October 29, 2020
Knowledge modules for battery cells “Made in Germany”
Battery cells are manufactured in many process steps. It is mixed, stirred, coated, rolled, cut, stacked. Scientists at ProZell are working on how the quality of the final product can be improved and production can be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. The competence cluster for battery cell production, in which researchers from Ulm are also involved, has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2016. In order for the research results to be quickly transferred to industrial application, ProZell is increasingly relying on knowledge transfer to industry. This year, the third edition of the ProZell Industry Day took place on October 27, 2020 in a digital conference format.
“With the research in ProZell, we want to make an intensive contribution to the BMBF’s umbrella concept ‘Research Factory Battery’ and establish internationally competitive industrial production of battery cells in Germany and Europe,” says Professor Arno Kwade, spokesman for the ProZell competence cluster and head of the Institute for Particle Technology University of Braunschweig. “We are already demonstrating what is successfully possible on a laboratory and pilot scale. Now it is important to transfer what you have learned to industrial use. ”
The cluster promotes the dialogue between research and industry by organizing an industry day in order to establish further collaborations and sound out industrial and scientific requirements. The cluster members presented their research results on October 27, 2020. For example, it has been shown that thicker electrodes in battery cells can increase the energy density. Individual manufacturing processes could be accelerated and thus lead to a reduction in production costs. In addition, new process technologies for the production of battery electrodes were presented, which manage with smaller quantities or entirely without solvents, save material costs and thus improve the ecological footprint.
The Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) is involved in the competence cluster as a joint research institution through the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
— Universität Ulm (@uni_ulm) October 28, 2020
Battery research using computer simulation
Battery research does not only take place in the laboratory, but also via computer simulation. In Ulm, the University’s Institute for Stochastics cooperates with the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), the German Aerospace Center at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (DLR / HIU) as well as the Helmholtz Center Berlin and the TU Braunschweig. With the help of statistical image analysis and stochastic 3D structure modeling, the attempt is made to elucidate the relationships between geometric structural parameters on the microscale and electrochemical properties of the battery electrodes. These ultimately affect the performance of the cell. The work is based on real electrode materials, the microstructure of which is made accessible by means of high-resolution imaging.
“After the 3D image data have been processed, virtual electrode materials are generated on the computer using stochastic methods that are statistically similar to the observed”, says Dr. Matthias Neumann from the Institute for Stochastics at the University of Ulm. In addition, virtual but still realistic image data of electrode materials can then be generated on the computer, which differ from the materials already produced, for example in terms of their thickness or porosity. These image data are then made available for the simulation-based determination of the associated electrochemical properties. The results of the virtual material optimization should contribute as recommendations to an optimized production of the battery materials. At this year’s Industry Day, in particular, new results for the preparation of image data using statistical learning methods such as artificial neural networks were presented.
The ProZell competence cluster
In cooperation with the BMBF, the competence network for lithium-ion batteries (KLiB) and the ProZell management team, the lively ProZell network successfully creates synergies between science and industry. The aim is to create the basis for high-performance and cost-effective battery cell production “Made in Germany”. Network partners are the TU Braunschweig, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the University of Landshut, the TU Berlin, the TU Clausthal, the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), the German Aerospace Center via the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU), the University of Ulm, the RWTH Aachen, the TU Dresden, the TU Munich, the WWU Münster via the MEET Battery Research Center Münster, the Fraunhofer Society and the research center Jülich via the Helmholtz Institute Münster.