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Speaker spotlight with Maggie Gulbinska

· 600 words, 3 min read

We sat down with keynote presenter Maggie Gulbinska, Director of the National Battery Testing Centre for the Queensland University of Technology, to hear her insights on the important work being conducted by the National Battery Testing Centre. 

What key message would you like to highlight to the conference delegates?

For the last three decades, rechargeable battery technologies were growing mostly through incremental improvements in energy, power, cost, etc. This steady growth occurred in parallel to an exponential growth in market demand for batteries, with multiple battery applications defined by varied requirements (energy, power, footprint, etc.). The shortage of critical minerals opened the door for energy storage diversity, but also complicated the technology landscape. Currently, the technology landscape is defined by the struggle between technology diversity and the need for standardisation.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing in the sector today, and what innovations do you predict we will be seeing in the future?

 There are a few trends I think worth mentioning:

  • The global emergence of gigafactories – i.e. ‘facilities that produce batteries for electric vehicles on a large scale’ (Frangoul, 2022) – highlights the need for material provenance tracking, tightly defined material specifications and narrowly controlled production processes.
  • The digitalisation of production technology (from materials to battery systems) helps address the above, when based on true insight into the existing and emerging production processes.
  • From the 'chemistry' point of view, the battery sector already has a range of technical options to draw upon. The key remaining challenges will require 'engineering' solutions. Examples of such solutions include: updated electrode coating processes, scalable application of solid electrolytes, and battery packaging that is suitable for rapid disassembly and recycling of contents; in my opinion, these innovations will drive the battery sector in the short-term future.
You and your team on the ‘Electrochemical Testing of Li-ion Battery Materials in Standard Cell Formats’ project are leading the way for Australia's battery industry future. What insights have you gained from the project so far?

 Again, there are a few points to highlight here:

  • For new technologies, the implementation and scale-up of, high quality, and and well-operated prototypes are critical to produce statistically viable data across the whole project, from benchtop trials, through to pilots and then industrial scale.
  • The development of reliable demonstration vehicles, and separating the material performance from the cell design, is key in battery materials innovations.
  • Benchmarking and validation of materials in reliable, standard cell prototypes is critical to the continuous improvement cycle that feeds the product development cycle in this industry.
Are there any new technologies or changes to operations that are set to further enhance the EV value chain here in Australia?

'Closing the continuous improvement loop’ and having a material provider, cell maker, end user and recycling provider working closely together is critical to sustainably advance EV technology. The scale of each stage (i.e.: pilot vs. full scale industrial plant) is secondary to having all steps in place and working closely together.

The Queensland Government's latest investment in the National Battery Testing Centre looks set to play a key role in the energy storage revolution, how do you see this impacting the future of the industry?

With the recent investment, we hope to further enhance and expand our equipment infrastructure and add critical capabilities, such as module/pack scale destructive testing, combined with advanced analytics.

Maggie will be presenting her highly anticipated keynote presentation ‘Supporting the sustainable battery-grade materials supply chain: selected challenges and proposed ways to address them’ at the upcoming Lithium, Battery, and Energy Metals Conference 2022, hosted on 14-15 September in Perth and online. 

Find out more and register now to hear the latest from global leading experts.

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