A high-speed electrical car, powered by ABB motors and drives, will attempt to break the land speed record for an electrical vehicle during the first week of May in Nevada.
The 32-foot long car will try to beat the current official FIA electric land speed record of 245 mph and become the first-ever electrically powered vehicle to break the 300 mph barrier.
The car will make the record attempt on a closed, secured section of paved road.
The FIA will monitor and certify the attempt. To qualify as an official land speed record under FIA rules, the car must perform two recorded runs at better than 252 mph over a distance of 0.622 miles.
The e=motion car is the brainchild of Britons Mark Newby and Colin Fallows. It has already delivered spectacular acceleration during tests in the U.K., easily reaching 146 mph in just 1000 yards - the longest distance available to the team in the U.K. - and unofficially breaking the 139 mph U.K. record for an electric vehicle.
"With this sort of performance, we're confident that our car will easily beat the existing electric car land speed record," says Newby.
The ABB e=motion car has no mechanical gears - acceleration is controlled entirely by ABB variable speed drives regulating two 50-horsepower electric motors from ABB. "ABB technology has put this car in the super-speed league, and demonstrates our unique ability to meet unusual technology challenges with a pioneering spirit," said Ron Kurtz of ABB.
The current FIA electric car record is held by the White Lightning team from the U.S. Other record attempts have been made, but not under FIA rules.
An ABB e=motion attempt to break the record on salt flats of Tunisia in 2004 was postponed after the surface was deemed unsafe due to unusual weather conditions, but there are no such doubts about the road in Nevada.
An ABB industrial drive and two 50 horsepower AC motors will be used to power the car.
ABB's system uses a regenerative standard inverter from its ACS800 motor drives line to convert the 600V DC output from the car's four packs of 52 lead-acid batteries into AC power for the two motors.
To prevent overheating during the record attempt, each motor has been adapted to include a forced-ventilation system that is comprised of a series of 24-volt DC fans, to help keep the motors below their maximum operating temperature of 356 degrees F. ABB sensors fitted to each motor winding provide real-time information about motor temperatures and help protect the motors.
Fast acceleration is the key to the record attempt. For this reason, ABB's motor/drive system also uses the company's Direct Torque Control drive technology, which provides excellent control of motor torque, with full motor torque available even at zero speed.
"Other challengers to the record commonly use gear-driven systems in their cars to achieve the fastest possible acceleration, whereas the technology we've supplied steadily controls torque across the whole speed range," says Frank Griffith of ABB. "Although a geared vehicle can achieve 100 mph in a few seconds, its rate of acceleration falls away much more quickly compared to our system; this one will continue to accelerate even past the 300 mph mark, provided sufficient battery power is available."
Newby and Fallows struggled for 18 months to find a company that could supply the equipment needed to power the car, before contacting ABB in November 2002.
"Of the companies we originally approached, none could provide either the technology or expertise that justified a world record attempt of this magnitude," said designer Fallows. "We initially approached ABB because we were aware of the company's profile in the world of electrical engineering. Its solution, based on standard industrial motors and drives, proved extremely compact, which was very important as we only had a limited amount of space available in the car."
One of the biggest challenges was the need to simulate the vehicle dynamics and performance likely to be experienced during the record attempt without physically testing the car on a track.
"Likely performance was modeled and calculated using a set of estimated conditions involving factors such as rolling resistance, drag and battery discharge rate," says Griffith. "Much of this information either did not exist or else had to be extrapolated from data found on the Internet."
To help fine-tune the system's performance, ABB used data from the two independent four-channel data loggers incorporated within the drive.
"The data loggers enabled us to improve the performance of our system in the same way as Formula One teams do with their cars," explains Steve Malpass of ABB. "One of the data loggers was set to a rapid sampling rate of one sample per millisecond to record all the actual events as they happened.
"By setting the other logger to a slower rate, we were able to record information on trends that occurred throughout the test runs, which provided us with an overall picture of how the car was performing."
ABB manufactures electric motors and drives.