Altech powers through plant design with suppliers regarding CERENERGY battery JV with Fraunhofer

Altech Batteries (ASX:ATC) has made a raft of appointments as it finalises the plant design with various suppliers regarding its CERENERGY battery joint venture with German battery institute Fraunhofer.

The company reports there has been ‘outstanding’ progress and advancement with critical expert workshops held during the week from 22 May 2023 at Fraunhofer’s facility in Dresden in Germany.

The workshops were attended by Altech personnel, Leadec’s process and automation engineering team, and Fraunhofer’s CERENERGY expert battery team. All key suppliers for the project attended and presented their designs for their section of plant.

The Workshops were headed and led by Managing Director Iggy Tan.

CERENERGY batteries are touted as the ‘game-changing’ grid storage alternative to lithium ion batteries. The batteries are fire and explosion-proof; have a life span of more than 15 years and operate in extreme cold and desert climates. The battery technology uses table salt and is lithium-free; cobalt-free; graphite-free; and copper-free, eliminating exposure to critical metal price rises and supply chain concerns.

Altech reports the CERENERGY batteries should be in the region of 40% cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, primarily due to not requiring lithium, graphite, copper, or cobalt. This will be confirmed in the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) that Altech is currently preparing.

Meanwhile, Altech is working with Gustav Eirich, a German company that provides advanced ceramic powder mixing and granulation equipment and technology. Eirich will also provide equipment and technology for granulating salt and nickel, essential for battery cathodes. Eirich has a strong reputation, having worked with Fraunhofer before, making them a trusted partner in Altech’s battery plant.

Frey Systeme has been selected to provide isostatic machines for producing green ceramic tubes using alumina powder. Frey’s advanced technology enables high-speed filling of rubber moulds and applies high pressure to produce green tubes. With robotic technology, this will achieve a remarkable production rate of one tube every 45 seconds.

Altech has also selected German ceramic kiln plant provider Riedhammer, which will provide a tunnel kiln for sintering of ceramic tubes, employing a heating profile of about 35 hours and maximum temperature of 1,600 degrees Celsius. The Riedhammer tunnal kiln is designed to use renewable electricity for heating which will dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of the CERENERGY battery.

Additionally, Altech is working with Xenon Automation to implement comprehensive quality checks for completed sintered ceramic tubes, ensuring that there are no cracks or faults. Xenon’s technology will involve optical and ultrasonic tests to detect faults.

CERENERGY batteries should be in the region of 40% cheaper than lithium-ion batteries

Additionally, Xenon has designed the initialisation process for completed cells, which involves subjecting them to a full charge and discharge cycle.

Fritz Automation has been chosen as the supplier for the cell assembly plant that encompasses various tasks such as tube cutting, ceramic ring assembly, ceramic to cell case assembly, electrode assembly and welding, cathode granules and medium filling, as well as cell and battery pack assembly.

Altech reports that Fritz will also provide systems for cell initialisation and performance testing. Fritz have designed the advanced automation systems which will ensure efficient and precise execution of each step of the cell assembly process.

Further, Altech has selected Hofer Powertrain, a German supplier of connector plates used for battery busbar connections and wire connections. Hofer’s expertise lies in designing and manufacturing efficient and reliable solutions for battery cell mounting. With its advanced connector plate technology, Hofer Powertrain will help secure and seamless connections between battery cells.

König Metall has been chosen as the supplier for the insulated battery pack cases for the 60KWh battery packs. These battery packs are designed with excellent vacuum insulation, ensuring that the exterior remains safe to touch.

The cases are designed to IP 65 standards, which allow the batteries to operate in all weather conditions. The metal casings are designed for BMS and connector wiring at the bottom of each unit.

For the cell initialisation and subsequent performance testing of completed battery cells, Dresden Elektronik GmbH has been selected to provide automation and robotics around this manufacturing step

For the cell initialisation and subsequent performance testing of completed battery cells, Dresden Elektronik GmbH has been selected to provide automation and robotics around this manufacturing step.

The unit is designed to efficiently collect test data and perform charge and full discharge cycles to ensure the proper functioning of the cells. Tracking each individual cell during the manufacturing process is critical to the proposed battery facility.

Altech has partnered with IAV GmbH Ingenieurgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr to provide an advanced Battery Management System (BMS) design for its 60KWh battery pack and 1MWh GridPack.

The BMS allows seamless integration with site panel software control and enables remote operation when connected to customer grid control systems. It ensures optimal performance and safety of the battery packs and provides users with efficient management and monitoring capabilities. The proposed BMS design also offers remote control capabilities, optimising energy storage and utilisation based on real-time demand and supply dynamics.

Altech has selected Mein Lagerraum for the fabrication of the specially designed iso container frame to house the 18 of the 60KWh battery packs that make up  the 1MWh GridPack (ABS 1000). The open style high cube sea container frame is specially designed for easy transport and simple site installation. The GridPacks will be assembled  on the Altech site and then undergo a complete charge and  discharge cycle before shipping to customers.

These frames  are being accredited for use.

Plant Electrics and Control Systems Leadec Automation & Engineering has been appointed as the contractor to provide advanced electric and automation solutions for the battery plant.

Altech appointed ARIKON Infrastruktur to design and cost all site buildings and infrastructure on the CERENERGY battery site. Arikon is the main contractor that will also manage the approval and permitting of the project with the local and state authorities. Additionally, Arikon is responsible for ensuring that site infrastructure meets all requirements for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the battery facility. Arikon was the infrastructure contractor for the Tesla Gigafactory in Brandenberg, Germany.

Leadec Automation & Engineering has been chosen as the lead engineer for the Definitive Feasibility Study and possibly the EPCM contractor during the build of the CERENERGY 100MWh Battery project. Leadec is a leading global service specialist for factories across the entire lifecycle and related infrastructure.

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Images: Altech Ltd
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Written By Adam Orlando Managing Editor Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Adam has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.