Amazon Invests in Battery Management System Start-up ION Energy with Carbon Neutrality in Mind
What do battery management systems have to do with carbon neutrality? Amazon partners with ION Energy as part of their $2 billion investment program.
According to a roadmap released by the IEA (International Energy Association), it's possible for most countries to transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In order for this to happen, however, industries must transform and required technologies need rapid commercialization.
In support of this, as part of its Climate Pledge Fund, Amazon has recently announced investment into ION Energy. The India-based startup develops software to improve the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries and could make a significant difference to the sustainability of electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
ION Energy's Battery Management System Promise
ION Energy, founded in 2016, is an Indian-based startup that builds advanced electronics and software platforms such as machine learning/AI and modeling tools to characterize the state and life of batteries used in stationary and mobile applications. This characterization provides insight on how to improve battery charging and draining to deliver maximum value.
ION’s flagship product is a smart battery management system (BMS) that uses proprietary algorithms to improve battery life and performance. Equipment manufacturers that are developing lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicles, or stationary storage systems can buy the product or a license to use the system.
The FS-LT (left) and FS-XT (right). Image used courtesy of ION Energy
ION offers three key BMSs: FS-LT, a centralized BMS designed for low-voltage mobile applications, FS-CT, an advanced BMS with high feature density for low voltage battery systems, and FS-XT, a high voltage BMS designed for automotive and high precision applications.
Innovative technology in ION’s BMS includes predictive algorithms, the ability to line up to 18 batteries in parallel, reduced size of balancing resistors by a factor of six, and compression algorithms to reduce memory and communication bandwidth.
ION Energy’s approach to battery management combines its proprietary BMS technologies and its battery intelligence platform, Edison Analytics. The platform provides paralleling to enable higher capacity by increasing Ampere-hours while maintaining individual voltage levels, a master-slave arrangement to allow applications to be dynamically scaled, and CAN communication to manage charge control and system interfacing.
The company claims that it supplies over 75 companies across 15 countries and has deployed over 60,000 smart BMSs.
How BMSs Impact Carbon Neutrality
With Europe’s battery manufacturing capacity set to cross 200GWh by 2023, demand is driving the need for smarter battery management. Battery management systems (BMS) work by measuring and monitoring cell parameters, ensuring balanced charge cycles, measuring cell voltages, and protecting those cells by operating them in the safe operating area (SOA). BMSs are key to the safe, reliable, and efficient functioning of lithium-ion battery packs and are used in light electric and hybrid vehicles and for stationary applications in energy storage systems (ESS).
There are several design challenges when it comes to BMS solutions. The internal battery has a large number of lithium-ion cells connected in series and parallel to build up the total voltage and capacity required. Therefore, the internal battery pack topology needs to be designed to allow each cell to be monitored. Moreover, the BMS needs to include a mechanism for the BMS to balance the cells. If cells are overcharged, they can be damaged and become unsafe. Meanwhile, if discharged below a certain threshold, their capacity can become permanently reduced.
The FS-CT BMS. Image used courtesy of ION Energy
In essence, BMSs are a key element in making battery usage more efficient, thereby reducing wasted energy and also the waste associated with dead batteries. Additionally, BMSs like several in the ION Energy portfolio are geared towards use in EVs provide a prospective path towards more efficient EVs.
This clearly aligns with Amazon's green goals. In June 2020, Amazon announced The Climate Pledge Fund, a corporate venture capital fund that invests in sustainable and decarbonizing technologies. The core aim of the trust is to help Amazon and other companies reach the Paris Agreement 10 years early and be net-zero carbon by 2040. Signatories of the Pledge commit to regularly measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions, implement decarbonization strategies and neutralize any remaining emissions with credible offsets.
The investment program started with a substantial $2 billion in funding to be given to visionary companies whose products and solutions could make a significant difference in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The most recent investment into ION Energy is inspired by ION’s mission to build technologies that improve the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries. Advanced electronics and software, such as those being developed by ION, have enormous potential to help businesses accelerate the energy transition and reduce carbon emissions.
Partnerships to Drive Sustainability
This year is set to be the beginning of a significant drive towards the new energy transition as companies and governments look to reduce emissions. Companies like ION Energy aim to provide advanced electronics and software to help accelerate this transition.
Transportation is very publicly a huge part of Amazon’s sustainability goals, making partnerships like these increasingly attractive. By working on the hardware level, Amazon can expand ways to make its transportation network more sustainable and power its electric vehicles with scalable solutions.