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Automotive EMC Analysis Using the Hybrid Finite

Element Boundary Integral Approach

J.F. Mologni #1, M. Kopp #, C.L.R. Siqueira#, A. Colin*2 and A. Nogueira*

Electronic Design Automation Department, ESSS / ANSYS

423 Rocio Street, Office 1001, So Paulo, Brazil


Electromagnetic Compatibility Department, FIAT

3455 Contorno Avenue, Betim, Brazil


AbstractThe majority of innovative trends in automotive

industry today relies on electronic systems. Understanding the
electromagnetic behavior of the electronic control units (ECUs)
in a vehicle has become an ever increasing concern of automotive
manufacturers. Computational Electromagnetic Modeling
(CEM) is a cost effective approach that has being adopted by the
automotive industry to address electromagnetic compatibility
(EMC) problems. Automotive structures are electrically large in
nature and the systems required for a complete EMC analysis
can be fairly complex. For this reason, there is no single
numerical technique that can be used to address all automotive
EMC problems. This paper shows how the automotive standard
ISO11452-2 can be solved using the hybrid Finite Element
Boundary Integral (FEBI) approach. A comparative study
indicates that FEBI is faster and requires less computational
effort than the Finite Element Method (FEM) for this particular
analysis. Recent technology advances on FEBI are also presented
showing the great potential of this technique to address
automotive EMC problems.

Automotive EMC studies are of great concern today due to
the widespread use of electronics and wireless technologies
that can lead to electromagnetic interference (EMI), affecting
the performance of the automotive electronic systems. Several
EMI issues were already reported on automotive and
aerospace industry [1-6], and the use of wireless devices, such
as cell phones, ground positioning systems (GPS) and
Bluetooth devices, which are brought into the vehicles,
increases this concern. There are EMC automotive standards
aiming to reduce the potential EMI in vehicles. One of the
most important standards in automotive is the ISO 11451-2,
which is applied to road vehicles and describes a vehicle test
method for electrical disturbances from narrowband radiated
electromagnetic energy. The test determines the immunity of
passenger cars and commercial vehicles to electrical
disturbances from off-vehicle radiation sources, regardless of
the vehicle propulsion system [7]. The test should be
performed in an absorber-lined shielded enclosure, aiming to
create an indoor electromagnetic compatibility testing facility
that simulates open field testing. Typically, the floor is not
covered with absorbing material, but such covering is allowed.
An example of a rectangular shielded enclosure is shown in
Fig. 1.

Fig. 1. ISO 11451-2 test apparatus; adapted from [7]. The equipments shown
are 1) absorber-lined shielded enclosure; 2) RF absorber material; 3) vehicle
dynamometer on turntable; 4) antenna; 5) amplifier room; 6) control room.

This experiment is very time consuming and requires a

physical prototype of the vehicle. Hence, numerical
simulation becomes a very attractive approach.
A complete electromagnetic numerical simulation of a
model representing ISO 11451-2 was only possible using the
FEM due to the introduction of domain decomposition method
(DDM), which became commercially available in ANSYS
HFSS [8] in 2009. DDM increases simulation capacity by
parallelizing the entire computational domain into sub
domains that are solved on different cores or computers
connected to a network [9-15]. FEM models require a mesh to
be created on air region, increasing the size of the problem.
The air region can be removed from the simulation through
the use of the Method of Moments (MoM) technique. The
MoM is a numerical approach that uses the Greens function
considering Sommerfelds radiation condition at infinity and
no air region needs to be modelled [16-17]. On the other hand,
the MoM is not very efficient when modelling non conductive
materials [16], which are very often used in vehicles. In order
to overcome this issue, the hybrid finite element boundary
integral technique was developed. FEBI is a numerical
method that uses the MoM solution as a truncation boundary
for the FEM solution and hence combines the best of FEM
and MoM methods increasing the simulation speed and
reducing computational effort [18-19]. A full vehicle
simulation according to ISO 11451-2 standard using the FEBI

