volytica diagnostics is a German battery diagnostics service provider merging using comprehensive battery diagnosis, cloud computing and remote monitoring desktop technology competence. volytica records and processes data from batteries in electric vehicles, without the need for an additional sensor. Backed by extensive research experience of more than 10 years and three years of successful operations thus far, volytica has developed a technology that enables in-field data collection for further battery development toward the green energy transition.
volytica diagnostics GmbH is a finalist for the 2020 ees AWARD with their battery diagnosis services. ees International talked to volytica’s CEO Dipl.- Ing. Claudius Jehle about battery lifespan and their innovative software to support further battery development.
ees International: Thank you very much for this interview and congratulations to being a finalist for the ees AWARD 2020! You offer battery diagnostics as a service without additional sensors on the battery application. What technology do you use and how can you monitor an individual battery without an additional sensors?
Claudius Jehle: Thank you - we’re very glad to be among such high-profile finalists!
Over the last years we have monitored so many different vehicles and different battery systems with our telematics platform, that we couldn’t avoid developing algorithms that can deal with the diversity, peculiarities and variety of different systems: We cannot expect every customers to install additional sensors, but we rather get the best out of readily available data that almost any battery management system measures and transmits.
For that, we employ advanced pattern recognition, self-adapting machine-learning supported battery modelling and highly scalable Cloud computing architecture, that we develop ourselves and in close collaboration with the Fraunhofer-Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure IVI, Dresden. My co-founder Sebastian Stoll led the Cloud computing & telematics software development team there, and has been doing scalable Cloud platform developments for 10 years in industry before. I myself led the Energy Storage Diagnosis research group before we both spun off 2019 to commercialise the technology that grew in just the right ecosystem and ahead of it’s time: The institute’s first electric bus was launched over 10 years ago, long before anybody was even thinking of e-mobility in Europe!
Having monitored so many different vehicles and different battery systems with our telematics platform, it was a necessity to develop algorithms that can deal with the diversity, peculiarities and variety of different systems. We cannot expect our customers to install additional sensors, but we get the best out of readily available data that almost any battery management system measures and transmits. We employ advanced pattern recognition, self-adapting machine-learning supported modelling and highly scalable Cloud computing architecture.
ees International: Even though, within the last few years, prices for batteries have dropped significantly, it is still the most expensive component of an electric vehicle. Most risks associated with an electric vehicles concern the battery lifespan and safety. Who will profit most from How can battery diagnostics, and why? support fleet operators to ensure reliable service?
Claudius Jehle: Eventually everybody benefits - vehicle and system manufacturers, our main target group, but also system and fleet operators and owners, as well as risk assessors like insurances, banks and lessors.
In the short term, field-data monitoring and analytics allow the manufacturers to better (or at all) assess and track risks associated with deploying systems with warranty times well beyond their actual in-field experience, and well beyond the supply-side warranties provided by the cell manufacturers. This will enable full-service, longer warranties, leasing/ renting or pay-per-use business models - to the end customer’s benefit!
On a longer time scale, transactions from a first to a second life of these - still valuable! - systems will only become feasible with a trustable and independent quality assessment of the past and potential future: Noone’ll buy a pig in a poke… Additionally, the manufacturers again will be able to design better next-gen systems, tailored to their customer’s needs, from the digest of the first-gen experiences: E-Mobility will become cheaper.
ees International: The data you collect also offer the opportunity of in-field testing of new battery technologies or materials. How is this information used by your customers?
Claudius Jehle: Field data is the key: You can perform tests over tests before start-of-production. Takes ages, is very expensive and today you have to wait for months for test equipment for testing slots at third parties. True: pre-SOP tests are essential for safety checks, system parameterisation etc. They are inevitable, but they cannot reflect real aging behaviour.
ees International: … but what about artificially accelerated ageing tests or simulations?
No doubt, necessary, but eventually: artificial. If you want to design a battery with just the right degradation reserves however - i.e. not too much extra capacity but also not too small - you cannot but look at reality. Yet this real field-data is hard to get, and even harder to crack. You either need a costly army of battery-inclined data engineers or a software like our’s.
By the way: It’s not necessarily us to collect the data. We do have a powerful telematics platform product, but eventually, the customer is free to use his/her own telematics to funnel the relevant data to our APIs. We support along the way with consulting and SDKs.
ees International: From your diagnostics experience, how well do batteries nowadays age and how is the longevity best maintained?
Claudius Jehle: An interesting and kind of ironic insight: Systems that we monitor often age slower than expected, at least during operation. But that is perfectly in line with the said: Degradation reserves of first-gen systems are ample, as systems are designed too consevative for the said reasons - giving rise to 10-25% optimization potentials! Hard cash...
But, during standstill/idle, the systems generally age faster than designed: No cooling and usually a SOC of close to 100% are usually not liked by Li-Ion technology.
But often it’s not only the degradation that limits system performance. Often the SOC signals are off by several percent, and internal inhomogeneities rise with time - both effects can eventually sum up to inaccessible energy contents well in the order of magnitude of actual ageing...
ees International: Where is the greatest innovation potential or even need when it comes to battery technology or components?
Claudius Jehle: The cell performances come closer to the theoretical limits, and the performances are generally very good. If I were to put a statement here: An awful lot of optimization and innovation will come from better system design and software. We optimize energy density, efficiency and system design to get the last 1, 2, 3% percent in range - in theory. In practice we have no clear idea on the actual SOC, energy content and on the degradation, and incorporate 10-30% of excess backup reserves…
ees International: What are the next steps for volytica diagnostics and your battery diagnostics services?
Claudius Jehle: Onboarding more customers. Our platform is designed for multi-tenant, easy, quick and economic starting. And we have ambitious, but sustainable growth plans: We want to be with you over a battery’s lifetime! There are so many interesting and clever battery-powered applications out there - it’s not only Tesla. Why not a Regional Train?
Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Claudius Jehle!
The interview partner:
Managing Director / CEO
volytica diagnostics GmbH