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PowerCo develops sustainable technology for battery cell production

In PowerCo 'gamechanging' technology for cell production, electrodes will be dry-coated and calendered directly. Image Source: Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen's battery firm PowerCo SE claims to have developed a breakthrough technology that will significantly boost efficiency and sustainability in volume battery cell production. The company is planning to introduce the completely new manufacturing process involving dry coating procedure in its plants in Europe and Northern America.

Together with German printing machine specialist Koenig & Bauer AG, PowerCo will further develop and industrialize the dry coating procedure, which the company claims to save about 30 percent energy and 15 percent floor space requirements, along with millions of Euros production costs. 

Thomas Schmall, Group Board Member for Technology at Volkswagen AG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of PowerCo SE, commented on the development, "Technologies like dry coating showcase PowerCo's technological prowess. We have the necessary know-how and the right experts to take cell production to a new level and offer significant cost advantages to our customers. Our objective is to establish an industrial production of sustainable and affordable batteries."

RELATED: PowerCo's largest Battery gigafactory in Canada targets 90 GWh production capacity

To achieve this goal, PowerCo and Koenig & Bauer have signed a joint development agreement. Together, the companies will develop a roller press for powder coating electrodes at large industrial scale. The dry coating procedure allows manufacturing electrodes without wet-coating and subsequently drying them at high costs. 

With the new procedure, the most energy-intensive part of cell manufacturing and the use of chemical solvents are no longer required. PowerCo is already testing and optimizing the technology in a pilot line in one of its laboratories in Northern Germany. As a printing specialist, Koenig & Bauer will develop a machine for the industrial powder coating, according to the company. 

"What the solid-state cell is to the product, Dry Coating is to production – a real game changer. If scaled successfully, it will give us a unique position on the market and definite competitive advantages", said Frank Blome, CEO of PowerCo SE. 

RELATED: PowerCo, Umicore all set with their JV to make Battery materials in EU

The electrodes (including cathode and anode) are the critical components of the battery cell, defining energy density and battery performance. In modern industrial electrode production, the battery materials are mixed with additives and liquid solvents to a slurry. Afterwards, they are coated onto foils of copper or aluminum, then dried and calendered.

PowerCo's dry coating procedure allows to calender the powdery basic materials directly onto the foil, similar to a printing procedure. As a result, two of four process steps in electrode manufacturing become obsolete. 

The powder coating can be applied onto the foil in an extremely fine and even manner, the resulting layer is about as thin as a hair. This guarantees excellent spatial energy density and a long life cycle, while improving the fast-charging ability of the battery, claims PowerCo. 

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