What are electric vehicle busbars?
In previous articles, we indulged in comprehensive discussions about electric vehicle batteries. We talked about their unique design, how they are manufactured, and how they work in your electric vehicle. We have described EV batteries as the “heart” of an electric vehicle.
If the battery is the heart, then busbars can be likened to the blood vessels in the cardiovascular system, since their role is the conduction of electrical current through the major electrical pathways of an EV’s various systems and sub-systems.
Aside from power conduction and distribution, busbar design is also vital for thermal management in an EV. Without busbars, electric vehicles may be prone to overheating as a result of the tremendous heat that is generated in the battery.
For this article, let us now focus our attention on the busbars that you can find in electric vehicles today.
What are laminated busbars?
Laminated busbars are multi-layered, composite structures which are connected with a platoon. They consist of copper or aluminum, which may or may not be plated with gold or silver to improve their conduction capabilities.
As mentioned earlier, busbars in general, including laminated busbars, function as the distribution system for electric current from EV batteries to the various parts of an electric vehicle. However, what makes laminated busbars stand apart from other busbar technologies are their modern and convenient design, quick installation, and well-structured distribution systems.
The results of this convenient design include simpler and faster assembly, space-saving, repeatable and reliable electrical performance, low impedance and interference, and excellent heat dissipation.
What are flexible busbars?
The flexible busbar is characterized by its unique design. Here, you have copper foils which are diffusion-welded tightly at the mounting areas. With this busbar design, the ends are held at a rigid state for secure connections while maintaining flexibility in its middle.
The increasing complexities of EV power systems today require more efficient integration of busbars in tightly spaced Battery Management Systems (BMS). This can be accomplished with the use of flexible busbars with EV batteries.
Overall, flexible busbars have superior electrical conductivity, flexibility, and reduced contact resistance.
Where are busbars used?
Various busbar design technologies allow the humble busbar to be used in a wide variety of applications, and not just in electric vehicle batteries.
You can find busbars being used extensively in the following locations and situations:
- Manufacturing and other industrial settings
- Computer data centers
- Technology settings
- Schools and universities
- Retail outlets and other commercial establishments
- Personal mobility (including electric bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles)
- Wind energy and solar energy storage
The busbar, though, is gaining in popularity in EV batteries because of their easy and cost-efficient manufacturing, assembly and installation, flexibility, and versatility of function.
Key benefits of using EV busbars
Laminated busbars in EV batteries offer a number of key benefits. These benefits largely stem from its unique busbar design.
- Reduced system costs – Manufacturing costs are lower due to decreased assembly time, internal material handling, and inventory.
- Greater flexibility – Laminated busbars can be customized to meet specific needs and functions for maximum efficiency.
- Improved reliability – Wiring errors are reduced, allowing for repeatable high-quality electrical performance and lower service and maintenance costs.
- Lowers inductance and increases in capacitance – Laminated busbars reduce incidences of inductance (or the tendencies of electrical conductors to oppose any changes in electric currents flowing through it). They also help in increasing the storage of electrical energy in EV batteries
- Guaranteed low heat dissipation – Laminated busbars prevent excessive overheating in EV batteries which may cause fire, explosion and other potential hazards, and dramatically reduce their life expectancy.
- Greater structural integrity – Laminated busbars provide increased structural integrity that cannot be matched by traditional wiring methods.
Are busbars energy-efficient?
Busbar design is integral to energy efficiency in EV batteries, especially in terms of the inversion or conversion of electrical energy. In high voltage applications, such as while driving an electric car, DS link busbar designs minimize both stray inductance and voltage spikes, thus promoting faster switching speeds. There is also the tendency for EV battery components to generate a lot of heat, which may have detrimental effects on the battery’s functions, life span, and increase the risk for potential hazards, such as fire and explosion.
Future EV battery technology already includes busbar systems with power monitoring in place, which can identify the peaks and lows of energy consumption in an EV. At the same time, there are also busbar systems for thermal management in order to lower heat dissipation and prevent overheating of the battery.
While electric vehicle owners are concerned about having a recyclable and sustainable EV battery in their cars, sustainability in busbars should also be considered. Thankfully, busbars, like EV batteries, are made from metals, particularly copper or aluminum, which can be recycled and reused from old electric cars and other metal sources.
According to Kenmode.com, of these two metals, aluminum is recycled the most, with approximately 75% of aluminum produced that is still being used in busbars and other applications, with copper coming in next, with an estimated 65% of copper still in use. Another factor to be considered is that busbars are easier to recycle compared to other electrical components, like cables, is because of their lack of insulation.
Busbars are the ideal choices for electric vehicles because of their cheaper manufacturing costs, convenience in installation, and very little maintenance requirements. In addition, they are energy-saving and energy-sufficient, built from sustainable materials which make busbars environmentally-friendly.