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ION Energy and Li-ion pack maker Wamtechnik enter strategic partnership; electric excavator

Advanced battery management and intelligence systems provider ION Energy has entered into a strategic partnership with European battery pack manufacturer Wamtechnik to facilitate the deployment of a prototype electric excavator for a leading European construction equipment maker.

Wamtechnik undertakes the design and production of dedicated rechargeable and non-rechargeable battery packs for industrial applications. The customer is a construction equipment and worksite technology builder that has been enabling companies worldwide for more than a century with high-end applications and innovations. They deliver a wide range of construction equipment that includes wheel-loaders, excavators, ground compacting equipment, etc.

The collaboration aims to address the dearth of sustainable, zero-emission construction machines that could replace the diesel engine. With Wamtechnik envisaging the design and deployment of a range of compact electric construction equipment that would operate in subzero temperatures (below -20 °C), ION Energy emerged as the project’s key enabler. The partnership enables Wamtechnik to license ION’s BMS technology platform.

ION Energy has utilized a 48V, 456Ah battery pack to power the primary model of the excavator. The battery pack is constructed using 10 parallel modules of a 14S16P cell configuration to achieve the rated energy capacity. ION Energy deployed its tech platform to overcome the foremost project hurdle—identifying a smart battery management system provider who would enable a highly scalable and reliable Master-Slave architecture for batteries manufactured by Wamtechnik.

To solve the problem of accelerated battery life degradation caused by the extremely cold temperatures as low as -20°C that lead to lithium plating, ION developed and implemented the control of a unique Wamtechnik thermal management system that manages the safe operation of a Li-ion battery at temperatures as low as -40˚C, where an excavator is expected to function. The system powers up the heaters using onboard chargers and brings up the battery to an optimum temperature before its activation.

ION enabled Wamtechnik to electrify its customer’s first excavator and continue to design platform solutions for the customer. ION has ensured a minimum business of $1 million for the partner in 2020 that would increase to $15 million in the upcoming years.

To tackle Wamtechnik's master-slave architecture challenge, ION implemented the daisy chain formation method on the existing FS-LT BMS. This was followed by a transition to the FS-XT BMS, designed for High Voltage battery systems that better suit the need.

FS-XT is suitable for automotive and storage applications. Its premium features include: support for insulation monitoring; system interlock monitoring; contactor weld detection; and system communication with isolated CAN.

This architecture can manage many smaller battery modules connected in series or parallel. The compact yet robust FS-XT master can connect up to 40 slave modules/combinations. Each Slave unit can monitor from 6 to 18 cells in series. More than 170 user-configurable parameters have fast-tracked the system integration challenges that enabled the reduction of prototyping to production.

Wamtechnik leveraged ION’s AI-powered battery intelligence platform—Edison Analytics—to visualize, predict and interpret battery data to improve battery life and manage their fleet.

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