Remember the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7s that made headlines three years ago?
“When you sit on an e-bike, right over the battery, you are sitting on energy that is equivalent to 1 kilo of gunpowder, and in electric cars it’s equivalent to 100 times that much,” points out Niles Fleischer, CEO of Israeli startup ALGOLiON.
AlgoShield, the unique software developed by ALGOLiON, gives a week’s warning before a battery catches fire.
Current sensor products give only a five-minute warning, allowing just enough time to jump out of the way. AlgoShield provides ample time to prevent the explosion altogether.
“This is the earliest warning available for detecting battery flaws and degradation,” claims Fleischer.
Plus, software is cheaper than hardware and doesn’t add weight to the circuit board – a critical advantage for everything from phones to electric vehicles (EVs).
That’s why the lean 11-person startup has projects on the go with mega corporations including Philip Morris International, Ferrari, Boeing, Airbus, Bosch and Sunwoda.
EVs and cargo planes
“Our software is part of the battery management system in a demonstration EV in Europe,” says Fleischer, who lives and works in Rehovot.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency recognizes AlgoShield as a “mitigation of hazards in lithium batteries” solution and arranged a test of the Israeli product with Airbus as a way to avoid batteries exploding when they are being transported in cargo planes.
“The problem is extremely acute,” Fleischertells ISRAEL21c.
“In the United States, e-cigarettes explode in people’s mouths twice a month on average. In London, the fire brigade reports 104 fires caused by batteries each month.
“In passenger aviation, the number of fires has risen 10-fold in the last few years because in flight and third-class chargers don’t control current and voltage very well,” he says.
“And the problem is increasing because lithium-ion batteries are being made more powerful and with cheaper materials. The market is growing 15 percent a year, but the batteries are less safe.”
Fleischer has a PhD in electrochemistry and materials science from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. And he has 40 years of experience in battery technology.
He worked at Rayovac in the United States and at Tadiran after moving to Israel in 1984. He has had leadership or consulting roles in high-tech startups including SteadyMed, which was purchased by an American company in 2018.
Fleischer served as a reservist in the IDF Communication Corps’ Power Sources Unit for many years under Lt. Col. Alex Nimberger, who has a PhD in electrochemistry from Bar-Ilan University.
“People brought in broken communication equipment. Sometimes the battery had blown up and we’d figure out why,” he explains.
“Instead of telling people why the battery blew up, we decided it would be better to prevent the battery from blowing up in the first place. Alex retired from the IDF we started the company together in 2014 to protect people from these dangers.”
ALGOLiON (a mashup of “algorithm” and “lithium ion”) has received funding from the EcoMotion Accelerator, the European Commission Horizon 2020 Program, European Union Aviation Safety Agency and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
How it works
Whereas hardware and sensor solutions measure the exterior temperature of the battery (“Essentially they’re fire alarms,” says Fleischer), AlgoShield monitors key electrochemical indicators inside the cell to detect potentially dangerous fluctuations in current and voltage.
“By the time the outside of the battery gets hot, the problem has been cooking inside and the interior temperature is much hotter,” he says.
AlgoShield software can be provided as a chip embedded into e-cigarettes; as an app for Android mobile devices; as a quality-control device for factories to check batteries before and after installing them in devices; or as software as a service (SaaS) to analyze data for EV and battery manufacturers.
“It’s all based on the same core software, but the back and front end are adjusted for those four applications,” says Fleischer.
The self-funded company’s model is B2B under a software license, with flexible arrangements to fit each client’s business strategy.
ALGOLiON built one of the world’s only labs that can simulate the conditions of a battery cell heating toward an explosion – an event called “thermal runaway.”
“We developed it to prove we could predict the explosion in advance and to demonstrate our software’s capabilities,” says Fleischer.
Although the company works in many verticals, Fleischer believes the biggest potential lies in the EV sector in China.
“China is shortly to become the largest car market in the world, and any company which wishes to sell to that market will have to abide by new regulations regarding advance warning of a battery catching fire,” he says.
“In my analysis, this means that the car manufacturers — or their battery management system providers — will have to use ALGOLiON’s software. We are ideally situated to take advantage of this new regulatory environment because we are only ones who can give warning days in advance.”
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