Interview with Dr. Florian Degen of the Fraunhofer Research Institute
Tuesday, 9 May 2023
Recently, we have had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Dr. Florian Degen of the Fraunhofer Research Institution. Dr. Degen currently holds the position of Division Manager “Strategy and Corporate Development” within the institution, and has many years of experience and knowledge from working within the battery industry. The main objective of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Battery Cell Production FFB is to establish a research infrastructure for ecological and economical battery cell production. It aims to accelerate the innovation and commercialization process of production technologies for existing and future cell formats. The focal points of their work is in all areas surrounding battery production; from battery technology and certification, to process optimization in production, application, battery recycling, and further education opportunities.
Read the full interview below.
Fraunhofer Research Institution is committed to a more sustainable, ‘defossilize(d)’ future- what active steps are you taking within your research and production methods to make this a reality?
“Our task at Fraunhofer FFB is to optimise the technology for todays and tomorrow’s battery production in terms of cost, quality and, of course, sustainability. Here, we are looking in particular at the processes that consume a lot of energy, such as the drying processes, dry rooms, formation, etc. At the Fraunhofer FFB, we are developing and testing alternative production technologies that use significantly less energy. Popular approaches here are dry coating, laser drying, mini environments and many more. The energy savings that are possible through new production technologies are enormous. Our studies show that savings of 50% and more are possible.”
You have recently begun researching a new water-based recycling process for lithium-ion batteries- can you tell us more about it’s development, and what it means for you as a company?
“Recycling of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries as well as reducing scrap rates in production plays an increasingly important role in battery research in order to create a more efficient and sustainable battery cell production. Closing the material loop through reintegration of recyclate into the manufacturing process represents a major opportunity to reduce the depletion of raw materials and increase material efficiency in production, but also is likely to bring challenges regarding the fulfilment of certain material quality standards.”
You have previously worked as a Process Developer at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology- can you tell us more about how your role here prepared you for streamlining processes whilst keeping up to date with the latest trends in your current role?
“I think it is always very helpful to see how other researchers work in other disciplines and also in other cultures. Each approach has specific advantages and sometimes challenges. I think working in Singapore allows me to look at problems differently from time to time and find creative solutions.”
You are instrumental in ‘shaping the future of European battery production’, how do you ensure you are staying up to date on current trends and new innovations within the industry so that you can remain at the forefront of development?
“By communicating with many stakeholders along the battery value chain, e.g. at the Battery Cells & Systems Expo. I believe that in such a comparatively young field of development as battery production, communication is the most important thing. There are so many great innovative approaches and technologie solutions out there. Sometimes these approaches are entirely new, sometimes they come from other industries that had a similar problem at some point in the past. At Fraunhofer FFB, we have a whole technology and innovation team dedicated to this, which is always on the lookout for new technologies and compares and evaluates these. This gives us a pretty good picture of which technologies are really promising and which might be over-hyped.”
You are giving a talk on the future of lithium-ion batteries and their cell production and the amount of energy needed for the process- how is the future for this in regards to reducing energy consumption, and turning this into a ‘greener’ process?
“I would say that the future is promising. New, more efficient production technologies alone can save up to 50% of today’s energy consumption in battery production (without taking the material into account). But also on the material side, significant savings are possible, e.g. through alternative battery technologies like sodium-ion batteries etc.”
What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming Battery Cells and Systems Expo?
I am looking forward to meeting people in person and listening to interesting sessions.
Dr. Degen will be speaking at one of our expert panels on day one of the show, answering the question ‘How Much Energy is Necessary to Manufacture Battery Cells? Energy Consumption of current and future lithium-ion and beyond lithium-ion battery cell production?’
View the full conference agenda here: Full Conference Agenda | Battery Cells and Systems Expo (batterysystemsexpo.com)