Nikola has been granted a patent for a thermal management system for vehicles. The system includes an electric power source loop with at least one battery, a brake resistor loop with at least one brake resistor, and a shut-off valve. When the ambient temperature is below a certain threshold, the shut-off valve connects the power source loop to the brake resistor loop, allowing the battery to be pre-heated. GlobalData’s report on Nikola gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Nikola, Battery management systems was a key innovation area identified from patents. Nikola's grant share as of September 2023 was 48%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Thermal management system for pre-heating vehicle batteries

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Nikola Corp

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11772450B2) describes a thermal management system for vehicles. The system includes an electric power source loop with at least one battery, a brake resistor loop with at least one brake resistor, and a shut-off valve that connects the two loops. When the ambient temperature falls below a certain threshold (less than 15 degrees Celsius), the shut-off valve thermally couples the electric power source loop to the brake resistor loop, and a first valve thermally couples the brake resistor loop to the electric power source loop. This configuration allows for pre-heating of the batteries.

Additionally, the system includes an alternate cooling system that is thermally coupled to the electric power source loop. When both the brake resistor loop and the electric power source loop are in operation simultaneously, the alternate cooling system absorbs the heat generated by the electric power source loop. This alternate cooling system can be a refrigeration system.

The electric power source loop in the thermal management system comprises at least three batteries. Each battery is thermally coupled in parallel with the other batteries. This parallel coupling ensures efficient heat distribution and management within the system.

Overall, this patented thermal management system for vehicles aims to optimize battery performance and temperature regulation. By pre-heating the batteries when the ambient temperature is low, the system ensures that the batteries are at an optimal temperature for operation. Additionally, the inclusion of an alternate cooling system helps dissipate excess heat generated during operation. This system can be particularly useful in electric vehicles, where efficient thermal management is crucial for battery performance and longevity.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.