Battery research has its focus on choosing the best materials and formulations. The use of a suitable manufacturing technology for mass production is an important element in order to produce rechargeable batteries in consistently good quality while minimizing the cost. With only minor optimizations that are possible in terms of material costs, there is still potential for reduced production costs, shortened process times and automated production.
CONVENTIONAL MIXING – CURRENT PROBLEMS
Currently solutions such as planetary mixers with low-efficiency, high-speed stirrers are most common for blending coating compounds. One of the main downfall to this mixing process is low energy input, which causes lengthy mixing and dispersing times. As a result, many batch systems are required, which are expensive to purchase, maintain and clean.
The outcome of this process often leads to lump formation and the mixture remaining inhomogeneous despite long mixing times. Additional filters are required for removal of large particulates and subsequent dispersing processes must be used. After the vessel has been emptied, residual amounts of product adhere to the stirring tool and walls of the vessel which leads to complicated cleaning and large solvent use.
IKA has developed several different methods for the Lithium Ion Battery Industry to produce battery materials through either batch or inline processes. The benefits encompasses concentrated energy input (scaleable from lab scale to production), flexible in capacities, and options to de-agglomeration in single or multiple passes. Process results produce very narrow particle size distribution.
ADVANCED MIXING – BENEFITS AND COST REDUCTION WITH IKA
The increasing demand for coating materials and need for these materials down to nano-size particles require advanced production technology that works efficiently and is suitable for mass production. At the heart of advanced dispersion technology are inline devices. Products to be dispersed is forcibly fed by a pipeline to the mixing tool. In this process, the mixing energy is entered in the smallest volume with high-speed tools, thereby completely processing all product components in an extremely efficient manner. Another benefit is the output and results are now measurable with throughput and control of the number of runs. Inline devices can be used both in a recirculation batch inline process or fully continuous systems operating in one pass. Material losses are minimized, cleaning is carried out in a continuous cleaning-in place (CIP) cycle.
CMX/XPP Batch Process (Alternative to Conventional Batch Process)
First the vessel is charged with the required liquid volume for the batch. Solids and liquid are then combine in the smallest volume under recirculation. High turbulence from the CMX generates a vacuum which allows solid material induction in a very short time. As a result powders are optimally wetted and dispersed agglomerate-free. Once the batch is completed it is transferred to a buffer tank.
MHD/MKO Inline Process (Advanced Continuous Process)
With our MHD In-Line dispersing machine powders are mixed, dispersed and discharged at a high intensity in the smallest volume. Next, the slurry is passed through the MKO for final de-agglomeration. Finished product is produced in a continuous process with minimum temperature increase and highest efficiency. Fully continuous operation eliminates material losses and to avoid lengthy shutdowns. The entire system is simply cleaned with solvent with a CIP process.
POWDER MIXING AND DRYING OF LITHIUM ION SOLIDS
The IKA Conical Dryer is suited for drying of solid products under vacuum in a closed batch system. Effective and even temperature control is conducted by the vessel’s thermal jacket. The spiral agitator provides intense mixing in radial and tangential directions. The flow breaker and adjustable speed of the agitator provide additional turbulence and flexibility to the product behavior. The conical shape of the vessel, as well as the tilted vessel cover, enable easy cleaning and inspection.
IKA machines are suitable for 24/7 operation, seamless transition from the Lab R&D to production, whether it is batch or a continuous process. IKA engineering services can also design, detail, and deliver a custom turnkey system incorporating these solutions for complete process requirements.
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Machines used in this process: