Innovate UK is backing a collaborative project aiming to develop a lightweight, fire-safe battery enclosure for electric freight vehicles.
The nine-month project will see manufacturer Composites Evolution Ltd collaborate with Wolverhampton University’s School of Engineering, MEP Technologies Ltd and Carr Reinforcements Ltd to produce a new high-temperature composite material suitable for large battery enclosures for zero-emission trucks.
The resulting battery pack aims to be lighter and safer than those currently available, addressing road freight sector concerns regarding range/payload and lithium-ion battery safety.
“Lithium-ion batteries present a substantial fire risk in the event of a thermal runway caused, for example, by overcharging, short-circuits, impacts or collisions,” said Stuart Morrison, founder and CEO at MEP Technology. “Therefore, electric trucks with large battery tractions present a potential risk of severe fire and injury, particularly when in urban areas and/or carrying hazardous cargo.”
According to Dr Klaudio Bari, principal lecturer in composite engineering at Wolverhampton University, the novel battery module design’s new lightweight material will work with C-rated power cells, passive thermal and cell management systems. He added that the university will be using its VFE autoclave for the first time to produce and customise the prototype.
The three business partners said the project will create new, highly-skilled jobs and generate value stream revenues throughout the wider UK supply chain with high potential for exports.