Keeping batteries cool under the most extreme conditions, at Power Battery they know how to do that
How can you draw as much power as possible out of an electric motor within twenty minutes, without setting the racing car on fire? Peter Hinten, amateur racer and co-founder of Power Battery, came into contact with electric racing through the STORM-project at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). He noticed that improvements in the mechanics were needed to enable the motor to cope with a heavy battery pack.
Lithium-ion cells are the most common cells for battery packs in mobile applications because they have the best load capacity to power ratio. "If you're making a touring motorcycle, range is an important factor. You do not want to charge your motorcycle every twenty minutes. That requirement is dropped on the racing circuit, where range doesn't matter, as long as riders can go full throttle for twenty minutes. During that time, as much power as possible must be available."
Sounds like a simple task, but the moment a battery is heavily charged, it overheats. Van Twist explains that this can cause a fire, and it also degrades the life of the battery. "The chemical composition of the battery changes when it overheats, and the capacity decreases because of that.”
Areas of application
Power Battery is focusing on high-end partners in the racing and leisure industry. “We partnered up with ERA Championship. The first all-electric junior formula class in the world. Our battery pack is the
main power unit for the powertrain of the racing cars. Besides that, we also convert retrofit, classic Porsches and Mercedes cars and recreational boats.”
Apart from the high-end industry, Power Battery also focuses on heavy duty equipment, such as cranes and port equipment. “"We actually wanted to offer our modules to pack builders. But it turned out that there were hardly any of them, or they didn't deliver quality that was good enough. So, we started doing that in-house. That's how we ended up with heavy-duty equipment: harbor materials, cranes, shovels. Our original technology is not really interesting for that, it's too expensive. But we did gain a lot of knowledge and expertise in building safe and high-quality battery packs” Van Twist explains.
For that sector, Power Battery builds battery packs that are based on Lithium Iron Phosphate technology which lasts up to a minimum of three thousand cycles. The packs have the same capacity as Li-ion technology, but are two to three times larger and heavier. "In heavy-duty equipment, unlike in the racing and leisure industries - space and weight are less important factors. Instead, it is particularly important that the packs are inexpensive and long-lasting.
With the ecosystem in mind, Van Twist cites three things Power Battery would like to see. "First of all, more parties that understand motor-controller combinations, or are doing research on them. I envision a kind of online shop where you can find different, tried and tested and verified motor-controller combinations. It would also help if there were more electronics companies working on control units, so that the drivelines can be better aligned with each other. "We get that knowledge from abroad at the moment.”
Finally, Van Twist would like to see more freedom when it comes to regulations for experiments with electric flights. "A stretch of airspace where all the rules don't have to apply and where prototypes can be tested. I see that governments from other countries do grant that freedom. Sure, the risk profile is higher, but you can gain a foothold in the market and fast-track product developments. In the Netherlands, we have all the components we need to create a strong profile for ourselves in the field of electric aviation. We, as Power Battery, would really like to contribute to that.”