Melbourne-based integration company Sensorplex has been working with the Battery Research and Innovation Hub since 2018 to develop better systems for more accurate battery cell production.
Sensorplex specialises in machine safety and verification systems and is also a distributor of industrial sensors and machine vision systems.
Sensorplex and Deakin successfully designed and installed their first version of a robotic stacker for battery cell assembly at Battery Hub in 2018 – an automated unit able to assemble multi-layered pouch cells capable of powering a range of small-scale electronic devices.
With the opening of Deakin’s new $10.3 million Battery Research and Innovation Hub facility in late 2022 (co-funded by Deakin and the Victorian Government), an opportunity arose to improve the original design and build a second, scaled-up version.
The first of its kind at an Australian university, the customised robotic stacker enables researchers to ‘test and learn’ through assembly of different battery technologies (lithium-ion, lithium-metal and solid state).
The machine is highly accurate and, unlike other similar stackers, is compatible with different battery technologies and electrodes, allowing researchers to experiment with battery assembly and produce a range of high-quality batteries.
The stacker is installed within a specialised glovebox which provides an ideal environment for battery cell assembly, allowing researchers to assemble up to ten cells per day, for potential use in a range of devices from phones to drones.
This provides a crucial step in building Victoria’s battery manufacturing capability.
Alfred Deakin Professor Maria Forsyth, Deputy Director of the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin University, leads Deakin’s battery technology and electrochemical research team and is focused on building Victoria’s role in the global supply chain for advanced batteries.
“Together with partners like Sensorplex we are paving the way for next-generation batteries to be developed right here in Victoria.”
Sensorplex, Herbert Ho is the Director of Operations and Technology at Sensorplex and says that working with Deakin has allowed his team to showcase their skills in creating highly technical customised solutions.
“Together with Deakin we have developed a world-class piece of specialised equipment that can make a difference to the future of battery manufacturing.”
Researchers hope to continue to develop the utility of the robotic stackers, which are currently being used to make bespoke batteries for several research partners.
Future developments include higher rate throughput for manufacturing as well as for unique advanced battery technologies being pioneered at Battery Hub, including all solid state batteries (ASSBs).
AT A GLANCE
Sensorplex and Deakin have co-designed a specialised piece of automated equipment to assemble battery cells.
Impact: The equipment is highly accurate and allows researchers to assemble up to ten cells per day, for potential use in a range of devices from phones to drones.
Collaborators: Sensorplex and Deakin University