Recently, several gas stations in the state of California – major brands and independents alike – made national headlines when the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline topped the $5 mark. USA Today reported that one independent station even topped the $6 mark!
Admittedly, this unprecedented price spike could be traced back to a series of closures and unexpected shutdowns at California-based petroleum refineries. Although prices are expected to ease as some of these refineries come back online – and switch over to producing the cheaper winter-blend mixture before the end of October – the incident serves as yet another painful reminder of how volatile gas prices have been over the last decade.
But while the cost of petroleum trends upward, the cost of lithium ion (LiO) battery assemblies is actually going down. And while this is slowly but surely making the batteries – and the electric vehicles/hybrid electric vehicles (EVs/HEVs) that they power – more competitive, much work still remains to be done before they can truly be considered a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine (ICE).
Apart from cost, one key hurdle to be overcome for making EVs/HEVs ―such as Toyota Prius, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt ― viable is battery power capacity and life. These are both greatly affected by temperatures and temperature gradients inside a battery pack. That makes battery thermal management one of the top priorities in their design.
Using ANSYS computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solvers in conjunction with system simulation tools such as ANSYS Simplorer allows engineers to study not only detailed complex 3-D cooling flows and heat transfer in battery packs but also its variations over long and complex duty cycles.
Another, equally important concern in battery development is safety – ensuring that the battery would not catastrophically explode or erupt in fire even under extreme mechanical abuse: events such as crash, crush or nail penetration; and electrical abuse conditions such as overcharging, high current charging and discharging, and external and internal shorts. That’s where packages like ANSYS Mechanical and electrochemistry simulation can help. ANSYS comprehensive multiphysics simulation software’s thermal/coupled physics analysis capabilities are ideal for solving all the complex challenges faced in batterydevelopment. For instance, by evaluating the battery assembly’s structural integrity under adverse conditions (such as a crash or some foreign object penetrating the assembly), engineers can devise innovative ways to prevent the entire assembly from going into a dangerous thermal runaway and catching fire or – at the very least – inhibiting its toxic chemicals from leaking.
With consumer demands for EVs/HEVs expected to increase – combined with shrinking time frames to get them to market – adding an integrated simulation package to the automotive design cycle can be an important step to helping consumers avoid “pain at the pump.”
We’ll present more detailed information about simulation solutions for EVs/HEVs later this month at the Automotive Simulation World Congress (ASWC) in Detroit, Michigan. There is a day-long presentation track at the conference dedicated to batteries, motors and other cricital vehicle electrification technologies. Prominent organizations such as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, NREL and others will present the latest advances in the use of simulation in EV/HEV development. Click on the link above to learn more and register today!