€680m battery test plant with digital twin for Germany

€680m battery test plant with digital twin for Germany

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has commissioned a €680m research factory in Germany to test battery cells with a capacity of up to 200 MWh with a digital twin.

The Fraunhofer FFB research plant in Münster for the FoFeBat (FFB) project will test and optimize near-series production under real conditions of battery cells for the automotive industry and other applications. 14 Fraunhofer institutes, led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT), are cooperating with RWTH Aachen University, the MEET Battery Research Center at University of Münster and the Forschungszentrum Jülich on the battery test project.

Battery production capacity in Europe is set to quadruple by 2025 from 124 gigawatt hours in 2022 to over 500 gigawatt hours. By 2030, this figure is expected to increase tenfold to up to 1.5 terawatt hours according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation (ISI).

Given these projections, the largest German and Europe-wide unique competence centre for developing and testing the production of battery cells – including for electrically powered vehicles – is currently being built in the Westphalian city of Münster.

Research production provides an infrastructure where small and medium-sized enterprises as well as large companies and research institutions can test, implement, and optimize the near-series production of new batteries. 

One of the development partners is Siemens, which is providing Fraunhofer FFB with software and hardware based on the Siemens Xcelerator platform. The interoperable systems from the Digital Industries and Smart Infrastructure Business Units will be used for the digitalization, automation, control, and monitoring of the machines, processes, and buildings.

The real production and environmental conditions are being digitally mapped along the entire value chain by connecting OT [operational technology] to IT [information technology] in a digital twin. Sensors in the building and throughout the production environment will provide all relevant infrastructure data in real time.

Using the Manufacturing Execution System [MES] and the IIoT [Industrial Internet of Things] platform, Fraunhofer FFB will be able to plan, control, optimize, and flexibly scale its production processes. The Desigo CC building management platform will determine the optimal production environment with data-based and demand-oriented processes, even in clean-rooms and drying operations. 

The collected data will be key for the production of battery cells using a digital twin of the factory. The digital twin reflects the entire factory, from the technical building equipment to all production processes. This guarantees production under near-series and difficult conditions such as clean room production for a variety of industrial partners who will use the battery test plant. 

“Automation and digitalization are the keys to continuing to be competitive in industrial production in Germany in the future. With its construction of a new research factory for battery cells in Münster, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will play an important pioneering role for the German electromobility supply industry. Siemens is contributing its industry-specific expertise in automation and digitalization,” said Thorsten Selle, head of the Siemens branch in Münster. 

“Along with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, we want to take the battery industry in Germany to the next level. When it comes to building automation and production equipment, we deliver innovative and sustainable solutions. With our expertise and decades of experience, we see ourselves as an integral part of the ecosystem of local value creation in electromobility,” added Markus Birkhan, Head of Vertical Battery at Siemens.

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