Optical Fault Sensors for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Battelle Memorial Institute
Battery Fault Sensing in Operating Batteries
Image of Battelle's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$948,261
Location: 
Columbus, OH
Project Term: 
11/01/2012 to 04/30/2014
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Critical Need: 
Today's electric vehicle batteries are expensive and prone to unexpected failure. Batteries are complex systems, and developing techniques to cost-effectively monitor and manage important performance measures while predicting battery cell degradation and failure remains a key technological challenge. There is a critical need for breakthrough technologies that can be practically deployed for superior management of both electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy storage systems.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Battelle is developing an optical sensor to monitor the internal environment of lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries in real-time. Over time, crystalline structures known as dendrites can form within batteries and cause a short circuiting of the battery's electrodes. Because faults can originate in even the tiniest places within a battery, they are hard to detect with traditional sensors. Battelle is exploring a new, transformational method for continuous monitoring of operating Li-Ion batteries. Their optical sensors detect internal faults well before they can lead to battery failures or safety problems. The Battelle team will modify a conventional battery component to scan the cell's interior, watching for internal faults to develop and alerting the battery management system to take corrective action before a hazardous condition occurs.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Battelle's optical fault sensor for Li-Ion batteries would detect the magnitude and location of internal faults and other hazardous conditions that current battery sensor technologies fail to identify.
Security: 
Advances in energy storage management could reduce the cost and increase the adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy storage technologies, which in turn would reduce our nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Environment: 
Improving the reliability and safety of electric vehicles and renewable energy storage facilities would enable more widespread use of these technologies, resulting in a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Economy: 
Enabling alternatives to conventional sources of energy could insulate consumers, businesses, and utilities from unexpected price swings.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Ilan Gur
Project Contact: 
Dr. James Saunders
Partners
University of Akron