Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Thomas Gerke


New Durable High-Power Lithium-Ion Battery Developed In Germany

May 30th, 2013 by  

Scientists at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) in Ulm, Germany have developed a top-class lithium-ion battery, in terms of cycle stability – an important parameter for the lifetime. It is exceeding the current international state of technology for high-performance battery cells.

ZSW cells , 18650 format (Source: ZSW)

ZSW cells , 18650 format (Source: ZSW)

More Than 85% of Capacity after 10,000 Cycles

More than 10,000 full cycles have been achieved so far. With other values, such as the power density, the batteries are equivalent to those produced by leading Asian manufacturers. The active materials for the batteries exclusively originate from German companies. The ZSW has designed the cells, developed the manufacturing process, and produced a small sample series in the 18650-format. The technology has created the basis for manufacturing large-size pouch cells and large-size prismatic cells. The lithium-ion batteries are intended for use in electric vehicles and as solar power storage systems.

After 10,000 complete charging and discharging cycles with a complete charge and discharge cycle per hour (2 C), our lithium batteries still have more than 85% of the initial capacity,” reports Dr. Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens, head of the Accumulator Material Research Department in Ulm. “That also provides excellent prospects for a long calendar life.” A long service life is an essential requirement from automotive companies. Lithium-ion batteries need to be able to do their work in cars for at least ten years without the battery capacity dropping to less than 80% of the rated value.

Coating line for electrodes in the eLaB (Source: ZSW)

Coating line for electrodes in the eLaB (Source: ZSW)

Because the institute for applied research in Ulm has such a detailed understanding of the processes inside the cells, it was also able to reach excellent values for other relevant battery parameters. For example, the cells have a power density of 1,100 watts per kilogram, which is also at an international level. The power density quantifies the available power per weight. For an electric vehicle, this figure means short charging times and an excellent acceleration capability.

In the next stage, the researchers and engineers at ZSW want to develop electrodes for large prismatic lithium cells together with partners from industry. “It’s essential to master the currently demonstrated cell technology before going on to produce large cells,” explains Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens. She says that although further research and development work is necessary for the technology’s implementation in large cells, upscaling is in principle possible.

New Battery Research Manufacturing Facility

A few days after announcing the development of the long-lived lithium ion cell, the ZSW signed a five-year cooperation agreement on May 29th with industry partners. The agreement states that researchers of the ZSW will develop new manufacturing processes and materials ready for mass production suited for industry requirements.

Among the industry partners are BMW AG, Daimler AG, Elring Klinger AG, Manz AG, Rockwood Lithium GmbH, and SGL Carbon GmbH.

New eLab Facility (Source: ZSW)

New eLab Facility (Source: ZSW)

On the same date, the ZSW laid the foundation for a new 3000 sq. meter research manufacturing facility in Ulm to be completed in 2015. The construction received funding from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is a close observer of the scientific, political and economic energy debate in Germany and around the globe. Inspired by the life's work of the renewable energy advocate Hermann Scheer, Thomas focuses on spreading information that showcase the possibilities & opportunities of a 100% renewable energy system. Though technology is key for this energy shift, he also looks at the socio-economic benefits and the political, as well as structural barriers.

  • sanju

    The EV battery technology has leaped a long jump by Envia Systems success in Battery storage, and tested their battery as 400 wh/kg, which means the new vehicles would be able to run 400miles in one stretch, which is almost 1.5 times as Tesla claimed and over 4 times as Nissan claimed so far….Envia systems latest success has created a very high hope over EV vehicles not only more reliable but more economical too.

  • CaptD

    Better batteries will make the World a safer place!

    Energy Expert Predicts Solar Could Upend Major Utility in California on Price

    With superior storage, Solar (of all flavors) would help stamp out the big Utilities that are holding us in Energy Slavery !

  • CaptD

    I’m looking forward to all the nay sayers who will down play this because they refuse to accept that battery technology will improve ever faster, as ever more people demand superior batteries!

    Salute to Germany, the World needs all the storage it can get!

    • Fysics_expert

      You can look forward to anything you want to. But the chemistry has been used. It is only so far you can go by breaking the molechule bondage into energy. Chemical batteries will never evolve mentionably above current levels.

      I can understand that in Germany it is difficult to admit that the only next step is breaking or fusioning the nuclear bondage. There we are talking a 1000 or 100 000 x possability for development over the current situation.

      I can only calm myself with the fact that Germans will learn this thing the hard way and that the names of the German “greens” have been documented by their presiding with their “renewable” energy hoaxes.

  • Is is nice to see some European research results.

    By the flood of US & Asian research news one would think that nothing happens in Europe.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Europeans may have invented the Archimedean screw.

      (Or maybe they got it from the Egyptians.)

      • 🙂

      • CaptD

        I suggest the “Nuclear Screw”, because as batteries improve, all the sacred Utilities arguments for “base-load” will become useless! Expect the giant Utilities to buy any and all patients that threaten their strangle hold on ratepayers!

  • Some big-name partners there:

    BMW AG, Daimler AG, Elring Klinger AG, Manz AG, Rockwood Lithium GmbH, and SGL Carbon GmbH.

  • Juan Pelotas

    10,000 charge/discharge cycle. At one charge per day, that is about 27 years of service. Even if I am reading it wrong, and charge and discharge are 2 cycles, then we would be talking about 14 or so years. By then, I hope there is a better technology.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You’re reading it right. Charge/discharge in one cycle. 10,000/365 = 27.4 years.

