Speeding innovation for industry
The French Directorate General for Armaments (DGA) pitted several battery technologies against each other under a French National Research Agency project to assess the batteries' performance. Liten was involved to varying degrees in all three of the participating research teams. The different battery technologies—Li-ion, sodium-ion, and nickel-zinc—were all implemented on the same commercially-available small terrestrial robot for the test.
The lithium-battery team worked to improve the material—enhancing the composition to boost performance—the electrodes, and the electrolyte. They implemented the improvements at cell level, pack level, and, finally, built a functional prototype. At the end of the day, all three of the battery technologies tested met the specifications, taking the robot all the way to the end of the most difficult of the circuits the DGA had created for the competition several times over without a hitch. The batteries' toxicity, cost, safety, and performance were also evaluated. In terms of battery life, the Li-ion battery far surpassed the robot's factory-original battery.
Each of the three battery technologies has advantages and disadvantages. However, the Li-ion battery was selected for its energy performance and cobalt-free composition. Cobalt is a rare and costly material and remains the riskiest component of Li-ion batteries in terms of supply.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.