En bild på en stor batterifabrik
Product | Technology | Patents

Northvolt – For a European Green Energy Transition

Northvolt is a rapidly growing Swedish company within the battery manufacturing sector. The company is developing a more sustainable process that starts with the mining of raw materials and continues through to the production of the batteries, and then onto recycling. When the materials are recycled, the cycle is completed with minimal impact on the environment. The ambition is to be the world’s greenest battery manufacturer.

– By 2030, we aim to have 50% recycled material in our factories, says Jenny Blidefalk, IP Director at Northvolt.

Research, product development, and intellectual assets are the foundation of the company, which is expanding quickly. With factories under construction in Skellefteå, Gothenburg, Germany, Poland, Canada, and a research company in the USA, Northvolt is taking energy storage to a new green level.

Collaboration in Material Development Requires Patents

Porträttbild på mörkhårig kvinna
Jenny Blidefalk

Northvolt is developing entirely new solutions, and patenting is crucial in the innovative product development. Patents are also a vital prerequisite in collaborations with business partners and other stakeholders, as the exchange of technical solutions and their further development are central to Northvolt's collaborations, for example in material development with various research centres and universities.

Patents add value and provide security in these collaborations. A solid patent portfolio makes it easier for new collaboration partners to evaluate the value of entering into a partnership. Currently, the company has around 100 patents, submitted to the PRV.

Trade Secrets for Manufacturing Processes in Factories

Know-how and valuable knowledge about manufacturing and processes are protected by Northvolt with trade secrets. It is difficult to detect patent infringements occurring in others' factories, and therefore the company sometimes chooses to keep manufacturing processes secret instead of applying for patents. When deciding how to protect its intellectual assets, the company asks: Can we prevent leaks? Can we keep the knowledge internal? Is the detail worth patenting? Several factors are considered in a decision.

Competitors in Asia

Battery cells are central to Northvolt’s business idea. The company works with chemical materials for electrodes and with new proprietary cell technology. The cells contain mechanical components that work together to extract energy with quality safety solutions. The technology can often be detected in a product that has reached the market, therefore patents are effective. Patenting also ensures that the company's own solutions are not blocked by others' patents. The market for electric vehicles with green batteries has exploded, and Northvolt is building a European domestic sustainable battery industry in response to the growing demand and thus reducing dependency on batteries from Asia.

– We are driving our train at high speed and laying the tracks in front of us at the same pace, says Jenny, when describing the situation.

Jenny's intellectual property team at Northvolt is small and focused on strategies and policies. They are scaling up their operations by hiring agents and specialists. The challenge is to continually speed up the patent process.

– The patent process itself is not fast, but at PRV, it is done as quickly as possible while maintaining quality, concludes Jenny Blidefalk.

The interview was made in 2023.