Future automotive batteries could cost less
and pack more power because of a new manufacturing research and development
facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The $3 million Department of Energy facility
allows for collaboration with industry and other national labs while protecting
intellectual property of industrial partners. The laboratory is attracting
battery manufacturers, chemical and materials suppliers, system integrators,
and original equipment manufacturers.
“We’re able to integrate advanced
material components into a complete battery, analyze how it perform and better
understand how to improve it,” said Claus Daniel, deputy director of
ORNL’s Sustainable Transportation Programs. “With this capability, we can
isolate and evaluate a material or process and quantify any advantage that each
Through the nation’s largest open access
battery manufacturing R&D facility, American businesses could gain a
competitive advantage in the global market.
“R&D facilities such as these are
critical in the development of advanced battery technology that is more
affordable and more durable than today’s batteries,” said Patrick Davis,
program manager of DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program.
The facility features two chambers totaling
1,400 square feet of space along with state-of-the-art battery manufacturing
equipment. One chamber allows researchers to maintain relative humidity levels
of between 0.5% and 15%. This room houses equipment that allows for mixing of
various slurries, stabilization, coating, and drying.
The second chamber provides a dew point of -40
C, which translates to a relative humidity of 0.5%. This is necessary to
prevent moisture from entering and degrading battery cells. In this chamber,
electrodes, cathodes, and anodes are assembled automatically into pouches that
are filled with a precise amount of electrolyte. The pouches are then trimmed
and sealed through a heating and vacuum process.
Researchers can make batteries with up to 7
ampere-hours capacity, a size that provides good demonstration capability but
requires less material, reducing the burden on smaller companies that lack large-scale
Working with others, Daniel looks forward to
“ORNL’s combination of equipment and
expertise allows collaborators to develop and optimize processes, manufacturing
schemes, perform diagnostics, and maximize yield,” Daniel said.
“Working with industry, we’re advancing the field and moving closer to
creating a battery that will allow automobiles to travel longer distances on a
ORNL has a dozen contracts with eight
battery-related companies in their quest to compete in a global marketplace.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory