As it stands, there is rapid development in battery cell technology with some experts forecasting that over the next 10 years the battery production industry will grow by 30 times its current size.
This growth is leading to more economical electric cars and a faster uptake of cleaner energy solutions.
While this is positive, the cells are just one element of the evolution of electric cars and stationary storage. In most cases, there needs to be a casing to hold it all together.
Having worked directly in the field and after consulting with others in the industry, Vaulta founder Dominic Spooner saw that these casing designs weren’t being developed anywhere near the pace of the cells. Additionally, packaging the cells up was a really detailed and time consuming process.
“There were too many parts and it was too slow and expensive to meet the ever increasing demand for cost-effective battery solutions,” Dominic says.
Enter Vaulta. A product that helps customers who design and build battery packs for electric cars and stationary storage to combine the functions of many battery casing parts down to one.
“Our product greatly reduces time and cost to market, without compromising on the quality. We have been able to reduce the weight and size of the battery pack, which helps its overall performance,” Dominic says.
“Vaulta’s design has also improved thermal performance and opens the door to reusing battery casings parts and battery cells for second life products like scooters and skateboards.”
With over 10 years of design experience, Dominic says his entire work life has been about solving problems with designs.
“I’ve worked on a lot of products both at companies I’ve been employed by, or more recently working directly with clients at my design consultancy Ember Design House,” Dominic says.
“These products have ranged from satellites to consumer products, but when I spent some time designing battery modules for electric vehicles, I found it was a space I really enjoyed. I also found myself wondering if there was a better way to approach the design process. Was there a way to overhaul how things are done from the early design stage, right through to the assembly and maintenance stages?
“I was keen to keep expanding on the idea, so I started my own company. I began with some former colleagues, but eventually it became clear that it was just me that was truly motivated to pursue this, so it became Vaulta.”
Vaulta was fortunate enough to have some early believers.
“In 2019, we were accepted into a pre-accelerator course at Arc Hardware Incubator in Brisbane and as a result we received some pre-seed funding from Artesian, who are particularly active in the clean-tech space,” Dominic says.
“That funding and program at Arc gave us the ability to develop the product to a prototype level, which we’ve used to develop customer interest and seek further funding, which should be announced in the next few weeks.”
While this has all been incredible, there have also been challenges along the way.
“By far the biggest challenge was developing our own blends of materials and a set of mechanical design guidelines. The materials and how they behave allows us to bring a lot of innovation to the mechanical design of battery casing parts. One can’t work without the other, so it all had to come together at the same time for it to work best,” Dominic says.
“We were fortunate to have the help of some great and highly skilled companies in SDI Plastics, based in Beenleigh and Graphene Manufacturing Group, based in Salisbury. This is very much an all Brisbane and Queensland combined effort and it's been really encouraging and enlightening to see how much skill and innovation is happening in our own backyard.
“We feel that we’ve created a product our future customers can benefit from, both globally and locally. We believe it equips customers to handle the industry growth, without just adding more staff and machines to scale up their capacity.
“A smart design can make all the difference.”
Once the funding has been finalised, Vaulta will look to further prototyping.
“We plan to build battery modules that we can test against customers’ current solutions so that they can see the benefits of the design,” Dominic says.
“In addition to developing prototypes for existing customer opportunities, we’re working on finding early adopters that are looking to advance the way they design and build battery packs.
“We’re also adding some personnel. We’re in negotiations to fill some key roles within the business, which will help to develop this product into a world-class offering.”
There are exciting things on the horizon Vaulta.
“We’re really close to being able to announce a seed fund raise, but it's not quite there yet,” Dominic says.
“We’re also looking to find customers who want to trial Vaulta’s design on pilot programs at a heavily discounted rate.
“The design is applicable and adjustable to almost any battery application, so we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next.”