Batteries and plastics: Alegre's contributions to electrification
We had to get our act together and we did. Because, after the cascade of successive crises experienced by the automotive industry, electrification was emerging as a pressing need and, with it, the obligation to develop efficient, lightweight batteries at a reasonable cost. This is a challenge that involves the most diverse industries. Ours as well. That is why we have been working on various projects for months. We review them below.
Our work has progressed on different fronts: on the one hand, the research projects we are carrying out in collaboration with other entities and, on the other hand, developing our own proposals. In any case, our goal is to be able to anticipate our customers' needs with concrete proposals ready to go into production. This has been our most recent work:
1. New plastics to replace aluminum.
For a year and a half, we have been leading a research project called Lightcar with the financial support of AVI (the Valencian Innovation Agency). The proposal had a very clear objective: to search for new composites capable of replacing the metallic elements of batteries and thus lighten their weight by up to 70%.
As the project is about to conclude, we can tell you that AIMPLAS -the partner in charge of developing the materials- has been preparing different proposals during this time. Throughout the process we have worked with different variants of unidirectional polypropylene tapes reinforced with continuous fiber. We have also experimented with materials specifically prepared for overinjection.
Once the proposals were chosen, we also designed the part capable of containing the battery and manufactured a prototype. Thanks to another partner, Itera, and its simulation capabilities, we were able to improve this design to achieve the full feasibility of a part that has the same strength as aluminum but with a very significant reduction in weight.
The project, of which we will give you more details when it closes, is in a very interesting phase: Sinfiny has designed the automated production line and, during the month of September, we will carry out the prototypes in Alegre and the corresponding tests so that the light battery pack we were looking for becomes a reality available to the market.
2. In search of the best battery. A demonstrator to validate technologies.
What is the best battery technology, the one that offers the best safety, the one with the best performance and autonomy? And, if we consider their entire lifetime, which has the lowest carbon footprint?
To answer all these questions, last 2022 was launched the project called DETEBAT-VE (also funded by AVI) which has been led by the CMT-Thermal Engines Institute of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and in which we are participating along with other companies in the sector. The idea was to create a technological demonstrator to validate the battery packs.
As the project enters its final stretch on schedule, the working group has already built seven demonstrators. The first six to simulate the battery pack and the last one, for destructive purposes, to push it to the limit with charge and discharge cycles by our academic partner.
In Industrias Alegre we have overseen manufacturing the housing of the 7 modules, making use of our experience in additive manufacturing. Radiadores Ordóñez has been in charge of the metallic elements and Nutai of the assembly.
Before the end of the year we will have results to share with the whole sector.
3. Connected logistics with applications in battery plants
Logistics has led us to offer differentiating solutions with IoT that allow us to offer traceability, location, and status of containers. This allows us to reach industrial sectors other than the automotive industry, but which also have customer-supplier transport circuits, but also has very interesting applications in the internal movement of battery plants and the transport of these elements.
While we have developed these projects, the geopolitical chessboard has moved, deals have been closed and some OEMs have made strategic decisions. Yes, our environment is not standing still, but neither are we, confident that the solutions we are helping to build will be welcomed in the industry.