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New battery inspection technology could prevent car fires and revolutionize the industry: 'The insights ... empower EV battery manufacturers'

The process takes only seconds.

EchoStat Electric car battery

Photo Credit: Liminalinsights

Experts at Liminal, a battery tech company out of California, claim they can identify flaws in power cells while they are being made. 

It's a solution with great potential — for battery makers and consumers alike — that can catch problems before they lead to headaches like the Chevy Bolt recall from a few years ago. There were 50,000 U.S. electric Bolts from the 2017 to 2019 model years that were recalled because the battery cells in them were a fire risk, Reuters reported. 

The Liminal team said their EchoStat system can easily integrate into battery factories. The process gives battery cells a comprehensive safety check before they are shipped out, catching issues like what happened with the Bolt cells before they leave the factory. 

"The insights gained using EchoStat empower EV battery manufacturers to identify and address production issues in real time, reducing scrap and costs, while increasing overall cell quality," Liminal CEO and co-founder Andrew Hsieh said in a video clip on the company's website. 

The system uses ultrasound pulses that go through the battery cells. It can check all common types of cells, regardless of the chemistry inside of them. Machine learning — using computers that can handle complex tasks and adapt without exact instructions from people — is also a part of EchoStat. The setup catches flaws in battery cells, documenting when the problem happened during production, and records the information. The Liminal team said the process takes only seconds.  

A faster time to market is among the improvements Liminal touts

"Working with Liminal gives us a competitive edge as the EV industry grapples with growing pains," Stefan Holzhauer, an official at Siemens, said in a testimonial on Liminal's website. 

The company is almost ready to validate EchoStat in a "major" battery factory in Europe, according to a Forbes story on the tech. Liminal has landed about $20 million in investments and hired Denise Gray as a strategic adviser. 

She has 30 years of experience with GM and ran the battery operation for the Chevy Volt. Hsieh told Forbes that Liminal plans to tap her experience in quality control, safety, and bringing batteries to market. 

Gray should have plenty to keep her busy, as EV demand is expected to continue rising. 

 "Advanced battery analytics are increasingly critical as the industry continues to scale and the demands on battery performance soar. I look forward to lending my expertise to the Liminal team as they apply their solution to support the clean energy transition," Gray said in a Liminal press release. 

The company is emerging from about seven years of research and development at a good time, Hsieh told Forbes. He sees a battery boom coming that will require oversight as billions of cells come off production lines.

"I mean, I think the big challenge is how do we keep up with demand?" he said to Forbes about the burgeoning industry.

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