Ricardo launches battery development center

Ricardo Inc., an independent engineering firm specializing in vehicle fuel economy and efficiency, has launched the Battery Systems Development Center at its headquarters in Van Buren Township, Mich. The company says the center provides a comprehensive, integrated range of capabilities for turnkey development and application of complete high-voltage battery-pack systems for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

“As a leading supplier of advanced technologies and alternative energy solutions, Ricardo is at the forefront in developing renewable energy applications that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lead to energy independence,” says Dean Harlow, Ricardo president. “While there has been a great deal of theoretical discussion and proposals on renewable energy, Ricardo is actually applying the technology by taking it off the whiteboard and into the real world. Last year we launched TVFE as a total vehicle fuel economy solution. Now we open the Battery Systems Development Center, which will be among the industry’s most complete battery development and system integration centers, working with a wide range of customers from cell suppliers to the Tier 1 and OEMs on battery systems for hybrid and electric vehicles.”

The Battery Systems Development Center is the focal point of Ricardo’s design, analysis, simulation and integration of advanced high-power battery packs and their electronic management systems. Combined with Ricardo’s expertise in the development of electronic controls, hybrid transmissions and vehicle systems, it provides Ricardo with the capability of providing fully integrated, turnkey battery systems, the company says.

“Electrification of the vehicle is a critical element of automakers’ strategies for achieving the 35-mile-per-gallon CAFE regulations,” says Karina Morley, Ricardo’s global vice president of controls and electronics. “The Battery Systems Development Center is a state-of-the-art benchmark facility that enables Ricardo to evaluate and optimize batteries throughout the development cycle, from the early stages through battery pack production and integration into the vehicle.”

Ricardo says its expertise in battery development can be applied to nonautomotive industries that can benefit from advanced battery pack development, such as agricultural equipment, military vehicles and medium- and heavy-duty on- and off-road vehicles; this includes any type of energy storage, such as ultracapacitors or batteries for stationary or other applications.

In the Battery Systems Development Center, prototype battery pack systems are developed in specially-built development chambers equipped with safety and filtration systems. Each will feature high-capacity battery cyclers, high-voltage instrumentation, hardware-in-the-loop systems and other equipment to enable the development of battery systems in simulated vehicle environments, Ricardo says; once a battery pack design is verified in a safe, simulated environment, the battery system can be integrated into and further developed on a vehicle in the company’s adjoining garage facility.