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German BMBF funds new Lithium-ion pilot plant in Ulm

The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung or BMBF) intends to fund a new pilot plant for the development and optimization of lithium-ion cells in Ulm.

The battery pilot plant will be operated by Kompetenznetzwerk Lithium-Ionen Batterien (KLiB) (Lithium-Ion Battery Competence Network). KLiB’s 25 industrial partners, including BASF, BOSCH, Evonik and SGL Group, will invest a double-digit million sum in the operation of this pilot plant; the BMBF will fund the research work.

Federal Research Minister, Annette Schavan, and Hubert Jäger, Head of Technology & Innovation for SGL Group and Chairman of the Board of KLiB, have signed a declaration of intent.

The planned pilot plant will enable us to quickly increase new cell production processes from the laboratory stage to industrial mass production readiness in a target-oriented way.

—Hubert Jäger

The Ulm location was chosen because of its research infrastructure, which includes the ZSW (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung) (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research) Baden-Württemberg Ulm and the Helmholtz-Institut für Energiespeicherung (Helmholtz Institute for Energy Storage), established at the start of 2011 and also funded by the BMBF.

Cell production is a key part of battery manufacture, accounting for the highest proportion of added value, notes the SGL Group, which not only supplies the electromobility sector with lightweight solutions based on carbon fiber composites but is also a major producer of graphite and carbon anode materials for lithium-ion batteries.

Efficient, safe and cost-effective batteries are an essential prerequisite for Germany to become not only a leading electromobility market but also a leading supplier of electromobility solutions.

—Gerd Wingefeld, a member of the SGL Group board of management

Wingefeld is also involved in the “Materials and Recycling” Working Group of the Nationale Plattform Elektromobilität (NPE) (National Electromobility Platform).

Germany commands high levels of expertise in material development, but has some catching up to do, SGL says, when it comes to economic cell production on an industrial scale. Important aspects such as process technologies for cell and battery production have not been adequately covered by present funded projects.

Industrial companies and application-oriented research institutes have joined together to form the “Kompetenznetzwerk Lithium-Ionen Batterien” (KLiB) in order to strengthen Germany’s competitiveness in the key technology of lithium-ion batteries. The 25 KLiB members include BASF, Deutsche Accumotive, SGL Group, Hoppecke, Merck, Varta, ads-tec, and the ZSW, amongst others. The aim is to pool expertise from research-based and manufacturing industry (both large and medium-sized companies), science and trades in a pre-competitive environment in order to strengthen Germany as a high-tech production location and make it the leading battery supplier.

The network is subdivided into various working groups covering subjects such as reference cells, test procedures, cell production, and also qualification and training. Members include different actors spanning the entire value chain from battery material and component manufacturers through companies in the production technology and automation sectors to cell and battery producers.

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