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Bespoke battery production
23.11.2021 Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH has developed a research facility – unique in Switzerland – which makes the production of lithium-ion batteries more efficient and sustainable. As well as optimising the production process, it enables the manufacture of battery cells from the size of a credit card up to a 15 x 30 cm format. The plant will be officially opened on 18 November 2021 in Burgdorf.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in many everyday applications – including cars, smartphones and hearing aids. However, the extraction of the raw materials and the battery manufacturing process often have a considerable ecological impact. This means that in future, lithium-ion batteries must be manufactured to be more eco-friendly, but also more powerful, longer-lasting and cheaper. To support Swiss machinery and battery manufacturers, the Institute for Intelligent Industrial Systems I3S at Bern University of Applied Sciences has designed and set up a research facility for battery production. This can be used by industry and researchers as a platform for innovations and developments in battery technology.
Greater production flexibility than in industry
The research facility will primarily be used to test and optimise manufacturing methods and to produce test pouch cells. It is capable of making a wide range of battery cells with different performance levels. “The plant can produce pouch cells from the size of a credit card up to a 15 x 30 cm format. This is unique in Switzerland,” says Prof. Dr Axel Fuerst, Research Group Leader at I3S. Moreover, different materials can be selected and modified at will, and individual components included or switched out as desired. Neither are there any restrictions in terms of the battery cell shape. “Batteries can be produced more flexibly at our research facility than in industry,” remarked Dr Fuerst. “This allows us to provide Swiss machinery manufacturers with optimal support and guidance in developing the expertise required for production plants.”
Students also benefit from the pilot plant
Students on bachelor and master’ of Mechanical Engineering programmes were also involved in developing the research facility. This gave them the opportunity to write their theses on fascinating topics related to the production plant. “Our students are able to apply their knowledge in industry-relevant scenarios and tackle current challenges in terms of production optimisation by studying the battery manufacture model,” says Dr Fuerst.