KIT Scientists Triple Capability of Battery Electrode Manufacturing

3 years ago by Mark Kane 10

Intermittent coating with precise edges: The process developed by KIT allows for the coating of electrode foils at new record speed. (Photo: M. Schmitt/KIT)

Intermittent coating with precise edges: The process developed by KIT allows for the coating of electrode foils at new record speed. (Photo: M. Schmitt/KIT)

KIT Scientists Increase the Production Speed to 100 Meters per Minute – New Coating Technology Reduces Costs of Manufacturing Process of Lithium-ion Batteries

KIT Scientists Increase the Production Speed to 100 Meters per Minute – New Coating Technology Reduces Costs of Manufacturing Process of Lithium-ion Batteries

Interesting news coming from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, where recently announced was a breakthrough in the battery electrode manufacturing process.

According to KIT, a new method of production was developed – three times faster than current state of the art with speeds up to 100 meters per minute.

But more important is that increase in speed does not involve increased investment costs and KIT stated that “production costs of lithium-ion batteries can be reduced drastically“.

“New world record: Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) increased the manufacturing speed of electrode foils coated batch-wise by a factor of three – to 100 meters per minute. This was achieved by a flexible slot die process that enables production of any pattern with high precision and at high speeds. Thanks to the patented new technology, electrode foil production speed is increased by a factor of 3. As a result, lithium-ion batteries can be manufactured at much lower costs.”

“So far, 25 to 35 meters per minute have been the industrial state of the art. Within the project “Competence E”, the scientists developed a revolutionary coating technology, by means of which it is not only possible to produce continuous coatings, but also patterns featuring high precision. A patent has been filed for this invention.”

“When producing an electrode foil, a slurry containing the active material, carbon black, binder, solvent, and additives is applied onto a substrate foil made of copper (for the anode) or aluminum (for the cathode). The coating is often processed continuously, however intermittent coatings are associated with a superior processability for subsequent process steps.”

Professor Wilhelm Schabel stated:

“In case of intermittent coating, defined start and stop edges are required no matter the coating speed. In our process this is achieved by a membrane that quickly moves back and forth in a controlled manner in the coating head, i.e. in the slot die. Other movable parts are not required. This results in high frequencies of up to 1000 electrode patterns per minute and highly precise coating. By optimizing membrane parameters, the process can be adapted in-situ to the properties of the coating medium.”

Dr. Andreas Gutsch, head of “Competence E” at KIT, points out:

“The new coating technology in combination with the helix technology developed and patented by KIT for the production of spirally wound lithium-ion batteries, offers the potential of reaching cost leadership.”

German Engineering Association (VDMA) defined the goal of 100 meters per minute for 2030, so KIT jumped well ahead.

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10 responses to "KIT Scientists Triple Capability of Battery Electrode Manufacturing"

  1. ffbj says:

    Funny when juxtaposing this with the Carnegie Mellon study about how the giga-factory will not bring down costs as much as Musk predicts.

    1. Spec9 says:

      Yeah, I get tired of battery articles. It is almost “oh, that sounds kinda interesting” and then you never hear about it again. (Probably because it was too expensive, couldn’t be build reliably, didn’t work at scale, had problems with other metrics, etc.)

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        However, I much prefer this kind of article, because it’s about improving a step in the manufacturing process, rather than a radical new chemistry that could dramatically cut costs once we crack nano-scale manufacturing.

        1. Rob says:

          But will it result in a reduction in price or an increase in profit?

      2. Nick says:

        Sometimes you don’t hear about it because it has been quietly folded into the manufacturing process or chemistry of current cells.

        Taken together, a subset of these enhancements in process and chemistry lead to the year over year improvement we see in the state of the art.

        And yes, some die on the vine for the reasons you mentioned. 🙂

  2. Josephus says:

    I’m not sure how a faster process equals cheaper process? I wish they had some kind of projection of how much cheaper the process was, and what percentage of a battery’s cost it represents.

    1. Rob says:

      Instead of buying 3 machines to produce volume X you need to buy only 1. For a gigafactory it is huge saving. The bigger the factory, the bigger the saving – in nominal terms.

  3. Chris O says:

    Sounds like the kind of practical solutions that could really help get battery prices down. $100/KWh is what will make EVs dominant and it doesn’t appear that far out anymore.

  4. Exactly my thoughts, ffbj. So much for sharp and near limits on economies of scale.

    With all the money and energy being spent on manufacturing process and chemistry, the progress on cost reduction is going to be relentless.

    $125/kWh is an achievable target, and the reward for achieving cost efficiencies are so huge, for both consumer electronics and EVs, I can’t imagine it not occurring.

    It will be uncomfortable for auto manufacturers who don’t have competitive vehicles that can take advantage of the new drivetrains.

    When daily drive range is no longer a barrier, and price is no longer a barrier, who will continue to pay $3-$4 per gallon when their neighbor pays the equivalent of $1?

    That is a competitive advantage that is going to be pretty hard to match with any ICE or H2.

  5. Jouni Valkonen says:

    Although we can be 99 % confident that this particular invention never delivers commercial applications, we can be quite confident that if we read 100 battery news on new “break through technologies”, one of the actually delivers. Of course this is somewhat arduous because 99 of those 100 are bullshit in terms commercial applications.

    This is why the cost of batteries are getting down exponentially over sustained periods of time, because there is so much to improve in manufacturing processes and materials, in every part of the supply chain. From raw materials to recycling old EV battery pack as stationary storage.