Volvo Cars EV battery materials traceability

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The pilot was commissioned by Volvo Cars.
Karolin Langfeldt

The production of minerals such as cobalt, lithium, mica, or nickel used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries has potential adverse social and environmental impacts. Volvo Cars recognised this challenge and the fact that increasing legislative and consumer demands for greater transparency in the provenance of raw materials sourced required a more innovative and effective solution to prove that materials used in their product supply chain had indeed been responsibly sourced.

However, the raw material supply chains in question are complex and involve a web of highly diverse actors further upstream. Raw materials, by their nature, are difficult to tag reliably - the material transforms on its journey from source to end-use. This means that a new identity needs to be added after each transformation that inherits the provenance of the material and destroys the old identity.

Volvo Cars commissioned Circulor to implement a technology-enabled traceability solution, to enable an end-to-end chain of custody to be constructed, initially for Cobalt and subsequently for Mica, with other materials being planned.

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The solution spans Volvo’s entire battery supply chain for electric vehicles (EV) to provide full traceability of cobalt from source to the EV itself in order to manage the risk and demonstrate that responsibly sourced material only enters the supply chain.

Volvo Cars worked with Circulor to implement a platform based on distributed ledger technology, and other technologies to create an immutable chain of custody record in the supply chain which, when combined with supplier audits, creates a totally new standard in verified responsible sourcing.

Artificial intelligence algorithms support due diligence and identify data anomalies to target compliance and investigative action. Bringing transparency and traceability into the supply chain is the first step towards closing the loop.