An essential part of electric cars, the battery enclosures are unsung heroes. Without them, batteries would get damaged from heat, road debris or a fender bender. And, buying a new battery pack can cost you up to half of the price of your vehicle. Unfortunately, current technology steel enclosures are both heavy and expensive.
A Better Mousetrap
Novelis Inc. just announced its development of the first aluminum sheet battery enclosure. Up to 50% lighter than the standard steel design, its trim weight can help extend range 6-10% on a single charge. That extra 20-30 miles is very significant. Also, aluminum trumps steel for corrosion resistance, better thermal conductivity for cooling the battery, and recyclability.
The aluminum sheet enclosure enables more than 160 watt-hours per kilogram, matching the industry’s best energy density. While Novelis designed the enclosure specifically for larger battery packs found in pickups and SUVs, it can heed the call of duty for any battery pack types. It can also be tailored to complex shapes to meet the requirements for all types of vehicles.
Even if a new product provides a better solution, cost will always affect adoption by the industry. Novelis makes its product attractive in that area too. According to the way the company crunched the numbers, its aluminum sheet design is the most cost-effective solution when compared to aluminum extrusion and casting-intense designs and has a low, cost to weight saved premium, compared to equivalent steel designs while providing a substantially lower weight just not possible with steel.
Will Battery Manufacturers Bite?
Novelis certainly hopes the OEMs and Tier 1 battery pack manufacturers will recognize the benefits of choosing this solution. There is a lot of business up for grabs. According to a report released by the International Energy agency, the global fleet of electric vehicles is likely to more than triple to 13 million by the end of the decade from 3.7 million last year. Just recently Mercedes broke ground on a new battery plant and Ford just invested with Solid Power to develop a solid-state battery.