      In practice grid batteries would probably undergo more than one cycle per day most days. A nighttime charge discharged into morning demand and a daytime charge discharged into late afternoon/evening demand.

      Not a 2x cycle every day, somewhere between 1x and 2x.

      • ThomasGerke

        Important to keep in mind that the battery cells still had more than 85% of the initial capacity after 10,000 full cycles… So their actuall lifetime is even longer.

        Considering their 1h test cycles it took more than a year to reach 10,000 cycles.

        • Yes, the residual value of the battery remains very high even after the 10000 cycles.

        • Jouni Valkonen

          used EV-batteries could be used also for domestic storage capacity for solar panels.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Were we to use these in an EV with a 200 mile range they would be good for more than 2,000,000 miles. Buy one set of batteries for your lifetime driving and move them from car to car as the vehicle body wears out.

      Actually, buy one set. Use them for your lifetime driving. Will them to one of your kids for their lifetime driving. Then on to a grandchild…

      2,000,000/13,000 annual miles driven = 153.8 years.

      (We don’t know if there is a calendar life issue.)

      They are also fast to charge.

      What we don’t know is their capacity. Even if they were no better than regular lithium-ion batteries but have good calendar life it would still make financial sense to install more in order to get range. That’s what Tesla does. Since their customers have deeper pockets they can afford to buy the extra range.

      If calendar life is good then paying an extra $10k/whatever for a 200 mile range EV would make sense. The next vehicle purchase could be an EV with an empty battery compartment, just waiting for yours.

      Even if you sell your used EV the sales price should be high based on the residual value of the barely used battery pack.

      • andereandre

        That would work if this was the end point of battery development.
        I am quite convinced that in 8 years that bulky battery pack of yours will look very silly and be totally useless.

        • Bob_Wallace

          My guesstimator is in sync with yours.

          Most likely bulky long-life batteries like these would remain on the road only for the life of the original vehicle. After that they wouldn’t be moved to another vehicle, but put into grid backup service.

          (I was illustrating what 10,000 cycles means in terms of battery life.)

          • andereandre

            The funny thing is that you made a strong case for buying an EV with these batteries if we knew for certain that this is as good as it gets.
            Knowing that next years EV will be better is holding people like me back which hurts EV sales. I am grateful to the early adopters (not only for this technology)

          • Bob_Wallace

            The big thing for me is that if this battery makes it to large scale production then we will have reached ‘good enough’.

            We’ll have a battery that makes financial sense. We would need some sort of creative financial model which would keep initial vehicle purchase price low rather than make people purchase the residual value when they buy the car.

            A simple model would be a battery lease with the leasing company selling the battery on for grid use when the car was sent to the crusher. Perhaps one could purchase a $20k “EV Camry” for $10k and make $25/month lease payments on the battery for the life of the car.

          • andereandre

            That would improve sales. But now you have shifted the risk to the leasing company which will face the same problem of getting stuck with outdated technology. With all the development were are seeing now on grid storage, I doubt very much that a 2013 battery pack has a lot of value in 2023.

            Another thought; life of the car. I think nowadays EOL of cars is determined by the engine, transmission, etc., not by the bodywork. Assuming that the mechanical parts of an EV have a much longer life than their ICE equivalents (correct?), combine that with a battery good for 27 years then we really are talking destructive technology here (for the car industry).

          • Bob_Wallace

            Good points. We need both better and cheaper batteries.

            I’m not sure about EOL being extended for many cars. I suspect it would depend on how well the car was maintained. Many bodies and interiors are simply ‘used up’.

            My brother in law drove his Volvo for 250,000 miles. He was very good about maintenance. But by the end it wasn’t a very enjoyable car to drive. I put 300,000 on my first pickup. There wasn’t a lot left at the end.

            I can see a portion of ~15 year old cars being sold to a less affluent part of the world where there could be a thriving ‘spruce up’ business that would make decent appearing EVs available for attractive prices. One could purchase a newly painted and reupholstered interior with a lot of driving life.

            Perhaps the same sort of process would happen in developed countries creating a supply of dependable cars for people who need to save money.

            There’s another route in which we return to the ‘body on frame’ design. A corrosion-resistant frame on which the battery pack, motor and running gear are mounted. Then a body/interior that attaches on top.

            At ~150,000 miles one could buy a new body and run the frame to 300,000.

          • flubalubaful

            The day that we have an EV that can travel 600 miles on a charge is the day that petrol cars will become obsolete. Especially if the battery pack is cheap enough that it can be transferred to upgrade fossil fuel vehicles without much loss of space.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I suspect the magic number is more like 200 miles of range.

            200 mile range, affordable and the world will change.

      • anderlan

        24th Century Technician: “Here’s your problem, your power pack is from before the war.”
        Homeowner: “Before the 4th world war, holy crap, that is old!”
        Technician: “No, the THIRD world war.”

        Or imagine Jim Kirk’s step-dad’s classic Tesla Model S5 WITH THE SAME 21st CENTURY BATTERY PACK. :-0

        • anderlan

          “Damnit James, I’ve had enough of your shit. Why did you try to fast charge my antique car straight from the 1MW house generator? You know you have to be gentle with her. She’s lasted for 3 centuries. Do you even know how valuable she is? She’s worth a small moon. And now YOU finally killed her power pack.” (vindictive young Kirk smiles on the inside)

Back to Top ↑