Bosch taps IBM quantum computers in hunt for new EV materials

Quantum computers can crunch in seconds vast amounts of data that take even the most powerful computers hours or days to process. (Stock Image)

Europe’s biggest car-parts maker is partnering with IBM to replace the rare and expensive metals needed to build electric vehicles.

Robert Bosch GmbH plans to use more than twenty of IBM’s quantum computers to help identify alternatives to the metals and rare-earth elements currently used in electric motors and fuel cells, the German company said Wednesday. The computers are to simulate the properties of the new materials.

Nickel and copper have become hotly contested commodities as auto and battery producers scour the planet for scarce supplies. Demand for lithium is so high that Chinese factories that typically make ceramics for bathroom tiles are now supplying the industry. Finding alternatives would be one way to keep costs in check.

Quantum computers can crunch in seconds vast amounts of data that take even the most powerful computers hours or days to process. Companies including Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Intel Corp. are devoting millions of research dollars to the technology.

International Business Machines Corp. first made a quantum computer available to the public in 2016 and has rolled out regular upgrades. Bosch says it has around 30 people working in the field.

The partnership with IBM “underscores the importance that alliances have for Bosch’s digital transformation,” the parts maker said in a statement. “They are a way to pool the forces required for the rapid and successful development of promising areas.”

(By Stefan Nicola, with assistance from Monica Raymunt)

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