Checking the charge at the Battery Show

By Alix Paultre, Editor-in-Chief

One of the interesting aspects of the electronics industry is the resurgence of power as a critical application space and functionality enabler. Once the last thing considered in a design, power systems are now among the first things to be considered. One ramification of this is the recognition of the importance of quality and volume in energy storage.

With robots, remote applications, and electric vehicles driving the charge (no pun intended), it is no surprise that batteries have achieved a new importance in today’s designs. One of the areas most impacted by battery design is the electric vehicle space, which is why the latest Battery Show in Hannover, Germany was co-located with the Hybrid & Electric Vehicle and Technology Expo.

The integration of batteries and vehicles is an ongoing effort as electric cars mature in the marketplace. While there are many other factors that impact things like vehicle range, batteries are the most visible and bulky components involved. The good thing about a comprehensive exhibition is that those other core technologies are also on display.

Figure 1

One thing many forget is that the electric vehicle revolution is making as big, if not bigger, an impact on two-and three-wheeled vehicles as cars. Many of the exhibitors were showing advanced electric motorcycles, both utility and high-performance.

On the utility side of the house, Continental underscored their electrification efforts with a whimsical live demonstrator, a vintage scooter made electric was prominently featured in its booth (Fig 1). We spoke to Continental (www.continental-corporation.com) about some of their electric vehicle (EV) powertrain solutions at the Battery Show in Hannover, Germany. One of the novel solutions takes twin 48-V starter motors and a special transmission that combines them to create a drivetrain for small vehicles, and another involves advanced smart batteries for EVs and other robotic and industrial applications.

At the other end of the two-wheeled spectrum, EMSISO (www.emsiso.com) had an electric superbike from Italian Volt. The bike is intended to highlight the company’s emDrive technology, which uses a system to calculate the exact rotor angle, allowing more precise sinus motor current control. The end result is no motor vibration and improved torque.

The Lacama (inspired by the chameleon, as it is completely customizable for the user), as an acceleration from 0 to 100 Km/h (~60mph) in 4.6 seconds, with a range of approximately 200km using a battery with an energy Density of 114 Wh/kg (in capacities of up to 15Kwh). The maximum speed is limited to 180 Km/h, and there is also a parking mode that limits the bike to walking pace(http://italianvolt.com).

Figure 2

Another whimsical demonstrator was at the HUBER+SUHNER (www.hubersuhner.com) booth, a manufacturer of components and systems for optical and electrical connectivity. Playing on European’s love for coffee, a mobile espresso station was their notable eye-catcher (Figure 2). Their RADOX HPC (High Power Charging System) for electric vehicles allows to increase the power-throughput of a charging cable to 500 kW, with charge times of less than 15 minutes to 80% State of Charge. At the same time, it offers a smaller cable cross-section compared to the traditional high-powered cable options.

Although there is a lot of attention being paid to the battery, in reality the subsystems and vehicle chassis are as important, and more important in some cases. If you can use wide-bandgap semiconductors in your powertrain and shrink it significantly while using mixed materials and composites to reduce body weight, the battery becomes less important.

In this video Sergio and Pascal from Henkel talk to Alix Paultre about how their material solutions increase electric vehicle (EV) range and improve battery performance. In addition to making lightweight materials for lighter bodies and other car components, the company also makes adhesives that allow manufacturers to bond dissimilar metals and materials together for optimum weight and structural integrity.

When it comes to system design, nothing happens without proper test and development. The problem with test and measurement systems is that not only are the number of parameters that need to be measured increasing, the speed, bandwidth, and memory of the test system must be better than the device under test.

In this video Dewesoft (www.dewesoft.com) explains their live power analysis demo at Battery World 2018 in Hannover, Germany. The demo uses a small electric car on a dynamometer, showing how the system can capture and analyze all aspects of the system.

The most important enabler, however, is the infrastructure. IONITY, a joint venture of BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen with Audi and Porsche has formed initial strategic partnerships for the realization of its “High-Power-Charging” (HPC) network for electric vehicles in Europe. IONITY is paving the way for the development of the most high-powered fast charging network for electric vehicles in Europe, with the aim of building approximately 400 HPC stations in 18 European countries.

The biggest takeaway from the event was the speed of its growth and the market it serves. Only in its second year, the event filled a couple of halls in Hannover, and will be in Stuttgart next year. It is very obvious that the tipping point for electric cars is almost upon us.

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