technique is presented detailing the EMI on electronic

embedded subsystems. The results are compared to a FEM
simulation in order to demonstrate the accuracy of the results
using FEBI.
A. Finite Element Method
The FEM subdivides a 3D model into a finite number of
smaller subsections called elements. The elements can be of
any shape, but tetrahedra usually conforms better to arbitrary
geometries [20], and for that reason is the element shape used
by HFSS. The whole group of elements is named the mesh. A
solution is found for the fields within the finite elements, and
these fields are interrelated so that Maxwells equations are
satisfied over inter-element boundaries, yielding a field
solution for the original 3D model. Once the field solution has
been solved, the generalized scattering matrix (S-Matrix)
solution can be calculated. HFSS solves eq. 1, also known as
wave equation, for each element on the model [8]:
Em ( x, y )e m k 2 r Em ( x, y )e m = 0 (1)

Fig. 2. Full 3D FEM model showing a cross sectional electric field plot (a.u.)
in the air region and on the chassis of the vehicle at 1GHz. Antenna far field
pattern is also shown.

B. Method of Moments
The FEM solves partial ordinary equations and the MoM,
solves integral equation (IE). MoM models do not require an
air region to be modelled. The radiated electric field is
calculated from the induced surface current through eq. 3:

where k = /c is the wave number of free-space; c is the

speed of light; =2f is the angular frequency; r(x,y) is the
complex relative permeability and r(x,y) is the complex
relative permittivity. By solving eq.1, the electric field mode

pattern Em (x,y) and the propagation constant m are both E (r ) = j r G (r r ) J (r ) + 2 J (r ) dr (3)


calculated for all the modes specified. The magnetic field is

calculated according to eq. 2:
where J(r) is the unknown surface current density on the
surface S of the model (r S) and E(r) is the incident electric
Em ( x, y )
(2) field. Harmonic time dependence of the form j is
suppressed in frequency domain. One can eliminate the
Eq. 2 implies that HFSS solve equations in terms of electric dependence of E(r) by enforcing the boundary conditions on
and magnetic fields and not voltages and currents. FEM the tangential electric field leading to eq. 4:

requires an air box surrounding the geometries so eq. 1 and eq.

2 are used for radiation patterns calculation. The size of this
air box depends on the frequency and needs to be placed at
least /4 when using an absorbing boundary condition (ABC).
Fig. 2 shows the electric field distribution and the antenna
radiation far field pattern at 1GHz according to ISO 11451-2.
For simplification, the model in Fig. 1 only considers the
chassis, tire and glasses. All ECUs and wiring harness were
removed. A broad band horn antenna was used in this model.
The air region was modelled for the entire room including the
absorber elements on the side and top walls. The absorber
elements could be removed from the model by using
absorbing boundary conditions or a perfectly matched layer
(PML) applied to the outer faces of the air box. For this
particular simulation 78% of the total number of elements was
used to model the air.

n( r ) E ( r ) = n( r ) E ( r ) = 0


where n(r) is the outward unit normal from the surface S.

Rewriting the above equation in terms of the known incident
electric field E(r) yields:

k 2 J (r)G (r , r)
n ( r ) E ( r ) = n( r )

dr (5)
0 S S J (r)G (r , r)

Eq. 5 is known as the electric field integral equation (EFIE)

for a perfectly conducting surface, where S is the surface
divergence [21]. Once solved for the unknown current J(r) the
radiated field on any spatial coordinate can be calculated
using Sommerfelds radiation condition at infinity.

Fig. 4. Reflection Coefficient of the broadband horn antenna.

Fig. 3. Comparison between FEM, IE and FEBI models.


C. Finite Element Boundary Integral

FEM is a general purpose numerical technique that solves
for volumetric electric. The air region surrounding the model
must be included and terminated with an ABC. MoM solves
directly for currents on object surfaces not requiring a
surrounding air volume. To take advantage of both MoM and
FEM, FEBI was developed. Fig. 3 shows the model of the
broadband antenna used in our simulations for these three
different methods. The air box in FEBI is very conformal to
the geometry and its offset distance to the antenna itself can
be as close as possible, being only limited by numerical errors.
Therefore, the air region is dramatically reduced which leads
to a faster solution. All three numerical techniques in HFSS
use the adaptive mesh algorithm that yields very accurate
results. The accuracy can also be observed in Fig. 4 where the
reflection coefficient of the antenna models for FEM, MoM
and FEBI shows virtually no difference. The inset in Fig. 4
shows the far field pattern of the antenna, which is also the
same for the three mathematical procedures.
The FEBI solver used in HFSS considers two different
domains for a single problem. It starts by partitioning the
original problem domain into two non-overlapping subdomains 1 and 2, as shown in Fig. 5 [18].

