battery SYSTEM

3.2 kWh cells packs
The battery of an electric bike or trike is possibly the most important part of the vehicle. The following will cover how the VELOKS is battery is designed and constructed

CELLS

Lithium Cells used 
Read More

DESIGN

Lithium Battery design
Read More

MECHANICS

Lithium Battery Construction
Read More

CHARGING

Lithium Battery Charging
Read More

REGENERATION

Lithium Battery Regen
Read More

LIFESPAN

Lithium Battery lifespan
Read More

CELLS

As for most electric bikes and trikes today, VELOKS make use of Lithium cells in its batteries. Today, there are only a handful of Lithium cells producers, key ones are Panasonic, Samsung, LG, SONY and SANYO. Most other brands are based on OEM versions produced by these manufacturers.

Lithium cells comes in many shapes and sizes, but most common for electric bikes are trikes are the cylinder shaped 18650 cell and more rarely the cylinder shaped 21700 cell. The first two digits refer to the diameter (18 mm and 21 mm respective, while the 3 last digits refer to the height (65mm and 70 mm respectively).

Each of these types of cells has a nominal voltage of 3.7 volt, while the energy (expressed in Ah = amperage per hour) varies depending on chemistry and size. Similarly, the continuous maximal discharge current and maximal change current will vary deepening upon chemistry and size. Cell types that VELOKS uses or have used are:

TypeVoltageCapacity [Ah]Discharge Current [A]Charge Current [A]Charge Cycles [80%]Density [W/Kg]
Panasonic NCR18650PF3,72,9101,45500227
Sony US18650VTC63,73,1305500242
LG INR18650MH13,73,2101,6500250
Samsung INR18650-35E3,73,5101,73500273
Samsung INR21700-50E 3,75102,5500272


Critical criteria for selecting these cell types were: capacity (>=2.9Ah), energy density (>= 240 W/Kg), price, quality manufacturer, availability, charge current (>= 0.5C), discharge current (>= 10A), and charge cycles (>=500).

VELOKS is producing its batteries in house from scratch, this allows us to make use of the best battery cells on the market, and make quick changes as the technology evolves.

When we started in 2015, we used Panasonic NCR18650PF, as these were and are very good cells for the price. Following that we switched to LG INR18650MH1, which are similar in price, but has more capacity. Since spring 2019, we have used the INR18650-35E and INR21700-50E cells from Samsung, as these now are priced reasonable, and have higher capacity. Lately we have added high current cells in order to support our new 4000w and 6000w MK3 models. 

DESIGN

Creating battery from individual Lithium cells, are done by connecting X number of equal Lithium cells in parallel, creating an “aggregate battery cell”, with an X * cell capacity,  then connecting Y number these “aggregate battery cells” in series until the wanted nominal voltage is reached.

This type battery configuration is specified as for example 16S17P, meaning 16 aggregate cells in series (16 x S), where each aggregate cell have 17 Lithium cells in parallel (17 x P).

The configurations that we are using is always 16 “aggregate battery cells” in series to create a 60 V nominal battery (actually 59 Volt more precisely, but this is normally referred to as 60V). For the various battery capacities, we use the following configurations:

Capacity [kWh]Config.Cell #Weight [KG]Discharge Current [A]Density [W/Kg]
1,316S07P1125,4210242
2,416S13P20810,0390242
2,516S12P2089,2130273
3,316S11P17612,1110272
3,716S20P32015,4600242
4,216S14P22415,4140272
5,116S17P27218,8170272

Once a given configuration has been established, it is important to validate that the aggregate characteristics of the battery is fulfilling the requirements.

In case of our trike and motor design, we need a battery this is capable of delivering from 250 Watt up to 6000 Watt continuously, and are able to handle regeneration and charging requirements.

The voltage of Lithium cells varies from 4.2 V fully charged to 3.0 V fully discharged, so the actual voltage of the battery will charge from 67.2 volt fully changed down to 49 volts fully discharged. So, in order to generate for example 3000w continuously  at any state of charge, the current required will vary from 3000 / 67.2 = 45A to 3000 / 49 = 61A continuous current.

The Lithium cells that we use are all able to generate 10A continues discharge current each, so for the smallest capacity of 1.5 kWh we have 7 of these is parallel, which gives a maximum continuous current of 7 * 10A = 70A, which is sufficient to fulfill this requirement. If we take the largest battery of 5.1 kWh of capacity, this is 17 * 10A = 170A, or more than 2.8 times more than required at 3000 Watt.

MECHANICS

Now let’s talk about how to actual put together the battery, and let’s discuss how to don this in an optimal way. The areas to consider are:

      - Size & Shape of battery
      - Cell interconnection
      - Current flow
      - Mounting cells & battery
      - Battery box design
      - Battery Management system

Size & Shape of battery

The easiest and most optimal shape of a battery is a rectangular shape, where the cells are parallel in one direction, and in series is the orthogonal direction. This is because this shape will allow for the most optimal current flow between the cells, as well as the most compact design.

