Meet the future of energy: Love Fältström, Thermal Engineer at Northvolt
What do you do at Northvolt? Even better, how and why your job is making a difference inside the company.
I am a Thermal Engineer within the Thermal Team. Basically, we make sure that the battery packs that we deliver to our customers and the cells we use in the packs stay at the right temperature – not too warm, not too cold. This way, we will get the best performance from the cells, and we will prolong their lifetime: if the temperature of the battery exceeds its range, the battery’s lifespan will decrease significantly.
Customers will be able to use our batteries longer, and it is also good from a sustainability perspective as you don’t need to replace the batteries often. There is also a safety aspect to consider. We don’t want the batteries to become too warm because they could go into a stage of thermal runaway which is like a chain reaction where the battery continues to heat up and eventually catches fire.
A lot of my job consists in designing the systems around the cell: how to transfer the heat in a good way from the battery to a cooling system. Now I’m talking about heat, but it’s also about heating the battery up if it’s a very cold environment.
My team and I work on designing these systems, we select the components, we choose the materials, and finally, we analyze and make calculations on how everything would work. We also build prototypes to validate our ideas and estimates and to test different functionalities.
How did you develop such a passion for such a specific professional field?
I think I have always been very curious, and my parents were very supportive in letting me try different things: music, sports, going to many activities… I remember once my mom, I was about seven at the time, dragged me to this workshop where we were supposed to make boats out of milk packages. There was this guy who called himself “Engineer Lundström” who had this workshop for kids: at first, I thought it was the worst thing I could do, I was probably crying all the way there. Then I realized that building things was a super fun activity. The funny thing is that when I went to university, more than ten years later, that same person – “Engineer Lundström” – was the one giving my class our first assignment during my first course.
My Bachelor’s Degree was in Mechanical Engineering, but I’ve always been interested in energy – how we can utilize it and how we can generate the energy we need in a sustainable way. I wanted to work with something that had a positive impact on the environment. It was very important to me. So I took my Master’s Degree in Sustainable Energy Technology.
I followed that path, but I still didn’t know which way to go because there were many options. I enjoyed one course in particular, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD): you could do analytical computer aid and simulations to create designs for thermal management. I asked my professor who was working with CFD in Stockholm, and he gave me some names including Ericsson where I applied for an internship.
How was your experience at Ericsson?
I began my career as a Thermal Engineer at Ericsson, where I worked for over three years. I did my Master Thesis there within a field called Thermal Interface Materials: basically, materials that transfer heat.
Ericsson is a big company, and you can learn a lot because there are many experienced colleagues. So it was a good start for me. However, a big established company handles thousands of employees, and you are a tiny piece of an enormous puzzle. You feel that what you do isn’t contributing that much to the whole picture. That’s one of the greatest things about Northvolt: everything you do is going to affect the product you deliver to the customers because as an individual you have a lot of responsibility and impact.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love sports. I like to keep active in my spare time, I enjoy sprinting uphill until I drop. I play the piano – classical music. I love an Italian composer called Ludovico Einaudi, he creates fantastic pieces. I also enjoy cooking a lot and making pancakes for my girlfriend on a relaxed Saturday morning!