By Cameron Chai
A new battery manufacturing research and development center has been established at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The lab is drawing the attention of original equipment manufacturers, system integrators, chemical and materials suppliers and battery manufacturers. The facility promises future automotive batteries that can cost less and deliver more power.
The facility includes two chambers, which totals 1,400 sq. ft of space, with advanced battery manufacturing equipment. One chamber permits scientists to maintain relative humidity in the range of 0.5% to 15%. It accommodates equipment that is used for blending various slurries as well as for drying, coating and stabilization. The second chamber of the battery manufacturing R&D center delivers a dew point of -40°C, which converts to a relative humidity of 0.5%. This relative humidity is required to eliminate moisture entry into the battery cells. The chamber is equipped with anodes, cathodes and electrodes, which are assembled into pouches filled with an exact amount of electrolyte. These pouches are later trimmed and sealed using a heating and vacuum process.
With access to the new battery manufacturing R&D facility, researchers can make produce batteries of about 7 ampere-hours capacity. This size offers a good demonstration capability and it requires less material. Thus, the burden of smaller companies that have inadequate production capacity is reduced.
Claus Daniel, Deputy Director of ORNL's Sustainable Transportation Program, remarked that the facility can allow them to isolate and assess a material or a process and measure the benefits that they would offer to businesses. He added that they are working with industry partners to advance the field and develop a battery that will enable vehicles to travel longer distances on a single charge.