Background and challenges


The current commercial battery technology that will dominate the market for a least 10 additional years is based on lithium, an element which is concentrated in specific parts of the world outside Europe. It is known that lithium ion (Li-ion) battery technology, with all its advantages in performance, is nevertheless still far from preventing the range anxiety  effect on vehicle users. Several challenges are being addressed in the state of the art at cell electrochemistry and BMS development levels but these approaches are out of the scope of this topic. The challenge is, then, to maximize the energy density of Li-ion packs through the optimization of the structural design and components of a battery pack (BP) for a given cell form factor. In this sense the strategy is to increase the energy density by reducing the weight of the BP while keeping structural integrity and easy assembly and manufacturing.

On the other hand, vehicle manufacturing is one of the most important businesses worldwide and specifically for Europe is one of the pillars of our economy, both for all the direct and indirect labour generated around automotive industry. Since cell manufacturing in Europe appears uncompetitive in the short to medium term in favour of Asia, it is now the moment to compete in the BP design and manufacturing field, where Europe has significant strengths. European industry must offer a product whose life time is optimized for the intended application and can be easily extended. Besides the cell, a BP is composed of structural materials to keep the safety of the BP, electrical components to drive the energy and power of the battery and the cooling system to thermally balance the BP. All the knowhow to design and manufacture them is available within European SMEs and large industries.

All the above mentioned energy density increase, BP cost reduction and enhancement of European SME and large industries competitiveness must be accomplished keeping in mind the impact of our activities on the environment. Thus, eco-design of the BP, environmentally friendly considerations towards the BP manufacturing process and use of automated manufacturing are addressed from the perspective of minimizing the ecological footprint of the product to be developed and improving the current method of BP parts recovery in the recycling process.