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Cooling the Performance Model 3 On Track – An Overview of Our Modified Heat Exchangers

MasterC17

Active Member
Dec 3, 2015
1,113
1,808
USA
I wanted to provide everyone with an update on how things are coming along with solving the overheating issues with the Performance 3. In collaboration with Mountain Pass Performance, I am happy to report that we have had some breakthroughs with cooling the drivetrain.

To begin with, we replaced the powertrain coolant loop radiator with a unit that had approximately 6x the cooling capacity. In testing, we found that the drive unit inverter temperatures dropped significantly. Unfortunately, this did not have much of an effect on the time it took before current draw was limited.

IMG_20200831_224040 (1).jpg


Next, we fitted an oil cooler to the rear drive unit. Upon testing, we found that the rear drive unit inverter temperatures dropped even lower, the oil temperatures dropped significantly, and the rotor and stator temperatures also reacted positively. Further analysis has found no adverse effects during Supercharging, and everything operates normally until the fan on the oil cooler is turned on. On the LR RWD Model 3 this completely solved current limiting! On the Performance, we found that the Drive Unit was no longer overheating! However, this did not completely resolve the current draw being limited on the Performance.

20201029_200403.jpg


So, we fitted an oil cooler on the front drive unit as well. Testing was as expected, and the front drive unit responded in much the same way as the rear drive unit. Temperatures dropped in all regards, Supercharging speed was not affected, and the powertrain was now operating at near-ideal temperatures even under sustained heavy load. Now that we knew the drive unit cooling was completely solved, we moved on to the next piece of the puzzle.

20201213_164322 (1).jpg


With the concern still present, we were finding a clear correlation between the battery hitting a certain temperature and the current draw being limited. What came next was the addition of a radiator on the high voltage battery loop. The results were very positive – the battery temperature dropped almost 10C over the same time period, and the coolant inlet temperatures were much easier to manage and to sustain at considerably lower temperatures. This improvement, along with the other modifications, does appear to yield about nearly a 50% increase of on-track time before current limiting comes into play.

20201219_201552 (1).jpg


That all being said, there is one more component we have identified as being the weak link in the system, and ultimately needs to be resolved before we can conclude that the concern is fully eliminated. We kept this for last, as it will be the most difficult problem to overcome. On the bright side, we are already working on a solution and are confident that it can be fixed. Stay tuned for more information, as we should have this problem ironed out soon, so that you all can keep turning fast laps for the full session – not just part of it!

P.S. Please note some of the modifications pictured are purely prototypes for testing and are not indicative of the final product.
 

MasterC17

Active Member
Dec 3, 2015
1,113
1,808
USA
im curious who is "our" in your post. Are you a part of MPP or just working with them in an advisory capacity or something?

To be clear, I am not working for/part of MPP. We exchange information and ideas in an effort to provide the community with the best solution(s). Sasha at MPP is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to everything EV's, and he has been an excellent resource to work with. He is one of very few people I have met who have a true understanding of the high voltage architecture, and not just a broad overview. Check out his Hybrid 350Z build, it's very impressive. He is the reason I decided to work with MPP and not a different company. I am not being paid to do anything, I am just putting my best effort in to help accelerate the transition to EV's, and I think that resolving issues like the cooling one is key to getting more people into EV's on the track. I am very lucky to have the training, tooling, funds, time, and an understanding wife to allow me to mess with the car in the capacity that I have. Sharing the progress we have made is very exciting to me!
 

TwoK4drSi

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
1,067
823
DFW
To be clear, I am not working for/part of MPP. We exchange information and ideas in an effort to provide the community with the best solution(s). Sasha at MPP is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to everything EV's, and he has been an excellent resource to work with. He is one of very few people I have met who have a true understanding of the high voltage architecture, and not just a broad overview. Check out his Hybrid 350Z build, it's very impressive. He is the reason I decided to work with MPP and not a different company. I am not being paid to do anything, I am just putting my best effort in to help accelerate the transition to EV's, and I think that resolving issues like the cooling one is key to getting more people into EV's on the track. I am very lucky to have the training, tooling, funds, time, and an understanding wife to allow me to mess with the car in the capacity that I have. Sharing the progress we have made is very exciting to me!
Thanks for the detailed writeup! At least this lets me dream of deep pockets and live vicariously through your posts. You are a lucky man with a tolerable wife.
 
