VW Motorsport develops rapid-charging system for Pikes Peak EV challenger

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With turnaround time in between runs a particular worry for the team behind the ID R, Volkswagen Motorsport has developed two new rapid-charging systems for its Pikes Peak challenger. The charging systems – which work at the same time in the start area on Pikes Peak – each supply the battery in the ID R Pikes Peak with fresh energy at a low total output of 90kW.

“When determining the charging strategy, we had to bear in mind a possible re-start,” said head of electrics and electronics at Volkswagen Motorsport, Marc-Christian Bertram. “With that in mind, there were two main challenges that had to be overcome: to avoid overheating the battery during the charging process, and to ensure that all the battery cells are charged equally. The low charging current limits heat development.”

With air temperature on track fluctuating dramatically, battery tech can suffer during the race. “The ideal temperature for the battery is about 86°F,” added Bertram. To counteract temperature if necessary, air can be supplied to cool the internal battery system in the ID R Pikes Peak. However, cooling must not be too dramatic during the rapid-charging process, in order to avoid the build-up of condensation.

The German OEM is also using innovative methods to generate the energy required to charge the battery. Because the temporary paddock, located at more than 9,000ft above sea level, does not have a suitable power supply, a glycerol-fueled generator is used to produce the electricity required by Volkswagen Motorsport.

Glycerol is a sugar alcohol that is a by-product from bio-diesel and combusts with virtually no harmful exhaust fumes or residues. The liquid itself is non-toxic and is even permitted as an additive (E422) in the food and cosmetics industries.

“The Glycerol-powered generator not only supplies the ID R Pikes Peak with environmentally friendly electricity before the practice sessions and the race,” explained Bertram, “but also all the electrical devices in our pit area during the race, from the engineers’ laptops to the coffee machine.”

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Sam joined the UKi Media & Events automotive team in 2017, having recently graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in journalism. For the newest addition to the editorial team, stepping into the assistant editor position signalled the start of a career in the subject he studied. In addition to his work on UKi’s automotive titles, Sam also contributes to Stadia, writing content for the magazine and website.

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