‘The biggest puzzle to be solved today is the battery’

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on: Jun 20, 2019
Vishwanath Rao

Vishwanath Rao

Altair’s MD dwells on the many simulation tools for EV manufacturers

The key to electric vehicles (EVs) taking off in a big way lies in the battery, according to Altair. The technology company provides simulation solutions to various industries, including EV manufacturers. Vishwanath Rao, Managing Director, feels that the “battery problem” needs to be addressed first. “The biggest puzzle that everyone needs to solve today is the battery, whether it is India or elsewhere in the world. How can I make a battery, which is cost-effective and which provides a lot more range,” he says.

Optimising the battery

Altair’s simulation solutions help EV manufacturers optimise battery packs for their vehicles. These address issues such as heating and thermal management, etc. “We provide a technology called AcuSolve, under our Hyperworks software suite, which is used for battery thermal management,” said Rao.

The other battery-related simulation solutions that Altair offers are to do with structural enclosures to protect the battery pack. “In case the battery collides against an obstacle or an object, it could explode. We help our customers design the right kind of structural enclosures, which can keep the battery safe,” explains Rao.

Another issue with respect to the battery in an EV is electro-magnetic interference (EMI), thanks to numerous cables and devices, and electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC). “We can do EMI and EMC simulations to try and understand their effects and make sure there is minimal interference between all these devices,” he adds.

Motor measures

Altair’s work for EVs goes beyond just the battery. “We provide a technology called Flux and Flux Motor, which is a low-frequency electro-magnetic simulation tool. Flux Motor helps you come up with a conceptual design for a motor for a given torque rating,” says Rao. This can help design the motor according to the kind of torque curve that manufacturers want for their vehicles by determining the number of magnets and the kinds of winding for a motor.

“Once you come up with the design for the motor itself, you can actually simulate the motor and try and understand its behaviour: where are the stresses, where are the strains, where is the heating happening. All of this can be simulated,” adds Rao.

The electro-magnetic forces emanating from (electro-magnetic) devices can also have an influence on the structure of the vehicle by inducing certain vibrations or stress and simulation tools also help understand their impact.

EVs are changing the way automobiles are perceived. The internal combustion engine has been replaced by a battery pack, motor, and a control system, and there is no fuel tank either.

New EV architecture

“Because the engine is not there, the vehicle need not look the same way as it looks today. We help customers come up with new architecture for EVs by using our technology called OptiStruct,” says Rao.

According to him, Altair is working with “almost every automobile manufacturer” in the country. The company recently invested in a new office in the heart of Bengaluru and plans to recruit 100 people to add to its 650-strong workforce in India.

Simulation is also one of the fastest growing areas in India. “Large OEMs like Mercedes-Benz, Ford, General Motors have all set up their captive technology centres in India from where a lot of simulation work gets done for their centres across the globe,” concludes Rao.

Published on June 20, 2019
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