From components to systems: How Dana is redefining thermal management for electric vehicles

Sponsored by Dana

As OEMs continue transitioning their conventionally powered vehicles to battery-electric, it takes more than just swapping out a few parts. Electrifying a vehicle requires a complete system overhaul — that includes thermal management systems.

When it comes to vehicle design, thermal management is often an underappreciated engineering discipline — and it’s becoming even more critical as the world shifts to electrified vehicles. The electric currents that flow through these vehicles generate extreme heat, often in small areas that can be difficult to keep cool. Overheat even the smallest power electronics component, and the entire vehicle can break down.

So, what do we need to do to ensure our electric vehicles keep their cool? Dana, a leading supplier of thermal management technologies and a proven expert in system integration, has the answer. 

What needs to be cooled in an electrified vehicle?

When we think about thermal management in a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine, things like engine/transmission oil cooling and engine exhaust heat management often come to mind. Similar to their traditional counterparts, the power sources and propulsion systems in electric vehicles also require cooling. Here are several of the biggest culprits of heat generation in EVs:

Motor – Electric motors typically require cooling with either oil or coolant. Motor efficiency and durability are directly linked to the internal temperature, and thus, require an active cooling structure to effectively manage temperatures.Power Electronics – The power modules within traction inverters generate extreme heat as they pass electric current through to the motor. In fact, they exhibit one of the highest heat fluxes in the entire vehicle, requiring a thermal management solution that enables rapid heat dissipation.Batteries – Charging and discharging any battery generates heat — and the batteries used in electric vehicles are no exception. Without an effective cooling system to manage the temperature, battery pack performance and life can quickly deteriorate.

How to keep it cool: the components

Dana offers a range of technologies designed to keep the motor, power electronics, and batteries within electric vehicles cool.  

Built upon years of expertise and a proven track record of success in transmission oil cooling, our e-Motor oil coolers  manage the high temperatures generated by the motor. Manufactured using Dana’s flux-less, clean braze process, these coolers achieve maximum cleanliness and effectiveness.

Dana combines precision stamping expertise with clean braze technology to produce best-in-class thermal solutions for power electronics. Engineered to achieve maximum flatness, these devices deliver superior thermal transfer and cost-effectiveness. They can handle extremely high heat flux, ensuring the reliability and longevity of essential vehicle electronics. 

To manage the heat generated by electric vehicle batteries, we offer several innovative battery cooling solutions, including  battery cold plates and  intercell battery cooling plates. These custom-designed cooling solutions feature lightweight aluminum construction and deliver superior, uniform cooling during charge and discharge.

To support the thermal management of entire e-Propulsion systems, we also offer proportional e-Valves. These e-Valves boast no power draw at steady state and unlike competitors’ offerings, are completely customized to our customers’ specifications.

System integration: the key to optimization

As battery-electric vehicle architectures become more prominent in the marketplace, OEMs are beginning to shift away from their bolt-on approach to electrification and adopting an integrated system approach. We’re beginning to see fully integrated e-Axles and e-Drive units come to market, but until recently, the necessary thermal management technologies have been designed as an afterthought. 

Dana is changing that mindset, bringing together e-Motor cooling, power electronics cooling, and proportional e-Valves into a completely integrated thermal management system for e-Axles and e-Drive units.

Engineered for seamless integration into e-Propulsion systems, thermal management systems yield significant benefits for both OEMs and drivers. By focusing on the whole system, rather than simple individual components, Dana delivers a more compact and packaging-friendly solution. We’re able to streamline complexities — for example, optimizing and reducing the usage of connections and hoses to place parts in closer proximity, leading to improved energy efficiency and weight reduction. Taking a systems approach to thermal management also unlocks greater customization capabilities. At Dana, we collaborate closely with our customers to develop a system that is optimized to meet their unique needs.

The Dana difference

When it comes to thermal management systems for electrified vehicles, Dana delivers — and we’re able to do it better than the competition for several reasons.

For starters, Dana has been delivering innovative thermal management solutions for more than a century, across all mobility markets. We’re able to leverage that deep expertise and our proven processes to continue to innovate as new electrified applications emerge.

We’re also one of the only suppliers with the capabilities to produce all key elements of e-Propulsion systems in-house. We understand exactly how each component is built, how they work, and most importantly — how to combine them together into integrated systems that yield greater efficiency, performance, and cost savings.

To learn more about our integrated thermal management system capabilities for electric vehicles, visit dana.com/e-mobility.

Sponsored by Dana