Hyundai, IonQ use quantum computing to simulate EV battery chemical reactions

Batteries typically are the most expensive component of an electric vehicle (EV), so it makes sense for automotive companies to continue investing in ways to improve and optimize them. But classical computing can only go so far, and the emerging field of quantum computing offers the potential for deeper study of lithium compounds and advanced simulation of chemical reactions that bring much more to the table.

To that end, Hyundai Motor Company has partnered with IonQ, a company known for its trapped-ion quantum processors, on an EV research project. The move comes less than a year after Hyundai and Kia both became strategic investors in IonQ as part of a special purpose acquisition company merger that enabled IonQ to become a publicly traded company.

A statement from the two companies described the partnership as an effort “to develop new variational quantum eigensolver algorithms to study lithium compounds and their chemical reactions involved in battery chemistry.” This involves “creating the most advanced battery chemistry model yet developed on quantum computers, measured by the number of qubits and quantum gates,” the statement added.

Chemistry simulation can help companies study and adjust batteries’ charge and discharge cycles, which can affect durability, capacity and safety. The partners said using quantum computing for these simulations enables more precise simulation and control of chemical reactions.

“This creative collaboration with IonQ is expected to provide innovation in the development of basic materials in virtual space for various parts of the future mobility,” said TaeWon Lim, Executive Vice President and Head of Materials Research & Engineering Center at Hyundai Motor Group, in the statement. “We’re excited to step into the upcoming quantum era and take advantage of the opportunities that await with more effective battery power.”

This partnership is the latest in IonQ’s continued efforts in the field of quantum chemistry. Previously, IonQ’s computers were used to demonstrate an end-to-end pipeline for simulating large molecules, such as those present in fertilizer creation. IonQ’s quantum computers have also been used to simulate water molecules, one of the first demonstrations of the potential for quantum computing to tackle quantum chemistry applications.

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