InnoEnergy PhD School candidate Arthur Singer has an award-winning idea to address the important topic of energy storage, and a viable business plan in the making. Busy with his PhD research at the Universität der Bundeswehr München, he took a moment to tell us about this new generation of battery storage systems and their exciting market potential:
Congratulations on winning first place (and 2,000 EUR!) in the Baden-Württemberg competition, “My Tomorrow’s City: Energy Landscapes of the Future”. Energy storage is a hot topic… tell us a bit about your winning idea:
Current battery storage systems consist of a big battery with 400V or more and a central converter, to connect the DC voltage of the battery with the AC voltage of the grid using a big grid filter. The idea is to completely break with this kind of system by eliminating the central converter. We split the big battery in smaller battery modules and equip each module with a small power electronics circuit. In doing so, we can dynamically activate and deactivate or bypass batteries, leading to a stepwise output voltage.
Advantages of this modular battery system are:
- +5% efficiency and usable capacity
- -10% energy consumption
- -20% on power electronics costs
- Higher flexibility and adaptability
- Lossless balancing mechanism between battery packs
- Ability to incorporate cells with unequal electrical properties
That brings us to your start-up idea, M:Bee, which is based on this technology. Tell us where you are in the process:
For now we are a team of four, evaluating founding possibilities and potential industry partners, such as the Business Creation Services of InnoEnergy. We know they are a good route to a viable product and successful business model. There’s still some ways to go from a research project to sellable product – but the battery storage market will explode over the next years, so we’re ready to take on the challenge with hard work, grit and hopefully a tiny bit of luck.
What is the big picture goal for your start-up?
The vision is to create a closed ecosystem, which enables us to fully use batteries until they are completely depleted, massively decreasing resource needs. Today, electric car batteries are used up until they have only 80% of their initial capacity left, then thrown away or recycled. There are no viable second life solutions on the market, since no one knows how long used batteries will last and it’s costly to take them apart, measure cells and combine them again. Standard systems also shut down if a cell is depleted or damaged, creating high risk for reliability-reliant environments. With our technology, the modules could be taken out of the car and directly plugged into a stationary storage system. And if one module battery fails, the system still continues to operate. Our system will lower risks, costs and environmental impact.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your journey so far?
I’ve come to realise that personal networks are very important. In Germany we have a saying: “Man sieht sich immer zwei mal im Leben” (you always meet each other twice), which holds a lot of truth. Everything and everyone has connected me to the next step, and I begin to understand when I look back how my project came to life. I think an important aspect of InnoEnergy is the networking, since a strong network creates viable opportunities that would have been missed in another setting.