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NREL awards $7M to 3 teams to develop CAE tools for electric drive vehicle batteries

DOE CAEBAT program elements. The industry teams are tackling elements 2 and 3. Source: NREL. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently awarded three industry teams, following a competitive procurement process, a total of $7 million for the development of computer-aided software design tools to help produce the next generation of electric drive vehicle (EDV) batteries. (Earlier post.)

These projects support DOE’s Computer-Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries (CAEBAT) program. The objective of CAEBAT is to incorporate existing and new models into design suites/tools with the goal of shortening design cycles and optimizing batteries (cells and packs) for improved performance, safety, long life, and low cost.

The software suite is to include material properties; electrode design; pack design for thermal management purposes; load profiles; and aging data as input. Project goals for the selected teams include:

  • Developing battery engineering tools to design cells and battery packs;
  • Shortening the battery prototyping and manufacturing processes;
  • Improving overall battery performance, safety, and battery life; and
  • Reducing battery costs.

Each team will independently develop and validate computer-aided engineering tools, with an emphasis on electrochemical, electrical, mechanical, and thermal issues. They also will integrate different chemistries, cell geometries, and battery pack configurations. NREL anticipates that the resulting systems will become competitive marketplace offerings in the near term. The three industry teams working with NREL are:

  • EC Power, Penn State University, Johnson Controls, Inc., and Ford
  • General Motors, ANSYS, and ESim
  • CD-adapco, Battery Design LLC, A123 Systems, and Johnson Controls-Saft.

Selected teams will contribute 50% of the costs of the project over the next three years bringing the overall project budget to $14 million. In addition to funding, NREL will provide technical support on battery electrochemical–thermal modeling and testing to the teams.

Computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools are widely used in many industries—including the automotive industry—to speed up the product development cycle and reduce the number of build-and-break steps. However, there are no mature CAE tools for the design and commercial development of EDV batteries. While there are a number of battery models in academia, national labs, and industry, NREL notes, they either include relevant physics details, but neglect engineering complexities; or include relevant macroscopic geometry and system conditions, but use too many simplifications in fundamental physics. Although there area number of custom battery codes available, they all require expert users.

In April of 2010, the DOE Vehicle Technologies Energy Storage Program initiated the multiyear CAEBAT activity to develop design tools and an open architecture software framework that will enable disparate models to interface with each other.

This activity is funded by DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.




"These projects support DOE’s Computer-Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries (CAEBAT) program."

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