UK opens battery module and pack line

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The £130m (€150m) UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) has opened its Module and Pack equipment lines. This is first battery manufacturing equipment to have been installed and commissioned at the ‘open access’ plant in Coventry.

The assembly line is designed to be flexible to enable customers to test and produce low volumes of Cylindrical and Pouch cell battery technology. The 18,500 square metre battery development plant has can produce 50 modules and 2.5 packs in every 8-hour shift. For module assembly, the line can handle 200AH pouches and 250Ah cylindrical cells up to 60V and 30kg, and can produce packs up to 500kWh at 1200Vdc weighing 1000kg.

The line has manual and automatic workstations with ‘pick and place’ capability for cylindrical cells, with cell voltage testing and impedance, as well as the ability to place cells into a module in either combination of cell orientation.

The facility includes a laser precision specialist welder for welding cells to busbars at industry speeds and accuracy. In addition, the line has a pioneering battery leak functionality, which allows leaks to be more easily discovered prior to full scale up, whilst the layout has space reserved to accommodate future customer requirements such as alternative joining technologies and plasma cleaning.

UKBIC says its cell making equipment is identical to that of emerging Gigafactories now under construction, and the Module and Pack equipment mimics processes in high throughput battery assembly plants.

As well as Module and Pack capability, the battery manufacturing equipment being installed at the facility covers the whole production process from electrode manufacturing, cylindrical and pouch cell assembly, to formation aging and testing, as well as a prototyping competence centre for specialist ultra-low volume builds. The facility is a pioneering facility, which provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production.

“We’re delighted to have our Module and Pack line up and running. This is the first part of the facility which customers can now use,” said Ian Whiting, UKBIC’s Commercial Director.

“Our unique, open-access facility allows organisations in the UK to prove whether their promising technologies can be manufactured at the required volume, speed, performance and cost to be commercially successful. Clients can bring their own employees in to work and be trained with us on the line. Customers can also integrate processes unique to their own products temporarily to our facility. And we can help them build ‘runner lines’ at UKBIC to enable them to prove higher throughput production in early stages whilst customers build their own production lines.”

UKBIC is a key part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, a Government programme to fast track the development of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries.

“The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre has a vital role to play in the development of the battery industry here in the UK. With the Module and Pack suite now operational this is a major step forward for the UK battery industry that will benefit companies of all sizes,” said Tony Harper, Industrial Strategy Challenge Director – Faraday at UK Research and Innovation which backed UKBIC.

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