Improving the manufacturing of salt batteries

Empa will collaborate with Battery Consult AG, a research and development company specializing in salt battery technology, and the Swiss Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIPBB) in the LISA project (Laser Joining of ceramic-metal in SaltBatteries), which is co-funded by the Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse. The project aims to revolutionize battery manufacturing and contributes to the cost effectiveness and sustainability of new energy storage solutions.
The goal of the LISA project: Laser joining of ceramic to metals for salt batteries. Image: Empa

Salt batteries based on the well-established ZEBRA technology have proven to be highly efficient and sustainable, with a long battery lifetime that reduces energy and capital costs for energy storage. At the end of their lifecycle, salt batteries are downcycled for use in the stainless-steel industry through a well-established process, showcasing their high degree of sustainability. Additionally, the degree of safety during manufacturing and operation is high, as these batteries are non-burnable and do not explode.

Since its founding in 2008, Battery Consult AG has been actively involved in the development and optimization of NaNiCl2-cell and battery designs for sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing. The company has successfully completed several international technology transfer projects, establishing itself as the leading competence center in the field.

Next-generation salt batteries utilize a ceramic separator made from sodium conductive beta alumina. Metallic cases provide a safe and ductile housing with high electric conductivity. However, the conventional metal-ceramic joining technology relies on one-intensive thermal processes such as brazing or thermal compression bonding. These processes result in high manufacturing time and energy consumption, negatively impacting overall product sustainability.

Energy storage solutions to stabilize the grid

"The LISA project is very exciting for us, because it may enable us to remove furnaces from cell assembly lines by directly welding metals to ceramics," says Michael Bayer, CTO of Battery Consult. "We are thrilled that Innosuisse has enabled our collaboration with esteemed research partners to enhance the manufacturing processes of our batteries. We are aiming to provide cost-efficient and sustainable energy storage solutions for grid stabilization."

Thomas Graule, head of Empa's Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, adds: “This research project builds on numerous Swiss green energy innovations at Empa in recent years. Our expertise in ceramic materials design and integration into products for the energy sector adds value to Swiss industry." New ceramic materials for the laser joining of ceramic-to-ceramic components will be developed by Gurdial Blugan and his Ceramic Composites team at Empa in partnership with Battery Consult and SIPBB.

Andreas Burn, head of the Swiss Advanced Manufacturing Center at SIPBB says: “LISA is one these projects where you immediately see the potential for a groundbreaking change. In this project, we will face cross-disciplinary challenges in leveraging laser technology for joining dissimilar materials. I am excited to complete the consortium with my group’s expertise in laser processing on SIPBB’s mission keep manufacturing in Switzerland and paving the way for significantly greener manufacturing practices." Hossein Ghasemi, scientific project manager at SIPBB, adds: “The LISA project is a great example of bringing different skills together to solve the industry challenges. We are happy at SIPBB to have the support of the Innosuisse in order to combine our laser and optics knowledge and infrastructure with the strong material backgrounds of the LISA team to solve these challenges.”

About Battery Consult AG

Battery Consult AG is a leading research and development company specializing in SaltBattery technology. Battery Consult is committed to driving innovation and sustainability in the energy storage sector. With a focus on optimizing NaNiCl2-cell and battery designs, the company aims to achieve sustainable and cost-effective solutions for the stationary grid storage markets. Since its establishment in 2008, Battery Consult AG has been a trusted partner in national and international research projects and has completed numerous international technology transfers. Battery Consult AG is based in the Energy city of Meiringen, Berner Oberland, Switzerland. 

About Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIPBB)

Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIPBB) is a non-profit institution dedicated to rapid innovation transfer from academia to industry. SIPBB is home to four research centers, among them the Swiss Smart Factory, a demonstration factory for Industry 4.0 technologies and the Swiss Battery Technology Center. At the Swiss Advanced Manufacturing Center (SAMC) our team of experts focus on Laser-based manufacturing processes like laser welding, cladding, and metal 3D printing, and their integration in modern manufacturing ecosystems. SAMC’s state-of-the-art facility includes our laboratory equipped with optical characterization equipment, a wide range of Laser sources at different wavelengths, emitting continuously to ultra-short pulsed, as well as different R&D test rigs for experimental studies using robots and scanners. SAMC aims at the development and assessment of cutting-edge optical technology platforms and their transfer to manufacturing machines at the industrial prototype level.