Innvotek

igu-award-adm | April 29, 2022

Application description of the installation
As Innvotek, we have formed a consortium with Brunel University London, MEV Consulting, and Aceleron Energy to develop an automated process for selecting spent electric vehicle batteries for second-life use. Our process Batt2TheFuture aims to speed up and streamline the second life repurposing of spent EV batteries cells. The automation of battery cell testing will dramatically reduce the assessment of battery cells state of health (SoH) and state of charge (SoC). These performance parameters are key in determining whether the batterys cell can be reuse for a second-life application or if it is defunct and needs to be recycled.

To accurately determine the SoH and SoC fast enough and in sufficiently in-depth details, we will use BUL and MEV expertise in using Ultrasonic Testing for this purpose. This technique shows excellent results with measurement taking less than a second against the typical 30min to 1hour charge and discharge cycles the cells go under currently. Using ultrasound wave pulses, our process inspects individual cells and provides a State of Health (SoH) an indication of how well the cells can handle further charging cycles, for how long and how much charge it can still hold. All cells will be barcoded; The cell information is stored in the database for rebuilding second generation battery packs and for future reference. The barcode becomes the cells passport enabling traceability. The SoC will provide further information on the cells charging requirements to rebuild cohesive battery packs. The ultrasound inspection is supported by machine vision and AI/machine-learning algorithms for grading the cells.

The machine vision is used to detect any existing barcodes and/or markings that may be on the cell to identify the cells chemistry. The AI/machine-learning algorithms is used to grade the cells based on the SoH and SoC values. The algorithms will also combine all the cells data for sorting to the correct bin either: Defunct, Healthy and Very Good. Battery refurbishing companies will use the healthy and very good cells to rebuild batteries packs for various applications. Therefore, with Batt2TheFuture, we are able to extend the life cycle of the EV batteries post automotive decommissioning giving them an additional 10 years of active life.

The decarbonisation of the transport sector in UK, will see the migration from solely internal combustion powered vehicles to electric or hybrid vehicles only as early as 2030. This will result in the exponential growth of spent Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries stockpile as they must be replaced every 7-10years. After this period, the EV batteries may still hold as much as 80% of their capacity which often can be used in other applications. Our consortium is developing a fast automated process Batt2TheFuture to enable fast sorting of battery cells to rebuild high quality and consistent second-generation battery packs.

Batt2TheFuture is an automated process that uses disruptive ultrasound technology, machine vision and AI algorithms to inspect and grade spent battery cells. The process inspects each cell from a battery pack/module and then grade them according to their respective State of Health (SoH) and State of Charge (SoC). The technology combination enables in-depth inspection, increased speed of cell assessment and processing capacity scalability – these have been missing in current spent battery inspection solutions on the market.

Based on the results of the assessment, the cells are sorted and refurbished in preparation of their second-life batteries. The repurposed battery packs are then deployed to applications whose power requirements align with their SoH and SoC values. This will extend the life cycle of the spent EV batteries thereby drastically reducing battery waste and the lifetime cost of the battery.

Therefore, Batt2TheFuture will facilitate the utilisation of the full value of spent EV batteries as well as contribute towards ensuring that the decarbonisation of the transport sector will not just be a transfer of carbon emissions from the vehicles themselves to battery raw material extraction.

Testing second hand EV battery cell is slow, labour intensive, error prone and a hindrance on the economically viability of battery repurposing. Batt2TheFuture will fully automate, sorting, SoH determination, barcoding and grading operations. The automatic system will sort the EV-battery cell according to their type, identify or apply a barcode to the cell; ultrasonic waves will accurately quantify individual cells SoH and sort them into appropriate categories using machine learning algorithms.

