COMSOL Multiphysics for the Automotive Sector (Part 1)

COMSOL Multiphysics for the Automotive Sector

Explore COMSOL Multiphysics capabilities for simulating and analyzing complex multiphysics problems, including automotive acoustics, battery design, and electromagnetic compatibility of the vehicle.

  • 1822

To keep up with growing customer demand for the latest innovations, automotive manufacturers must continuously find new ways to reduce the length of the vehicle development cycle. Modeling and simulation provide an efficient and cost-effective way to conduct various research and development activities. Seeking innovation, automotive engineers can integrate modeling and simulation into their experimental research to complete virtual experiments and significantly decrease the number of physical prototypes. Such research leads to a deeper understanding of the vehicle component under scrutiny and creates a foundation for innovation.

COMSOL Multiphysics is a powerful software program for simulating and analyzing complex multiphysics problems, including automotive acoustics, battery design, electromagnetic compatibility, corrosion, suspension system, electric motor, gearbox, disc brake, and other components of the vehicle.

In the text that follows, we outline some of the potential benefits of using COMSOL Multiphysics when modeling and simulation automotive acoustics, battery design, and electromagnetic compatibility.


Engineers and researchers model and simulate automotive acoustics in order to analyze the noise and vibration levels in various parts of the vehicle, forecast factors such as the performance of a sound system, and evaluate the effectiveness of noise reduction measures.

COMSOL Multiphysics and its add-on Acoustics Module allow engineers to optimize car acoustics using virtual prototypes. The software can be used to model loudspeaker drivers and other acoustic devices, perform virtual measurements, visualize sound fields, and study various vehicle components affecting cabin acoustics, such as engines, exhaust systems, and sound insulation materials.

Some of  COMSOL Multiphysics’ key features for automotive acoustics include:

  •   Acoustic modeling: The Acoustics Module provides tools for the accurate modeling of applications such as speakers, microphones, sensors, sonar, flowmeters, and vehicle cabins.
  •   Vibration analysis: The Acoustics Module, combined with the Structural Mechanics Module, can also be used to analyze the vibration characteristics of different components in a vehicle, including engines, tires, and suspension systems. It can predict the natural frequencies and mode shapes of these components and evaluate their impact on the overall noise and vibration levels in the vehicle.
  •   Material modeling: The Acoustics Module provides a range of formulations, numerical methods, and material models for modeling poroelastic waves and simulating the acoustic behavior of various materials, such as metal, rubber, and plastics. The module also includes the finite element method (FEM), boundary element method (BEM), discontinuous Galerkin finite element method (dG-FEM), and ray tracing.
  •   Multiphysics simulation: Add-on modules directly integrated into the COMSOL Multiphysics platform allow engineers to couple acoustics with other physical effects, including structural mechanics, fluid flow, and piezoelectricity. This can be used to simulate the performance of a design in a setting that is as near to the real thing as possible.
  •   Aeroacoustics modeling: Linearized Navier-Stokes interfaces can help engineers create detailed models of the complex interaction of flow and acoustics. The software makes it possible to create accurate simulations of systems with acoustic properties that are modified or influenced by, or reliant on, a turbulent background flow, such as automotive exhaust systems.

Overall, COMSOL Multiphysics is a powerful tool for simulating and modeling the acoustic behavior of vehicles and their components and can help automakers optimize the design of vehicle acoustics systems early on in the development cycle.


Battery Design

Battery design is a complex process that involves many different physical phenomena, including heat transfer, electrochemistry, fluid flow, and mechanical stress. COMSOL Multiphysics and its add-on Battery Design Module allow automotive engineers to efficiently handle complex projects, such as battery design, within one software program, from the detailed structures in the battery’s porous electrode to the battery pack scale, including thermal management systems.

Starting from COMSOL version 6.1, engineers can use the new battery pack interface for a one-to-many approach to configure several lumped battery models and connect them in a 3D geometry. Moreover, the interface can be used together with a heat transfer interface to model thermal management and survey thermal runaway propagation challenges.

