Racing car with electric drive

April 26, 2013
The racing car from the e-racing team at Hochschule Esslingen University of Applied Sciences speeds round the track without a sound, powered by an electric engine. © E-Rennstall, Hochschule Esslingen

Drive technology has an electric future – of this Fraunhofer research scientists are in no doubt. At the Sensor + Test measurement fair in Nuremberg from May 14 -16, they will use an electric racing car to present novel solutions for battery management and electronic sensor systems together with an industry partner. The scientists are right on trend, as even FIA, the governing body for world motor sport, federation of the world's leading motoring organizations and organizer of Formula 1, is planning a racing series for electric vehicles.

From 0 to 100 in 3.6 seconds – we're not talking about the rapid acceleration of a Porsche Carrera or Ferrari Scaglietti, but of EVE, a racing car with a very quiet engine. EVE is powered by two electric motors, one for each rear wheel. With a maximum output of 60 kilowatts, they get the e-racer going at 4500 rotations per minute. The sprinter can reach a top speed of 140 km/h, and has a range of 22 km thanks to two lithium polymer batteries, with a combined capacity of 8 kWh. Electrical engineering students from the e-racing team at the Hochschule Esslingen University of Applied Sciences designed the 300 kg car as a voluntary project alongside their studies, and they have already competed in it at the international Formula Student Electric (FSE) race in Italy. From May 14-16, the racing car will be on show at the Sensor + Test measurement fair in Nuremberg at the joint Fraunhofer trade show booth (Hall 12, Booth 537). Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for IIS in Erlangen developed the entire electronic sensor system in close collaboration with Seuffer GmbH & Co.KG, an industry partner with whom the institute has been working for over 11 years. Seuffer GmbH & Co.KG is based in Calw in Baden-Württemberg, southern Germany, and sponsors the students of the E.Stall racing team.

"Electromobility as a topic is becoming ever more important. The racing car serves as a showcase for us to demonstrate novel sensor solutions as well as and energy management concepts," says Klaus-Dieter Taschka, an engineer at Fraunhofer IIS. Besides wheels, brakes, damper unit, batteries and electric motors, EVE is equipped with numerous sensors. These include braking pressure, crash, temperature and acce-

leration sensors as well as sensors that monitor the accelerator and brake pedals, speed, steering angle, wheel speed and power. These last six functions could all be performed by HallinOne® sensors developed by Fraunhofer IIS, 3D magnetic-field sensors that are already a standard feature in washing machines, where they are used to determine the position and orientation of the drum.

Electronic sensors determine charge state of the battery

The two electronic sensors attached at the sides of the batteries use 3D magnetic-field sensor technology developed by Fraunhofer IIS to measure the magnetic field generated by the flow of electrical current and thus to determine the battery's level of charge. What's special about this is that the contactless sensors measure both the current that flows from the battery to the engine and the current that flows back again when the vehicle brakes. The integrated sensor system is able to eliminate disturbances and foreign magnetic fields, thus guaranteeing very precise measurements. A further advantage is that the system is also able to measure other aspects of the battery such as its voltage and temperature. The data is collected and sent to the power control unit (PCU) and the battery management system (BMS), which controls the charging and discharging processes.

Intelligent battery management system extends battery life

Battery running times and battery life are limiting factors for all electric vehicles. The BMS developed by Fraunhofer IIS in Nuremberg tackles this problem by determining the impedance spectrum of all battery cells and constantly testing whether the cells are functioning properly. This allows cells' condition, current capacity and potential service life to be ascertained and running times to be predicted more accurately.

As individual battery cells age, they are able to store less and less energy. The challenge lies in optimizing cell utilization. "Until now, a battery system was able to provide only as much energy as was available in its weakest cell. The energy stored in other cells remained unused. Our BMS has an active cell balancing system that moves energy between stronger and weaker cells. This means that all cells share the load equally, allowing the maximum capacity of the battery as a whole to be utilized," explains Dr.-Ing. Peter Spies, group manager at Fraunhofer IIS in Nuremberg. Actively balancing out the cells during the charging and discharging process extends the battery's service life and range. "EVE's current BMS is a system developed in house by E.Stall, but our solution could take its place," says Spies.

