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Multiphysics Simulation:
An IEEE Spectrum Insert
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Switching Made Easy

Matthias Richwin,
Leopold Kostal GmbH,
Dortmund, Germany

Modern cars offer a wide range of complex functionality that comes with several design challenges. This story discusses some of the necessary updates to a roof module in a premium car and the charging system of an electric car.

The roof module of a particular model houses several components. 90% of the generated heat goes into its printed circuit board (PCB), so temperature control is vital for correct functioning. In addition, there is a call from customers for touch-screen-style sensors, as they are used to this functionality from their mobile devices. COMSOL user Matthias Richwin works at KOSTAL, a company that develops and manufactures mechatronic products for the automotive manufacturing industry, and with his team used simulation to model the roof module's thermal behavior and the capacitive sensor’s sensitivity and electrostatic properties. The team considered different sizes of finger and thumb pads along with the possibility of factors like gloves or hand cream.

KOSTAL also developed an inductive power transfer charging system for charging car batteries without the use of cables. Simulation allowed them to find a coil geometry that works as efficiently as a cable-based system.

Modeling the electrostatic properties of a capacitive sensor system and a finger dummy.