The Joint Research Unit VOLTA starts up, which will research technologically advanced, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable electrochemical solutions based on silicon.
The VOLTA UMI is formed by the CETIM Technological Centre, with extensive experience in the development of advanced materials and the electrochemical study of anodic materials, and the company Ferroglobe Innovation, specialized in the production of silicon metal.
With a total duration of 39 months, the project has a budget of more than 2 million euros.
In the global context of commitment to emissions reduction and the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources, the strategic vector of sustainable mobility is situated.
In this transition towards climate neutrality, batteries are a key enabling technology for non-dependence on fossil fuels. To achieve optimal autonomy and lifetime, there are still major technological challenges that need to be overcome to meet current and future needs. Therefore, research into high value-added and sustainable materials plays a key role in achieving competitive energy storage systems.
VOLTA: boosting climate neutrality
From these needs and interests, emerges the VOLTA UMI, between CETIM and Ferroglobe Innovation, with the aim of developing silicon materials for efficient, sustainable and high performance lithium-ion batteries, in order to address the two current handicaps of these systems: charging speed and autonomy.
In this sense, VOLTA’s objective is the research and development of technologically advanced, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable electrochemical solutions based on silicon, using sustainable compounds from species/wastes of high impact in Galicia and residual recovered materials of high interest in electrochemistry. Additionally, the focus will be on the development of digitalization strategies and new applications, which will allow establishing a traceability model of the components and processes of obtaining them.
Thus, VOLTA is an optimal conjunction to investigate new silicon-based solutions that respond to the challenges posed in the development of sustainable energy storage systems, which allow to face with guarantees the paradigm changes that electromobility and energy transition imply; thus promoting the technological and sustainable Galician leadership.
Socioeconomic impact of VOLTA
CETIM and Ferroglobe seek to contribute significantly to the improvement of environmental sustainability. By increasing the useful life of lithium-ion batteries, the use of sustainable raw materials, the improvement of their energy efficiency, and the optimization of the production processes of their materials, an important impact will be made on society and industry. The development of semi-industrial prototypes in real environments will lay the foundations for their real implementation in the Galician, Spanish and international automotive industry.
On a social level, these environmental impacts will result in significant improvements in the quality of life of citizens: reduction of pollution and improvement of air quality, reduction of noise and improvement of the quality of public transport, thanks to the implementation of electric mobility.
In addition, it should be noted that VOLTA will substantially increase the competitiveness of CETIM and Ferroglobe, generating new business opportunities in two entities with an important economic activity in innovation and industry.
Aligned to the needs of the UMI VOLTA, CETIM has a team of experts in new materials for energy storage and a fully equipped laboratory for the synthesis of these materials, cell assembly and electrochemical characterization of the cells (coin and pouch cells). It also has a specific R&D line for the development of coatings and composite materials and another for the implementation of, among others, blockchain technologies.
Among CETIM’s values, it is worth highlighting the Circular Economy as the central axis of its research. This has allowed it to develop competencies in obtaining a wide variety of high-value products from waste and by-products from several different sectors.
Thus, in VOLTA, CETIM’s extensive expertise will complement Ferrogloble through new sustainable materials and specific recipes, improving the durability of electrochemical cells, solving the drastic volumetric expansion that silicon particles undergo during charging and discharging, while including a high sustainability character to the final solutions from natural sources.
The actions carried out by the “VOLTA” Joint Research Unit are subsidized by the Galician Innovation Agency within the framework of the 2022 call of the Joint Research Units Program (File: IN853A2022/06).