Model-Based Design of an Electric Powertrain Vehicle; Focus on Physical Modeling of Lithium-ion Batteries


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Virginia Tech


Formula SAE (FSAE) vehicle systems are very complex. Understanding how subsystems effect the overall vehicle is essential for making design trade-offs. FSAE is a competitive environment. Teams need to have reliable and high performing vehicles to do well in competition. The Virginia Tech (VT) FSAE team has produced a prototype electric powertrain (EPT) vehicle, VTM16e, and will take their first EPT vehicle, VTM17e, to competition in 2017.

The use of model-based design (MBD) for an EPT FSAE vehicle is investigated through this thesis. The goal of the research is to build the framework of a full vehicle simulation to take knowledge gained from the VTM16e prototype vehicle, and apply it to the VTM17e competition vehicle.

A top-down, bottom-up approach is taken to build a full vehicle model of an EPT FSAE vehicle. A full vehicle simulation is built with subsystems to establish an overall structure and subsystem interactions. Individual subsystems are then focused on for testing and validation. Breaking the vehicle down into subsystems allows the overall model to be incrementally improved. The battery subsystem is focused on in this thesis. Extensive testing is performed on the batteries to characterize their performance. Computer models are generated from empirical data through parameter estimation techniques. Validation of the battery models is performed and the resulting model is incorporated into the overall vehicle model. Performance limits of the vehicle are determined through model exploration, and design modifications to increase the reliability and performance for the VTM17e vehicle are proposed.



Model-based Design, Physical Modeling, Lithium-ion Batteries, Electric Vehicles, FSAE