Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-4

Battery Manufacturing
vidual parts. Comprehensive modeling of
the entire system requires accurate representations
of each cell, followed by the
modules, and then the battery pack as a
whole. As these different components and
subassemblies come together, the mechanical,
thermal, and electrical dynamics
begin to change and the choices multiply.
Where heat buildup might not be a
With the anode and cathode sitting at either side, this image illustrates the complex electrochemical
environment within a typical battery cell.
Still, a great deal of effort remains before
battery power overtakes fossil fuel
in transportation and mobility. For instance,
so-called " range anxiety, " a significant
concern for many users, is slowly
starting to abate. Last year, the median
EV battery range surpassed 250 miles for
the first time and, at the top end of the
market, EV battery ranges have reached
400 miles. With next-generation battery
chemistries that allow for lighter cells,
EV battery ranges and lifespans will continue
to increase. With that comes high
manufacturing costs, potential raw material
shortages (namely,
lithium), and
manufacturing complexity, as Chevrolet
learned the hard way with its Bolt EV, the
risk of fire. Governments and administrations
are also addressing the shortage of
BEV charging infrastructure, a situation
compounded by long charging times.
Despite these not so insignificant
challenges, the writing is on the wall:
Battery-powered electric vehicles represent
the future of road haulage and
transportation. Automakers wishing to
keep ahead on the BEV superhighway
must adopt a flexible approach for a
constantly evolving vehicle market, as
well as an agile structure to adapt to
the new businesses that may spawn.
They must either develop in house, or
partner with suppliers, to manufacture
large quantities of high-energy density
batteries. Those batteries must be safe,
quick to charge, and provide better
ranges than that of the gas and diesel
alternatives.
4
Battery Anatomy
Accomplishing each of these will mean
shifting away from the status quo, starting
with the materials. As already noted,
battery makers currently face strong competition
for lithium, most of which is
mined in Australia and South America but
then shipped to China for refining. If startup
companies like Sila Nanotechnologis and
Ion Storage Systems have their way, however,
much of that demand will shift in favor
of abundant sodium or ceramic systems.
Doing so will take much more than a
plentiful raw material source; it will also
take visibility
into the complex inner
workings of batteries, whatever they are
made of. That's because batteries are living
things - their chemistries change over
time and use, which is why they are (unfortunately)
known for capacity fade, occasional
combustion, and eventual failure.
Building a better battery requires a
thorough understanding of the continuous
interaction between the anode, cathode,
and other battery materials. Designers
need to model and simulate the behavior
of the electrolyte as well as the mixed
metal oxides electrode coatings, polymer
binders, and other chemical constituents
in the cell. Most importantly, they need to
be able to predict how this electrochemical
soup will evolve with different use
profiles over Mays and miles.
Micro to Macro
Chemistry is only the beginning, however.
The " battery " inside an electric vehicle
actually comprises hundreds of indiconcern
with an individual cell, nestle
several dozen of them alongside one another
in a battery module and the laws of
thermodynamics begin to play a much
larger role. Similarly, electrical carrying
capacity, conductivity, and voltage levels
all change - often dramatically - as batteries
grow in complexity. It's only
through analysis of the micro, macro, and
every level in between that designers can
achieve an optimal battery configuration.
Then there are mechanical and environmental
considerations. The battery
pack in a typical passenger car weighs
450 kilograms (992 lbs.) or more. Within
are the rows and rows of the modules
just mentioned, each of which must be
held securely and without movement
even in the face of vibration, acceleration,
and possible collisions or rollovers. Such
a structure calls for extreme strength,
stiffness and above all, safety.
Complicating matters even further is
the battery pack's operating environment,
which can vary from Canadian cold to
sub-tropical heat. Throw in some rain,
snow, salt spray, mud and dirt, and even
the most robust container designs are put
to the test. The question then becomes:
How to test? How to see inside the functioning
battery? How can battery manufacturers
assure long-term performance
and dependability in an extremely complex
product with no moving parts? Not
only that, how can they design the system
for in use, safe upgrades and updates?
Traditional automakers might suggest
real-world testing, with thousands of miles
cruising automotive proving grounds and
weeks or even Mays in environmental test
chambers. But, given the rapid pace of
change in today's BEV market, such legacy
testing methods are prohibitive and difficult
to optimize. A better, more accurate and
cost-effective solution is modeling and
simulation. This provides unprecedented,
iterative views within the cell at the macroand
micro-scales, without the complexity
Battery & Electrification Technology, May 2022
BET Battery Manufacturing Assembly Feature 0522_3.indd 4
Cov
ToC
4/19/22 2:03 PM
http://info.hotims.com/82321-831

Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022

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Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Intro
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