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Lucky13

Member
Apr 19, 2018
330
206
San Mateo, CA
After you fix the last cooling problem, the next problem will be charging quickly enough to come back out for another session in time. So exciting to see what you guys have going on though.
 

MasterC17

Active Member
Dec 3, 2015
1,113
1,808
USA
After you fix the last cooling problem, the next problem will be charging quickly enough to come back out for another session in time. So exciting to see what you guys have going on though.

I am really hoping more tracks open their eyes and start installing DC Fast Chargers at the track. I would be happy to pay 25c/kWh for DC Charging. Tesla should really release a DC Combo/CCS Adapter.
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
15,324
33,239
Oregon
That all being said, there is one more component we have identified as being the weak link in the system, and ultimately needs to be resolved before we can conclude that the concern is fully eliminated. We kept this for last, as it will be the most difficult problem to overcome. On the bright side, we are already working on a solution and are confident that it can be fixed.

What is the last component that is an issue?
 
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TwoK4drSi

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
1,067
823
DFW
I am really hoping more tracks open their eyes and start installing DC Fast Chargers at the track. I would be happy to pay 25c/kWh for DC Charging. Tesla should really release a DC Combo/CCS Adapter.
This might be a dumb question but since you own a new performance and old performance...would you think the heat pump would / could play a role into the cooling if aftermarket solutions were made. If it does contribute would you think it hinders or helps the solution. I’d imagine you would be taking 2 cars to VIR and comparing them side by side between old and new.
 

AdamMacDon

Member
May 8, 2019
711
511
Victoria BC
This is a very cool upgrade, I am following the progress for sure. If the heat issues can be resolved, and level 3 charging is at the track, you could theoretically go all day with this setup and some good brakes.
 

MarcG

Active Member
Oct 29, 2014
2,979
1,811
San Francisco
Subscribed! Do you have an idea of MPP’s estimate for bringing a final product to market? (hoping it’ll be before my S Plaid is delivered, which I realize is likely to be 2022 given Elon time..)
 

Mash

Supporting Member
Nov 10, 2019
884
671
Prague
I am really hoping more tracks open their eyes and start installing DC Fast Chargers at the track. I would be happy to pay 25c/kWh for DC Charging. Tesla should really release a DC Combo/CCS Adapter.
I think Tesla is capable to install superchargers closer to tracks like they done at the Ring.
 

MasterC17

Active Member
Dec 3, 2015
1,113
1,808
USA
I think Tesla is capable to install superchargers closer to tracks like they done at the Ring.

I would absolutely love that, but I don't think they've put Superchargers anywhere else super close to a track so I don't think it is too high up on the list of things to do. Hopefully that changes in the next few years.

Subscribed! Do you have an idea of MPP’s estimate for bringing a final product to market? (hoping it’ll be before my S Plaid is delivered, which I realize is likely to be 2022 given Elon time..)

@MountainPass - I'm not sure but I think MPP could give you a rough idea.

Would the Model 3 performance brake fluid benefit from larger lines, and/or cooling?

The brake fluid temperatures are more of a brake pad problem then a fluid problem. That has been well sorted out at this point. Track pads on the rear and a BBK on the front with some DOT4 high-temp brake fluid solves the problem 100%. Larger lines or cooling would not help.

This is a very cool upgrade, I am following the progress for sure. If the heat issues can be resolved, and level 3 charging is at the track, you could theoretically go all day with this setup and some good brakes.

That's the goal - I am hoping we can get the Model 3 on-par with ICE vehicles in that regard. The #1 thing I hear from people is that they won't buy an EV because of the longevity (cooling and charging) concerns. Which, to be fair, are valid right now.

