This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 20, 2011

NREL Helps Car Industry Develop Engineering Tools for Batteries

After a competitive procurement process, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently awarded three industry teams a total of $7 million for the development of computer-aided software design tools to produce batteries for electric drive vehicles. Selected teams will contribute half of the costs of the project over the next three years, bringing the overall project budget to $14 million. These projects support DOE's Computer-Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries program. The objective is to help the automotive and battery industries design and develop a wide array of advanced electric vehicle batteries more quickly, resulting in less expensive batteries. Electric drive vehicles—hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and electric vehicles—have the potential to significantly reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Project goals for the selected teams include developing battery engineering tools to design cells and battery packs; shortening the battery prototyping and manufacturing processes; improving overall battery performance, safety, and battery life; and reducing battery costs. Each team will independently develop and validate the tools, with an emphasis on electrochemical, electrical, mechanical, and thermal issues. They also will integrate different chemistries, cell geometries, and battery pack configurations. NREL anticipates that the resulting systems will become competitive marketplace offerings in the near term.

The three industry teams are EC Power, Penn State University, Johnson Controls, and Ford Motor Company; General Motors Company, ANSYS, and ESim; and CD-adapco, Battery Design LLC, A123 Systems, and Johnson Controls-Saft. In addition to the funding, NREL will provide technical support on battery electrochemical-thermal modeling and testing to the teams. DOE's Vehicle Technologies Program at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is funding the research. See the NREL press release.