Accelerating battery research with robots

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Empa researcher Enea Svaluto-Ferro works together with the battery robot Aurora.
Empa researcher Enea Svaluto-Ferro works together with the battery robot Aurora. The development time for new batteries should be greatly reduced in the future. Image: Empa
Researchers want to accelerate the development of urgently needed new energy storage systems with the help of the Aurora battery robot. The Aurora project is part of the European research initiative Battery2030+, which was recently awarded over 150 million euros in funding by the EU. In addition, the project is part of the ETH Board’s "Open Research Data" initiative, which promotes digitization and free access to research data.

The world urgently needs new types of energy storage. Developing completely new concepts for batteries and exploring their potential is currently a lengthy process, as Corsin Battaglia, head of Empa’s Materials for Energy Conversion laboratory in Dübendorf and professor at ETH Zurich, emphasizes: "Our goal is to accelerate this process," he says. This acceleration is currently manifesting itself in the form of the Aurora robot platform, which is to take over the fully automated and, in the future, autonomous material selection, assembly and analysis of battery cells in the laboratory. As part of the European Materials Acceleration Platform, which is being set up within the European Battery2030+ project BIG-MAP, the aim is to achieve a roughly tenfold acceleration of current development processes.

For internationally competitive battery research and development, time-consuming and error-prone steps in the innovation process are now being automated using Aurora. The robotic platform is currently being further developed in the Empa laboratories together with the company Chemspeed Technologies AG. Empa researcher Enea Svaluto-Ferro is implementing the work steps and "training" Aurora. "While the robot weighs, doses and assembles the individual cell components with constant precision, initiates and completes charging cycles precisely and performs other repetitive steps, researchers can use the generated data to drive the innovation process forward," says Svaluto-Ferro.

EU invests ¤150 million in sustainable batteries

Battery 2030+ is a pioneering European research initiative making strides to develop the batteries of the future. Their focus is on green, high-performing, and long-lasting batteries instrumental in the transition to a carbon-neutral society.

Smart, autonomous and chemistry-agnostic

Under Horizon Europe, the EU’s research program, over ¤150 million funding has been awarded to cutting-edge projects coordinated by Battery 2030+. This signifies a renewed confidence in Battery 2030+ with the goal to make Europe the world leader in the development and production of green batteries.

Swiss Battery Days 2023

From September 18 to 20, 2023, PSI, Empa and iBAT will host the fifth Swiss Battery Days , where researchers from Switzerland and abroad will present their latest results in the fields of synthesis and characterization of battery materials and the fabrication and analysis of battery electrodes and cells, including researchers from the Aurora project.