LIBERATE – Lightweight Innovative Battery Enclosures using Recycled Aluminium Technologies – is a leading two-year development project designing lightweight aluminium battery enclosures to be integrated into electric vehicles defined by the BMW Group and Volvo Cars. Impression Technologies Ltd (ITL), the pioneer of Hot Form Quench (HFQ®) TECHNOLOGY, is working with an industrial consortium led by Constellium that includes Brunel University London (BCAST), Innoval Technology, Grainger & Worrall and Warwick Manufacturing Group.
With a total project cost of £3.3 million supported by a grant from Innovate UK, the partners are exploiting high-strength aluminium alloys and their processing and joining technologies under LIBERATE, to design a battery enclosure that is 30% lighter than the incumbent aluminium designs whilst reducing material costs by up to 60%.
This will be achieved through the development of an optimised design, which combines extrusions and castings with complex, high-strength aluminium sheet components formed using HFQ TECHNOLOGY. The selected aluminium alloys provide strength, crash resistance, thermal management and infinite recyclability with lower weight to make them an ideal selection for structural battery enclosures as the automotive industry accelerates its transition to more sustainable electric vehicles. The new design approach will help lower part count and assembly time, improve dimensional tolerances and reduce battery system cost and investment; all of which will serve to make battery systems more viable for mass market vehicles.
Longer term, the LIBERATE project will help establish a UK-based manufacturing facility to provide an on-shore resource for manufacturing critical components for Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles.
Jonathan Watkins, CEO of ITL, explained: “Reducing the weight of battery enclosures is highly significant for improving the range and cost-effectiveness of ULEVs. HFQ TECHNOLOGY enables OEM designers to incorporate complex geometries formed from high-strength aluminium sheet, thereby combining weight and cost reduction with package efficiency. This project aims to exploit the part count reduction potential of HFQ to simplify the design and address joining, sealing and assembly challenges. LIBERATE is just one of many emerging market opportunities that has seen new manufacturing partners engage with and take up HFQ Technology.”
Martin Jarrett, Director of Technology and Operational Excellence for Constellium’s Automotive Structures and Industry business unit explained: “We are delighted that ITL is part of the LIBERATE project team. HFQ is a unique technology already in production and is starting to play a major role in vehicle lightweighting thanks to its attributes in the areas of design freedom and part reduction. We feel that combining HFQ’s advantages with those of extrusions and castings can provide a step change in battery enclosure design. HFQ’s formability also has the potential to boost the market share of high-recycled content alloys. This will further enhance the sustainability credentials of aluminium in the automotive sector, which is a key interest to Constellium.”
Hot Form Quench
The HFQ® TECHNOLOGY press forms hot aluminium blanks at high speed, which are quenched in the press tool, followed by artificial ageing to achieve full strength. Using standard grades of aluminium, HFQ® TECHNOLOGY enables extremely complex aluminium parts to be formed in a single press operation, while achieving high levels of strength in the finished part.
For further information about ITL, visit https://impression-technologies.com/. More details on HFQ TECHNOLOGY can be found at www.hfqtechnology.com. To follow ITL on Linkedin, visit https://www.linkedin.com/company/impression-technologies-ltd.
For further information, please contact:
Name: Adrian Tautscher
Tel: +44 (0) 203 667 3593
Notes to Editors
With its four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. The BMW Group production network comprises 31 production and assembly facilities in 15 countries; the company has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.
Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST)
BCAST was established by Prof Zhongyun Fan based on pioneering scientific work on nucleation that has developed into a series of novel casting technologies. It now houses an extensive range of factory-level casting, processing and critical research facilities at Brunel University London to support the technical development work required for the LIBERATE project.
Constellium (NYSE: CSTM) is a global sector leader that develops innovative, value added aluminium products for a broad scope of markets and applications, including automotive, aerospace and packaging. Constellium generated €4.9 billion of revenue in 2020.
Constellium is a leading full-service supplier of rolled and extruded aluminium solutions for the global automotive market. We help engineer lighter, stronger and safer vehicles to deliver higher performance, lower emissions, better fuel economy and greater range. With a product portfolio that includes solutions for closures, structural components, Crash Management Systems, battery enclosures, decorative parts and heat exchangers, Constellium aluminium enables advanced mobility.
Grainger & Worrall
Grainger & Worrall is at the global forefront of castings development and innovation. Based in Bridgnorth at purpose-built facilities, the company works closely with original equipment manufacturers to develop strong, lightweight components for automotive, motorsport, heavy-duty and off-road sectors. GW will provide expertise in the specifying and manufacturing of complex metal structures.
Impression Technologies (ITL)
ITL produces parts and licences its Hot Form Quench HFQ TECHNOLOGY for forming complex, high strength parts from aluminium sheet in both the automotive and aerospace markets. Whilst still a relatively young company, ITL has high volume manufacture HFQ Tiers developing capability in EU, China and US. Combining parts, light-weighting whilst achieving strength with dimensional accuracy are all benefits HFQ brings to further enable cost effective use of aluminium.
Innoval Technology, part of Danieli Group, provides high quality consultancy and technical support to investors, manufacturers, and end-users of aluminium across a broad range of industry sectors. Its clients are rolling, extrusion, forging, and finishing companies, and their suppliers and customers, throughout the world. The company provides impartial expertise in a wide range of technical disciplines. Practical experience is varied, with most people having worked on rolling and finishing processes, as well as automotive, aerospace, building, and packaging products. Innoval Technology has a wealth of experience in aluminium lightweighting and has been providing technical consultancy to the automotive industry for many years.
Volvo Car Group
Volvo Car Group in 2020
For the 2020 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 8.5 BSEK (14.3 BSEK in 2019). Revenue over the period amounted to 262.8 BSEK (274.1 BSEK). For the full year of 2020, global sales reached 661,713 cars (705,452), a decline of 6.2 per cent compared to 2019.
About Volvo Car Group
Volvo Cars was founded in 1927. Today, it is one of the most well-known and respected car brands in the world with sales of 661,713 cars in 2020 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding since 2010.
As of December 2020, Volvo Cars employed approximately 40,000 (41,500) full-time employees. Volvo Cars head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars head office for APAC is located in Shanghai. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium), South Carolina (US), Chengdu and Daqing (China), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China) and body components in Olofström (Sweden).
Under its new company purpose, Volvo Cars aims to provide customers with the Freedom to Move in a personal, sustainable and safe way. This purpose is reflected in a number of business ambitions: for example, by the middle of this decade it aims for half of its global sales to be fully electric cars, to sell half of its global volume online and to establish five million direct consumer relationships. Volvo Cars is also committed to an ongoing reduction of its carbon footprint, with the ambition to be a climate-neutral company by 2040.
Warwick Manufacturing Group
Founded in 1980, WMG pioneered unique academic-industry collaborations that today has developed into a highly innovative interdisciplinary academic department at the University of Warwick. WMG hosts one of UK’s High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult Centres with a strong focus on light-weighting and system optimization, Energy Innovation Centre (EIC) for the development, scale-up and characterisation of cells and batteries along with the Digital Lifecycle Management (DLM) research group to enable rapid development and deployment of laser welding technology for lightweight structures. These facilities enable WMG to provide essential welding and quality control capability for the LIBERATE project.