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Argonne’s CAMP battery testing and prototyping facility grows to meet demand for next-generation technologies

Argonne National Laboratory recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the expanded Cell Analysis, Modeling and Prototyping (CAMP) facility. The US Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and Argonne funded the facility, which is used by industry, academia and national laboratories across the United States.

Many of the innovations eyed for advances in consumer electronics, electric vehicles, utilities and advanced manufacturing hinge on the development of next-generation battery technologies.

To feed that growing need and potentially accelerate innovation, the nation’s first and top-tier battery cell fabrication facility has more than tripled its size and expanded its research capabilities.

For the expansion, Argonne invested more than $2 million of laboratory funds and royalty money earned from a patent on battery material the lab developed that went into several commercial batteries, including the Chevy Volt.

This money leverages the original VTO funding that created CAMP as the nation’s first cell fabrication lab in 2010 and VTO’s new investment to increase the research capabilities in the facility’s new dry room.

CAMP serves a pipeline to battery R&D programs in industry, academia and at other national laboratories. New battery materials are made into electrodes and small cells or, if warranted, larger pouch cells that are roughly 100 times smaller than the battery in an electric vehicle, but made in a method similar to industry. These cells are tested by researchers at Argonne or sent to other laboratories for use in their R&D programs.

The most promising new materials that are validated at CAMP are then sent to Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility to have cost-efficient manufacturing processes developed to commercially scale the material and hand it off to industry to begin production. In the last five years, CAMP has worked with 49 companies, including startups and Fortune 500 companies.

CAMP also is a key supplier of prototype electrodes and cells for several national research programs including Xtreme Fast Charging, Next-Generation Anodes (focus on silicon anodes), Next-Generation Cathodes (focus on low-cobalt cathodes), as well as the US Advanced Battery Consortium, Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Voucher and Chain Reaction Innovation programs. These research and development groups help industry develop and de-risk battery technologies in collaboration with national laboratories.

One of the key pieces of equipment that will go into the expanded CAMP is a multi-functional coater to test and develop new electrode-separator designs needed for solid-state lithium battery systems. This technology has been long sought after and would be considered a game changer for the energy storage industry because the technology would enable higher energy density, increase battery life and reduce the risk of fires from overheating.


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