CAREER: An Ecologically-Inspired Approach to Battery Lifetime Analysis and Testing

National Science Foundation

Batteries are increasingly relied upon to provide multiple services during applications (e.g. traction in an electric vehicle, vehicle-to-grid, ancillary services) and to act as the ultimate resiliency element (e.g. electric vehicles used as power units during Hurricane Sandy). However, the ability to perform these diverse services is compromised by battery aging phenomena that eventually lead to failure. Understanding of how service conditions and context affect battery aging is limited due to a) battery high context dependency on generation and load dynamics, and environmental conditions; b) the multi-scale cell and module nature of battery systems; and c) the fact that a battery itself varies with age, as batteries are repurposed after a first life (e.g. electric vehicle) into a second life (e.g. grid or residential).

This CAREER project aims to understand battery aging dynamics as context-dependent, and to provide a unified theory that links application-level events and conditions with cell- and module-level aging events. The Pl hypothesizes that a battery electrochemical nature and aging, multi-scale system, observability challenges, and its context-dependency can all be modeled using ecological tools, with ecology defined as a branch of biology that explores organism relationships to one another and to their environment. Therefore, methods proven useful to study ecological relationships are well suited to study battery life, and can provide new knowledge, testing and estimation techniques. This project draws from two pertinent areas in ecology: 1) multi-scale field testing and 2) modeling of interrelationships among ecosystem elements to understand coupled effects and improve remaining life predictions. Hence, the research objectives are: 1 ) Identify a battery context and its observability through sensors and data in real deployment conditions for two lives (electric vehicle and grid); 2) Optimize a methodology to translate real-life conditions into the laboratory; 3) Design a large multi-scale testing platform in the laboratory for new and aged cells and modules that mimics real-life conditions; 4) Explore multi-scale battery dynamics and aging by developing reasoning networks that capture the whole battery context variations throughout its scales, reaching the application level; develop theories that link these networks across lives; design battery management systems that can learn to construct and apply these networks to improve their decision making and prediction.

Intellectual Merit
This novel project will provide knowledge and perspectives to two fields by capitalizing upon the similarities between battery context-dependencies, battery life, and ecological systems. This new outlook will provide a unified theory for testing, estimation and management of batteries across cell, module, pack, and application scales and life scales in a research field that up to this point has been disconnected between scales. Testing approaches, interrelationship models, and estimation methods used in ecology are predicted to improve upon present, state-of-the-art battery research methods to provide economic, resiliency and environmental benefits by better understanding and leveraging the unique, time-dependent relationships each battery has with its context.

Broader Impacts
This work will benefit all battery portable, transportation, and grid applications as well as multiple sectors. It will include the emerging battery repurposing sector, by providing tangible methods to improve testing, estimation and management techniques. The result will be longer battery life, better performance, and less environmental waste. Educational impacts include active learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students via research and educational interactions with individualized testing boards linked to the newly created large multi-scale testing platform. This strategy will enable low cost, highly distributed testing environments. The Pl will disseminate tools via national education conferences to improve the nearly nonexistent battery testing training of students. This project will facilitate new paths in multi-disciplinary graduate courses. The Pl has a passion to increase representation of Hispanic females in STEM. Outreach will include hosting 4 diverse Community College students for summer research through the Michigan College and University Partnership, and participating in Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers conferences, specifically in the female Hispanic track.

Investigator: Lucia Gauchia

Increasing Ship Power System Capability throught Exergy Control

U.S. Dept. of Defense, Office of Naval Research

The main objective of this effort is to develop an exergy control strategy, applied to a ship medium voltage de (MVDC) grid that exploits exergy flow coupling between multiple subsystems. This work involves: 1) exergy control strategy development and 2) mapping exergy control system performance to ship-relevant metrics. A ship power grid Challenge Problem model will be developed to illustrate and resolve the fundamental gaps of exergy control. The model will also compare and contrast feedforward and feedback exergy control with conventional strategies.

Ship subsystems and mission modules perform energy conversion during their operation resulting in a combination of electricity consumption, heat generation and mechanical work. Mission module thermal management requirements further impact the ship’s electrical grid, for example, via chiller operation. Subsystems often have opportunities for performing an energy storage role during their operation cycle. A ship crane is one example where potential energy is stored in the raised load and can be converted into electrical energy during lowering. Whether subsystem requirements are dominated by electrical, thermal or mechanical functions, they are coupled through energy and information flows, often by the ship’s electrical power grid. Treating each subsystem as a disconnected entity reduces the potential for exploiting their inherent interconnection and likely results in over designed shipboard systems with higher than necessary weight and volume. Realizing the opportunity of coupled subsystem operation requires modeling and control schemes that are unavailable today, but that we believe should require few infrastructure changes. We propose that the design and control of coupled ship subsystems should be based on exergy- the amount of energy available for useful work. A recent study, applied to a room heating system, showed that exergy control increased the overall efficiency by 18%. Since the system was powered electrically, this translated directly to a decrease in the electrical load. The main objective of this effort is to develop an exergy control strategy, applied to a ship medium voltage de (MVDC) grid that exploits exergy flow coupling between multiple subsystems.

