Kadant Solutions Plays a Critical Role in Lithium-ion Battery Production
Electric vehicle (EV) is now a household term. We no longer leave the house without seeing an EV driving down the road or experiencing an EV advertisement. How do the lithium-ion batteries in an EV get made? What is Kadant Solutions’ role in lithium-ion battery production? I sat down with Aaron Hickman, business development manager, to learn more about lithium-ion battery production, what he has seen in the process, and how Kadant Solutions has helped improve output with less downtime. Aaron is our resident battery production expert with over eighteen years in the US Navy (combined active duty and reserves) and ten years of experience in calender roll cleaning.
K: Please tell us where you focus in the lithium-ion battery production process.
A: The battery production process is extensive, and anyone can do a web search to find graphics, maps, and videos of the full process. However, we specialize in the calendering portion of the process.
K: Where in the process does Kadant Solutions make a difference?
A: With our high-quality roll cleaning solutions, we make a difference in electrode production, separator film production, and our legacy business of helping produce high quality aluminum and copper foils is amplified.
K: What problem are we solving in the emerging lithium-ion battery industry?
A: Well, I’d like to give some background to answer this question. A decade ago, Kadant Solutions invented the now patented VeriLite™ roll cleaner assembly. It’s compact yet robust enough for use in the carbon fiber, metals processing, and food processing industries; virtually any process with a roll. We were able to prevent fibers from wrapping the roll which caused cascading harmful effects. Since then, we’ve used this innovation in other industries such as metals processing and food processing. After understanding the lithium-ion battery production process, we realized the VeriLite roll cleaner assembly is a perfect fit for the calender section to continuously clear away debris. In the emerging industry of lithium-ion battery manufacturing we’ve come to learn that ineffective roll cleaning solutions dramatically affect uptime, productivity, and costly machine repairs.
K: What happens if the debris isn’t continuously cleared from the calender roll?
A: Two significant issues I’ve seen when the debris is not cleared from a calender roll in lithium-ion battery production is defects in the quality of the finished product and damage to the roll itself which leads to downtime and wasted materials.
K: Are there challenges with keeping the calender rolls clean?
A: Yes, there are challenges in any roll cleaning process. As I mentioned previously, we want to avoid damage to the roll and quality defects. Because of the hot temperatures used in lithium-ion battery product we must make sure the roll cleaning blade material is specialized for this harsh environment and can conform to the roll. Also, the production process is in a tight space, so a compact solution is required.
K: Have you seen safety improvements like those realized in other industries using the VeriLite roll cleaner assembly?
A: Absolutely! When a manufacturer can’t keep a roll clean, they typically reach for a handmade tool because that’s what they know. I’ve often seen a scraper device taped to a broom handle. These handmade tools may keep staff safe and the production line up and running, but it’s still an operator holding a tool against a rotating roll, which is not a long term or safe solution. And it can lead to costly damage to the roll surfaces. We have found that the VeriLite roll cleaner assembly removes the risk of operator injury while improving uptime and productivity.
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