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Saft has about 85 people dedicated to long-term research, split between our two dedicated centers: Bordeaux, France, home to the main corporate research team; and Cockeysville, Maryland, USA.
The aim of both sites is to push the boundaries of knowledge, find new processes, improve our technology, and ultimately create better batteries. Our broad range of experts includes chemists, material scientists, mechanical engineers, electronic and software engineers. They are encouraged to think outside the box and find truly innovative solutions, but also to explore and find synergies with other industries. To improve electrode extrusion, we looked at processes in chocolate making. To design cheaper, sealed cylindrical casing for batteries, we investigated how drink cans are made. For every battery application, we find the best solution – not just the best battery solution.
All our technology is rated according to its TRL (technology readiness level). TR1 is an idea; TRL9 is ready for production. TRL1-3 are all handled by Corporate Research. That’s when we plunder the minds of our PhD scientists. During TRL4, 5 and 6, the technology is further developed and evaluated in one of our two incubators, where the aim is to fail fast and often. TRL7-9 sit in the hands of engineers at our manufacturing plants. This is when we test the prototypes to their limits to achieve the finished product, refining and honing what has already been proven to work.
But our R&D doesn't just focus on the end product; we also design and build our own tools, plant and machinery. This might involve establishing new processes, models and procedures, and even writing the algorithms that support development and optimize battery use.
Our primary lithium batteries last longer (at least 20 years) than batteries from any other manufacturer. This makes them ideal for use in long-lasting applications where replacement is difficult and expensive. For example, primary lithium is the battery of choice for gas, water and electric meter companies worldwide.
Our nickel cadmium batteries work in extreme temperatures and last longer than those of our competitors, which makes our batteries the go-to choice for the aviation industry. Some 80 percent of all large commercial aircraft use our Ni-Cd batteries.
The most powerful lithium-ion batteries are made by us. They can discharge in less than 10 minutes and are capable of providing emergency power for the Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft F-35, for example, at -40°C , when most batteries would be frozen. They can also function at extremely high temperatures in Formula One cars.
Saft R&D also provides valuable electrochemical models for all our battery technologies. These models are useful for predicting battery behavior, aging and safety. In the case of Li-ion batteries, our scientists and engineers also develop advanced algorithms for system management. These algorithms are embedded by our electronics and software engineers in the system management of any complex Li-ion battery.
Our creative technical people are our most important asset. They forge our reputation. Their hard work is the foundation of our future.