Battech, the leading battery R&D centre in southern Europe, has examined the reliability and useful life of the lithium-ion batteries which building firm the RUBI GROUP has chosen to fit in a new line of work tools to check they can safely operate as standalone devices. This comes in response to market trends which are increasingly calling for lightweight, fast-charging batteries with a lower social, economic and environmental impact.

Battech, sponsored by the Catalonia Energy Research Institute (IREC) and the Eurecat technology centre, has set up a joint research, development, testing and innovation unit specialising in batteries to enhance knowledge transfer to industry in this area anchored in the circular economy and the sustainability of tomorrow’s batteries.

In the case of the RUBI GROUP, a company specialising in manufacturing tools and materials for the construction industry, Battech is evaluating the reliability and performance of the batteries to be used in a new device. This is to ensure that they deliver the power needed to meet tool use requirements with the longest possible minimum operating life.

“Innovation in batteries is strategic in order to bring new standalone products to the market to replace corded ones with the challenge of not increasing the weight while delivering the same performance,” says Agustí Chico, Battech’s chief technology officer. “So we need to make progress in new chemical formulations for increasingly more energy-dense batteries which are also more sustainable and with a smaller carbon footprint for the environment.”

The analysis could be completed promptly “by drawing on Battech’s existing battery cycle charging and discharging equipment which brings enormous flexibility in meeting customers’ needs,” notes Jordi Jacas, Battech’s director. “This equipment is specially designed to be highly adaptable and deliver the best results in the shortest possible time.” The extracted data has been examined by the Battech team to come up with the best battery usage strategies.

Joan García, a product development engineer in the RUBI GROUP, welcomed Battech’s collaboration as “it has dovetailed with our current needs at a time when the company is fully committed to rolling out batteries in our product range.”

García underscored the importance of the backing of a “world-class technology partner in applications which are innovative for our company’s knowhow.” That’s because “it ensures we can bring a premium quality product to the market which caters to our customers and means we stay a trusted supplier for them while it has also enabled us to fast-track our battery technology knowhow. This transfer will come in very handy for future products and applications. We already have several projects under development in our portfolio and more are certainly in the pipeline.”

Growing demand for lighter, low-impact batteries

Customers are increasingly expecting cordless power tools to stay up and running and many are no longer willing to accept a drop in performance. Technology is making great strides to address this demand.

Each of these requirements calls for “better and smarter battery management to maximise its power and also extend its operating life,” explains Battech senior researcher Lluís Trilla. “One of the big considerations in maximising a battery’s lifetime is to study its ageing for use in the application where it is to be fitted, for example by using an appropriate charging system and looking at how it performs with the power and energy profiles needed by the cordless tool.”

In view of these demands, researchers are targeting developing batteries which weigh less, are not reliant on critical materials such as cobalt, charge more quickly and have a lower social, economic and environmental impact. They are also looking to make them “more modular to enhance repairability and enable their second use, recoverability of components for reintroduction into industry and recyclability at the end of the batteries’ life,” says Battech’s technology leader Alberto Gómez.

The IREC, the Catalonia Energy Research Institute, and the Eurecat technology centre have this year set up Battech, a flagship centre in southern Europe designed to meet the R&D needs of the battery and electrification value chain. It encompasses research, development and innovation across the entire value chain of the next generation of electric cells and batteries for the electric mobility, renewable energy and capital goods markets.

Battech is not only about electric vehicle batteries as it additionally covers grid support using second life or new generation battery packs to offset usage peaks which renewables cannot meet due to a lack of wind or sun or a sudden spike in demand.

Battech targets R&D projects and technology services for businesses and competitive domestic and international projects so as to generate and transfer knowledge to the battery industry. The initiative is aimed at electric battery manufacturers and consumers, automotive and electric mobility businesses in general, energy and capital goods companies, regional, national and international public agencies, clusters, associations and platforms.


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