Today, all electrodes for mass market lithium-ion batteries are made by slurry casting. The process involves mixing electrochemically active materials, additives and binders, and produces electrodes with randomly distributed pores and materials, in what is a quick and productive process. However, recent research at the laboratory scale has demonstrated that new manufacturing methods can produce “smart” electrodes with 30% more capacity and 50% lower degradation rates, which could enable EVs with longer range and batteries that are more durable. Even bigger benefits could be achieved once more is understood about the science of smart electrodes and how to scale up production for industry. The Nextrode project has been formed to do just that – to research new methods for manufacturing smarter electrodes and to put them onto the path to commercialisation.
The Nextrode consortium will address a range of crucial scientific and industrial challenges. It will investigate what happens to constituent materials as electrodes are formed, and how this can be controlled; it will be a test bed for radical new manufacturing methods; and it will pioneer new ways, based on data science, to translate small-volume, lab-scale manufacturing into high-volume environments.