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The popularity of electrical vehicles (EVs) has increased significantly in recent years. And without surprise, the need for fast-charging stations has also increased. However, fast charging poses a significant challenge: it generates excessive heat, potentially harming the battery and charging system.
A solution to this problem is thermal management. Thermal management is a process of controlling the system temperature to avoid overheating. This helps to maintain optimum performance and prevent damage to the system.
This article will discuss the common thermal management techniques in EV charging stations. Read more below.
Thermal management techniques are crucial for EV charging stations. The efficiency of the techniques depends on the tools used and the reliability of the manufacturer. Here are some of the top thermal management techniques:
Active systems are systems that control temperature using external energy. They include the following:
1. Liquid cooling systems
Liquid cooling systems are among the most popular systems used in EV charging stations. A liquid cooling system uses a mixture of water and ethylene glycol to cool the battery system. This mixture passes through the pipes around the battery cells, motors, and power electronics to help dissipate heat.
Liquid cooling systems excel at managing high levels of heat, ensuring safe operating temperatures for the components they cool. This setting is essential for battery longevity and performance. However, liquid coolers may require additional maintenance to keep them in top condition.
2. Air cooling systems
Air cooling systems use fans and blowers to force air on the surface of the heat-producing components. However, while these systems are straightforward and cost-effective, they are less potent than liquid systems since air absorbs less heat per unit volume.
Passive systems use natural heating and cooling, such as radiation, conduction, and convection. The two main types of passive systems are the following:
1. Heat sinks
Heat sinks are metal blocks with an array of fins made of aluminum or metals that are excellent conductors of heat. The sinks are attached to the heat-producing components of the charging station to help dissipate heat into the surrounding air.
2. Thermal pads
Thermal pads are soft conductive materials that can be attached to surfaces. They facilitate heat transfer by filling the gaps between the heat-producing components and the chassis or the heat sinks.
Advanced technologies use the latest and most effective designs and principles to control heat in EV charging stations.
PCMs are materials with high heat-storage capacity while undergoing a phase transition, typically from solid to liquid or vice versa, at a specific temperature. Paraffin and salt hydrates are common materials used for fast charging.
A PCM is stored in a compatible vessel to absorb the excess heat during fast charging and release the stored heat during low heat-generation periods. This design keeps the temperature stable and reduces the reliance on active cooling systems. It can also help improve battery life and protect your EV investment.
This thermal management model uses the Peltier effect to create a temperature difference between two different types of materials. The Peltier effect module harnesses both cooling and heating mechanisms to achieve a target temperature.
When a voltage is applied across a thermoelectric module, heat is absorbed on the cold side and released on the hot side. This can be used to directly cool the heat-producing components at the charging station.
However, this model may be inefficient when used alone. You may need to combine it with additional heat-dissipation mechanisms on the hot side to achieve the desired temperature.
Nanomaterials have at least one dimension in the nanoscale, making them very effective in thermal management. They contain unique characteristics, such as high surface area to volume ratio, allowing them to transfer more heat.
Their good conductivity makes them a good choice for dissipating heat away from the charger and the battery. Some common applications of nanomaterials in thermal management include nanofluids and nanocomposites.
Thermal management for EV charging is a very crucial aspect of electric vehicles. And people are seeking fast-charging options for their vehicles. However, fast charging may cause damage to the charging station and the batteries, resulting in reduced system performance.
However, with a proper thermal management system in place, heat can dissipate safely and more efficiently. Thermal management systems can handle high loads of heat generated during the fast-charging period and protect the charging systems. This makes them a necessity in charging EVs the fastest way possible.