The world today is growing more conscious about the environment and increasingly oriented towards ecological transition. In this context, combining economic growth with sustainability has become a requisite of innovation. This is more so in rapidly evolving sectors such as electrification.
As a lithium battery maker, Flash Battery, has stood out over the years for its commitment in the road to sustainability and to reducing its environmental impact. Investment in research and development has become its strong point and, in alignment with its values, the company also contributes to saving energy and the conservation of resources.
A challenge at both the entrepreneurial and organisational level, we have continuously worked towards the constant improvement of the many diverse aspects of our business, from the product chain to the reduction of the overall consumption levels at our headquarters to the well-being of our employees. We are conscious of the fact that adoption of sustainable development practices and business success are closely linked, leading to not only improvements in environmental performance, but also economic advantages such as cost reductions and greater competitiveness.
Lithium batteries for traction: since 2012, sustainability and attention to the environment behind the industrial choices of Flash Battery
Ever since Flash Battery was established in 2012, our industrial choices have been geared towards the ambitious goal of 100% green innovation by providing the industrial machinery and electric vehicle market sustainable lithium batteries. The concept of sustainability is inherent in the word “electrification”, which stands for zero emissions and the opening of that energy transition pathway that is leading an ever-larger number of manufacturers to abandon polluting fossil sources. For Flash Battery, efforts in this direction involve, first and foremost, product design.
Working with customers as energy transition consultants
In supporting industrial machinery and vehicle manufacturers towards energy transition through sustainable technological innovation, we start from the design stage; that’s our distinctive way of working. This is precisely where we began, developing technologies and producing fully custom, high added-value lithium batteries that could lead to increasingly wide-ranging sustainability by making our skills and know-how available to customers.
Our role as producers of lithium batteries for industrial machinery and vehicles is to create knowledge and skills in the world of electrification. We do this by illustrating the advantages of a green, zero-emissions power supply and by walking customers through the process in order to identify the electrification solution best suited to their requirements.
Cobalt-free lithium chemistry with long life-cycles
The Li-Fe-PO4 technology we use in our lithium batteries is the result of accurate research and combines the highest safety levels that the industrial machinery and vehicle market demands, with a low environmental impact.
In fact, LFP (lithium – iron – phosphate) chemistry is the safest and most stable you can find on the market and, as required by industrial systems, it is available in large-capacity formats without the need to connect many small cells in parallel that would lower the stability level and compromise the safety of the vehicle. But it also provides another important added value: it is completely cobalt-free. Cobalt, a hard-to-dispose-of material, has a high environmental impact.
Reducing the use of cobalt or, better yet, finding solutions that are free of this material, as in our case, is becoming increasingly important today for 3 main reasons:
- Cobalt is a rare metal and due to the high demand, deposits are being rapidly depleted. It is estimated that we could have shortages as early as 2025.
- It generates an ethical problem because half of the deposits are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where child labour still exists and the many illegal mines lead to corruption and guerrilla groups.
- It is becoming more and more expensive due to the difficulty in sourcing the material and the effort it takes to mine it.
In addition, Flash Battery’s LFP lithium batteries in conjunction with the patented “Flash Balancing System” electronics, have an exceedingly long life, recording today over 4,000 charge and discharge cycles, and their performance does not change over time. This means that in most cases the battery will outlive the machine it is powering.
Research and Development of high-tech solutions for a sustainable chain
We keep a steady gaze on an ever-more sustainable future and anticipate European demands and regulations by continuously investing in research into efficiency- and sustainability-oriented materials and skills.
This is the focal point of our Research and Development department, which today accounts for over 35% of the staff and every day works to come up with solutions that do not impact the environment negatively while anticipating the needs of our customers worldwide through accurate design of each lithium battery and use of cutting-edge systems that ensure a sustainability-aligned production.
As a result, the performance of the product is designed for compatibility with low environmental impact production processes where end-of-life battery disposal and recovery is a topic of focus. Behind Flash Battery’s commitment to research is the intention to create synergies so that the entire sector can begin to produce in accordance with sustainability criteria by researching into more efficient and easily recycled materials that are in alignment with the concepts of:
- Sustainable design: avoiding the use, during the construction process, of materials that are harmful to the environment and removing pollution-causing steps from production processes
- Dismantle-ready design: designing the battery with agile mechanics, making it easy to open and speeding up end-of-life dismantling processes
- Recycle-ready design: factoring the use of easily-recycled materials in the design stage.
