EV batteries become smarter

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Intelligent BMS uses combination of AI and data science fused with electrochemical modelling expertise

Battery Technology development is resulting in smarter batteries with improved management systems for wider applications

Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) has been focused on the development of battery technology for the electric vehicle and off-road mining equipment industries with innovations having been demonstrated in cloud-connected battery management and analytics, structural battery packs and off-highway electrification.

With its latest developments spanning both technologies and industries, the company was in the limelight at the Battery Show Europe event held in Stuttgart in May as well as The Electric Mine show in Arizona at the same time.

Battery Intelligence

According to WAE, its Elysia brand features state-of-the-art embedded and cloud-based products which together provide customers with a unique combination of AI and data science, fused with electrochemical modelling expertise. It provides unprecedented access to battery insights as well as the ability to manage, optimise and enhance performance across the battery’s entire lifecycle, both in the vehicle and in ‘second life’ applications such as stationary grid storage.

Elysia is based on two key products:

• Elysia Cloud Platform is a cloud-based system which uses proprietary digital twin technology. It helps OEMs, fleet owners and battery asset financiers turn data into actionable insights, designed to enable these customers to forecast and extend battery life, enhance safety, and protect warranty and residual values. By providing a complete picture of the battery’s state of health, it provides transparency whilst also enabling accurate verification of degradation and in-life fault-finding.

• Elysia Embedded is a suite of state-of-the-art battery management algorithms, which run locally on the Battery Management System (BMS) – for example directly on an EV’s battery. Its BMS algorithms help car manufacturers to increase vehicle range, enable faster charging and maximise battery power, enabling them to stay ahead of the competition delivering the best possible performance to customers, without compromising safety or battery life.

Whereas conventional battery management systems traditionally require extensive data from testing and limits specified by cell suppliers to build software that controls how the battery is used, Elysia Embedded’s algorithms offers customers the ability to unleash untapped potential through intelligent ‘physics-informed’ models.

While this approach has formed an integral part of WAE’s motorsport capability, these algorithms have been designed to run on standard low-cost chips as typically found in mass-market battery management systems. In applications to date, this has shown the ability to bring up to a 30% increase in battery life and 10% potential increase in battery range, whilst also enabling dramatically reduced fast charge times and higher peak power output when compared to traditional battery management algorithms.

Joe Jones of WAE believes that Elysia brings a new generation of battery intelligence to the automotive and e-mobility sectors. Its unique capabilities offer unprecedented insight and foresight.

“The combination of artificial intelligence, electrochemistry and real-world experience combines in our BMS embedded and cloud platform products to allow battery manufacturers, vehicle OEMs and battery owners to unlock performance and have better insight into battery health and life,” he says.

Structural Battery Pack

Visitors to the Battery Show Europe were also able to see WAE’s new Cell2Pack demonstrator, a structural battery pack system, which is designed to improve electric vehicle structural stiffness, lower weight and improve overall range at low production volumes.

Cell2Pack is a specific battery design for the automotive niche market and low volume applications of under 10,000 vehicles per annum. The cells are integrated directly into the battery pack without the need for individual module enclosures, therefore increasing volumetric energy density and improving vehicle range within a given package. To achieve this highly integrated approach, the cells become a load-bearing element and provide a load path directly through the battery pack from base-to-lid, and onwards into the vehicle body.

The Cell2Pack system incorporates a number of advanced technical features in order to provide an optimum battery design with maximum capability including:

Large Format Cylindrical Cells – market trends show that there’s now a move towards larger format cylindrical 46xx cells offering higher power and energy density, as well as increased fast charging capability due to reduce internal resistance.

Inflatable Side Cooling – Flexible and inflatable side cooling ribbons offer double-sided cooling to the cells. The adaptive flexible shape ensures close contact with the cells without the need for gap fillers or thermal interface material, therefore improving heat transfer from the cells to the coolant. Manufacturing is also simplified with no need to attach the cooling ribbons to the cells.

Bent Extruded Case – One continuous 3D bent extrusion forms three sides of the battery case with a clip fit panel base. This design enables the package length and width to the scaled to the customer requirements without the need for high-cost tooling changes, ideal for low volumes.

Commenting on the new battery innovations for the passenger car market, Craig Wilson, WAE Technologies CEO, said: “With Cell2Pack, we have an advanced new structural battery design that has huge positive implications for the low-volume automotive sector, while with our new Elysia battery intelligence offering we are bringing game-changing battery software to the mass market.”

Off-Highway Electrification

As well as displaying its new products for EV passenger vehicles in Stuttgart, WAE Technologies was also in attendance in May at Arizone’s “Electric Mine 2023”, showcasing state-of-the-art electrification systems, which are supporting the acceleration of the off-highway sector in its journey to decarbonisation.

Following its acquisition by Fortescue Metals Group at the start of 2022, WAE has taken the helm in driving electrification for the off-highway sector, using its expertise to support Fortescue in its transition to a global green renewables and resources company through the decarbonisation of its worldwide vehicle fleet.

In June 2022, Fortescue announced a partnership with Liebherr, who will be using their T264 mining haul truck to integrate zero emission power system technologies developed by WAE Technologies.

At Electric Mine 2023 WAE demonstrated its DC-DC Converter, featuring a ruggedised design developed for off-highway vehicle applications. The DC-DC Converter is a 600kW 1.5kV – 1kV stepdown converter for high power loads. Its Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology delivers exceptional efficiency of 98.5%, while full power operation takes place at ambient temperature of 50C.

Dave Rawlings, WAE’s Head of Technology, explains how electrification of off highway projects is being approached by WAE, despite the company’s firm origins in motorsport. Ther are some major barriers as well as potential benefits to off-highway EV adoption in off-highway equipment, which present unique vehicle characteristics as well as very specific infrastructure requirements for off-grid and remote environments.

“Technology has been at the apex of the development of high-performance battery and electrification systems for more than two decades. As part of the Fortescue family, our state-of-the-art technology is increasingly being applied to the off-highway sector, supporting the business as it transitions to a clean, green global fleet. Our technology has the potential to accelerate the decarbonisation of any off-highway vehicle,” he says.

Jonathan Newell
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