Blackstone launches mass production of lithium-ion batteries using 3D printing technology

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Blackstone Resources, a Swiss investment company specializing in battery technology, has announced the mass production of its 3D printed battery cells at its new manufacturing facility in Döbeln, Germany.

With the ultimate goal of tackling the electric vehicle market, in 2019 the firm created its own German research and development subsidiary, Blackstone Technology.

The company has spent the past two years developing and refining its lithium-ion battery 3D printing technology, after hosting an online event launching its first full-scale production facility.

The new manufacturing facility in Döbeln, Germany. Photo via Blackstone technology.

3D printing batteries with Blackstone

According to Blackstone, today’s wet battery production lines tend to be very specialized, meaning they can only manufacture one type of battery at a time. The energy-intensive process is often very expensive and uses hazardous solvents as raw materials for the electrodes.

On the other hand, Blackstone’s “Thick Film Technology” is designed as a much more flexible and cost effective alternative, covering a wider range of cell formats while using environmentally friendly materials. Due to the dynamic nature of the 3D printing process, Blackstone says it can even adapt the size and shape of cells to customer requirements.

The process is said to have allowed the company to achieve energy density improvements of around 20% over its traditionally manufactured counterparts, offering densities of up to 220 Wh/kg. Additional claims include space savings of up to 15%, material cost savings of €20/kWh and 23% lower energy consumption in production.

Ulrich Ernst, Founder and CEO of Blackstone Resources, adds: “The patented process is based on a purely water-based process that is environmentally friendly and reduces waste by 50%. We are thus making an important and lasting contribution to the recovery of transport and the fight against climate change.

As Blackstone begins with lithium-ion cells, the company believes its technology will also be applicable to other cell chemistries. This includes solid-state ones, which are expected to increase energy density by an additional 70%.

A 3D printed lithium-ion battery by Blackstone Technology.  Photo via Blackstone technology.
A 3D printed lithium-ion battery by Blackstone Technology. Photo via Blackstone technology.

Shooting for a production capacity of 10 GWh

Blackstone Technology has set its initial annual production capacity target at 500 MWh, which it expects to achieve by the end of next year. Although no timetable has been set, phase two of the growth plan will target 5 GWh per year, and phase three will eventually target more than 10 GWh.

According to Holger Gritzka, Managing Director of Blackstone Technology, the company’s long-term goal is to produce battery cells every second: “The vision – with just one machine park, we print cells in different shapes, different electrodes and electrolyte materials quickly and cost-effectively on a large scale.

To achieve this goal, the company will increase its number of employees in Döbeln from 14 to 38 next year, attracting workers from neighboring cities such as Leipzig, Chemnitz and Dresden.

Blackstone is already working on developing a bipolar battery design with partner Liovolt, a Germany-based energy company. The lithium-ion cell will comprise several stacked electrodes connected in series, with the cathode and anode materials being placed on a common electrode holder.

Serhat Yilmaz, CMO at Blackstone Resources, says: “The next step now is to develop a battery system with our partner ecovolta, and together with Voith SE and Orten Electric Trucks we are targeting a project to equip electrified electric buses with our technology. of battery. .”

3D printing of energy storage devices is a niche area, with much of the work still in the research phase. Last October, researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) used 3D printing to create a new, durable class of supercapacitors. The fully 3D-printed battery, made of a flexible substrate of cellulose and glycerol, patterned with conductive ink loaded with carbon and graphite, is able to withstand thousands of charge cycles while maintaining its capacity.

In addition, Sakuu Corporation (formerly KeraCel), a specialist in 3D-printed energy storage devices, recently launched the construction of a new pilot facility for the production of its own 3D-printed solid-state batteries. Scheduled to be completed by early next year, the pilot line would be able to produce up to 2.5 MWh of solid-state batteries each year.

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Featured image shows a 3D printed lithium-ion battery by Blackstone Technology. Photo via Blackstone technology.

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