How a New ‘Battery Data Genome’ Project Will Use Vast Amounts of Information to Build Better EVs

How much does an electric vehicle’s battery performance change in hot weather? How about cold?

If someone drives aggressively in an EV, how does that affect the battery life?

How much do variations in battery materials make a difference in how an EV performs in various conditions?

Researchers and manufacturers have partial answers to these questions based on the data they have collected. But they would know much more if they shared their data in formats they all could understand.

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This is the premise behind the Battery Data Genome, a new initiative led by Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and Idaho National Laboratory, among others. The name is a reference to the Human Genome Project, a monumental data-sharing project launched in 1990 that contributed to innovations in medical science.

“It’s going to take a lot of data, data from a lot of sources,” said George Crabtree, a distinguished fellow at Argonne and director of the Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research

George Crabtree. Photo Courtesy of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research
George Crabtree. Photo Courtesy of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research

Crabtree is one of more than two dozen co-authors of a paper published this month in the journal Joule announcing the project. Regular readers will recognize him as someone I often ask to help translate battery science into plain language.

The Battery Data Genome will collect information from every part of the battery life cycle, including basic data like how batteries respond to different types of charging and discharging, and additional variables like the effects of temperature, driving speed and differences in the materials within the batteries.

The participants include national labs, like Argonne and Idaho, and anyone else who wants to join, which could include universities, automakers and other businesses. The partners can choose how much they want to share.

“I think one of the things that everyone realizes is that some will be reluctant to join, because, you know, it compromises their secrets, trade secrets, and that’s OK,” Crabtree said. “It’s kind of an open decision for anyone who wishes to participate.”

The project is aiming to create a common set of standards for how battery data is formatted, so everyone is speaking the equivalent of the same language.

Then, when there are vast amounts of data in one place, the organizers are hoping that researchers and companies can use artificial intelligence and other sophisticated methods of analysis to unlock ways to make batteries that are more effective.

Sue Babinec, an Argonne battery scientist, said in an email that the announcement of the project follows more than a year of meetings and conversations among researchers about how to standardize their data for better sharing. She was the lead writer of the paper, along with Eric Dufek, a manager at the Idaho lab.

The authors’ work is an attempt to counteract what the paper says is the “current fragmented ecosystem” in the ability of researchers to build on each others’ progress, which is holding back the potential for a renaissance in battery data science.

The paper notes that there are already several data-sharing initiatives in battery science, including the Battery Data Toolkit maintained by Argonne. The new project is building on what the others have done.

Consumers, businesses and the research and development community would be the beneficiaries because of research that should make batteries less expensive, more functional and more durable. This would apply to batteries used in EVs along with stationary battery storage and other applications.

Crabtree sees the potential for the insurance industry to use some of the data to get a better idea of how to insure EVs. Also, consumers may be able to allow their driving habits to be monitored, and drivers who are putting less stress on their batteries may be able to qualify for lower rates.

The most exciting thing, he said, is the idea that sharing data on a large scale can yield insights that are beyond even what researchers know to be looking for, insights that otherwise would not be available.

Other stories about the energy transition to take note of this week:

Honda and LG to Spend Billions to Build a Battery Plant in Ohio: Honda announced that it has picked a site southwest of Columbus, Ohio, to build a $3.5 billion plant to build batteries for electric vehicles. The plant, part of a joint venture with LG, will be in Fayette County, Ohio, which is just outside of the Columbus metro area, as Mark Williams reports for The Columbus Dispatch. The new plant will employ 2,200 workers, making this an economic development coup for the state. Honda also said it is spending $700 million to retool three existing plants in Ohio to prepare them to make electric vehicles. “We now face a once-in-a-100-years change from the internal combustion engine to electrification,” said Bob Nelson, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. “Once again this requires a bold vision for the future.” I’ve been writing about opposition to solar power in Pickaway County, Ohio. This new plant will be about 30 miles from Williamsport, the village where many residents are opposed to installing solar on farmland. It will be interesting to see how this rural region responds to this wave of development, which is likely to lead to pressure to build housing subdivisions on land that is now used for farming.

A Close Look at the Grassroots Clean Energy Revolution: Canary Media has a series of stories this week about communities taking charge of clean energy development after utilities and the government failed to do so. “The availability of cheap solar, batteries and other tools gives communities new options to cleanly power themselves, and neighborhoods across the country are availing themselves of this opportunity,” writes Julian Spector in an introduction to the series. Among the stories, Jeff St. John writes about how a new generation of Indigenous leaders are building businesses and serving their communities with clean energy.

The Climate Law—and Its Billions—Are Changing Everything: The new climate law is influencing everything from how consumers buy cars and how green groups are organizing to which policy experts are suddenly in high demand. And this is just two months after President Joe Biden signed the bill, as Robin Bravender reports for E&E News. “The country hasn’t embarked on this level of industrial transformation since the New Deal,” said Sam Ricketts, co-founder of Evergreen Action and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “This is going to be a thing we are all going to be figuring out together.”

GE Begins Restructuring Its Onshore Wind Business to Adjust for ‘Market Realities’: GE Renewable Energy has confirmed that it is restructuring its onshore wind operations following media reports that the company was laying off workers. GE did not confirm the size or the timing of the cuts, as Emma Penrod reports for Utility Dive. GE Renewable Energy’s wind business has struggled to deal with a decrease in orders due to competition from other manufacturers, rising costs and other challenges. “We are taking steps to streamline and size our onshore wind business for market realities to position us for future success,” a company spokesperson said to Utility Dive.

GM to Buy a Stake in Australian Mining Company to Gain New Sources of Nickel and Cobalt for EVs: General Motors has said it will invest up to $69 million in Queensland Pacific Metals of Australia. The move will give GM access to cobalt and nickel for making batteries for electric vehicles, as David Shepardson reports for Reuters. The investment will help GM to maximize the incentives available to consumers under new tax credits, which are limited to vehicles with batteries whose materials were produced in the United States or in countries that have free trade agreements with the United States.

Inside Clean Energy is ICN’s weekly bulletin of news and analysis about the energy transition. Send news tips and questions to dan.gearino@insideclimatenews.org.

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                    Dan Gearino                 </a>


                <h4 class="profile-subtitle">Clean Energy Reporter, Midwest, National Environment Reporting Network</h4>

                <span>Dan Gearino covers the midwestern United States, part of ICN’s National Environment Reporting Network. His coverage deals with the business side of the clean-energy transition and he writes ICN’s <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/tags/inside-clean-energy/">Inside Clean Energy</a> newsletter. He came to ICN in 2018 after a nine-year tenure at The Columbus Dispatch, where he covered the business of energy. Before that, he covered politics and business in Iowa and in New Hampshire. He grew up in Warren County, Iowa, just south of Des Moines, and lives in Columbus, Ohio.</span>

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