"Battery Monitor 2021" Reveals Challenges

28/10/2021

The chair of Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM) at RWTH Aachen University has published the "Battery Monitor 2021". The report examines the entire value chain of cell production in the field of tension between economy and ecology. In doing so, the study's authors conclude that Germany's competitiveness will increasingly depend on direct access to battery cell production and an efficient circular economy.

  The fold-out brochure "Battery Monitor 2021" Copyright: © PEM RWTH Aachen

"It is our responsibility to make the lithium-ion battery and its entire manufacturing process more cost-effective and resource-efficient," says Dr. Heiner Heimes, managing senior engineer at PEM: "In this context, new production trends and promising recycling approaches are already emerging." For a corresponding overview, the "Battery Monitor" summarizes current challenges and future solution paths at all levels: from raw material extraction and cell production to module and pack production as well as engineering and testing to use and reuse.

Research Into Novel Cell Chemistries

In order to reduce the content of critically important raw materials such as lithium and cobalt in the future, the authors advocate further research into novel cell chemistries and the development of a closed-loop system with low loss rates. Quality and efficiency improvements could also be achieved through digital processes in battery cell production. At the same time, the study draws attention to new challenges for cell producers and equipment manufacturers arising from a move away from lithium-ion technology in favor of innovative processes such as dry coating. At the module and pack production level, technical innovations such as the cell-to-pack approach would increase the energy density of the battery system and thus contribute to the economic and ecological sustainability of the electric powertrain. The CO2 balance of battery systems, however, is largely determined by the electricity mix at the production site.

Plea For Standardized Battery Systems

The study also advocates the standardization of battery systems. This would reduce the development effort per vehicle, increase the upgradeability of the systems and make production more cost-effective and geared to individual customer requirements. In addition, virtual validation processes could soon help to reduce technical damage and high prototype investments as well as the number of costly test trials. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the authors of the study predict that by 2030 electric cars will have a 75 percent better lifecycle performance than vehicles with internal combustion engines. Increasing return rates will also lead to a growing importance of innovative recycling and reuse approaches for battery systems in the future.

The report is available for download (in German).