Scientists from Drexel University, Philadelphia, have discovered that electric vehicle batteries can be enhanced by installing a blood-vessel like cooling network which prevents malfunctions.
The experiment consisted of inserting the cooling system into the packaging of carbon-fibre based EV batteries and it has proved to vastly improve performance.
The method balanced performance- enhancing factors, such as battery capacity, against problematic variables like weight and thermal activity, providing the best battery package specifications for EV’s.
In recent months there have been reports of EV battery malfunctions, with some even resulting in fatal fires in India and electric vehicle recalls by the manufacturers. For example, March saw a rise in electrical fires from exploding e-scooters in India, as they were charging overnight.
Many companies are turning to solid batteries- thin carbon, fibre versions of larger lithium-ion batteries- as they can cut the overall weight of the vehicle and improve mileage efficiency.
However, although these batteries offer their benefits, they often generate more heat as the battery discharges energy, as electrons are forced to move slower than in lithium-ion batteries.
Assistant professor in the College of Engineering, Ahmad Najafi, PhD, has said “while structural battery composites are a promising technology for reducing weight in electrical vehicles, their design could certainly benefit from the addition of a thermal-management cooling system. Not only could this improve the range of the EV, but it would also greatly reduce the chances of a thermal runaway reaction.”
Scientists have modelled their method on vascular systems that have been found in humans and animals, installing ‘microvascular’ networks into batteries. This system nis able to calculate the best pattern, size, and number of microvascular channels to dissipate heat from batteries and optimise flow efficiency of the coolant.
Dr Nafjar has said: “these composites function something like a radiator in an internal combustion engine vehicle. The coolant draws in the heat and pulls it away from the battery composite as it moves through the network of microchannels.”
Microvascular networks can stabilise the temperature of structural batteries and extend the time and power range in which they can be used.
Computer models have shown that this has improved the driving range of a Tesla model S by 23%.