Smart sensors and self-healing functionalities embedded for battery longevity with manufacturability and economical recyclability

The salamander is well known for its ability to self-heal, regenerating damaged limbs into fully functional body parts, increasing the salamander’s lifetime. Inspired by this natural property, the project proposes a disruptive approach to design a rechargeable battery with “smart” functionalities; specifically, a self-healing functionality embedded directly into the electrode which is triggered by external stimuli based on internal sensors communicating with a battery management system (BMS).

The project started on 1 May 2023 and will run for 42 months.

Concept and challenges:

The core concept of the SALAMANDER project is to develop and integrate embedded sensors and self-healing functionality in Liion batteries (LIB) to enhance their quality, reliability, and lifetime.

Advancing Li-ion Battery Quality and Lifetime

This is achieved by demonstrating “smart” aspects in the battery which analyse indicators of its own degradation and independently respond with external stimuli to trigger on-demand self-healing. To achieve this goal, the project proposes 3 types of sensors with 2 types of self-healing mechanisms to counteract the most threatening and damaging reactions that occur in a typical LIB. On the anode, a resistance sensor array will be printed onto its surface to sense the degree of electrode fracture in the silicon/carbon composite anode.

Revolutionizing Li-ion Battery Performance

The anode will be embedded with a self-healing polymer network which upon thermal activation helps re-bind the silicon nanoparticles. For the cathode, an electrochemical sensor array is printed onto the separator to sense the dissolution of Mn from the LiNiMnCoO2 (NMC) cathode. To prevent Mn ions from critically degrading the cell, the cathode will be embedded with heat-activated scavenging species which remove these ions. Lastly, an internal temperature sensor helps control the degree of thermal activation. In each degradation scenario, the sensors communicate with the battery management system (BMS), which uses a physics-based model to trigger controlled heating to activate self-healing.

The SALAMANDER Battery’s Environmental Impact

Additionally, a life cycle assessment will be conducted to validate the recyclability of the SALAMANDER battery and quantify how the environmental impact of manufacturing is offset by longer-lasting batteries. Thus, although the project’s technology is anticipated to be disruptive at the cell and BMS levels, its design would remain compatible with existing manufacturing and recycling processes.

These outcomes thereby help meet the goal of BATTERY 2030+ for a competitive, sustainable European battery value chain and a more circular economy.

Project Coordinators

Dr. Samson Y. Lai

Dr. Carlos Escudero