Blackstone Resources gets Swiss grant boost for 3D solid-state batteries project

by John Shepherd
Manufacturing facility in Germany. Image: Blackstone
Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse is to part fund the development of 3D-printed solid-state batteries by Blackstone Resources with a grant of CHF 1.3m (about £1.1m).

Blackstone, a Swiss battery metals investor, said the grant will finance 50% of the project, involving the "sophisticated manufacturing simulation” of the 3D-printed batteries – with the goal of manufacturing battery cells for less than €80 (£73) per kWh.

A research consortium of Blackstone, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) will upscale the synthesis of solid-state electrolytes developed by Empa.

Industrial production of the next generation of lithium-ion batteries with solid-state electrolytes will be based on the production of electrodes from Blackstone’s own 3D-printing process.

"To scale up production based on a solid scientific foundation, BFH will contribute its know-how in production simulation and optimisation,” Blackstone said.

Research programme

Blackstone said last year that it was forming an international research team to develop and test solid-state battery technologies.

The company’s German subsidiary, Blackstone Technology, which was established to build the group’s battery research programme, recently moved into its new 6,000 sq/m manufacturing facility in Döbeln, Saxony.

The facility has an initial expected annual production capacity of 0.5GWh and is set to build "the first fully workable high-tech battery production facility by mid-2021 for the next generation of 3D-printed batteries”.

Initial orders for delivery in 2021 have already been placed, the company said.

According to Blackstone, automated 3D-printing battery production has the potential to double the energy density and half manufacturing costs of current lithium-ion battery technology, also saving "up to 70% of conventional capital expenditure and significantly increasing manufacturing efficiency”.