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Tracking materials for sustainability: the battery passport

Batteries are unanimously seen as key drivers of the energy transition. However, for them to unleash their potential and play a major role in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement, most experts agree: the entire value chain must be tracked to measure their environmental and social footprint and allow their evaluation for a second-life use. “The keyword is transparency,” says Inga Petersen, Executive Director of the Global Batteries Alliance (GBA), a public-private partnership, with members spanning from the mining companies, all the way down to recyclers. “Original equipment and car manufacturers can have up to 40 000 suppliers, so there’s no chance that they have a full overview of their products across the value chain. The most crucial issues to monitor for more ethical products are, of course, carbon footprint, child labour, and human rights.” This is also why a manifesto, agreed in June by young battery scientists from four European universities, suggested that “a good option could be the introduction of a European digital battery passport”.

Presented just a few days ago by the Global Battery Alliance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the first world battery passport has engaged a number of its members from mining companies to car manufacturers. The result is a digital twin of the physical battery that records information according to three key dimensions. The first consists of technical data, like manufacturing history and capacity, but in the long term it will also include recycled content and disassembly instructions for recyclers. The second records the origin and tracks the flows of cobalt, lithium, graphite, and other materials. “We have focused our efforts on sustainability performance and this is why we also integrated a ‘greenhouse gas rulebook’ to establish the battery carbon footprint”, says Petersen. “Further indicators will be developed, but we started by monitoring environmental footprint, child labour, and human rights because we consider them as the pillars of a sustainable and circular battery value chain.” First conceptualized in 2019, the battery passport is seen by its designers as a “key transparency tool to help enhance the sustainability of battery value chains.”

Read the full article by Diego Giuliani in the EU project Astrabat’s website at this link.

20 January 2023


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NEMO project set to considerably extend battery life and make the management system safer

Battery management plays a crucial role in providing efficient and safe battery operation yet, existing BMS often rely on a small amount of observed data as well as semi-empirical battery models. This scarcity of knowledge regarding the battery’s overall state when it is in use leads to suboptimal utilisation.

NEMO is a project funded by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) to address this issue and demonstrate optimized battery management. The partners seek to develop new physics-based battery models that allow for significant performance improvements for stationary and automotive use cases.

As battery systems are highly complex, this goal requires a wide range of inter-disciplinary fields: from the understanding of electro-chemical processes over the development and implementation of associated algorithms on constraint-based and safety-critical processing equipment, to the provision of accurate and stable services for battery state estimation. Within NEMO, the entire range of the required inter-disciplinary fields is well represented.

With its good balance between research and industrial partners, the project’s consortium will combine innovative hard- and software concepts that exploit sensor information. This will allow the team to identify different electrochemical processes inside battery cells, and to track how they change over time.

Onboard and continuous electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) will be used within the project as a primary new information source. Together with temperature, voltage and current measurements, this will enable the development of a variety of new and innovative models that capture the physics of electrical, thermal, and mechanical characteristics.

The consortium held the project’s kick-off meeting in Brussels on 16 and 17 May. In the words of NEMO’s coordinator, Md Sazzad Hosen (Vrije Universiteit Brussel – VUB)

“NEMO is taking the ambitious challenge of advancing the novel and/or established modeling techniques based on electrochemical impedance spectroscopy to their application. This exciting project will focus on developing a more reliable and safe battery management by integrating physical models. NEMO will discover the path to achieving future battery systems which will be intelligent and resilient to the known challenges”.

Eventually, NEMO’s solutions will considerably extend battery life and make the battery system safer within long-term operation since every individual cell will be monitored, controlled, and studied. These solutions are expected to be validated by industrial partners and to take a considerable share of the market in later years.

30 May 2023

Project coordinator:
Aitor Sánchez
Md Sazzad Hosen

Communication Manager:
Sara Lazzarin, Project manager