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ORNL VIBE open-architecture framework for improved EV battery design

VIBE provides an open architecture framework for pre-experimental design simulation as part of the CAEBAT program. Click to enlarge.

As part of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) CAEBAT (Computer Aided Engineering for Batteries) activities (earlier post), scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a flexible, robust, and computationally scalable open-architecture framework that integrates multi-physics and multi-scale battery models.

The Virtual Integrated Battery Environment (VIBE) allows researchers to test lithium-ion batteries under different simulated scenarios before the batteries are built and used in electric vehicles. The physics phenomena of interest include charge and thermal transport; electrochemical reactions; and mechanical stresses. They operate and interact across the porous 3D structure of the electrodes (cathodes and anodes); the solid or liquid electrolyte system; and the other battery components. VIBE was developed by researchers in ORNL’s Computational Engineering & Energy Sciences group, led by Dr. John Turner.

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.

Our role in CAEBAT was to develop and deploy an open-source environment that would help to integrate both research and commercial battery modeling efforts. Other CAEBAT partners have developed commercial tools that are compatible with the software infrastructure we’ve developed, and we’re deploying a non-commercial platform for researchers at universities and national labs.

—John Turner

VIBE brings together the infrastructure pieces: OAS (Open Architecture Software), which provides a Python-based computational infrastructure for interaction and orchestration between the various components; BatML, an XML standard for battery inputs along with translators to other formats; Battery State, a standard for the state file to exchange information between the components; and ICE, the Integrated Computational Environment to provide an user environment to simplify the workflow of modeling and visualizing batteries.

The following are current components linked with various degrees of coupling (some under development):

  • Electrochemistry: NTG; DualFoil; AMPERES Pseudo-2D; AMPERES Single Particle; AMPERES 3D; NREL’s model; Cantera 1D Electrode (Sandia); Fluent particle model (CSM/ANSYS)

  • Thermal: AMPERES 3D; Star-CCM+; ANSYS

  • Electrical: AMPERES 3D; Star-CCM+; ANSYS

  • Mechanics: EPIC; LS-Dyna; LIGGGHTS/LAMMPS

  • Cost Model: ANL

  • EC Power’s Autolion

VIBE allows systematically test models sequentially starting from cell-sandwich, building cells, combine cells to form modules, and integrate modules into a pack. The simulations can be spawned across multiple processors to reduce wall-clock time. Click to enlarge.

We want to be able to have an idea implemented in a model, see the efficacy of it and then help guide how companies design battery cells using that concept.

—Sreekanth Pannala, technical lead for the CAEBAT team

DOE started the CAEBAT program in 2010 (earlier post), and ORNL had a limited release of the software in 2012. The 2014 release includes many enhancements in both physics capabilities and usability.

The latest software package includes an easy-to-use configuration, setup, launch and post-processing feature, standardized input and information exchange between physics components, and a unique tool for performing coupled electrochemical-electrical-thermal simulations known as Advanced MultiPhysics for Electrochemical and Renewable Energy Storage (AMPERES).

No previous tool has provided this level of integration between the various physics components. This program is bridging the gap between theory and experiment, so that you can now design a battery cell and integrate all the associated processes in order to more accurately predict performance. That is where modeling is very beneficial.

—Sreekanth Pannala

A large computing resource is not necessary to run the software, although it depends on the complexity of the problem. Additionally, the software is designed so the user can submit a large parametric sweep or optimization case to run overnight, eliminating the need to wrestle for primetime computer hours and allowing users to concentrate on data analysis and problem set-up during the day.

Together, these features help users analyze the effects of their specific lithium-ion battery design requirements and develop increasingly affordable, safer batteries with longer life and higher performance.

VIBE can be downloaded from the CAEBAT website, and ORNL researchers are available for user outreach and support to build this community capability.

Additional members of the multidisciplinary development group are ORNL’s Computer Science and Mathematics Division’s Srikanth Allu, Andrew Bennet, Jay Billings, Wael Elwasif, Sergiy Kalnaus, Abhishek Kumar, Damien Lebrun-Grandie, Alex McCaskey, Srdjan Simunovic and Stuart Slattery.

ORNL partners on CAEBAT are ANSYS, CD-adapco, EC Power and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy provides funding for the research.


  • Srikanth Allu, Sergiy Kalnaus, Wael Elwasif, Srdjan Simunovic, John A. Turner, Sreekanth Pannala (2013) “A new open computational framework for highly-resolved coupled three-dimensional multiphysics simulations of Li-ion cells” Journal of Power Sources doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2013.08.040


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