In the summer of 2022, Vinnova financed three extensive projects that will contribute to a self-sufficient and resistant, resilient, industry. It concerns sustainable energy supply in industrial areas, self-supply of critical metals for battery manufacturing and on-demand manufacturing of spare parts in the process industry. We took the pulse of the projects with a few months left until the first delivery.
The corona pandemic and the disruptions it caused in global supply chains put the spotlight on the industry's vulnerability to imports of certain components. When the energy crisis came after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, another dimension was added to the need for industrial self-sufficiency and resilience.
In the spring of 2022, Vinnova made a call for proposals with aim of funding system demonstrators for resilient production, a way to test and demonstrate entire system solutions in a real but limited environment. Four project were financed within the resilient supply of energy, raw materials and components. Of these, three have continued to work and in autumn 2023 will present the results from the first phase, a feasibility study.
The projects work with a mission-oriented way of working, which means that you gather all actors who have an impact, such as industrial companies, regions, universities and startups, and set up a common objective via an anchoring process. In the analysis work, one works actively to capture needs and solutions within the five areas that together constitute a so-called system perspective: culture and behavior, infrastructure, technology, business models and policy/regulations.
The combination of the three components - resilience, system demonstrators and a mission-oriented way of working - is not completely uncomplicated, but Vinnova judges that it is right for the purpose as you need to mobilize actors from many parts of society to reach a working solution to a complex societal challenge.
Self-supply of metals for electric cars
One of the projects is In Calm Mind, which is about creating self-sufficiency in the metals needed for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.
- Sweden has become a real battery country, but manufacturing is based on us getting the raw materials from, for example, China. We want to build the demonstrator to show the risks, thresholds and obstacles that exist and how we can overcome them. So that we don't build large battery facilities but then there is no material available, says Linus Brander at Rise who is project manager.
One of the project's biggest challenges is therefore to find ways to make the permit processes for mining metals faster but still with sufficiently good quality for the environment and people.
The vision, says Linus Brander, is that by 2050 at the very latest, 80 percent of the battery manufacturing for Swedish needs will be built from recirculated material that was also once extracted and refined in Sweden.
Less vulnerable industries with their own energy system
Another project is the Energihamnen in Malmö, a pilot project to develop a sustainable and self-sufficient energy system that will make industries less vulnerable to access to external electricity and gas.
The project has not yet identified exactly what the solution should look like. A sustainable energy source must generate electricity that can be connected to a battery store where it can be stored. One of the companies in the core group is Texel Energy Storage, which manufactures batteries for energy storage of renewable energy, and which plans to start a larger production in Malmö.
- We are looking at various possible system demonstrators as a partial solution. In the 10-15 year term, we want to have fulfilled the sustainable energy system Energihamnen in Malmö, says Per-Johan Wik at Sustainable Business Hub who is project manager.
Sustainable production of spare parts
The third and final project is about on-demand manufacturing of spare parts for the process industry in Norra Mellansverige. In order not to risk production being at a standstill, a lot of spare parts are currently kept in stock, which means both high storage costs and the fact that not everything may be used. Today, it is also common to build spare parts from largely unnecessary material because it is cheaper to leave it there than to remove it, explains project manager Nicklas Tarantino at Sustainable Steel Region. When spare parts are also shipped from other parts of the world, the environment and climate are negatively affected. Spare parts could be manufactured locally and regionally in a more environmentally and resource-efficient way.
- We want to streamline so that the suppliers can produce when the industry needs it. Manufacturing on demand is nothing new, but we need to work on meeting the need faster with digital tools. We are also looking at production methods that involve more additive manufacturing. If you use 3D printing to produce a product, you only use exactly as much material as you need, says Nicklas Tarantino.
Call for proposals of stage 2 in May 2023
By autumn 2023, the preliminary study projects must be ready, then the solutions for system demonstrators must be so clearly described that they can then be built. The next part in the call for proposals, which opens in May, is about building the system demonstrator itself. There is the possibility of a funding of SEK 20 million per project for two project and the grant can amount to a maximum of 40 percent of the project's total eligible costs. The project can last for a maximum of five years. From the Agency for Growth, the projects can simultaneously apply for EU funding via the regional fund programs (ERDF funds), which enables further scaling up of the investment.
The system demonstrators can be described as an intermediate phase, a demo machine that is tested before being able to scale up on a larger scale. With the calls for proposals Vinnova wants to bring about a system change. If you can prove that by gathering a broad consortium and agreeing on how to build resilience on a small scale, then it can then be scaled up in the region nationally within about ten years.
Facts about the projects
In Calm Mind – Swedish self-sufficiency and circularity of metals for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.
Project partners: Rise, Chalmers, Luleå Tekniska Universitet, Västra Götaland region, Region Västerbotten, Fortum recycling and mining and graphite anode company Talga.
Energihamnen – a sustainable and self-sufficient energy system for an area with, among other things, industries in Malmö's harbor area.
Project partners: Sustainable Business Hub, Eon Energilösningar, Malmö city and Region Skåne.
On demand manufacturing for resilient production (DEM-ON DM) – On demand manufacturing in Sweden of spare parts for the process industry.
Project partners: Sustainable Steel Region, companies in the steel and manufacturing industry, Karlstad University, Region Dalarna, RISE and Sandvikens municipality.
A resilient production is characterized by:
- Ability to react to external disturbances.
- Ability to return to the original state, or be moved to a new and more desirable state, after being disturbed.
This can apply to shocks regarding, for example, the environment, geopolitics, energy supply, finances, equipment, raw materials, skills, distribution, logistics, customer markets and partners.
This article was first published on 17 April by Vinnova.