Climate-friendly batteries for the mobility of tomorrow
With a share of 30 percent, the transport sector is one of the largest CO2 emitters, and there is a great need for action in this area in order to be able to achieve the climate goals. Electric vehicles use energy much more efficiently than conventional vehicles with combustion engines and therefore play a decisive role in achieving the climate goals. Nevertheless, the resource-conserving, sustainable and climate-friendly production of battery cells still represents a major challenge.
This is where the European research project "BatWoMan" (long title: "Carbon Neutral European Battery Cell Production with Sustainable, Innovative Processes and 3D Electrode Design to Manufacture") led by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology comes in: Together with six partners from research and industry, new, innovative and above all sustainable processes for battery cell production are being developed to support the European Union on its way to CO2 neutrality in the production of rechargeable batteries.
Bundled AIT expertise in a broad-based consortium
Together with representatives of the project partners CIDETEC (Spain), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany), University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), Sovema (Italy), Matthews International GmbH (Germany) und RISE Research Institutes of Sweden (Sweden), AIT experts from the Center for Low-Emission Transport (Competence Unit Battery Technologies) and the Center for Digital Safety & Security (Competence Unit Cooperative Digital Technologies) will be researching climate-friendly technologies for the production of battery cells over the next three years.
Ambitious goals for more sustainability in battery production
The research work in the "BatWoMan" project focuses in particular on the following three areas:
- energy-efficient processing of 3D-structured electrodes based on high-viscosity water-based slurries,
- innovative electrolyte filling processes and greatly reduced drying room requirements,
- cost- and energy-efficient cell conditioning (wetting, forming and ageing).
A platform based on artificial intelligence will digitally support these manufacturing strategies. In order to map the sustainability of the newly developed processes, AIT is creating a Battery Data Space where all relevant cell construction processes can be displayed, parameters such as raw material and energy consumption can be stored and read out after the use of the manufactured battery cell, for example by recycling companies.
A particularly important topic that the AIT experts around Katja Fröhlich are addressing as part of "BatWoMan" concerns cell assembly. The focus here is on optimising the electrolyte filling process with three-dimensional electrodes and drastically reducing the amount of dry space required. Currently, many process steps in cell production take place under defined conditions, which leads to a high energy demand and thus, depending on the electricity mix and external influences such as ambient temperature and humidity, to an increased carbon footprint. However, since in "BatWoMan" the electrodes are water-based with a high dry content, a considerable amount of energy can be saved. The energy-intensive drying process is also significantly shortened because the residual moisture content decreases.
Development of a sustainable cell production process chain
Katja Fröhlich, head of the research field "Sustainable and Smart Battery Manufacturing" in the "Battery Technologies" unit and "BatWoMan" project coordinator, explains: "Together we want to support European battery producers in the sense of the Green Deal to realise a resource-saving, sustainable and climate-friendly production of battery cells. Under the leadership of the AIT, a sustainable cell production process chain is being developed as part of the European research project 'BatWoMan', which we want to bring to market maturity together with renowned industrial partners.
The project "BatWoMan" was funded under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 101069705.