Polarization camera detects cracks in bodywork

EVE's compact design is built on a tubular steel space frame housed within a carbon fiber body. Racing around the track puts a great deal of stress on the plastic fibers, and this can lead to tiny cracks developing in the material. Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen has developed POLKA, a polarization camera that can detect such damage at an early stage by measuring stresses within unpainted surfaces of the carbon structure. This compact camera makes any scratches visible by registering properties of light that are imperceptible to the human eye: polarization. Material stresses in the plastic cause changes in polarization. POLKA is able to collect all the polarization information for each pixel in a single shot at speeds of up to 250 frames per second. Using real-time color coding, the dedicated software translates the information collected about the intensity, angle and degree of polarization into a visual display that is accessible to the human eye. The system will also be presented at the joint Fraunhofer booth.

"We are convinced that EVE's innovative technology will allow the vehicle to perform very well while demonstrating excellent environmental awareness," says Rolf Kleiner, group manager of the battery technology department at Seuffer. And the students of team E.Stall will soon have a chance to prove it: This year EVE will be in the lineup for the Formula Student race in Italy, Spain and Czechia.

Explore further: Magnetic Sensor That Brooks No Interference

Related Stories

Magnetic Sensor That Brooks No Interference

June 3, 2008

Sensors accurately register the slightest temperature fluctuations, the tiniest changes to a magnetic field, or barely perceptible air currents. In some cases, however, there are limits to their accuracy – for instance ...

Wireless window sentinel

September 5, 2012

Window contacts tell users if a window is open or closed. Typically, such sensors are wire-based. Scientists working with industry partners recently developed a new system that operates without wires or batteries. It draws ...

Better batteries for electric cars

March 14, 2011

The breakthrough with electric cars is a long time coming -- not least on account of their key component, the battery. Lithium-ion batteries are still too expensive and their range too limited. New materials should pave the ...

Electromobility: Fast-tracking innovation

April 19, 2010

A lot's going to change with the transition to electric cars: The automotive industry will no longer manufacture certain parts for vehicles, yet new ones will take their place instead. Utility companies will need modified ...

Recommended for you

Volumetric 3-D printing builds on need for speed

December 11, 2017

While additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3-D printing, is enabling engineers and scientists to build parts in configurations and designs never before possible, the impact of the technology has been limited by ...

Tech titans ramp up tools to win over children

December 10, 2017

From smartphone messaging tailored for tikes to computers for classrooms, technology titans are weaving their way into childhoods to form lifelong bonds, raising hackles of advocacy groups.

Mapping out a biorobotic future  

December 8, 2017

You might not think a research area as detailed, technically advanced and futuristic as building robots with living materials would need help getting organized, but that's precisely what Vickie Webster-Wood and a team from ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (5) Apr 26, 2013
So that's what the car is. They're actually building it in a shop in the very building I work in. Keep seeing them fidgeting with it in one of the bottom floor garages whenever I come in in the mornings. Cool.
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 26, 2013
Bring it on! We will get some Tesla's out with this thing and have an exciting road race series! Bring it to some autocross events. The old rich guys will eat it up!
not rated yet Apr 26, 2013
Not quite the acceleration of the "White Zombie", but a lot more range.
5 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2013
I don't know much about car racing, but why don't the specs sound impressive compared to for example a tesla roadster?
EVE has 3.6s to 100km/h, 140 km/h top speed and 22km range. A tesla roadster has 3.7s to 100km/h, a top speed of 201 km/h and a range of 393km.
1 / 5 (5) Apr 26, 2013
Hope you like 15 minute races, time to recharge.
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2013
After 15 to 30 minutes every racing car has to stop, for fuel or for tires. How much seconds do you think it needs to swap battery too?
1 / 5 (5) Apr 27, 2013
Impressive. Especially the sensor part.

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 27, 2013
Meanwhile fisker automotive, maker of the $100k Karma plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan favored by biebers and dicaprios and al gore, is going bankrupt.

"The potential loss of $171 million would be the largest loss of federal loan money since the 2011 failure of solar panel maker Solyndra. That company's collapse, which came despite a $528 million loan from the Energy Department, has triggered criticism of the Obama administration's green energy program."

-Perhaps cars werent meant to be electric.
2.7 / 5 (19) Apr 27, 2013

Perhaps gubmints should stay out of the electric car business and leave it to industry.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.