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German government funding development of Fraunhofer DRYtraec electrode dry-coating into “DRYplatform”

The DRYtraec coating process developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS allows the dry production of battery electrodes without toxic organic solvents or water (earlier post). In particular, the space- and energy-intensive drying step of conventional wet-chemical coating processes is completely eliminated. In addition to environmental protection aspects, there is enormous potential for cost reduction in the battery cell production.

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is now funding a project with €3.7 million that will develop the dry-coating technology into a holistic technology platform.

Several prototypes of DRYtraec-based coating systems have already been built by researchers at Fraunhofer IWS together with partners from industry. They coat electrodes for lithium-ion, solid-state or lithium-sulfur batteries continuously and scalable in a roll-to-roll process. The performance of the electrodes is comparable to conventionally produced electrodes in the so-called “slurry process” and in some respects even exceeds them.

So far, the focus of the scientists has been on the development of efficient coating processes. However, upstream and downstream processes or accompanying analytics are often still realized in time-consuming and discontinuous procedures.

DRYplatform focuses on the entire process chain. To better meet industrial requirements, the “DRYplatform” project aims to map the entire process chain from raw material through winding process to the finished electrode as a continuous and coordinated sequence of individual processes.

The project aims to expand the DRYtraec coating technology with plant and equipment technology specifically for the accompanying process steps. In this way, an innovative and comprehensive technology platform for solvent-free electrode production will be realized, the functionality of which the researchers intend to demonstrate in a technology-relevant environment.

In the future, DRYplatform will allow the comprehensive and efficient consideration of material-process-property relationships in research and development on battery electrodes from dry processing. The platform enables Fraunhofer IWS to integrate the dry film process into the nationwide research activities and to establish DRYtraec as a unique selling proposition.

Furthermore, it provides an offer to companies along the value chain to be able to evaluate targeted issues, material innovations or other innovative developments including their influence on the overall process quickly, targeted and comprehensively at a high level of technological maturity.

Planned extensions in four technological modules:

  • Powder pretreatment: Installation of scalable equipment that enables continuous material pretreatment

  • Electrode production: Realization of a precise continuous dosing and conveying system for dry mixtures, combination with the existing DRYtraec plant technology as well as setup of an intelligent electrode fabrication system

  • Analytics: Compilation of a comprehensive analytics package for online process monitoring issues as well as individual samples in the context of networked data analysis for a comprehensive understanding of process-structure-property relationships

  • “Microenvironments”: Encapsulating facilities for future-oriented research on processes for next-generation battery materials

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