The issue of this shape, is that it might be difficult to accommodate for certain types of bikes, where space is limited or constrained in other ways.

VELOKS has been design from ground up for electric drive, and the battery shape and placement was a major design criteria. This has allowed us to use the optimal rectangle shape, and even has allowed us to vary the width of the shape to a large extent with no negative impact.

More to come....

CHARGING

Charging Lithium ion cells are quite simple, and requires a charger that can handle constant current (CC) during initial stage and constant voltage (CV) during final stage of the charging cycle.

When charging the maximum charge current must normally not exceed 0.5C (which correspond to the current taken to discharge a fully charged battery in two hours).

Charging beyond 0.5C is possible, but cooling of the battery is required. Examples of this is the so-called super charging used by TESLA for their electric cars, but this is obviously beyond scope for e-bike and e-trikes

When starting to charge, the charger will be in CC mode, and when the voltage reaches 4.2 volt for the cell, the charger will switch to CV mode and the CV mode is kept while the current is reduced until it reaches 0.1C, and which point the cell is fully charged (See graph below)



The charger used, must not exceed the maximum allowed voltage of the battery or the maximum allowed charge current of the battery.

Also charging at temperatures below zero degrees Celsius must be avoided, as this will destroy the Lithium ion cells. This protection is handled by the Battery Management System (BMS) which is described later.

For Lithium ion cells, the maximum voltage is always 4.2 V per cells. For the VELOKS batteries, where 16 cells are connected in series, the max. charge voltage is 16 X 4.2 volt = 67.2 volt.

Similarly, we need to determine the maximum charging current for the battery. For the configurations we use, we can calculate that maximum charge current as:

Capacity [kWh]Config.CalcCharge Current [A]Cell Type
1,316S07P7 * 535Sony US18650VTC6
2,416S13P13* 565Sony US18650VTC6
2,516S12P12 * 1,721Samsung INR18650-35E
3,316S17P17 * 2,528Samsung INR21700-50E
3,716S20P20 * 5100Sony US18650VTC6
4,216S14P14 * 2,535Samsung INR21700-50E
5,116S17P17 * 2,543Samsung INR21700-50E

As can be seen, the standard charger of 8A that we provide, is a safe choice for all batteries, and for all, but the smallest battery, the 18A is also a good choice.

For maximum charging speed, we provide a charger of 27A, which is well suited for the 3 largest batteries.

REGENERATION

Regeneration is similar to charging and must followed the same rules as charging. Difference is that the voltage and current originates from the motor, which through the motor controller charges the battery, while at the same time providing mechanical resistance (braking) to the wheel in relation to the regeneration (charging) current

The motor controller controls the voltage and current to battery so that it won’t exceed, in the case of VELOKS batteries, 67.2 volt, and the current is limited depending upon the battery capacity and the state of charge.

The maximum regeneration current as a function of the battery capacity and voltage is specified for each battery in terms of max. regeneration power:

Capacity [kWh]Config.CalcRegen Power [kW]Cell Type
1,316S07P60 * 352,0Sony US18650VTC6
2,416S13P60 * 653,8Sony US18650VTC6
2,516S12P60 * 211,2Samsung INR18650-35E
3,316S11P60 * 281,6Samsung INR21700-50E
3,716S20P60 * 1006.0Sony US18650VTC6
4,216S14P60 * 352,1Samsung INR21700-50E
5,116S17P60 * 432,5Samsung INR21700-50E

In practice the maximum regen power is configured to not exceed 1500W for the rear wheel drive version of MK3 to not loose traction. For the front wheel drive and all wheel versions there is no traction issues, and they can the maximum regeneration power.

The controller must also limit the current sent to the battery when the battery is close to fully charged. This is done by starting ramp down of the regeneration current at 66.5 volt battery voltage, ramping down to zero at 67.2 volt battery voltage.


LIFESPAN

Each of the selected Lithium cells are designed to retain 80% of their capacity after 500 charging cycles. But this requires that each are not treated outside of their specifications, i.e. we must not exceed: max. discharge current, max. charge current, min and max operating temperatures, and storing batteries long term only between 80% and 50% SOC.

One charging cycle is defined as a complete discharge from full to empty, followed by a charge to full again. If you always charge you battery at 50% empty, you have to charge twice to reach a full cycle.

The lifespan of the 500 cycles, are valid when charging the battery to 100% capacity.

If you always only charge the capacity to 80%, them the number of cycles doubles (i.e. 1000 cycles) before capacity is reduced to 80%.

But charging to 80% is not so easy with most chargers today, as they are configured to stop charging at 100%. The only charger, I am aware of, that currently support charging to 80% (or to any level) is the GRIN Satiator, unfortunately this can only deliver a max. 5A of charging current. A "hack"  for the other chargers, is to manually abort charging by removing the charge plug when capacity has reached 80% or approx 63 volt (for a 60V Nominal battery).

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram