Hired quantum computers to improve EV batteries

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IonQ and Hyundai Motor Co. are collaborating to develop new Variational Quantum Eigensolver (VQE) methods to study lithium compounds and chemical interactions in battery chemistry.

VQE is an algorithm for determining the set of values ​​used to solve a specific optimization problem. The algorithm uses the variational principle to calculate the ground state energy of a Hamiltonian, or the rate of change of state with time of a dynamic physical system. The accuracy of conventional methods is limited due to computational limitations.

Partners will develop a battery chemistry model that can be run on a quantum computer that will be used to simulate the structure and energy of lithium oxide. The aim is to improve the performance, cost and safety of lithium batteries.

Chemical simulation and computational acceleration provided by quantum computing are expected to significantly improve the quality of next-generation lithium-ion batteries, offering greater capacity and durability. These attributes could make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers.

Peter Chapman, CEO of IonQ, said that batteries remain the most difficult engineering challenge in electric vehicle development, accounting for up to half of an electric vehicle’s total production cost. These high costs make electric vehicles too expensive for most consumers. “Cheaper batteries would bring the cost closer to that of internal combustion engine cars and help achieve faster and deeper adoption in the automotive market,” Chapman said in an interview. “Better batteries would also help make electric vehicles more attractive. Many of the top reasons customers cite for not being ready to make the switch – limited range, slow charging and limited battery life – could be solved with improved battery materials.”

Peter Chapman

Electric vehicles use electric motors and a high-voltage, high-capacity battery pack, as well as a variety of energy management and powertrain technologies. Despite high vignette prices, electric vehicles pollute less than conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines. True sustainability, however, requires improved battery technology that relieves the burden on power grids and even becomes a grid component itself. Future electric vehicles will require advanced batteries based on more efficient materials that can replace cobalt to reduce environmental impact while increasing range.

“Quantum computers are naturally suited to modeling molecular behavior since both systems are governed by quantum mechanics,” Chapman said. “Simulating the key compounds involved in batteries can help predict the outcome of chemical reactions and potentially lead to new types of starting materials that save time, cost and effort in battery development…”

quantum technology
One of the biggest challenges in building quantum computers is reducing error rates. Several methods are available for building a qubit, including IonQ’s trapped IonQ, which offers a low error rate and high connectivity between qubits. IonQ’s quantum processor is powered by atoms in 3D space and controlled by laser beams to ensure stability.

The qubit count is increasingly recognized as the most relevant metric for evaluating the performance and capabilities of quantum processors. However, as the number of qubits continues to increase, a more accurate and reliable metric is needed. In fact, lower-quality qubits can usually handle more than many lower-quality qubits, especially if they have lower error rates.

IonQ ion trap device. (Source: IonQ)

Each qubit in a solid-state system is unique, very noisy, and must operate in near-isolation. This is a disadvantage because solid state technology is not isolated by definition. Therefore, IonQ uses a laser cooling process that stabilizes atoms when the laser is tuned appropriately. Remarkably, IonQ’s process requires no refrigeration or sophisticated equipment, just a laser beam.

“We use lasers to our advantage in a number of ways,” Chapman said. “Apart from allowing our system to operate at room temperature, lasers also allow us to customize our system and fine-tune the architecture to our customers’ exact requirements. Our laser control software is customizable and can be toggled on and off. You can’t turn a physical metal wire on and off.”

The partnership, announced this week, is at the heart of Hyundai’s Strategy 2025 ambitions, which include selling 560,000 electric vehicles per year and launching more than 12 battery EV models. As electric vehicles play a crucial role in meeting global sustainability goals, the alliance also represents another step in the fight against climate change.

Quantum computing (Source: IonQ)

To be fully sustainable, transport needs to be electrified and complemented by other measures, such as B. Extending the lifespan of electric vehicles to offset the energy needs of car manufacturing.

Lithium-ion cells, which power most electric vehicles, are based on raw materials such as cobalt and other rare earth elements, the degradation of which can have serious environmental impacts.

IonQ claims it can solve many of these problems with quantum technology in areas like battery efficiency and boosting power grid capacity. IonQ’s computers have previously been used to demonstrate the simulation of large molecules, such as those found in fertilizer production.

As our hardware and algorithms mature, more and more complex molecules and reactions can be simulated,” Chapman said. “We’re starting with lithium oxide, but in the future we could expand our focus to solid-state batteries, power generation in the form of better solar cells, and more.

“Beyond chemistry, we can also use quanta in problems such as autonomous driving, distribution of charging networks, logistics, [and] Routing.”

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