Loops#7: Driving change has never been more literal

On the 19th of May, another episode of Loops was brought to life, and another journey into the unknown world of innovation originated from it. This time, the change happens on the comfortable seats of our cars, thanks to the research of two projects through which we will be able to drive the future vehicles of the world.

Veltha is delighted to introduce you to CarE-Service and Si-Drive, two H2020 projects who are devising innovative solutions to enhance the performance of hybrid and electric vehicles in a complementary effort.

We are all quite aware that the rise of electric vehicles is a recent phenomenon, and that the technology behind it is still in the early stages of its maturity, which forestalls, among other things, the users’ willingness to consider them as efficient alternatives of the traditional vehicles.

So, what are the two projects planning to do to overcome such an ambitious challenge?

CarE-Service: a project aimed at developing circular economy services based on the reuse and remanufacturing of H&HEV components. As explained by Dr. Copani, coordinator of the project, by 2040 more than 35% of the newly sold vehicles will be electric. Therefore, it is important to address the current challenges hampering their highly competitive performance. The electric vehicles have high ownership and maintenance costs, mainly due to their battery and additional components considered to be a barrier for the widespread success of electric mobility. Moreover, e-vehicles’ limited performance and autonomy, together with the lack of an efficient and widespread charging station network, are all factors that need to be taken into account for the achievement of a skyrocketing increase of e-vehicle purchase worldwide. In addition to this, Europe is not entirely prepared for the enormous volume of e-vehicles that will reach the end of life in the upcoming years, as the previous components were not initially designed to be reused and remanufactured. Lack of knowledge and consolidated technology are the main causes for this. What CarE-Service is willing to do is providing a new eco-system for producers and users where new technologies and business models are devised for the redesign of E&HEV through the disassembling, remanufacturing and recycling of its components: batteries, metals and techno-polymers. For such goal, they will push for new car-sharing integrated services where it will be possible to collect end-of-life vehicles and make them undergo dismantling and testing thanks to the benefits of a circular economy approach. An ICT platform will be created to gather all the actors involved in the re-use value chains for collaboration and professional exchange of products and materials.

Si-Drive: Professor Kevin Ryan, coordinator of the project, kindly explained to us the purpose behind the project: the design of the next generation of Li-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Batteries are among the most valuable, costly and critical components in E&HEVs because of their limited density, life cycle and charging time. What the project is ready to do is addressing these critical challenges by providing new high energy density batteries that will radically enhance the performance of the vehicles of the future in terms of energy density, life cycle, charging time and safety. How will they do it? By enabling new materials breakthroughs that will optimise the battery-making process and allow for a sharp decrease in their overall cost. To better explain the underlying conditions of the project, our speaker provided us with a real-world example where the electric and traditional version of the car model KONA are compared with each other in terms of price and driving range. It emerged that despite having a driving range that is nearly half as the one that characterises the petrol-based one, the EV Kona has a total cost that is more than twice the price of the traditional car, due to the price of the battery. Therefore, the need of bringing down the cost of EVs while increasing their range, is of absolute priority, and it will be possible thanks to a better chemical configuration of the batteries in a “reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink” innovative approach.

Both projects are devoting their efforts in complementary aspects of the broader framework that is sustainable innovation. And during this episode, they identified new sinergies for possible future collaboration in the pursuit of the shared goal of reusing and regenerating previous materials and components of such products.

There is only one big uncertainty for the future and that is the difficulty of monitoring and understanding the state of health of the batteries for possible reuse. But that’s up to the future. Let’s get back to the present and admire the outstanding effects that the power of innovation can bring to our world.

Thank you all for watching the episode!

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