We envisage the grading to be:
· Below 30%, Recycling
· 31-80% Repurpose for static application
· Above 80% Repurpose for mobile application

Innovation: Batt2TheFuture goes beyond the current state-of-the-art and automatise:
· SoH and SoC testing inspection, our solution has been designed to carry out battery cell level inspection compared to SOA module level inspection
· Inspection speed, Batt2TheFuture assess the battery cell in 1 second compared to the typical 6-hours
· Agnostic to battery system, our solution can inspect any system layout from cylindrical, prismatic or pouch without any realignment.
· Scalability, the process can easily be scaled to accommodate larger volumes of cells without any significant further capital investments.
· Increased product reliability, any cell that has been inspected and graded using Batt2TheFuture has the state of health ascribed to it, thereby offering increased cell reliability.
· Barcoding will provide traceability and allow ACC to manufacture consistent and performance guaranty second-life battery pack.

We have the necessary technical and commercial freedom to operate with each technology block we will use in developing and eventually commercialising Batt2TheFuture.
With Batt2TheFuture the consortium partners will be able to expand the application of their technologies and expertise into new markets particularly Brunel, Innvotek and MEV. ACC will have the opportunity to extend high quality offerings to their clients, thereby growing their market share as the first users of the technology.
For INN Batt2TheFuture will be a great addition to its portfolio of automated inspection systems and robots.

The first mover advantage will position us as the solution of choice, generating a conservative £15-million by the fifth year of commercialisation.
This project will finalise the design of Batt2TheFuture process layout as well as the automation line sequence and configuration. The demonstrator produced in this project will allow us to optimise the testing speed and accuracy, the capacity of the system to effectively sort the graded cells and provide traceability through the implementation of barcoding and data storing.

Problem definition
By 2040, 339,000-tonnes of electric vehicle (EV) batteries will be reaching their end-of-life annually in the UK. They are only unsuitable for automotive industry due to lost capacity and reduced self-discharge resistance, but they can be used in other applications. However, extensive testing is still required to guarantee the spent EV batteries will indeed perform reliably in their second-life roles.

Currently testing is a slow and highly labour-intensive a true bottleneck for the EV battery second-life repurposing value chain. Different companies have been working on developing more responsive battery assessment tools, but these seem to be developed for internal use with a primary focus on incremental throughput growth via changing operating procedures – hence only suitable for very small batches. Other emerging solutions from developers like University of Warwick, Fortum and EV-Batteries, are still manual and offer surface level analysis focussed on battery modules. This manual approach is not scalable to meet the UKs projected decommissioning rate, while the module inspection approach will result in the loss of healthy cells.

Factors creating this market opportunity include:
Waste: 1.4 million battery packs decommissioned annually will most likely end in landfill as the UK does not have battery recycling facilities capacity.
Import dependence: The UK import the bulk of its repurposed battery for its second-life applications due to the limited availability of local players processing spent batteries. However, the UKs own end-of-life batteries can be used to meet local demand.
Cost of battery repurposing: The three major costs components that affect or even discourage repurposing plants are transport-29%, purchase-29% and hourly labour-23%.

There is therefore a need to develop a solution to lower labour costs per tonne of battery processed and to maximise revenues from refurbish battery packs. Also increasing processing capacity will reduce transport cost.

The main market pull that will ensure the commercial success of such technology in the UK and across Europe is the ever-increasing requirement for affordable GRID ENERGY STORAGE. Energy storage needs to contribute to 500GW flexible power requirement in Europe by 2030.

Batt4theFuture is a new solution to eliminate the bottleneck in EV battery second life repurposing by speeding up the inspection and grading process

How were processes optimized/costs saved/increased efficiency with automation?
Batt2TheFuture is being developed for the lithium-ion battery second-life repurposing market. According to ReportLinker.com, this market is expected to grow from a market value of £11.52-billion in 2018 passing £24.57-billion in 2025 to £32.76-billion by 2030. The USA dominates the market and combined with China; they have a 70% market share of the battery repurposing market especially between 2025-2030. Europe is expected to have the largest CAGR up to 2025 due to growing number of companies seeking strategic supply agreements such the Umicore (Belgium) and LG Chem.

