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NREL Soliciting Projects to Develop CAD Tools to Optimize Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is seeking proposals (RFP RCI-0-40497) to develop computer-aided design tools for batteries for Electric Drive Vehicles (EDV). These design tools are intended to shorten the prototyping and manufacturing cycles and to optimize batteries for improved performance, safety, long life, and low cost in EDVs.

NREL’s funding availability is approximately $2.5 million per 12-month period for a total of $7.5 million for 36-month period. A minimum of 50% cost sharing is required. NREL intends to award up to five cost-sharing subcontracts.

In the RFP, NREL notes that one of the major barriers to the mass adoption of electric drive vehicles is their affordability, due to high cost and limited performance and life of their battery, particularly lithium-ion. Currently the battery industry depends mostly on the expensive and time-consuming process and cycle of “design-build-test-break” for prototyping and manufacturing of these batteries. Sophisticated battery modeling and simulation design tools are not widely available and are not as advanced as some of the tools available for internal combustion engines.

The Vehicle Technologies Program at the US Department of Energy (DOE) initiated an activity called Computer-Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries (CAEBAT) in April of 2010. The objective of this activity is to introduce battery simulation and modeling design tools to the development of batteries at early stages to reduce many steps in the design-build-test-break prototyping and manufacturing process. CAEBAT activities will be performed by national labs, industry, academia and other R&D institutions, with NREL integrating the overall effort for DOE.

The industry’s involvement on cell and pack level modeling in CAEBAT activity will be funded through this competitive procurement process. As part of this effort, NREL is seeking organizations from industry and academia to serve as subcontractors to help develop computer-aided design tools for automotive batteries.

The focus of the effort for these subcontracts is to develop multi-physics simulation models capturing realistic three-dimensional geometries and configurations of cell level and pack level of batteries or other energy storage devices that could meet the requirements of electric drive vehicles. The models need to address electrochemical, thermal, mechanical, chemical, electrical, and/or structural physics in cells and battery packs.

The specific objective of this funding project is to develop suites of software tools that enable automobile and battery manufacturers, pack integrators, and other end-users to simulate and design battery packs and accelerate development of energy storage systems that meet EDV requirements. The Statement of Work (SOW) is broken down into three major tasks:

  1. Battery Cell Level Model Development. The Subcontractor is to develop software tools that incorporate a cell’s electrochemical, thermal, life, cost, and/or safety in 3-D realistic geometry of cells.
  2. Battery Pack Level Model Development. The Subcontractor is to develop software tools that incorporate the pack’s electrochemical, electrical, thermal, life, cost, and/or safety in 3-D realistic geometry of packs.
  3. Interface Development to Interact with the CAEBAT Open Architecture Software. The Subcontractor is to develop interfaces to make the interactions with other design tools through the CAEBAT OAS practical. Each task shall be integrated with the input/output of the other tasks.

Offerors may propose on a combination of Tasks 1 and 3, Tasks 2 and 3, or all three Tasks in the Statement of Work. However, NREL will accept no proposal will be accepted that addresses only Task 3. Any energy storage device that meets EDV requirements, such as batteries or symmetric and asymmetric capacitors may be considered.


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