In Summary

  • PhD candidate Shashank Arora wins 2017 Sir George Julius medal for paper reviewing safety risks in electric vehicle battery packaging design
  • Paper identifies mechanical design requirements for a robust battery packaging system

Swinburne PhD candidate Shashank Arora has won Engineers Australia’s 2017 Sir George Julius medal for his paper on battery packaging design and placement in an electric vehicle.

His paper reviewed the features of a robust battery packaging design in a vehicle that can minimise the probability of battery pack failure.

“Due to the increasing demand for electric and hybrid vehicles, the automotive sector is expected to provide a growing market for lithium-ion batteries,” Mr Arora says.

“But the safety and reliability of battery packs presents challenges to large scale electrification of public and private transportation.”

High profile incidents with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the Boeing Dreamliner have shown the danger of thermal runaway. This occurs when one lithium-ion cell in a pack overheats and catches fire, which spreads through the entire pack.

In an electric vehicle, vibration or vehicle impact can also lead to the potential failure of lithium-ion battery packs due to their high sensitivity to pressure and dynamic mechanical loads.

In his paper Mr Arora demonstrated that simple mechanical features can be integrated into battery packaging architecture to reduce safety risks.

He studied key components of a robust battery pack and identified the materials needed to design these components and meet their functional requirements.

He discussed strategic battery pack placement, citing the Nissan Leaf battery packaging design.

Nissan Leaf electric vehicle showing battery placement

To make effective use of the cabin space and to improve safety in a collision, the battery pack in the Nissan Leaf is placed under the seats on the inner cabin side of the floor panel.

The design solutions described in his paper were compared with the Chevrolet Volt battery pack design to reveal the basic mechanical design requirements for a robust and reliable battery packaging system. 

Sir George Julius Medal

The George Julius Medal is awarded for the paper selected by the Board of the College of Mechanical Engineers as the best in the discipline of mechanical engineering.

The medal perpetuates the memory of Sir George Julius who practised in Sydney as a consulting engineer in the mechanical/electrical field. One of his best-known achievements was the automatic totalisator before the days of electronics.

Mr Arora will receive a bronze medal and accompanying certificate from the Engineers Australia Mechanical College in October.

The Principal Coordinating Supervisor for Mr Arora's doctorate was Pro Vice-Chancellor (International Research Engagement), Professor Ajay Kapoor.

Mr Arora is now working in a postdoctoral position at Aalto University in Finland.