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Requirements for immersion cooling technology

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Andy Richenderfer outlines what OEMs should look for in dielectric fluid formulations and how to deploy them effectively.

It is well established that excessive heat build-up can seriously damage the electronics essential to maintaining proper operation of electric vehicles (EVs). In today’s EV market, the need for an ideal way to mitigate the heat generated by powerful batteries is becoming increasingly important. Most current vehicles use a water-glycol system to cool the battery (essentially similar to conventional ICE engine cooling), but such methods have some fundamental limitations. there is. I need a new solution.

In part 1 of this series, we explored why immersion cooling—the process of operating a battery submerged in a bath of dielectric coolant—has shown great potential as an ideal cooling method. Leading-edge automakers and Tier I EV companies are starting to turn their attention to this process for new EVs in the near future. In practice, today immersion cooling is only introduced in high-performance racing vehicles, but from 2025 he is reasonable to expect immersion cooling to be introduced in high-volume production vehicles sometime between 2027 and 2027.

But like other fluids that help vehicles perform at their best, dielectric cooling fluids are not all created equal. Different OEMs are developing their own EV architectures and have their own cooling needs as well. Off-the-shelf dielectric fluids may not meet the evolving needs of all manufacturers. OEMs will likely need to work with partners who can help formulate customized dielectric fluids to meet their specific hardware needs.

The Importance of Custom Formulations

Dielectric fluids are not new and have been used in a wide variety of applications for many years. However, most available fluids are formulated with off-the-shelf fluids and chemicals, not designed for EV applications. This means that it may not be ideal to provide the level of performance achievable by custom formulation approaches.

In practice, immersion cooling today is only implemented in high-performance racing cars

For EV OEMs seeking immersion cooling technology for next-generation vehicles, there’s a better way. A collaborative approach between OEMs and lubricant manufacturers and formulators helps identify specific needs for unique systems. This type of customization gives OEMs the additional flexibility they need to adapt as new EV battery and architectural design iterations are developed and brought to market.

Assistance from custom formulation partners can also help identify fine-tuning of chemistry and additive packages during the formulation process to help optimize fluid performance characteristics when running tests. Also, since immersion technology is new, there are many complex problems that must be solved. At least nine of his OEMs and 18 Tier I companies (such as radiators and other EV equipment suppliers) are now working on this type of process to identify the best dielectric fluid for a particular system. .

Performance characteristics of dielectric fluids

What are some performance characteristics that OEMs should consider optimizing with dielectric fluids? There are many variables to consider, but the most important are heat transfer, safety and durability. gender, etc. The ideal liquid will help your battery warm up quickly and keep it cool (below 50 degrees Celsius), maximizing battery life, range and power output. This attribute helps keep other electrical components cool to maximize efficiency and helps the vehicle get more out of the overall battery. From a safety perspective, the dielectric fluid should work with hardware to prevent battery aging. Additionally, in the event of thermal runaway, the fluid should also prevent the failure from propagating throughout the battery pack. When it comes to durability, fluids should be chosen and formulated to extend battery life and be compatible with polymers and seals. Dielectric fluids are not modified and serviced like other conventional vehicle fluids.

EV automakers looking to seize the opportunities presented by immersion cooling must work closely with formulation experts to identify the performance characteristics of dielectric fluids suitable for their unique systems. Most OEMs are still in the early stages of testing immersion cooling in production vehicles, so formulation partners with deep expertise in fluid technology can overcome some of the initial challenges and hurdles associated with early-stage development. helps.

Between 2025 and 2027, it is reasonable to expect liquid immersion cooling to be introduced in mass-produced vehicles.

There are indications that this new cooling technology will eventually become the standard for most EV battery cooling systems. As immersion cooling becomes more common in EV applications, the liquids needed to keep batteries cool must also evolve. Lubricant manufacturers must be flexible enough to work with automakers to fine-tune their chemistries and adapt their fluids to this new technology.

The cost-effectiveness of immersion cooling, combined with its safety profile, make it a logical choice for future EV OEMs. By working with the right partner, OEMs can realize these benefits sooner or later.

About the author: Andy Richenderfer is a Senior Research Engineer at The Lubrizol Corporation.