Issue: Sep 2016


British battery technology helping drive low-carbon transport



by John Larkin

The future of low carbon transportation globally depends on successful partnerships between specialist battery companies and vehicle manufacturers to develop innovative low carbon powertrains.

 “We expect this year to bring a further step changes as Hyperdrive Innovation continues to accelerate electrification in the low-carbon vehicle sector and the continued development of more sophisticated energy storage systems,” says Stephen Irish, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive describes itself as a development and manufacturing partner for OEMs seeking specialist expertise to electrify cars and commercial vehicles, off-highway vehicles, industrial robots and stationary energy storage solutions. It has electrified an autonomous marine vehicle, and in 2015 supplied batteries for Europe’s fastest road legal electric vehicle. 

 In addition, Hyperdrive Innovation is taking leading roles in a number of ground-breaking R&D projects, including work with Abingdon’s Oxis Energy on an Ultra-Low Temperature Battery (ULTB). This project is exploring the feasibility of high energy density battery chemistry with packaging and control electronics capable of operating the Antarctic – one of the harshest environments in the world. Such a battery would allow the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to significantly increase scientific measurements made in the region without increasing transport costs or emissions. Hyperdrive Innovation is also involved in projects to develop two substantial off-highway vehicles with electric powertrains.

The company was selected as part of a 20-company strong delegation attending the Japanese Society of Automotive Engineers

 Annual Congress in Japan in May 2016 as part of a UK Pavilion backed by Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

The pavilion showcases a diverse range of low carbon technology, including Hyperdrive Innovation’s lithium-ion battery packs for automotive, industrial and off-highway applications. The mission is backed by the North East Automotive Alliance, of which Hyperdrive is a member, the Niche Vehicle Network, and Make it Sunderland.

“Taking part in JSAE 2016 helps us cement our growing reputation as a supplier of cutting-edge lithium-ion battery technology. It will allow us to develop new relationships with the Japanese automotive sector – and strengthen existing ties," says Irish.

Sunderland-based Hyperdrive’s APC grant is in collaboration with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick, Newcastle University and Zero Carbon Futures. The consortium is working together on key areas of battery development covering pilot projects, product diversification and process improvement.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Irish what are some of the breakthrough battery technologies that have come out Hyperdrive’s R&D lab.

Irish: One of the most recent technologies we have developed at Hyperdrive is a sophisticated battery management system that reduces charge times, balances load across cells for improved efficiency, and ultimately reduces cost.

AI: What support have you received from your investors?

Irish: Ahead of launching two new modular battery systems later this year we secured investment of a total of £3.2 million from venture capital firms Hamilton Capital Partners and Rivers Capital alongside R&D grant funding from InnovateUK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

AI: What expertise does your company offer OEMs looking to electrify their vehicles?

Irish: We are developing a standard product range and making investments in UK facilities and production processes to increase production and improve productivity. Given our proven automotive quality supply chain for battery cells, this investment will help us become the first port of call for any OEM that needs to introduce cutting-edge battery technology and management systems to electrify its products.

AI: How is your technology superior to others in the market?

Irish: Working in collaboration with Nissan we are providing lower volume and niche vehicle manufacturers with access to Nissan’s battery technology. This is proven automotive quality, class-leading energy density and is global, high volume supply. Our intelligent controls and modular design mean that Hyperdrive systems can be integrated into a wide range of vehicles and applications.

AI asked Steve Abbott, Business Devel­opment Manager at Hyperdrive Innovation, what new products/technologies the com­pany is working on.

Abbott: A modular, scalable range of li-ion battery systems (12V and 48V) for e-mobility, energy storage and portable power supplies. These intelligent systems maximize the potential for li-ion and reduce the development times and expense for OEMs. All design, development and manufacture is done in-house in the UK.

AI: What technologies did you focus on in Japan as part of a UK delegation?

Abbott: We attended the Japanese Society of Automotive Engineers Annual Congress in Pacifico, Yokohama in May as part of a UK Pavilion backed by Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre. It was there that we launched the new modular, scalable 48V li-ion battery system.

AI: What are some of the challenges facing OEMs when they want to manufacture electric vehicles, and how can Hyperdrive help?

Abbott: The key challenge facing OEMs in the industry is that the batteries they use to provide more energy storage and solve range anxiety in electric vehicles are heavier, more expensive and involve lengthy development time frames and investment. Furthermore, the future is uncertain for OEMs in more specialist markets, especially lower volume/niche manufacturers of cars, passenger/commercial/off-highway vehicles, where there is an urgent need to reduce environmental emissions and make the technology jump to further electrification.

These companies, however, cannot necessarily invest in their own battery manufacturing facilities, nor have they the internal capabilities to design EV or hybrid systems. Hyperdrive provides OEMs with access to leading battery chemistry in the form of scalable li-ion battery systems which can be tailored to the application, whether hybrid or full EV. Hyperdrive also provides engineering and design support to help customers to modify current vehicles and support new EV product development.

AI: Which automotive manufacturers do you have existing relationships with and what kind of technologies have you developed for them?

Abbott: We are collaborating with Nissan and third parties on designing and developing innovative battery systems to bring to market through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) program. Our relationship with Nissan involves using their lithium ion cells (made in the UK), integrated with Hyperdrive’s battery management technology and brought to the market in standard production-ready modules that can be deployed in a wide variety of vehicles, upwards of 48V.



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