Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Battery Manufacturing Facility

Equipment and Capabilities

The MDF includes a wide array of fixed equipment to support Additive Manufacturing Metal Deposition.  This includes: 

  • Coating technologies and processes
  • Drying and alternative heating technologies
  • Solventless processing
  • Computational manufacturing
  • Joining
  • Thermal runaway characterization
  • 65 m2 (700 ft2) dry space with less than 0.5% relative humidity
  • 65 m2 (700 ft2) space with adjustable 1–15% relative humidity
  • Coating and fabrication line
  • Reconfigurable modules for
    • Deposition
    • Drying and consolidation
    • Winding, folding, and stacking
    • Joining

Low-cost, high-yield coating technologies include high-performance vacuum processing, slot-die, tape casting, spray coating, and direct manufacturing techniques. Coating thicknesses produced can range from nanometers to many hundreds of micrometers with pilot-scale line speeds of up to tens of feet per minute. Configurations are in single-, multi- and simultaneously deposited multi-coatings.

Drying and heating technologies include evaporation of solvents, sintering, polymer curing, and bonding of coatings on diffusion layers of individual materials. Several systems with a variety of integrated layers are available consisting of typical battery drying temperatures between 100–150°C to sintering and heating treatments of up to 3,000°C. 

Advanced computational modeling enables rapid prototyping and screening of battery materials and configurations, accurate lifetime predictions, and development of best possible manufacturing parameters for battery manufacturing process steps.

Advanced joining technology R&D is focused on low thermal impact joining including ultrasonic joining techniques.

Thermal runaway characterization is supported by infrared imaging to better understand temperature distribution inside secondary lithium batteries.

The Battery Manufacturing Facility (BMF) is a key element of ORNL’s energy storage and manufacturing R&D programs. Electric and hybrid electric vehicles are key parts of DOE and industry strategies for lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduced petroleum use, and are driving the market for high-performance vehicle batteries that are smaller, lighter, longer-lasting, more economical, and safer for the end user.

Inner part of a battery showing cathode (black), anode (grey), and separator (white) layers

ORNL is leveraging the BMF across the continuum of battery research, development, evaluation, and testing, working with partners and Users in materials characterization, materials processing, and materials and systems simulations to identify performance and lifetime limitations, and to develop revolutionary technologies for next-generation batteries as well as low-cost manufacturing processes. Reflective of the interconnectivity between new technology market success and manufacturing efficiency, the BMF is uniquely a part of two ORNL programs and User Facilities—the NTRC and the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility—with the former focusing on energy storage technology R&D specifically for vehicle applications and the latter focusing on manufacturing technology R&D.

The BMF offers the ability to integrate any component into a complete battery and analyze how well it works and how it can be improved. The Facility can produce pouch cells of up to 66 × 99 × 12 mm and 7 ampere-hours, large enough to make market decisions yet small enough to affordably demonstrate the impact of innovative technologies.