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Germany launches R&D facility for industrial-scale Li-ion cell manufacturing; €500M in funding

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has launched the Battery Cell Research Production Center, a new R&D and large-scale industrial manufacturing plant for lithium-ion cells; the center will receive an investment of €500 million.

The location of the new facility is to be selected by mid-2019, after which the construction phase will begin. Six German cell manufacturers have already pledged their support for the establishment and operation of research production: Leclanché, BMZ Group/ Terra E, Customcells, EAS and Liacon.

The center is part of a strategic drive to develop a German-based mass production of lithium-ion cells necessary to meet the demands of the electrification of transport and storage systems.

The objective of the facility is to act as an enabler for the development of mass industrial production based on state-of-the-art cell chemistry and cell design. The ultimate goal is building a European-based industry capable of minimizing dependence on Asian battery manufacturers.

The new center unites all previous promotion measures and programs for battery research under one roof and builds on existing competencies. The funding is bundled, realigned and coordinated in three modules: material; cells and processes; and battery cell production.

As the largest cell manufacturer within the Consortium, Leclanché will be playing a leading role by bringing industrial-scale cell manufacturing know-how.

Leclanché announced in December 2018 that it would triple current factory capacity to more than 3 million cells per year, or 1 GWh per year by 2020. The production of its proprietary cells, Lithium Titanate Oxide (LT)) and Lithium Graphite/NMC, is based in Willstätt, Germany—currently the largest lithium-ion pouch cell production facility in Europe operating since 2012 with a capacity of more than 1 million cells.

The ramp-up of cell production comes on the back of significant orders in the e-transport sector including e-buses, 2-3 wheelers, and electric vehicles in India and Europe, and major breakthroughs in the marine sector with orders exceeding 45 MWh. Leclanché recently achieved the milestone of 100 MWh of projects around the world.

The BMZ Group is a global player in the production of lithium-ion system solutions. The group is headquartered in Germany and has production facilities in China, Poland and the USA as well as subsidiaries in Japan and France. In addition, there are research and development locations worldwide. Around 3,000 employees work for the BMZ Group worldwide.

Customcells is a worldwide operating high-tech company that develops and produces battery electrodes, lithium-ion battery cells and energy storage systems. Technology development, cell design and production are carried out on a small- and medium-scale.

EAS Batteries GmbH has been producing large-format lithium-ion cells and lithium-ion batteries at its Nordhausen site for more than 20 years. The EAS technology is characterized by above-average power densities and is mainly used in hybrid electrical applications. The high safety and performance of the EAS systems are particularly sought after in the fields of shipping, construction machinery, rail vehicles and mining vehicles as well as in the aerospace industry. Since 2017, EAS Batteries has been part of the MONBAT Group, the third largest battery manufacturer in the world.

Liacon GmbH is currently setting up a lithium-ion cell production facility near Dresden, in Ottendorf-Okrilla, with a production capacity of up to 300 MWh per year. Production will start in the first half of 2019. In addition, the company maintains a research and development group in Itzehoe.

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