Electrically Powered Vehicle

The Challenge of Electromagnetic Compatibility in Electrically Powered Vehicles

Today I’m talking about a major European project I am involved in, EM4EM (Electromagnetic Reliability and Electronic Systems for Electromobility), that looks at electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) in electronic design systems for electric vehicles (EVs). In fact, I’m pleased to be able to call it an award-winning project with links to the glamourous side of the film industry!

EMC poses a much greater challenge within an EV in comparison to combustion-powered vehicles.

On screen in Cannes: Zuken wins “Best Supporting Actor” award as part of a cast of key European automotive players

Late in 2014 I had the pleasure of traveling to Cannes in the beautiful Côte d’Azur to attend the European Nanoelectronics Forum 2014 (ENF). Cannes, the gem of French Riviera, is of course known for the film festival where all eyes are on the Golden Palm winners. During ENF2014 there was almost(!) as much anticipation, as around 60 European research projects were presented to more than 300 international electronic industry experts.

I was there representing Zuken as work-package leader in the EM4EM project, a pan-European research project under the CATRENE umbrella (see end for more details) which comes to an end in March.

During the event, I presented at a dedicated EM4EM workshop, on “Modern Power Distribution Design – Ensuring Energy Supply of Automotive Electronic Control Systems by Concurrent Simulation”. The session was based on work we have done at the Zuken R&D center in Paderborn, Germany, to develop this specialized area of electronics design.

Much to my surprise, on the first night we were presented with the CATRENE 2015 Innovation Award. The blind judging was carried out by the CATRENE board of directors, who praised the innovative character of the project. Although I wasn’t sitting with Quentin Tarantino when he won the Palme d’Or for the movie Pulp Fiction two decades previously (which would have been rather cool), I had the honor of going on stage in front of my industry peers to receive a shiny award, together with my EM4EM colleagues from Audi and SIL.

EMC and EVs: Template for a horror movie?

The compelling motivation for the EM4EM project, and other similar research within the automotive industry and academia, is the fact that EVs have a much more complex EMC domain then combustion engine vehicles.

Imagine you are driving an EV with a high capacity battery pack (which has explosive characteristics like a bomb), a few kilometers of wire harness within the car, low voltage sensor systems, control units operating in the pico-second range – then the engine switches several current amps, drawing energy from the battery. Now the driver gets a phone call (we all know the noise in the car radio when the cell phone locks-on to a base station – that’s EMC noise) causing a spike in the control unit, producing a false sensor signal detection and giving the engine an incorrect acceleration signal. The impact could be disastrous.

This is not a worst-case horror scenario from a bad movie – it’s today’s reality. Indeed, the existing noise problems caused a major automotive manufacturer to drop AM radio from their EVs, as they couldn’t resolve interference with the engine.

EM4EM – A brief background

You can read more about Zuken’s involvement in EM4EM in a previous blog, but here’s a snapshot: The project was established in 2011 and is led by Audi, with partners drawn from industry and science across three European countries. Supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project aims to research and consistently optimize electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) across the entire vehicle value chain for the first time.

Watch for an update later in the year on the completion of the EM4EM project and what this means for the automotive industry.

Written by

Ralf works as Product Manager for High-speed Design Systems at the Zuken EMC Technology Center in Paderborn/Germany, responsible for product marketing and business development for the Zuken SI, PI and EMC analysis tools. He holds a diploma degree in computer science, electrical engineering and economics from the University of Paderborn. He has 30 years of experience in Electronics and EDA. He is regular speaker on international conferences, but is involved in European Funding project and standardization activities as well.

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