Germany's BMBF reveals plans to fund research into safe battery technology for electric vehicles

September 12, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) plans to fund 15 partners from German science and the automotive and supply industry to research how the safety of lithium ion batteries can be further improved for electric and hybrid vehicles.

During the next three years a focal part of the research will be new materials, test methods and semiconductor sensors for use in lithium ion batteries.

The research work aims to further develop Germany’s top position as a center for industry, science and technology, and to accelerate the shift to more climate-friendly and cost-effective mobility. The German government has also elected SafeBatt as one of nine ‘lighthouse projects’ of Germany’s National Electric Mobility Platform (NPE). SafeBatt stands for “active and passive measures for intrinsically safe lithium ion batteries”.

The SafeBatt partners will investigate among other things how the cell chemistry can be optimized to increase the (intrinsic) safety of lithium ion battery cells; in particular that of the cathode material and the electrolytes. In addition, research will be done into totally new semiconductor sensors made of material never previously used in this area, such as graphene, in order to record the relevant safety parameters of the battery cell. This includes for example chemical processes, the increase in pressure and the temperature cycles inside the cell.

Another objective of the research is a ‘digital battery pass’, which continuously records, evaluates and stores safety-related battery parameters during the battery’s operational life. The SafeBatt team also wants to develop new safety models for battery cells, which ascertain the correct operating status of the battery and at the same time take into consideration all possible extreme situations. Such extreme situations include for instance the complete discharge of the battery in low temperatures or an excessive rise in operating temperature at the height of the summer, for example when the battery temperature control fails. In addition, SafeBatt experts want to optimize and standardize the test procedure for the product approval of batteries, since the test procedure used at the moment does not cover all conceivable extreme situations.

SafeBatt was started in July 2012 and will end on June 30, 2015. SafeBatt is a lighthouse project