Northvolt has a clear mission: develop the world’s greenest battery to power battery systems which can accelerate society towards a decarbonised future.
Reaching that point, however, it not straight-forward. We must design novel, high-performance Li-ion battery cells – tailored in specific ways for a variety of customers representing multiple industrial sectors, including electric vehicles and heavy goods vehicles. We have to establish cutting-edge R&D facilities and next-generation manufacturing plants. And we must deliver a new technologies and an effective ecosystem for battery recycling.
Today, we stand at the edge of a new chapter in Northvolt’s short history. Later this year, Northvolt will commence operations at its facility Northvolt Labs. In so doing we will reach a key stage in the complex path we must take to secure Northvolt’s mission.
Located outside of Västerås, Sweden, the 19,000 square meter facility of Northvolt Labs contains a Li-ion battery cell manufacturing line with an annual production capacity of 350 MWh. That’s not an enormous amount, but the purpose of the facility is to support the industrialization of battery cells, not outright mass-production. In this sense, the facility will work hand-in-hand with Northvolt R&D facilities, where cell design validation will take place.
This means that at Northvolt Labs we will be refining manufacturing processes, and producing demonstration and sample cells for automobile manufacturers, industrial vehicle providers and other customers of Northvolt requiring battery systems. (For insights on these activities see, ‘Breaking new ground: the Northvolt-Epiroc partnership continues‘ and ‘Spotlight on Electrification Pioneers: Scania‘.)
These sample cells will be used to test and validate cell performance and other specifications – steps which ensure that electric vehicles – be them cars, trucks or buses – have the power and performance requirements they need.
Northvolt Labs will also provide a platform for refining cell manufacturing methods themselves, in preparation for large volume manufacturing beginning at Northvolt Ett gigafactory in 2021. In this sense Northvolt Labs is a mini Northvolt Ett in terms of having the same equipment – albeit with less automation – as we will have in the gigafactory.
Relatedly, Northvolt Labs will provide training rounds for operators, process engineers, and maintenance technicians. Learning how to operate equipment and run processes in a highly optimised manner at Northvolt Labs means that scaling up at Northvolt Ett in Skellefteå will be as smooth and efficient as possible.
The selection of Västerås for Northvolt Labs was not without careful consideration and planning. The city has a long history within energy and electrification industries and continues to hold a strong reputation within these sectors to the present day on account of being home to several multinational companies with world-class engineering and R&D competences in electrification and process optimization, including Northvolt partner ABB.
In the coming months and years, the work undertaken at Northvolt Labs promises to be exciting. We will be working with state-of-the-art manufacturing methods, in collaboration with companies that are at the forefront of the green transition towards a cleaner future.
The work requires skill, ingenuity and innovative thinking, but it is work that is vital to a sustainable future.
Success at Northvolt Labs will not only have a direct impact on the products of some of Europe’s largest automobile manufacturers who have already partnered with the company, but it will lay foundations for the future of Northvolt as a whole.
For more information the roles we are recruiting for at Northvolt Labs, visit www.northvolt.com/career