As the world becomes more conscious of the need to reduce carbon emissions and meet sustainable objectives, there has been a growing shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) as a more environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. This has led to an increase in demand for batteries in both Europe and the US, as the automotive industry aims to meet these new production requirements.
However, this shift towards EVs also presents some challenges for the industry. One of the major challenges is in the supply chain, which has an impact on the cost of batteries. As demand for EV batteries increases, manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to source the necessary materials, which has driven up the cost of production.
To address this challenge, Liminal, a company that produces EV batteries, has secured $17.5 million in its Series A2 funding round to speed up the development of its EchoStat inspection systems. The company is led by researchers and technologies from Princeton University and fellows in the Activate entrepreneurial fellowship program, partnered with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Cyclotron Road Division. Liminal was established in 2015 by Shaurjo Biswas, Andrew Hsieh, and Barry Van Tassell, and it aims to combine ultrasound technology with machine learning techniques to deliver advanced insights for automotive manufacturers.
The production of EV batteries has become a key driver in the adoption of electric vehicles, and analysts predict that this trend is set to continue in the future. The big question is whether manufacturers can meet the production targets amid surging demand for lower cost battery technology. In July 2022, Liminal was recognized as a startup that can serve the automotive EV battery industry by Business Insider.
“The six-year-old startup wants to help automakers avoid costly problems like the $800 million recall of the Chevrolet Bolt. Using a combination of hardware and software, Liminal’s ultrasound technology looks for flaws while batteries are being made and can flag defects to the manufacturer,” said Alexa St. John from Business Insider.
Battery prices have increased by 7 percent, according to Bloomberg NEF, and this is expected to continue for at least another year. Analysts blame inflation and rising battery component prices for the increase in lithium-ion battery pack prices. Despite this, continued investment in battery manufacturers has enabled them to bring state-of-the-art technology to the market.
Liminal is addressing the critical situation of EV battery production by providing advanced battery inspection technology. Led by Toronto-based climate tech fund ArcTern Ventures, the Series B round of financing includes the participation of the Northvolt and Ecosystem Integrity Fund. Existing investors include Chrysalix Venture Capital, Good Growth Capital, University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners, and more.
“Our products help battery manufacturers hit their aggressive production volume and cost targets, while ensuring their cells meet stringent EV safety and performance requirements. As we deploy our first factory-integrated solutions, we are excited to be joined by top tier climate investors and one of the most promising global battery manufacturers,” said Andrew Hsieh, CEO and co-founder of Liminal.
In September 2022, Liminal introduced the EchoStat platform, an end-to-end solution for commercial manufacturing inspection of electric vehicle batteries. The platform is designed to improve the reliability of the batteries based on the company’s ultrasound technology and machine learning techniques. The solution has been validated across 50 different cell types by six electric vehicle OEMs and seven cell manufacturers.
The Liminal EchoState platform is designed to address the issues with EV adoption and cost reduction of the batteries. The in-process inspection technology enables the customer to keep a check on the saturation quality of the battery and also prediction of cell performance and life cycle.
EchoState uses the company’s proprietary ultrasonic and analytics technology to identify anomalies in the production process when the error occurs. The inspection solution increased the overall quality of the cell production.