Research Developments

Ferroglobe has consistently invested over the years in Research, Development and Innovation with numerous patents registered and even selling technology that is used on five continents. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology has contributed to the signing of cooperation agreements with universities and research centres all over the world and to have support for our research developments from European, national, regional and local public research programmes. Some of these programs are:

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LION-HD

The company Ferroglobe Innovation SLU is one of the members of the consortium of the LION-HD project "Industrial research on strategic materials for energy-dense, cost-optimised lithium-ion batteries for sustainable electromobility". 

The main objective of this project is to significantly improve the energy density, cost and sustainability of lithium-ion batteries through novel research into advanced active and inactive materials and their synergistic combinations for the different components of the electrochemical cell (anode, electrolyte and cathode), overcoming their current limits, thus facilitating the evolution and transformation of the transport sector towards sustainability, decarbonisation and a drastic reduction in emissions. 

The LION-HD project has been financed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in the 2019 call of the MISSIONS Programme, within the framework of the State Programme for Business Leadership in R&D&I, of the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2017-2020, with the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation. 

Estimated total budget of the project: 5.775.157,00 €. 
Total aid granted for the project: 4.143.878,45 €. 
Project implementation period: From October 2020 to December 2023. 
Location: A Coruña (Arteixo) 

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European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 

A way of doing Europe 

 
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ECO-SMART BATT

Ferroglobe Innovation participates in the project called "ECO-SMART BATT: Sustainable manufacturing 4.0 of nanocomposites and ionogels for high energy density batteries (IN854A 2020/04)." 

The main objective of the project is to significantly improve the energy density, cost and sustainability of lithium-ion batteries thus facilitating the transformation of the transport sector towards sustainability, decarbonization and emission reduction. 

This objective will be achieved through: 

  1. novel research in sustainable and smart manufacturing of advanced active and inactive materials and their synergistic combinations for the different components of the electrochemical cell (anode, electrolyte, and separators) and, 
  2. research in monitoring, control and simulation technologies that allow the design of new, more efficient, and profitable production processes for the different materials and electrochemical cells that will be obtained during the project. 

The ECO-SMART BATT consortium is formed by five Galician entities: 

  • FERROGLOBE INNOVATION S.L.U. 
  • ABCR LABORATORIOS, S.L. 
  • ENSO INNOVATION S.L 
  • ARTABRO TECH S.L. 
  • MULTISECTORIAL RESEARCH TECHNOLOGICAL CENTER FOUNDATION 

TOTAL PROJECT BUDGET: 2.752.750,98 €. 

This project is subsidized by the Galician Innovation Agency within the framework of the 2020 call of the Factory of the Future, smart and sustainable factory of Industry 4.0 aid program. The grants awarded under this program have been co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Axis 1 (Promoting research, technological development, and innovation) of the ERDF Galicia 2014-2020 operational program.  The project is supported by the Second Vice-Presidency and the Regional Ministry of Economy, Enterprise, and Innovation. 

 
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Progress 2021

FG Innovation prepared the pilot plant for the installation of the planned milling equipment. Likewise, significant progress has been made in the review of the state of the art in relation to the use of silicon and its optimal characteristics in the anode of lithium-ion batteries (definition of specifications). Regarding quality control (including full traceability based on blockchain), the critical properties to be monitored and recorded have been defined. In addition to this, the manufacturing and analysis methods for this type of silicon have been established. Tests has also been carried out on silicon particle coatings, checking different possibilities. Advance on the digitization of processes and digital twins, as well as muon tomography in the silicon purification phase have begun to be designed and implemented.

Progress 2022

In this year, FG Innovation completed the installation and commissioning of the new milling equipment and the first milling tests have been carried out in the pilot plant. The critical parameters of the process have been determined for its automation and control. Progress has been made in the characterization by SEM and XRD microscopy of the micrometric and nanometric silicon obtained, which has allowed improvement in the development of new materials, in accordance with the optimum specifications defined. Laboratory tests begun with the muon chambers and different types of crucibles and materials inside them. Different types of coatings, doping and new manufacturing procedures for silicon/carbon composites were designed. The first cells were prepared, and first electrochemical results were obtained.

Progress 2023

In 2022, FG Innovation completed the commissioning of the new micrometric and nanometric milling equipment, for which several tests have been carried out in the pilot plant with great success, reaching the expectations in chemical purity and particle size distribution. The critical parameters of the process for its automation and control have been determined. Additionally, potential production bottlenecks have been detected with the digital twin and great strides have been made in quality assurance with the blockchain application that allows the registration of all relevant information in the manufacture of high purity silicon powder.

Starting from different types of silicon obtained, different Si/C coatings and composites synthesized in collaboration with the project partners have been tested, leading to significant progress in the development of new advanced materials for the anode of lithium-ion batteries. This progress has been validated by electrochemical results obtained with independent entities. Among these results, the great improvement in the cyclability of silicon-rich anodes (>50% silicon content) is particularly noteworthy. This is a very innovative technology, which seeks to reduce cost and increase capacity at the same time.

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“VOLTA” JOINT RESEARCH UNIT

JOINT RESEARCH UNIT ON SUSTAINABLE AND TEHCNOLOGY ADVANCED SILICON BASED SOLUTIONS

MEMBERS:

  • FUNDACIÓN CENTRO TECNOLÓGICO DE INVESTIGACIÓN MULTISECTORIAL
  • FERROGLOBE INNOVATION, S.L.

The objective of the UMI VOLTA is the research and development of technologically advanced, highly energy efficient and environmentally sustainable electrochemical solutions based on silicon, which includes the study of sustainable compounds mainly based on biochar from high-impact species/wastes in Galicia and strategies for the recovery of other waste materials of high interest in electrochemistry. In addition, it will focus on the development of digitalization strategies and new applications that, through support for technification and digitalization, will enable the Galician industrial model to be boosted and move not only towards highly innovative scientific-technological solutions, but also towards sustainability and decarbonization.

To achieve this objective, VOLTA includes the following 5 lines of research

  • Micro and nano silicon synthesis technologies
  • Synthesis of biochar from natural/residual sources and CRMs from secondary sources: traceability.
  • Obtaining anode materials.
  • Configuration of coin-type electrochemical cells.
  • Scaling of the materials developed and their evaluation in pouch cells.

BUDGET: 2.058.878,57 €

AID GRANTED: 823.551,43 €

PROGRESS YEAR 2022:

During the year 2022, the first tasks of the VOLTA UMI have been started, which has allowed us to begin to establish the main sources of biochar, their production processes, as well as the main strategies for obtaining micro and nano silicon. In addition, CRM recovery strategies, 4.0 traceability strategies and possible new uses and applications of biochar and micro/nano silicon have been successfully addressed.

PROGRESS YEAR 2023:

During the year 2023, the work carried out has enabled progress to be made in all aspects relating to strategies for obtaining micro and nanosilicon, carbonaceous raw materials, CRM recovery, new uses, and all of this accompanied by 4.0 traceability strategies. The optimisation and development of electrochemical cells for the testing of the materials under study has begun, making it possible to evaluate their suitability for the development of high-performance lithium-ion cells.

The actions carried out by the Joint Research Unit "VOLTA" are subsidised by the Galician Innovation Agency (Xunta de Galicia) in the framework of the 2022 call of the Joint Research Units Programme, co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) - Galicia ERDF Operational Programme 2021-2027.

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