DENKweit GmbH wins an award in the IQ Innovation Award Central Germany competition

July 03, 2019

Efficient quality control in the production of battery cells, solar modules, or power electronics: for this offer, the DENKweit GmbH was selected as the winner in the “Cluster Automotive” category of the IQ Innovation Award Central Germany competition. The technology from the company based in Halle (Saale), a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS, combined non-destructive testing with the capabilities of self-learning neural networks.

Denkweit Qualitätskontrolle inline Batterie
© Metropolregion Mitteldeutschland/Tom Schulze
Dr. Kai Kaufmann, Markus Patzold, and Dr. Dominik Lausch (from left to right) from the DENKweit GmbH received the award in the Automotive cluster.

The demand for battery cells is growing rapidly, especially in the area of mobility: last year, 2.2 million electric cars were sold, a 75% increase over 2017. Similar rates of growth are forecast for the upcoming years. To ensure the battery cells built into these cars operate safely and efficiently, effective quality control is required in the production process. Up to now, random samples of the cells were taken from production, disassembled, and analyzed in test labs to detect potential defects. The solution developed by DENKweit enables a much higher standard: battery cells can be checked for anomalies non-destructively, without making contact, and in real time. 

“The flow of current in a cell generates a magnetic field. If it is working perfectly, it generates a very characteristic magnetic field, practically a magnetic fingerprint. If there are electrical defects, though, the flow of current, and therefore the magnetic field, changes. We have utilized this principle and developed a device that can detect such deviations with a very high level of sensitivity”, explains Dr. Dominik Lausch, who founded the company with Dr. Kai Kaufmann and Markus Patzold. The technology cannot only be used in battery cells, but can also provide information on the health of other electronic components, such as the power electronic components. The solution is already being used by a manufacturer of solar cells. 

One advantage is that it is possible to test the quality of every cell during production, which leads to considerable cost advantages. The founders of the company have also developed a system that combines machine learning and simulation-based analysis and can also independently interpret potential defects. 

“I am very pleased that DENKweit received the award. The young company is a fantastic example of how dynamic and innovative companies can be spun off from research conducted at the Fraunhofer. In addition, the approach, in which artificial intelligence is applied to quality control and to search for the causes of defects in materials and components, can also be applied to other areas of application is groundbreaking”, said Prof. Ralf B. Wehrspohn, Director of the Fraunhofer IMWS. 

During the awards ceremony held in the Paulinum Assembly Hall and University Church of St. Paul at the University of Leipzig, the DENKweit team received its award for their development and also received the award for the Best IQ Idea from Halle (Saale). Overall, the winners in five industry-specific clusters and three local competitors were honored in addition to the overall winner of the IQ Innovation Award. The prize is awarded by the metropolitan region of Central Germany for innovative and marketable products, processes, and services.