Canada’s GBatteries is on a mission to charge electric vehicles as fast as it takes to fill a tank of gas. Its ultimate aim is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by removing the ‘charge time’ barrier. And it’s using artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve this aim.
The Ottawa-based company was started by a father and son team, Nick Sherstyuk – an electrical engineer, and Tim Sherstyuk, a university student studying chemistry. Tim was frustrated by his cell phone’s ability to hold its charge only months after purchase, so they started tinkering in their basement lab, where they often worked on projects such as this.
The company was officially incorporated in August 2014.
Tim Sherstyuk, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, tells us: “That same year, a crowdfunding campaign allowed us to begin building our first product, BatteryBox – the first application of the technology and a test to validate it. Although it was very successful, production was halted in 2016 and we entered stealth-mode to focus on the technology and the initial business model of licensing to manufacturers, specifically automotive OEMs.”
After three years of intensive R&D and several key breakthroughs, GBatteries launched at CES in Las Vegas in January 2019.
Sherstyuk explains that GBatteries has developed a way to charge Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries using AI.
“Our protocol uses adaptive pulses as an alternative to CCCV (constant current, constant voltage), enabling fast charge without compromising the health of the battery or changing the battery chemistry. The technology works with unaltered Li-ion batteries that have been produced, validated, and tested by battery manufacturers.”
A Self-Learning Pulse
What sets GBatteries apart is how it employs artificial intelligence. The AI component controls the way that power enters the battery.
“Our self-learning, pulse charging algorithms monitor the battery in real-time and adapt to the ever-changing conditions internally. This allows the charging to be optimized based on battery response signatures as they occur.
“One of the signatures we adjust for is impedance (resistance). We charge during low impedance, which results in a drastic reduction of irreversible chemical reactions, while also minimizing the temperature rise. This allows us to charge the battery ultra-fast without decreasing the cycle life of the battery. Reduced cycle life and drastic temperature rises are two of the main issues with other fast charge methods,” Sherstyuk explains.
How Fast is Fast?
Sherstyuk tells us that his company’s technology could ultimately allow electric cars to be fully charged from near-empty in as little as 5-10 minutes, depending on the power of the charging station.
“In tests that we’ve conducted in our lab on EV batteries, we have demonstrated 52 minutes to 85% capacity and the ability to charge more than 183 times without degradation. This is compared to other fast-charge technology where 67 mins to 79% was achieved but the battery was degraded to the point that is was considered to have reached end-of-life after only 12 charges.”
“With our technology, in as little as 5 minutes of charging, a typical 60kWh EV battery pack (a Chevrolet Bolt in this example) with a 238-mile range can charge to 119 miles (192km) of range, compared to 15 miles (24 km) possible with conventional charging,” he adds.
As a reference point, Tesla’s Supercharge takes approximately forty minutes to charge to 80% capacity.
GBatteries has several pilot projects underway with global automotive and electronics manufacturers. But Sherstyuk says they are not ready to disclose the nature of the projects or the names of the organizations they are working with.
Sherstyuk does tell us that they’re working towards finalizing several key partnerships for the commercialization of their technology and they are scaling up R&D efforts that include testing on larger battery packs.