Volkswagen Pushes Towards Maths-Sourced Battery Materials

Volkswagen is hoping to set AI powered computer algorithms into the battle to find alternative ingredients for future automotive powertrain batteries.

It has teamed up with Canadian quantum technology company Xanadu in a multiyear research program to improve the performance of quantum algorithms for simulating battery materials. The companies hope to reduce computational costs and accelerate Volkswagen’s adoption of quantum computers to develop battery materials that are safer, lighter and more cost-effective.

The automaker says accurate and efficient simulation of battery materials is an industry-wide challenge that could benefit from the arrival of fault- tolerant quantum computers. Existing classical methods, such as density-functional theory, have been the cornerstone of computational chemistry for several decades but, despite their many successes, are reaching limitations on research areas critical for building better batteries.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen and the government of Canada signed a memorandum of understanding to promote e-mobility in the country. Both parties agreed to investigate opportunities for Canada to contribute to Volkswagen’s global and regional battery supply chains. The Canadian government has been investing and continues to invest heavily in quantum technologies. That investment has brought world-class talent to the country, built up the quantum ecosystem and made Canada a leader in the quantum technology space.

Dr Nikolai Ardey, head of Volkswagen Group innovation, said: “Next-generation high performance materials and electrochemical processes are key ingredients of this expedition. Working together with cutting-edge companies like Xanadu is like hopping on a speed boat heading at the next big thing: Quantum Computing might trigger a revolution in material science and optimization, key competences to grow our inhouse battery expertise.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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