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Ultra-fast EV charging project 'will accelerate manufacturing – and adoption'

Tom Austin-Morgan

Sprint Power’s 800V battery platform for the Celeritas project
Sprint Power’s 800V battery platform for the Celeritas project

The £9.7m government-backed Celeritas project aims to reduce electric vehicle battery charging times to 12 minutes. This should accelerate the adoption of the vehicles and help towards the UK government’s target of zero tailpipe emissions by 2050.

Funding is being delivered by the Advanced Propulsion Centre and consortium members Sprint Power, BMW, BP, AMTE Power, Clas-SiC and Eltrium.

“Sprint Power sits at the heart of the project, leading the consortium,” said Ben Russell, Sprint Power’s commercial director. “We’re developing our battery architecture to bring it up to 800V. An 800V architecture allows the platform to be lighter and more efficient. A higher voltage allows for a lower current to be used when charging, reducing overheating and increasing efficiency. 

“We’re developing the battery management system (BMS), DC-DC converter, module and pack designs in an integrated system incorporating multiple charging protocols.” 

Innovative teamwork

Working with BMW, Sprint Power’s battery platform will combine innovations from each partner. These will include rapid-charging cell technology being developed by AMTE Power, BP’s thermal management and next-generation EV fluid technology, 1,200V silicon-carbide switching devices from Clas-SiC, Eltrium’s advanced 800V manufacturing capabilities, and Sprint Power’s own 800V DC-DC converter and BMS technologies.

The project will deliver two battery systems, one for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and one for fuel-cell hybrid electric vehicles (FCHEVs). These will include an integrated 800V to 12V DC-DC converter, an 800V BMS and multiple charging interfaces that will include provision for wireless charging in the future. 

The platform architecture will be manufacturer agnostic and could even be used in commercial vehicles, energy-storage systems and the marine, off-highway and aerospace sectors.

Barriers to uptake

The government’s targets for zero tailpipe emissions include a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030. While the uptake of BEVs is on the rise, there remain barriers that are discouraging consumers from making the switch. For example, a range equivalent to that of a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle and battery charge times closer to those needed to fill a traditional fuel tank.

As the uptake of BEVs increases, demands on the public charging infrastructure will also increase. With just 68% of UK households having access to off-street parking to enable home charging, and forecourt charging taking 22-90 minutes, waiting times at public facilities are likely to increase.

While the current best-in-class charging systems take 22 minutes for a 10%-80% charge for a 280-mile range, Sprint Power’s BEV platform is hoped to deliver an 80% charge in just 12 minutes. The ability for consumers to charge their cars in such a short time is seen as key to improving the BEV ownership experience and encouraging more consumers to make the switch.

Russell explained: “If you’ve got queues coming out of forecourts because everyone’s there for 30-40 minutes, that’s a problem. We see these technologies making huge gains, particularly in cities, built-up areas where people don’t necessarily have access to home charging. If you could turn up to the charger at work, the supermarket or forecourt and it takes 12 minutes, that’s fantastic; just enough time to get coffee.”

Efficiency enhanced

As more consumers turn to BEVs, the introduction of FCHEVs is also set to increase, requiring battery solutions that can deliver fast charge rates, impressive fuel-cell response times and efficient energy recovery to meet consumer expectations. Sprint Power’s 800V FCHEV battery platform will be designed to enhance efficiency and deliver similarly impressive fast-charge rates.

Russell added that the two-year Celeritas project will “accelerate manufacturers’ programmes and therefore adoption of BEVs and FCHEVs by several years”.

In addition, the project also aims to develop the supply chain to allow UK BEV and mild-hybrid EV manufacturers to achieve post-Brexit obligations of over 50% of parts sourced from UK suppliers. Project Celeritas is due to complete in January 2024.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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