The battery of an electric vehicle is its most important component. At the same time it is also one of the most sensitive things. This is because lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures. So they must be protected against overheating at all costs. It’s just that if something goes wrong with the battery of our electric vehicle, we’re left with an expensive and heavy paperweight. That’s why manufacturers have developed systems to control the battery’s temperature and keep it working normally. But how do electric vehicles cool the battery? That’s what we’re going to explain next.
How do electric vehicles cool the battery?
Lithium-ion batteries, the type of batteries found in most electric vehicles, do not like high temperatures. Keeping your electric vehicle battery away from extreme heat is one of the best ways to take care of it. In fact, these batteries work best at temperatures that are not at the ends of the scale.
This means that they must be prevented from dropping to sub-zero temperatures, and care must also be taken that they do not overheat. However, it is not advisable to charge a battery at freezing temperature; that’s why some manufacturers have their own options for these scenarios.
Frosty atmospheric conditions can damage your electric vehicle’s battery, but extreme heat can do the same or worse.
If it gets too hot and is not being cooled down at an adequate rate, especially while charging, the battery may experience a thermal event. If the heat gets out of control, a fire can even occur.
It is clear that car manufacturers need to prioritize proper battery cooling, and it was definitely something they were very concerned about. That said, modern cars are equipped with advanced thermal monitoring and regulation systems that keep track of the battery’s temperature and ensure it’s not too hot.
The use of coolant
There are different ways to keep a battery cool, and like internal combustion vehicles, one of these methods is to use coolant. This method is an alternative to air cooling. Air cooling has been around for centuries and has become famous in vehicles like the Porsche 911.
But ultimately, liquid cooling systems are better than air because they have a far superior ability to transfer heat. This is not to say that the air cooling is bad. Some vehicles with the Nissan Leaf employ this method successfully. However, the liquid does a better job, especially in warmer environments.
EVs that use liquid refrigerant to cool their batteries have a system similar to that found in a traditional car with a combustion engine.
In fact, in these vehicles the coolant circulates through the engine through specific channels. However, it absorbs the engine’s heat and is then transferred to the radiator, where a fan blows air and cools it. This method of cooling vehicles is very effective and in addition, combustion vehicles can use the heat of the engine to provide heating for the cabin.
In the case of liquid-cooled electric vehicles, the battery is the component that needs constant cooling. The cooling system passes the coolant around the battery, absorbing heat in the process, and then sends it to the radiator. Once the hot coolant reaches the radiator, the fan helps to lower the temperature.
These systems obviously vary a little from manufacturer to manufacturer. Be that as it may and although this seems like a complete thing the truth is that electric ones have less maintenance requirements than others.
However, coolant prevents corrosion in addition to heat transfer, so it is important to keep coolant cool to protect the cooling system passages.
Many manufacturers still bet on air cooling
Coolant is definitely the more advanced alternative and apparently the most efficient too. Liquid refrigerants always outperform air by transferring heat away from the battery. Anyway, some cars like the Nissan Leaf, decided to keep air cooling. In this case there is no problem. However, if it were a high-performance vehicle, it would be necessary to look for an alternative.