Improving battery manufacturing processes can help make plug-in electric vehicles more affordable and convenient. This will help meet the government’s EV Everywhere goal of producing by 2022 plug-in electric vehicles that are as affordable for the average American family then as a gasoline-powered vehicle is for families today.  By reducing process time and eliminating a specific processing solvent, Johnson Controls recently made progress in this area, with support from EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

The project focused on three major aspects of the lithium ion (Li-ion) battery manufacturing process: reducing process time for battery formation and testing; eliminating N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) solvent from the cathode slurry manufacturing process; and optimizing the cell design.  As NMP is expensive, flammable and toxic, using it requires special equipment and recycling technology techniques to protect workers and ensure environmental safety.  Eliminating this chemical reduces battery costs and improves the environmental sustainability of the manufacturing process. 

Johnson Controls demonstrated a 70% reduction in formation process time and developed a system that eliminated the NMP solvent. Batteries produced with the new process had the same or better performance than the baseline design. The new process also led to the batteries having an approximately 30% better power retention than the baseline when they were exposed to high temperatures.

The project has been so successful that Johnson Controls’ researchers are now working to implement these improvements in their pilot manufacturing line for the next step up to full production. 

You can visit our Vehicle Technologies Office website to learn more about what we’re doing to deploy sustainable highway transportation technologies that cut carbon pollution and drive economic growth. 

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.