Welsh battery developer Deregallera is preparing to commission a pilot-scale sodium-ion pouch cell production line after securing a government grant.
The company will move from prototype laboratory-scale testing to manufacturing large commercial-scale packaged cells that conform to industrial standard regulations.
The project involves the commissioning of a production line in Deregallera’s laboratory in Caerphilly.
The class 100 clean room will be converted into a ‘dry room’ to optimise processing of the moisture-sensitive sodium-ion into pouch cells. The new dry room facility and production line is scheduled for completion within six months and is expected to be in operation from June 2020.
The £60,000 ($78,000) funding is part of the Welsh government’s EU funded £63.4 million ($82 million) SMART Cymru programme funding.
A PR spokesman for Deregalla told BEST: “The value £60,000— insignificant in the context of £63 million— it is a significant sum for us, as it funds the equipment that will go into the new dry-room where production will take place. In agreeing PR content, WG SMART Cymru agreed it was not the value of the award that is the story, but how it supports Deregallera’s plans for commercialisation.”
Deregallera’s research team has previously manufactured prototype battery and supercapacitor devices and has developed electrode materials for sodium-ion batteries.
The firm’s Chris Kavanagh, materials scientist and project lead, said scarcity of lithium precursors and the spiralling financial and environmental costs in sourcing cobalt was driving demand for cleaner, safer battery chemistries.
He said: “Sodium-ion is an abundant material. It is comparable to lithium in terms of battery operation and manufacture – with the added advantage that it can be discharged to zero volts, making it eminently safer to transport. Switching to sodium-ion based energy storage is viewed as a ‘drop-in’ technology to replace LIB without disrupting established manufacturing lines.”
Martin Boughtwood, Deregallera managing director, said the company aims to manufacture large devices in sufficient quantity to be introduced in to commercially relevant scenarios including the ‘buildings as power stations’ demonstrators in SPECIFIC at the University of Swansea.”