The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) announced today (28 June) that Münster has been selected as the new site for the planned “Battery Production Research Centre”. Following a rigorous nationwide competition, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Münster were selected over five other competing cities. The new centre promises to increase Germany’s competitive edge in the international market of electrochemical storage technologies.
The application to build the facility in Münster was made possible with support by the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministries of Culture and Science, and Economy and Energy under the aegis of the MEET Battery Research Centre of the University of Münster (WWU) together with the PEM Institute at RWTH Aachen and the Forschungszentrum Jülich (with the Helmholtz Institute in Münster). The BMBF has allocated some 500 million euros to complete the project, and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has pledged an additional 200 million euros.
The new centre will create a framework that allows researchers to develop, test and optimise materials, battery cell concepts, production processes and corresponding machinery. This will pave the way for Germany to become a leading manufacturer of large battery cells in years to come. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek confirmed that the battery facility is scheduled for operation by 2022.
“This is an enormous success for battery research in Münster. The vote for Münster shows that we’ve succeeded in creating outstanding research conditions at MEET over the past years. We congratulate Martin Winter and look forward to the challenges ahead,” stated Johannes Wessels, Rector of the University of Münster.
The partners of the consortium are delighted by the announcement as well. “Serial production of large battery cells in Germany represents a missing link in important value chains which involve energy storage applications - such as electromobility,” explained Achim Kampker of RWTH Aachen who supported the application with Günther Schuh. “The production research centre will allow us to forge the necessary technological expertise to achieve this.” The fact that this crucial step is taking place in NRW is a huge success for the state according to Harald Bolt from the Forschungszentrum Jülich. “The Battery Production Research Centre is exactly the right step as it will shift NRW’s research strength in basic battery cell research toward innovations for battery cell production.”
The construction of the facility can begin almost immediately. In agreement with municipal authorities and the Münster business development agency, a piece of property at the Hansa Business Park in Münster has already been chosen as the site of the future plant. With access to the Interstate 1, railway connections and the Dortmund-Ems Canal, the location offers optimal conditions for the large-scale project. The partners wish to begin planning and building the facility as soon as funding is made available.
“The choice is a gain for Münster’s strong scientific and economic infrastructure,” stated Münster’s mayor Markus Lewe. “With our existing expertise in this field, we are becoming a hotspot for battery research in Germany. My congratulations to Martin Winter and MEET of the University of Münster along with all the participants. Based on the Alliance for Science in which leading minds of the city, research and business sectors are working closely together, we will invest in and profit from this field of expertise in the long term.”
According to Dr Thomas Robbers, managing director of Münster’s business development agency Wirtschaftsförderung GmbH, the groundwork has been laid for the successful collaboration between the science and business community. “I anticipate a significant increase of value in Münster’s economy. By further strengthening the field of competence in battery research, highly specialised companies will relocate here or be generated from this research environment. As they develop and grow, we will provide them professional support in all matters.”
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which also organised the call for applications, will act as coordinator for the production research facility. Not only will it bundle the areas of competence held by institutions located in NRW, namely RWTH Aachen, the Forschungszentrum Jülich, the MEET Battery Research Centre of the University of Münster and the Münster Helmholtz Institute (HI MS). “We faced very strong and experienced competitors,” explained Martin Winter, scientific director of MEET, founding director of the HI MS, and responsible applicant. “The production research plant is a joint project, and we look forward to cooperating with the outstanding battery research facilities in Germany and beyond. Together we will make the battery cell production centre a success story.”