Continuously reducing manufacturing costs is essential for expanding further the use of lithium-ion batteries for mobile or stationary energy storage in the future. Technology development and scaling are decisive links between the basic research in the lab and industrial process development in serial production. To this end, thyssenkrupp System Engineering GmbH and Fraunhofer IKTS have been operating, since 2012, an application center with a 300 m² dry room at the Pleißa site near Chemnitz.
At the Battery Technology Application Center, industrial clients find various technological facilities for mixing, slurry preparation, foil coating, drying and compaction of electrode foil, which allow to transfer continuous production processes from the lab to the pre-industrial pilot scale. Thanks to the cooperation with the partner from the industry, plant manufacturers thyssenkrupp System Engineering, who oversee the cell and module assembly processes, the Application Center can cover the whole breadth of Li-ion battery production.
A broad range of process parameters for inerted wet and dry mixing routes with different viscosities is available thanks to versatile mixing units (planetary mixer, intensive mixer etc.). Furthermore, the classic tape-casting process at the coater allows to coat foil widths up to 300 mm. The process is also used, for instance, when additional functional layers, such as ceramic separator layers or polymeric electrolytes, are applied onto the electrode as a second coat, or when the current collector foil is to be coated on both sides. Furthermore, high-energy electrodes with a high storage capacity load can be manufactured in a tape extrusion process. Thanks to their high solids content of up to 90 %, and thus their low solvents content, continuous extrusion processes harbor great potential when it comes to mixing and formation. They can help to reduce process costs and are at the center of current R&D efforts for Li-ion batteries with liquid or polymeric electrolytes.
The Battery Technology Application Center is also the place where IKTS and its partners from the industry are developing industrially suitable inline inspection systems for the electrode production process. The technological facilities and their measuring equipment are extended so that fluctuations and faults in slurries and coatings are detected at an early stage. This allows to continuously improve the quality of the slurry and foil production.
Technical equipment (in cooperation with ThyssenKrupp)
- EIRICH intensive mixer for dry mixing and dispersing, up to 10 kg
- Temperature-controlled NETZSCH planetary mixer
- Drum processing
- Roll-to-roll coater with 10 m drying line (IR and HotPlate), up to 300 mm tape width (single- and double-sided) possible using doctor blade
- Inline ultrasonic grammage measurement and residual moisture analysis (Karl Fischer titration)
- Compression calendar with IR radiator