There are plenty of examples we could give of mainstream product manufacturing or use that are obvious candidates for humidity solutions. Pharmaceuticals, food and even IT equipment to name a few. But what if we told you that sometimes it’s the least obvious areas of the industry that require the most support, and it’s one of those we want to talk about today. The manufacturing of the simple lithium battery, like the ones you would put in your TV remote, takes place in ultra-low humidity dry rooms, from small R&D labs for newer models all the way through to large scale mass production facilities. But why is this, and what would happen if the humidity wasn’t right?
Like many things in the modern world, lithium battery technology is changing all the time, and in quite dramatic ways. New materials and chemical reactions are being tested every day, all in the name of reducing costs and meeting the ever-growing demand. But in order to be done efficiently and safely, it’s important that these tests be done in a specially designed, ultra-low humidity dry rooms. This is primarily because of the chemical reactions that can happen if they aren’t.
Whenever you’re working with chemicals the environment you work in must be very carefully considered. With batteries, you have chemical components like lithium-ion, lithium iron phosphate, graphene and more, which means you need a stable environment with less than 1% humidity, as these particularly chemicals are highly sensitive to moisture.
Here’s where it gets scientific. A reaction between lithium and water is exothermic, which means it generates heat, and produces a substance called lithium hydroxide, along with hydrogen. The heat from that reaction can, if left unchecked, potentially lead to burning or an explosion. In order to minimize this risk manufacturers need to minimize the water content in the air at all times, maintaining an ultra-ow humidity environment.
On top of the safety concerns, keeping air moisture levels low is necessary to help achieve high levels of product yield, better quality control, energy efficiency, cycle life and even end storage capacity for every batter produced in the plant. In short, it might be the single most important element in creating a manufacturing space for lithium batteries.
Dry Room Applications
When we look at this kind of installation ‘known as a dry room’, the applications are actually much wider than just lithium batteries – all it takes is a unique angle. With the advent of consumer electronics, electric vehicles, solar power and grid storage applications, there is a huge variety of battery production processes, each using a unique chemical process and needing its own environmental controls.
This means that as well as the chemistry side of things, a lot of other things factor in to deciding what the dehumidification capacity needed for a dry room. The dehumidification system must be custom designed with enough drying capacity to be able to maintain the dry room at the specified condition. Most battery manufacturers require that a room’s humidity/average moisture level be maintained as low as -40°C dew point (0.5% Relative Humidity at 72°F) and sometimes even lower. Some of the factors that need to be taken into account include:
- Dry room size
- Type of chemistry and process
- Moisture infiltration
- Personnel activity within the room
- Airlocks for material and personnel movement
And that’s just the beginning. All of that means that it is very difficult to find a single solution that can address all of these issues, falls within budget and is reliable enough to stand up to the rigorous safety standards required by the industry.
At Humidity Solutions we love a challenge like this. Because we produce bespoke solutions, we can design a dehumidification system that can address every single one of your concerns without having to buy multiple systems from multiple places. Instead, we are your one stop shop for dehumidification and environmental control, ensuring you have the perfect environment for lithium and other kinds of battery manufacturing. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with us today.