Those who have a need for speed have been turning to Formula 1 (F1) since 1950 for intense races that make you hold on to the edge of your seat. The adrenaline rush coming from witnessing every high-speed corner and every close-call overtaking have been leaving spectators' breathless as drivers seem to do the impossible, pushing their awesome machines beyond what was thought possible. A sport not fit for the faint-hearted, the drivers' bold maneuvers for a place on the podium are calculated and relentlessly rehearsed, albeit never quite ousting the risk.
After completing a grueling 57 laps and overcoming all the risks that it implies, Lewis Hamilton arose victorious at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix on November 29, last Sunday. Hamilton's reaction to winning was that of gratitude to all the strides F1 has made in recent years as regards safety. As the opening lap was red flagged at the start due to a major fiery crash involving fellow racer Romain Grosjean, Hamilton was referring to Romain's sublime ability to walk away with just a few burns and bruises.
Hamilton "Wow... the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do.”
Bold Valuable Tech safety approach
Bold Valuable Tech are well-aware of how essential it is to contribute to reducing those risks that are part and parcel to motorsport. Precision, thoughtful designing, and composite know-how all make the difference between a few burns and bruises to a more fatal outcome. Not only is there a demand on the battery to have superior performance, it also must incorporate built-in features to protect its users and surroundings from even more severe grievances. This is why our services cover the need for mechanical design aspects as well as electrical safety aspects. We use finite element analysis to study the mechanical design of the cell block and enclosure. For electrical design we assist in the design for electrical safety elements such as fuses, contactors, specialty coatings and all the other details that will protect the battery in an emergency event. Moreover, we have the experience to design for safe assembly and handling of the battery by the technicians.
In the case of last Sunday's Grand Prix, the driver pulled himself out of the searing car, which had been ripped in half in the accident, in about 30 seconds. The fire brigade continued to extinguish the fire while the driver walked away from the burning debris. All the while, scorching temperatures are placing every component of the race car under extreme duress, including the battery. And yet, the potential powerful explosion the battery is capable of was not unleashed. This is only made possible through a lot of planning in prevention and experience with all combinations of composites are leading factors in keeping the highly flammable lithium ion cells from generating a more powerful and injurious crash, further threatening the safety of the driver and first aid crew alike. Many would say it was a stroke of luck that Grosjean made it out on his own two feet. In the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ quote, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” It looks like we have witnessed a miracle, but, it can be put down to hard work, material know-how and rigorous testing behind his escape.
See full video of the crash here.
In a Formula 1 car, the battery is placed directly below the fuel tank compartment in the monocoque. This proximity to impending danger demands that this battery containing hundreds of cells is sealed off from any direct contact with foreign particles and liquids. Hence the battery is tested to comply to IP 67 or higher. Therefore, its design provides for being tucked away in a custom-built battery enclosure. Thus, it is the battery enclosures' job to be made up of the right composite materials which will resist high hazard threats. Apart from the layers of electric insulation, a Bold Valuable Tech battery enclosure boasts flame resistant properties. This translates into a battery enclosure of being able to resist between 3,000 to 5,000 Volts of electricity without any encroaching breakdown and several hours of resistance to continuous running temperatures. Typical temperatures that the enclosure will see range from 80°C to 100°C.
Battery enclosure safety
At Bold Valuable Tech, batteries depend on our application of composite materials to build battery enclosures. These materials offer a range of advantages that make them a better candidate for motorsport over the commonly relied upon machined aluminum:
- High strength to weight ratio
- Good impact-resistant properties
- Electrically conductive and insulated material variations can be combined in the same part
- Relatively low non-recurrent costs and quick turnaround from design to finished product
While it is true that some cars have the inverter and DC/DC electronics outside the battery pack, there is still a need for protection boxes which are often either made of aluminum or composite materials.
The most common material in today's F1 battery enclosure is carbon fiber and epoxy prepregs with the addition of electrical insulation layers incorporating a combination of other materials. These prepregs are compliant with FAR25.853 and rated to UL94. Furthermore, additional materials are used to create a Faraday cage effect to protect internal and external electronics from electromagnetic radiation caused by the inverter power modules and high voltage elements.
Beyond protecting against the threats of electrical disturbance to the battery, it must undergo vigorous testing in extreme heat, both resulting from an external and an internal source. The UN38.3 transportation tests for lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and cells are a series of testing events required to obtain approval for transport across international borders. The acceptance of the test is granted if the battery suffers no disassembly or fire after the six-hour test is carried out and the external temperature does not rise above 170°C.
Bold can commission this test and more importantly assist our customers in the design to achieve the UN38.3 certification. Mind you, this rigorous test encompasses mechanical tests (vibration, shock, impact), environmental tests (altitude, thermal) and electrical tests (external short circuit, over charge test and forced discharge). Within 4 to 5 weeks, the results and pending certification come in. This test is anything but lenient which is why having Bold take charge of this essential certification process can result in a swifter resolution to make the end product internationally approved.
Safety for everyone, everyone wins
Just as Hamilton is taking some risks working hard at a sport he loves, Bold strives to provide safety and performance to make ensure that athletes like Grosjean can get back on his feet to race on their beloved track another day. Your safety is our reward for our tireless hours of optimizing and custom-designing the battery and battery enclosure for your needs. Our team would like to assist you in reaching your goals, no matter how particular they are. You can depend on Bold for these and other mobility components. Please do not hesitate to enquire at firstname.lastname@example.org or get some inspiration on our website to know all the areas our expertise can serve your needs.