Sensor Technology for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)
Novel SOC and SOH Estimation Through Sensor Technology
Image of SwRI's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$712,000
Location: 
San Antonio, TX
Project Term: 
10/01/2012 to 09/30/2014
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: 
SwRI is developing a battery management system to track the performance characteristics of lithium-ion batteries during charge and discharge cycles to help analyze battery capacity and health. No two battery cells are alike--they differ over their life-times in terms of charge and discharge rates, capacity, and temperature characteristics, among other things. In SwRI's design, a number of strain gauges would be strategically placed on the cells to monitor their state of charges and overall health during operation. This could help reduce the risk of batteries being over-charged and over-discharged. This novel sensing technique should allow the battery to operate within safe limits and prolong its cycle life. SwRI is working to develop complex algorithms and advanced circuitry to help demonstrate the potential of these sensing technologies at the battery-pack level.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, SwRI's sensor technology would help to better manage battery life and safety, which could considerably improve customer confidence in electrical energy storage systems.
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. Jeff Xu