By Vlad Strelko, Business Development Manager
The EU’s challenging CO2 emissions targets continues to drive changes in vehicle technology. This impacts the entire supply chain at every stage in production.
Organisations are challenging themselves to improve operations to meet these targets, but how can they go beyond the obvious and identify new areas for improvement?
Specialist skills to unlock benefits
As the Automotive industry challenges itself to innovate to achieve its environmental objectives, the team at BHR Group has been developing different ways we can help drive efficiency and sustainability.
One area we’ve been focusing on is the improvement of Lithium-Ion battery electrode slurry production - we’ve been applying our specialist process engineering skills and understanding of complex rheologies to the task of increasing battery efficiency and reducing production waste.
Electrode coating slurry production
Fundamentally, reducing material waste and energy usage will make an impact both on an organisation’s carbon footprint AND its bottom line. In our experience, reviewing and improving operational process mixing can make differences that result in measurable efficiencies and product improvements.
Incorporation of minor components in powder form to complex rheology liquids can be especially challenging. A balance between consistently creating a uniform coating micro-structure and detrimental over-mixing is needed.
Therefore, we’ve been gaining deeper insight into the fundamentals of mixing relevant to battery electrode slurry production. The rewards of ‘getting the mixing right’ can be increased production rate through reduced batch blend-times, improved product consistency resulting in less wastage and top cell performance through optimum electrode morphology.
BHR’s DOMINO research into the mechanisms and kinetics of both nanoparticle incorporation into liquids and the de-agglomeration of nanoparticle clusters has yielded validated numerical models of equipment flow fields and agglomerate break-up.
High energy dissipation dispersion equipment tested included both inline and in-tank rotor-stators, stirred bead mills, ultrasonicators, valve homogenisers and jet dispersers. Some of our key work also includes the effect of dispersion equipment operation on dispersion rheology as well as the development of solids incorporation models for various stirred tanks and inline equipment. – These are particularly useful to support progression of solutions from lab to production, helping optimize and utilize existing equipment for new product requirements.
Outcomes and Focus
There’s been some interesting results from the research so far, -the mechanism of agglomerate break-up under different conditions has been deduced from measured particle size distributions and SEM images. Distinct erosion, rupture and shattering mechanisms resulted from variation in local hydrodynamic energy dissipation rate. This caused different particle size distributions, which of course has a big impact on product functionality.
So, there’s lots to think about, more to learn and definitely some clear ways that our expertise can support product improvement effort from lab to full manufacturing scale!