TNO at Holst Centre and ZSW announce Li-ion battery collaboration
Building a cross-border ecosystem for battery production

13 April 2023 – TNO at Holst Centre, The Netherlands, and Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung (ZSW), Germany, announced to collaborate on the development of next-generation Li-ion batteries for the European car industry. In the collaboration Holst Centre’s expertise in Thin Film Technology processes and equipment will be combined with ZSW’s know-how of battery materials and integration. Each institution will involve its local partners from the battery (manufacturing) value chain and the automotive industry. The Dutch province of Noord-Brabant and the German state of Baden-Württemberg are providing funding of around 3.4 million euros for this cross-border research.

The ongoing electrification of vehicles is needed to meet the EU’s ambitious goals in CO2 emission reduction. The development of batteries with increased storage capacity and especially increased lifespan will help accelerate the adaptation of electric cars in the market. The goal of this project is to improve battery performance by stabilizing the critical interfaces in the Li-ion battery with Thin Film Technology, for example by spatial Atomic Layer Deposition. TNO at Holst Centre has over 15 years of experience with this sophisticated technology and is strongly connected to equipment manufacturers in the Noord-Brabant region. ZSW contributes with its huge expertise in battery materials and integration, which is strongly embedded in the German car battery value chain. Furthermore, there is a close collaboration with the Naturwissenschaftliches und Medizinisches Institut at the Universität Tübingen (NMI) for detailed materials characterization.

Focus on Lithium within initial developments

The project will initially focus on the improvement of existing Li-ion batteries, because of the high potential for short-term success and immediate implementation into this existing technology. However, due to the emergence of non-Lithium battery types, e.g. Sodium-ion-batteries, these will be investigated in a second wave.

Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens, head of Electrochemical Materials Research, ZSW & Ton van Mol, Managing Director, TNO at Holst Centre

A cross-border battery eco-system

The project, which will run until the end of February 2025, is intended as the first step in a long-term relationship between the two research and development centres. It also initiates the establishment of a cross-border battery-ecosystem in which both institutions will involve partners from across the battery-production value chain in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant and the German state of Baden-Württemberg. This ecosystem will drive collaboration, economic activity and employment opportunities in both regions. Therefore, the province of Noord-Brabant will financially support the Dutch activities with 2.1 million euros, while ZSW and NMI have secured funding by the Ministry of Economics, Labour and Tourism of Baden-Württemberg of 1.3 million euros.

Ton van Mol, managing director of TNO at Holst Centre: “Our spatial Atomic Layer Deposition technology significantly enhances the stability of next generation Li-ion batteries resulting in faster and higher charge capacity. Due to our expertise in thin-film technology, this new generation of batteries will be far more stable. The technology can be seamlessly integrated in existing gigafactories and apply it in the large scale production of battery cells combined with electric vehicles. This collaboration is a great first step to bring the Dutch and German ecosystems on battery technologies closer together. With the cross-border development and application of new (manufacturing) technologies from both the province of Noord Brabant and the state of Baden-Württemberg, the project will set the scene for (start-up) companies of the two regions to enable and valorise their commitment to the energy transition.”

Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens, head of Electrochemical Materials Research, ZSW: “It is high time to establish strong cross-border relations and cooperation within the countries of the European Union. The development speed for Lithium-ion batteries has to be further accelerated to match the CO2-emission targets of the European Union. This co-operation combines a strong technology development on the Dutch side with ion-debt understanding of battery materials and electrodes on the Baden-Württemberg side”.