New software makes future electric cars closer to reality

March 15th, 2011 - 6:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 15 (ANI): Scientists are coming up with new software that would help speed up the process of development of future electric cars.

Lack of charging stations and limited battery life have so far prevented compact electric vehicles from going mainstream.

The lithium-ion batteries used by most automakers are simply too heavy, too expensive and go flat too quickly.

New materials should improve the performance, service life and safety of the energy storage device, yet the development of these kinds of materials is time-consuming and costly.

But now researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern are developing software to simulate lithium-ion batteries, which should in turn speed up this process and make it more efficient.

The new software is dubbed BEST, short for Battery and Electrochemistry Simulation Tool.

The researchers have managed to simulate on macroscopic and microscopic level the entire battery cell as well as the transport and reaction processes of the lithium ions themselves.

“We can show the microscopic structure of the electrodes. Every individual pore measuring 10 micrometers can be seen - something none of today’s off-the-shelf programs can do. The position and shape of the electrodes can also be varied,” said Zausch.

By resolving the structure of the electrodes in three dimensions, parameters such as lithium ion concentrations and current density can be calculated.

For these computations a specialize “Finite Volume” code is used that was developed and implemented at the ITWM.

The distribution of the current flow provides an indication of heat production in the battery. Therefore, the software can pinpoint possible hotspots that may overheat and can lead to ignition of the battery. Aging effects can also be assessed using BEST. (ANI)

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