Leading the Pack in Battery Development and Energy Innovation
08 Jan 2018
Building on ten years' of experience of working with industry on automotive electrification challenges, WMG has completed a project to standardise and automate the assembly of battery modules and packs for electric vehicles.
What was the challenge?
The non-ICE sector currently makes up just 3% of the UK automotive market. Historically, UK manufacturers have avoided this comparatively small market, as the low production volumes have not justified the business case for investing in hybrid and electric vehicle R&D. However, with the global push for low carbon vehicles, there is a growing need to increase the knowledge and capability for design and production methods for modular battery systems that can be applied across multiple manufacturers and varying volume builds. A national-level intervention was necessary to position the UK as a leading centre for energy storage system research and manufacture. This has been further reinforced by the Government’s recent announcement in July on this year, that all new vehicles will be electrified by 2040.
What was the solution?
The Automated Module-to-Pack Pilot Line for Industrial Innovation (AMPLiFII) project, led by WMG, was funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK. It combines the research excellence of WMG and the University of Oxford with leading OEM partners Jaguar Land Rover, JCB, Alexander Dennis (ADL), Ariel Motor Company, as well as technology specialists Delta Motorsport, Potenza Technology, Trackwise and Horiba MIRA, together with sustainability partners Axion and Augean.
The project team designed and developed a flexible, modular battery architecture for high power and high energy applications such as motorsport, heavy industrial plant, and fully electric and hybrid cars and buses. This flexibility enables supply chain partners to combine the demand of multiple markets to create economies of scale. These different applications use a common cell format, available from a number of cell suppliers. Importantly, the module design and production line could easily be adapted to other cell formats, such as pouch, thereby future proofing the technology.
The project also looked at solutions to the issues around the recycling and re-use of battery packs by defining second-life and end-of-life process pathways to avoid the non-recoverable disposal of Lithium-ion cells, as is the current practice.
What was the impact?
The pilot line at WMG was developed to test and demonstrate manufacturing processes at automotive-volume production rates and quality. This ensures in-line quality verification, a no-faults-forward policy and a fully flexible, integrated approach. Methods for the reclamation of materials from cylindrical cells were developed and proved, and second-life opportunities for both modules and packs were defined. As a result of the confidence gained from the success of this project, further Government funding and industrial research projects have been approved, leading to a positive impact on the UK battery and electrification strategy.
Find out more about this research and WMG's energy systems capability at: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/energy_electrical_systems/