Making Better Batteries

The rapid growth in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage solutions is creating a global need for more efficient, cheaper, higher-capacity, and more sustainable energy storage options. While a large part of this growth has been enabled through the performance of lithium-ion batteries, issues around the cost, capacity, safety and sustainability of current lithium-ion batteries will increasingly limit this growth. There is thus a need for advanced materials for lithium-ion batteries that deliver superior performance and safety at lower cost while at the same time reducing environmental impact.

Smarter, more resilient cities


From smartphones, laptops, and handheld electronic gaming devices through to electric vehicles and the energy grid, lithium ion batteries are now an integral part of our everyday lives. The development of smarter, and more resilient, cities will rely on electrical energy storage solutions to power a low-carbon electric transport system, as well as balancing the supply of renewable energy to match the commercial and domestic demand, and as back-up power when conventional supplies fail.

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Demand for sustainable battery production

Renewable energy sources are helping to reduce the emissions intensity of electricity production, but the inherent intermittency of supply has led to a rapid growth in demand for flexible storage solutions such as lithiumion batteries.

In 2016 – according to Avicenne Energy, 54 percent of lithium-ion batteries on the market had a cobalt and nickel containing cathode, with a market share predicted to grow to 86 percent by 2025. This increase will be driven by the growth in demand for electric vehicles which prefer cobalt and nickel containing cathode chemistries such as NCM (NickelCobal-Manganese), or NCA (Nickel-CobaltAlumina) in the case of Tesla.

Extraction and purification of cobalt is expensive. Due to the already high and perceived growing demand for cobalt in battery production, the cost of cobalt rose

significantly in 2018 and saw many “backyard” miners and processors start to produce it. This has resulted in significant price volatility, but it remains the most expensive material component in a lithiumion battery cathode, followed by nickel.

Also, a large proportion of the world’s cobalt deposits is located in politically unstable regions of the world, with a sometimes precarious and opaque supply chain often linked to health risks and environmental pollution.

The ethical and economical concerns associated with cobalt and nickel are additional drivers for the development of alternative, high performance and safer lithium-ion battery chemistries (e.g. manganese-rich cathode materials) using precursors from countries such as Australia, where supply chain provenance is tracked, transparent and traceable.


With its new BATMn reactor in Victoria (Australia), Calix is developing high performance, affordable, and more recyclable lithium ion hybrid batteries based on nano-active electrode materials

“Renewable energy sources are helping to reduce the emissions intensity of electricity production, but the inherent intermittency of supply has led to a rapid growth in demand for flexible storage solutions such as lithium-ion batteries.”

“It has been reported that communities surrounding mines, in regions such as the DRC, are exposed to health risks associated with toxic heavy metal contamination of their land and water systems, as well as significant loss of local wildlife habitat.”

https://www. blog-20180815.html

“It has been reported that communities surrounding mines, in regions such as the DRC, are exposed to health risks associated with toxic heavy metal contamination of their land and water systems, as well as significant loss of local wildlife habitat.”

https://www.transportenvironment. org

BATMn Reactor, a game-changer for advanced battery research

Back to the opening ceremony of the BATMn reactor, designed to make a range of nano-active materials for advanced batteries, where the need for precision control of the process conditions is critical for electrochemical performance.

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BATMn is ready

Calix is looking forward to working with its partners to achieve breakthroughs in future battery technology development.

Construction has been completed on Calix’s $2.7 million BATMn Advanced Battery Materials reactor in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria as a key facility for developing materials for the new generation of batteries. BATMn is an electrically-powered version of the Calix Flash Calciner technology. The project was part-funded through the Australian Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund.

As well as battery manufacture, the BATMn reactor has important implications for other high value industrial applications such as catalysts, sorbents for gas and water treatment, micro-nutrient additives for biodigesters, fertilisers and crop protection products. BATMn also provides proof-of-concept for an electrically heated kiln technology paving the way to a zero emissions lime and cement production providing the electricity is from 100 percent renewable energy sources and process emissions are captured and sequestered.

In Australia, Calix is an active member of the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Future Energy Storage Technologies (storEnergy), coordinated by Deakin University where Calix is sponsoring projects with Monash University and Queensland University of Technology. Calix is also involved in a European Union funded Industrial Training Centre, POLYSTORAGE on projects investigating the application of Calix nano-active materials for solid state batteries. These networks give Calix unique access to world leaders in future battery technology developments.

The BATMn reactor may be also be used to reprocess recycled batteries to separate the electrolyte from the solid components as part of an industry wide push to recover and recycle the materials for sustainability and costs. A life-cycle analysis for batteries must consider the environment from the minesites of raw materials, the production of anode, cathode, electrolyte, separator and packaging materials. Calix is exploring the use of its technology in these processes.

R&D Partners:


CRC-P for Advanced Hybrid Batteries

Plans to produce high performance and low-cost lithium-ion batteries in Australia have won federal government support, as part of a broader effort to bolster the nation’s energy storage manufacturing capabilities.

