Imperial College London
Pioneering digital twin start-up targets rapid battery development
About:Energy, a startup co-founded by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham, has launched to commercialise a unique modelling capability that will increase the speed of development of battery prototypes. Using fast, reliable, accurate and versatile design tools known as digital twins, About:Energy will work with battery businesses to support new technology development.
Though digital twins have many potential applications, their use in battery development is particularly apposite. Battery development through prototyping requires costly testing and long research cycles. Accurate battery modelling that considers the needs of industry is an important enabler for growth across the sector, including in cell design and the development of supportive technologies such as battery management or safety systems.
About:Energy developed its battery modelling capability through the Faraday Institution’s Multi-scale Modelling Project, led by Principal Investigator Professor Greg Offer (Department of Mechanical Engineering) at Imperial College London, also a co-founder of About:Energy. Professor Offer’s co-founders include Dr Yatish Patel, Dr Alastair Hales and Gavin White (all Dept. of Mechanical Engineering) from Imperial College London, and Professor Emma Kendrick and PhD student Kieran O’Regan from the University of Birmingham’s School of Metallurgy and Materials.
Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone, said: “As the demand for new and improved batteries continues to soar, academic institutions are driving the innovation that will get new tech from lab to market more quickly. The government is proud to support the work of the Faraday Institution, which is enabling universities to commercialise their knowledge and keep the UK at the cutting edge of new battery technology.”
Co-founder Dr Kieran O’Regan, commented: “Battery models are used to power our everyday lives, from mobile phones to gigafactories, by enabling predictions about performance to be made. These predictions are used to optimise the application and design of battery technologies. However, the reliability of the predictions is dependent on the accuracy of the input parameters, which is a complex issue because battery performance has many interdependencies.”
In addition to its patented measurement technology, About:Energy’s founders have extensive knowhow in the area of parameterisation: the extraction of experimental data necessary to construct reliable and accurate battery models.
“About:Energy brings together expertise in battery characterisation and an understanding of how to package this information into a model. This allows us to quickly provide accurate models tailored to specific battery technologies, enabling our customers to build innovative products and shorten their prototyping and development cycles,” said Gavin White, co-founder, About:Energy.
The company has been awarded a Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowship to fund the purchase of dedicated testing equipment that will reduce bottlenecks involved in creating battery models and to build cloud infrastructure to start its software-as-a-service offering.
About:Energy has already helped two battery technology spinouts: Qdot, which is developing battery thermal management and integrated hybrid propulsion to enable clean flight and Breathe Battery Technologies, which is developing advanced battery management algorithms to improve charge times, range and lifetime. Both Qdot and Breathe Battery Technologies have previously been awarded Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowships.