Charged EVs | TWAICE battery analytics platform guarantees enormously worthwhile insights at each level in a battery’s lifecycle


How wholesome is your battery pack?

Because the outdated noticed goes, in the event you can’t measure it, you possibly can’t handle it. Because the EV ecosystem develops, there might be an rising have to measure and handle the efficiency of battery cells. Cell producers want a standardized method to consider take a look at information for brand new cells; EV designers have to predict how totally different cells will carry out of their automobiles; fleet operators want a method to monitor the well being of the packs of their automobiles; suppliers of second-life battery functions have to measure the remaining capability of used batteries; and used-car patrons want to have some clue concerning the well being of the batteries they’re shopping for.

The German agency TWAICE was based in June 2018 by Dr. Michael Baumann and Dr. Stephan Rohr to handle these wants. Since then, it has constructed an intensive database of details about how totally different cells from totally different producers age and carry out over time. It has additionally developed a platform that may simulate the real-world efficiency of various cells, and might consider the state of well being of present battery packs. TWAICE can be working with TÜV Rheinland (Technical Inspection Affiliation, a community of firms in Germany and Austria that take a look at, examine and certify technical methods, roughly just like UL or Intertek) to construct a take a look at and certification system for used EV batteries.

Charged spoke with co-founder Michael Baumann concerning the many functions of his firm’s battery analytics platform.

Charged: Inform us concerning the origins of the corporate.

Michael Baumann: I’ve at all times been a really technology-passionate and technology-driven individual, and I wished to make an impression with know-how for the planet and for our society. For this reason I studied mechatronics, and completed my research with battery administration methods for electrical automobiles. And this was additionally the motivation for doing a PhD in that house to dig just a few steps deeper. This was the place I met Stephan Rohr, my co-founder—we met in the beginning of our PhDs in 2014, after we investigated second-life batteries.

Stephan did a techno-economic evaluation of that—all of the totally different economical elements, when the second life is smart, how a lot income are you able to generate, and so forth. And I particularly targeting the technological challenges which come together with batteries, however that are particularly necessary for second life.

What’s the important thing problem with batteries? Batteries age over time, however the query is, what influences the lifetime of a battery? How will you get insights concerning the life and the efficiency of batteries? Again then, there was no manner to do that—there have been numerous uncertainties when it got here to batteries, which is a nasty factor when you’ve got uncertainties on a really expensive part. This was the motivation for my PhD thesis, after which in a while, additionally for TWAICE. We stated, ideally, you’ve got this digital twin of a automobile battery, which is sort of a mannequin of the bodily battery system. That is related with all the person batteries within the subject, and will get all the information on the automobiles or stationary storage or no matter. After which you’ll be able to inform [from] the digital twin, how every particular person battery within the subject performs, like the way it ages over time and in addition how we are able to affect this habits.

Ranging from the event section the place you assist to hurry up the event course of… then it stretches to finish of life—probably second life, quantifying residual worth and so forth.

Early on, the thought [was to address] the sphere of second-life automobile batteries, however Stephan and I quickly realized that you just really can apply it to the entire life cycle of batteries. That’s what TWAICE is doing—battery analytics, all alongside the life cycle and for various industries. There are numerous the explanation why it is smart to [study] the entire life cycle, as a result of you possibly can then actually generate the worth in these particular person steps. So, ranging from the event section the place you assist to hurry up the event course of, [you can] save time, save prices, get a sooner time to market. After which it stretches to finish of life—probably second life, quantifying residual worth and so forth.

Again in our PhD [days] we noticed the potential of this know-how, and nobody else was doing this. These days, there are different startups popping up on this subject, which can be good, as a result of it’s numerous market schooling on this new market. However again then, we actually noticed the potential of this and determined to spin this off after our PhD, which we did in 2018.

Charged: What precisely is the product?

Michael Baumann: The product in the long run is a battery analytics software program platform, which we’re constructing out—it addresses the entire life cycle of batteries, and can be utilized by totally different industries. This platform has totally different options, and these options will be very particular. To provide you some examples, we’ve got a growth device, which is in the meanwhile utilized by automotive OEMs—all the massive German ones for instance. It’s a simulation device, which might nearly take a look at and mannequin particular person cells, but additionally full battery methods.

