How Vacuum Technology is Used to Create Core Energy Storage Devices for e-Mobility: Lithium-ion Batteries

You’ve got one in your pocket right now. Indeed, lithium-ion batteries are found in small portable electronics such as smartphones and laptops, in addition to being the heart of electric automobiles and vehicles. They are also used extensively in spatial and aeronautical applications. But what exactly are lithium batteries, and why are they so hotly debated today? What role does vacuum technology play with lithium batteries?

Vacuum Technology is Used to Create Lithium-ion Batteries

What exactly are lithium batteries, and why are they so important today?

Modern lithium-ion batteries have lately become the focus of today’s key conversations and debates, owing to their popularity as the preferred technology for electric vehicles. Unlike other types of batteries, lithium-ion batteries have a far higher energy density and a slower discharge rate, allowing them to hold a charge for much longer. Along with e-vehicles, they can also be found in small portable electronics like smartphones and laptops, as well as in telecommunications and aerospace applications.

The mechanisms at work

As a revolutionary and cutting-edge battery technology, lithium-ion batteries use lithium ions as the main components in the battery’s operation and electrochemistry.

Lithium-based energy storage systems are constantly being optimized. They are intended to push e-mobility to the next level by lowering production costs and increasing mileage.  The transition to electric vehicles is, in actuality, the most recent and remarkable evolution in today’s highly competitive market. They have already been identified as the future of transportation and are expected to overtake the automobile industry over the next decade.

E-mobility is the road to the future

Climate change, fossil fuel use, and ecological sustainability all seem to have a close solution in the new technological innovations of e-Mobility.

The European Union has requested countries to stop producing gas-powered automobiles to defend a key pillar of the EU’s plans to lower net global warming emissions by 55% by 2030. As a consequence, today major automakers have begun to develop their own electric vehicles — we are all familiar with the automobile industry’s pioneer, Tesla — and their car technology is rapidly progressing. Vacuum technology has been critical in this industry and continues to be the driving force behind those advancements.

Vacuum technology and electric mobility

In the mobility industry, vacuum technology has a lengthy history. It started as an industry-wide innovation roughly 60 years ago and has been used to help the production of automotive batteries for decades.

Such a pillar will be used for many years to come. Vacuum technology is still having a vital function in the most recent e-mobility advancements with lithium-ion batteries.

Agilent is a designer and supplier of vacuum solutions, and it offers practical options for effective energy storage problems. It helps manufacturers all over the world create optimal lithium batteries and lithium battery technology. It also aids the quality control process with the use of certain equipment. Vacuum and leak detection technologies, for example, are necessary as a quality measure in a variety of industrial operations.

Vacuum Technology is providing energy to electric vehicles!

Vacuum is already being used in a variety of functional stages and processes related to electric mobility. The very first step starts with a vacuum: the electrolyte-filling stage of a lithium-ion battery, for example, is fundamental to ensure that the cell is evenly saturated with the electrolyte.

Let’s examine the stages where vacuum is paramount to creating the precious energy storing device.

Vacuum technology in more than half of the lithium battery manufacture process!

Agilent vacuum specialists have long supported lithium-ion battery manufacturing with specific equipment and technological research for production and quality control. They now have an essential role with their vacuum technology accounting for more than half of the stages in battery production.

The excellence of the production line has a significant impact on battery performance, longevity, and general performance. Agilent technologies and expertise constantly work to optimize resource usage and minimize process time while maintaining product quality.

The lithium ion batteries manufacturing process

Starting with raw materials, the process is divided into three major stages that result in the desired, finished lithium ion battery.  The three main phases are electrode manufacturing, cell assembly and cell finishing.

lithium-ion batteries manufacturing technology

Each of these phases is made up of four subphases. More than half of the entire process is carried out in vacuum conditions or with the assistance of vacuum and leak detection technologies.

Electrode manufacturing

Base material mixing

The materials are blended together in the first stage. Under vacuum, active material, binder, and conductive agents are mixed to achieve the desired homogeneity, viscosity, and purity.

Vacuum  helps to remove air bubbles, which improves battery electrical performance and charging capacity.

Vacuum drying

Drying the laminated lithium-ion electrodes under a vacuum ensures that there is no remaining moisture. The precise and careful drying process is designed to avoid damaging electrode microstructure.

Cell assembly

Electrode degassing

The laminated and post-dried electrode surface has air pockets that must be eliminated via vacuum treatment. Impurities, residual gas pockets, and oil residues affect electrical performance, therefore dry, hydrocarbon-free vacuum pumps are necessary for electrode surface degassing to achieve optimal results.

Explore Agilent’s scroll pumps and their powerful, yet delicate vacuum technology.

Cell finishing

Battery electrolyte filling

Filling takes place under a vacuum to provide a uniform distribution of the electrolytes within the cell, ensure electrode wetting, and avoid inefficiencies caused by trapped gas bubbles. Vacuum pumps for this procedure must be able to withstand electrolyte residuals. This process done under vacuum increases battery efficiency and longevity.

Battery housing

Battery housing is crucial in e-cars for several reasons, including robustness in case of crash, chassis integration, and a lightweight form factor. Housings serve as battery protection and must be refrigerated, corrosion-resistant, and electromagnetically protected. Helium leak detectors are utilized here to ensure that the aluminum die-cast battery casing is sealed and watertight.

Battery testing

To suit the changing needs of vehicle manufacturers, technological advancements have led to the production of many types of batteries. Li-ion battery cells can have a soft cover in the shape of a pouch cell or a hardcover in the shape of a cylindrical or square. The leak tightness of both the battery module and the final battery assembly is crucial for ensuring high-quality standards in longevity, performance, and secure operation of the battery. Agilent leak detectors and dry pumps provide cutting-edge performance in detecting potentially dangerous leaks during the battery production process.

Examine the most modern Agilent helium leak testing equipment.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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