Advance in Battery Cell Production Successful Conclusion of the Start-up Phase of the BMBF-funded Competence Cluster ProZell
Scientists from 12 universities and research institutions in the BMBF-funded Pro-Zell competence cluster for battery cell production have spent three years researching the basis for setting up a powerful and cost-effective battery cell production system in Germany. At the end of the first funding phase, the results were presented in Braunschweig.
Since 2016, scientists from twelve German universities and research institutions have been working together on research into battery cell production in twelve projects of the BMBF-funded ProZell competence cluster. Together, they want to lay the foundation for a powerful and cost-effective battery cell “Made in Germany”. Among other things, the competence cluster has significantly deepened the overall understanding of the production process in order to develop measures for significantly increasing energy density, increasing throughput rates and minimizing quality fluctuations of battery cells. In addition to established process paths, new, highly explorative process paths have also been researched.
“With our research in the competence cluster, we want to make an intensive contribution to the BMBF’s “Battery Research Factory” umbrella concept and establish successful mass production of battery cells in Germany,” says Professor Arno Kwade, chairman of the ProZell competence cluster and also spokesman of the Executive Board of the Battery LabFactory Braunschweig research centre initiated by him. “At the TU Braunschweig, research focuses in particular on circular battery production, recycling, process engineering and sustainable battery cell production 4.0. Battery research is also an important topic in the SE2A excellence cluster at TU Braunschweig,” he emphasizes. The TU Braunschweig is involved in a total of 10 of the 12 projects and is the managing director.
The aim of the ProZell research cluster is to investigate the production process of battery cells and its influence on cell properties and product development costs, to understand this in detail and to be able to describe it digitally, as well as to further develop it for new battery generations. The aim is to lay the foundation for the establishment and sustainable further development of internationally leading, competitive battery cell production in Germany.
The following outstanding results, among others, were achieved in the projects:
- The energy density could be increased by up to 20 % by developing “thick” electrodes with tailor-made microstructures to ensure fast electron and ion transport.
- New process techniques, such as direct extrusion and dry coating, were developed for electrode production with very little or no use of solvents. This will enable a significant reduction in energy costs and a significant improvement in the ecological footprint to be achieved in the future.
- Quality propagation and its influence on cell performance along the process chain for battery cell production could be simulated and predicted.
- The processes could sometimes be accelerated by more than 50 % and the costs in individual process steps could be reduced by more than 20 % by significantly increasing and expanding the understanding, among other things, for accelerated post-drying and fast electrolyte filling of the cells.
The 12 partners of the ProZell research cluster include universities and research institutions: TU Braunschweig, RWTH Aachen, TU Dresden, Ulm University, TU Munich, Landshut University of Applied Sciences, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, TU Dortmund, German Aerospace Center, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg and Helmholtz Institute Ulm. The ProZell cluster was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF) with more than 16 million euros in the first three-year phase.
The successful ProZell concept, which serves as a model for the establishment of further competence clusters by the BMBF, will be continued in a second funding phase from 1 October 2019. In addition to the individual production steps of the battery cells, further priorities will be the cost and environmental assessment, the development of a digital twin of the battery cell and the recycling of battery cells. To this end, new partners and locations will be added and a significantly higher funding volume will be available.