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PowerCo SE and the University of Münster sign cooperation agreement

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Automobile Magazine
Editor | News | United Kingdom

Battery company PowerCo SE and the International Research School for Battery Chemistry, Characterisation, Analysis, Recycling and Application (BACCARA) at the University of Münster are entering into a comprehensive cooperation, with PowerCo supporting the financing of the BACCARA research programme and associated doctoral positions over the next three years,. In addition, students will gain a deeper insight into practical applications , for example through expert lectures and on-site projects. PowerCo SE was founded in Salzgitter in 2022 and is on its way to becoming a global battery cell manufacturer. As an innovation- driven company, it places a particular focus on promoting science and education.

In recent years, battery research in Germany has made enormous progress. The combined funding of the establishment and expansion of regional competence centres and supra-regional joint projects from industry and academia have helped Germany to position itself among the world’s strongest research nations. This upswing is primarily linked to electromobility, which has brought battery research into focus.

Sebastian Krapoth, Chief Human Resources Officer of PowerCo, emphasises: “With PowerCo, we want to establish the battery cell as a key technology in Germany and Europe. To achieve this, we are relying on the brightest and most committed minds in the industry who want to work with us to build a sustainable, reliable cell manufacturer with European roots. By working together with Münster, we can make our contribution to ensuring that these minds can continue to be trained in Germany in the future and do not have to move abroad at an early stage. We need strong battery research with top researchers in order to be able to compete with our Asian competitors.”

“It is essential to further optimise the lithium-ion battery and to continue substituting critical raw materials. Research is also focusing on solid-state batteries and lithium-free systems such as sodium-ion batteries. This is because there will not be one universal battery technology of the future; rather, the market will become more differentiated,” says Prof. Dr. Martin Winter, one of the two scientific directors of BACCARA, the MEET battery research centre of the University of Münster and the Helmholtz Institute Münster of Forschungszentrum Jülich.

45 doctoral students from the University of Münster are trained at the highest level in science and research at the research school, including workshops in intercultural communication, learning programming languages and other qualifications that may prove valuable in their future careers. Participants also benefit from the knowledge of the more than 30 researchers involved in the programme. The cooperation agreement is initially set to run for three years. The Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the University of Münster have been funding the BACCARA International Research School since 2020.

In view of the significant reduction in federal research funding, battery research in Germany is now heavily reliant on external support. Prof. Dr. Martin Winter: “With the support of PowerCo, we are now ensuring that in Münster top-level research and top-level training can continue to go hand in hand. The entire spectrum of highly qualified specialists will continue to come from Münster in the future. They will provide decisive impetus for battery research and industry both nationally and in Europe. Ultimately, PowerCo’s support also guarantees that the industry connection is ensured at the highest level.”

BACCARA Managing Director Dr. Julia Quante explains: “The challenges of the energy transition are enormous. By providing industry-oriented doctoral training at the highest level, we can make an important contribution in the field of battery research. This is why the cooperation with PowerCo that is now beginning as part of the sponsorship of BACCARA is far-sighted and promising.”

PowerCo is a global battery cell manufacturer that was founded by the Volkswagen Group in 2022. Headquartered in Salzgitter, the company is responsible for the development and production of battery cells as well as the vertical integration of the value chain. PowerCo is currently building a total of three cell factories with a total volume of up to 200 gigawatt hours per year: Salzgitter in Germany, Valencia in Spain and St. Thomas in Canada.

At BACCARA, young research talents benefit from the concentrated knowledge of renowned researchers: More than 30 professors and heads of junior research groups from the Departments of Chemistry and Pharmacy, the MEET Battery Research Centre, the Helmholtz Institute Münster and other departments at the University of Münster are involved in the BACCARA research and training programme.

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