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Systems Seminar/Ezra's Round Table: Christopher Rahn (Penn State) - Battery Systems Engineering: Enabling Mobility and Independence from the Grid

Friday, December 1, 2017 at 12:15pm

Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 253

Batteries enable mobile and un-plugged electronics with applications ranging from cell phones to solar homes. For example, batteries are being widely adopted to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs). Cost and life of the energy storage system, however, are concerns that limit the desirability of battery powered devices. The dynamic operation of an HEV requires fast and high current energy storage associated with acceleration and braking of the vehicle. This rapid charge/discharge cycling of the battery pack motivates the development of sophisticated battery management systems that regulate the current in and out of the pack in real-time. An effective battery management system sets the current limits low enough to maximize the battery life and ensure safety but high enough to maximize power output. This seminar introduces the chemistry, dynamic modeling, and controls associated with the emerging field of battery systems engineering. The governing partial differential equations are derived, simplified, discretized, and reduced in order to develop efficient and accurate models that include important aging and thermal effects. Model-based state of charge and state of health algorithms are derived that predict the remaining charge and capacity evolution of a battery pack, respectively. Dynamic current limiters and thermal management algorithms are shown to maximize power and minimize degradation. New research directions in heterogeneous and multifunctional battery systems are described.


Christopher D. Rahn graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1985 and an M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986. After three years as a Research and Development Engineer at Ford Aerospace, he returned to Berkeley to pursue a Ph.D. After graduating from Berkeley in 1992, Dr. Rahn joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. In 2000, he moved to the Pennsylvania State University where he is now a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director of the Mechatronics Research Laboratory, and Co-Director of the Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center. Dr. Rahn’s research work on the modeling, analysis, design, and control of mechatronic systems has resulted in three books (including Battery Systems Engineering published in 2013), over 200 peer reviewed publications, and several patents. An ASME Fellow, Dr. Rahn served as an Associate Editor of two ASME journals and chaired an ASME technical committee and the executive committee of the ASME Design Engineering Division.

Event Type



College of Engineering, Systems Engineering, Engineering, Sustainability


engineering, systems engineering, College of Engineering





Christopher D. Rahn

Speaker Affiliation

Department of Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

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