The Battery Professorship Seminar Electrified Research and Business Cooperation at the Salo IoT Campus

Batteries and electronic energy solutions were at the center of discussion at the Salo IoT Campus on Tuesday 28th of September, where Salo-based industrial companies and battery industry experts took part in the Battery Professorship seminar.

15.10.2021 News

Batteries and electronic energy solutions were at the center of discussion at the Salo IoT Campus on Tuesday 28th of September, where Salo-based industrial companies and battery industry experts took part in the Battery Professorship seminar. The seminar, organized by Yrityssalo, Salo IoT Campus, Salo Department of the Turku Chamber of Commerce and the University of Turku, opened up various cooperation opportunities to strengthen the battery ecosystem of Southwest Finland.

Regional vitality, business and university cooperation, sustainable and environmentally friendly industry, international competitiveness. Such words echoed in the halls of Salo IoT Campus at the opening of the Battery Professorship seminar on Tuesday 28th of September. The day started with a mini-fair in the lobby of the Salo IoT Campus and continued in a large auditorium, where guest speakers addressed the possibilities of electrification from different perspectives. According to Johanna Valio, coordinator of the eFlow Hub – Growth from the Business Ecosystem for Electrification 2020–2022 project, the goals of the project were met at the seminar.

– The event brought together large and small players working on electronic energy solutions. We wanted to introduce different forms of battery professorship cooperation, but also to highlight training opportunities more broadly, as well as case studies of business and university cooperation, Valio says.

Keynote speakers Veli-Matti Viitanen of Lounea Oy and Urban Development Director of Salo Mika Mannervesi also emphasized the versatility of cooperation. In their introductions public and private interests regarding electronic energy solutions were tied together.

– In Salo, electrification provides a platform for the development of innovations whilst supporting regional vitality, Mannervesi summed up.

Battery Professorship Speeds Up Development

Research is an integral part of the eFlow Hub project. Pekka Peljo, an associate professor at the University of Turku’s battery professorship, focuses on the storage possibilities of renewable energy. In his studies different groups of different experts come together.

– Electronic energy solutions have numerous areas of research and application, such as transport, LED research or AI-based materials research. However, the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly forms of energy, such as wind and solar power, requires safe and cost-effective storage of energy. In the field of battery research, we have identified the potential for the reusing of lithium batteries. The advantage of flow batteries, in turn, is storing energy and scaling production as needed, says Peljo.

Critical areas of battery research are batteries’ cost of energy density and finding suitable materials for battery manufacturing. Peljo says that researchers in the battery professorship are currently searching for materials that could replace the key ingredient of flow batteries, vanadium, a material now only available in China and a few other countries. The development of this and other research work is part of the professorship’s degree program, of which curriculum for next spring is currently being planned. Peljo therefore encourages companies of Salo to suggest ideas that could support the planning.

Researchers and Businesses in Dialogue With Each Other

Research knowledge is at the disposal of companies of Salo via students and researchers at the University of Turku and Turku University of Applied Sciences. The cooperation between companies in Salo and the University of Turku is coordinated by Paavo Kosonen, the development manager of UTU Business Collaboration Salo, and on behalf of Turku University of Applied Sciences Mika Lohtander, the head of education and research at the unit of Engineering and Business.

– We bring together education, research, and working life services. We also have close ties to the university. The collaboration in the research process often begins at the university with the planning of formulas and algorithms, which we then test at the University of Applied Sciences. In Salo, companies can then apply this information in the cooling of batteries for example, Lohtander explains.

The latest research data also brings vibrancy to the working life. In his speech, Åbo Akademi University’s project researcher Mikko Helle emphasized continuous learning.

– Instead of increasing performance, we encourage employees to acquire knowledge. We have found that those who have been in the working life for a long time have been a great help in studying the entire life cycle of batteries, says Helle.

In some cases, collaboration between researchers and companies is so seamless that it is an integral part of the business. The university co-operation of Solar Finland Oy, a multi-expert in solar energy, started with the implementation of theses. As a result, the company has been able to develop its operations, and students have had employment opportunities. Therefore the company’s CEO Anu Areva says the arrangement has benefited everyone.

– University collaboration has provided access to many projects and created networks that have increased our visibility internationally. Not only does the cooperation enable the company to develop its technology using research data, it also offers commercial benefits and improves visibility and reputation, Areva explains.

Cooperation Yields Benefits

The need for environmentally conscious energy solutions has become especially evident in the automotive industry. In this field Valmet Automotive is profiled as a contract manufacturer and system supplier of e-mobility solutions and services. Such roles put emphasis on the battery systems.

In his speech at the Battery Professorship Summit, Jyrki Nurmi, SVP of Valmet Automotive’s EV Systems business line, pointed out that the automotive market has developed rapidly in recent years. He reminded that in Europe, almost all manufacturers are moving away from combustion engine cars towards the electrification of transportation.

– Electrification requires an up-to-date understanding of battery systems. This in turn increases the need for cooperation between research and entrepreneurs. Clusters like the eFlow Hub stand as a link between national objectives and local businesses. Valmet Automotive is a strong player in the entire national battery cluster and is involved in many discussions on the national level. However, we see that it is important that even the smallest companies in the region recognize the trends in the field and are thus able to develop their operations in a shared direction, Nurmi comments.

A Battery Ecosystem That Aims for International Prominence

The goal of the eFlow Hub project is to strengthen the brand of know-how and business related to batteries and electric mobility. At the end of the event, Jouko Urmas, a senior advisor at Yrityssalo, stated that the conditions for it are excellent.

– During the project, we have been amazed at the level of battery expertise that companies in the Salo region and researchers in the field have. Over the next year, our goal is to make the operations more visible. The goal is to further develop a battery ecosystem in southwestern Finland, which would also attract international attention, Urmas said.

– Local businesses can help in the process. Getting involved doesn’t require much. All it takes is for the companies to share their own experiences. Even this can be used to develop our operations, Urmas states.