Researchers from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering are enhancing electric vehicle safety and performance through an innovative battery protection design.
Their approach employs tubes that are infused with paraffin wax, a phase change material (PCM). PCM is commonly used to store and disperse heat, effectively safeguarding batteries against overheating.
The researchers are harnessing PCM-filled tubes to explore their potential as impact-resistant shields. This exploration has been documented in the journal Structures.
Farhad Farzaneh, the lead investigator and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, stated, “We want to manage the risk of battery damage in a crash. This is a significant concern in the overall safety and reliability of electric vehicles and will help advance their adoption in the automotive industry.”
Crash absorbers must possess lightweight characteristics while effectively absorbing substantial energy during accidents. The PCM-filled tubes play a dual role by cushioning impact forces and absorbing heat, thereby maintaining a secure temperature around nearby battery cells and guarding against temperature spikes that could lead to fires.
The research team scrutinized thin-walled aluminum tubes, experimenting with a spectrum of diameters, exterior metal thicknesses, and end cap designs. Models were developed to forecast performance based on these parameters, a process later validated through experimental trials.
Findings revealed that tubes sealed at both ends and tubes laden with PCM absorbed approximately 43% and 74% more energy, respectively, compared to unfilled tubes.
“Impact loading on the battery module is a major risk in adopting electric vehicles,” coauthor Professor Sungmoon Jung stated. “Of course, every measure you adopt to protect a vehicle has trade-offs for things such as weight. Farhad’s research found an innovative way to combine two protective measures into one to improve the safety of electric vehicles.”
Beyond enhancing crash resilience, this research could indirectly enhance battery longevity by mitigating potential damage from less severe impacts or thermal concerns.
“By incorporating PCM-filled tubes in electric vehicle batteries, we hope to prevent catastrophic events and improve the overall reliability and durability of the battery system,” Farzaneh stated.