Pushing battery technology limits with Mahindra Racing
At the end of 2017 we started a technology development programme with Mahindra Racing, one of ten founding teams of the FIA Formula E Championship, the world's first all-electric single-seater city street racing series. The partnership’s ultimate goal is to help Mahindra Racing to win by sharing our technological expertise and by enhancing the performance of their 12V auxiliary battery. This battery enables all of the mission critical systems to be run on Mahindra Racing’s Gen2 car as of season 5 of the championship.
Dilbagh Gill, CEO and Team Principal Mahindra Racing
"Our partnership with Umicore and Voxdale further validates our commitment to the eco-revolution by completing the cycle of creation, efficient and optimal use, and recycling of materials used in the field of electrical energy. Sustainability as an outcome of whatever we undertake is non-optional, everything ahead of that is progress toward the next benchmark".
Kurt Vandeputte, Senior Vice-President Umicore Rechargeable Battery Materials
"We are proud to be Official Technology Partner of Mahindra Racing in the FIA Formula E Championship. Our partnership underlines our strong common belief in clean and electric mobility and offers us a platform to test and understand the behaviour of active battery materials in the most challenging circumstances".
Cutting-edge battery technology
Unlike traditional racing cars with combustion motors- where the engine is the most critical part for the performance of a race car - electric racing is a completely different game with the battery being the key element. In Formula E each car has two different Li-ion batteries: a so-called traction battery that powers the engine and a 12V auxiliary battery that powers the electronic systems of the car.
The materials inside such Li-ion batteries – the cathode and anode materials - determine to a great extent their performance. And that is where battery technology comes in! As a global leader in cathode materials, Umicore has a longstanding expertise in battery chemistry. Formula E is the perfect technology platform to run and test new battery technologies in extreme conditions.
Traction battery, acceleration and speed
What does it take to win a Formula E race? Simply said: you need a fast, light car and sufficient energy to finish the race. The cathode materials inside the traction battery can help reach those goals. Cathode materials have an impact on the weight and driving range of the car or the amount of energy that can be stored in a certain battery size. They influence the acceleration speed of the car or how fast the energy can be released from the battery. They also determine a battery’s lifetime or how long and how much stress the driver can put on the battery before it breaks down.
At this point in time the traction battery is standardised and all Formula E teams use the same battery. Their cathode materials chemistry may not be adapted. Once allowed by the regulations, this will change the entire competition, similar to combustion engine technology in conventional racing.
12V battery, small but critical
Think about radio communication, brake lights and all the electronics that control the car. The low voltage auxiliary battery operates independently from the traction battery and keeps all those critical systems running on the Formula E cars. This battery needs to be as light and as small as possible to save weight. Any saved kg can contribute to a higher acceleration or longer drive-range of the race car. This requires a completely different battery chemistry than the traction battery.
Our partnership with Mahindra Racing is currently concentrating on the development of their 12V auxiliary battery that will be implemented in Mahindra Racing’s Gen2 car, which will hit the track in December 2018. Thanks to its battery technology expertise for over 20 years Umicore is well placed to ensure that the cathode materials meet the toughest requirements.
Combining expertise with our partners
We are not alone on this ambitious journey. We combine forces with design and engineering company Voxdale and racing driver Sam Dejonghe. The combination of our expertise is what makes this partnership unique. We all strongly believe in clean and electric mobility and the combination of our technological expertise is key to create a unique and innovative solution that will contribute to the success of the M5, Mahindra Racing’s Gen2 car. Collaborating with a Formula E team means we deploy our know-how at the highest possible performance level. Together we can push the limits of technology!
Koen Beyers, CEO Voxdale
Voxdale and Mahindra Racing engineers work together to apply Voxdale’s areas of expertise such as Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and simulation techniques to further tune the performance of the electric race car.
"Our expertise in design, engineering and simulation is already proving to be a great asset for Mahindra Racing. We are very excited to be part of the future of mobility and we are committed to delivering performance enhancement".
Sam Dejonghe, Racing Driver
Young and talented Belgian racing driver Sam Dejonghe is the Simulator and Development driveer of the Mahindra Racing Team. He focuses on technical improvements of the car together with the team's top race engineers. Sam tests improvements of the car on the Calafat test circuit in Spain and on the team’s advanced simulators before being implemented during the E-Prixs.
"I am delighted to work in such a professional environment like Formula E and take on the challenge to help improve Mahindra Racing’s race car performance".
On 13 June 2018 Voxdale was awarded the CLEPA Innovation Award for its outstanding work and partnership with Umicore and Mahindra Racing. With the Innovation Awards competition, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) recognises outstanding contributions to the sector’s achievements in making mobility sustainable, safe and smart.
FIA Formula E
Formula E is more than just a racing series. It is a technological and sustainable development test bed for some of the leading companies in and out of motor racing to address mobility and environmental issues. It serves as a competitive platform for global car manufacturers and mobility providers to test and develop road-relevant technologies. The series acts as a catalyst, helping to refine the design of electric vehicles and improve the driving experience for everyday road car users all over the world.