The benefits of composite panels for EV batteries

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EV manufacturers face the challenge of finding an answer to protecting the underside of the vehicle’s battery, while also providing venting and, in some high-performance applications, cooling. The solution must be strong enough to support the battery but also lightweight, so the overall performance of the vehicle is not affected.

UK based company BCP has been designing and manufacturing strong but lightweight composite panels favoured by sectors such as automotive, rail and marine for over 30 years and has a growing portfolio of electric vehicle clients. The company has the capabilities to manufacture upper housing, cell modules, battery housing, underbody protection and base plate cooling for electric batteries.

A battery can be protected from impact using composite panels, which offer great structural resistance, energy absorption, excellent durability, as well as being lightweight. The panels consist of an aluminium honeycomb core sandwiched in between two alloy skins. The layers are bonded together with a strong engineering adhesive and pressed together until the adhesive cures resulting in a complete lightweight composite panel. The process used to manufacture the panels offers a very flat surface in conjunction with tight tolerances to the surface area ratio (+/- 0.25 mm per square metre).

Battery cooling plates are essential for high performance vehicles as batteries can overheat when delivering a large amount of power and while they are charging. This can lead to catastrophic thermal runaway which will release organic carbonates and when mixed with air, can result in fires and explosions. Liquid cooling is the most effective way to cool batteries. BCP machine channels into thin plates of aluminium before an aluminium skin is bonded over the plate, allowing the coolant to flow through the plate and cool the batteries. Aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat with a thermal conductivity of 118 [BTU/(hr·ft⋅°F)] and will transfer the heat from the battery to prevent overheating. BCP have previous experience in bonding plates for batteries used in high performance electric vehicles.

BCP’s multi-disciplined team add value to projects by offering technical engineering support at every stage of the development and production process. Specialist engineers provide in depth composites expertise on specific project requirements such as suggesting the most cost-effective techniques to produce products, or recommending the best thickness of aluminium skin. To support this, the company makes full use of the latest CAD/CAM software and CNC machinery.

BCP will be exhibiting at the upcoming MotorsportAM exhibition taking place at Silverstone Circuit, UK from 6th to 7th October where they will be showcasing their bespoke composite panels and how they can be used for various electric vehicle and motorsport applications.

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