Design And Thermal Simulation of an Energy Storage System for Flinders University’s Solar Electric Vehicle

Author: Allan Mankavil

Mankavil, Allan, 2016 Design And Thermal Simulation of an Energy Storage System for Flinders University’s Solar Electric Vehicle, Flinders University, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics

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Flinders University (FU) will be constructing its first ever Solar Electric Vehicle (SEV), to compete within the 2017 World Solar Challenge (WSC). The WSC is a biennial SEV race across 3,022 km from Darwin to Adelaide. A major subsystem of the FU’s SEV (FUSEV) is the Energy Storage System (ESS), used to store, monitor, and manage the energy drawn from the grid and solar panels, to power the electrical/electronic systems of the FUSEV. The ESS is composed of various sub-systems such as the Battery Management System (BMS), Battery Charger (BC), and the Battery Array (BARR).

This thesis describes the design and thermal simulation of an ESS for the FUSEV. As part of the design process, a literature review, market study, and competitor analysis was conducted to select the most appropriate and interoperable commercial off-the-shelf products. Following this, the design of FUSEV’s BARR composed of 126 lithium-ion 18650 cells was developed. As per the WSC regulations and Australian Design Rules (ADRs) to ensure the safety of FUSEV’s occupants, the BARR needs to operate within the manufacturer’s recommended temperature range and be contained within an enclosure. As a result of the size constraints imposed by the FUSEV and the decision to implement forced air convection cooling using axial case fans to cool the BARR, an enclosure had to be custom-made. To develop an effective enclosure design, the thermal response of FUSEV’s BARR within different types of enclosure designs was simulated using ANSYS Fluent. The results of the thermal analysis, validated through a baseline study revealed that the most optimal enclosure design decreased the cell temperature by 7.20% to 26.10% from its initial temperature. As a result, this design was selected for FUSEV’s use.

The 3D models and mechanical drawings of the battery modules, BARR, and ESS enclosure were developed using Autodesk Inventor. To ensure that the ESS enclosure could withstand the crash acceleration as specified within the ADRs, the enclosure was also subjected to finite-element stress analysis using Inventor to ensure no design failures occurred. The work done thus far enables for the project’s continuity in the future, through the establishment of an adaptable and modularized ESS design.

Keywords: 18650, Li-ion, Thermal Simulation, Solar, Battery, Vehicle, World Solar Challenge, ANSYS, Energy Storage System,

Subject: Engineering thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2016
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Vlatka Zivotic-Kukolj