Optimization of Batteries for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

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English, Jeffrey
PHEVs , Batteries
This thesis presents a method to quickly determine the optimal battery for an electric vehicle given a set of vehicle characteristics and desired performance metrics. The model is based on four independent design variables: cell count, cell capacity, state-of-charge window, and battery chemistry. Performance is measured in seven categories: cost, all-electric range, maximum speed, acceleration, battery lifetime, lifetime greenhouse gas emissions, and charging time. The performance of each battery is weighted according to a user-defined objective function to determine its overall fitness. The model is informed by a series of battery tests performed on scaled-down battery samples. Seven battery chemistries were tested for capacity at different discharge rates, maximum output power at different charge levels, and performance in a real-world automotive duty cycle. The results of these tests enable a prediction of the performance of the battery in an automobile. Testing was performed at both room temperature and low temperature to investigate the effects of battery temperature on operation. The testing highlighted differences in behavior between lithium, nickel, and lead based batteries. Battery performance decreased with temperature across all samples with the largest effect on nickel-based chemistries. Output power also decreased with lead acid batteries being the least affected by temperature. Lithium-ion batteries were found to be highly efficient (>95%) under a vehicular duty cycle; nickel and lead batteries have greater losses. Low temperatures hindered battery performance and resulted in accelerated failure in several samples. Lead acid, lead tin, and lithium nickel alloy batteries were unable to complete the low temperature testing regime without losing significant capacity and power capability. This is a concern for their applicability in electric vehicles intended for cold climates which have to maintain battery temperature during long periods of inactivity. Three sample optimizations were performed: a compact car, a, truck, and a sports car. The compact car benefits from increased battery capacity despite the associated higher cost. The truck returned the smallest possible battery of each chemistry, indicating that electrification is not advisable. The sports car optimization resulted in the largest possible battery, indicating large performance from increased electrification. These results mirror the current state of the electric vehicle market.
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