Batteries play a key role in the ongoing shift from the use of fossil fuels towards sustainable transportation and renewable energy production. It is even foreseen that households, buildings, and local communities will be able to produce and store their own electricity with solar panels and batteries, and they can sell the surplus energy into the grid. VTT is active in the applied battery research in multiple sectors
Electric mobility is by far the biggest application sector today, and a compound annual growth rate of 30% is forecasted for both the electric mobility and the energy storage sectors.
Over 300 GWh annual battery cell production capacity has been announced in Europe.
It is forecasted by WEF that by 2030 over 60% of the used EV batteries will be collected and repurposed in stationary grid applications.
In today’s world, we need more high-performance, lightweight, safe, low-cost, and sustainably sourced and manufactured batteries to power the electric vehicles in a sustainable way. These also provide flexibility for electrical grids in order to increase the share of renewable energy generation. Lithium-ion technology is the prevalent technology of choice in electric vehicles and transportation, and lithium-ion batteries are also increasingly used in stationary grid applications due to their high performance, long lifespan, and affordable cost driven by the high-volume production for electric vehicles and electronics industries.
The electrification of harsh-use applications such as heavy-duty vehicles, non-road mobile machinery, and marine vessels also provides big potential for increasing the energy-efficiency and performance as well as decreasing local emissions. The advantages from this are for example improved productivity and user experience, and lower total cost of ownership.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 was awarded to Stanley Whittingham, John Goodenough, and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion battery, creating the foundation of a wireless and fossil fuel-free society.
VTT is active in the applied battery research in all these sectors. We can provide help with requirement specification, technology assessment and selection, systems engineering, BMS and energy management, grid integration, battery health monitoring and prognostics, lifecycle management, sustainability assessment, and how to use the battery in the application in an optimal way to ensure that the battery remains healthy and its lifetime is maximised.
Applied battery research facilities
We have developed competences and facilities for applied energy storage R&D since late 2010. Our research laboratories enable comprehensive experimental work on battery cells, modules and packs, as well as battery management systems and thermal management. These facilities are integrated with dynamometer facilities enabling experimental work not just on batteries, but also on heavy-duty vehicles, drivetrains and engines under the same roof. And with our high-power battery emulator, we can test electric vehicle prototypes on the dynamometer even without a real battery installed in the vehicle.
We also have world-class battery testing facilities for performance and lifetime testing of commercial large-format cells, modules, and packs. We have tested hundreds of batteries, and therefore, we can provide state-of-the-art knowledge, foresight, and experimental research services. The backbone for these services is the experimental work combined with modelling capabilities and tools.
Next generation batteries
Batteries are already widely available, but they still have many problems. The standard batteries use toxic or unsafe materials, and some of the materials are so rare they will soon run out from the world. To solve the energy storage problem, VTT is developing e.g. new organic battery materials derived from biomass. Simply said, we can use wood as the raw material instead of rare metals. Organic batteries are environmentally friendly and safe to use. In addition, the new materials also have good electrical properties, like faster charging than current battery technologies can provide.
We are also looking for other novel battery solutions, which could answer to the increasing energy demand. In addition, our expertise and facilities in flexible electronics, i.e., both small and pilot scale processing by coating and printing, offer a platform to test novel processing methods and help to upscale your production.