By the University of Victoria electrical team lead Owen Marshall
An energy storage system (ESS) is essentially a huge battery that powers a vehicle’s entire electrical system. It combines the electrical power of six smaller rechargeable “modules” into one large battery pack that feeds both the high-voltage drive components and the low-voltage elements of the car. Working with the ESS has given the University of Victoria (UVic) EcoCAR 2 electrical team an excellent opportunity to get hands-on experience with the car’s entire electrical system.
Mentally and physically connecting each element of the battery pack gave the team a spatial familiarity with the system that helped them go beyond the schematics. Having the complete picture of the overall system was invaluable to the team’s future electrical work.
Working with the ESS was a more in-depth application of the team’s electrical knowledge than could ever be provided in a laboratory course. Moreover, the modifications and upgrades made to the battery pack required the collaboration of several different team members from different disciplines. The design, manufacture, and implementation of multiple elements in a single system can’t be done in a three-hour course lab. Working on the ESS, however, provides team members with holistic exposure to real-world engineering practices.