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Scaleup of a Combined Spray Pyrolysis and Fluidized-bed Reactor Method for the Production of High Performing Layered Nickel- rich Cathode Materials as a Continuous Process

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0017765
Agency Tracking Number: 0000240760
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 14a
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001795
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-08-27
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-07-15
Small Business Information
4601 Indiana Street
Golden, CO 80403-1848
United States
DUNS: 048742175
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Thomas Kodenkandath
 (303) 279-4501
Business Contact
 Nick Hazen
Phone: (303) 279-4501
Research Institution
 National Renewable Energy Laboratory
15013 Denver West Parkway
Golden, CO 80401-3305
United States

 () -
 Federally Funded R&D Center (FFRDC)

To increase the utilization of electric vehicles, the US Department of Energy is seeking to reduce the cost of electric vehicle batteries to less than $125/kWh by 2022. To achieve this goal, the costs of cathode materials, which account for approximately 30% of the cost of vehicle batteries, must be reduced significantly. To address the challenge of lowering the costs of advanced lithium battery cathode materials, we will demonstrate an improved, scalable, and continuous method to develop nickel-rich cathodes with superior performance. This method will use a single source solution precursor, which will be modified to achieve ideal nickel, manganese, and cobalt ratios and compositional gradient to affect the cathode performance and cost. In Phase I, new single source metal inorganic organic composite precursors were developed and a semi-continuous process was demonstrated using a vertical spray pyrolysis and a fluidized-bed reactor that formed well-crystallized cathode particles smaller than 5 μm. These cathodes showed initial capacity greater than 200 mAh/g, voltage stability in the range 3.0–4.5 V, energy density greater than 800 Wh/kg, columbic efficiency over 90%, and 70% capacity retention after 25 cycles. In Phase II, the equipment will be modified and the method will be scaled up to produce at least 250 g cathode powders as a continuous process. Higher precursor concentrations and different spray pyrolysis and fluidized-bed reactor conditions will be evaluated to produce approximately 15 μm particles to increase the capacity retention to more than 90% over 250 cycles in greater than 1 Ah capacity pouch cells. A capital and operating cost analysis estimate will be performed and energy and resource inputs will be quantified to compare the cost benefits of the developed process with state-of-art manufacturing methods.

Commercial Applications and Other Benefits
The low-cost production of high performance cathodes will enable its widespread adoption in electric vehicle batteries. It will improve the US competitiveness in the fields of advanced materials and manufacturing and energy storage technologies, as well as create jobs, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and enhance energy security and environmental sustainability. The process is adaptable and will improve manufacturing processes for other advanced functional materials used in diverse technologies.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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