A dry cleanroom facility, or "dry room" for short, is a controlled environment that is equipped with a specialized de-humidification and air-handling system designed to maintain constant temperature and extremely low humidity. In lithium-ion battery and capacitor cell manufacturing, dry rooms are needed for safely handling chemicals like lithium and electrolyte that react drastically, and often violently, when exposed to moisture and other particulate contamination. In the case of lithium metal, exposure to even small amounts of moisture causes immediate corrosion and large amounts of water can cause the metal to ignite and even explode. A dry room ensures the ideal conditions for safely handling these sensitive chemicals to provide desired results and better electrochemical performance of the cell. Previously, General Capacitor contracted to use the dry room located at the FSU Aeropropulsion, Mechatronics, and Energy Center (AME). The dry room at the AME functioned as a starting point for research and allowed technicians to assemble initial LIC prototypes.
However, the company would soon outgrow the AME laboratory. In 2017, GC began construction of its own, industrial-sized dry room and the installation of a full production line for lithium-ion laminate pouch cells. It is scheduled to be completed by mid-2018.
General Capacitor's custom-designed dry room is 2000-square foot and can house 10 to 15 workers while maintaining a -40° to -50° C dew-point. That’s equivalent to less than 1% relative humidity, which is 250 times drier than the outside atmosphere, and a lower humidity than any natural place in the world. For comparison, the lowest humidity ever recorded on Earth was 2011 in Death Valley at only -22° dew-point! Employees must undergo special training, have rotating schedules, and wear personal protective equipment to protect from the negative effects of such a dry environment. Most importantly, the dry room will allow production of up to 200 capacitor cells per day while ensuring the highest quality conditions for cell assembly, as well as support advanced research and new product development.