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Use Case: Battery Supply Chain

When it comes to industry applications of blockchain respectively distributed ledger technology, supply chain use cases are by far most frequently mentioned. One of the main reasons for this is because there are obviously lots of different stakeholders involved who need access to certain information from other parties. Moreover, there are a lot of interfaces present, not only for the object itself but also for the corresponding information flow.

We want to introduce you today to a very interesting application which falls directly into the supply chain category: Tracking the supply chain of electrical battery cells.

Source: Automobil Produktion (2018)

Why battery cells?

Battery cells are in this regard a very interesting product to be observed, because already before the installation in a car, there are many different parties involved. Furthermore, battery cells are commonly seen as problem material and existing resources need to be used best possible. Although, it is no secret that there will be more demand in the next few years, with electrical vehicles on the rise. Another fact which makes battery cells particularly interesting is that they have some quality criteria that are not at all visible from the outside.

Where to start?

Let’s start by looking into a battery supply chain with all its participants. First there is the extraction of the raw materials, battery cell production, module manufacturing and lastly pack assembly. This brings us to a number of participants already before the usage of the battery in an electrical vehicle.

As the raw materials are mostly bulk material which is hard to track, we figured out to start with the battery cell producer and the module manufacturing to build a first showcase.

Building a Showcase for Battery Supply Chains

Together with the technical university of Graz (TU Graz) we are building a showcase for battery supply chains. It will consist of a physical appearance in a laboratory room at the university which is accompanied by a software application built by block42.

The showcase will show the quality assurance process at the end of line of the battery cell producer. Taken that the battery cells are already equipped with a unique serial number and a DMC code. The cell will then be identified, measurements will be made and the data will be written in the distributed ledger. Then the battery cells will be handed over to the customer (the module manufacturer) and for his incoming goods inspection he only needs to scan the code on the battery cell and the according data is automatically queried. Moreover, when the battery cell is handed over, the ownership of the asset is changed from the supplier to the customer automatically, everything recorded on the distributed ledger.

The station at Technical University of Graz

In order to build this showcase we are providing two applications which are connected to the IOTA tangle, one for the battery cell producer and one for the module manufacturer. All the important information regarding the battery cells like the ownership and the data from quality assurance will be stored in the tangle.

What’s the vision?

With building this showcase we want to show the great potential of distributed ledger technologies for supply chain applications. Therefore, the initial application will start with a small part of that supply chain, but we also want to draw a bigger picture of how such a system can look like over the whole life cycle of batteries.

For example second life applications of this battery cells. When they reached their end of life for the usage in electrical vehicles, those battery cells can still be used for other applications like for example as a stationary battery at homes or company sites. In order to make decisions on the second life, trustful data regarding the historical usage and the characteristics of this unique battery cell is needed.

And of course there is the recycling of batteries. This is on one hand very cost intensive, which makes a highly efficient recycling process unavoidable in the future. Moreover, within the next few years several different battery technologies will be developed with a great variety of components. A recycling company needs all available data regarding the battery cell in order to choose the right recycling procedure and cut the costs.

These are just two examples of what will await us in the future. In our opinion utilizing distributed ledger technologies as a trustful data layer for every involved party is not avoidable in the long term. It will be neccessary to build such systems based on open and decentralized technologies which are easily extendable.

Let us know what you think about this application and reach out to us if you have any questions.

About block42
At block42 we invest in the most promising crypto ecosystems and help them secure their networks. We provide consulting and development services on top of those protocols to bring adoption and to co-create a decentralised future.

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We build a holistic ecosystem to accelerate the growth of a decentralised future.

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