It fashions the electrical, the thermal and the ageing habits, and it’s utilized by battery engineers to design the battery pack after which simulate, see if it stays inside 

sure temperature boundaries, how lengthy it’ll really final within the subject. Is it outsized? Is it undersized? What concerning the thermal cooling system, and so forth? So, it addresses these questions, however then after we have a look into in-life, there we’ve got totally different options relying on whether or not you’re an automotive OEM and wish to monitor your automobiles within the subject, whether or not you’re a fleet operator and also you wish to decide one of the best charging infrastructure on your bus fleet, or in the event you’re a stationary power storage operator and it’s essential to decide which sort of working technique it is best to run in your storage. So, these will be very totally different options for our prospects, however they’re all constructed on prime of the identical battery analytics platform, which makes use of the identical know-how, algorithms and fashions.

Charged: Taking a step again, how do you get the core information?

Michael Baumann: That’s an excellent query. There are basically two methods and in addition two sorts of information we distinguish. One is lab information. I discussed this growth device [with which] you possibly can simulate batteries. Within the growth course of, you sometimes don’t have subject information but, since you are creating the system, there aren’t any automobiles within the subject but. We parametrize these simulation instruments with in-house measurements in our personal battery laboratory on cells and/or modules. 

We parametrize these simulation instruments with in-house measurements in our personal battery laboratory on cells and/or modules. 

We have now a laboratory in Munich, which we’re additionally extending proper now. Sometimes, prospects ship us some pattern cells, after which we do measurements—electrical and thermal measurements, ageing measurements—after which we parametrize our software program and ship them the software program again, which they then use of their functions. In order that’s one step. 

The opposite information supply is after all subject information. As soon as automobiles and methods get into the sphere, we then get the information from these automobiles. There are other ways how we are able to get them. It’s instantly despatched to us, to our platform, [from] telematic items on [the vehicles], or our prospects may also enter information batches into our platform by way of API. After which we do our analytics on this subject information after which give again insights just like the state of well being of the battery within the subject. Are there any anomalies, failures, or no matter? And naturally, additionally a prediction, how lengthy will the battery final beneath these circumstances?

Charged: What was the preferred software that individuals began utilizing this information for? And what do you suppose sooner or later can be next-generation stuff on your platform?

Michael Baumann:In our first buyer calls, we actually first needed to clarify the issue to our prospects, and why they want battery analytics software program to unravel it. This has improved now quite a bit, however the market continues to be very, very younger, I might say. We at all times discuss concerning the battery super-cycle on this context. What we imply is that the combustion engine has now had a century of optimization and growth. With batteries, we’re most likely at the place to begin of this century, maybe it’s simply a long time, but it surely undoubtedly will take a while. And we are actually creating the device to optimize these batteries to keep up them, to watch them, and so forth. However this additionally means we’ve got to develop ourself with the market. What we see now could be that numerous our prospects have their greatest pains within the growth of the methods. While you check out automotive OEMs (however I believe it’s even worse in different industries like buses, or vans), they’re actually now creating the primary generations of electrical automobiles. So, there’s actually a necessity for good instruments to do a correct design of those methods, like quick testing, additionally digital testing, not solely doing bodily testing within the subject or within the lab, to essentially velocity up the event course of.

That is additionally why we’ve got numerous buyer engagement with our growth device, our simulation instruments, and throughout the growth course of, but it surely’s additionally shifting increasingly more into in-life, as a result of that’s naturally the subsequent step within the life cycle. And this additionally has tremendously modified after we check out the final one or two years. [In] the power trade, we now actually see a big ramp-up of sure gamers. That’s additionally a cause why we arrange an workplace within the US final 12 months.

There are already numerous actually mature power gamers like Fluence and Eaton, additionally prospects of ours, and now we’re beginning first tasks with them. However they’ve very aggressive plans for a whole lot and hundreds of megawatt-hours over the course of the subsequent months and years, so we’re slowly however steadily shifting extra in direction of in-life. As an illustration, we fashioned a three way partnership with [testing organization] TÜV right here in Germany to develop an answer to quantify the residual worth of used automobile batteries.

Charged: The power gamers you talked about, you’re speaking about stationary storage on the grid? 

Michael Baumann: Yeah—it’s basically three ranges, we at all times say. There are these actually giant grid storage [systems], which have a whole lot of megawatt-hours, generally even gigawatt-hours. Then there’s sort of the center layer, which can be industrial storage, will be like tens of kilowatt-hours as much as megawatt-hours. After which there’s the residential storage market—basically storage in your cellar with just a few kilowatt-hours. And we are actually energetic in all of them.

Charged: For the smaller bus and truck firms designing their first or second era of EVs, what selections are you serving to them to make? Are they selecting between totally different cell suppliers? Is it pack dimension? What precisely is your device serving to them consider?

