The Anonymous Widower

BP To Charge Up Vehicle Battery Research

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is the title on a stock picture at the top of the page.

BP, whose profits benefited from soaring oil and gas prices, plans to invest heavily in research to develop solutions to help to decarbonise the transport sector.

I’m unsure about the picture, but it could be a number of buses or trucks connected to a large battery.

This press release on the BP web site, is the original source for The Times article and it is entitled BP To Invest Up To £50 million In New Global Battery Research And Development Centre In Britain.

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • bp continuing to invest in the UK, with new investment of up to £50 million for new electric vehicle battery testing centre and analytical laboratory in Pangbourne.
  • Aims to advance development of engineering, battery technology and fluid technology and engineering into new applications such as electric vehicles, charging and data centres.
  • New facilities at its Castrol headquarters and technology centre expected to open in 2024, supporting the technology, engineering and science jobs housed there today.

I find these sentences interesting.

new applications such as electric vehicles, charging and data centres

This sentence is a bit of a mess as electric vehicles are not new, charging is well established and what have data centres got to do with batteries.

I have a friend, who runs a large fleet of electric buses and charging is a problem, as getting the required number of MWhs to the garage can be a problem in a crowded city.

But could it be, that BP are thinking of a battery-based solution, that trickle-charges when electricity is affordable and then charges buses or other vehicles as required, throughout the day?

I believe that a battery based on process engineering like Highview Power’s CRYOBattery could be ideal in this situation.

  • Effectively, the bus garage or transport parking would have its own high capacity battery-powered charging network.
  • The storage capacity of the battery would be geared to the daily charge load of the vehicles.
  • It would reduce the cost of electricity to the operator.

Such a battery might also be ideal to power a battery charging station.

I don’t know much about data centres, except that they need a lot of electricity.

Would driving data centres from a battery, that was trickle-charged overnight mean that the cost of electricity was reduced?

bp today unveiled plans to invest up to £50 million (around $60 million) in a new, state-of-the-art electric vehicle (EV) battery testing centre and analytical laboratory in the UK

There are a lot of battery ideas in the pipeline, so will one of the tasks be to find the best batteries for BP’s needs?

The site already undertakes research and development of fuels, lubricants and EV fluids and aims to become a leading hub for fluid technologies and engineering in the UK

You don’t think of lubricants being associated with electric vehicles, but obviously BP thinks it’s a serious enough topic to do some research.

The new facilities will help advance the development of leading fluid technologies and engineering for hybrid and fully battery electric vehicles, aiming to bring the industry closer to achieving the key tipping points for mainstream electric vehicle (EV) adoption.

This is self-explanatory.

Castrol ON advanced e-fluids manage temperatures within the battery which enables ultra-fast charging and improves efficiency, which help EVs to go further on a single charge and extend the life of the drivetrain system

Lubrication helps the world go round.

In addition, the advanced e-fluid technologies and engineering can be applied to other industries such as thermal management fluids for data centres where demand is rising exponentially

This is an interesting application and it will become increasingly important.

The growth of EV fluids is a huge opportunity, and we aim to be the market leader in this sector

I didn’t realise that EV fluids were so important.

The press release says this about the current status.

Two thirds of the world’s major car manufacturers use Castrol ON EV fluids as a part of their factory fill and we also supply Castrol ON EV fluids to the Jaguar TCS Racing Formula E team.

This press release on the Castrol web site is entitled CASTROL ON: Range Of Advanced E-Fluids For Mobility On Land, Sea And In Space.

This is the Castrol ON E-Fluids home page.

Where Will BP Need Batteries?

I can see the following applications are in BP’s sight from this press release.

  • Charging fleets of buses and trucks at their garage.
  • Powering battery-charging stations at filling stations.
  • Providing uninterruptable electricity feeds.
  • Powering data centres.

I will give a simple example.

Suppose a bus company wants to electrify the buses in a town.

  • They will have thirty double-deck buses each with a 500 kWh battery.
  • Wrightbus electric buses charge at 150 kW.
  • Charging all buses at the same time would need 4.5 MW
  • Each bus will need to be charged overnight and once during the day.
  • This means the bus company will need 30 MWh of power per day.
  • The largest wind turbines today are around 12 MW and have a capacity factor of 30 %.
  • A single turbine could be expected to generate 86 MWh per day.

It looks to me, that a battery in the garage which could provide an output of 5 MW and had a capacity of 100 MWh would link everything together and support the following.

  • A fleet of thirty buses.
  • All buses charged overnight and at one other time.
  • A 12 MW wind turbine.
  • Power for the offices and other facilities.
  • The battery would provide backup, when there is no wind.
  • There would also be a mains connection to the battery for use, when the wind turbine failed.

The size of the battery and the turbine would depend on the number of vehicles and how often, they were to be charged.

BP could replace diesel sales to the bus or transport company, with leasing of a zero-carbon charging system.

Simple systems based on one or two wind turbines, solar panels and a battery would have several applications.

  • Charging fleets of buses and trucks at their garage.
  • Powering battery-charging stations at filling stations.
  • Providing uninterruptable electricity feeds.
  • Powering data centres
  • Powering farms
  • Powering new housing estates
  • Powering factories

I can see this becoming a big market, that big energy companies will target.

Are BP planning to develop systems like this, as many of those, who might buy a system, are already their customers?

Choosing the best batteries and designing the system architecture would appear to be within the remit of the new Research Centre at Pangbourne.

Supporting Wind Farms

BP could certainly use a 2.5 GW/30 GWh battery at each of the three large wind farms; Mona, Morgan and Morven, that they are developing in the Irish Sea and off Aberdeen. These wind farms total 5.9 GW and a battery at each one, perhaps co-located with the offshore sub-station could mean that 5.9 GW was much more continuous.

The wind farms would be like virtual nuclear power stations, without any nuclear fuel or waste.

It would also mean that if the wind farm wasn’t needed and was told to switch off, the electricity generated could be stored in BP’s battery.

How many of BP’s other developments around the world could be improved with a co-located battery?

Process Technology

I am very keen on Highview Power’s CRYOBattery, but I do think that some parts of the design could benifit from the sort of technology that BP has used offshore and in the oil industry.

So will BP’s new battery research include offering advice to promising start-ups?

August 2, 2022 - Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. What have data centres got to do with batteries, well the obvious requirement is as part of the necessary Uninterrupted Power Supply.
    Current battery technology may be limited by it’s lifespan and the capacity of an existing instantaneous battery supply can always benefit from a longer operating period before you have to resort to backup power like conventional generators.

    Comment by fammorris | August 2, 2022 | Reply

  2. My sons bus garage has 150 buses mainly double deckers. Bus company looked at more electric vehicles but local grid is saturated and can’t support the load required without significant network upgrade which even if someone would pay for it they are looking at 2-3year timeline. To realise electrification means moving the depot somewhere on the outskirts we capacity is available and perhaps they can put up a windmill or two with a solar roof but all costs money and time. Not saying it shouldn’t be done but reality is hydrogen is the only sensible solution in this situation and we need an infrastructure that supports hydrogen as much as battery power. No one size fits all but there are solution to cover a multidate of situations.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | August 2, 2022 | Reply

    • I very much agree with you about hydrogen, as I used to work in a hydrogen factory.

      Trouble is that here ij London, the Mayor doesn’t seem to believe in it and there doesn’t seem to be a plan for hydrogen.

      Comment by AnonW | August 2, 2022 | Reply


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