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A betteries 3 kWh pack being tested on an electric three-wheeler in Berlin. This is in partnership with Mobility For Africa for MFA’s Hamba three-wheeler.

Batteries

Berlin-Based betteries Wants To Catalyze Adoption Of Sustainable Second-Life Lithium-Ion Batteries With Stackable Multipurpose Packs

We all have to do a whole lot better to address climate change and make the world a better place for the current and future generations. The transition to electromobility will go a long way in doing this by helping reduce emissions.

There are now over 7 million electric passenger vehicles on the road, over 500,000 e-buses, almost 400,000 electric delivery vans/trucks, 184 million electric mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles on the road globally, according to the Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 by BloombergNEF. These numbers are expected to grow significantly going forward as many nations have set big targets to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles over the next decade. This transition will result in a large inventory of used EV batteries that still have about 70% of their original usable capacity. Berlin-based betteries is one of the firms that are working to make better use of these batteries by upcycling them into sustainable and affordable multipurpose battery packs.

Four 3 kWh betteries stacked to make up a 12 kWh unit

Four 3 kWh betteries stacked to make up a 12 kWh unit

betteries sources LMO Pouch cells from a major automotive OEM’s battery packs after their first life in EVs. “The EV batteries have an average first life of 6-8 years, depending on the cyclic rate in the vehicle” says Virginia Turner Taborda, Head of Business at betteries. betteries says the average degradation in first life is 30%. The cells used in a second life have on average 70% charge capacity remaining. In the design of the betteries system, the company has given special attention to the selection and functionality of the active balancing BMS to deal with degraded battery cells in an optimum way.

“The BMS not only monitors each individual cell, but also controls the power flow to and from each cell. This approach enables packs containing battery cells of different capacities, like in 2nd life, to be easily connected together. Maximum battery pack capacity is achieved via a semi decentralized system optimization that ensures that both the weakest and the strongest cell reach the maximum and minimum voltages at the same time. The dynamic nature of  the optimization algorithms ensure that as battery cells degrade, or even in the case that a cell fails, the system adjusts suitably and ensures the battery pack continues to offer maximal capacity (2.4kWh @80%DoD) and functionality.”

The cyclic life of betteries is projected to be 1500 cycles with a calendar life of 7-10 years. Warranty period for betteries sold to customers will be 2 years or more. “Customers who rent betteries in our battery-as-a-service model essential have unlimited warranty through our swapping system,” says Virginia.

betteries has chosen a cool form factor for its battery packs that allow for “Lego style” stacking in a “click and go” no cable form. Each 35 kg unit can store up to 3 kWh and four of these can be stacked to give 12 kWh and a continuous power output of 5 kW. betteries are designed for home and office use in either on- or off-grid. “betteries are extremely flexible, as they can be charged by any energy source (grid, solar, wind, hydro) and discharge either 240V AC or 5/12/48V DC.”

 A betteries 3 kWh pack being tested on an electric three-wheeler in Berlin.

A betteries 3 kWh pack being tested on an electric three-wheeler in Berlin. This is in partnership with Mobility For Africa for MFA’s Hamba three-wheeler.

“Our betteries are modular in configuration and can be stacked horizontally or vertically.” They also come with smart electronics including Wi-Fi and GPS, enabling betteries’ systems to be remotely monitored and controlled through an IoT platform. “Our betteries are rugged and waterproof  (Marinized IP67 casing) with several applications in e-mobility, off-grid productive use and on-grid backup power.” On the e-mobility side, betteries is also working with Mobility for Africa and has tested the use of the second-life batteries on a proposed battery swap model for MFA’s Hamba electric three-wheeler. The betteries can be swapped in less than 15 seconds. betteries fully embraces the principles of the circular economy and ensures that its battery packs are recycled at the end of their second life.

betteries is currently testing its packs in Germany and will begin pilot projects in the EU and Africa with serial production of the betteries starting in the second half of 2021.

betteries will explore several models, including outright sales, lease-to-own, or just rent out the betteries depending on the end-customer needs and input from their B2B partners across the markets. Its business model will focus on affordability by lowering the barriers to adoption through a battery-as-a-service offering which significantly lowers the cost for the customers. The availability of second-life batteries will certainly be a game changer in Africa, one of the key markets betteries is targeting as these can come in at a price point that is more affordable for consumers. betteries will also target the blossoming Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) sector which is usually hit hard by power cuts and relies mostly on small petrol and diesel generators to keep their businesses going in many African nations. With the pay-as-you-go or PayGo system already well understood in most of Africa since the wave of small home solar systems swept across sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, the battery-as-a-service model should gain significant traction in this market.

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Images: All images courtesy of betteries

 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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