The new process has succeeded in replacing the harmful methylpyrrolidone (NMP) solvent, which is traditionally used in the manufacturing of electrodes, with water.
Removing the harmful solvent from the production process makes the production of batteries simpler and safer for employees. Production costs of batteries can be decreased by as much as 5 percent. Some of this savings comes from the reduced cost of transporting and recycling harmful chemicals and a lower risk of exposure to employees.
Improving production methods is important as the use of batteries is rapidly increasing around the world. The increase in electric car use in particular will strongly increase the global demand and production of batteries, said Tanja Kallio, Adjunct professor at Aalto University.
A prerequisite for giving up the harmful solvent used in batteries was changing the binding agent to a water-soluble one. Finding the new binding agent, acrylic S020, was difficult because it not only had to be water-soluble but also chemically, electrochemically and mechanically ideal for this purpose.
Earlier in 2012 Aalto University researchers found a way to significantly improve the durability of Lithium-ion batteries by covering the electrodes of lithium iron phosphate batteries with extremely thin protective layers, and by increasing the potential of lithium iron phosphate used as a positive electrode by doping.
Aalto University conducted the study along with University of Oulu/Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, SPECIFIC, Sachtleben, Sun Chemicals and Walki. The research project has been funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and the Academy of Finland.