We regularly assess the direct and indirect impact of our products and, when designing them, we already have their end-of-life disposal and recovery in mind. For this reason, we came into compliance with the legal requirements of Italian Legislative Decree 188/08 as early as 2015, becoming members of COBAT, the national consortium for the management and recycling of spent batteries and accumulators. Therefore, every three months, we pay a fee proportional to the number of batteries that we introduce into the territory. This fee serves to finance the Italian battery disposal and recycling system set to take hold over the next few years, fostering the circular economy.
Flash Battery HQ: En-Route to Carbon Neutral and Plastic-Free status
Protecting the planet by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energies to foster a more sustainable economy is a need felt by an increasing number of governments, industries and administrations around the globe. However, environmental responsibility is everyone’s duty and we all should be taking concrete actions at an individual level to support the sustainable development of society.
At Flash Battery, our intention is to become a Plastic-Free and Carbon-Neutral company consistent with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This is why the new headquarters, which embody the ideals of sustainability and functionality that set us apart, do not use fossil fuels and are equipped with technologies that produce clean and renewable energy and systems that provide timely monitoring of active electricity use.
A heat pump air-conditioning system, a high-efficiency mechanical ventilation system for air treatment and heat recovery in the offices, and a floor heating system in the production department are just some of the methods deployed to optimise consumption and limit the company’s carbon footprint.
We have also recorded significant results from the 150 kW solar park installed on site. In 2021 alone (when installation was completed), the park generated more than 189 MWh of energy, allowing us to reach 70% energy self-sufficiency and preventing the emission of more than 48.3 metric tons of CO2.
Moreover, in 2020 we undertook to cut down on waste and today have eliminated the use of plastic bottles in our facility, replaced by glass bottles distributed through 5 water vending machines.
Lastly, to reduce the environmental impact of our lithium-ion battery production, we adopted a lean approach to optimise our supply chain. We now give preference to a short supply chain, sourcing our supplies within a radius of 50 km and implementing a methodology that uses the least amount of resources in order to make production processes leaner, less polluting, and free of processing waste. For example, we have eliminated plastic from most of our packaging over the last few years, starting the process of replacing it with materials from renewable sources.
ISO 14001 Environmental Certification: Steadfast in our Commitment
To have something to show for the important work done over the last few years, Flash Battery decided to take the steps to adopt the ISO 14001 standard, and achieved the prestigious DNV environmental management system certification in January 2022. The certification stands as proof that we are taking practical actions to minimise the immediate and long-term environmental impact of our processes, products and services and is a reassurance for all stakeholders that our environmental management system complies with the international legislative standards for our industry.
“For Flash Battery, sustainability is a way of life. That inherent willingness to invest in an accumulation system for green electrification with the highest level of energy performance was simply transposed into every other area of the company. This led to the intention to create an integrated environmental management system that was in line with the company’s values and that could push us to analyse the processes deployed and continuously investigate areas we can invest in and improve. The future of our company and the industry is continually evolving. This is why we want to solidify the results we have achieved to this point and raise awareness among the people working with us and around us of environmental issues and the impact of our everyday actions”.
Our achievement of the ISO 14001 certification is, therefore, both a goal reached and the starting point to another. It enabled us to put our commitment to the environment down in writing, to keep track of the sustainable activities we have implemented and, most importantly, to monitor the direct and indirect impact every facet of our business is having on the environment. We are, however, aware that there are still many other actions to take with a 360-degree perspective in order to create an integrated system with an increasingly lower impact on the environment.
“We chose to certify to ISO 14001 because we felt we needed to assess our environmental management system; we wanted to modify it, implement it and refine it. It wasn’t an easy or quick process. We mapped the environmental impact of every area in the company, created internal and external monitoring systems for our consumption, plants, processes and safety systems, and made continuous improvements on processes and products. The process is in a state of becoming. We are only at the beginning of our endeavour and this is just a small piece of the puzzle. Our company is young and made of young people, and as such, we have the duty and responsibility to look to the future of our planet in a more conscious and sustainable way, understanding that doing things one way or another will return a different impact on the environment”.