E-mobility is a buzzword superficially hailed as the holy grail of environment-friendly road transport. But the break-through is still in the making. Since the automotive industry has first shown interest in e-mobility, thinkstep has been there to analyse (think) and recommend actions (step) using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
With all the best intentions of drastically reducing carbon emissions, e-mobility needs to crack the nut of going beyond shifting burdens from the road (use phase) to the grid (manufacturing). The advances in research into battery manufacturing are continuing at a rapid scale, accompanied by a steadily growing share of renewable energy in the electricity grid mixes. The compounded effect is wildly encouraging.
One of the e-mobility projects thinkstep is currently collaborating on, eCAIMAN aims to develop an automotive Li-Ion battery cell that can be produced in Europe. The consortium includes research institutes, a university, material and chemical suppliers and SME battery producers to combine expertise in creating novelty materials and experience in manufacturing fully functional battery cells. To round it off, the partnering OEMs (Volvo, Piaggio, CRF) are involved from the start as the end users that will eventually put the product on the test bench.
At over two-thirds project completion, the consortium held its semi-annual assembly in San Sebastian on 18th-19th of October, hosted by CIDETEC (www.cidetec.es). The venue by itself is fascinating, boasting one of the most high-tech battery labs that includes some one-of-a-kind testing equipment in Europe.
The project objective is to maximize cell cycle and/or cell capacity. Key innovations include a 5V high-voltage spinel, a high-capacity composite anode, and a stable high-voltage electrolyte. Their cumulative effect should improve total cell capacity by at least 20%. The goal is to go beyond individual material research and ensure a functional assembly that withstands the automotive test bench and qualifies it for industrial production customized for 2-wheelers, passenger cars, as well as trucks.
thinkstep’s role is to weigh the developments on environmental scales. This includes mapping the new materials with sufficiently accurate Life Cycle Inventories (LCIs), balancing the potential gains of carbon-free road transport with the manufacturing-, charging- and recycling-related impacts, as well as contextualizing the numbers within the lifetime of the vehicle. All in all, calculate while designing, optimize and ready for industrial use, feeding information via interactive loops between research, manufacturing and decision-makers. Also known as, ecodesign.