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TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Optimizes its Powertrain Dynamics With Ansys Simulation Software
Racing through the streets of some of the most iconic cities in the world, some of the biggest drivers and teams in motorsports compete in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. This racing series is designed to push the limits of electric vehicle technology. During these high-speed, single-seater matchups, world-class drivers test their skills over a period of 45 minutes at speeds up to 174 mph (280 km/h) through winding, narrow urban racetracks.
With an ABB Formula E mandate on total energy consumption per team, wins are not just defined by speed, but also by kilowatt hours, so the efficiency of the race car’s powertrain is critical to a team’s success. For the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, a win on a race day depends, in part, on the team’s access to a simulation environment that can help them quickly analyze electric powertrain component performance and gain insights into the mechanisms that impact efficiency. Using Ansys Maxwell and Ansys Twin Builder simulation software, the team can detect and optimize the smallest of details in the powertrain to realize improvements in an extremely high-efficiency environment where every
Tackling Timescale Challenges with Simulation
Electric powertrain dynamics are ruled by two things: overall efficiency and component efficiency, both of which must be optimized over a wide range of operating points. For example, if the torque or speed is too high or too low, energy is wasted. Inverters are the pathway through which battery power is converted during driving and delivered to the engine, so they play a critical role in overall powertrain efficiency. It is the inverter that does the switching (electrical conversion) from battery DC to high-frequency, high-voltage AC required by the engine during a race. The faster the switch speed, the more power an inverter can handle with fewer electrical losses.
To maintain their competitive edge in the ABB Formula E World Championship, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team set its sights on tuning their powertrain to achieve 60-second lap drive cycles, which represent the speed of the vehicle over time. Each cycle requires one electric period (the duration when energy is delivered) of between 10 milliseconds and 0.5 milliseconds, with an inverter switching period (the rate at which the switching device is turned on and off to deliver this energy) of just 0.1 milliseconds to 0.03 milliseconds. Examining powertrain efficiencies at both the component and the system levels, the team can better address electrical losses to achieve the targeted time scales.