Tools to facilitate the research on batteries
The start-up Sphere-Energy, from the “Chimie du solide et de l’énergie”1 laboratory, conceives new tools for measurement and test that are adapted to the most advanced researches on energy storage.
[The original article was published in La Lettre Innovation by the CNRS. It can be consulted at the following link: http://www.cnrs.fr/lettre-innovation/actus.php?numero=566. The following text is freely inspired and does not claim to be a literal translation]
New, more efficient energy storage systems are the key for the development of fully electric cars and the implementation of more renewable energies into the grid. To overcome current limitations, numerous research groups around the world work on new mobile and stationary battery systems. The “Chimie du solide et de l’énergie” laboratory, led by Jean-Marie Tarascon, professor at Collège de France and director of the French research network on electrochemical energy storage (RS2E)2, is a good place to understand the existing challenges. Besides the complex chemistry of energy storage materials, the equipment is often another limitation. Nowadays a big variety of energy storage systems exists, all with specific features that are crucial to understand to unveil the complex mechanistics. But the current equipment often doesn’t enable measuring these features. Therefore, researchers, and especially young PhD students, are often forced to spend years on individualizing existing, or building their own test devices, rather than actually gathering new insights.
“Lithium-ion batteries have been studied for 30 years in our labs, but the tools to test them have evolved little. Moreover, new promising technologies, such as the all-solid-state, safer and denser batteries, or the phenomenon of anionic redox3, which would double the battery capacity, lack research tools”, explains Daniel Alves Dalla Corte, research engineer at the “Chimie du solide et de l’énergie” laboratory and cofounder of Sphere-Energy.
Sphere Energy is a spin off of the “Chimie du solide et de l’énergie” laboratory created in October 2018.
The instruments offered by the Paris based start-up are designed to be user-friendly and to allow access to more relevant parameters of new energy storage technologies. With its flagship product, a test cell for all-solid-state batteries, available now, Sphere-Energy offers one of the most advanced test cells for combined research on conventional Li-ion but also beyond Li-ion technology. This All-solid-state cell test cell (ASC) opens new ways of perusing R&D for laboratories and industrial battery manufacturing. The other products of Sphere-Energy are designed for wider application in the broad field of energy storage and conversion systems.
The electrochemical flow cell (FLC) is designed to study catalysis in e.g. artificial photosynthesis or redox flow systems and can be also applied in the field of CO2 reduction and membrane testing.
The UVC cell is designed to monitor reactions that occur inside the electrolyte or the electrode of batteries - in real time. And with the EQCM cell, sphere provides a hermetic setup, which can be used to measure slightest changes on the crucial electrode-electrolyte interface.
With its tools, Sphere-Energy wants advance research on energy storage and conversion materials and ultimately facilitate the exchange between the academic and the industrial R&D world. “Our close relationship with the RS2E network allows us to stay tuned to the needs of researchers”, says Daniel Alves Dalla Corte. The start-up, which has just put its products on the market, puts a few months before planning its expansion, with possible use of investors.
[Ed: The start-up Sphere has been supported by the RS2E since its creation. During the last RS2E biannual meeting in March 2019, the cofounder of Sphere, Daniel Alves Dalla Corte, presented the first products offered for sales in exclusivity.]
1 The “Chimie du solide et de l’énergie” laboratory (CNRS/Collège de France/Sorbonne University)
2 The RS2E is a research federation from CNRS that brings industrial and academic partners together in the fields of batteries and supercapacitors
3 The researchers of RS2E have been working on the anionic redox (in French) since 2012, an oxidation-reduction phenomenon that works along the cationic redox. The last phenomenon rules over 20 years the operation of cathodes and anodes in the Li-ion batteries