An exergy approach to control permits consideration of both mission modules and the platform infrastructure as mixed physics power systems that may act as loads, storage or sources depending on the situation. Instead of separately designed and managed subsystems that satisfy electrical and thermal requirements via static design margins a, multi-physics, unified system-of-systems approach is needed to enable affordable mid-life upgrades as requirements and mission systems evolve over the platform’s lifespan. Being able to translate the benefits of exergy control into savings in mass, volume, energy storage requirements and fuel usage is necessary for making rational design decisions for new ship platforms and for increasing the efficiency of legacy ship systems. Currently, there does not exist an analysis technique to map control system performance into ship-relevant performance metrics. This restricts ship designers from understanding the tradeoffs of adopting advanced control schemes that may exploit subsystem coupling. One of the objectives of this work is to develop a method for extrapolating control system performance into ship-relevant metrics that impact mass, volume, energy storage, and fuel usage.

As described above, there are two main thrusts to this work: (1) exergy control strategy development and (2) mapping exergy control system performance to ship-relevant metrics. We will develop a ship power grid Challenge Problem model that will illustrate the fundamental gaps of exergy control that will be addressed. The model will also be used to compare and contrast feedforward and feedback exergy control with conventional strategies. Techniques for mapping the results of the exergy control to weight, volume, and energy storage requirements will be developed and applied to the Challenge Problem throughout the project.

Investigators: Gordon Parker and Rush Robinett, and Ed Trinklein.

Advanced Control of Wave Energy Converters

Sandia National Laboratory

A new multi-year effort has been launched by the Department of Energy to validate the extent to which control strategies can increase the power produced by resonant Wave Energy Converters (WEC) devices. A large number of theoretical studies have shown promising results in the additional energy that can be captured through control of the power conversion chains of resonant WEC devices.
However, most of the previous work has been completed on highly idealized systems and there is little to no validation work. This program will specifically target controls development for nonlinear, multi-degree of freedom WEC devices. Multiple control strategies will be developed and the efficacy of the strategies will be compared within the “metric matrix.”
Objective: The purpose of this contract is to provide the labor to develop and implement custom control strategies for a specified WEC device.

Scope of Work
Michigan Technological University (MTU) will provide optimization expertise (Dynamic Programing, pseudo-spectral, shape optimization, others) to support MTPA-FF (mid-targeting phase and amplitude-feedforward) designs and analysis specific to the performance model WEC. This will include numerical simulations specific to the metric matrix requirements. In addition, MTU will provide expertise and support for feedforward real-time implementation and investigations.

Investigator: Ossama Abdelkhalik

Advanced Control and Energy Storage Architectures for Microgrids

Sandia National Laboratory

Consult on advanced control and energy storage architectures for microgrids.
1) Multiple Spinning Machines on a Single AC Bus – Finish the development of the Hamiltonian Surface Shaping Power Flow Controller (HSSPFC), controller design for multiple spinning machines on a single AC Bus.
2) Unstable Pulse Power Controller – Perform simulation studies on the unstable pulse power controller relative to the optimal feedforward (stable) controller for a single DC bus in order to determine the effectiveness of the unstable controller design relative to performance and stability.

Help characterize path forward for nonlinear control design.
1) Review dynamic programming interior point method (DPIP) for feedforward/optimal reference trajectory,
2) HSSPFC (Hamiltonian Surface Shaping Power Flow Controller (nonlinear dynamic structure for feedback),
3) Preliminary assessment of nonlinear wave model and impact on power absorbed.

Investigators: Wayne Weaver, Ossama Abdelkhalik

Energy Storage Design Research


From a controls point of view, energy storage systems are the “actuators” in the electrical power grid that enable the mitigation of the transient inputs of power supplies as well as uncontrolled loads. A goal is to optimize the location and amount of energy storage capacity needed to meet microgrid performance and stability constraints. This energy storage capacity can take on many forms from batteries to fly wheels to pumped hydro. Research is focused on integrated energy storage systems that utilize unconventional resources as much as possible. For example, buildings and parking lots full of PHEV’s and EV’s are good targets of opportunity when combined with PV on covered parking structures or distribution-scale PV systems.

Active Research Projects

Energy Storage Design

Energy Storage Design