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13.10.2021 | TECHNICAL ARTICLE

It's the paste that counts

YSTRAL WANTS TO DRIVE E-MOBILITY FORWARD


If e-mobility is to really take off, more batteries are needed. Production must become more efficient, says the company ystral. The family-run company from the wine-growing village of Ballrechten-Dottingen has announced that its new development will allow an important component of batteries to be produced much faster.

Head of Development Pila with the Batt TDS Head of Development Pila with the Batt TDS

ystral builds machines for mixing solids and liquids. Head of Development Raoul Pila explains what this has to do with batteries and chocolate at the test station, a tiled room next to the assembly hall. "It's like a glass of milk and Kaba," says the mechanical engineer: "If you only stir it briefly, you get lumps." ystral systems, on the other hand, are designed to deliver products that are as homogeneous as possible. Customers include manufacturers of wall paints or toothpaste, pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Ystral builds various machines, but the Conti-TDS is the heart of many systems that are developed with customers at the test site. TDS stands for "Transfer and Dispersing System". The inconspicuous machine pumps liquid from a tank into a mixing chamber, creating a vacuum that draws powder from a docked container. The granules are ground ultra-fine and dispersed evenly into the liquid - without lumps, without dust, without loss, explains Pila. Some of the systems also process hazardous materials. ystral is described as a "hidden champion", a company that is not so well known but is far ahead in its field. In its halls, parts are milled, turned and drilled and stored up to the ceiling. There are men standing on ladders for assembly, systems with entire silos for powder or with metal heating jackets to keep the resin liquid. They all have one thing in common: the Conti-TDS. The new development is also based on this, explains Pila on the way to his department. "We recognized the potential for battery technology three or four years ago." Not that the team knew anything about batteries, but it was clear that powders had to be mixed very homogeneously with liquids to form a battery paste. In the tiled room of the research and development department, there is a blue barrel with the words nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide on it. In front of a huge monitor, company co-owner David Manke is working with an external consultant on a new control system.

The ystral machine produces at high speed

"The paste is what makes a battery," explains Pila. It is applied to foil, dried, the whole thing is punched out, folded or wrapped. The team acquired knowledge, got help on board and got started. The first paste looked good and they continued to work on it, including with a research institute. They built a battery from their findings, tested it and said: "It's no good," says the 39-year-old and laughs. Because mistakes are part of the development business. "We have optimized the process." The research facility produces paste conventionally and takes hours, says Pila: ystral can now do this in just a few minutes. And so the company recently announced its entry into the automotive industry: with its Batt-TDS, carmakers and battery manufacturers could produce electrode coatings in high quality and at high speed. Now they just need to take notice. A small machine for testing is parked at the end of the room. "We are in contact with many potential customers," says the 39-year-old. They build gigafactories and need much larger machines, which ystral then supplies. The price is not mentioned. "Top secret", shouts the consultant, grinning, but giving a ratio: on a production scale, 40 to 60 percent less than for machines from China.

Article preview "Auf die Paste kommt es an" in the Badische Zeitung newspaper

Magazine: Badische-Zeitung 
Author: Simone Höhl
Issue: 13.10.2021


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