GE, Ford, and the University of Michigan team up to extend EV battery life

Shane McGlaun - Aug 6, 2012, 5:06 am CDT
GE, Ford, and the University of Michigan team up to extend EV battery life

Researchers all around the world are teaming up with automotive manufacturers and battery manufacturers to attempt to design improvements in battery packs that will help electric vehicles drive farther. GE, Ford, and the University of Michigan are all working together on a new project with the goal of extending battery life for EVs. Longer battery life equates to a longer driving distance for electric vehicles.

The researchers working on the project are attempting to develop smart, miniaturized sensing systems with the goal of extending the life of the battery pack inside the EV or hybrid significantly over the conventional systems in use today. GE will be using its ultrathin battery sensor system with sophisticated modeling of cell behavior to control and optimize battery management systems in EVs. Sensors are used inside electric vehicles today to measure the health of the battery and look at factors such as temperature, voltage, and current.

The small size of the sensors GE is using allows sensors to be placed in areas of the battery where the larger existing sensor technology commonly used today can’t be located. The smaller sensors will enable a better understanding of battery performance and life inside current EVs. The data generated by the GE sensors will be used by scientists at the University of Michigan to verify their advanced battery models.

The data will also allow the scientists to create schemes that use instantaneous sensor data to predict future battery cell and battery pack behavior. Once the researchers develop the systems, Ford will place the new system in one of its electric vehicles for validation. This project is a three-year $3.1 million program and the goal is to demonstrate a working system inside an actual electric vehicle.

“The car battery remains the greatest barrier and most promising opportunity to bringing EVs mainstream.” said Aaron Knobloch, principal investigator and mechanical engineer at GE Global Research. “Improvements in the range, cost and life of the battery will all be needed for EVs to be competitive. With better sensors and new battery analytics, we think we can make substantial progress at increasing battery life. This, in turn, could help bring down its overall cost and the cost entitlement of buying an electric car.”

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