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Battery analysis set to revolutionise electronics market

Analytic software that delivers detailed analyses of battery life, as well as reuse and recycling options, could help bring electronics manufacturers into the circular economy.

Digital Economy

Europe’s transition from fossil fuels to renewables has been accelerated in part by the availability of rechargeable batteries. This is because they give both energy providers and users convenient and efficient storage capacity, helping to offset any perceived inefficiencies that renewables have compared with conventional energy sources. “Batteries are now the primary energy source for practically all electronic devices,” notes project coordinator Michal Šaštinský, CEO of BatteryCheck, Czech Republic. “From mobile phones and electric vehicles through to industrial solutions and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, billions of rechargeable and single-use batteries are currently in use. And their number is growing exponentially.” However, even though we might use a dozen battery-powered devices in a typical day, this does not necessarily mean that consumers – or indeed manufacturers – use this technology as efficiently as they could. “The way we use, don’t use or misuse batteries changes their performance,” says Šaštinský. “We have all been in a situation where a battery has died when it shouldn’t. How can we make them last longer? And when a battery is at its ‘end of life’, is it really dead, or can it be reused and repurposed, to make use of its components?”

Cloud-based solutions

To address this challenge, BatteryCheck has developed cloud-based analytical software that monitors battery performance in electronic devices. The idea is that manufacturers can make use of the software, without much additional work on their part. “Give us the data, we will provide you with the results of our analytics,” explains Šaštinský. BatteryCheck envisages this feedback to be in the form of usage recommendations, predictions about likely end of life, as well as recommendations for optimal recycling and repurposing. With this knowledge, device manufacturers can prolong battery life and make more effective use of the raw materials contained in batteries. “This is about taking the mystery out of battery life and solving tomorrow’s battery problems today,” adds Šaštinský. “I think industry should act now and start monitoring batteries in as many new battery-powered devices as possible.”

Rethinking battery life

During the EU-funded project, Šaštinský and his team approached battery-powered device manufacturers. The objective was to educate them about BatteryCheck’s unique technology offer, and to start collecting battery data. “We found that even though manufacturers were mostly focused on device functionality and design, they were also concerned about battery performance,” explains Šaštinský. “They also did not have expertise in sourcing batteries or efficiently integrating them into their devices. Many companies had problems with predictive maintenance, replacement and battery warranties. They were therefore very interested in working with us.” Šaštinský and his team got to work, helping a selection of electronics companies to make next-generation products ‘BatteryCheck enabled’ by design. The idea is that these products will have the optimal type of battery installed, and be able to measure, monitor and send back battery data. “We will then be able to analyse this data, and provide manufacturers with the results,” says Šaštinský. “This means that devices and their batteries can be used predictably and for as long as possible.” Although the technology is still in pre-revenue stage, Šaštinský is confident that market acceptance is just a matter of time. “Once this technology is integrated in significant volumes into marketable devices, the revenue will come,” he adds. “I believe that our vision and focus on promoting battery life through analytics will become a market standard for all the battery-powered devices in the future.”

Keywords

BatteryCheck, battery, data, software, electronics, renewables, fossil fuel, electric, IoT

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