21 April 2021
Systems Engineering as the connecting factor between key technologies
- Systems engineering
Is electric racing the future of motorsports? If it were up to student team InMotion, certainly. In the last quarter of 2020, a glimpse of the future was already revealed by showing the design of the Helmond student racing team's latest Endurance Racer. They recently reached another milestone and conducted the first tests with the battery pack. This is a big step towards their “Electric Refueling” technology.
The InMotion team used TNO's testing facilities at Automotive Campus, to test the battery pack, the heart of this unique electric LMP3 race car, for its fast-charging capabilities.
"To avoid having to many variables in one test, we replicated one of our refrigerant systems by using an adjustable system provided by TNO," said Rutger Bell, Battery pack Engineer. "In addition to charging, we paid particular attention to the discharge capacities; the more efficient the battery pack can be discharged, the better the powertrain can use the energy."
During the week, the battery pack performed well. "We are extremely happy with the first results; our battery pack can charge in the way we expected. But we are even more proud of the fact that charging takes only 12 minutes". And that's all for the big goal, namely the 24-hour race of Le Mans; here the team will show the “Electric Refueling” technology. The team aims to charge the race car within 7.5 minutes this year.
During testing, the team performed multiple discharges, based on driving cycles.
"The battery pack provided the power and energy required to race 7 laps on Circuit Zandvoort and two laps on La Sarthe, the circuit on which the Le Mans 24 Hours are held. Both driving cycles were performed based on the car’s realistic race pace."
Alongside the good news, there are also plenty of challenges for the team: the tests also pointed to some subsystems that need to be optimized in the future.
The cooling system did not work optimally, causing the batteries to get too hot at some point. InMotion's next step is to address the challenge with the cooling system. "The team is already extremely proud of this achievement and we think it's a great first step towards "Electric Refueling," tells the more than proud team manager.
In 2015, the first racing car, called the 'Fusion', was built by the student racing team InMotion. The Fusion is a true racing machine and has driven 3 electric lap records: at Circuit Zandvoort, TT Circuit Assen, and Circuit Zolder.
However, the car had one downside; the race car could only do 3 full race laps (an outlap, hotlap and an inlap). After that, the car was empty and had to be recharged for an hour.
This is a challenge that not only the team faced, but a pillar that dominates the entire electric car market.
Triggered by this challenge, the team started focusing on the future and saw the possible solution in "Electric Refueling". Since 2018, the team has been working on this charging technology and the team's car in which this technology is applied.