3 questions to Professor Arno KWADE, Coordinator of the LIPLANET project

Professor Arno Kwade received his doctorate in 1996 from the Institute for Mechanical Process Engineering at the TU Braunschweig. He then worked for nine years as a project manager and managing director in solid process technology. In 2005 he was appointed professor for mechanical process engineering / particle technology at the TU Braunschweig, where he is the managing director of the Institute for Particle Technology (iPAT) and spokesman for the board of the research centers he initiated, Battery LabFactory Braunschweig (BLB) and Center for Pharmaceutical Process Engineering (PVZ).

Since 2016, Professor Kwade is chairing the BMBF research cluster Battery Cell Production ProZell. He is also deputy chairman of the BMBF Advisory Board on Battery Research Germany.

Professor Kwade’s research focuses on the areas of very fine size reduction, dispersion and flow and compaction behavior of particles and powders in the submicron and nanometer range. The aim is to use these particles for coatings and composite materials, in the development of pharmaceuticals and in the manufacture of electrodes for use in lithium-ion battery cells.

What is the aim of the LiPLANET project ?

Driven by the ongoing clean energy transition and the uptake of zero emission mobility, demand for batteries is growing rapidly, making this market an increasingly strategic one at global level. The European Commission has proposed that the European industry takes up the challenge of becoming a global leader in the sustainable battery cell and pack manufacturing, able to compete with current manufacturing bases, mostly located in Asia. Thus, in October 2017 the European Commission launched the European Battery Alliance cooperation platform and in May 2018 endorsed a Strategic Action Plan on Batteries as part of the Europe on the Move package. The Action Plan aims to put Europe on a steady path towards leadership in this key industry, supporting jobs and growth in a circular economy, while ensuring cleaner mobility and an improved environment and quality of life for EU citizens. EU industry has some production base in all segments of the battery value chain, but it is far from being self-sufficient. In particular, the capacity of the industrial lithium-ion battery cells manufacturing in Europe is critically low.

The overall objective of the LiPLANET project is to create a European innovation and production ecosystem for the production of Lithium battery cells by forming a network of Li‐ion cell pilot lines that integrates industrial stakeholders and establishes unique selling propositions towards EU industry in support of its market access within the cell manufacturing ecosystem. Moreover, reinforcing the position of the European Union (EU) in the Li‐ion cell manufacturing market will be further achieved by exploiting synergies between pilot line operators, identifying knowledge and equipment gaps, creating common training and standardisation initiatives, and ultimately jointly developing strategies for scaling up the impact of the network.

How to achieve this goal?

In order to maximize the benefits of European battery related efforts, mutual exchange of data, expertise, and intensive cooperation (up to access to equipment) between these pilot lines is crucial. In our opinion, the strengthening of the European battery cell sector goes through the exploitation of synergies among all the academic and non-academic lithium battery cell pilot lines operators. The cooperation can be only achieved by setting and strengthening of a European network of Lithium battery cell pilot lines. The network will allow to professionalise and to harmonise the knowledge of the different pilot lines by an individual and joint evolvement of competences, know-how and participation in the whole value chain of battery cell production in Europe.

Why now?

The timing of our activities is well chosen. The European battery cell production industry has just started the race to catch up with its Asian competitors. The need for a competitive European knowledge in battery technology and battery cell production has lead to several non-industrial and industrial pilot lines being recently established all around Europe. Alone, each pilot line can hardly keep up with the advancements of battery cell production, particularly in Asia.

Our European industry requires a strong non-industrial and also industrial production research and development, which is brought together and significantly strengthened within the network. Such a cross-national battery pilot line network in which all the important stakeholders pull together is unique in the world. I would like to thank the European Commission for funding the project, without which the successful implementation of the network would hardly be possible.