Solvay has announced the successful conclusion of the LIFE+ GLEE project, a highly focused sustainability program the aim of which was to replace organic solvents with water in the rechargeable lithium ion (Li-ion) battery manufacturing process.
Because cathode materials are usually water-sensitive, well established rechargeable Li-ion battery manufacturing processes involves usage of organic solvents. According to REACH1 and CLP2 regulations, most of these solvents are classified as "substances of very high concern" (SVHC) because of their carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic effects on reproduction properties. The European Union's REACH regulation encourages progressive substitution of these solvents.
For the LIFE+ GLEE project, Solvay Specialty Polymers built a pilot plant to develop an innovative cathode protection technology which shields the active material from water contact during manufacturing. This unique technology carries no toxic risks and reduces the manufacturing costs associated with solvent recovery and re-purification processes.
The pilot plant, located at Solvay Specialty Polymers’ R&I center in Bollate, Italy, has been producing the new Li-ion battery materials since the beginning of 2015. “Lab-scale tests confirmed the advantages of this new solvent-free, green Li-Ion battery manufacturing process and Solvay Specialty Polymers is now ready for large scale batteries evaluation,” stated Francesco Triulzi, Alternative Energy Open Innovation Manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers.
The LIFE+GLEE Project was partially funded from the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community under the grant agreement LIFE12 ENV IT 000712.