The electric revolution taking place in the automobile industry has a quiet hero; the battery. Without it, an electric vehicle will not experience displacement. The earlier EVs used lead-acid to store the electricity that powered the motor. However, due to the weight and inefficiency of this type of battery, EV makers have shifted to lithium-ion batteries.
With most new electric vehicles using them, lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous. Making an EV battery surprisingly includes an extensive supply chain as it involves several materials. In this article, we will take you through how electric car batteries are made.
How are electric car batteries made?
Electric vehicle batteries come in packs containing many cells that are cylindrical, prismatic, or pouch-shaped. Each cell contains active ingredients and is wired to other cells. The packs are typically welded and glued together.
Lithium-ion battery cells contain several elements, including carbon, lithium salt, and metal oxide. These elements form the positive and negative electrodes, with an electrolyte solution surrounding them. The electrodes are actually sheet-like and curled up or sandwiched together.
Interestingly, EV batteries are similar to the batteries that power your devices like smartphones and tablets.
The materials that go into making electric vehicle batteries are mined from the earth. The most important is lithium, which is not complicated to extract. Lithium is often found in underground ponds, and the liquid is pumped out and allowed to dry out in the sun. After the extraction, the lithium is processed into lithium carbonate and shipped off to the battery plant.
Battery plants are usually pristine environments because there is low tolerance for impurities. Also, the workers wear special clothing that shields against static electricity.
The battery packs contain much more than the cells, as manufacturers include electronics to manage charging and discharging, and an active cooling system to prevent overheating.
Other components inside an EV battery include struts to make the whole unit stronger, a high-voltage system, ie, internal cabling that conducts electricity when the modules are charged and discharges, low-voltage system, ie, internal cabling system that handles communication and data collection for electronic control of the battery, high-voltage connector where the electricity enters or leave the battery pack, etc.
Most of the process for assembling the components in a standard factory is handled by robots and requires little human labor.
The battery packs go through a series of tests, including seal test, electric test, and insulation test. If all the tests yield positive results, the battery is charged to a certain percentage, labeled, and placed in a car.