Cell Evaluation Engineer – Northvolt AB

Profession: Cell Evaluation Engineer
Name: Stefanie Zekoll

Work place: Northvolt Labs AB, Quality Control Team
Age: 28

This is for how long I have been working with my profession:
I have been working within the field of batteries for the past 7 years now. I first got exposed to this exciting field during my Masters project, where my research involved synthesising completely new types of materials and see if these have suitable properties to potentially become future battery materials. Really enjoyed my project back then, and I guess the topic still got me hooked today, as I now work as an engineer in the battery industry.

I chose my profession because:
Thanks to some great Chemistry and Physics teachers at high school, I have quickly become attracted to any Science related subjects from an early stage onwards. I realised that everything around us is somehow always related to Chemistry, and that it can be linked to all sorts of different fields, so decided to go ahead with studying it at University level. During my studies, I then discovered what’s really important to me, which is eventually working within an industry where I can contribute in making this planet a more sustainable place.

I have the following education:
I have an integrated Masters in Chemistry with Industrial Training and a PhD in Materials Science.

This education is required for my profession:
A background in Chemistry and Materials Science, and some knowledge about batteries is definitely helpful in some of my tasks, but definitely not a necessity. A lot of what I do I never did before and learned on the job. Even after 10 months, I am still learning something new every day. Important is to be curious, passionate and willing to learn quickly!

These are the benefits of my profession:
I work within the Quality Control team at Northvolt. Our team is a very central team to the company as we ensure and control the quality of the battery cells throughout the entire production line, from its raw materials all the way to the final cell we deliver to our customers. It’s been great so far to be involved so closely with all the different production lines we have here in Västerås and support whenever needed. Our team is also very international with over 20 nationalities, a diversity which I enjoy a lot!

These are the disadvantages of my profession:
As some of the production lines here in Västerås are still in the commissioning phase and early stage of production, significant support is required from the quality control team to help with production ramp up. My team works 24/7 at the moment, which also for me sometimes requires long working hours and in general being able to help out on a very flexible basis. Priorities can also change very rapidly in our group, which is also something I had to get used to first.

These are my tasks during a typical working day:
Developing and implementing quality control methods, maintaining and troubleshooting high-end analytical instruments, training technicians in several quality control checks, reporting results back to production, organise and supervise shifts and taking care of any special requests by our internal or external customers. This includes often liaising with other teams, such as process, manufacturing, cell designs to ensure that we are always aligned and support each other in the best way. It’s a good mix between office and lab work, which I enjoy a lot.

Development opportunities in my profession are:
Development opportunities are really everywhere within my team. As we are still a very young company, our team and lab is also yet very new and there’s so much to get involved in, from improving our daily ways of working in the lab, to becoming an expert in a certain analysis or area of our lab. Depending on your interest and passion, there is really something for everyone to get involved in, grow and develop – whatever the previous experience.

Other interesting things to think about with my profession are:
I really enjoy the variety of my job and being involved in the full production process of a battery, from its raw materials all the way to the cell level. As part of my job I am also involved in a lot of cross-functional problem solving and process and product investigations, which is every time again a great opportunity to learn more about the different parts of the product itself and understand how process parameters and product quality are linked to each other. Our many state-of-the-art analytical and characterisation instruments in our lab really enable us as a team to support many teams in many different ways and ensure, at the end of the day, that all battery cells produced by Northvolt are of the highest quality possible! A big responsibility, but also very motivating and rewarding!