Volkswagen’s subsidiary PowerCo has adopted a novel dry coating technology to produce batteries for the group’s electric cars.
The new tech entails applying battery materials directly to the foil without liquid additives. This streamlined approach eliminates two of the usual four process steps in electrode production.
With dry coating, the battery materials are applied to the foil using a powder coating-like process. This process results in a uniform and delicate layer on the foil, which is comparable in thickness to a strand of hair.
This innovative method ensures batteries with high energy density, extended lifespan, and enhanced fast charging capabilities.
The entire process can be conducted in a large roller press, streamlining the production and reducing the factory’s floor space by up to 15 percent.
Implementing this method in a battery factory with an annual production capacity of 20 GWh results in significant energy savings, equivalent to the yearly electricity consumption of 40,000 homes.
By employing the new technology, PowerCo, whose first battery factory is in Skellefteå, Sweden, also expects to achieve cost savings that will enable the production of affordable electric vehicles such as the Volkswagen ID.2.
Frank Blome, the CEO of PowerCo, believed that this manufacturing breakthrough holds comparable importance to the highly coveted solid-state cell.
He said that numerous battery manufacturers often regard the solid-state cell as the “holy grail” due to its immense potential impact on future battery technology.
“The dry coating is a real “game changer” for production. If it is scaled up successfully, it will give us a unique position in the market and clear competitive advantages,” Blome said.
Besides Volkswagen, Tesla also employs a similar technique in its battery production. It uses dry coating for manufacturing its proprietary 4,680 cells.
Revolutionizing Battery Production
PowerCo, as part of Volkswagen’s battery business expansion, takes charge of the entire battery production process, including sourcing materials and selling the final products.
With a planned investment of €20 billion over eight years, PowerCo aims to generate job opportunities for 20,000 people across Europe. It also has plans to establish factories in North America.
By 2030, PowerCo intends to fully operational all six European factories, boasting a combined capacity of 240 GWh.
According to the company, PowerCo intends to adopt the prismatic unified cell architecture in its battery manufacturing, allowing for using different cell chemistries.
The production of these cells is slated to begin in 2025, with a targeted factory capacity of 40 GWh, capable of supplying power to 500,000 electric vehicles.
The unified prismatic cell design takes advantage of synergy effects and has the potential to achieve manufacturing cost savings of up to 50 percent compared to current battery technologies.