Evaluation of thermal expansion in busbars used for battery electric vehicles

University essay from KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

Abstract: Thermal expansion can be an issue in solid busbars, the expansion is caused by several factors and can cause plastic deformation in connection points or structure around it. The expansion occurs due to temperature differences in the busbar as a result of altered ambient temperature and/or joule heating. The environment where a vehicle is used can be harsh and varying in temperatures a lot. For future fast charging systems, a high amount of current will be passed in the conductors. In a stationary installation, this could be solved by increasing the cross-section area. In vehicles, the weight, cost, and space limitations callfor optimization of the conductor. In this thesis, there are several geometrical alterations done to the busbar to investigate the possibility to reduce the amount of stress acting on the connection points. The main geometrical evaluation is to compare a straight busbar to a U-shaped busbar. In the U-shape, the height, bend radius, and cross-section shape are investigated. To investigate this issue a simulation model was developed using Comsol, this software was used to evaluate stress values, max temperature, losses, and displacement. The results from the simulation showed that the U-shape has a large potential to reduce the amount of stress. Also, the cross-section shape tests showed that the steady-state temperature was lower for the more flatter shaped busbar. This is true both for the U-shape and straight busbar. This resulted inreduced amount of thermal expansion causing lower amount of stress, without adding any weight. The weight parameter is extremely important for vehicle implementation. The last test is looking at the busbar material where nickel-plated copper is compared to anodized aluminum. This test is divided into two parts, the first one is looking at an aluminum busbar compared to a copper busbar of the same geometry. This test showed that the losses in the aluminum busbar were much higher, but the steady-state temperature and max stress were lower. The second part of the test investigated the compensated aluminum busbar, this one is modeled by compensating the cross-section area for the higher resistance value of aluminum. The results from this busbar compared to the standard-shaped busbar showed a substantially lower stress, temperature and weight. But the overall dimensions are larger due to the compensated cross-section area. Having this larger Cross section area might hinder the implementation of aluminium busbars in parts of the vehicle where there is a lack of space, like in a battery box.

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