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Electric-Car Batteries Get a Boost from Artificial Intelligence


THE WALL STREET JOURNAL >>

Artificial intelligence is poised to add some juice to electric vehicles—by speeding up improvements in battery technology.

Researchers are moving closer to delivering batteries that feature improvements highly sought by engineers and marketers of electric vehicles: batteries that are safer, recharge faster and are more sustainable than the generation of lithium ion batteries now in use. Within five years, experts say, electric vehicles, or EVs, will reach price parity with traditional combustion-engine cars, thanks in part to the role AI is playing.

The battery makes up 25% of an EV’s total cost, and half of that battery cost is materials. Using AI, battery researchers can speed up the exploration and testing of a vast universe of new material formulations that could make up a battery. The result is that advances in research and development are happening at a pace previously unheard of. Discoveries that once would have taken years to achieve now are possible, in some cases, in a matter of weeks.

“Historically we have operated on human intuition and experience, making small changes in things that have worked in the past,” says George Crabtree, director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, established by the U.S. Department of Energy at the University of Chicago Argonne lab to accelerate battery research. “Machine learning speeds up this materials discovery process by orders of magnitude.”

In particular, AI allows researchers to identify the sweet spot between faster charging times and a battery’s expected life.

Suzanne Oliver, in her WSJ article, writes, "Researchers at StoreDot, an Israeli-based battery maker, are using AI to create a battery that will slash electric-vehicle recharging times, a process that, depending on conditions and vehicle model, can take hours. Last year, the company, whose partners include BP, Daimler AG, TDK, and Samsung, demonstrated a battery for two-wheeled vehicles that recharged in five minutes. It hopes to demonstrate the battery in a four-wheeled electric vehicle in 2022."




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