Battery technology at Blackstone Resources
Blackstone Resources has made a significant investment into researching and developing the next generation of battery technology. At the start of 2019, the company committed itself to developing a number of new types of battery technology, which are set to transform the battery technology industry today.
To meet this need, Blackstone launched a company called Blackstone Technology GmbH in Saxony, Germany. This company sole purpose to develop Blackstone's expertise in battery manufacturing.
The company’s strategic location in Saxony offers it access to a distinctive research landscape, to high-tech mechanical engineering companies and many strategic customers such as the automotive industry.
The future is increasingly looking electric
In the future, we will drive more and more electric vehicles, use home battery storage, wear wearable technology and carry smartphones that are getting increasingly more powerful. This is a trend that reflects the digital age we are now entering.
However, these technologies also require large amounts of battery materials and much better battery technology. We believe this is where Blackstone Resources adds value, which is why it has set itself up as the first vertically integrated battery company from the battery materials it can supply.
The market for lithium-ion batteries is already growing at breakneck speed. This is being strongly influenced by the rapid technological changes we have witnessed in the past few decades.
Blackstone's first battery production facilities
In November 2020, Blackstone Research opened its first production facilities, in which the next generation of batteries for industrial applications as well as electric vehicles, will be mass-produced.
The opening of these production facilities represents a major milestone for the company and brings it closer to realising its vision. The first scaling step of installed systems will offer a production capacity of 0.5 GWh per year. But that is just the beginning. The area for an extension inside these facilities is already available for Blackstone to use.
Blackstone's proprietary battery technology
There are a number of proprietary technologies that Blackstone is researching and developing, which it expects will be hugely disruptive in future.
The most promising technologies that the company is currently developing are its proprietary 3D-printing techniques for the production of lithium-ion batteries that use printed battery electrodes and solid-state battery technology.
This is a unique and patented technology that can be used to produce both liquid-electrolyte batteries and solid-state batteries. The technology offers the potential to double the energy density and half manufacturing costs on current lithium-ion battery technology.
Automated 3D-printing battery production could also save up to 70% of conventional capital expenditure. It could also reduce operational costs by 30%, when compared to current production technology. In addition to this, the flexibility of a 3D-printing system significantly increases manufacturing efficiency.
These advances would tackle some of the weaknesses that current state-of-the-art battery cell production suffer from:
- Not being flexible enough to support component design, which must match the product design
- It remains too expensive (target: < 80US$/kWh)
- It is not applicable to future designs, such as an all-solid-state battery
- The energy density offered remains too low (target: 600 miles and > 300Wh/kg)
- The supply of raw materials remains unsecure
- The CO2 footprint is too high
Blackstone addresses these weaknesses by:
- Using a proven and patented 3D-printing technology that is applied to Lithium-ion battery production, which offers the maximum amount of flexibility during production
- Using its technology to achieve a CAPEX saving 30% and an OPEX saving of 10%, while with solid-state technology a CAPEX saving of 70% and OPEX saving of 30%
- Using the world's first 3D-printing production process, where solid-state batteries can be produced in series production.
- Using its technology to increase energy density by 20%, and by 100% when solid-state technology is used
- Using its own resources to shorten the supply chain and ensure long-term access to battery materials.
- Achieving a 25% reduction in energy consumption as the drying process is cut by 50% which is the most significant manufacturing cost for battery cells – it accounts for 45% to 57% of total energy costs.
In addition, we see further advantages from using our technology. For instance:
- Our Thick Layer Technology provides 20% more energy density, plus lower inactive material consumption.
- There is less complexity compared to traditional battery manufacturing.
- The possibility to print batteries in any shape with a single 3D-system (almost any geometry is possible).
- The possibility to integrate additives into the printing process and the ability to print thin current collectors or embedded electronic components into the batteries.
- Automatic production at high speeds is also possible.
The production of solid-state batteries offers the potential for a huge quantum leap in energy density, which will vastly decrease the cost of battery technology. It also boasts the ability to speed up charging by about six times. These batteries are also safer as they avoid using flammable, dangerous and toxic substances that are typically found in liquid electrolyte batteries.
The use of Blackstone's 3D-printing with solid-state technology will also create a strong foundation for mass-producing Blackstone`s lithium batteries.
This is our ultimate goal.