The university in the south of Norway is initiating a large-scale collaboration with business and industry to develop battery expertise within research, education, and co-creation.
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The transition from fossil fuels to electric batteries in vehicles, boats and aircrafts is part of the solution to the climate challenges for the planet. However, a lot of these batteries are currently produced from coal power in China. The global race for investment in environmentally friendly battery technology has already begun.
The University of Agder (UiA) is starting a five-year project with business and industry partners to build up expertise in the field of battery technology. The goal is to become one of the leading tech environments in Norway, and that Southern Norway will live up to its new nickname as the ‘battery coast’.
“When the Agder region wants to invest in this, it is very relevant that the university is involved. This project is about collaborating with business and industry to build our expertise and competence. We will all benefit from this”, says Jorunn Gislefoss, director of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at UiA.
In Arendal, a few miles from UiA, the technology company Morrow is planning a battery factory that can produce 700,000 batteries a year, creating 2000 jobs.
Together with Equinor, Elkem and Glencore Nikkelverk, Morrow will fund the competence building with NOK 7.5 million. An additional NOK 15 million comes from the Competence Fund for Southern Norway and Aust-Agder Development and Competence Fund. The remainder of the NOK 68 million budget will be covered by UiA.
The plan is to hire four professors, create three research positions, and announce six PhD studentships. At least one of the professorships is divided into five part-time positions from the industry, and the six PhD positions will be doubled through externally funded projects.
To find the professor to lead the project, the university will recruit internationally. Experience from the industry and the ability to collaborate and network will be just as important for this role as academic and teaching skills.
The University of Agder is an academic institution that provides a combination of excellent educational and research opportunities within a pleasant and open environment.
UiA has over 1,400 employees and 13,000 students, which makes us one of Southern Norway’s largest job providers. Regionally anchored in Southern Norway, which is famous for its astonishing natural surroundings, the University of Agder is an open and inclusive university characterised by a strong culture of collaboration and a global outlook.
UiA is strongly committed to finding new interdisciplinary solutions to contribute to the green shift. The university is already involved in different battery-related projects in collaboration with industry partners and has several research activities in this field.
UiA researchers work on automated disassembly of electric batteries, sustainable business models for recycling, and EU policy on battery production, among other things.
Earlier this year, the university also received NOK 5 million from Agder Regional Research Fund for research on battery recycling.
The university has strong research environments in mechatronics, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and materials technology. They will all contribute to focusing research efforts on batteries.
“We have many passionate researchers, and we are already strong on battery technology research. This project will help us take the next step and enable us to compete with the rest of the world”, says Michael Rygaard Hansen, dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at UiA.
He mentions automation and robot control especially as areas where the university is well ahead.
“When a battery can no longer be used in a car, it still has many uses. By disassembling and reusing it, we help pave the way for a circular economy. And in mechatronics, robotics, and automation, UiA is number one in Norway”, he says.
The goal is to further develop UiA’s strong expertise in the field and collaborate with existing Norwegian research environments to supplement the knowledge.
Faculty Director Gislefoss says that Eyde Cluster challenged the university to meet the developments in the field of battery technology. Eyde’s technology manager, Lars Petter Maltby, says he is very pleased that UiA has taken on the challenge of developing relevant competence for the future battery industry.
“The Eyde Cluster has challenged companies on the need for relevant technology and knowledge around the battery value chain. The fact that UiA now will offer this through research and future study programmes is very important to Morrow, Elkem, Equinor and Glencore”, he says.