Ricardo Establishes Center For Development Of Battery Systems For Hybrid & Electric Vehicles

March 23, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

Ricardo, Inc. has announced the establishment of the Battery Systems Development Center at the Ricardo Detroit Technology Campus. The new center will offer turnkey engineering and development of complete high-voltage battery-pack systems for hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV).

The facility will feature three lithium-ion (Li-Ion)-capable development chambers, large HEV/EV-capable battery cyclers and equipment to facilitate the development of battery systems in simulated vehicle environments. The Battery Systems Development center will be used to validate Ricardo’s design, analysis and simulation of advanced high-power battery packs. Ricardo believes that this, combined with the company’s pack/vehicle integration, hybrid transmission development and vehicle development capabilities, puts it in a unique position of being able to provide turnkey vehicle battery systems development.

Dean Harlow, the President of Ricardo, stated, "Electrification of the vehicle is a critical element of automakers’ strategies for reaching 35-mile-per-gallon CAFE regulations. Up to half the development cost of a battery system can be the robust integration of battery cells into packs. As a leader in advanced vehicle technology, Ricardo is applying its Total Vehicle Fuel Economy™ (TVFE) capabilities to this important new technology to help our customers accelerate the volume production of electric vehicle technologies into the market. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles are fast becoming a crucial part of the technology mix, and we have the experience of more than 30 hybrid vehicle and battery systems projects to draw upon to bring even more value to our customers."

The Battery Systems Development center, projected to grow to a staff of 32, will focus on engineering complete Li-ion and nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery-pack systems (as opposed to the development of battery cells, which is the domain of cell manufacturers).

Wayne Thelen, Chief Engineer for Advanced Technology at Ricardo, explained, "There are critical items to address such as control algorithm robustness, accurate state-of-charge estimation, fault-tolerance design, thermal management optimization, shock and vibration robustness and cost management. Ricardo has the engineering expertise to meet these challenges. Our TVFE simulation, control, and optimization capabilities are extremely accurate in setting the parameters for battery-pack design. The development chambers will validate these designs in real-world tests, assuring maximum performance and efficiency in this important new technology."

Prototype pack systems will undergo exhaustive development in three specially built development chambers equipped with robust safety and filtration systems. Each will feature high-capacity EV/HEV-capable battery cyclers, high-voltage instrumentation, hardware-in-the-loop systems and other equipment to enable the development of battery systems in simulated vehicle environments. Once a battery pack design is verified in a safe, simulated environment, the battery system can be integrated into and further developed on a vehicle in Ricardo’s adjoining garage facility. The first chamber is scheduled to be commissioned by mid-summer 2008.