Williams Develops Lighter—Yet Longer-Range—EV Battery Module
Sep 27, 2019 Murray Slovick
Leveraging two cell chemistries, the module’s peak deployment power is 550
kW (20-second pulse), and peak regeneration power is 550 kW (10-second
Simultaneously increasing the energy and power density of batteries is
widely regarded as one of the hurdles preventing EVs from wider acceptance
by consumers. Design engineers usually have to compromise between energy and
power density as they try to reduce the size and weight of battery packs to
meet target performance levels.
So, under the category “look what we have here,” is a development from the
engineering wing of the Williams Formula One racing team that seems to
provide the best of both worlds. Using what it calls Adaptive Multi-Chem
technology, Williams says its solution enables a battery of the same weight
as a conventional unit that can deliver longer range without compromising
power, or higher power without compromising range.
Two Cell Chemistries
Lithium-ion battery packs are usually made up of a single type of cell, each
with the same chemistry, energy density, and power output. Cells are
arranged in modules and the modules are assembled into a complete pack. The
Williams design uses two different types of cell chemistry, arranged in two
separate blocks within the module.
Samsung’s 21700 30T cylindrical cells provide good energy density and more
specialized high-performance pouch cells from A123 systems provide the high
power. A pouch cell differs from a standard battery pack in that rather than
using a metallic cylinder and glass-to-metal electrical feed-through for
insulation, conductive foil tabs welded to the electrode and sealed to the
pouch carry the positive and negative terminals to the outside.
Here, the pouch cells provide the fast release of energy needed for strong
acceleration and, as they become depleted, they can be topped up again from
the energy stored in the Samsung cells. Each Adaptive Multi-Chem module has
its own integrated, bidirectional dc-dc converter to control the process of
energy transfer between the two types of cells.
The new Adaptive Multi-Chem battery pack from William Advanced Engineering
builds on the company’s Formula One and Formula E (electric car racing)
expertise. (Source: Williams Advanced Engineering)
Williams boasts of a 37% increase in energy density for a target power
density and says it uses a compact thermal management system—each module has
a self-contained liquid cooling circuit—to provide enough cooling without
unnecessary bulk. The company claims a total stored energy of 60 kWh, with a
core battery mass of 343 kg (757 lbs.). Peak deployment power is 550 kW
(20-second pulse), and peak regeneration power is 550 kW (10-second pulse).
What’s more, according to the company, peak power, continuous power, and
stored energy of the module can be tailored to individual requirements.
The system is said to be highly adaptable, with independent sizing of energy
and power cells through the use of scalable blocks. It can be supplied to
customers ready to assemble into battery packs.
The new battery module features an exoskeleton manufactured using the
company's weight-trimming technology called 223. This production process
creates an engineered hinge embedded within a single composite preform of
carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). 223 enables the creation of 3D
structures from 2D materials, opening the potential for manufacturing
techniques previously constrained by cost or production rate. It allows for
rapid, low-cost composite production and includes the use of recycled
The 223 exoskeleton improves the battery's structural performance, with the
complete base and case weighing just 40 kg, making the entire system 385 kg
(849 lbs). It has a high strength-to-weight ratio, better-than-ordinary
stiffness, and excellent fatigue and environmental resistance. The
technology is particularly relevant to the automotive industry, where
reducing weight is seen as one of the primary tools needed to meet
increasingly stringent fuel-economy and emissions targets, as well as
support for the range required from electric vehicles.
Paul McNamara, Williams Advanced Engineering technical director, concedes
that because of the added complexity and integrated electronics, its cost
will be higher than a conventional module, “but we hope to get economies of
scale as numbers increase.”
Williams Advanced Engineering is the technology and engineering services
business of the Williams Group, which also comprises ROKiT Williams Racing
in Formula One. Following the in-house development of a Kinetic Energy
Recovery System (KERS) for Formula One racing, Williams developed core
capabilities in batteries and electrification. These have been applied to
Formula E racing, where Williams helped to launch the series and has powered
all cars on the grid for the first four seasons of racing and then into
vehicles off the racetrack.
Williams lithium-ion Formula E batteries not only are the first to have
passed FIA crash testing regulations, but the company reports they also meet
stringent air safety regulations in order to be transported around the world
to support the global race calendar.
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