Thermal management ensures the targeted use and associated needs-based redistribution of the heat produced during vehicle operation. To achieve this, all the heat sources and heat sinks must be known, as well as their time-dependent cooling and heating requirements.
One task of thermal management is to ensure cooling. This is needed for removing heat from the components concerned, and from the passenger compartment. Another objective is to use all available heat sources productively in order to conserve energy.
For example, focused thermal management strategies can be applied while the vehicle is warming up to reduce friction in the drivetrain, thus reducing energy consumption. Interior comfort for passengers is an important criteria, especially at low outdoor temperatures, since the heat needed to warm up the passenger compartment must be taken from the cooling system.
The three most important tasks of thermal management are
- Optimum design and conditioning of the vehicle cooling system
- Ensuring interior comfort
- Thermal protection of components
Thermal management is even more complex for vehicles with alternative drives, since, for example, the battery and power electronics need to be kept at consistently lower temperatures as far as is possible. Due to the higher efficiency, the quantity of available heat in the cooling system is lower, generally meaning that additional energy must be expended for interior comfort.
Numerical simulation is also extremely helpful in the thermal management development process. To design and optimize cooling systems, FKFS uses 1D simulation tools which have been specially developed for hydraulic and heat transfer applications. Components can be studied and optimized using special component test benches and 3D CFD.