From the 1st to the 3rd of November the Nordic Battery Conference 2017 (NordBatt 2017) was held in Kokkola, Finland. In this travel letter, MoZEES PhD students Elise and Daniel describes their experience of the conference, which was their first!
-After a quite long journey both by train, bus and airplane, we arrived in Kokkola the evening before the conference started, as part of a large delegation from NTNU. «Where and what is Kokkola?», you might be wondering. Well, Kokkola is a city of approximately 50 000 people situated along the west coast of Finland. Historically the city has been a major exporter of tar. This, along with its large shipbuilding industry has led to the city having a large shipping port, one of the busiest in Finland. The port is now the location of several companies in the chemical industry, such as Boliden, Freeport Cobalt and Yara. In fact, the chemical industry is one of the major employers in the region!
The broad spectrum of research presented at the conference opened our minds to the importance of thinking about the whole lifecycle of a battery
Since the conference would not start until 2 p.m. the next day, we had time for both some sightseeing and some social activities, including the tasting of tar-flavoured local food and beverages, and a beautiful walk to the local harbour.
The conference was opened by Professor Ulla Lassi from the University of Oulu and Stina Mattila who is the Mayor of Kokkola City. The following days were filled with talks and poster presentations where the topics ranged from the extraction and production of raw materials for the battery industry, through the manufacturing of batteries both in cell and battery pack systems, to post mortem analysis and recycling of used batteries. Several groups from all of the Nordic countries presented their current research covering several different battery technologies, including Li-ion, Li-S, Li-O2, Mg, NiMH, and Zn-O2 to mention a few. Some recurring themes were the shortage of Co on a global basis, and the ethical aspect of the extraction of Co in Congo.
The COO of Northvolt, Paolo Cerruti, held a convincing presentation about the planned battery factory that will be built in Skellefteå, Sweden, and how important this is in order to strengthen the competence of the battery technology community in the Nordic countries. The availability of cheap green energy, the close vicinity of raw materials and the importance of european battery production for self-reliance were highlighted as reasons for choosing this location. The broad spectrum of research presented at the conference opened our minds to the importance of thinking about the whole lifecycle of a battery, and how it is important to remember the economic, ethical, and environmental cost that comes with the materials and processes one chooses to work with. To sum up; it is safe to say that a lot of exciting things are happening within battery technology in the Nordic countries.
The next Nordbatt conference will be held in Denmark in 2019, and we hope to be able to attend it with exciting research of our own!