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Bosch: Data and power – two become one

Funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

  • IntLiIon consortium aims to improve battery performance in electric vehicles
  • Sending data along the power line
  • Making best use of the battery’s potential in electric and hybrid vehicles
  • Two companies and two academic institutes collaborating

As part of a new joint project, two companies and two academic institutes have got together with a single goal in mind: to improve battery performance in electric vehicles. The project partners hope that smart battery management will give a significant boost to the performance, safety, and service life of electric and hybrid vehicles. An innovative method that uses the path traveled by the electricity in the battery to transmit data provides the technical basis for the optimum exchange of measurement data and control signals. Between now and May 2016, the IntLiIon project (intelligent data bus concepts for lithium-ion batteries in electric and hybrid vehicles) will receive 2.5 million euros in funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Electric and hybrid vehicles are a cornerstone of sustainable mobility. But if electric vehicles are to be used on a daily basis, there is a need for high-performance, safe, and durable batteries. To ensure that the energy stored in the battery is used more efficiently in the future, as well as to significantly increase the range of electrically powered vehicles, researchers are pinning their hopes on smart battery management.

Controlling each battery cell individually
The IntLilon project aims to develop smart data transmission techniques specifically for lithium-ion batteries. Its focus of research is on innovative communications systems capable of efficiently controlling and monitoring each of the up to 100 cells found in a battery pack. The basis of this system is an innovative data transfer method that makes use of the path traveled by the electricity in the battery to carry data as well. It is hoped that in the future this power line communication will be able to transmit relevant information to a central control unit. This will eliminate the need for the costly extra data-transmission wiring that has been necessary in all the battery systems used to date. “The intention is to constantly monitor and to control each battery cell individually,” says Dr. Jens Strobel, who coordinates the project at Robert Bosch GmbH. This will also allow optimum use of the battery’s energy potential: if a single cell in the lithium-ion battery is no longer operating efficiently, then only that single cell will have to be replaced, not the whole battery module. This saves resources, brings down costs, and paves the way for safe and sustainable mobility in the future.

Project partners
A number of expert partners have come together to work on applying power line communication to battery data transmission. As coordinator of the joint IntLilon project, Robert Bosch GmbH is working alongside Pro Design Electronic GmbH, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The total project cost amounts to 4.3 million euros. Funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research comes as part of the “Energy-efficient and safe electromobility” initiative (STROM 2) within the German federal government’s “ICT 2020 – Research for Innovation” funding program. The aim of this initiative is to establish Germany as a leading provider of electromobility technologies, and also to help create a viable model for the mobility of the future.