Design and Simulation of Passive Thermal Management System for Lithium-ion Battery Packs on an Unmanned Ground Vehicle

Abstract: The transient thermal response of a 15-cell, 48 volt, lithium-ion battery pack for an unmanned ground vehicle was simulated with ANSYS Fluent. Heat generation rates and specific heat capacity of a single cell were experimentally measured and used as input to the thermal model. A heat generation load was applied to each battery and natural convection film boundary conditions were applied to the exterior of the enclosure. The buoyancy-driven natural convection inside the enclosure was modeled along with the radiation heat transfer between internal components. The maximum temperature of the batteries reached 65.6 degrees C after 630 seconds of usage at a simulated peak power draw of 3,600 watts or roughly 85 amps. This exceeds the manufacturer's maximum recommended operating temperature of 60 degrees C. The pack was redesigned to incorporate a passive thermal management system consisting of a composite expanded graphite matrix infiltrated with a phase-changing paraffin wax. The redesigned battery pack was similarly modeled, showing a decrease in the maximum temperature to 50.3 degrees C after 630 seconds at the same power draw. The proposed passive thermal management system kept the batteries within their recommended operating temperature range.