The reusable battery

Remanufacturing, second life and recycling: The vocabulary alone shows that sustainability has become a central issue in the development of high-voltage batteries. With a specially developed battery in ECO design, IAV has an energy storage unit on the shelf that saves both costs and CO₂ emissions, from production to recycling.

Michael Clauß on current IAV projects and methods in the field of high-voltage batteries

The battery has long since ceased to be a purely supplier component. “Car manufacturers are influencing the material, design and production of the cells – they have already been taking care of the purchase of raw materials for longer,” says Clauß. The focus of IAV’s work has also shifted: While in the past the engineers were primarily in demand as system integrators, they are increasingly becoming materials developers. “We already dealt intensively with such things during the EMBATT research project. In the meantime, our customers are also increasingly asking for electrochemical simulations or support in the selection of housing or cell materials,” says Clauß.

«The industry is still at the beginning of the journey!»

Michael Clauß — Specialist for Battery Systems at IAV

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What is IAV's focus when it comes to recycling batteries?

Clauß: We are involved with a whole range of processes, but in particular with “direct recycling”. This is a further development of hydrometallurgical processes that help us to
better separate the anode and cathode materials. Today, mainly copper, cobalt and nickel are recovered, but in the future – also because of the upcoming EU Directive – more materials are expected to be recycled. This is already generating a lot of interest among our customers.

What is IAV's unique selling point when it comes to battery sustainability?

Clauß: Thanks to appropriate in-house developments, we are in a position, for example, to advise battery manufacturers on all aspects of development – from material selection, design, data mining in production to connection technology. Our unique selling point is that we look at batteries holistically and as systems, using state-of-the-art development techniques such as “digital twins” to look deep inside the battery and to simulate individual cells. Furthermore, cost engineering and life-cycle assessments are a matter of course for us so that all design decisions are made on the basis of objective figures. For prototypes, we also offer our customers our own battery management system, which is constantly being further developed.

What challenges do you see ahead?

Clauß: Our customers expect falling costs, increasing ranges, a high level of safety and confronted with a wide range of various topics: We have to deal with materials, processes, the suitability of solutions for serial production and the different standards worldwide. To meet these various and nationally divergent requirements, we intend to rely even more on data analyses and artificial intelligence – so that we can get by with fewer tests during application. Thus, with regard to the battery, the entire industry is still at the beginning of the journey.

The article appeared in automotion 02/2021, IAV’s automotive engineering trade magazine. Here you can order the automotion free of charge.

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