Time is pressing, because to make electromobility even more mainstream, manufacturers must continue to drive down the cost of batteries. Less than 100 dollars per kilowatt hour of battery power is considered the magic threshold. To classify this: most mid-range e-cars have a battery capacity of 45 to 60 kilowatt hours, while top models have more than 100 kilowatt hours. To achieve this, battery manufacturers firstly have to use as few raw materials – such as aluminium and copper – as possible. But most importantly, they have to pack more energy density into the individual cells and save lots of space. Lasers have a decisive role to play in breaking through the 100-dollar mark. Factories with gigawatt capacity are being built all over Europe, Asia and the US. The volume of investment in lasers is consequently gigantic.
Laser magic for batteries
Structure of an e-car battery
1. Power electronics
take care of the communication between electric motor and battery in the car. The complex electronics are ideally manufactured using TRUMPF lasers.
2. Battery module
consists of several battery cells connected to one another. Connecting these cells is tricky. If something goes wrong during welding, the manufacturers have a disqualification. The laser must work especially precisely.
3. Battery cell
is the smallest component within the battery.
4. Battery pack
consists of particularly strong aluminium. This makes the pack crash-proof, but is difficult to process. With TRUMPF lasers, manufacturers can seal the battery pack so that it is 100 per cent tight.
5. Cathode and anode
The electrical charge of a battery is in the cathode. From there, charged particles - ions - travel to the anode while driving. This discharges the battery. The process is reversed at the charging station. Using lasers, manufacturers ensure that the anode and cathode function properly.
6. Metal films
Inside a battery cell are paper-thin metal films. They convert chemical energy into electrical energy. This occurs as atoms and molecules move from one side to the other.
The laser must not create any metal splashes when sealing the cells. This would result in dangerous short circuiting, which could lead to battery failure or even fire.