Applications for CAE Simulation in Electric Vehicle Batteries

Electric vehicle manufacturers benefit from high-quality CAE simulations.

The global market for electric vehicles (EVs) has been growing rapidly for the past decade, and shows no sign of abating. This is especially true as the technology behind electric vehicles reaches a tipping point, where increased efficiency and other benefits will outweigh those currently offered by combustion engine vehicles. As the EV market expands, manufacturers are responding with new vehicle designs boasting greater range, faster charge times, and longer battery life.

However, achieving these technological improvements is not possible without extensive support from CAE simulation. Automotive manufacturers rely on these simulations to speed up and optimizes designs, reduce uncertainty, save money, and provide a competitive edge. Without FEA simulation to support these developments, manufacturers would have to resort to expensive physical prototyping and testing procedures which would greatly slow down their time to market and hinder their ability to adapt to changing needs.


On the other hand, by using CAE simulation to push the boundaries of certain aspects of electric vehicle design, manufacturers can remove the limiting factors currently holding the technology back. Perhaps nowhere can this be more clearly seen than in the design of EV batteries.

EV batteries are the greatest limiting factor for many consumers when determining whether to buy an electric vehicle. To increase a vehicle’s range, engineers must find a way to design more energy dense battery cells that can supply power not only to the vehicle, but to the array of electronic systems it supports. As engineers seek to improve battery designs, CAE can assist them in modeling the effects of design changes on the battery’s safety, performance, capacity, durability, assembling, and vehicle handling.

CAE simulation can be applied to battery design in the following ways.

1. Battery cell design.

The lithium-ion battery has been widely adapted as the industry standard for electric vehicles, but it comes with many drawbacks. The current technology has limitations in terms of energy density, life of the battery, and the speed at which it can be recharged. Most importantly, the sensitivity to temperature and volatility of electrolytes can make them susceptible to fire and are a clear safety risk.

Studies into other materials, such as sodium-ion batteries, or batteries that use lithium metal for the anodes, are being researched, with many possibilities for improvement on the horizon.

Battery cells require thermal-electrical analysis to model heat loss as well as structural analysis to determine how a cell might withstand mechanical stressors. Cells that overheat quickly or unevenly in normal running conditions, or which respond poorly to hot climates, are unsuitable for commercial use.

2. Battery module.

On average, about twelve battery cells are combined to form a battery module. However, slimmer cell designs that allow more cells to be fitted onto one module result in more efficient designs. Simulation can help engineers find ways to increase the number of cells per module to improve performance. As battery cells are assembled into modules, thermal-electrical analysis can determine if and how cooling components or temperature monitors should be inserted. Mechanical simulation should also be used to determine constraints to the packing of cells, to determine the stress propagation within individual cells as they swell in response to charging and discharging cycles.

Finally, as cells behave differently once they are mounted onto a module, these modules must also be tested for thermos-structural and impact loading scenarios, to determine what stressors might lead to combustion or other structural failures.

3. Battery pack.

Battery cells, once bound together in a pack, present other challenges which simulation can address. The strength, stiffness, and durability of a battery pack structure are all crucial variables to determine the fatigue life of the pack.

Battery packs will also need simulations to determine how they respond to heating and cooling. CFD simulation can model the response of the battery pack to coolants, as well as potential triggers for a runaway thermal effect.

The installation of a battery pack within a vehicle introduces new factors that must be understood for optimum performance of both the vehicle and the pack. Because the size and weight of the battery pack directly impact the vehicle’s structure, CAE analysis can show how its placing affects its handling.

CAE should also be run to test the crashworthiness of a vehicle once the battery pack has been installed, as well as the endurance of the battery pack once subject to various stress conditions within the vehicle.

Finally, CFD can measure the effects of heat on the battery pack, including ways in which the battery—or the materials surrounding it—absorb heat. In particular, there is a lot of research being doing into forced air cooling of battery packs, which can be modeled using simulation software.

CATI can be your simulation partner as you improve your EV battery design.

As electric vehicle manufacturers and suppliers scale their production to meet consumer demand, they will need to rely heavily on the ability to coordinate with each other and adapt quickly to changes across all stages of the supply chain.

CATI also serves as a Value-Added Retailer (VAR) of Dassault Systèmes simulation software. We provide support and training to businesses as they seek to expand the capacity of their own engineering teams to handle more simulation projects. Our engineers can work with your company to create methodologies that can be integrated with your battery development process to test new designs.

If you are looking for an EM simulation partner to expand this portion of your business, talk to us. We can provide the support you need.


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