Future 50: Norfolk firm to transform electric vehicles with new inverter
- Credit: Equipmake
Equipmake, a Norfolk-based manufacturer of electric powertrain components, has launched a new inverter that could reduce the size of an electric vehicle’s battery by 10pc.
The company’s HPI-800 inverter was developed at its headquarters in Snetterton, where it develops electric vehicle (EV) technology for automotive equipment manufacturers and supercar makers – ranging from electric motors and power electronic systems to complete EV drivetrains.
The HPI-800 was developed using silicon carbide (SiC). This means it can switch current at up to 40kHz – offering higher power levels, lower power losses and improved overall efficiency for electric vehicles. Traditionally, electric vehicles have used inverters with insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), which switch current at up to 20kHz.
An inverter converts DC charge from the battery to AC to drive the electric motor, and also times switching changes to adjust the frequency of the AC charge to control the speed of the motor, much like a fuel injection and ignition system does in a petrol or diesel engine. The faster and more efficient the inverter is, the more efficient the vehicle is as a whole, and the greater the amount of driving range that can be extracted from the battery.
SiC inverters such as the HPI-800 are also smaller and lighter than traditional inverters, enabling engineers and designers to take advantage of aerodynamic and packaging improvements – while reducing the amount of cooling a vehicle might require. The HPI-800 measures 494mm long, 287mm wide and 94mm high. It has a mass of 12.7 kg and delivers a maximum continuous output power of up to 400KW, depending on the motor.
“HPI-800 offers huge potential benefits for all types of EV powertrain, just in terms of reducing the size of the battery required,” said Equipmake managing director Ian Foley. “It’s no surprise then, that passenger battery electric vehicles (BEVs) equipped with silicon carbide inverters are forecast to overtake traditional IGBT units by 2024 and, by 2030, 95pc of all BEVs will use silicon carbide. So, this is the perfect time for Equipmake to launch this new technology.”
Ian founded Equipmake in 1997 and is a highly-experienced engineer who has worked in global motorsport at the highest level – from Le Mans to Formula 1.
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“The upfront cost of SiC inverters is more than recouped by the benefits in additional performance,” Ian added. “In a typical high-performance EV sports saloon, the associated efficiencies can reduce the size of the battery by at least 10pc – or around 40-50kg. At the same time, the increase in efficiency and performance the technology can bring to an EV will enhance its natural appeal to customers.”
Equipmake is also developing a new electric double-decker bus in partnership with London’s largest bus operator Go-Ahead. It will begin trials in the capital in the next few months.
The Jewel E bus is powered by Equipmake’s zero emission drivetrain (ZED), with the body produced by Spanish coachbuilder Beulas. The ZED was initially trialled on single-decker buses in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will give the Jewel E an electric driving range of up to 300 miles – the longest of any electric double-decker in the world.
For more information, visit www.equipmake.co.uk