PARC and LG Chem Improve xEV Battery Performance

September 15, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

PARC, a Xerox company, today announced successful initial module-level testing of SENSOR, a next-generation fiber-optic sensing battery management system, with initial focus on hybrid and electric vehicles (xEVs), developed in collaboration with LG Chem Power. The project is funded under the US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) within the Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) program. PARC is showcasing the SENSOR technology this week at the Battery Show in Novi, Michigan.

The SENSOR system uses PARC's compact wavelength-shift detection technology, along with its machine learning and sensor network expertise for effective real-time performance management and optimized battery design to enable cheaper, lighter, and more reliable battery packs. Capabilities range from accurately inferring cell state and health information (SOX) to predicting remaining life. The resulting commercial xEV-grade battery module with embedded optical sensors and readout unit has undergone industry-standard initial validation.

"It's been a very exciting journey over the last three years for our multi-disciplinary team, as we successfully brought together interesting ideas from different fields to pioneer a new sensing option using fiber optics, low-cost readouts, and smart algorithms for next-generation battery management systems," said Ajay Raghavan, PARC Research Area Manager and Principal Investigator leading the effort. "We've demonstrated very promising proof-of-concept results in the lab with lithium-ion batteries at the cell- and module-level, demonstrating 2.5% or better SOX accuracy across various xEV use-cases. We're now eager to take the SENSOR technology to the next level partnering with OEMs for further hardening, validation, and transitioning this to fielded xEVs, as well as to explore its applicability for other energy and structural systems."

The PARC-LG Chem Power team has completed initial module-level testing of SENSOR. This builds on the promising cell-level sensing/SOX estimation results and development of its low-cost, high-accuracy, multiplexed fiber-optic sensing readout reported at the 2015 ARPA-E AMPED annual meeting. PARC will initiate independent testing and further validation in larger xEV modules and packs in partnership with major OEMs, partly supported by follow-on funding from ARPA-E. In parallel, PARC continues its work on hardening its SENSOR technology for field deployment and efficient scaling for battery and other energy systems.

The demonstration of a complete battery sensor prototype includes new fiber optic sensing elements, a design to cost-effectively integrate hair-thin optical fibers into battery cells and packs, a compact optical read-out unit to measure the signals, and the intelligent algorithms that can make sense of the measurements to effectively control the battery.

This SENSOR project is part of a broad portfolio within the PARC Energy Technology Program aimed at developing practical solutions to make clean and abundant energy available across a wide range of applications. This includes a focus on improving chemical energy storage for EVs, consumer electronics, and electric grid support; advanced energy conversion devices, including medium temperature fuel cells; harsh-environment wireless sensors to improve the efficiency of coal gasification plants; and advanced analytics to maximize energy utilization.