Can lithium-ion EV batteries last in the hot Malaysian climate? Absolutely, says local engineer Aid Fawzal

Can lithium-ion EV batteries last in the hot Malaysian climate? Absolutely, says local engineer Aid Fawzal

With electric vehicles becoming more and more popular these days, it’s only natural for people to be curious about the technology and start asking question. One such person is Twitter user Xavier Naxa, who asked on the social media platform: “Can the lithium-ion battery in an EV last in the Malaysian heat?”

Great question, you must have wondered as well. According to Malaysian engineer Ahmad Syahid Ahmad Fawzal (also known as Aid Fawzal), the battery pack in a modern EV would have been designed with its own cooling system, many of which are liquid-cooled instead of air-cooled. This is because the latter would introduce noise much like that of a vacuum cleaner due to the use of an air pump, he said in a Facebook post.

A water cooling circuit is more efficient for thermal regulation (also extremely crucial for high kilowattage DC charging). Ahmad Syahid also explained that automakers would have tested the EV multiple times in a climatic chamber to make sure that the car can withstand extreme temperatures, cold or hot. Fun fact: a lithium-ion battery has a much narrower operating range of about 15 to 45 degrees Celsius, whereas the ICE can operate from -30 to 50 degrees Celsius.

In reference to the photo below, Ahmad Syahid said the process of making an EV battery pack is a lot more complicated than one would think. There are material and cost factors to take into consideration, then the battery modules would have to undergo hundreds of hours of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) simulation before any form of mass-market packaging and integration can be done.

Can lithium-ion EV batteries last in the hot Malaysian climate? Absolutely, says local engineer Aid Fawzal

“Car manufacturers not only do their best to safeguard their technology, but also their reputation. This is why they go all out to make sure that their products sell well,” he said, adding that “the Malaysian Road Transport Department (JPJ) also has a technical guideline for all cars sold in Malaysia. This is for the safety of all road users.”

In short, yes, an electric vehicle can and will withstand the hot and humid Malaysian weather. What about the battery’s lifespan, then? Well, automakers typically don’t provide a definite figure, but the estimated length of service you can expect is 10 years or 160,000 km before battery degradation sets in. Note that the battery will still be usable after this point, just with a slight compromise in range.

Last but not least of all pertains to flammability. Should the battery be punctured in the event of an accident, will it send the car up into a ball of flame? Technically, yes. Lithium-ion battery is combustible – it has power cells that can cause short-circuiting if damaged, but the risk of fire explosions is much lower compared to a gasoline engine.

Can lithium-ion EV batteries last in the hot Malaysian climate? Absolutely, says local engineer Aid Fawzal

Ahmad Syahid shared that EV batteries are usually encased in a protective shroud, and on top of that have an electrical fail-safe mechanism to prevent short-circuiting. Kia, the Korean automaker also explained that EV battery packs are installed in an array rather than being a huge singular chunk, thus preventing damage from malfunction.

Interesting stuff, isn’t it? Oh, by the way, Ahmad Syahid is a PhD holder whose mathematical formula – the Fawzal Number – helped create the cooling system for the Ferrari SF90 Stradale. The breakthrough equation was initially called the (rotor) Cooling Performance Index (RCPI).

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Matthew H Tong

An ardent believer that fun cars need not be fast and fast cars may not always be fun. Matt advocates the purity and simplicity of manually swapping cogs while coping in silence of its impending doom. Matt's not hot. Never hot.

 

Comments

  • Dong Gor on Apr 15, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    what about in cold countries… so the system will have to continuously generate heat to keep the battery at >15c even when it’s turned off…and depleting the battery?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • bieight8 on Apr 15, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    Wait for solid state battery better…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • Autodriver on Apr 16, 2022 at 10:48 am

    EV battery performing well in hot weather rather than cold temperature zone. This is because cooling system (used for high temperature area) is using less energy than heating system both for battery and also for cabin. This alone already help extend the driving range in hot weather countries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • Michael Tan on Jul 25, 2023 at 12:31 pm

      Li ion batteries preserve remarkably well in wide range of temperatures, including cold. When in use, heating need is minimal if at all. Otoh, heat and overheating actually degrades lifespan of li batteries. Also li ion batteries are actually prone to catching fire in heat. And require special equipment to extinguish – taking up to two hours to do so. Imagine ev car burning in your basement carpark. I’m not against ev cars, just sharing knowledge and dispel some misconceptions

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Amy Kenigsberg on Apr 18, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    Ideally, any EV battery would have a thermal management system that ensures it maintains a steady 25 degrees Celsius/77 Fahrenheit, no matter the ambient temperature – whether the heat of Malaysia or the cold of Alaska. Two-phase cooling integrated within the battery pack will not only keep the temperatures stable, but it will also make the battery safer, give it longer life, and extend the range and acceleration capabilities of the vehicle – from sports mode to normal operations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • Michael Tan on Jul 25, 2023 at 12:26 pm

    Imho they do not test or design cars for tropical countries (it’s not economical / optimal) – how many rich tropical countries are there? Just look at the checkered history of citreons here. Also ev batteries degrade faster in hot environment – how much to replace the battery, honestly. And ime li ion batteries are self combusting due to the inevitable shorting, as opposed to most gasoline leaks. EV use here would be an added economic expense vs in temperate zones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
 

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