Better Battery Production

Assuming there will be an increase in the electrification of vehicles—and we do assume it—then there probably needs to be a way to more effectively produce batteries (among other challenges).

One interesting development has come out of Germany in this regard, which uses lasers in place of furnaces in drying the slurries that are part of producing batteries.

The Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS and the Aachen-based Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT (ilt.fraunhofer.de) joined forces on what they call “DRYLAS - Laser-based Drying of Battery Electrode Slurries.”

The slurries, which form the electrode layers, are applied in a wet-chemical process to the current-conducting metal foils during the manufacture of batteries. The sheets are run through continuous furnaces, where the solvent in the slurry is removed.

Explains Dr. Dominik Hawelka, a scientist at the Fraunhofer ILT, “In these furnaces, the energy deposition is not very efficient as compared to a laser treatment. That is why we have decided to use the very precisely controllable laser radiation as the drying tool for this application.”

They’ve developed a fiber-laser-based module to perform the drying and are achieving notable benefits. According to Hawelka, “The laser radiation is absorbed directly in the slurry and minimizes heat losses to the surroundings. Our drying process uses about half of the energy that the continuous furnace needs.”

Which can result in cost-effective battery manufacture.