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.
In 2012, thyssenkrupp System Engineering GmbH and Fraunhofer IKTS opened a new 350-m2 joint pilot-scale facility at Pleissa, near Chemnitz, Germany. The pilot line is used for connecting research activities and industry value added. The complete production chain, encompassing slurry preparation and characterization, electrode coating, and calendering, cutting of the coated electrode tapes, assembly of the battery, electrolyte filling, and cell formation, is mapped and optimized in a collaborative process.
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. In addition to existing technological approaches, new methods are considered and adapted for accelerating transfer to industry.
Research partners also address topics, such as in-process tape handling, design of the manufacturing environment, and realization of efficient process monitoring. Efficient process monitoring is crucial for rapidly achieving industrial-scale production capabilities and thus keeping system costs at a competitive level. The partners can draw on their mechanical engineering expertise to adapt production equipment to customer requirements.
Besides being used to conduct publicly funded joint projects, the pilot facility is available to interested industry customers from all stages of the value chain. The joint service offer includes the following:
In addition to performing a comprehensive range of analysis and characterization tasks, Fraunhofer IKTS develops methods for integrated quality assurance for all relevant steps in the manufacturing process. Long-standing experience in the application of non-destructive test technologies is applied towards requirements-based adaptation and integration of optical, acoustic, and electromagnetic methods for individual production steps.
Focus is on critical parameters in the process steps:
A non-contact, thermography-based in-line inspection method for electrode defect analysis during production was developed. With it, pores, cracks, and surface effects can be visualized.