Algorithms could boost efficiency of Li-ion batteries

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed sophisticated estimation algorithms that could allow lithium-ion batteries to run more efficiently, potentially reducing their cost by 25% and allowing them to charge twice as fast as is currently possible.

"This research is bringing the promise that, with advanced estimation algorithms that are based on mathematical models, batteries can be charged faster and can run more powerful electric motors," said lead researcher Professor Miroslav Krstic. "This technology is going into products that people will actually use." While manufacturers usually rely on voltage and current to monitor the battery's behaviour and health, these measures are often too simple and lead to over-designed, oversized batteries that weigh and cost more. They also take a long time to charge compared with gas-powered vehicles. As such, Krstic and his team developed estimation and control algorithms that allowed them to estimate where the particles in the battery were so that the anode could be filled to capacity safely and efficiently. According to the researchers, the algorithms can also estimate how the health of the battery changes over time. They claim the approach has the potential to reduce the production costs of Li-ion batteries by 25%, while also allowing them to run more powerful electric motors. The researchers recently received a $460,000 share of a $9.6million grant from the US Department of Energy's ARPA-E research agency, which they plan to use to refine and test their algorithms using actual batteries