Data science, AI and IoT are paving the way for an all-electric, greener planet
The future of energy storage is in data. Tech startup ION Energy has built a technology platform that leverages software analytics and AI to significantly improve battery performance, and is empowering 40+ organisations in 12 countries
Founded in 2016 by Akhil Aryan and Alexandre Collet, ION Energy is an advanced battery management and intelligence platform. The company is headquartered in the USA with significant operations from Mumbai in India and Grenoble in France. “ION’s mission is to accelerate Earth’s transition to an all-electric planet. This is in response to the fast exhaustion of the earth’s reserve of fossil fuels due to the insatiable demand for energy,” says Akhil Aryan, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ION Energy.
Within a year of its inception, ION Energy acquired French Battery Management System (BMS) developer – Freemens SAS and since then, ION started commercialising its flagship BMS platform. The startup is today empowering 40+ organisations in 12 countries, including SE Asia, North America and Europe (Germany, France, UK, Poland, Austria, Sweden).
The tech startup is focused on building technologies that improves the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and energy storage systems. “With batteries contributing to 40 + cost in modern EVs and there is anxiety around their life, performance (charging time, safety, etc) that requires more than just local safety protection,” says Aryan, adding that his company has pioneered a disruptive battery intelligence platform – Edison Analytics that is designed to improve performance and extend the life of Lithium-ion batteries.
Edison leverages battery data, software analytics and AI to remotely monitor, predict and improve battery life, explains Aryan, pointing out that battery pack manufacturers, OEMs, and electric mobility fleet operators around the world use ION’s platform to optimise their battery management systems (BMS) and build world-class batteries. “ION is empowering organisations around the world with the flexibility, independence, and autonomy to buy ready-to-deploy BMS platforms or build custom zero-downtime BMS models,” he adds.
There are many environmental implications of using this technology. The notable being:
Reduction of fossil fuel use: ION Energy’s full-stack platform solution blends advanced electronics, machine learning software and AI with deep domain expertise in energy storage. “With ION, electric vehicle fleet owners/operators and energy storage space providers are making sense of battery data to derive valuable insights, that can determine and considerably improve the battery life, reduce the overall ownership cost, and reduce the planet’s dependence on fossil fuels,” affirms Aryan.
Recycling and repurposing batteries for a second life: Given the rate of adoption of electric vehicles, there will be an upsurge in the number of waste batteries in the coming years. Aryan reminds the good news is that once the battery packs can no longer perform optimally in an EV and actually reach the end of their life, they do not always become completely obsolete. “Battery packs can retain approximately 70-80 per cent of their initial capacity and can be redesigned, re-purposed and optimised for a second life. The residual capacity of a battery can be used for consumer devices, telecom towers, stationary and mobile energy-storage applications that are less demanding in nature,” he mentions.
Innovation in battery technology
Highlighting the innovations in battery technology, Aryan shares that batteries amount to 40 per cent + cost of the total cost of an electric vehicle. A delicate component, they may deteriorate on overcharging, underuse or high temperatures. By 2022, global battery manufacturing capacity is set to cross 400 GWh. The huge demand will drive the need for smarter battery management.
Smart BMS: A battery management system (BMS) is the “brain” of the battery pack and is the key to reliable and efficient functioning of the battery. “The BMS is crucial for the longevity of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It is an electronic device responsible for monitoring the smooth functioning and preventing it from exceeding safe limits of operation by monitoring individual cells of the battery pack. It protects, optimises and collects data from internal cell hardware components. It records parameters such as current, voltage, temperature, State of Charge and State of Health to name a few. When building your battery, incorporating a smart BMS will give insights into its overall health,” explains Aryan.
In an EV, the BMS + software is a key differentiator between battery pack makers as this is where innovation truly happens. “For an EV fleet operator, keeping a track of the battery performance across geographies can be quite challenging. The BMS and the software can save the operator from incurring long term damage costs later by preemptively solving maintenance woes. It constantly assesses and identifies factors that are negatively impacting the life of li-ion batteries and works towards improving performance and extending the life of these batteries,” points out Aryan.
The role of AI and data analytics: The future of energy storage lies in data. According to Aryan, Electric vehicle and energy storage space providers are increasingly understanding the importance of battery data to optimise their fleet, deploy faster, improve uptime and to improve the life of the batteries, making a tremendous impact on the business. “We believe that technology alone cannot solve problems, it needs to be developed keeping in mind the domain and the business. By applying battery domain knowledge to technologies like data analytics, simulations, and machine learning, we can accelerate the transition of businesses to an all-electric future,” he asserts.
Data science, AI and IoT are revolutionizing the EV space and are paving the way for an all-electric future in the next 5-10 years. “These technologies are making sense of battery data to derive valuable insights, that can determine and considerably improve the battery life. That would reduce the overall ownership cost and the planet’s dependence on fossil fuels,” states Aryan.
At present, ION exports to 10+ countries including France, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, South Africa, and North America. The company is planning to rapidly expand its footprint to 20+ countries, including Japan, South Africa, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, amongst others by 2020. “We plan to establish new branches in the USA and Bangalore. Apart from global operational expansion, we’re also enhancing our current strength of the country’s brightest electronics and software engineering talent to power and meet the goal of an all-electric future,” mentions Aryan.