Imagine this. You’re in your car, travelling down the highway at the maximum permitted speed towards your destination. You think the trip is going well, but you’re not sure because your windshield and side windows are blocked off and offer you zero visibility. In fact, to check that you are heading in the right direction – and not, say, on a different highway altogether – you can only look to your rear window mirror and take decisions from there.

This was basically what life was like before on-line particle size technology became widely available. In 1999, when I joined Malvern Panalytical (or Malvern Instruments as it was known back then), to verify the particle size and distribution within key battery manufacturing processes, you had to look back at your results and steer your forward movement from there. The process was slow, labor-intensive, and, well, just not cost-effective enough.

An effective, cost-efficient solution

Over the past two decades, at Malvern Panalytical, we’ve taken big steps forward in developing our online particle sizing systems that enable the understanding of particles’ shape and dimensions in real-time, without having to look back at what has already happened. These systems leverage a range of technologies, from spatial filter velocimetry to electrophoretic light scattering.

Thanks to technologies like these, we produce world-leading instrumentation for all types of particle size analysis and characterization – from sub-nanometer to millimeters in particle size. These systems are used worldwide, across the battery manufacturing industry and beyond, in product development, production and quality control, as well as in R&D, enabling higher productivity and the development of better products, faster.

The road ahead

We’re also looking forward, with much excitement, to the future of this technology: predictive-based strategies for particle sizing and distribution in continuous particular processes. In particular, solutions range from simple feedback closed control loops to multivariate process models that manipulate a range of variables. When used to automate control, these solutions can deliver maximum returns for these in- or on-line systems.

Above all, these technologies are geared towards better plant performance, and simultaneously reduce the multiple risks associated with manual intervention. In the long run, we aim to get one more step ahead and “look through our windshield of our car”, by forecasting how the particles will look like and behave, enabling manufacturers to adjust their processes ahead of time – thereby saving time, money and energy.

If that sounds interesting, please stay tuned for further developments, here on Materials Talks!

Interested to know how our solutions enable up-to-date battery manufacturing? Why not contact one of our experts? Or, if you enjoyed this blog, make sure to read our other battery research stories which we’ve listed for your convenience in this blog: Our top 2020 battery stories.

Further reading