PFINZTAL, GERMANY (Sept. 2, 1:15 p.m. ET) — Engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute have come up with a durable, lightweight composite case for lithium-ion batteries that can be mass produced.
Researchers developed the case for a Artega GT sports car that was modified with an electric drive. The composite case weighs 77.16 pounds, which is about 25 percent less than steel alternatives.
Manfred Reif, project manager in the joint project Fraunhofer System Research for Electromobility, said in a news release that the case can withstand a crash, or even a collision with a sharp object at 45 miles per hour, keeping the highly sensitive battery intact.
Currently, steel components are welded together to make the boxes used to house the 16 lithium-ion modules. While composites offers a lighter weight option, Fraunhofer researchers had to come up with a way to mass produce them to make the material work in the automotive application.
“Fiber composites have been used for a long time in the manufacturing of airplanes; however, only a few hundred are built every year. But as far as cars are concerned, this number could be several thousand daily, and mass production involves completely different requirements as far as materials are concerned,” Reif said.
Researchers developed a process chain with cycle times that make the production of high unit counts possible.
“The process chain is designed so that many steps can be run simultaneously,” Reif said.
Researchers will present the housing at the 2011 Composites Europe Fair in Stuttgart, Germany.