Electrical grade aluminum busbar material also known as ec grade aluminum busbar. Compared to copper busbars aluminium offers a weight and cost save, but requires an increase in cross-sectional area of ~62%. Hence aluminium busbars need more volume for packaging.
The common grades of aluminum for electrical busbars:
- Good corrosion resistance.
- High electrical conductivity
- Typically formed by extrusion or rolling.
- Good workability.
- Low strength.
- Minimum of 99.0% aluminium.
- Highest mechanical strength of 1000 series.
- Excellent forming properties, especially in the fully soft, annealed temper.
- Good thermal conductivity, hence often used in heat exchangers and heat sinks.
- Used as a battery busbar material.
- Nearly pure aluminium with minimum weight percentage of 99.5% of aluminium.
- Very good electrical conductivity.
- Very good thermal conductivity.
- Excellent corrosion resistance.
- Tight controls are used on certain impurities that could adversely affect conductivity.
- Low mechanical strength.
- Non-heat treatable
- magnesium and silicon as the alloying elements
- good mechanical properties
- heat treatable
- good electrical conductivity
- good bending properties
- Contains magnesium and silicon for high mechanical strength without significant reduction in conductivity.
- Higher yield strength than 1350
- Better creep resistance than 1350
This depends on the current, electrical conductivity, maximum temperature and thermal environment that the busbar is in.
If you are replacing a copper busbar with an aluminium design you will need to increase the cross-sectional area by 62%.
Within the design you will need to consider the temperature swings and hence the expansion and contraction of any busbar so that you can look at loading and clearances.
In bolted joints thermal cycling of the busbar can lead to relaxation of the bolt force. Dagur Ólafsson et al  measured the bolted force relaxation for a copper and aluminium busbar that started with a pre-load of 40kN.
The clamping force relaxes at a higher rate for AA6101-T4 than for Cu-OF-04. From the original 40 kN, the clamping force in the Al lowers to 25.2 kN after 881 cycles while the force on the Cu lowers to 32.9 kN after 1236 cycles.Ólafsson, D., Vilaça, P. & Vesanko, J. Multiphysical characterization of FSW of aluminum electrical busbars with copper ends. Weld World 64, 59–71 (2020)
The image below shows this in more detail.
One option is to use copper ends on the aluminium busbar.
The minimum bend radius is a function of aluminium grade and material thickness.
|Aluminium Grade||Minimum Bend Radius [mm]|
|6101||1x thickness (up to 12mm)|
2x thickness (>12mm)
These are often plated or selectively plated at joint locations to reduce corrosion. Typically aluminium is plated with:
Insulation is normally applied as:
- Heat Shrink
- Powder Coat
- Busbar Design Guide, Mersen
- Ólafsson, D., Vilaça, P. & Vesanko, J. Multiphysical characterization of FSW of aluminum electrical busbars with copper ends. Weld World 64, 59–71 (2020)
Aluminium Busbar Products
The highest conductivity is achieved by high purity aluminium (purity of 99.9 wt% Al and higher) in soft temper. Nevertheless, high purity alloys are not commonly used in volume application due to cost and volume constraints. Instead of this, commercially pure aluminium products of 1xxx series, with minor levels of impurities and alloying elements (< 99.9 wt% Al), are rather typical for conductors as they balance cost, availability, and high electrical conductivity.
2022 Tesla Model Y 4680
The aluminium module P-group busbars are plated on the underside. This will be to reduce corrosion and improve the weld to the top of the cells.
4 thoughts on “Aluminium Busbar”
Hello, I am interested in the performance of aluminium vs copper HV EV busbars.
in simple terms the aluminium busbar needs to have an increased cross-sectional area, 62% greater. However, other issues are the increased expansion and hence relaxation in bolted joints is greater. There are options / trades that we could make.
I found a study where adding small holes next to the clearance hole of the busbar in X and Y axis helps to slow down the initial force relaxation and hence the residual load is higher than a conventional single clearance hole in busbar terminals.
Now, good luck to manufacture that and justify the cost to the business…
Surface hardening, nickel plating and temperature control below 125 degC or welding a copper terminal will always be a better shot in my opinion
Hi Pablo, do you have a reference for the paper? Would be good to see this. Best regards, Nigel