Application center battery technology

From Lab to Fab#

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Pilot-scale electrode production for lithium-ion batteries.

For lithium-ion batteries to find widespread use in electromobility and stationary energy storage applications, manufacturing costs must be lowered. Pilot-scale technology development represents a key link between fundamental laboratory investigations and industrial process development and is essential for successful commercialization.

In our Battery Technology Application Center, we operate a pilot line for classic wet-chemical electrode production, which serves the targeted networking of research activities and industrial value creation. In current research projects, an innovative extrusion-based pilot line for solvent-reduced electrode production is being developed and optimized (“OptiEx“). Here, we are able to map and specifically optimize the complete Li-ion manufacturing chain from slurry production and characterization, through electrode coating, drying and post-compression (calendering), to packaging of the coated electrode foils, assembly of the battery as well as electrolyte filling and cell formation.

One core activity is the scale-up and optimization of coating and production technologies for efficient, resource-saving, reproducible mass production of lithium-ion batteries. Special inline and offline analytics are used to analyze the processes and identify process-related interactions.

Process scheme for Li-ion battery production.

In-line process control#

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Wirbelstromprüfung zur Inline-Überwachung der Elektrodentrocknung.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Radiographie zur Detektion von dünnen Rissen.

Efficient process monitoring is crucial to ensure production readiness on an industrial scale at an early stage and thus competitive system costs. In addition to extensive accompanying analysis and characterization, Fraunhofer IKTS also develops inline-capable inspection systems for production-integrated quality assurance for all relevant steps of cell manufacturing. Based on many years of expertise in the application of non-destructive testing technologies, optical, acoustic and electromagnetic methods are adapted and integrated for the individual production steps according to specific requirements.

The focus is on critical parameters in the process steps:

  • Electrode production (homogeneity and surface loading of the electrodes, unwanted coating defects such as cracks, agglomerates or cavities, edge profiles and impurities)
  • Electrolyte filling (degree of filling and wetting with liquid electrolyte) of pouch cells
  • Cell assembly (damage, stacking accuracy, welded joints)

Intelligent database solutions are built up to correlate the signals obtained from different sensors. This makes it possible to reliably detect defect patterns and optimize raw material and production flows.

Besides publicly funded joint projects, the pilot facility is available to interested customers from all stages of the value chain. The service offer includes:

  • Materials testing
  • Testing and optimization of established as well as new material and technology concepts
  • Development, testing, and optimization of integrated manufacturing concepts as well as new pilot-scale plant concepts
  • Scale-up and technology transfer
  • Feasibility studies and consulting