We innovate for the Transformation of sustainable Mobility

The modular battery housing demonstrates how castings support the transformation of mobility: by offering creativity, flexibility and know-how. Learn in this article which steps we follow to develop a safe housing for batteries in all sizes needed.

The industry is on its way to transform itself by creating the path towards sustainable mobility. GF Casting Solutions sees itself not only as supplier of high-quality cast parts, but also as developer, solution provider and partner. But what are the necessary development steps and what are the relevant innovations in production to support our customers in the transformation process and the technological transformation towards a sustainable mobility?

With a global production network and an in-house R&D department, GF Casting Solutions is well positioned to support customers in the transformation. No matter what technologies for drive trains will be chosen: Electric, Hybrid, or Hydrogen. Most of our automotive customers will dramatically increase their share of fully electric driven vehicles in their fleet during the coming years. All of them will need batteries in different sizes. This is why our R&D department and production specialists have developed a modular battery housing to demonstrate development steps and production innovations.

Here are five aspects for the design of cast battery housings for electric vehicles:

1.   Designing a flexible concept which fits to many different battery sizes

The idea behind the modular battery housing demonstrator is to offer a basic, light and safe housing structure with integrated functions such as cooling which can be used for fully electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Car manufacturers benefit from the modularity as soon as their different vehicle models are offered with many different battery sizes. Especially for transporters and smaller trucks with smaller volumes than high-volume passenger cars, these flexible modular housings can be much more cost-efficient than customized non-modular housings with low volumes.

The size-challenge: Through the modular design, the battery housings and its modules can be cast on existing die-casting machines – other than large one-piece housings which are often exceeding the capacity of machines with 4,400 t closing forces.

2.   Choosing the right joining technology

To safely (please see also points 4 and 5) join the modules of the battery housing, our production processes are flexible to offer the best-fit joining technologies such as welding, gluing and riveting. 

The cooling through the joint or integrated cooling channels is simulated and optimized for the product design of the battery housing.

3.   Integrating the right battery cooling concept

There are two different design concepts to integrate the cooling into the cast component and they will require different production steps: Whereas some geometries and construction spaces may require to mount embossed sheets via soldering, it is often possible to integrate the cooling structure directly into the casting’s design. The latter will reduce assembly steps. Simulations help us to optimize the design of our castings – as well as the design of the integrated cooling systems.

4.   Making sure that the geometry is safe in case of emergencies

To ensure that the casting’s geometry is safe, we use FEM simulations during the design process. Simulations also help us to generally optimize the design and to ensure that the cast frame meets all strength requirements. In the event of an accident, the battery cells in the housing must meet the highest safety standards. For reinforcement, extruded profiles can be added to the casting through welding. 

5.   Making sure that the cooling system is pressure-tight

As the liquid flowing through the cooling circuit are under pressure, the integrated cooling system of our battery housing needs to be pressure-tight. This can be guaranteed through several tests performed in our in-house R&D lab in Schaffhausen (Switzerland). 

Throughout the complete development process, we focus on many additional FEA simulations and bench tests: depending on the component properties and functions, we simulate Noise-Vibration-Harshness (NVH), do lifetime prediction simulations and analyze or test static deformation, dynamic behavior and many more scenarios. 

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