Meet the future of energy: Huiran Lu, Battery Evaluation and Analysis Engineer at Northvolt

What’s your job at Northvolt?

I am an Evaluation and Analysis Engineer in the Battery R&D team, I will measure the properties of the materials we use, the electrodes, and the cells. I’m involved in the whole battery development process in our R&D lab, from the beginning until the end.

My team right now is focusing a lot on buying the instruments that we will use for our future evaluations. For instance, at the moment we are working on finding the right equipments for the R&D facility.

How did you end up working at Northvolt?

I heard about Northvolt two years ago, when I was about to finish my Ph.D. in Applied Electrochemistry at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. I had great professors who used to discuss with us about exciting learning and professional opportunities in Stockholm. That’s how I found out about Northvolt. At the time, I already felt it was the company where I wanted to work. I mean, my whole Ph.D. was focused on batteries, it was a perfect match! I didn’t have the chance to apply and join the company right away because, back then, they were mostly hiring management and planning their roadmap.

Later on, a close friend of mine who had been offered a position at Northvolt gave me a call: “Hey Lu, they are looking for more people at Northvolt!” So I kept looking at the career page for new opportunities until one day someone from the HR department reached out and asked me if I would be interested in working here. Of course, I was!

Other than Stockholm, you lived in Jönköping when you worked for Husqvarna. How does it compare?

At Husqvarna I worked with batteries too: I tested cells from different suppliers and battery packs for different products. Jönköping is a lovely city, and my colleagues were very friendly. However, I missed Stockholm with its huge Asian supermarkets, and I missed my friends from college – not having them around was a real downside for me. Now I can see them every day. A lot of them work close to Nothvolt office, I can just text them: “hey do you want to grab lunch today?”

How did you get interested in this field?

My whole family – including aunts, cousins, and uncles – work in the medical field. Either they are doctors, nurses, or they work in the hospital somehow. After high school, they suggested me to concentrate my university studies on the materials used in medical application, like those used for replacing a bone, an eye, or for an artificial heart. So I started studying Material Science and Engineering at the Shenyang University of Chemical Technology in China.

As I have always been interested in energy, during my last year I decided to write my Bachelor’s Thesis on it. After that, I did a project related to the use of polymer, one of the components of lithium-ion batteries. I fell in love with the subject, and I decided to write my Master’s Thesis on the electrochemical properties of lithium-ion batteries.

How did you end up in Sweden?

After my Master’s degree, I decided that I wanted to keep studying and researching on lithium-ion batteries. I felt that as a Master’s graduate I still had basic knowledge, and I wanted to know and learn more.
I was thinking about moving to the United States to enroll in a Ph.D. program, but a friend of mine – who was studying in Uppsala as an exchange student – talked me about the excellent education level of universities in Sweden and the great life quality in Stockholm. In the end, I decided to move here.

What do you like to do when you are not in the office?

I always go to the gym, I enjoy group training: I do everything from body pump to body balance, yoga, and Zumba.

I also love singing. Every Sunday morning, you can find me singing with the Chinese choir 爱乐合唱团 (Chinese Philharmonic Choir of Sweden). Our teacher moved from China to Sweden with her husband, and she created this association where she teaches people singing and breathing.

Both the choir and the group training sessions have been a fun way to meet new people here in Stockholm.