CSIRO spearheads Australian Lithium Battery Production

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has formalised an agreement with Japanese-based chemical manufacturing firm Piotrek to commercialise their next-generation lithium battery technology over the next five years.

The partnership will develop Solid Polymer Electrolytes (SPEs) for lithium batteries using CSIRO’s proprietary RAFT (Reversible Addition-Fragmentation chain Transfer) polymer technology and Piotrek’s Ion Conducting Polymers (ICP). These electrolytes are non-volatile and non-flammable. CSIRO will also work with Piotrek to produce solid state lithium batteries.

The collaboration will give rise to a slew of improved battery technologies for use in electronic devices, automotive vehicles, and drones. It will also improve safety by preventing battery fires.

General Manager of Piotrek, Mr. Ihei Sada said the collaboration will give the company a leading edge in the marketplace.

“This partnership will help Piotrek make our batteries safer and more efficient, and with our industry reach, we will get our advanced batteries to the market faster,” Mr Sada said. These solid-state batteries may be available for sale as quickly as 2025, or even sooner.

“Together we will develop the world’s safest, longer life solid state and high energy battery,” Mr. Sada added.

Speaking in Manufacturer’s Monthly, CSIRO research leader Dr. Adam Best said the new technology partnership “will make these batteries safer, more compact, and easier to manufacture over the longer term.”

Piotrek manufactures and supplies 50% of the world’s lithium batteries at present. Australia mines 43% of lithium, the majority of which is enriched and manufactured overseas.

“There is no one in Australia who currently makes lithium salts, which go into batteries, so that’s definitely a future opportunity and we would love to partner with an Australian company to bring those things to market,” Best said.

Dr John Chiefari is a co-inventor and co-developer of the RAFT polymer technology, collaborating with Professors Maria Forsyth and Patrick Howlett from Deakin University’s BatTri Hub. The SPE is for use in high energy applications such as vehicles and drones.

“By developing and exploiting disruptive technology platforms, we’re supporting the creation of new businesses and industries for Australia and the world,” Dr Chiefari said.

“This development will underpin the growth of high energy batteries for the electric vehicle market,” he said. Sitecraft currently supplies Movexx powered tugs and Motrec electric warehouse vehicles.

Director of CSIRO’s Manufacturing arm, Dr Keith McLean, said the Piotrek partnership will support productivity gains, boost sustainability, and help seize economic opportunities in domestic and global markets.

CSIRO is also working with Piotrek to automate electrolyte processes using robots. They are also looking to licence a new electrolyte formula.