CIC energiGUNE starts the development of the new generation of solid state batteries that will enable electric aviation to take off

 The Basque centre is leading the European HELENA project, which aims to manufacture solid-state halide batteries for electric vehicles and, in particular, aircraft

The initiative, in which 15 entities participate under the coordination of CIC energiGUNE, has been included in the EU’s Horizon Europe call for projects linked to the development of high-performance batterie

CIC energiGUNE, a leading Basque research centre in energy storage specialising in batteries, thermal energy solutions and hydrogen technologies, and a member of the Basque Research & Technology Alliance-BRTA, has begun work on the development of the new solid-state halide batteries that will facilitate the take-off of electric aviation. This work is part of the European HELENA project, whose launch meeting has been held since yesterday at the headquarters of CIC energiGUNE with the attendance of the 15 entities that, under the leadership of the Basque centre, form part of the initiative.

“In five to ten years, electric aviation will be ready to take off and it is urgent for the sector to have an energy alternative that offers safety and efficiency,” said Pedro López-Aranguren, coordinator and Principal Investigator of the project. “HELENA proposes a disruptive technology to design solid-state batteries with optimised performance at high currents and stable cycling that will allow the adoption of these batteries in electric vehicles and, especially, in aeroplanes,” he said.

Specifically, HELENA’s objective is to develop safe and efficient solid-state batteries with high energy density and power, based on a high-voltage active material, a high-capacity lithium metal anode and a conductive lithium halide electrolyte. With this development, the end-user will be able to benefit from improved performance in long-distance electric mobility and fast battery charging. In addition, the scaling up of the technology will allow a cost reduction in the manufacturing of these storage devices.

This proposal led by CIC energiGUNE, which has been included by the European Commission in its Horizon Europe funding programme for batteries, has brought together 15 organisations and companies, including the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), the Belgian company Umicore, LionVolt from the Netherlands, the German company CustomCells and the Fraunhofer research centre.

HELENA will also contribute to addressing two of Europe’s greatest challenges. On the one hand, to promote the energy transition of the continent – and the planet as a whole – towards a “climate neutral” scenario, and on the other hand, to avoid dependence on the current dominator of the battery production market, Asia.

“The award of this Horizon Europe project under the leadership of CIC energiGUNE once again demonstrates our position as a reference centre for solid-state batteries in Europe,” said Montse Casas, Technology Coordinator of the Electrochemical Storage Area at CIC energiGUNE. “Furthermore, with the HELENA project we are taking on the responsibility of giving wings to a sector, that of electric aviation, which is going to be essential in the new global mobility model and which is going to place us at the forefront of its development”.