Continental’s Smart Heater Chooses Between Battery and Passengers

Continental has unveiled details of its ‘smart heater’ system that will decide when to heat up an EV’s battery instead of the car’s occupants.

The system is a bid to alleviate the issues with lithium-ion battery performance falling off a cliff every time the temperatures dip below freezing. Continental explained at the 32nd Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS32) in Lyon that the system will monitor when the battery pack needs the heat more than the car’s driver and passengers to maintain a usable working range.

Its thermal management research vehicle is equipped with multi-port coolant flow control valves (CFCVs), coolant pumps and an electro-thermal recuperator (ETR) known as a smart heater. Together these components hope to harvest heat and energy where it originates in the vehicle and direct it to where it is needed most reducing energy demand from the battery and increasing range.

The smart heater can help to either heat up the cabin or the battery pack when it is too cold for the battery to accept electric energy from recuperation from regenerative braking. For that purpose the smart heater will turn electricity into heat that is available for appropriate use. Stephan Rebhan, head of technology and innovation powertrain, said: “In an EV both, human and machine, want to be in their comfort zone. A car that is equipped with our smart heater, for instance, can achieve the comfort zone in a third of the time of a model without smart heater.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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