This interview is part of our new AI in Energy series, where we interview the world's top thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between AI and energy.
In this interview, we speak with Tal Sholklapper, co-founder and CEO of Voltaiq, to understand how his company is using AI to transform energy, and what the future of the energy industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind Voltaiq? Why and how did you begin?
TS: Voltaiq was founded in 2012 in Brooklyn, NY by myself and Eli Leland, driven by our mutual desire to tackle the numerous battery development challenges we encountered while leading two ARPA-E energy storage research projects at the CUNY Energy Institute in New York City.
Battery engineers are routinely confronted with massive amounts of data generated by their internal labs, suppliers, and partners, but their teams typically lack both the IT infrastructure and software tools to properly manage and analyze the data. In addition, these battery teams are under enormous time pressure to make design decisions that will have significant technical and financial impacts on the products they are bringing to market.
The mission of Voltaiq is to empower the transportation, energy storage, and consumer electronics market segments with a unique, powerful, and easy-to-use analytics platform that enables companies who are developing, manufacturing, or operating these batteries and battery-powered systems to consistently deliver products in their desired market window with industry-leading performance and reliability.
The Voltaiq solution is installed and in use at transportation OEMs, global consumer electronics companies, and energy storage developers and operators.
2. Please describe your use case and how Voltaiq uses artificial intelligence:
TS: Developing batteries is a time-consuming process due to the length of time needed to validate how long a battery will last, e.g. how many charge and discharge use cycles will you get. Unlike most mechanical and electrical systems, batteries have ongoing active electrochemistry powering them; electrochemistry which is highly susceptible to specific temperatures and rates of operation, making it impossible to dramatically accelerate testing. For instance, a cell phone battery that you expect to last a year takes roughly three months to qualify and test, while an EV battery that you expect to last at least ten years will take more than two years to qualify.
Many of our development customers have three-month test cycles for every product development cycle. With Voltaiq leading analytics, our customers are able to look beyond surface level analytics in real time and reduce the length of design iterations from three months to three to four weeks, a roughly 70 percent improvement in development iteration time, allowing them to ship products faster.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has Voltaiq done for them?
TS: One of our customers, a global consumer electronics OEM (original equipment manufacturer), was focused on safeguarding vendor selection and delivering a product safely and reliably. The product development group sourced batteries from five vendors and had less than six months to qualify each of the battery vendors. Current demands of lithium ion batteries, including high energy densities and custom form factors, raised concerns about swelling, performance, and safety of these battery-enabled products. Battery replacement was becoming more difficult and expensive due to non-user serviceable designs.
As a result, the customers engaged with Voltaiq and with Voltaiq, the customer could instantly compare battery test results from all suppliers in a single environment, revealing variations and trends during testing. Customers saw a 50 percent reduction in development and testing time, with corresponding acceleration in design-related decision making and overall battery reliability, reducing potential liability and warranty reserves.