What is a Battery Engineer?
Well, there are many facets to this job title with just 3 clear distinctions / job types. The first area being assessing the material science needed for the type of lithium-ion battery application required.
At this conceptual stage, there are often blurred lines in terms of where the science ends and the engineering aspects begin.
For example, if you assess at the application required there are different materials needed depending on the power density, (whether that be high voltage or low voltage) and the subsequent gravimetric density required. The battery engineer involved at stage will quite often be engaged in the requirements specification. From which they will be able to make room rudimentary suggestions on the battery type, pouch, cell or cylindrical as well as the chemical constituents needed for the cathode, electrolyte and the anode. Battery engineers involved at this stage tend to be the scientific and come from a material science background.
Then the heart of the design of the battery cell itself is a different role whereby the engineer will assess application and design the cell required whether that be pouch, prismatic or cylindrical. This role involves much more of a mechanical engineering discipline. In addition, this individual will have a good perception of manufacturing principles and possess a good understanding of how and what sort of products could be scaled up to mass manufacture.
The third area of battery engineer role type is the design and integration of full battery system. A full battery system takes these battery cells and puts them into structured/ housed units which is a predominantly mechanical exercise. In addition, there are specialist BMS (battery management system) software engineers who design embedded software protocols and to manage the battery whilst I in application. A full systems engineer will call these skills together along with thermal management expertise to ensure the end of product is safe, fit for purpose and of the highest quality
Battery Engineer Salary?
In short at good one! Battery engineers highly sought after in all global markets.
Salary will vary depending on location and your discipline, but all offer comparatively attractive salaries and benefits.
The graduates entering the battery engineering arena in the U.S. market are currently being offered a range between sixty and eighty thousand dollars per year (depending on state)
Engineers with a 3 to 5 years’ experience of battery engineering making between $100k and $150k per year (depending on state). In addition, the many start-up businesses often offer stock options which could prove an extremely lucrative after three to four years of service.
How can I develop my career as the battery engineer?
Depending on your discipline whether that be material science, mechanical, software development, or electrical electronic there are many routes to develop your career.
Material scientist for example are highly sought after to push the boundaries of battery capacity. The automotive sector is particularly active in developing science and new battery formulas to increase the gravimetric density of the battery thus increasing the power and range of the vehicle. The science is moving away from historically successful materials such as nickel, magnesium, and cobalt (NMC) in favour of environmentally less damaging materials such as sulphur and phosphate.
Battery engineers with a mechanical discipline are also highly sought after particularly roles that design battery cells whether they be pouch, cylindrical or prismatic.
Battery engineers that design full systems are highly sought after for both mobility and Energy Storage applications. The automotive sector is a particularly active area for these types of positions.
A full systems engineer is more aligned to Project Manager who can call on multiple disciplines such as BMS Software developers, to functional safety, mechanical design, and thermal management specialists to produce a high quality and product that delivers the power required safely and efficiently.