Battery research started in Münster

Status: 11/19/2021 2:13 p.m.

In order to make rechargeable batteries more powerful and environmentally friendly, a research center for battery production has gone into operation in Münster, Westphalia. A prestige project for the federal and state governments.

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) has put into operation a research center for efficient and environmentally friendly batteries, for example for e-cars, which has been controversial at this location for a long time. She called the system, which was funded with 680 million euros, a “lighthouse project” that could “ensure technological sovereignty in an essential technology field”.

In many places around the world, intensive work is being carried out on high-performance batteries, for example for electromobility, cell phones, tablets and pacemakers. It is about know-how and the rapid further development of prototypes so that German and European industry can keep up with the competition and not have to lag behind, the minister said. At the end of 2022, the first research building is to be handed over to the Fraunhofer Society, which will take over management. After two years, the center is to become its own Fraunhofer Institute.

Karliczek urges speed

The minister only commented indirectly on the dispute over the award of the research center to Münster. “If we want to continue to compete in the world, it’s not a question of who is doing it, but how quickly can we develop all of these technologies,” she said. In 2020 there were protests from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg against the award to Münster. The federal states saw their own locations at a disadvantage.

According to experts, it is easier and more efficient to manufacture the batteries near car factories. In addition to its car factory near Berlin, Tesla is also building a battery factory. This saves the transport of the heavy lithium-ion batteries. But the federal government decided in favor of Münster. According to the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the new facility is to become the center of the development of modern and scalable battery cell production for Germany and Europe. This is where the infrastructure is made available with which small and medium-sized companies, but also large companies and research institutes, can “test, implement and optimize” near-series production of new batteries, according to a press release.

Several battery factories planned in Germany

Thanks to the new research center, a gap in the value chain of batteries and accumulators will be closed. The project also helps to avoid dependency on other countries. In fact, most of the production facilities for batteries for e-cars are currently planned in Germany. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI) on behalf of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), almost half of the 300 to 400 gigawatt hours of production capacity in Europe could be in Germany by 2025.

However, it remains unclear where the energy for the “gigafactory” in Germany will come from. According to the Essen-based utility e.on, which is to bring Tesla’s gigafactory in Grünheide online, this system alone has an energy requirement of 100 megawatts. That corresponds roughly to the needs of a large city like Chemnitz.

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