Key market drivers include:
· GRID ENERGY STORAGE in the UK, across Europe 500GW1 by 2030
· Cost of energy storge £350 to £1200 for second generation battery per kWh
· Increasing environmental concerns about used EV batteries
· Higher energy density
· Longer cycle life
Moreover, anticipated government regulations and market-based demand for simplifying the designing process of the battery to enable easy disassembling are expected to drive further the demand for refurbishing.

Our initial market will be the UK, this will support and enable a faster roll-out Gigafactory ambition that the country has since it currently has a very low capacity for repurposing EV batteries for second-life, relying on imports. Next step will be regional expansion focussing on greater Europe (targeting the main players in electric vehicle adoption i.e., Germany, Norway and Sweden). We are also planning to expand our international market reach to other regions including the USA (the most established market), China (the largest global EV market) as well as LAMEA (the region with the highest expected growth rate). Entry into the respective markets will be spaced by a 1.5-year time difference allowing us to build our credibility and demonstrate the effectiveness of our innovation.
There is an emerging trend of regulations stipulating that vehicle manufacturers are responsible for recycling and repurposing their batteries. This is expected to change both business models and supply chains in the sector which will demand strategic agreements be entered into with battery manufacturers. Considering that China and the EU have already introduced these rules with the US to follow, we anticipate this coming into effect also in the UK creating a potential market barrier, hence we have included a battery second-life manufacturer ACC in our consortium who will be our initial route to market. ACC will be instrumental in making the introductions to the wider battery repurposing market.

Customers: The Batt2TheFuture customers are second-life batteries manufacturers like ACC and battery recyclers who will find better value in recovery good battery cells for resell.

Batt2TheFuture offers:
· Increased throughput – Batt2TheFuture will work at a rate previously unavailable to the market (1-second/cell).
· Increased recovery – Batt2TheFuture, manufacturers will recover all viable cells including those condemned when module level inspection is used.
· Increased product quality – The quality of each cell used for second-life battery can be guaranteed thereby boosting the reputation manufacturer in the market.
· Pre-emptive regulatory compliance –EV batteries recycling is clearly going to put the onus on manufacturers, hence Batt2TheFuture will allow local manufacturers to get ahead as well as setting the industrial standard in the UK.

Route-to-Market: INN will commercialise the system, licence the ultrasonic technique from BUL, source the transducers and electronics from MEV. ACC, the initial customer will allow access to demonstrate the technology and commission a first of a kind before potentially introducing the system to it sites in the UK and overseas. Innvotek will develop a business plan to access battery refurbishers and recyclers and engage with European Battery Alliance who aims to develop an innovative, competitive and sustainable battery value chain in Europe.

Based on one system processing £150,000/day worth of cell, we anticipate that by the 5th-year of commercialisation the consortium will generate a revenues as follow:
Growth Forecast: -to be distributed as per the Consortium Agreement-
· System Sales – £15M (INN-MEV)
· Licensing – £750,000 (BUL)
· After sales Support – £1.25M/year (INN-MEV)
· Considerable increase in productivity for ACC to generate £150,000 per day (single shift)
Growth Impact: Batt2TheFuture will create 25 new UK jobs for consortium, 75 in the EV battery refurbishing supply chain. This research will lead to the application of the technology for monitoring the state of battery cells during operation and manufacturing. This will mostly be beneficial to renewable energy powered critical facilities, thereby growing revenues as well as jobs created.

IP Protection and Research Dissemination: Background IP from MEV and BUL will be licensed to INN. Any new IP generated during the project will be protected through patenting and secret know-how. BUL will disseminate scientific breakthroughs in conferences and academic journals, subject to commercial priorities and IP protection.
After the project, BUL will continue to research new possibilities for the application of ultrasonic technology in the battery repurposing process.

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  • Estimated return on investment
  • 7 to 12 months
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    Für den ROIBOT Award 2019 suchten wir clevere Low-Cost-Robotics Anwendungen basierend auf igus® Komponenten mit einer schnellen Amortisationszeit. Wir danken allen Teilnehmern für die zahlreichen Einsendungen!