Revving up for electric car batteries

Home Technologist Online Revving up for electric car batteries

While the electric car market is gaining traction in many European countries, it’s slow going in Germany. But a shift could be on the way, with several teams of researchers on track to create a ‘super battery’ cell.

Research production line for battery cells at the Institute for Machine Tools and Industrial Management.

Germany is a fair way off its government’s ambitious targets of having one million electric cars on German roads by 2020, and renewable energy covering 60 percent of the total energy consumption by 2050.

A prerequisite for such a massive energy turnaround – especially in a country where high speed Autobahn driving gobbles battery power – is the availability of efficient battery storage. Lithium-ion batteries are a promising storage technology already being deployed in electric vehicles, including Nissan and Tesla. So far, there has been no mass production of the requisite battery cells in Germany.

That’s what scientists at the Technische Universität München (TUM) are hoping to change through their extensive research program to develop efficient, durable and affordable battery cells. They are playing around with some 20 different production processes, set up on 200 square meters of lab space.

“We now have the possibility of producing battery cells in large numbers and investigating how the production process affects the performance and lifetime of the cells,” says Gunther Reinhart in a TUM research update.

The research production line is the first of its kind in Germany, taking place in close collaboration with industry partners looking to revamp their products with new technology. The battery cells are yet to be tested in electric cars – and the crux is whether they will be able to meet the growing market requirement for cheaper batteries and greater power storage. According to Tesla’s Elon Musk, the auto industry will need hundreds of battery gigafactories in the future to produce affordable electric cars for mass markets.

by Lillian Sando

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