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Ramping up production of advanced Li-ion power

With its new, state-of-the-art production facility now up and running, European Batteries is ready to meet the demands of a growing market for large lithium-ion battery systems for use in energy, industrial, and vehicle applications.

European Batteries develops and manufactures rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells and battery systems for powering heavy-duty applications such as vehicles, mobile industrial machinery, cranes, and trains at Europe’s largest independent Li-ion battery plant in Varkaus. The plant was commissioned in 2010 and is targeted to produce 100 MWh of battery capacity by 2012. Plans are already in place to expand capacity up to 300 MWh/a.

Advanced Li-ion battery systems represent a serious alternative in applications such as electric and hybrid electric cars and buses and large-scale stationary power storage of the type used on board ships. With rapid growth expected over the next few years, the availability of industrial-scale production capacity will play a critical role in smoothing the switchover from combustion engines.

Modern lithium-based electrodes provide much better energy and power density, as well as cycle life, than other chemistries, making them a viable option for both large and small applications. As lithium is readily available, production is not hampered by the sourcing problems that can affect the rare earth metals used in some batteries.

European Batteries’ lithium-ion technology provides a combination of advantages unmatched by any other chemistry. Its advanced battery management system monitors critical battery system parameters and maximises available capacity, energy efficiency, and cycle life.
European Batteries uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry in its cells. LFP is the most stable and safest option for Li-ion batteries, as it contains no metal oxide, which releases oxygen at high temperature. In addition, LFP cells are more resistant to abuse than other chemistries.

European Batteries’ cells offer very high energy density and extended cycle and calendar life. Thanks to a higher cell voltage than most conventional chemistries, LFP can provide the system voltage needed with fewer cells – and fewer cells mean less cabling and easier maintenance.

Advanced battery management

European Batteries currently produces 13 different EBattery™ modules, which can be combined into large systems. They feature a proprietary battery management system (BMS) with an integrated measurement unit. This BMS is a critical component, as Li-ion cells are susceptible to damage if operated outside their permitted voltage range, and monitoring individual cell voltages and temperatures is essential .

European Batteries’ BMS solution employs an advanced modular architecture that can be scaled up to a total stack voltage of 1,000 V. The BMS monitors and controls a battery system to maximise its overall performance and service life; it also provides an external interface for a customer-specific control system.

As both cell manufacturing and BMS development work take place under one roof, European Batteries is able to handle pre-testing, electrochemical measurements, safety studies, and quality control, and guarantee improved operating reliability.

> Antti Väyrynen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2011)