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From raw materials to the electric car: how a battery is made

25.7.2022
From raw materials to the electric car: how a battery is made

The heart of every electric car is the battery: it stores energy and then transmits it to the motor. But how is it assembled? Here are all the steps involved, from raw materials to its installation in the car.

The most important component of every electric car? The battery! It stores the energy needed for movement and supplies it to the motor. But what is it made of? How is it assembled? How is it installed in a vehicle?

Let's start from the beginning: the four key minerals that make up each battery are lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt (Li, Ni, Mn and Co). "After extraction they undergo a chemical treatment from which the active material is obtained, whose chemical reactions make it possible to store and deliver energy", explains Francesc Sabaté, Head of the Test Center Energy (TCE), SEAT S.A.'s battery R&D center, the only one of its kind in southern Europe.

The heart of batteries: the electrodes

Active material is used to create the electrodes, which are the elements that actually store energy and are encased in cells, which are the minimum energy storage units. Inside them is a positive electrode (anode) and a negative electrode (cathode) that are grouped together with a separator that prevents contact between them. These electrodes are responsible for transferring energy, and each cell has an electrical voltage of 3.7 volts – the amount required to power an LED torch. Driving an electric car, on the other hand, requires about 400 volts, so a large number of cells must be connected in a series arrangement.

The modules that form the battery pack

Cells are interconnected and then assembled into groups of modules. The sum of the modules forms the battery pack. Each module is connected to the others through connectors to ensure both energy flow and communication between the vehicle's electronic control unit (BMCe) and the electronic boards that monitor the status of individual cells (CMCs).

"All that remains is to add the cooling system and the casings, after which the battery is ready to be installed in the vehicle", Sabaté continues. 

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Energy Test Center

To ensure quality and performance, batteries must be tested by simulating all kinds of conditions. SEAT S.A. performs these tests in the pioneering Test Center Energy, where up to 6,000 complete tests of the high-voltage system are carried out each year and batteries are subjected to an average of 17,500 hours of tests and simulations. It is a 1,500-square-meter facility that operates 24/7; climatic tests with temperature ranges of up to 80 °C are also conducted here.

"We push the batteries to the limit to ensure optimum performance in all circumstances", adds Sabaté, who then concludes by emphasizing that this is another step forward in the company's commitment to promoting electrification in Spain.

Source: SEAT S.A.

VGI | Responsible OU: VP | Creation date: article date | Class 9.1

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