UCLA materials scientists awarded $900,000 to 3D print lithium-ion batteries
Materials scientists from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, led by Bruce Dunn, UCLA’s Nippon Sheet Glass Company Chair, and Morris Wang, along with colleagues from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, were selected to receive another $900,000 grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) – to demonstrate a new design and 3D printing process for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.
The potential of 3D printed lithium batteries is enormous. Or so the DOE thinks — as evidenced by the department’s $2.4 million investment in researching the necessary technology, in the past two months alone. In late June, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced a partnership with Ampcera, which would see the development of solventless laser powder bed fusion AM technologies for the fabrication of 3D-structured lithium battery cathodes, funded by $1.5 million. dollars from the DOE.
Dunn is a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA and, as of this month, acting dean of the engineering school. Dunn will be the principal investigator on the project, which is part of a $57.9 million program to fund research into clean energy technologies. Wang, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA, is the co-lead researcher.
The team’s goal is to improve lithium-ion batteries by increasing the power available, making them faster to charge and making them cheaper to manufacture while wasting less material in the process. 3D printing enables the creation of a more complex interior battery structure that can store more energy – a development essential to the new manufacturing process.
Lithium-ion batteries, with their excellent energy-to-weight ratios, are already ubiquitous in phones, laptops, electric vehicles and a range of other consumer products. However, there are limits to the power they can deliver and the rate at which they can be charged, which will hopefully be stretched through the work of scientists.