At CIC energiGUNE, we are in the race for advanced automotive batteries. It is a race that takes place globally, in which artificial intelligence in batteries will play a fundamental role.  

Given the pressure from governments to reduce polluting emissions (the European Commission wants countries to commit to an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels), in addition to improvements in battery performance and the reduction in the cost of batteries, this is causing an acceleration in the pace of electric vehicle development.

However, this opportunity for the battery industry is also a challenge, given the high expectations of electric vehicle manufacturers and consumers. By 2025 the price of the electric vehicle is expected to be similar to that of a combustion engine car, so the OEM are demanding lower prices, more driving range (or what is the same, a higher energy density of the battery), the possibility of fast-charging batteries, and of course, durability and safety.

Hence the need to bet on this race for advanced automotive batteries.

And Europe wants to take a leading role in this race. This is why in 2018 the Batteries 2030+ initiative was launched, which, led by Kristina Endström, includes the work of the European institutions that are leaders in the field of batteries, including, of course, CIC energiGUNE

This initiative is committed to developing the batteries of the future, including advanced automotive batteries, so that Europe will go from having a 3% market share (2018 data) to 25% in 10 years. In developing the batteries of the future, the members of Batteries 2030+ are committed to safer, more sustainable, and longer-lasting batteries.  

To achieve the above objectives, the members of this alliance focus on the accelerated discovery of battery materials, the integration of smart functionalities, and the advanced cell prototyping. 

Battery 2030

New materials for advanced electric vehicle batteries

The accelerated discovery of new materials will be fundamental for advanced batteries for electric vehicle. There is a need to evolve to cobalt-free technologies, find possible substitutes for lithium, and move towards safer solid electrolyte batteries. On this plane, artificial intelligence in batteries plays an important role. Artificial intelligence will make it possible to develop the "battery interface genome" and to carry out an ambitious platform for the accelerated discovery of battery materials.

CIC energiGUNE is a benchmark in this field of action. The ION-SELF project, led by Dr. Javier Carrasco and Dr. Maryne Reynaud , will achieve, through artificial intelligence, a significant reduction in the number of experiments and, therefore, the time required to identify new materials for batteries. This project combines two of the key capabilities of CIC energiGUNE; the automation of the processes of synthesis of battery materials, and the advanced characterization of battery materials

Smart features for advanced automotive batteries

In this chapter, at CIC energiGUNE, we work together with our spin-off BCARE to develop advanced models to predict the state of charge (SOC) and the state of health (SOH) of batteries. The aim is to go beyond the conventional parameters that predict these states, introducing parameters intrinsic to the cell itself and its materials. 

Both companies collaborate in advanced sensorization of the cells and we research in making some elements and materials of the cells work as if they were a sensor. The progress of this work will allow us to develop advanced modeling tools for batteries that will be much more accurate in estimating the life cycle of batteries, supporting sustainability and second life

Precisely in this second life of the batteries, in CIC energiGUNE and BCARE, we collaborate with companies like Alterity and Beeplanet.

After the advanced diagnosis of the batteries, the Batteries 2030+ initiative proposes to find the holy grail. Batteries that are "self-healing". This ambitious goal can be achieved by combining self-healing materials such as the bio-polymer electrolytes we are working on at CIC energiGUNE and the artificial intelligence dedicated to the synthesis and characterization of these compounds. 

Advanced cell prototyping

Finally, all technology concerning advanced automotive batteries is based on the automation of cell and battery pack manufacturing processes, digitalization and industry 4.0. 

In this field, at CIC energiGUNE, we have a leading position as we have the best cell prototyping line in southern Europe, which is multipurpose in terms of technology due to its low humidity level. 

Thanks to this batteries manufacturing line, and to our research team led by Michel Armand, we are considered a European reference center in solid-state batteries for the automotive industry. 

The international energy agency considers that we are facing a key moment, a unique opportunity and that we must commit to sustainability and energy transition.

As Faith Birol, its Director, says, energy efficiency is going to create jobs, jobs and more jobs. And to do this we must invest in innovation, which will be key, and develop advanced automotive batteries that will position us at the forefront of technology. 

At CIC energiGUNE, we know that this is a joint task, and we would like to thank our collaborators (companies and research centers) for the path we have taken together and for the road ahead of us.

Author: Nuria Gisbert, General Manager of CIC energiGUNE;  Member of the group of experts of the parliament of the Basque Energy Pact and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Basque Council of Science, Technology and Innovation of the Basque Country.