Series: Battery research

Analysis, recycling, optimization: A journey into the future of energy storage systems and battery technologies

At the Fraunhofer IIS Development Center X-ray Technology EZRT, bright minds are working on new ways to ensure that their research and development projects play a pivotal role in climate action. Dr. Steven Oeckl, Head of the Production Monitoring department, says: “For each individual stage in a battery’s life cycle, we have insights and technologies that can benefit industry and the environment. In this magazine series, we’re highlighting specific use cases and taking a look at what to expect in the future. Naturally, we also want this to open up a new channel of communication, so that people who are interested in this topic can get in touch with us.”

Join us on a journey into the inner workings of energy storage systems, the factories shaping the mobility transition, giant particle accelerators, and microscopic nanoparticles

Battery analysis: Impossible? Think again.


“If you have a question about any link in the battery value chain, we’ve got you covered,” says Dr. Steven Oeckl, Head of the Production Monitoring department at the Development Center X-ray Technology. From materials characterization and extraction to production, logistics, commerce, and recycling: Fraunhofer’s X-ray specialists have a suitable technology for every stage in a battery’s life cycle. These solutions often go beyond the scope of conventional methods. 

Take the following example: A battery manufacturer is unhappy about the high level of waste – in other words, the large number of defective products that must be discarded relatively late in the production process. EZRT researchers have technologies that are not only capable of identifying and weeding out defective components very early, but are also able to combine them with production parameters to create an AI-based model. In addition to predicting what product defects will result from a given set of production parameters, this model can help make recommendations as  how to adjust these parameters to avoid producing defective products in the first place.

»Nondestructive testing is one of our flagship competencies«
- Dr. Steven Oeckl

Working with EZRT can add value even when the battery in question is midway through its life cycle. With the market for used electric cars growing all the time, nondestructive condition assessment of battery modules is becoming increasingly important. EZRT’s decades of experience in X-ray imaging, optical sensor technology, and magnetic resonance techniques make it the ideal partner. “Nondestructive testing is one of our flagship competencies,” Oeckl says.

Once a battery has reached the end of its service life, it needs to be recycled. This is a hugely important step, especially given how many rare raw materials a battery contains. In this way, recycling is the most important requirement for achieving a mobility transition based on electromobility. What’s still proving particularly problematic is separating a battery into its individual components. Fortunately, the Development Center X-ray Technology offers a way of doing this efficiently and cleanly: magnetic particle spectroscopy. “We equip the individual materials in a battery cell with nanoparticles, which gives each material a unique ID. When it’s time for the battery to be recycled, we can retrace these IDs and separate the materials cleanly,” Oeckl says.

Article by Lucas Westermann, Editor Fraunhofer IIS

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