Thin-Film Temperature Sensors for Batteries

GE Global Research
Control Enabling Solutions with Ultrathin Strain and Temperature Sensor System for Reduced Battery Life Cycle Cost
Image of GE's technology
ARPA-E Award: 
Niskayuna, NY
Project Term: 
01/01/2013 to 12/31/2015
Project Status: 
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: 
GE is developing low-cost, thin-film sensors that enable real-time mapping of temperature and surface pressure for each cell within a battery pack, which could help predict how and when batteries begin to fail. The thermal sensors within today's best battery packs are thick, expensive, and incapable of precisely assessing important factors like temperature and pressure within their cells. In comparison to today's best systems, GE's design would provide temperature and pressure measurements using smaller, more affordable sensors than those used in today's measurement systems. Ultimately, GE's sensors could dramatically improve the thermal mapping and pressure measurement capabilities of battery management systems, allowing for better prediction of potential battery failures.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, GE's thin-film sensors would provide more accurate measurement of temperature and strain within battery packs, offering a substantial improvement over today's best temperature and surface pressure measurement tools.
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.
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.
Enabling alternatives to conventional sources of energy could insulate consumers, businesses, and utilities from unexpected price swings.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Ilan Gur
Project Contact: 
Dr. Aaron Knobloch
University of Michigan