Industrial production of li-ion cells in Germany comes closer

February 20, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) in Ulm (Germany) has made a large step towards the series production of automotive-grade lithium-ion cells: On a production line for research purposes which has been finalised as recently as past December, the ZWS manufactured first near-series cells for plug-in hybrids. The capacity of 23 Ah is comparable to commercial cells from Asia, with upward potential for future developments.

The German industry is eager to create an own industrial ecosystem for drivetrain batteries; electromobility is regarded as a high-priority project in the endeavour to reduce CO2 emissions. Against this background, the ZSW success has a great significance.

The cells feature a final charge voltage of 4.1 volts and a weight of 650 grams which meets the PHEV-1 standard for plug-in hybrids. In the near future, an optimisation can be expected. "There's still significant headroom", said Werner Tillmetz, general manager of ZSW's electrochemical energy technology business. He added that through improved processes the research centre hopes to increase the capacity and quality of the cells as well as the yield of the process.

Battery production promises to be lucrative: According to Germany's National Platform Electromobility, the batteries represent up to 40% of the value of an electric vehicle. To establish a competitive battery production in Germany, the TSW and a number of enterprises in the related industries have joined their forces; in late 2014 they launched a research platform for the production of large automotive-grade lithium-ion batteries. The platform covers the entire manufacturing process from the production of the paste to cell formatting.

In the meantime, the ZSW and its partners have launched their first project aiming at optimisation of the production process for PHEV-1 cells. Parcipitating are BASF, BMW, Daimler, Manz, Bosch, Rockwood Lithium, SGL Carbon and Siemens. The production capacity of the facility is "several hundred cells per day", a spokesperson explained. The manufacturing processes devised however can be transferred to commercial production.

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