Lithium-ion batteries are a key technology in electric mobility. To keep pace with the growing demand for electric cars, investments are being made in battery factories worldwide. With the acquisition of the US company Megtec/Universal in 2018, Dürr has already expanded its portfolio with important competencies in battery manufacturing technology and offers state-of-the-art technology for coating and drying electrodes as well as proven systems for solvent recovery. Dürr is now cooperating with Techno Smart, a leading Japanese manufacturer of coating systems, and thus covers all relevant technologies for coating electrodes for lithium-ion batteries. In the medium term, the group is aiming for a sales volume in the high double-digit million range in the battery manufacturing technology business. In battery coating, anode or cathode active material is applied as a thin paste on both sides of a metal foil. Drying produces a solid composite material. Within the lithium-ion battery cell, the active material is responsible for energy storage, while the metal foil ensures the dissipation of the current. Solvent used in the manufacturing process can be recovered and recycled. For an efficient process, both sides of the metal foil are coated in one pass. Dürr Megtec uses a specially developed process for simultaneous coating on both sides. In this process, both sides of the electrode foil are coated directly one after the other with the aid of wide-slot nozzles and then dried in a horizontally running levitation dryer. The advantages of this process are, among other things, a small space requirement and high cost efficiency.
E-Mobility as biggest growth driver
Especially in niche segments, simultaneous coating is in demand. For example, Dürr benefits from the increasing demand for small-format lithium-ion batteries for hearing aids, headphones and other mobile electrical devices. However, the biggest growth driver in the market for battery manufacturing technology is electric mobility. For the large coating areas required there, Techno Smart offers a highly efficient and robust process in which the film runs over a supporting precision roller and is coated and dried in succession with a wide-slot nozzle. After leaving the first dryer, the web is turned over and the second side is coated and dried in the same process. Dürr generally sees a great opportunity in e-car production. With incoming orders of almost Euro 400 million, production technology for electric cars already accounted for 22 % of the order volume in the automotive business last year. The growth trend is expected to continue in 2020, especially thanks to strong demand in China. Despite the corona crisis, Dürr was able to increase incoming orders in the e-mobility business significantly in the first half of the year.