If electric cars (EVs) are to compete head-to-head with the combustion engine in the mass market, EVs batteries must have greater range and be faster to charge. MARBEL is the name of an international consortium of 16 research partners, including scientific institutes and automotive engineering companies, that is driving forward the design and development of modular, compact, weight-efficient and high performance battery packs that are more efficient at charging, more environmentally friendly and offer greater flexibility generally.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) in Saxony is contributing its extensive knowledge of lightweight structures to develop a recyclable metal foam (also called cellular metals) to house the cells of next generation batteries. Christian Hannemann, MARBEL project manager at the IWU’s department for 'Functionally Integrated Lightweight Construction’, explains the importance of the material in a : "In particular, metal foams in combination with phase change material, so-called PCM, enable passive heat management in batteries. This reduces the energy required for cooling, which in turn has the effect of increasing the driving range."
The cellular metal housing structure ensures the rapid transport of excess heat into a storage medium (for example, wax). The foam casing also protects the battery from environmental influences and shock impacts in the event of an accident, which could cause dangerous malfunctions.
The IWU will be transferring the research results to industry and the scientific community as well as promoting MARBEL technology. “we also want to further increase the acceptance for electric mobility by the general public, i.e. mobility without carbon dioxide emissions," adds Hannemann.