Prof. Dr. Petr Novak
Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI)
5232 Villigen PSI
phone +41 56 310 2457
fax +41 56 310 4415


Radio Fribourg January 20, 2015:
Interview with Prof. Dr. Katharina Fromm, Uni Fribourg on Battery technology. Listen
in German or French

Advanced Battery and
Battery Materials

Energy can be produced in Switzerland with alternative energy sources like wind and sun but not always when it is required during peak consumption hours. Hence, energy storage is one of the issues in the Swiss energy turnover program. The state of the art electricity storage for many applications are lithium-ion batteries (in cell phones, laptops, E-bikes, ... ). Despite of the wide and numerous applications, in terms of power density, cost, and energy density, the full potential of metal-ion based batteries is not reached. In order to bring the technology forward, three research directions will be pursued with strong synergies between them.



Energy Density
A long-term vision of the teams working on batteries is the development of a small prototype based on lithium metal as anode and oxygen, respectively water, as cathode. The challenge for this system relies in the development of selective membranes and different electrolytes in order to guarantee a safe and reversible reaction. The technology developed in this part of the project might as well be suitable for other metal-air or metal-water battery systems as well as for technologies developed in other work packages of this SCCER. On a much shorter term, energy density will be increased by development of novel cathode and anode materials, in particular those whose full charge storage potential can be realized only via nanostructuring, to increase the energy density of current lithium-ion cells by 50-100%. Computational prediction on DFT level will guide experimental efforts.

The substitution of lithium ions by sodium ions, which have a higher availability and thus allow cost reduction, is one of the mid-term goals. It is targeted to achieve performance data equal to the current state of the art of lithium-ion technology.

Beyond Li-ion technologies
Highly exploratory research will target novel electrode materials which operate via storage of other than lithium ions, such as sodium (Na+) or magnesium (Mg2+). These technologies may eventually become low-cost alternatives to lithium-based batteries.

The teams working on batteries collaborate to develop new materials for cathodes, anodes, membranes, and electrolytes, to assemble them into battery systems, and to test their electrochemical performance to solve the above challenges. They strongly collaborate with the team working in the area of interaction of storage systems on the integration for energy packs and prototype development.

Safety and Durability
Performance, dependability (reliability, maintainability, lifetime), safety, and cost are key factors for market acceptance of battery system solutions in any application. In the task ‘Performance, Lifetime, Safety and Reliability of Battery Systems’ qualified and verified procedures to estimate reliability and lifetime as well as compliance with safety regulations of electricity storage systems with batteries will be established.

The task ’Production Methods for Battery Cells’ aims at planning, refining and realization of a production plant for Lithium-Ion batteries. This includes the electrode production step, the slitting process by cutting with laser-beams or water jet cutting and the welding of the collector from the cell.


Bulk Analysis of Sn-Electrodes in Sodium Ion Batteries

  • L.O. Vogt, M. El Kazzi, E. Jämstorp Berg, S. Pérez Villar, P. Novák, C. Villevieille. «Sn anode for Na-ion batteries: A bulk and interfacial study» Talk in ISE conference in Lausanne (Sep. 2014).
  • L.O. Vogt, C. Villevieille. «MSn (M=Fe, Co, Mn) intermetallics as anode materials for Na-ion batteries». Poster in ISE conference in Lausanne (Sep.14) and SCCER Heat and Electricity Storage Symposium (Nov. 2014).
  • L.O. Vogt, M. El Kazzi, E. Jämstorp Berg, S. Pérez Villar, P. Novák, C. Villevieille, «Understanding the interaction of carbonates and binder in Na-ion batteries: A combined bulk and surface study». Chem. Mater. (2014), under revision.
  • P. Bleith, H. Kaiser, P. Novák, C. Villevieille, «In situ X-ray diffraction characterisation of FeTiOPO and CuTiOPO as electrode material for Na-ion batteries». Submitted to Journal Power Sources (2015).

Tin/Carbon Composite Anode Material for Lithium Ion Batteries and Polyanionic Cathode Material for High-Temperature Sensible TES Based on a Packed Bed of Pebbles

  • Annual symposium of SCCER, PSI, Switzerland, 4. Nov. 2014. - Polyanionic cathode materials for sodium ion batteries - Layer-by-Layer Assembly of Ruthenium Complex Ultrathin Films for Electrochemical Pseudocapacitor Applications.
  • SCCER WP1, workshop, PSI, Switzerland, Oct. 27, 2014.
  • SCCER WP1 meeting, Fribourg, Switzerland, Oct. 1, 2014.
  • Summer School, Surface Electrochemistry: Towards Energy Research, Villars-sur-Ollon,Switzerland, Aug. 25–29, 2014.
  • FriMat day, Poster, Fribourg, Switzerland, June 27, 2014.

Demonstration of a Redox Flow Battery to Generate Hydrogen from Surplus Renewable Energy

  • «Developments in the design, fabrication and implementation of a dual-circuit redox flow battery». International Flow Batteries Forum 2014 (IFBF 2014), Hamburg (Germany), July 3, 2014.
  • «Adaptation of a redox flow battery to generate hydrogen from surplus renewable energy: principle and pilot project». 65th annual meeting of the International Society of Electrochemistry conference – Ubiquitous Electrochemistry, Lausanne (Switzerland), Sep. 5, 2014.
  • «A dual-circuit redox flow battery for hydrogen production». Multi-scale renewable energy storage 2014 (MRES 2014), Boston (United States of America), Aug. 20, 2014.
  • «Adaptation of a redox flow battery to generate hydrogen from surplus renewable energy». 10th European Symposium on Electrochemical Engineering, Chia (Italy), Oct. 2, 2014.
  • «Conversion of electricity into hydrogen using a dual-circuit redox flow battery». Poster at the SCCER Annual Conference, Villigen (Switzerland), Nov. 4, 2014.
  • «Low-cost Mo C catalysts for Indirect Electrolytic Hydrogen Evolution». MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit, Boston (United States of America), Dec. 2, 2014.
  • «Hydrogen production by redox flow batteries». UNSW Materials and Electrochemistry Symposium, University of South Wales, School of Materials Science and Engineering (Australia), Dec. 5, 2014.
  • «A demonstrator for the conversion of surplus renewable energy to hydrogen». 5th Euro-Mediterranean Hydrogen Technologies Conference (EmHyTeC 2014), Taormina (Italy), Dec. 11, 2014.
  • V. Amstutz, K.E. Toghill, F. Powlesland, H. Vrubel, C. Comninellis, X. Hu, H.H. Girault, «Renewable hydrogen generation from a dual-circuit redox flow battery». Energy and Environmental Science, 7, 2350–2358 (2014).
  • E. Fabbri, «Perovskite oxide as electrocatalyst materials for low temperature alkaline fuel cells and electrolyzers». Swiss-Japan Energy Technology Research Workshop, Gstaad (Switzerland), March 8, 2014.
  • T.J. Schmidt, «Electrochemical energy conversion: fuel cells, electrolyzers and more». Workshop Japan- Switzerland Energy Technology Research, Gstaad (Switzerland), March 9–12, 2014.