Thermal Performance Benchmarking: Annual Report

Research output: NRELManagement


In FY16, the thermal performance of the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid power electronics thermal management systems were benchmarked. Both experiments and numerical simulation were utilized to thoroughly study the thermal resistances and temperature distribution in the power module. Experimental results obtained from the water-ethylene glycol tests provided the junction-to-liquid thermal resistance. The finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models were found to yield a good match with experimental results. Both experimental and modeling results demonstrate that the passive stack is the dominant thermal resistance for both the motor and power electronics systems. The 2014 Accord power electronics systems yield steady-state thermal resistance values around 42- 50 mm to the 2nd power K/W, depending on the flow rates. At a typical flow rate of 10 liters per minute, the thermal resistance of the Accord system was found to be about 44 percent lower than that of the 2012 Nissan LEAF system that was benchmarked in FY15. The main reason for the difference is that the Accord power module used a metalized-ceramic substrate and eliminated the thermal interface material layers. FEA models were developed to study the transient performance of 2012 Nissan LEAF, 2014 Accord, and two other systems that feature conventional power module designs. The simulation results indicate that the 2012 LEAF power module has lowest thermal impedance at a time scale less than one second. This is probably due to moving low thermally conductive materials further away from the heat source and enhancing the heat spreading effect from the copper-molybdenum plate close to the insulated gate bipolar transistors. When approaching steady state, the Honda system shows lower thermal impedance. Measurement results of the thermal resistance of the 2015 BMW i3 power electronic system indicate that the i3 insulated gate bipolar transistor module has significantly lower junction-to-liquid thermal resistance as compared to the other systems. At a flow rate of 12 liters per minute, the thermal resistance of the i3 systems is only 30 percent of the Accord system and 15 percent of the LEAF system.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Posted by DOE at

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/MP-5400-67118


  • Honda Accord Hybrid
  • power electronics
  • thermal management
  • thermal performance


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