Industry 4.0 solutions for the production of lithium-ion batteries

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Research into new Industry 4.0 solutions for the production of lithium-ion batteries has seen compounding and extrusion systems specialist Coperion join a research partner of the Technical University of Braunschweig.

For smart production solutions for the extrusion of battery compounds, the overriding aim of the ‘DaLion 4.0’ project (data mining in the production of lithium-ion battery cells) is to develop new Industry 4.0 approaches for the production of lithium-ion batteries and to use the findings for more efficient and more effective manufacturing. To this end, concepts for cyber-physical production systems are being developed and integrated into the production of battery cells.

The research project is divided into various areas of activity and is supported by several industrial partners. One key aspect of this research is the investigation and conversion of the mixing process of the electrode slurry from a batch process to continuous extrusion. The continuous extrusion process using a twin screw extruder is particularly suitable here and offers numerous advantages for ensuring high and reproducible end product quality. This process also enables greater material efficiency as well as optimized, cost-efficient battery compound production.

Continuous extrusion also offers high reliability, long operating times and safe production even when using hazardous ingredients. For processing the electrode slurry, the Technical University of Braunschweig uses a Coperion ZSK 18 MEGAlab twin screw extruder. The ZSK twin screw extruder is ideal for this task, as it is equipped with optimal mixing properties and offers very high flexibility and safety. Safe scale-up to other machine sizes and thus manufacturing scales is possible.

In addition to the conversion of the manufacturing process to continuous extrusion, the focus is on integrating sensors into the extruder, which will supply the required data for the development of Industry 4.0 features. In the course of the project, a close cooperation developed between Battery LabFactory, represented by the Institute for Particle Technology at the Technical University of Braunschweig, and Coperion.

The Institute for Particle Technology is researching new and established in-line-compatible methods, such as spectrometry, particle size and torque measurements to continuously monitor the quality of the electrode slurries produced. In close cooperation, the Technical University of Braunschweig and Coperion have developed requirements and possibilities for integrating new sensors. Coperion then successfully integrated a high-precision torque sensor into the system, which can not only output the data locally at the measurement station, but also automatically transfer it to a higher-level production system. This is realized via an interface developed by Coperion that enables process models to be created for optimizing battery compound production.

“We are delighted to be able to support such a research project at the Technical University of Braunschweig with our twin screw extruders. Continuous production and new Industry 4.0 applications will help to optimize the complex production of battery compounds and simplify the manufacture of these products in the future,” said Markus Schmudde, Head of Research & Development at Coperion in Stuttgart.

The DaLion 4.0 project (data mining in the production of lithium-ion battery cells) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy under the funding code 03ETE017C.

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