"Europe has some catching up to do in battery cell production!"

Bernd Eschelmüller always dreamed of working with cars. He has consistently pursued this goal in recent years: from the mechanical engineering college with a focus on automotive engineering to the master’s degree in Green Mobility at FH Campus Wien. Today, he works as a Junior Research Engineer at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, where he conducts research in the Battery Technologies division on the industry-oriented optimization of battery production processes for electromobility.

Bernd Eschelmüller came into contact with the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH in the course of his master’s thesis, which he wrote as part of a temporary diploma position at Austria’s largest non-university research institution. “It is well known that electric vehicles make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially in private transport. Li-ion batteries play a central role in this. They store electrical energy, and how well they do so is largely influenced by the production process," explains Eschelmüller. In his thesis, the Green Mobility graduate examined the critical production parameters in battery cell production in order to gain information that will improve the performance of future batteries. "There is a defined process in the production of Li-ion batteries that is divided into several smaller sub-steps. In my master’s thesis, I focused on the area of cell assembly."

Building know-how

The cell production process is influenced by various parameters. Bernd Eschelmüller examined which of them are truly critical and to what extent errors affect the performance of a cell. In 16 test series, in which he incorporated various simulated errors, he identified which errors have which influence on the cell function. He quantified the influences of the examined process parameters and carried out a screening design in order to obtain a trend of the effects of the process errors on the performance characteristics. In detailed investigations, he then took a closer look at two errors: the influence of the amount of electrolyte used and an offset in the cell body. From the data available, Eschelmüller derived the minimum requirements for process design, in particular which amount of electrolyte is optimal. His findings can be used in the future to lower the costs of manufacturing battery cells and to increase the quality, energy and power density, service life and safety of energy storage systems.

Industry-oriented research

The AIT, which sees itself at the interface between industry and science, offered Eschelmüller a full-time position while he was still temporarily employed as a graduate student. Since graduating in February 2021, he is now fully concentrating on his research work and is looking forward to hopefully soon being able to take on more responsibility and lead his own projects. With his master’s degree in Green Mobility, he is well prepared to do exactly that.

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