An Australian-developed “super safe”, high power, low voltage electric vehicle drive system has been unveiled in a move that could encourage hopes for a home-grown EV manufacturing industry.
Electric Vehicle Systems and Technology, based in Lang Lang, Victoria, and headed by experienced engineer Duncan Heddich, has built a low voltage drive system which Heddich says makes it safe in any application.
Safety is considered a potential issue with current EV drive systems because of their high voltage characteristics: typically they are 350 volt systems, a factor which makes crash retrieval by emergency services potentially dangerous.
The new EVS&T design approach allows high power outputs even though the system operates at the voltage of a single electrochemical battery cell, around three to four volts.
“Because of the highly parallel nature of the design, the system is also uniquely robust and fault tolerant, making it very valuable in situations where reliability is critical,” Hedditch told The Driven.
The emphasis on safety doesn’t come at the expense of power output. Hedditch says the new technology brings previously unobtainable levels of electrical safety, robustness and user-serviceability, and is capable of delivering power outputs of 100kW plus.
“Its ultra-low voltage design also means battery swapping is very easy and completely safe – even with the system running,” Hedditch says.
“Also uniquely, the system is suitable for mixed-battery operation, allowing for efficient use of the charge in all battery cells, regardless of age, condition, chemistry or relative state of charge of the individual cells.
“That means that not only battery swapping is possible, but also that battery pack upgrades to newer cell chemistries are practical and straight-forward.”
The company has successfuly got its system to working stage after several years in development and is now looking for partners develop practical applications.
Hedditch says cost wise the EVS&T system will be comparable with current electric drive systems but the ultra-low voltage makes for much safer handling at all stages of the production process.
“The suite [we have developed] provides a development platform for any manufacturer wishing to add electric drives to any application where high levels of safety, robustness or field-serviceability are important,” Mr Hedditch said.
“Additionally, the modular design of these drives allows for a low-CapEx manufacturing process, making short-run manufacturing economically viable for the first time. The era of completely safe EV drives has arrived.”
Tony Bosworth writes for www.TheDriven.io and RenewEconomy.com.au. He has 35 years experience in journalism, and has been instrumental in launching and editing several automotive magazines including Which Car? magazine in the UK.