The three-year, $9.4 million Cooperative Research Centre Project (CRC-P*) for Advanced Hybrid Batteries will be led by Calix to deliver high performance, low cost, fast charging lithium-ion pouch cells and battery packs in Australia based on its nano-active electrode materials.

*The CRC-P (Cooperative Research Centre Projects) programme is an Australian Government initiative of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to support short-term industry-led collaborations to develop important new technologies, products and services that deliver tangible outcomes.

Calix will collaborate on the project with Specialist chemicals company Boron Molecular Pty Ltd and Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) and BatTRI-Hub – a Victorian research and innovation centre focused on advanced battery prototyping and the commercialisation of energy storage technologies. The team will explore the use of Calix’s technology to produce customised micron sized nano-electroactive materials for intercalation-based anodes and cathodes.

Put another way, the aim is to develop high performance, low-cost, fast charge-discharge lithium-ion hybrid batteries based on nano-active electrode materials manufactured by Calix.

This would be integrated with optimised ionic electrolytes developed by Boron Molecular and Deakin Univeristy, to make up 1Ah pouch cells at Bat-TRI-Hub which will be further integrated to make up 1-10kWh battery pack prototypes.

Fabrication and electrochemical screening of coin cells featuring electrodes prepared from Calix’s highly porous “nano-active” materials (such as manganese oxide, Mn 3 O 4 cathodes, and titanium dioxide, TiO 2 anodes) and tailored ionic liquid electrolytes manufactured by Deakin University and Boron Molecular will be carried out at IFM.

BatTRI-HUB will manufacture pouch cell and battery pack prototypes which will be supplied to global manufacturers and customers for performance evaluation.

IFM Deputy Director Professor Maria Forsyth who leads the IFM team that includes Professor Patrick Howlett and Dr Robert Kerr said energy storage was a growing area of research, but the challenge was to develop manufacturing capability in Australia.

“There is a global search for safe, low cost, high capacity, high performing batteries given the demand for high performance energy storage and electric vehicles.” Professor Forsyth.

“The challenge for Australia is to develop a sustainable battery manufacturing industry that has global reach through process innovation.”

To this end, the project will also develop a roadmap to set out commercialisation pathways and a blueprint for an advanced manufacturing hub of nano-active materials, electrolytes and packing technologies, including engagement with minerals providers to account for raw materials requirements.

Calix is deeply engaged with leading researchers worldwide to ensure that its “nano-active” materials are considered as the basis for the next generation of batteries.

In Australia, Calix is an active member of the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Future Energy Storage Technologies (storEnergy), coordinated by Deakin University, through projects with Monash University and QUT, and with the European Union’s Polystorage project.

These networks give Calix unique access to the world’s leading experts working at the forefront of future battery technology research and development.

Dr Robert Kerr said:

“We will be using high rate processing technology with Australian materials. These materials will also have capacity to go into high performance supercapacitors which store charge like a battery and can dispense that charge much quicker than a battery.”

Dr Matt Boot-Handford, Calix Limited head of battery and catalyst R&D said:

“Calix has a patented and proven approach to making highly porous ‘nano-active’ materials for both anodes and cathodes, a commercial-scale production reactor, short-term projects in place through the CRC-P to demonstrate batteries using our materials, and longterm national and global linkages to expertise in batteries through StorEnergy and Polystorage.”

Calix head of battery and catalyst R&D, Dr Matt Boot-Handford, said:

“Calix is uniquely placed to accelerate the development and commercialisation of high-performance electrochemical energy storage devices”



Introducing Matt Boot-Handford

Dr Matt Boot-Handford is the research and development (R&D) manager for batteries and catalysts, and plant manager for Calix’s new electric calciner, BATMn.

Matt oversees R&D focused on the exploitation of Calix’s unique technology and nano-active materials for electrochemical energy storage and catalyst applications.

Matt manages Calix’s role in a variety of collaborative research programs including: storEnergy: the Australian Research Council funded Training Centre for Future Energy Storage Technologies; POLYSTORAGE: the EU funded training centre developing solid state batteries and; the Calix-led CRC-P for Advanced Hybrid Batteries.




Before joining Calix in January 2019, Matt was Acting Head of the Energy Engineering and Carbon Capture Research Group in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. He also held roles as a Research Associate at Imperial College London and Visiting Scholar at the University of Technology Sydney. Matt has a PhD in Chemical Engineering and a MRes in Green Chemistry.

Matt worked closely with Calix in his previous roles at Imperial College on the EU funded ASCENT and LEILAC projects. Working on the development of low-carbon and sustainable technologies that mitigate the detrimental impact of human activity on the environment and steers the world away from its reliance on fossil fuels is a key motivation for Matt. As such, the prospect of moving to Australia to head up Calix’s new R&D program for batteries and catalysts presented an opportunity he could not pass up.

In his free time, Matt enjoys spending time with his family – his wife Laura and 15-month-old son Tom, all things fermentation including brewing beer, baking breads and curing; and exploring the wineries, cycling routes and hiking tracks of his new home in the Macedon Ranges.


Calix has unique potential to scale solutions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Calix’s solutions for Making Better Batteries can be a major driver of sustainability on a global scale and therefore an important step in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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