And CircuBAT will improve the eco-balance of electric mobility

And CircuBAT will improve the eco-balance of electric mobility

Seven Swiss research institutes and 24 companies have joined forces to try to increase sustainability in all phases of a battery's life cycle

An infographic on the work packages of the CircuBAT project: it involves EMPA, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), the University of St. Gallen (HSG), the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST), the Switzerland Innovation Park in Biel/Bienne (SIPBB) and the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne
An infographic on the work packages of the CircuBAT project: it involves EMPA, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), the University of St. Gallen (HSG), the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST), the Switzerland Innovation Park in Biel/Bienne (SIPBB) and the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

The CircuBAT research project aims to create a circular business model for the production, application and recycling of lithium-ion batteries used for mobility.
Seven Swiss research institutes and 24 companies have joined forces to find ways to increase sustainability in all phases of a battery's life cycle.
The project is part of the recent flagship initiative of Innosuisse, the Swiss agency for the promotion of innovation.

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The lithium cobalt oxide battery that caught fire on a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 in 2013
The lithium cobalt oxide battery that caught fire on a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 in 2013

A truly sustainable circular business model for lithium-ion batteries

Electric vehicles are the key to making the mobility of the future and today even greener. Their "heart", i.e. the lithium-ion batteries, offers in particular great potential for improving their ecological balance over their entire life cycle.
This is where CircuBAT comes into play. Over the next four years, the newly launched research project in Switzerland will aim to create a sustainable circular business model for lithium-ion batteries used in mobility.
“All of this will improve the environmental performance of electric vehicles, provide storage systems needed for the energy transition and save resources”, says project leader Andrea Vezzini, lecturer at the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH.

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Nora Bartolomé Gutiérrez is an environmental chemist working in the field of sustainable management of solid waste, WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and the circular economy
Nora Bartolomé Gutiérrez is an environmental chemist working in the field of sustainable management of solid waste, WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and the circular economy

One of Innosuisse's 15 "flag" projects to combine the public and the private

The BFH is the "leading house" of the CircuBAT project. From a scientific point of view, six other Swiss research institutes are involved in the project: EMPA, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), the University of St. Gallen (HSG), the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences ( OST), the Switzerland Innovation Park in Biel/Bienne (SIPBB) and the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
These institutions are joined by 24 companies operating in the field of commerce and industry, ranging from material specialists and production companies to users and suppliers of electric vehicles.
Thanks to this collaboration between science and business, the project covers all phases of a battery's life cycle and the research results can be tested in practice.
CircuBAT is one of 15 projects approved by Innosuisse during the first tender of the Flagship initiative.
The initiative seeks to support systemic innovations in sectors relevant to large parts of the economy or society and focuses on solutions for current or future challenges that affect multiple actors, who must unite to overcome them.

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Corsin Battaglia, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology, leads one of the three subprojects of the CircuBAT research initiative (Photo: EMPA)
Corsin Battaglia, researcher at the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology, leads one of the three subprojects of the CircuBAT research initiative
(Photo: EMPA)

Optimization in every area: from charge and discharge strategies to construction

The CircuBAT project focuses on finding solutions that increase sustainability in all phases of the life cycle of a lithium-ion battery.
This includes extending the life of the batteries themselves during their first application.
Researchers hope to achieve this by developing optimal charging and discharging strategies as well as new concepts for building batteries that make repairs easy.
Furthermore, the project intends to put the batteries into use as stationary energy storage systems after they have been withdrawn from their first mobility-related application.
Therefore, it looks at the best ways to integrate these batteries locally and ensure their safe and efficient operation.
Finally, researchers are looking for solutions for battery demanufacturing and material recovery that allow large quantities of high-quality secondary raw materials to be used to produce new batteries.
The English term "demanufacturing" is used to define the reconditioning of damaged household appliances to obtain precious raw materials to be re-entered on the market at a lower price.
In addition to these technical issues, the project examines socio-economic aspects and holistic business models. CircuBAT will therefore play a key role in decarbonising mobility in Switzerland and promoting the use of renewable energies.

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The battery pack and chassis of the Nissan Leaf
The battery pack and chassis of the Nissan Leaf

3 out of 7 subprojects led by EMPA with researchers Widmer, Battaglia and Hischier

Of the seven subprojects, three are led by researchers from the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology.
The "Recovery of Materials" subproject, led by EMPA researcher Rolf Widmer, aims to optimize and further develop a recycling process developed by Kyburz Switzerland.
In this process, the fuel elements of the battery are separated in a water bath.
In this way, copper, aluminium, lithium, manganese, nickel and cobalt can and must be recovered in excellent quality so that they can be used for the production of new batteries.
The sub-project “Production of Battery Cells” aims to make the production process more energy efficient.
By far the most energy-intensive step in manufacturing a Li-ion battery cell is drying the battery electrode after coating.
Dry electrode coatings would eliminate this step, resulting in significant energy and cost savings.
Researcher Corsin Battaglia, also employed at the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology, leads this subproject.
In the “Sustainable business model” subproject, experts from EMPA and the University of St. Gallen work with other partners to develop a viable business model for a sustainable battery recycling system.
To this end, they analyze the ecological and social impact of the other sub-projects. With a view to the entire value-added chain, suitable and cost-effective business models for the implementation of these innovations must be identified, evaluated and evaluated.
EMPA researcher Roland Hischier leads this subproject together with Merla Kubli from the University of St. Gallen.

Circular economy and effective use of resources in Switzerland

Corsin Battaglia, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology, leads one of the three subprojects of the CircuBAT research initiative (Photo: EMPA)
Corsin Battaglia, researcher at the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology, leads one of the three subprojects of the CircuBAT research initiative
(Photo: EMPA)