With a funding of 13.5 million euros from the Free State of Thuringia, the Battery Innovation and Technology Center (BITC) began its work on July 10th, 2020, in the industrial area Erfurter Kreuz. The opening, attended by Professor Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Marco Wanderwitz, Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States, Thuringia's Minister of Economics Wolfgang Tiefensee and other guests from politics, industry and the press, marks an important step in the expansion and networking of activities in the field of battery and energy storage technology in Thuringia.
As a new site of the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS, the BITC is linked to one of the largest battery research institutes in Germany and has access to strong ties to the economy.
Over the next five years, the state of Thuringia is supporting the development of the center into a European flagship for energy-efficient and resource-saving battery production. The State Development Corporation of Thuringia (LEG) has acquired the building complex with approximately 5000 m² of office and technical space for use by Fraunhofer IKTS. In view of the transformation process in the automotive and energy industries, the BITC will develop solutions for the integrated, digitally supported production and quality assurance of battery cells and modules. Ceramic materials, state-of-the-art sensor technology and non-destructive testing methods will be used. In the production of battery cells and battery modules, scaling, i.e. the production of components in quantities in excess of millions of units while maintaining consistently high quality, is a major challenge. Therefore, researchers at BITC will simulate technology chains on partial pilot lines approaching industrial scale and establish new, data-driven approaches for process monitoring and control.
Close ties to the economy
"This production research is of enormous importance for the development of new industrial capacities in Thuringia and especially in Eastern Germany", emphasizes Wolfgang Tiefensee, Thuringian Minister of Economy and Science. The research center is an important factor in developing Thuringia into a leading battery location in the coming years. The BITC's settlement at the dynamically growing Erfurter Kreuz commercial area will also intensify existing collaborations with CATL. The world market leader in the development of Li-ion batteries for electric vehicles, energy storage and battery management systems will build its first European plant in Arnstadt by 2022 and is in close contact with Fraunhofer IKTS.
"The establishment of the BITC is a building block in our future-oriented approach to networking production and research on site," says Andreas Krey, Managing Director of the LEG. "This strategic orientation with the corresponding commitment of the state government was one of the reasons for CATL's positive decision to locate here".
Strong connections to the Thuringian research landscape
In researching modern mobility and energy storage technologies, which also go beyond Li-ion batteries, interdisciplinary approaches are being pursued at the new research location. "The great strength of the BITC lies in its development-oriented cooperation with Thuringian companies and research institutions. This allows us to pool our expertise directly at the battery cell production site," emphasizes BITC Director Dr. Roland Weidl. Collaboration is planned with the Technische Universität Ilmenau, the universities in Jena and Gera-Eisenach and with highly specialized SMEs in the region. In addition, the center will be involved in the training and further education of skilled workers from the region and will teach industry 4.0 concepts in battery production and other branches of industry.
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