Williams looks to use racing car batteries for home storage

July 04, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
Formula E batteries provide 850kWh
Racing car developer Williams Advanced Technology is looking to re-use the battery packs and monitoring electronics from its Formula E electric cars for home energy storage.

Paul McNamara, technical director of Williams Advanced Engineering
Paul McNamara, technical director of
Williams Advanced Engineering, worked
for SAIC and Ricardo before joining
the WIliams team in 2015

“For us, Formula E acts as a proving ground for high power batteries working in harsh environments,” said Paul McNamara, Technical Director at Williams Advanced Engineering. “We have been able to fully test and validate our cooling systems, charge retention and module design, and apply this technology to other projects outside of motorsport.”

“One of the key issues that we have wanted to address is the vibration and track loading demands of the street circuits used in Formula E. With new Formula E tracks being built specifically for the series on public roads, we had to make a series of assumptions in our original design without any data. Another difficulty was thermal management, given that batteries heat up rapidly when used in a harsh environment like a race track. Now, with real-life experience of the race locations over the course of two seasons, we’ve been able to incorporate improvements in these two areas. Another breakthrough for us was the power increase between season one and two. In season two the batteries are operating at 25% extra power during a race than they were initially designed for.”

In season two the batteries have had to deliver 850kWh of power and that will have to double for the current season, enough to power the avage home for four months. This has lead to some major engineering challenges in cooling and maintainability, he says. “All the cells in one battery work in a series, so each cell needs to be cooled and controlled well in order to perform. With street circuits tending to be quite bumpy, maintainability is important as well, and we have already been able to redesign some of the features for improved performance and reliability.”