capable of meeting the demands of electric vehicles and aircraft industry at a high technology readiness level.
What would you say is a realistic timeframe to see HELENA batteries on the market?
HELENA is committed to pursuit the ambition of European Union to enable the green energy transition with sustainable Gen. 4b battery technology within the next few years. To fulfill the timeframe targets, HELENA gathers key European actors in the battery sector, from industrial materials producers to R&D centers, automotive and aerospace manufacturers, covering the complete knowledge and value chain. Indeed, HELENA aims to support the European industry in these fields boosting the implementation of battery manufacturing footprint in Europe. During the project frame time, HELENA will bring the actual R&D state of the art for the halide chemistry from a TRL1 to a TRL5 by manufacturing 10 Ah devices by 2026.
In addition, the pre-industrial volume scale up of HELENA will ensure the large commercial manufacturing. The project will also deliver a roadmap to 2030, enabling eventual market entry by a very strong constellation of European partners, to bring about the transition towards electro-mobility in the automotive and aeronautic sector.
Through these means, we ensure an adequate response to such a major challenge as the energy transition and the conversion to a zero-emission world. To this end, each of the members of this ambitious and exciting European project is working hard to develop, test and perfect a solid-state battery, based on the non-critical raw material halide, to drive electric mobility on land, at sea and in the air.