Since 2012, GBatteries has been developing battery management technology to improve performance without changing chemistry. Our technology is based on active and adaptive control of energy flowing into the battery during charging – because of this, developing our advanced control methodology has been difficult from the earliest of days due to the limitations within conventional battery cyclers.
Out of necessity to achieve our goals, we’ve spent considerable time to develop the vertical integration of various streams and products necessary for battery technology R&D.
We’ve developed in-house solutions within many verticals, ranging from internal software products for analyzing, visualizing, and controlling large amounts of tests and their respective data all the way to specialized lab hardware, our high-precision battery cycling equipment. Over the years our test team has collected over 30 billion data points, leading to constant optimizations to our active battery management system.
Imagine a single desktop computer running on Windows XP managing one battery test system that costs thousands of dollars per channel. A battery scientist would need to use this terminal to input the test parameters, run the tests, check on its progress regularly while the system is generating data, and then later export all of it to CSV files to manually plot within Microsoft Excel. This was battery analysis in 2012. It was a slow and static process – and it was and is still the standard process.
When the idea behind GBatteries was first created, the largest barrier to making it a reality was the test system. Overcoming the hurdles of the conventional way of charging had to start with improving the whole test system. However, the investment required to build a new and adaptive test system that had the mechanical and control changes was daunting.
Over the course of two years, we gathered battery cycle life data while building a test system that was capable to deploy a complex pulse charging profile. The Version 1 of our test system was rudimentary, but it got the job done - we were able to gather key test data as we kickstarted the charging profile development.
Like most startups, we tried to acquire partnerships with major electronics companies to deploy the algorithms within their products, but they required years of deployment data to show proof-of-concept.
So, in 2014, we headed out to Silicon Valley to acquire the funding required to take the next big steps with our technology.
From 2014 to 2016, during our time at Y Combinator, we were developing and deploying new ways to extend the life of the battery in consumer products. However, most consumer product manufacturers didn’t care for it – no how great the results we showcased, longer cycle life wasn't going to be something that would give them enough of a competitive advantage.
Luckily, there was a new up and coming industry brewing - electric vehicles. Pivoting to the EV market came with a challenge – the key need was performing fast charge while maintaining long life. Previously, our technology focused on enabling long battery life but did not consider fast charge because of its' negative impact on long life. We believed it was possible – but only with the right test system, one that could provide the ability to modify hundreds of control parameters.
From 2016 to 2019, we went into stealth mode and focused on building and deploying multiple versions of our test system in order to enhance our active battery management technology.
In 2016, Version 2 used the boards from our previous products with re-written firmware to cycle test cells.
In 2017, Version 3 was an improvement to Version 2 without our previous product boards. However, it had limited ability to easily scale along with other limitations, so the next version had to address all of its’ hiccups.
In 2018, Version 4 came to fruition - the test system our team always dreamed of. The system and it's accompanying environment was built with:
Version 4 evolved from being a purely hardware-based test system to a vertically integrated solution that supports the ability of our cycling technology to be adaptive, not static. Our development team created tools like live-viewing dashboards to monitor performance, “set it and forget” to setup the battery while controlling testing remotely (our team's MVP for the 2020 lockdowns), and real-time analysis of the state of health of the battery (goodbye Microsoft Excel plotting!).
With the 3 billion data points gathered over the years and the thousands recorded in real-time, Version 4 paved the way for the integration of machine learning technology within the pulse profile technology – enabling the pulse profile to adapt based on the real-time state of health of the battery.
In 2019, GBatteries launched out of stealth mode with a test system that enabled our cycling technology to charge a conventional lithium-ion battery as fast as a car can be filled with gasoline (5 minutes to half a tank, 10 minutes to full tank).
Scaling our fast charge technology came with many new challenges such as data management, and dealing with different applications from our diverse set of customers.
In 2020, Version 5 introduced cloud-based control and data collection – allowing us to work with multiple battery cells and customers at the same time.
In 2021, Version 6 added Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscope (EIS) & linear voltage scan capabilities to seamlessly perform comprehensive battery tests without having to use any additional equipment nor disconnect the battery to the system.
In 2022, we are on track to releasing our latest version of our test technology under Version 7. It will focus on expanding our internal software tools to be externally facing – allowing our customers to view their cell’s performance in real time.
The nature of our process with our customers is that they provide us their requirements then await testing results from our research and development team. Similar to the static process back in 2012, our customers do not yet have access to the test system that has enhanced our technology over the years.
In the months ahead, GBatteries is looking to improve this process so customers may access the real-time data demonstrating how our pulse and test technology helps their products achieve fast charge and long life.
Over the past 10 years, we have been continuously solving the problem of making batteries better while having the right equipment to do so. Our active battery management technology is only as good as the test systems we build around it.
We continuously improve both our control algorithms, and our testing technology to adapt to the requirements of our stakeholders and to the evolving needs of the market – such as new battery chemistries and more application types.
No matter what bottleneck there is in the battery industry – from fast charge, efficient formation, to dendritic growth in lithium-metal batteries – we find excitement in the challenges ahead and we hope to design the future of battery testing to be proactive, not reactive.
Are you interested in making our world more proactive with adopting clean energy technologies? If so, apply to join our team through our Careers page.