This might be a dumb question but since you own a new performance and old performance...would you think the heat pump would / could play a role into the cooling if aftermarket solutions were made. If it does contribute would you think it hinders or helps the solution. I’d imagine you would be taking 2 cars to VIR and comparing them side by side between old and new.

I am very curious to see how this pans out, and I'll be testing both cars in March. In theory, the heat pump cars cooling is worse, because you now only have 1 heat exchanger as opposed to 2 on the old setup. However, it looks like the A/C Compressor on the heat pump has a higher capacity, so it's really difficult to say. I've become intimately familiar with the cooling system on the older setup, so I'll need to spend more time with this new heat pump setup to say for sure. I can tell you it is completely different, almost nothing translates over.

What is the last component that is an issue?

I know this sounds a little silly, but I've invested considerable resources and time into figuring this out so I would rather not say until we have the solution implemented, tested, working, and ready for distribution. Let's just say I've been working on this for a solid six months now.
 

Dolemite

is my name
Sep 19, 2019
1,136
1,366
ol' Virginny
Noice. Thankful for the pioneers out there pushing the boundaries and addressing the shortcomings.

Further analysis has found no adverse effects during Supercharging, and everything operates normally until the fan on the oil cooler is turned on.
Could you please elaborate on this? What adverse effects were you anticipating? I imagine you’re referring to the stalling en route the supercharger to heat the DUs and consequently the battery?

Also is the oil cooler fan controlled with a switch sort of on-demand, automatically, or how does that work?

Last question... there’s a passive element to all of these solutions as far as I can tell. Meaning that whether you like it or not, things will run cooler, all the time. Have you noticed any adverse impacts resulting from this during winter driving? Like taking longer to heat up, not heating up at all during normal driving, etc? Or am I talking out of my ass.
 

Dave EV

Active Member
Jun 23, 2009
1,693
1,125
San Diego
I am really hoping more tracks open their eyes and start installing DC Fast Chargers at the track. I would be happy to pay 25c/kWh for DC Charging. Tesla should really release a DC Combo/CCS Adapter.
That's less than what Tesla charges here in California for most if not all Superchargers. I'd happily pay quite a bit more to have a Supercharger at the track - it's not used much and is invaluable when needed. Often if there's a gas station near the track, it's also pretty expensive, too.
 

MasterC17

Active Member
Dec 3, 2015
1,113
1,808
USA
Do these modifications effect the warranty on the motors or battery pack

Per Tesla's warranty it would be up to them to prove that the modifications caused a failure with the drive unit or the battery. Therefore, they should not affect the warranty as nothing the coolers are doing should have an adverse affect on their life/durability.

Noice. Thankful for the pioneers out there pushing the boundaries and addressing the shortcomings.

Could you please elaborate on this? What adverse effects were you anticipating? I imagine you’re referring to the stalling en route the supercharger to heat the DUs and consequently the battery?

Also is the oil cooler fan controlled with a switch sort of on-demand, automatically, or how does that work?

Last question... there’s a passive element to all of these solutions as far as I can tell. Meaning that whether you like it or not, things will run cooler, all the time. Have you noticed any adverse impacts resulting from this during winter driving? Like taking longer to heat up, not heating up at all during normal driving, etc? Or am I talking out of my ass.

The concern was as you stated the drive units/battery being TOO cool/not able to get up to temperature. In testing, not finding that to be a problem!

Right now I have the fans manually controlled with switches, but we're working on a solid state relay that could be controlled with a much simpler solution from the interior of the car.

I let the car cold-soak outside last night, it was below freezing all night and when I drove it this morning it was 29F. Over the course of a 35 minute drive temps on the DU's and battery came up close to operating temperature, but didn't quite get there. I can download the data from the MoTeC one evening to share.

@MasterC17 Big props to you for all your contribution to this community.

Thanks! :)

That's less than what Tesla charges here in California for most if not all Superchargers. I'd happily pay quite a bit more to have a Supercharger at the track - it's not used much and is invaluable when needed. Often if there's a gas station near the track, it's also pretty expensive, too.

Very true, Watkins Glen charged double for their pump what the gas station 2 miles down the road charged. Rates in CA are expensive!
 
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