This post is created by Puneet Sinha.
Engineers and scientist are increasingly looking at incorporating softwares to Li-ion battery related product development and implementation. However, desired need of software varies significantly for different applications. For instance, need of software for a system engineer developing optimum charging algorithm is vastly different from a scientist trying to understand limiting factors dictating life and safety for a certain battery. In addition, there are many software offerings from computationally fast yet rigid equivalent circuit models to computationally expensive micro-scale models. Following are the few questions one should ask before choosing the right Li-ion battery software:
1. What do you want to achieve by using software?
Desired role of software is one of the key questions dictating the choice. Simplified linearized softwares such as equivalent circuit models are ideal choice for onboard software needs. Whereas, first principal based softwares are more suited for atomistic and interfacial surface studies (for instance to understand SEI structure and Li transport in it at molecular level that is important to develop robust surface coatings). A large number of engineers and scientists are, however, exploring application of software to reduce developmental time and cost for Li-ion battery products. For such purposes, macroscopic physics-based battery softwares such as AutoLionTM can be a very well suited. Cell design and optimization, impact of cell chemistry on performance and life, cell and pack safety evaluation and thermal management some of the areas where macroscopic physics-based softwares have found great utility. AutoLion offers accurate simulation-based analysis to address performance, life and safety related issues from cell and pack level. See various case studies on our ALite platform showcasing capabilities of AutoLionTM.
2. Is your battery exposed to extreme temperatures?
This is a central question that should govern your choice of software. Li-ion batteries performance and life characteristics strongly depend on temperature. For many applications such as automotive applications, Li-ion batteries need to perform reliably over a wide range of temperature (-30oC to +45oC). To correctly simulate cell performance/life under such extreme conditions, tight coupling between heat transport and cell electrochemical reaction is absolutely important. Users need to ascertain if the software in consideration is able to correctly capture Li-ion battery performance under such conditions. In a recentcase study, we showcased how AutoLionTM correctly captures low temperature performance of Li-ion battery whereas isothermal Newman based models or softwares that implement simplified heat treatment fall short. On the same lines, due to robust foundation that correctly captures strong dependence of reaction rate on temperature, AutoLionTM enables users to simulate on-field relevant safety events and evaluate effectiveness of various mitigation strategies.
3. Do you work with multiple battery chemistries?
Many users work with more than battery chemistries and selecting the right chemistry for their application is an integral part of their work. In such a scenario, software that can simulate quickly and accurately simulate material-specific performance, life and safety characteristics of Li-ion battery is needed to accelerate product development. AutoLionTM software suite has demonstrated capabilities of accurately capturing performance and life characteristics for various chemistries. In addition, mixture chemistries which are very common for commercial applications can be easily simulated using AutoLionTM over wide range of operating conditions. See this case study where engineers have used AutoLionTM to evaluate the impact of mixture material on cell energy and power density. With AutoLionTM, users can easily study behavior of Li-ion batteries with advanced (high capacity, high energy) materials as well as can easily optimize cell designs to obtain desired power to energy ratio for any material set.
4. How much information about battery internal design and materials is available to you?
Physics-based models require information about battery internal design and material properties as inputs to reliably simulate Li-ion battery behavior. This information may not be available to many users because either they procure batteries from suppliers or they do not have access to sufficient diagnostics capabilities to measure these properties. Users in such situations can use equivalent circuit based software by fitting available experimental data to simplified model. This approach makes the use of software very limited as using equivalent circuit softwares beyond the available experimental data, especially to evaluate characteristics over life under real world complex operating conditions, is not reliable. Instead, AutoLion enables users to quickly build a virtual replica of a Li-ion cell using basic cell level data that users should have access to. Users can then use AutoLion-generated virtual cell to accurately predict performance, life and safety characteristics even under real world operating conditions. For more information, see this case study where an engineer has used AutoLionTM to simulate an A123 cell with minimal information available about cell design and material properties within half an hour.