Test and simulation environment to improve power module reliability for e-cars

January 27, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Early reliability and life expectancy assessment of power electronics modules for electric cars is the goal of the InTeLekt research program launched in Germany. The research consortium will develop a test and simulation environment enabling module designers to devise more reliable products and reduce time to market.

In electric vehicles, the power modules that control the powertrain including battery and related circuitry frequently encounter extremely high electric and mechanic stress which can significantly reduce their operating life. The InTelLekt project (the acronym stands for "Integrated test environment for power electronics") will enable module designers to rule out such hazards at a relatively early stage of product design and thus contribute to improve the reliability of electric vehicles. Another project goal is to establish a basis for stringent quality and safety standards for electric powertrains.

The researchers intend to devise a novel simulation environment which enables an early assessment the reliability of electronic power modules in the light of automotive-specific requirements and applications. Towards this end, the researcher analyse malfunctions of existing module designs in laboratory tests. Subsequently they deduct the cause of the failure and include these aspects into an experimental and numerical simulation environment. The thorough understanding of failure mechanisms can then be utilised during the development of future modules. The comprehensive test environment contributes to significantly speed up design cycles.

The research consortium includes automotive tier ones Bosch, Continental, Schaeffler Technologies and ZF Friedrichshafen as well as engineering services providers Berner & Mattner Systemtechnik and Engineers Consulting GmbH. From the research side, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Component Technology as well as the Institute for Power Converters and Electric Drives of the Aachen University. The project management lies at Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and Reliability. The project is funded by the German federal research ministry; results are expected by the end of 2016.