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Developing Next-Gen EV Batteries with Advanced Simulation Tools

Steve Plumb
By Steve Plumb Senior Editor, SME Media

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining momentum with buyers. But to be truly competitive with internal combustion engine (ICE) models, EV battery performance must continue to improve—balancing attributes such as driving range, durability, charging time and safety—and do so over a wide range of temperatures and other operating parameters.

At the same time, significant cost reductions are necessary. Currently, batteries account for about 30% of an EV’s cost.

To help drive improvements and put EVs at a cost parity with conventional ICE cars, Dassault Systèmes is refining its 3DXPERIENCE platform to enable multidisciplinary teams to collaborate via advanced simulation tools. This allows all key constituents in the process to access and update a unified data model, evaluating and testing myriad configurations, materials and chemistries, while making real-time adjustments, according to the supplier.

In addition to automakers and battery cell manufacturers, Dassault works with advanced researchers developing new chemistries for internal battery components (anodes, cathodes and separator-type materials). Projects range from customers developing and testing single cells to the mass production of billions of cells.

“We work at various levels, starting all the way down to quantum-type analysis... atomic and molecular simulations,” explains Victor Oancea, senior technology director for Dassault’s SIMULIA unit. “We have a very comprehensive, sophisticated collection of physics-based simulation capabilities.”

This means designing cells from “form factors,” including practical use dimensions, performance attributes and subsystems (thermal management, electromagnetics, acoustics and fluids), then scaling up into a virtual model of the battery pack. As volumes increase, even slight incremental improvements can yield massive results, according to Oancea, who describes the process as both a precise science and an engineering art.

“There’s a lot of design, virtual testing and computer simulation of what can happen to optimize efficiencies. ... (and) improving things that you otherwise can’t measure.”

This is especially important in safety-critical and other edge-case scenarios, such as a car crash that can short circuit the battery and cause thermal runaway. The challenge is to design a battery with an efficient cooling system that also is lightweight and extremely crashworthy.

Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE enables product development teams to share functional requirements, develop conceptual and detailed designs, and perform realistic simulations of components and complete systems. Data management, project planning and collaboration capabilities inherent in the platform enable teams to share designs and simulation results, and view status updates through various tools, according to the supplier.

Teaming proven CAD and CAE software with the latest innovations, 3DEXPERIENCE streamlines everything into an integrated package with shared data across applications so that any changes are immediately reflected throughout the platform. The most recent updates (version R2023x) include enhancements for MODSIM (Unified Modeling & Simulation), CATIA and SOLIDWORKS, BIOVIA for materials design and analysis, as well as cloud simulation. Potential uses include:

  • Next-generation concept design of composite stiffened structures
  • Fully coupled 3D thermo-electrochemistry and pore pressure
  • Enhanced electromagnetics analysis with low-frequency capabilities for motor design and optimization
  • Pre-packaged models to evaluate materials and prioritize physical tests
  • Systems architecture design, modeling and simulation for developing complex battery systems

With these multidisciplinary applications, researchers, designers and engineers can collaboratively evaluate molecular-level characteristics of a battery, as well as structural, mechanical, thermal, diffusion and electrical behavior of the individual cells and battery packs, Dassault says. This includes the development and evaluation of virtual twins of EV components and systems such as batteries, drivetrains, body, chassis, suspension, tires, braking and passenger safety.

ProShop, Metafold Land New Funding

ProShop ERP has received $32 million in funding from Mainsail Partners, a growth equity firm that invests in vertical enterprise resource planning (ERP) software companies. ProShop plans to use the capital to expedite product development and to expand customer services.

The company provides software to manufacturers in regulated industries such as medical, aerospace and defense. Customers use Proshop to improve their everyday operations, streamlining processes such as on-time delivery, shop throughput, quoting, set-up times, and ISO and AS9100 certifications within an ITAR- and CMMC-compliant cloud environment.

“The market demand has been, and continues to be, strong for our product. We knew that if we wanted to serve our mission even better and serve more shops in the industry we love so much, we needed a partner,” says Paul Van Metre, ProShop co-founder. “My partners and I are deeply committed to serving our industry for years to come, and with the financial and operational backing of Mainsail as our partner, we’re doubling down on our commitment to this industry.”

As part of the investment, Mainsail’s Anthony Hayes and Jason Frankel will join ProShop’s board of directors.

Meanwhile, Metafold has raised $1.8 million in seed funding to advance the mass adoption of industrial 3D printing. The startup, which was founded in 2020, says it will use the funds to “deepen its first principles approach to solve the toughest geometry problems holding back 3D printing from mainstream adoption.”

Toronto-based Metafold has developed what it hails as “an ultra-precise, lightning-speed” geometry computation engine for outputting accurate designs for 3D printing complex parts. The company’s SaaS platform enables developers to produce optimized parts with a web application or by leveraging the Metafold Engine API to build their own custom tools and integrations.

As a result, Metafold says, manufacturers can use less raw material and produce lighter, more efficient parts that use less energy. The company’s initial focus is on the biotech and sportswear industries, supporting customer needs to design, test and produce highly optimized structures.

“Manufacturing sustainability is driven by two factors—improving the material consumption of existing fabrication methods and designing for optimality over the lifetime use of manufactured goods,” notes Elissa Ross, co-founder and CEO of Metafold. “3D printing achieves those goals and has the potential to be even more impactful with the right digital infrastructure.”

Differential Ventures led the new investment round, with participation from Active Impact Investments, Jetstream and Standup Ventures.

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