This study provides a preliminary structural analysis of a battery pack and offers a general overview of the topic from a design and validation point of view. Specifically, it investigates the possibility to design a structural battery pack where cells carry the load and contribute to the overall torsional rigidity of the vehicle, in order to improve battery pack volumetric efficiency, to decrease weight and to increase vehicle drivability.
With the electrification trend, the automotive sector currently goes through a radical change. OEMs face significant issues with new powertrain components and, in this scenario, battery packs represent one of the main challenges and present a huge margin of improvement.
Performances, weight and safety are some of the main issues to take into account in the design of a battery pack. To tackle these problems, at the beginning of this study, a literature review was made starting from the most elementary part, the cell. At this stage, cell working principles, chemistry and format were studied. Then, the analysis was focused on components, materials and design rule of thumb of a battery pack. Based on benchmarking and on main competitors' investigation, a first qualitative design was proposed, with a focus on electrical connections and materials. Then, design was followed by Finite Element analysis for validation purposes. On the basis of this study, the structural battery pack concept promises great improvements in performances for electric vehicles. More in particular, it allows to decrease battery pack weight, improve battery pack volumetric efficiency, improve safety in side impact and vehicle drivability. Further research will be needed to analyse more in detail manufacturability, costs and industrialization.