An EV that charges 30% faster? Volvo and Breathe think their technology can


in great shape , Volvo’s electric powertrains are about to get a little smarter with Breathe’s new real-time battery-management system.


Would you like an electric vehicle that can charge 30 percent faster than the current breed? If so, you’re not alone – Volvo Cars thinks this is a desirable outcome too, which is why the carmaker has invested in and partnered with a British startup called Breathe Battery Technologies. As a result, Volvo will be the first automaker to add Breathe’s new battery management technology to its EVs, however, it won’t be long before you see Breathe’s technology in other EVs as well as consumer tech devices.

Breathe, out of Imperial College London, wants to add some extra brainpower to battery management.

“The frustration that everyone feels is that cell manufacturers do forced and empirical testing until the battery dies,” said Ian Campbell, CEO of Breathe. “They send out data sheets with batteries that have some numbers baked in that say “control this according to this A4 piece of paper,” and it significantly complicates the complex electrochemistry and materials in that system. Reduces what they built and shipped.”

Instead of prebaked charging data controlling the battery pack’s entire lifetime, Breathe has developed a dynamic battery management system that provides more detailed control over the pack as it charges. As a result, it says it can improve charging times by 15-30 percent compared to existing packs.

This seems like an intuitive idea – instead of initially benchmarking the battery based on cell specs, why not continuously monitor the pack to know how much charge it can or cannot hold right now?

“It is extremely difficult to take a battery model, which is a complex piece of mathematics and modeling electrochemistry, into an embedded application processor like a Volvo car or any car in the world or an integrated circuit in a laptop or smartphone.” Campbell told Ars. “Then it basically enables us to take the physics, the equations, the algorithms, the mathematics and the electrochemistry, from what is traditionally a high-performance computing environment, to integrated circuits. By running that real-time, we have control “…enables us to deliver the end-user experience we really want,” he said.

One can see why an automaker like Volvo might find it so attractive – Breathe’s technology requires no hardware changes to Volvo’s EVs, and it is agnostic about cell chemistry. And since it can run on low-power embedded processors, it’s reasonable to expect it will eventually appear on devices smaller than cars. But Volvo is in first place.

“It is not important for us that we have exclusive rights, but it was important for us to be the first mover and also with volume. Because this is a technology that solves some of the problems customers have with electric cars today. Yes,” said Ann. -Sophie Ekberg, CEO of Volvo Cars Tech Fund.

Volvo is on the fence about which new EV will be the first to feature Breathe’s software, but Ears will be on the lookout in trying to find out.

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