Scientists from Nanyang Technological University have developed a smart chip that they say provides a more precise picture of battery health than current warning systems, many of which only alert users when the battery is already overheating. Developed by Professor Rachid Yazami of the Energy Research Institute @ NTU, the new chip is small enough to be embedded in almost any battery.
â€œAlthough the risk of a battery failing and catching fire is very low, with the billions of lithium-ion batteries being produced yearly, even a one-in-a-million chance would mean over a thousand failures,â€ said Professor Yazami. â€œThis poses a serious risk for electric vehicles, as big battery packs have hundreds of cells or more bundled together. If there is a chemical fire caused by a single failed battery, it could cause fires in nearby batteries, leading to an explosion.â€
The chip uses a proprietary algorithm based on electrochemical thermodynamics measurements. In contrast to monitoring systems that only show voltage and estimated state of charge, Professor Yazamiâ€™s algorithm can display both the state of health and the state of charge on a 3-dimensional chart.
â€œIn addition to knowing the degradation of batteries, our technology can also tell the exact state of charge of the battery, and thus optimize charging so the battery can be maintained in its best condition while being charged faster,â€ added Yazami. â€œMy vision for the future is that every battery will have this chip, which will reduce the risk of battery fires in electronic devices and electric vehicles while extending their life span.â€
NTUâ€™s commercialization arm is helping to develop the chip into a series of products, and expects to make the technology available for licensing by chipmakers and battery manufacturers before the end of 2016.