Vestaro consortium develops new generation of battery packs for electric vehicles

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The Vestaro consortium of companies working to develop lighter and more cost-effective solutions for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has developed a new generation of battery packs, the Pure Performance Battery. Based on Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) technology, which is manufactured with hardeners from Evonik, the new holistic battery system concept offers the automotive industry a safe, lightweight and, above all, cost-effective alternative to traditional solutions based on heavy metals.

Founded in late 2019 to explore alternative battery solutions, Vestaro initially developed a cost-effective glass fiber (GF) SMC cover based on Evonik’s high-performance epoxy hardener Vestalite S. In addition to reducing the weight of the battery case by almost 10% compared to covers made from more expensive materials, the state-of-the-art SMC material also offers the performance levels of metal-based cases while allowing design freedom.

Following the release of the successful results of Vestaro’s new GF-SMC cover, produced by Vestaro’s partner Lorenz Kunststofftechnik, in early 2021, the consortium was further strengthened with the addition of Tier 1 automotive component manufacturer Minth GmbH. With the addition of Minth’s in-depth expertise in aluminum solutions, the consortium tackled two major challenges for today’s battery packs – ground impact and vehicle integration.

To meet stringent OEM side post and ground impact requirements without leakage or failure, the consortium developed a novel approach that fully exploits the design freedom of the versatile SMC material. The old floor structure has been replaced by an aluminum sandwich panel developed by Minth, which increases performance in terms of ground impact, but also plays a key role in the semi-integral vehicle concept. With this concept, the consortium was able to remove the additional lateral deformation elements and use the freed space for additional battery cells.

In addition, the improved ground impact behavior of the sandwich floor enabled a reduction in the space required for module assembly. The creation of these additional spaces for battery cells has resulted in an increase in total capacity from 65 to 75 kWh, while maintaining almost the same external dimensions of the battery pack.

“Our new battery pack is designed for performance and it is the exceptional properties of our Vestalite hardeners that give the unique epoxy SMC cover its outstanding performance and safety potential in terms of fire resistance and crashworthiness,” said Sebastian de Nardo, Marketing Director for Adhesives and Composites at Evonik. “We have successfully resolved any concerns about the EMI shielding performance of the GF composites by leveraging Evonik’s broad materials toolbox and know-how, and we are able to tailor the battery’s performance to each customer’s unique requirements.”

Designed and validated using Forward Engineering’s unique BEV floor structure development tool, the Pure Performance Battery is approximately 2.1 meters long and 1.58 meters wide with a maximum height of 0.15 to 0.22 meters. It is suitable for a variety of vehicle architectures. The new GF-SMC cover battery competes with today’s high-end solutions in terms of weight, but delivers a significant increase in performance.

In addition, the semi-integral modular design of the battery enables flexible adjustment of the number of modules and the production of complex geometries in a one-step process enables customized battery performance for all regional requirements.

Improving the sustainability of vehicle components is also a key issue for the automotive industry, so the new cover has been designed to be easily removed to allow quick access to battery modules and peripherals. In addition, the cover itself can be recycled via the Lorenz Kunststofftechnik recycling process and reused for new composite parts.

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