Lotus Engineering Containerizes Battery Test Facility

By Chad Elmore25 November 2020

Lotus Engineering said it will launch a pilot containerized battery testing facility to assess energy storage solutions for the electric vehicle sector. The system is expected to allow Lotus Engineering to carry out various battery cell, module and pack characterization tests, performance evaluations, and component and lifetime testing under controlled conditions. Early feasibility study support and validation of mature designs for implementation into new vehicles will also be available.

The project has been named BattCon, an abbreviation of Battery Containerized Test Facility. The containers are individual walk-in laboratories and will be in operation at Lotus headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, England, as well as the new Lotus Advanced Technology Centre in Wellesbourne, West Midlands, England. Each is the size of a standard 40 ft shipping container and so can be packed up and transported as a mobile testing unit, available to Lotus Engineering customers wherever they are. Lotus said it has three operational units as part of the pilot scheme.

For clients, Lotus Engineering said it will offer an EV safety-compliant workshop facility with specialist staff experienced in testing batteries. Companies new to the EV field, and those who would otherwise need to invest in additional test facilities, will have access to a fast, efficient and cost-effective solution to develop new technologies and speed up their route to market. For Lotus itself, the new technology will support the company’s plans to launch a new range of performance vehicles.

Lotus Engineering is the consultancy division of Lotus and provides a comprehensive range of technical services. It experience in the design and engineering of EVs and other alternative propulsion powertrains dates back two decades. While many of the programs remain confidential, the consultancy’s work on the Tesla Roadster (2008-‘12) is the best-known example.

“As the race intensifies for automotive and other sectors to develop new and novel battery technologies, there will be increased demand for suitable testing facilities,” said Matt Windle, executive director, Engineering, Lotus. “Project BattCon begins to address this problem by evaluating how Lotus Engineering can meet the battery testing opportunities for the UK supply chain and OEMs.”

Services available include capacity determination, resistance mapping, current and power mapping, open circuit voltage determination and heat capacity. Lifetime testing is comprised of low-voltage cycling, high-voltage cycling, self-discharge determination, storage ageing, cycle ageing, drive cycle ageing and orientation. One of the three Lotus containers has an ambient chamber, the temperature of which can be raised or lowered to replicate climatic extremes around the world.

The pilot project will conclude in spring 2021. Upon completion, the project will be evaluated and a decision made about its future.

It is co-funded by the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), part of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC); Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation; the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT).

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