LIFE+ GLEE Project
Solvay is committed to develop an innovative water-based production technology that will eliminate the toxic solvent NMP, reduce manufacturing costs, and improve performance and life of Li-Ion batteries.
Introduction to the LIFE+ GLEE Project
The Solvay LIFE+ GLEE Project is aimed at developing and demonstrating a sustainable technology for the manufacturing of Li-Ion batteries. The project is supported by the European Commission via funding from the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community.
This project aims to eliminate NMP, a toxic solvent historically used in the rechargeable Li-Ion battery manufacturing process, thanks to an alternative technology using water-based green binders which, in addition to not carrying toxic risks, also reduces the manufacturing costs associated with the NMP solvent recovery and re-purification processes
The objective is to prove that these new Li-Ion batteries, created using the innovative Electroless Cathode Coating Technology (ECCT) and sustainable manufacturing, will outperform conventional Li-Ion batteries. The effectiveness of this alternative process, in particular for electric vehicles, is realized within a pilot Li-Ion battery materials’ plant in the Solvay Specialty Polymers R&I Center of Bollate, Milan (Italy). The pilot plant produces Cathode Active Materials (CAM) under real industrial conditions that are available for evaluation by battery makers and research organizations. It is currently operative.
The Li-Ion Battery Marketplace
There are two main factors behind the enormous success of commercialization of lithium batteries. One is related to the continuous evolution of mobile electronic systems such as cellular phones, laptops and tablets, which requires new types of high power and high energy-density batteries. Then the continuous demand of energy and the increasing pollution due to the growing CO2 content in the atmosphere requires the use of clean energy sources at a much higher level than today. The dream of a consistent replacement of combustion-engine cars with electric or hybrid vehicles relies anyway on the availability of suitable storage systems.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery is the most suitable energy storage system for these purposes, because it has several advantages over other competing rechargeable battery systems. In practice, it is much smaller and lighter than other technologies as Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) and Nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeable batteries, and it also offers excellent energy density, which can be traded for high power.
This explains why lithium batteries receive most attention at both fundamental and applied levels.
In the current production, NMP solvent is used in cathode electrode manufacturing. NMP is toxic and of high concern for human health. The European Union's REACH regulation encourages progressive substitution of NMP in all applications.
Steering Committee: The LIFE+ GLEE Project is supervised by a high level Steering Committee composed by 4 Senior Managers of both Solvay Specialty Polymers and Solvay Corporate
Project Manager: Maurizio Biso (Lithium-Ion Batteries Researcher) is the LIFE+ GLEE project manager. The LIFE+ GLEE project belongs to the worldwide Solvay Open Innovation organization with the target of keeping perfect balance between technical results and dissemination and collaboration actions.
Process Development: The coordinator of the New Technology Development Lab and the inventor of the GLEE technology represent together with their team the core competencies of the LIFE+ GLEE. Following an Open Innovation approach, the Team is working in close contact with the Politecnico of Milano to bring additional scientific insight in the LIFE+ GLEE technology.
Technology: Three experienced engineers are assigned to the project in order to scale-up the technology from lab- to industrial-scale conditions. Under their responsibility there will also be the planning of a number of sustainability measures to minimize the project carbon footprint and overall environmental impact of the initiative.
Testing & Quality: This team will contribute to test the output of the pilot plant and interact with external labs to have independent validation. In addition, this group will be in charge of liaising the LIFE+ GLEE project with the many European projects and initiatives on Lithium ion batteries.
Engineering & Infrastructure: Several professionals worked at different levels to the building of the new and customized GLEE pilot plant.
Monitoring: A special committee will be assigned to assess the environmental impact and carbon footprint of the project.
Communication: The project has the objective of communicating in a comprehensive way with a very wide range of stakeholders. The Marketing and Communication Team works very closely with the LIFE+ GLEE Team in order to ensure visibility and support all GLEE activities.
Public Relations: Special attention is and will be given in the links and involvement of the project’s Stakeholders during the whole project’s duration.