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Navigating Complexities in Conveying Bulk Materials for Battery Production

March 21, 2024

This article is the second in a five-part series focusing on bulk material handling challenges in the battery production space. Read the previous article here.

In the fast-paced world of battery manufacturing, the efficient handling of bulk powders and materials presents a myriad of challenges. From abrasive wear on equipment to the risk of contaminating high-purity battery materials, manufacturers face a complex array of obstacles in ensuring seamless production processes.  

In our last article, we explored common materials and metal powders encountered in the production and recycling of batteries. In this article, we'll delve into the specific challenges and complexities encountered in conveying bulk materials for battery production and explore strategies for mitigating these issues.

Abrasive Wear on Equipment

Over time, the handling of abrasive materials such as graphite powder, lithium cobalt oxide, and lithium iron phosphate can take a toll on equipment, leading to accelerated wear and deterioration of performance. Moving parts are particularly susceptible, with powdered materials infiltrating drive chains and other critical components. This wear not only necessitates frequent maintenance but also increases the risk of unexpected downtime, impacting productivity and profitability.

According to industry reports, abrasive wear costs the global economy billions of dollars annually, underscoring the importance of implementing robust equipment solutions capable of withstanding the rigors of battery material handling.

Impact on Material Integrity

The wear caused by abrasive battery materials extends beyond equipment damage, posing a significant risk to material quality and product integrity. Lithium-ion battery chemistry relies on precise blends of high-purity materials to ensure optimal performance and reliability. However, particles generated by equipment wear, especially metals, can contaminate these materials, compromising their purity and disrupting battery chemistry.

Studies have shown that even minor deviations in material composition can have profound effects on battery performance, highlighting the critical importance of maintaining strict quality control measures throughout the production process.

Airborne Particle Generation

The fine particles inherent in many battery materials present another formidable challenge in material handling. During conveying processes, these particles can become airborne due to spillage, rough handling, breakdowns or poor equipment design, posing risks to worker health and safety. Moreover, airborne particles contribute to increased waste and costs, as valuable materials are lost during transportation.

Materials used in battery production, such as cobalt and nickel, raise additional concerns due to their potential health hazards when dispersed in the air. Exposure to these particles can lead to respiratory issues and other serious health complications, necessitating stringent measures to minimize airborne contamination.

Additional Challenges and Complexities

In addition to the challenges outlined above, battery manufacturers must contend with a host of other complexities in bulk material handling. These include:

  • Controlling static buildup, which can cause powders to adhere to surfaces and interfere with conveying processes.
  • Managing dust emissions to comply with regulatory standards and maintain a safe working environment.
  • Ensuring compatibility with automated processes to optimize efficiency and minimize manual intervention.
  • Implementing flexible conveying solutions capable of accommodating a wide range of material properties and production requirements.

Navigating the Path Forward with UniTrak

As battery manufacturers strive to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive market, the need for reliable material handling solutions has never been greater. At UniTrak, we specialize in designing and engineering custom conveying systems tailored to the unique needs of battery production facilities.

Withstanding abrasive wear, containing dust, handling explosive dust and automating with advanced features, these are all areas of focus and innovation at UniTrak. Our conveyors are engineered to deliver exceptional performance, reliability, and efficiency. Partner with UniTrak to navigate the complexities of bulk material handling in battery production and unlock new levels of productivity and profitability.

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