LIBERATE – Lightweight Innovative Battery Enclosures using Recycled Aluminium Technologies – is a leading two-year development project designing lightweight aluminium battery enclosures to be integrated into electric vehicles defined by the BMW Group and Volvo Cars. Impression Technologies Ltd (ITL), the pioneer of Hot Form Quench (HFQ®) technology, is working with an industrial consortium led by Constellium that includes Brunel University London (BCAST), Innoval Technology, Grainger & Worrall and Warwick Manufacturing Group.
With a total project cost of £3.3 million supported by a grant from Innovate UK, the partners are exploiting high-strength aluminium alloys and their processing and joining technologies under LIBERATE, to design a battery enclosure that is 30% lighter than the incumbent aluminium designs whilst reducing material costs by up to 60%.
This will be achieved through the development of an optimised design, which combines extrusions and castings with complex, high-strength aluminium sheet components formed using HFQ technology. The selected aluminium alloys provide strength, crash resistance, thermal management and infinite recyclability with lower weight to make them an ideal selection for structural battery enclosures as the automotive industry accelerates its transition to more sustainable electric vehicles. The new design approach will help lower part count and assembly time, improve dimensional tolerances and reduce battery system cost and investment; all of which will serve to make battery systems more viable for mass-market vehicles.
Longer-term, the LIBERATE project will help establish a UK-based manufacturing facility to provide an on-shore resource for manufacturing critical components for Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles.
Jonathan Watkins, CEO of ITL, explained:
“Reducing the weight of battery enclosures is highly significant for improving the range and cost-effectiveness of ULEVs. HFQ technology enables OEM designers to incorporate complex geometries formed from high-strength aluminium sheet, thereby combining weight and cost reduction with package efficiency. This project aims to exploit the part count reduction potential of HFQ to simplify the design and address joining, sealing and assembly challenges. LIBERATE is just one of many emerging market opportunities that has seen new manufacturing partners engage with and take up HFQ Technology.”
Martin Jarrett, Director of Technology and Operational Excellence for Constellium’s Automotive Structures and Industry business unit explained:
“We are delighted that ITL is part of the LIBERATE project team. HFQ is a unique technology already in production and is starting to play a major role in vehicle lightweighting thanks to its attributes in the areas of design freedom and part reduction. We feel that combining HFQ’s advantages with those of extrusions and castings can provide a step-change in battery enclosure design. HFQ’s formability also has the potential to boost the market share of high-recycled content alloys. This will further enhance the sustainability credentials of aluminium in the automotive sector, which is a key interest to Constellium.”
Hot Form Quench
The HFQ® technology press forms hot aluminium blanks at high speed, which are quenched in the press tool, followed by artificial ageing to achieve full strength. Using standard grades of aluminium, HFQ® technology enables extremely complex aluminium parts to be formed in a single press operation, while achieving high levels of strength in the finished part.
For further information about ITL, visit impression-technologies.com
More details on HFQ technology can be found at www.hfqtechnology.com.
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For further information, please contact Adrian Tautscher at email@example.com or call him on +44 (0) 203 667 3593.