Volkswagen Group and Xanadu establish quantum simulation program for electric vehicle (EV) battery materials

Volkswagen Group and Canadian quantum technology company Xanadu have established a multiyear research program. This is to improve the performance of quantum algorithms for simulating electric vehicle (EV) battery materials. 

The goal is to reduce computational costs and accelerate Volkswagen’s adoption of quantum computers to develop battery materials that are safer, lighter and more cost-effective. Hopefully, this will be reflected in cheaper car prices that will ultimately help the transition to electric vehicles. 

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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. Despite their many successes, these are reaching limitations on research areas critical for building better batteries.

Dr Nikolai Ardey, Head of Volkswagen Group Innovation, said: “With its NEW AUTO strategy, Volkswagen enters new territory, especially when it comes to exploring opportunities along the battery value chain. 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 speedboat heading for the horizon: Quantum Computing might trigger a revolution in material science and optimisation, key competences to grow our in-house battery expertise.”

Over the past year, Volkswagen and Xanadu have engaged in multi-domain research across material science, computational chemistry, battery technologies, and quantum algorithms that have set the foundation for the program’s long-term research efforts. 

The joint program aims to tackle industry challenges in battery research. It will focus on the development of advanced quantum algorithms for simulating battery materials that will be processed on Xanadu’s next-generation fault-tolerant quantum computers. 

Juan Miguel Arrazola, Head of Algorithms at Xanadu, said: “At Xanadu, we are pushing the frontiers of quantum computing hardware, software, and algorithms. Our goal in quantum algorithms research is to make quantum computers truly useful. 

“Focusing on batteries is a strategic choice given the demand from industry and the prospects for quantum computing to aid in understanding the complex chemistry inside a battery cell.

“We are thrilled to be working alongside the fantastic team at Volkswagen to perform cutting-edge research focused on overcoming the technical obstacles in quantum algorithms that will be necessary to unlock the potential of quantum computing for battery development.”

The program will also investigate additional computational problems in materials discovery where quantum computing has the strongest prospects for massive impact. 

The partnership with Xanadu supports Volkswagen’s larger objective of becoming a data and software-driven provider of more sustainable mobility and their ambition to be leaders in both battery development and quantum computing applications.

Dr Arne-Christian Voigt, Volkswagen AG Future Research, said: “Our partnership with Xanadu is a great example of Volkswagen’s commitment to leveraging innovative technologies like quantum computing to accelerate towards 100% electric mobility solutions, optimising our processes wherever possible.

“We are excited to push the boundaries of material simulation and build on top of the foundational research we have done so far with Xanadu’s quantum algorithms team.”

Earlier this year, Volkswagen AG 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.

Volkswagen Group recently announced that its global electric vehicle (EV) deliveries were up 25 per cent in 2022. Despite ongoing supply constraints, 366,400 BEVs were delivered by the end of September. This was up from 293,000 for the same period last year.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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