European battery producers, NAWA Technologies and InoBat, are pushing limits of technology

Whilst solid-state batteries remain perhaps the biggest goal for many EV and EV tech developers, existing battery technology still has a lot of innovation to come. Most recently, two European tech companies have announced breakthroughs, with Slovakian InoBat announcing an AI-developed, high density battery, and French NAWA Technologies showing off an ultra-fast carbon electrode.

InoBat launches EV battery developed through AI

Based in Slovakia, InoBat develops batteries for use in a number of applications, but predominantly the transportation market. Its latest development is what it is labelling the 'world's first intelligent EV battery', which it launched at the GLOBSEC Tatra Summit – an occasion where technology developers, business owners and EU decision-makers get together to help shape the future of tech in the region.

The battery itself has been developed using artificial intelligence and high throughput technology – the latter of which is used in chemistry and engineering to automate experiments, essentially carrying out numerous experiments until viability is found in the results. InoBat is using this method to develop batteries which are capable of beating the existing opposition.

For example, its latest range of cells aimed at EV applications can deliver up to 20 per cent more range than some contemporaries. It also boasts that its cells are low in cobalt. In the medium term, InoBat is aiming for an energy density of 300Wh/kg which is around 60Wh/kg more than the best EV batteries currently in use and not far off the 400Wh/kg-plus that solid state batteries should be able to achieve.

Co-founder and CEO of InoBat Auto, Marlan Bocek, said: “The world’s first intelligent battery marks a huge leap forward in the electrification of transport. At InoBat, we want to fast track innovation to ensure the best batteries for any type of electric vehicle. These batteries will be tested and developed further with scale production starting next year.”

Production of the new batteries will begin at the company's facility in 2021. By 2025, InoBat is aiming to build a 10GWh gigafactory in its native Slovakia, with the intention to supply batteries for the equivalent of 240,000 EVs.

NAWA Technologies creates ultra-fast electrode

Electrodes are one of the most important parts of an EV battery, but they can also be its Achilles heel. Their propensity to degrade over time and repeated charge and discharge cycles is one of the major limiting factors in a battery's useful lifespan. Current materials are typically powdered with their conductive materials which can give low electrical, thermal and ionic conductivity – alongside that degradation in charge and discharge cycles.

NAWA Technologies has developed what it calls the Ultra Fast Carbon Electrode, which it states is the fastest conducting electrode in the world. Essentially, it uses a 3D structure for the electrode material – in this case carbon – which is aligned vertically (in straight lines), and is comprised of high-density, but very small individual building blocks.

To put this into plain English, the electricity passing through the electrode has a much easier path to follow, so instead of pinballing around an electrode's nano structure, it passes through efficiently. Check out NAWA's video here.

This has benefits in terms of the amount of power that can be attained, storage, as well as charging and discharging times. NAWA Technologies quotes a power boost by a factor of 10, energy storage up by three times, a life cycle up to five times longer and charging times reduced to minutes rather than hours. Furthermore, it reckons it can produce the electrodes at 30 per cent less cost that those currently used in EVs. It is aiming to have full production in place by 2023.

Discover EV's take

Both of these developments sound extremely compelling on paper, and it's encouraging to see companies continuing to perfect current liquid-based battery tech in lieu of solid-state viability. The crunch point for any and all battery technology development is in its scalability, and the chances of it being picked up by a company with the leverage and industrial clout to get it into production and into EVs. Our advice is simply to watch this space rather than taking these developments as sure-fire winners that will make it onto the road in a few years’ time.


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