Imperial College London

Partnership with Imperial battery startup enhances VARTA’s performance

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robots carry parcels in a warehouse

A partnership with Breathe Battery Technologies is raising the performance of VARTA’s batteries for automated guided vehicles and other applications.

Imperial startup Breathe Battery Technologies has announced the first results of its partnership with multinational battery manufacturer VARTA. Applying Breathe’s software to a VARTA battery series typically used to power forklifts and other vehicles has significantly reduced charging times, and increased the amount of energy that can be stored in the cells.

Breathe creates battery management software that enhances battery performance, longevity and safety. It is drop-in software, designed to integrate seamlessly with any manufacturer’s existing battery management software stack.

“We are living in a world where more and more applications are battery-powered, from the smartphones in our pockets to heavy industrial vehicles. Therefore, healthy fast charging is crucial to enabling the next generation of gains in uptime and productivity,” said Dr Ian Campbell, co-founder and Chief Executive of Breathe Battery Technologies, and an Imperial alumnus.

people from Breathe and Varta
Dr Ian Campbell (right) with Alexander Abele and Dr Jingyi Chen (left), algorithm product lead at Breathe Battery Technologies.

The partnership with VARTA involved applying the company’s Breathe Charge software to the Easy Blade 48V, a lithium-ion based battery series primarily used in small and medium sized vehicles. This includes forklifts, and the automated guided vehicles used in factories and warehouses.

The result was a 27% reduction in the time taken to reach 80% charging capacity, saving 23 minutes compared to the battery’s typical charge time, while allowing 3% more energy to be stored in the cells. This translates into more range and runtime for the vehicles. Meanwhile, the lifetime of the battery remained the same.

Healthy fast charging is crucial to enabling the next generation of gains in uptime and productivity. Dr Ian Campbell Breathe Battery Technologies

“For all applications and devices which are powered by an independent energy source, the charging time and battery lifetime are always the crucial challenges which need to be managed,” explained Alexander Abele, Strategic Product Manager at VARTA. “Our engineers, together with the experts from Breathe Battery Technologies, were able to address exactly these points in different multi-step charge profiles. The software is available from now on and applicable to our other customised battery solutions.”

Breathe and VARTA now want to expand their one-year-old partnership and explore opportunities for the wider uptake of healthy fast charging technologies. “We’re happy that, together with Breathe Battery Technologies, we are now able to provide our customers with an even better battery system for their future-driven applications,” Mr Abele said.

Breathe Battery Technologies was founded in 2019 by Dr Campbell, Dr Yan Zhao and Professor Greg Offer, who had worked together in the Electrochemical Science and Engineering group. The company was launched through Imperial’s Founders’ Choice programme, and last year raised £1.5 million to scale up and accelerate deployment of its battery management algorithms in electric vehicles and consumer electronics.

Main picture: Getty Images

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Ian Mundell

Ian Mundell
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