Research factory will develop and evaluate cost-effective li-ion battery production technologies

December 14, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Efficient, economic energy storage technologies are the core element of electromobility. For this reason, the demand for powerful and affordable battery systems which also are suitable for everyday use is rising. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is about to establish a prototype and small series production for large lithium-ion batteries. The project aims at developing new production technologies that meet the high requirements for energy density, usability, and cost effectiveness.

The research infrastructure created in the scope of the project will serve to develop and evaluate cost-optimized production processes, said project coordinator Andreas Gutsch. The "research factory" at KIT will develop entirely new, innovative production methods for batteries. "We intend to leave the path of known manufacturing technologies and create new methods and processes to manufacture and integrate lithium-ion cells", Gutsch said. The scope of the R&D factory includes drying, coating and calandering of electrode materials along with new assembly methods for the cells.

The manufacturing lines with novel machinery and equipment to validate varying concepts will be developed and installed jointly with suppliers. One of the goals of the project is to strengthen the local lithium-ion battery value chain.

The technologies developed will be tested by means of test runs in high quantities until reday for production. This enables the researchers to identify promising production methods. Thus, technological breakthroughs in the production of lithium-ion cells can be expected that will lead to significant cost advantages.

The production hall with an area of almost 1500 square meters is under construction at the North Campus of the KIT. The first production machines will be put into operation as early as February 2013. For the start, the activities will focus on batteries for electrical commercial vehicles as well as stationary energy storage for private households as well as for industrial applications. Until 2018, the researchers hope to be able to manufacture battery systems with an energy density of 250 Wh per kilogram and with a price tag of about 250 euros per kilowatt-hour.