“Every day we are confronted with a large number of used car batteries of various types,” reports Brendan Muscutt, a physicist at Umicore’s Hanau site. “We could transfer a large proportion of these to a second life cycle. Until now, however, we lacked the appropriate technology to find out which batteries are still suitable.”
The cooperation with NOVUM will change that in the future. “With the help of self-learning test benches and artificial intelligence, we are looking directly into the heart of batteries,” explains Mandy Schipke, CEO at NOVUM. “As part of the cooperation, Umicore will receive our self-learning Battery Analyzer, which will enable the team to determine the battery condition, service life and residual value of batteries and battery modules of all types in a matter of seconds.”
Together the partners would like to achieve even more. For Umicore, the transport of potentially defective batteries in particular poses a major challenge. Chemical reactions can cause broken cells to heat up away from normal use and, in the worst case, catch fire or even explode. – An extreme safety risk for drivers and employees. Currently, such batteries are therefore transported in safety containers costing over 100,000 euros.
“In a joint research project, we want to further develop NOVUM’s artificial intelligence so that it can make precise statements about whether a battery is safe for transport or not,” reports Brendon Muscutt.
“The first step is to find out which parameters are crucial and how they can be identified in the measurements so that a high level of safety can be ensured by the test.”
For Umicore, this means that processes that are extremely costly and time-consuming today can be replaced by a short test in the future. Especially with regard to environmental protection and the sustainable handling of the partly toxic and highly hazardous components of car batteries, the research teams in Dresden and Hanau are working together on the timely implementation of the project.