26622 Scalable Thermal Models for an Electric Motor Tool Chain
Richtingen: Master of Science in Electromechanical Engineering


When designing electric motors for automotive traction applications, not only electromagnetic but also thermal simulations play a major role. The ability of the motor to evacuate heat determines its performance. The more performant the cooling system, the more compact the drive train can be made. When designing electric motors for different applications it is required to have fast, yet reliable, scalable thermal models. These models predict the temperature of the different components (windings, magnets, iron, copper,…) in the machine for a given heat load.  Based on constraints on the maximum temperature for different components, the performance of the motor can be predicted.

A detailed thermal model can be made for a specific motor design using 3D finite element calculations. This will result in an accurate, yet slow motor thermal model. When performing motor design or selection, a lot of motors in a certain design space need to be evaluated. A parameter of such a design space can for instance be the axial length of the motor. To this end, a fast and scalable thermal motor model is required to perform many evaluations in the given design space to come to an optimal motor design. Dana has a fast and scalable tool to evaluate electromagnetic motor performance but is lacking for thermal simulations where often time-consuming simulations need to be performed.

High-RPM permanent magnet electric motor Existing tool of Ghent University



A thermal lumped parameter model for this type of electric motor exists at Ghent University, which is able to perform the necessary fast and accurate thermal simulations. Inputs to the thermal model are the different losses extracted from the existing scalable electromagnetic tool. The output of the model is the temperature of the different motor components. Convergence of these two models within the design tool should predict the continuous and peak load performances. This resulting tool chain will be used for motor design in automotive, commercial vehicle and off-highway applications. The goal of this master thesis is to:

  1. Adapt the existing thermal model to the specific Dana motor geometry and integrate it within the Dana design tool.
  2. Perform a sensitivity analysis on the thermal model, to find the optimal modelling detail with respect to calculation time.
  3. Validate the thermal model and design tool with measurements that will be provided by Dana.
  4. Use the tool chain to perform a case study with the validated models.

This project aids in achieving sustainable development goal (SDG) 7: affordable and clean energy, by enabling the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable electricity as an energy source for the transport sector.