Michael Baumann: A number of questions there—one you already talked about is provider benchmarking and choice. A typical use case there’s that you just wish to examine and simulate totally different cells with a purpose to discover out what’s one of the best one on your software, by way of power density, energy, energy density, prices, lifetime, security, and so forth. And we’ve got one device referred to as Mannequin Library in our providing, which does precisely that. It’s a library of cell fashions—totally different suppliers, totally different sizes, cylindrical, pouch, prismatic, totally different chemistries. And you will get a license for that after which select totally different cell varieties in our on-line platform. You then obtain the mannequin and you’ll instantly simulate the habits of those cells. After which you possibly can see whether or not it suits your software or not, after which choose the cell and transfer ahead in your design course of.

When you’ve chosen a cell, then you definitely sometimes have to design the modules and the system round it, and which means it’s a must to choose what voltage stage you want. Serial connections of cells, power content material, parallel connections of cells, then what about temperature and local weather circumstances? Do I want a cooling system or not? And basically, you possibly can construct this in your simulation setting, then simulate the cell module and system habits, after which see whether or not it fulfills the necessities by way of thermal circumstances, responsibility and vary circumstances, and naturally additionally lifetime.

In order that’s like a typical growth workflow in a nutshell.

Charged: Are you able to inform us extra concerning the evaluation device you’re creating with TÜV that OEMs or people can use to judge a used automobile?

Michael Baumann: That’s one very, very huge drawback proper now, as a result of if you purchase a used EV as an finish buyer, you’re basically shopping for a black field with the battery system, and the battery system makes 30% to 50% of the automobile prices. So, now on this three way partnership with TÜV [Technical Inspection Association], we’re addressing precisely this. The concept is that we’ve got a product that, when you’re promoting a automobile, or if you wish to purchase a automobile from somebody, you possibly can drive this automobile to a workshop of the TÜV or different companions, then we join a charger to it, like an 11-kilowatt charger. We carry out a sure charging profile for half an hour or so, then we course of the measurements we get from the automobile, actually low-level measurements of voltage, present, temperature and so forth, inside our platform. Then you’re going to get a certificates which states the residual state of well being of the battery. It would additionally offer you a quantity by way of {dollars} or euros, what the battery and in addition the automobile is price. This after all offers numerous belief and removes the uncertainty within the used electrical automobile market.

You possibly can drive this automobile to a workshop of the TÜV…we carry out a sure charging profile…then you’re going to get a certificates which states the residual state of well being of the battery.

Charged: You latterly opened an workplace within the US. How huge is your present crew?

Michael Baumann: Proper now, we’re round 120 folks all in all, and we’ve got three places of work. The headquarters are in Munich, we’ve got one workplace in Chicago for our US enterprise, and we’ve got one other one in Paris for the Southern European market. 

We’re a purely enterprise capital-financed firm. This was essential for Stephan and myself to maintain TWAICE unbiased. We didn’t wish to herald some strategic investor to offer the corporate a strategic angle. We actually wish to construct this battery analytics platform as an unbiased third get together available in the market, so that is why we selected enterprise capital. We have now had 5 rounds up to now, and have raised round $75 million US in these 5 rounds. The second-to-last was led by Energize Ventures. That’s a fund based mostly in Chicago, a really operational and hands-on fund within the power and electrical mobility house. This was sort of a strategic determination for us, why we picked Energize, as a result of they actually helped us enter the US market. 

Charged: This looks like an ideal platform and enterprise alternative, as a result of everybody from cell producers to used automobile patrons have a necessity for this sort of battery evaluation. Are you engaged on some other attention-grabbing functions that we haven’t mentioned?

Michael Baumann: Battery analytics might be an amazing market within the subsequent 5 to 10 years, and it is going to be super-important to essentially make electrification and renewable power a hit story. We got down to outline this market, and to be the important thing participant on this, however we not solely wish to do that by ourselves and never purely by our product, but additionally really to mirror sure accomplice approaches.

I already talked about the three way partnership with TÜV. There are additionally two different issues which go in that path. One is that we’ve got a collaboration with [German multinational insurance company] Munich Re, with whom we’re providing insurance coverage options for battery storage for the stationary subject, but additionally sooner or later, for mobility. After which one other thrilling instance is that we work along with firms like ViriCiti, who acquired acquired by ChargePoint. They’re providing fleet administration software program for electrical bus fleets, and we’re giving them the battery insights, which they then additionally go to their prospects. In order that’s one necessary factor—we’re very a lot engaged on sure accomplice approaches to essentially construct out an ecosystem of battery analytics and battery analytic-powered options sooner or later.  

This text appeared in Problem 61: Jul-Sept 2022 – Subscribe now.


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