…how to build an efficient battery for zero-emission trucks? Discover the existing challenges (and solutions) below from the ESCALATE perspective.

The decarbonisation of the road transport sector is an essential step towards the ambitious climate targets of the European Commission, which were enshrined in the European Green Deal and the Fit for 55-package. The ESCALATE project will test zero-emission HGV solutions, as well as hydrogen- and electric propulsion solutions.

Several main challenges and deficiencies need to be overcome to utilise zero-emission HGVs for long-haul applications (800+ km), which are powertrain components, thermal management of battery solutions during (dis-)charging, as well as fast-charging (for BEVs) and refueling solutions (hydrogen vehicles). In the next segment, one challenge and the related plans for the pilots are highlighted.

The battery challenge: 

Common batteries for battery-electric passenger vehicles are low energy density in comparison to internal combustion engine (ICE) solutions. Enhancing the density of a battery pack can enhance the overall range of the vehicle while increasing the risk of short-circuit events. Furthermore, a denser battery brings additional challenges for heat management during (dis-charging).

In comparison to the requirements for HGVS, passenger BEVs have batteries that are not designed for circularity, meaning easy to disassemble, maintain, and recycle. Since OEMs focus on the production of battery packs for passenger vehicles, HGV battery solutions need to be further researched, due to vastly different use cases.

Even though the comparison with passenger cars has its limitations, one can identify that commercial trucks have vastly different requirements for performance and endurance, compared with a passenger BEV that has a manufacturer’s warranty, which guarantees a maximum depletion of 10-30% of battery capacity after around 160.000km.  …Thus, the battery packs of an HGV need to provide significantly higher capacities and must be easy to service, exchange and recycle.

ESCALATE provides a solution: Denser batteries & cooler batteries!

The project will provide a modular design of the battery system. The challenge would be to reduce the weight and cost and increase the range, battery lifetime, and efficiency. Thus, the Belgian-based ‘Brussels Research & Innovation Centre for Green Technologies’ (BRING), aims to develop a battery pack with a higher density, which will optimally reduce the overall weight of the vehicle by 10%.

Furthermore, the optimisation of the cell placement inside the pack, which includes safety material that divides the cells, will reduce the required cooling power and the beforementioned danger of thermal propagation. This newly-designed cooling system will ensure less than 2°C different temperatures over the battery pack.