Interview with Professor Fritz Klocke

"A research and manufacturing infrastructure to enable industry to produce battery cells economically and ecologically"

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h.c. Fritz Klocke, Managing Director of the Research Fab Battery Cells
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h.c. Fritz Klocke, Managing Director of the Research Fab Battery Cells

With the Research Fab Battery Cells (FFB), the federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are providing a total of 700 million euros in funding for the establishment of a research factory for battery production in order to maintain and expand production of this important key technology in Germany. Professor Fritz Klocke, Managing Director of the FFB, reports in an interview on the goals and milestones the project consortium has set itself and what the next steps along the way will look like.

Professor Klocke, why is it so important to promote and establish battery cell research production in Germany?

The FFB brings together experts from the fields of battery research and production research. Together we want to create an infrastructure with which small, medium-sized and large companies, but also research institutions, can test, implement and optimize the near-series production of new batteries. This is so important because electricity storage systems will be a key technology in the future - not only in the automotive sector and far beyond the applications of private transport. Think also of stationary power storage units in home automation, power tools or your laptop. Powerful electricity storage units are needed everywhere. There are forecasts that the demand for batteries and accumulators will grow by a factor of 15 by 2030 as a result of these numerous fields of application. We would therefore like to keep the competence for the production of these storage units in Germany at all costs and become a European beacon for battery production with the FFB in Münster.

What economic advantages does FFB promise the local companies?

Companies that work with storage technologies depend on a reliable supply of the corresponding modules and systems for the series production of their products. At the moment, Asian suppliers dominate the market, and the US automobile manufacturer Tesla, which has built up enormous expertise in the field of electrical storage and drives, is taking its first steps towards gaining a foothold in Germany. Germany and Europe therefore urgently need to develop their own infrastructures and knowledge in order not to become dependent on global markets. After all, our aim is to design both the batteries themselves and the production technology required to make them efficient, ecologically and economically sustainable and of the highest quality - ideally at an affordable price for the end customer.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has always been committed to research with a focus on industry, but above all for the benefit of society: How do people benefit from your project?

Together we are creating a research and manufacturing infrastructure that will enable industry to produce battery cells economically and ecologically. This is worth an investment of 500 million euros to the federal government, and the state of NRW is also contributing 200 million euros for the land, the construction of buildings and the further development of the infrastructure, as well as for the promotion of young researchers. For the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which is managing and coordinating the project, it goes without saying that these funds must be handled responsibly. First of all, we are building the actual factory on a 39,000 m² site in the Hansa Business Park on the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Amelsbüren. This should be completed by the end of 2022. Extensive research is already underway at the partner institutes at Fraunhofer, at the Meet of the WWU Münster and at the PEM chair of the RWTH Aachen University on the future technology focus, which we will then transfer to Münster in due course. To this end, we are already looking for battery and production experts throughout Germany and Europe, in research and industry. In the future, we will create jobs for 150 employees who will work here and live in the region. They will work in production and administration as well as in scientific areas.