Some of COMSOL Multiphysics’ key features for battery design include:

  •   Microscale modeling of batteries: COMSOL Multiphysics can be used to model a battery at microscopic scale, including the detailed geometry of the porous structure and the pore electrolyte, physical properties, and chemistry. Microscale modeling can give engineers a deeper understanding of the basic mechanisms that determine battery life, absolute limits for performance, the impact of material and design parameters, electrochemical reactions and temperature distribution, risks for fatigue and failure, and more.
  •   Battery cell modeling: Modeling and simulation at this scale includes similar aspects to microscale modeling but for one or several battery cells. The battery design module features a state-of-the-art model of the battery unit cells with a negative electrode, separator, and positive electrode. Engineers can use this module to define competing reactions in an electrode and couple this to an electrolyte of any composition.
  •   Battery pack performance simulations: A battery pack may consist of hundreds of cells. COMSOL Multiphysics can be used to model the electrochemical behavior of each battery cell within a given battery pack with lumped 0D and 1D models. The 3D geometry of the battery module or pack can be used to simulate the behavior of the battery pack under various operating conditions, including temperature, voltage, and external current conduction systems. This can provide insights into the battery pack’s performance, including capacity, power output, and efficiency.
  •   Battery cooling systems simulations: COMSOL Multiphysics can be used to simulate the heat generation and heat transfer within a battery pack and the cooling system that controls temperature rises. This can help engineers optimize a cooling system, ensure the battery pack operates at a safe temperature, and extend the battery pack service life.
  •   Co-simulation: COMSOL Multiphysics co-simulation capabilities to simulate and optimize the performance of complex systems that involve multiple physical domains. The platform is scalable, and different simulation tools and models can be integrated into it to allow for a more comprehensive analysis of the behavior of automotive systems. The software’s ability to simulate coupled physics, such as fluid-structure interactions and thermal-electrical-mechanical coupling, makes it invaluable for designing and optimizing automotive components and systems, including powertrains, batteries, and fuel cells. In addition to its co-simulation capabilities, automotive engineers can export reduced-order state-space representations of COMSOL Multiphysics models, This models can be used together with MATLAB® in combination with either Simulink® or the Control System Toolbox™ to facilitate control design and simulation.


Overall, COMSOL Multiphysics offers automotive engineers and “original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs) a wide range of modeling and simulation capabilities to model various physical phenomena relevant to a vehicle’s battery performance.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)

As vehicles’ electronic systems become more advanced, power system engineers are confronted with new challenges and opportunities. For example, while numerous vehicle systems were hydraulic or mechanical in the past, they have been replaced by electromechanical designs, as in the case of parking brakes, power windows, drivetrains, and more. Additionally, electronically operated amenities such as touchscreens, wireless charging, tire pressure monitors, and other autonomous driving devices are being incorporated into vehicle design. It is crucial to evaluate all these components from the early stages of development in order to comply with various EMC regulations.

COMSOL Multiphysics is a powerful tool for EMC simulations, one which can support engineering decisions and optimizations over the course of the entire design process. Engineers can use the software and its add-on modules to include the components to be studied in a model and determine such quantities as magnetic field, electric field, induced currents, etc.

A common challenge for power system engineers working in the automotive sector is that many vehicle components are developed by OEMs who may not share such data as material properties, 3D CAD models, or excitations for IP aims. Engineers can utilize the COMSOL Multiphysics software to consider source reconstruction as a possible solution.


Corrosion is a common problem in the automotive industry, leading to safety concerns, maintenance costs, and reduced vehicle lifespan. In itself, corrosion is a complex process that includes various chemical and physical mechanisms, including electrochemistry, diffusion, and mass transfer, and modeling it accurately requires a multiphysics simulation approach.

The Corrosion Module in COMSOL Multiphysics provides engineers with a built-in interface for modeling and understanding all types of corrosion processes, including atmospheric, crevice, galvanic corrosion, and pitting, and designing optimized corrosion protection systems.

Some of the key features of COMSOL Multiphysics for corrosion are:

  •   Multiphysics approach: The corrosion module combined with other add-on products of COMSOL Multiphysics lets engineers couple different physical and chemical phenomena, such as heat transfer and structural mechanics, providing a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the corrosion process. With the help of the software, engineers can tackle problems such as oxide jacking in concrete, stress corrosion cracking, and more.
  •   Customizable models: The corrosion module provides a wide range of pre-built models and tools for modeling corrosion, including models for electrochemical reactions, ion transport, and surface layer formation. These models can be customized and adapted to project-specific systems.
  •   Microscale and macroscale modeling: The Corrosion Module provides specialized modeling functionality that can be used to predict the life-span of a protection system, impressed cathodic currents, stray currents, and the impacts of anode consumption.

Overall, COMSOL Multiphysics provides automotive engineers and OEMs with unique and valuable insights for designing more durable and reliable materials, optimizing product maintenance, and coming up with new repair strategies.

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