Thesis defense: Interactions between battery and power electronics in an electric vehicle drivetrain

Welcome to the Doctoral thesis defense of Alexander Bessman, KTH The Royal Institute of Technology.

“Interactions between battery and power electronics in an electric vehicle drivetrain”
(http://kth.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A1206679 ),

OPPONENT: Professor Torbjörn Thiringer, Elektroteknik, Chalmers, Göteborg
TIME: 15 June at 10:00
WHERE: E2, E-house, main building, floor 3, Lindstedtsvägen 3, Stockholm
SUPERVISOR: Göran Lindbergh, Pontus Svens and Oscar Wallmark

The electric machine and power electronics in electric and hybrid electric vehicles inevitably cause AC harmonics on the vehicle’s DC-link. These harmonics can be partially filtered out by large capacitors, which today are overdimensioned in order to protect the vehicle’s battery pack. This is done as a precaution, since it is not known whether ripple-current has any harmful effect on Li-ion  cells.

We have measured and analyzed the ripple-current present in a hybrid electric bus, and found that a majority of the power was carried by frequencies in the range 100~Hz to 1~kHz. The single most energetic harmonic in this particular vehicle is believed to have been caused  by a misaligned resolver in the motor.

We have also designed and built an advanced experimental set-up in order to study the effect of ripple-current on Li-ion cells in the lab. The set-up can cycle up to 16 cells simultaneously, with currents of up to 50~A including a superimposed AC signal with a frequency of up to 2~kHz. The cells’ temperatures are controlled by means of a climate chamber. The set-up also includes a sophisticated safety system which automatically acts to prevent dangerous situations before they arise.

Using this set-up we tested whether superimposing AC with a specific frequency improves the charging performance of Li-ion cells. Statistical analysis found no improvement over regular DC cycling, and a physics-based model explains the experimental findings.

We have also investigated whether ripple-current accelerates the aging of Li-ion cells. Twelve cells were either calendar or cycle  aged for one year, with some cells being exposed to superimposed AC with a frequency of 1~Hz, 100~Hz, or 1~kHz. No effect was observed on any of capacity fade, power fade, or aging mechanism.

Finally we also tested whether it is possible to heat Li-ion cells from low temperatures using only AC. We propose a method for AC heating of Li-ion cells, and open the discussion for generalizing the technique to larger battery packs.

In conclusion, ripple-current has negligible effect on Li-ion cells, except for heating them slightly.