M-ERA.NET Call 2021 - M-ERA.NET Call 2021

next generation of 3D printed structural supercapacitors – PRINTCAP

Submission summary

Against the background of today’s global megatrends such as the climate change, the scarcity of natural resources and an increasingly individualized way of life, innovative electromobility concepts are key technologies for a sustainable future. Beside novel approaches especially for urban mobility, energy storage and lightweight engineering play a particularly important role in the development of new high-tech products in aerospace, automotive engineering, electronics (e.g computers) and bicycle-based mobility concepts. Electric-powered transport systems have many advantages. Most importantly, they are free of local CO2 emissions and are the backbone of the European Union Climate Policy Framework for 2030 that has established ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions further (by at least 40% by 2030, no net greenhouse by 2050, as compared with 1990). However, such e-mobility systems require the provision of efficient, light and durable battery solutions. Since weight reduction is mandatory in modern transportation, lightweight materials like composites have been established in those mobility sectors. However, current state-of-the-art batteries add a significant amount of weight to e-mobility systems and thus reduce the potential panel of applications. Beyond that, they do not contribute to the structural performance of the e-mobility system. Novel solutions for efficient energy storage that address the combination of supercapacitors (SC) performance and structural capabilities, reducing the weight as function of the energy stored, could be a major potential breakthrough in the field. Indeed, by doubling up the otherwise “dead weight” of structural materials, the rapid-charging, long-lasting nature of supercapacitors could be utilized without needing an internally distinct power source. This concept of a “structural supercapacitor” (SSC) could have a large panel of applications on huge markets, not only for transport or mobility: laptops where the case acts as a battery, renewable energy stored within the walls of a house, rapidly charging electric car that stores power in its own chassis, or all-electric aircraft where energy is stored in the fuselage reducing the overall weight (fuselage + energy storage devices). To be effective as such a structural device, the SC would need to endure considerable stresses and vibrations. The commercial existing SC are not adapted to fullfill this task because being layered, their electrodes and electrolytes are prone to separate when such forces are applied. Therefore, the development of a new generation of materials and architectures, as aimed by PRINTCAP, is fundamental. Moreover, SC are attractive for multifunctional material developers considering that their electrodes do not change dimensions after being electrically charged or discharged, and the material life-cycles are extremely long (up to a million charging cycles). Battery systems, in contrast, offer higher energy densities, but their electrodes typically change shape as current passes through them, leading to stresses and degradation. All these considerations lead to the concept of SSC, a system, that thanks to its architecture, is able to provide structural integrity and simultaneously capable of storing electrical energy. In the framework of PRINTCAP project, effective SSC concepts (TRL=1 at the beginning and TRL=3 at the end of the project) will be demonstrated exploiting major scientific breakthroughs in terms of materials development combining the strong knowledge in the field of the academic partners (TUD, HTWK) with the lead of industrial ones in the field of energy storage (TRT, NAWA). In contrast with already published SSC concepts, PRINTCAP will focus on additive manufacturing to produce SSC, a technology where the SSC will be geometrically placed close to the shape of the final product. Recycling issue and Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies will also be performed by TRT and Nawa.

Project coordination

paolo BONDAVALLI (Thales Research & Technology)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


NAWA NAWATechnologies
TRT Thales Research & Technology

Help of the ANR 340,979 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: May 2022 - 36 Months

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