Holistic Research – from the Material to the Complete Battery Cell

Division: Cell System
© MEET/Judith Kraft

Battery cells form the basis of our everyday lives, as well as blazing a trail into the future. Their components – anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator – have a decisive influence on performance, energy density, safety and lifetime. Analysing and optimising not only these central and, above all, highly complex units, but also their design and the relevant production processes, is the task of the Cell System research division at MEET Battery Research Center. With their particular focus on process analysis and optimisation, our researchers create not only a better understanding of the cell itself, but also the basis for efficient, cost-effective battery cell production. The work done by the MEET team is divided into three competence areas: Cell & Cell Design, Battery Ageing and Battery Safety.

Cell Production Made to Measure

© WWU / MEET

The market dominating lithium-ion battery is a major focus of research – MEET researchers also investigate pioneering technologies such as the lithium-metal or solid-state batteries. They focus on developing new production processes for tried-and-tested technologies, as well as for batteries of the future. The physical and electrochemical properties of these cells differ significantly from those of lithium-ion batteries – which means that production processes have to be adapted. Taking an overall view, our researchers analyse both the cells and the individual components as well as their manufacturing steps across the entire production process, ranging from electrode production and cell assembly to formation and ageing.

Our team is one of only a few research groups in Germany which combines battery cell production not only with the technical requirements but also with the chemical basis, thus delivering important findings for setting up successful battery cell production.
Dr. Markus Börner, Division Manager Cell System at MEET
  • Holistic Research at the Highest Level

    Taking a holistic approach to research enables us to trace reactions in the cell, and especially on particle surfaces, back to their origins and, on the basis of these findings, to reveal any potential for optimisation as regards cell performance and lifetime. Thanks to this holistic approach, the team of MEET researchers in the Cell System division has already developed new methods whereby thickness and composition of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) and of the cathode electrolyte interphase (CEI) can be precisely determined by means of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy – an analytical challenge, as the interphases are often only a few nanometres thick.

    © WWU / MEET

    Besides optimised energy density, performance, lifetime and low costs, excellent safety properties are decisive for the success of new types of battery technology. One focus of the Cell System division is therefore on producing detailed findings regarding safety at all levels of the lithium-ion battery. This applies to materials, components and combinations, just as much as the complete cells at various scales – because only by taking the holistic view of potential interactions an intrinsically safe battery technology can be realised.

    Our researchers also place special emphasis on developing sustainable batteries. As a result, they are researching environmentally friendly processes in electrode production. One approach is the water processing of the anode and cathode materials: In the production of cathodes for lithium-ion batteries, expensive toxic organic solvents such as N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) are successfully replaced by water as a process solvent without any resultant drop in performance.

  • © MEET/Judith Kraft

    Application-Oriented Research with a Strong Network

    The holistic approach taken in our research is reinforced by close collaboration with the MEET research divisions Analytics & Environment and Materials, as well as the focus group Next Generation and the junior researchers group Mechanistic Understanding. Collaborations with the neighbouring Helmholtz Institute Münster (HI MS) – a branch of Forschungszentrum Jülich – and with other technical universities steadily extend our area of competence to jointly advance battery production.

    The work done by our Cell System team is highly application-oriented. The latest research findings are transferred into practice, with collaborations with small and medium-sized companies as well as with large international ones. The MEET researchers also contribute their expertise in battery cell production to the newly established Research Fab Battery Cells (FFB), unique in Germany and part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT located in Münster. FFB’s aim is to bridge the gap between research and serial production. Amon others the basis for this is created by MEET’s detailed research results on battery cell production on lab and pilot-plant scale, as well as by cell design and cell characterisation.