Fueling Up for Autonomous Driving with Optimized Battery Designs

Brianne Costa June 14, 2018

After World War II, a boom in the economy caused Americans to buy a record number of cars (leading to serious levels of pollution). Today, we have more energy-efficient vehicles — such as hybrid and electric options — and another “boom” is occurring, this time for autonomous vehicles (AVs). Again, pollution is an issue, but in a different way: There’s a debate over whether self-driving cars should have hybrid engines to maximize profit or all-electric engines to minimize pollution.

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Brianne Costa May 24, 2018

Some inventions haven’t changed much since they first came about…even if centuries have passed. For instance, the pop-up toaster was invented in 1921, and although enhancements have been made, it still toasts bread. Paperclips hit the market about 150 years ago and they still hold sheets of paper together. The same is true of the lead-acid battery, a device that was invented in 1859 and operated under the same basic principles as the one currently in your car.

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Caty Fairclough December 21, 2017

You’re standing in a lab full of beakers containing different colored liquids. While it may look like something out of a cartoon, this is a lab for researching vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs). Unlike conventional batteries, the chemical energy in VRFBs is contained in liquid electrolytes that are stored in external tanks and pumped through the cell to convert to or from electrical energy. By advancing VRFB designs, engineers can improve grid energy storage and the reliability of renewable energy.

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Bridget Cunningham December 7, 2016

Traditional lithium-ion batteries use an electrolyte based on a flammable liquid solvent, which can cause them to catch fire if they overheat. In recent years, nonflammable solid electrolytes have been investigated as an alternative to improve battery design and safety. Optimizing this technology for industrial applications, however, requires a better understanding of the electrochemical processes inside the device. Simulation serves as a valuable tool for this purpose, helping to realize the use of solid-state lithium-ion batteries in the near future.

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Edmund Dickinson October 25, 2016

A short circuit in a battery is bad news: the chemical energy stored in the battery is lost as heat, rather than being used to power a device. Short circuits create intense heat, which can degrade battery materials or lead to fires or explosions due to thermal runaway. To avoid conditions that lead to short circuits in devices and ensure that short circuits do not cause unsafe operating conditions, we can study lithium-ion battery designs with the COMSOL Multiphysics® software.

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Scott Smith August 24, 2016

Resistive and capacitive effects are fundamental to the understanding of electrochemical systems. The resistances and capacitances due to mass transfer can be represented through physical equations describing the corresponding fundamental phenomena, like diffusion. Further, when considering the resistive or capacitive behavior of double layers, thin films, and reaction kinetics, such effects can be treated simply through physical conditions relating electrochemical currents and voltages. Lastly, resistances and capacitances from external loading circuits can easily be represented in the COMSOL Multiphysics® software.

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Guest Matteo Lualdi August 23, 2016

Today, guest blogger Matteo Lualdi of resolvent ApS, a COMSOL Certified Consultant, discusses the benefits of creating a simulation app to analyze a solid oxide fuel cell stack. For many businesses, numerical modeling and simulation are valuable tools at various stages of the design workflow, from product development to optimization. Apps further extend the reach of these tools, hiding complex multiphysics models beneath easy-to-use interfaces. Here’s a look at one such example: a solid oxide fuel cell stack app.

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Ed Fontes April 13, 2016

The Newman model and its variants form the standard theory used to successfully predict the behavior of lithium-ion battery design under a range of operating conditions. In the Newman model, the geometry of the porous structure of the battery electrodes is not described in detail; instead, typical averaged dimensions are used as input to describe the electrodes as homogeneous and isotropic materials. But how accurate is this approach compared to a detailed, heterogeneous geometric model? Let’s find out.

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Lexi Carver December 28, 2015

Corrosion is one of the most serious factors affecting the transportation industry. In an effort to minimize its impact, a German research institute and the manufacturers of Mercedes-Benz joined forces to investigate the corrosion occurring in automotive rivets and sheet metal. Using COMSOL Multiphysics simulation, they were able to study corrosion’s effects on car components.

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Ed Fontes November 25, 2015

During the discharge of a battery, the current in the circuit flows from the positive to the negative electrode. According to Ohm’s law, this means that the current is proportional to the electric field, which says that current flows from a positive to negative electric potential. But what happens inside the battery? Does the current flow from negative to positive electric potential? This blog post explains the potential profile inside a battery during discharge and recharge.

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Tommy Zavalis July 14, 2015

Batteries generally operate through numerous processes that depend on even more parameters. How can you find out more about what’s going on within them? One approach is to look at the cell’s electrical impedance. The Lithium-Ion Battery Impedance demo app, available in the Application Gallery, can be used to interpret the impedance of a specific lithium-ion battery design with minimal effort. It can also help parameterize the system, a useful step for setting up accurate time-dependent models in the future.

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