The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is an interdisciplinary research center in The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Engineering. CAR research focuses on advanced propulsion systems and alternative fuels for reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions. The Buckeye Bullet team from CAR is a student-led group that designs and builds the fastest electric vehicles in the world. EWI has worked with the team for years, providing expertise in materials joining and advanced energy technologies.
The Buckeye Bullet team has been a dominate force in the world of electric vehicle racing for several years. In 2004, the team’s battery powered Buckeye Bullet I set a world land speed record of 271.7 mph. In 2009, the Buckeye Bullet II, which was built around a fuel cell concept, set a new international land speed record of 302.9mph for hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicles. In preparing for 2010, the team felt the pressure to continue to push the limits of electric vehicles. The team spent the summer converting the Buckeye Bullet II over to batteries in order to test out new battery and control technologies for the next evolution of their vehicle.
One of the new technologies used in the Buckeye Bullet 2.5 was prismatic batteries from A123. The tabs of these batteries are surrounded by electrical insulation that, if harmed during the welding process, will cause the battery to short out. EWI, who has extensive experience welding battery tabs, developed a laser welding process to fasten the mounting and conducting lugs to the raw Lithium-Ion battery cells. EWI subsequently made all of the production welds over the course of 6 weeks. This enabled the Buckeye Bullet team to assemble the cells into modules and construct the modules into battery packs.
In the fall of 2010, on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the Buckeye Bullet 2.5 reached 307.7 mph, once again setting a new international land speed record for battery powered vehicles.