New methods to accelerate the discovery of battery interfaces and materials

2020-04-03

One of the three research themes in the newly published roadmap from the BATTERY 2030+ initiative is “Accelerated discovery of battery interfaces and materials”. The concept holds great potential when it comes to speeding up the discovery process of new batteries and could play a central role in solving societal challenges related to climate change.

Advanced materials are the foundation of nearly every clean energy innovation, particularly for emerging battery technologies. Relying on existing trial-and-error­–based development processes, the discovery of novel high-performance battery materials and cell designs entails considerable effort, expense, and time - traditionally over ten years from initial discovery to commercialisation.

Portrait of Tejs Vegge.
Tejs Vegge, Professor at DTU.

”In BATTERY 2030+, we outline a radically new path for the accelerated development of ultra-high-performance, sustainable, and smart batteries, which hinges on the development of faster and more energy- and cost-effective methods of battery discovery and manufacturing”, says Tejs Vegge, Professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

The idea is to establish a community-wide European battery Materials Acceleration Platform (MAP), that will combine approaches from high-throughput synthesis and characterization as well as computational materials design, automated data analysis, data mining and artificial intelligence (AI). The Materials Acceleration Platform will be integrated with the Battery Interface Genome (BIG), that will lay a new basis to the understanding of the processes that govern the functioning of battery materials and interfaces.

“The MAP will provide the infrastructural backbone to accelerate application of our findings, while BIG will develop the necessary understanding and models for predicting and controlling the formation and dynamics of the crucial interfaces and interphases that limit battery performance”, says Tejs Vegge.

“A successful implementation of the MAP concept for batteries holds the potential to reduce the discovery time of new battery materials, interfaces and cells. By using AI and machine learning, it will be possible to share and utilize data and insights from traditionally siloed disciplines in battery research and development”, he adds.

Key components of establishing a battery Materials Acceleration Platform.

The basic concept behind BIG-MAP originated during a Mission Innovation workshop for clean energy materials in Mexico City in 2017, where Tejs Vegge and other leading experts on accelerated discovery developed the idea of a closed-loop MAP framework to speed up the discovery of clean energy materials.

“Battery materials and interfaces, in particular, hold great potential for implementation of such concepts, and together with the rest of the core team of BATTERY 2030+, we began developing the BIG-MAP concept”, says Tejs Vegge.

The approach has a lot of potential, but also a number of key challenges.

“A central aspect is the development of a shared data-infrastructure that spans multi-scale computer simulations, large- and laboratory-scale experiments and battery testing”, says Tejs Vegge.

Moreover, establishing a common ontology or “language” for battery materials and interfaces, as well as shared data standards and testing protocols, will be essential.

“Access to data from all the core domains in battery research and development is a prerequisite for harvesting the full potential of AI-orchestrated materials discovery”, he adds.

How can the BATTERY 2030+ initiative contribute to advancements within this field?
“The BATTERY 2030+ community holds all the necessary competences to establish and implement such a ground-breaking infrastructure through close collaboration between leading academic and research institutions, industrial first-movers and policy makers, towards the development of a shared infrastructure for accelerated discovery and production of battery materials and cells in Europe.”

What motivates you to engage in this area of research?
“Personally, I find that establishing and developing the necessary tools and concepts in BIG-MAP to be extremely interesting, pertinent and potentially transformative. Further, the concepts developed in BIG-MAP also hold great potential for accelerating the discovery processes of other clean energy technologies and could play a central role in solving massive societal challenges related to climate change.”

Josefin Svensson 

Read more about the acceleration of battery materials discovery in the BATTERY 2030+ roadmap.