Machine learning is helping to design energy cells that charge faster and last longer.

What’s new: Battery developers are using ML algorithms to devise new chemicals, components, and charging techniques faster than traditional techniques allow, according to Wired.

How it works: Designing better batteries involves tweaking variables such as electrode architecture, chemical composition, and patterns of current and voltage during charging. Typically, researchers change one at a time and can’t analyze the results until a battery dies. AI lets them test many at once and get results while the battery still has juice.

  • Researchers from MIT, Stanford, and the Toyota Research Institute test the longevity of prospective designs in machines that discharge and recharge them repeatedly. They trained a model on data from these rigs to find better ways to recharge lithium-ion batteries without degrading their working lifetime. The model enabled them to complete in 16 days experiments that ordinarily would have required 500.
  • A model at Argonne National Laboratory is sifting through a massive molecular database to find energy-storing chemicals. The model’s creators are also developing a platform that would let researchers and companies train their models using other people’s data without compromising anyone’s intellectual property.
  • A machine learning platform developed by California-based Wildcat Technologies helped InoBat, a Slovakian startup, develop a lithium-ion battery that purportedly increases the range of electric vehicles by almost 20 percent. InoBat plans to begin producing the batteries by the end of 2021.

Behind the news: In recent years, machine learning has also helped researchers discover new molecules that improve energy density, predict how batteries will perform in different electric vehicles, test how well capacitor designs store energy, and advanced battery research in many other ways.

Why it matters: Batteries that last long, charge fast, and cost little are a key enabler for devices from self-driving cars to brain implants.

We’re thinking: In our recent Heroes of NLP interview, Chris Manning joked that “electricity is the new AI.” Maybe he was right! You can watch the whole thing here.


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