Digital-twin modeling underlies software for battery life improvement -

Digital-twin modeling underlies software for battery life improvement

As the number of electric vehicles grows on our roads, it becomes essential for car manufacturers to manage the entire life cycle of batteries efficiently and environmentally.

As the number of electric vehicles grows on our roads, it becomes essential for car manufacturers to manage the entire life cycle of batteries efficiently and environmentally. In Europe, a new Battery Directive has been issued that proposes requirements for all batteries, including those for automotive applications, such as efficiency and performance, durability, carbon footprint monitoring, origin of raw materials, disposal, and recycling of end-of-life batteries.

An approach that can address these issues is based on platforms and battery analytics technologies, which are bringing intelligence into the battery production process and into their first life cycle. The intelligence delivered by the analytics software platform allows you to extend the life of the batteries, produce better and more efficient batteries (therefore with greater autonomy), simplify the recycling process of out-of-use batteries, and prevent safety risks and recalls.

Twaice battery analytics software

Twaice is Munich, Germany-based company that develops predictive analytics software for batteries using digital-twin modeling and cloud-based software. By interfacing directly with the battery management system, the platform collects significant data for analysis, such as voltage and temperature, to determine the current state of the battery.

The use of the digital twin, which runs on the cloud, allows you to create a model that faithfully simulates the operation of a lithium-ion battery, helping vehicle manufacturers in the choice of the right materials and in the appropriate sizing of the cells. The digital twin, the heart of the technology developed by Twaice, combines an in-depth knowledge of the physics and operation of the battery with artificial-intelligence algorithms to evaluate the current state of the battery and to predict its future state and therefore its reliability. In addition to improving battery management during its operational life cycle, the software developed by Twaice provides additional information, such as the degree of aging of the battery and its residual value. Figure 1 shows Twaice’s modeling and simulation under test.

Figure 1: Simulation testing

The technology developed by Twaice is aimed not only at the automotive area but more generally at the entire world of mobility and the energy sector.

“We are defining ourselves as the leading battery analytics and simulation company, helping our customers in the mobility and energy industry,” said Stephan Rohr, co-founder and co-CEO of Twaice. “Our customers include large car manufacturers but can also be fleet operators, operating buses and cars. On the other hand, we are also addressing the energy industry, where large storage manufacturers need to be successful with their battery business.”

During the next five to 10 years, there will be a massive deployment of batteries to electrify cars, buses, trucks, and energy storages, and that will bring a lot of challenges to the battery life cycle. The design of a battery is a crucial task, as you must select the right cell chemistry, charging speed, driving range, and all the relevant parameters. There are a lot of challenges that are linked in some way to battery health and battery lifetime.

“We started off four years ago building a company that helps the mobility and energy industries to have a better battery life cycle,” said Rohr. “We are building and offering our customers software tools they can use in the two major use cases, which are the development phase and the operation of the business.”

Even though its headquarters are in Munich, Twaice has already spread out in Europe, opening an office in Paris and, last October, in Chicago to cover the customers they are serving and support them on-site.

As mentioned earlier, Twaice is focusing on both the automotive and energy industries, where batteries are usually quite large. In an electric bus, the battery costs about €100,000 to €250,000 in sustaining lifetime; therefore, having a proper battery life cycle is a key factor for the business, which is operating the bus fleet. Of course, that’s a little bit different from having a very small battery, as in an electric scooter. Rohr said, “When companies start developing their scooter or their battery, they can always apply our battery simulation tool helping to assess the battery lifetime. It doesn’t matter for us if it’s a scooter company, car company, bus company, or energy company.”

Another relevant feature provided by Twaice’s software analytics is warranty tracking. A bus fleet company, for instance, can use it to assess if, in the next two, three, or four years, a warranty claim might occur, which happens when any of the health parameters runs out of the warranty boundaries.

Twaice’s software can also be used to dive very deep into the battery architecture. Because a battery is built up with a lot of different battery modules, fault cells can be detected. So analytics is not performed just on the system level but also down to the module and cell levels (Figure 2). That can provide valuable information, such as when a module needs to be replaced. Customers can thus save a lot of money, as replacement of single modules is cheaper than replacing the whole battery pack.

Figure 2: Cell testing

“The core of our system is predictive battery analytics,” said Rohr. “It’s not just limited to assessing the current state but also predicting the future, like the residual lifetime in three years, the remaining driving range in three years from now, or when the battery will run out of warranty.”

Twaice is a player that is really covering the whole battery life cycle, which means the development phase and the monitoring phase. Covering both phases brings several benefits, as synergies can be used, transferring knowledge (digital twins and analytics) from the development phase to the operating and predicting phase. Companies can use Twaice’s software to examine the battery system’s remaining life and health and determine if it’s fit for a second-life function or if it should go directly to recycling once it’s no longer suitable for its first-life application.

Regarding the technical aspects, several different technologies today are used for Li-ion battery manufacturing, such as nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA), and lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP). “We are seeing a strong movement toward LFP, especially in the energy but also in the mobility space, because you will get rid of cobalt and it’s also cheaper,” said Rohr.

Twaice currently has a very strong relationship with universities and companies working on solid-state batteries, but in Rohr’s opinion, they will not be commercially available before 2025–2027.

>> This article was originally published on our sister site, Power Electronics News.

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