THE UK AUTOMOTIVE BATTERY SUPPLY CHAIN
The UK Automotive Battery Supply Chain project created the ability to deliver next generation battery packs for high performance low carbon vehicles. The project recognises the needs of the growing UK automotive industry and capitalises on the world leading UK innovations in the area of battery technology.
The collaborative project combined Cosworth’s expertise as a world-leading, high-performance powertrain developer with that of their other three technical partners;
- AGM Batteries (a UK based battery cell manufacturer)
- Dukosi (a leader in innovative cell-based battery management technology)
- WMG at the University of Warwick (an academic group with specialist battery knowledge and facilities)
The project was part-funded with a grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre.
There is a tremendous amount of work required to develop, industrialise and market technologies that can achieve the 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 targeted in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The correct use of vehicle electrification is one of the key areas in which the required greenhouse gas reductions can be made. However, one of the greatest limiting factors facing the increased vehicle electrification is the energy density of portable energy storage systems. In this respect, advanced traction battery technology is a critical area of development for enabling credible electrified transportation for both PHEV and BEV applications.
With production and development of high-energy battery systems currently being concentrated in the far East and the US. The UK has a strong requirement to establish a robust domestic industry base to develop and manufacture battery systems to meet the needs of it’s own vehicle products, and promote sustained growth capability in this sector.
The aim of the UK-ABSC project was to establish and develop a robust and permanent UK supply chain for advanced lithium-ion pack development and manufacture for high-performance, low carbon vehicles by 2020, using highly innovative UK-developed integrated smart cell technology.
The Smart Cell technology chosen for this project employs a bespoke silicon chip developed by Dukosi in Edinburgh, mounted on each of the 13Ah pouch cells specifically developed by AGM Batteries in Thurso, to create a new type of cell-based battery management system.
The Smart Cell approach enables detailed information about the cell temperatures and voltages, and the state of charge and state of health of each cell to be determined and recorded throughout the whole life of each of the cells. This information is transmitted to the main Battery Management System (BMS) via radio antennae using Dukosi’s proprietary near-field RF communications. This eliminates the significant weight and package constraints of conventional wiring, as well as the need for hundreds of connectors and the risks of high-voltage leakage and long-term robustness.
To maximise the exploitation opportunities that this system offers, a bespoke high-voltage battery pack was designed and built by Cosworth in Northampton, specifically as a technology demonstrator, to explore all the benefits outlined in a realistic way. This battery pack incorporated an innovative cell carrier and thermal management arrangement to facilitate the flexibility and freedom of design, and to utilise the energy available within the cells to the greatest effect.
The UK-ABSC project gave us the opportunity to apply our extensive experience in systems engineering, lightweight structures and thermal management to tackle some of the other key limitations of current battery systems. In addition to weight saving, the ability to grade cells much more accurately at the formation stage, and compile packs with better matched cells, as well as the greatly improved amount of information available from each cell during its life mean that the pack can be made with less additional capacity margin required to ensure the required lifespan, which offers further weight savings of up to 10% of the total cell weight and pack cost.