Thermal management of batteries using a Variable-Conductance Insulation (VCI) enclosure

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Proper thermal management is important for optimum performance and durability of most electric-vehicle batteries. For high-temperature cells such as sodium/sulphur, a very efficient and responsive thermal control system is essential. Heat must be removed during exothermic periods and retained when the batteries are not in use. Current thermal management approaches rely on passive insulation enclosures with active cooling loops that penetrate the enclosure. This paper presents the design, analysis, and testing of an enclosure with variable conductance insulation (VCI). VCI uses a hydride with an integral electric resistance heater to expel and retrieve a small amount of hydrogen gas into ... continued below

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6 p.

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Burch, S.D.; Parish, R.C. & Keyser, M.A. May 1, 1995.

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Proper thermal management is important for optimum performance and durability of most electric-vehicle batteries. For high-temperature cells such as sodium/sulphur, a very efficient and responsive thermal control system is essential. Heat must be removed during exothermic periods and retained when the batteries are not in use. Current thermal management approaches rely on passive insulation enclosures with active cooling loops that penetrate the enclosure. This paper presents the design, analysis, and testing of an enclosure with variable conductance insulation (VCI). VCI uses a hydride with an integral electric resistance heater to expel and retrieve a small amount of hydrogen gas into a vacuum space. By controlling the amount of hydrogen gas, the thermal conductance can be varied by more than 100:1, enabling the cooling loop (cold plate) to be mounted on the enclosure exterior. By not penetrating the battery enclosure, the cooling system is simpler and more reliable. Also, heat can be retained more effectively when desired. For high temperatures, radiation shields within the vacuum space are required. Ceramic spacers are used to maintain separation of the steel enclosure materials against atmospheric loading. Ceramic-to-ceramic thermal contact resistance within the spacer assembly minimizes thermal conductance. Two full-scale (0.8-m {times} 0.9-m {times} 0.3-m) prototypes were designed, built, and tested under high-temperature 200{degrees}-350{degrees}C battery conditions. With an internal temperature of 330{degrees}C (and 20{degrees}C ambient), the measured total-enclosure minimum heat loss was 80 watts (excluding wire pass-through losses). The maximum heat rejection was 4100 watts. The insulation can be switched from minimum to maximum conductance (hydrogen pressure from 2.0 {times} 10{sup -3} to 8 torr) in 3 minutes. Switching from maximum to minimum conductance was longer (16 minutes), but still satisfactory because of the large thermal mass of the battery.

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6 p.

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OSTI as DE95009207

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  • 30. intersociety energy conversion engineering conference, Orlando, FL (United States), 30 Jul - 5 Aug 1995

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  • Other: DE95009207
  • Report No.: NREL/TP--473-7783
  • Report No.: CONF-950729--5
  • Grant Number: AC36-83CH10093
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 70699
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc710396

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

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Creation Date

  • May 1, 1995

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 12, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

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  • June 24, 2016, 1:55 p.m.

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Burch, S.D.; Parish, R.C. & Keyser, M.A. Thermal management of batteries using a Variable-Conductance Insulation (VCI) enclosure, article, May 1, 1995; Golden, Colorado. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc710396/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.