BatMan Unleashed: NREL’s Laser Revolution in Electric Vehicle Batteries

Donal Finegan, Bertan Özdoğru, and Bertrand Tremolet de Villers at the successful showcase of BatMan's innovative laser-patterning technique, developing the microstructure of battery electrode materials for improved performance. Photo credit: Donal Finegan, NREL.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) introduces BatMan, a revolutionary battery manufacturing project. In collaboration with Clarios, Amplitude Laser Group, and Liminal Insights, BatMan utilizes a cutting-edge laser patterning process to develop battery electrode materials.

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The process uses laser pulses to modify electrode structures, offering a significant leap in battery capabilities at minimal manufacturing cost. BatMan focuses on optimizing battery electrodes for improved energy efficiency and charging speed due to the challenge of achieving a substantial market share for electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030.

The innovation centers around the intricate patterns of tiny holes in the electrode – the pore network. Researchers identified a hexagonal pattern of laser-ablated pores, enhancing ionic diffusion and facilitating quicker charge and discharge cycles. Laser-ablated electrodes showed superior performance in fast-charge scenarios, with almost 100% more capacity after 800 cycles. Advanced modeling techniques, including NREL’s Lithium-Ion Battery Secondary Pore Network Design Optimization Analytical Diffusion Model, streamlined the optimization process. Scaling up, NREL’s roll-to-roll line demonstrated the compatibility of laser ablation for large-scale battery production.

The techno-economic analysis suggests a minimal added cost of under $1.50/kWh to battery manufacturing. Notably, debris generated during laser ablation can be recycled, contributing to cost reduction.

Donal Finegan, project co-lead at NREL, declared: “Our lab-scale experimentation shows that laser-ablated electrodes could double the rate of charge of electric vehicles.”

As BatMan makes progress towards innovation, the breakthrough’s ripple effect could extend beyond lithium-ion batteries, starting a new era of sustainable energy solutions. NREL remains at the forefront, contributing research and technological breakthroughs to support the global transition to clean energy.

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