I , I


where AFE and ABI represent
the system matrices of FEM and

boundary integral (BI) domains, respectively, and C is the

coupling matrix between them. The coupling is calculated
based only on the electric and magnetic currents at the
interface; hence, it is extremely sparse. The solution of eq. 7 is
accomplished iteratively via splitting:

= T



n 1


where n is the total number of domains. Simplifying eq. 8

results on eq. 9:



n 1


The advantages of using DDM are apparent from (9). Both

FEM and BI domains are decoupled so parallelization
becomes trivial. The above mathematical procedure shows
that BI can be used as an exact termination condition in FEM.


i =1, 2

The interface between 1 and 2 is denoted as 1 in the

FEM domain and 2 in the IE domain. This distinction is
required because the present formulation allows non
conformal coupling between two domains. This means that
the mesh, the basis function and basis order, the matrix
assembling and solution process can be treated independently
for each domain. The ability to handle different basis orders in
a modular approach for each domain is crucial for a robust
FEBI solver because higher order IE solvers are still in
development [18]. Based on DDM, the final system matrix
can be written as:

Fig. 5. Domain decomposition of the full model into FEM and IE domains.


Fig. 6. Electric field plot (a.u.) for FEM and FEBI models at 1GHz.

Due to the implementations modularity, state-of-the-art

FEM and IE solvers are easily employed in a hybrid way.
Another great advantage of FEBI is that different domains can
be simulated in different computers using DDM. Moreover, if
the dimension of one of the domains is electrically large,
DDM technique can be employed once again to solve the
FEM domain.
In order to demonstrate the benefits of FEBI, the same
simulation of Fig. 2 using FEM was duplicated and solved
with FEBI. The air box that comprises the whole model when
using FEM was replaced by two air box very conformal
whose surfaces are now extremely close to the antenna and the
vehicle. The absorber elements are not modelled in this
simulation and they were replaced by a PML in FEM and the
BI boundary in FEBI The electric field distribution plot is
shown for the entire domain in Fig. 6 for both FEM and FEBI.
As observed, the size of the air box when using FEBI is
extremely smaller which leads to a faster simulation. The total
solving time was 310 minutes for FEM and 28 minutes for

Fig. 7. Antenna Far Field pattern at =90o comprising the whole model.

Fig. 8. Electric field plot on the wiring harness (a.u.) at 4GHz. a) Details of the
routing from the engine to the PCB and b) the wiring harness attachment to the
PCB on the red four-way connector.

FEBI. The total amount of RAM required for FEM and FEBI
was 75 GB and 6.8 GB, respectively. So both solving time and
computational effort were reduced by over 10 times just by
using FEBI instead of FEM. The accuracy of the results can
be observed in Fig. 6 where the electric field on the surface of
the vehicle is very similar. Fig. 7 shows the far field pattern of
the antenna including the whole mode, indicating a very good
agreement as well.
Since FEBI uses only a moderate amount of RAM, the
complexity of the model can be increased so additional ECUs
and wiring harnesses can be added to model. A radiated
immunity analysis according to ISO 11451-2 is then
performed on a wiring harness that sends on board diagnostics
(OBD) data from the engine to an ECU. Fig. 8a shows the
routing of the wiring harness that connects the engine to the
ECU. The wiring harness end is attached to the red four-way
connector shown in Fig 8b. The pin on the connector that is
attached to the wiring harness is soldered to a trace that is
connected to a microcontroller.
Because conductors with any given length can act as a
radiation source, the wiring harness plays a vital role in EMI.
To better understand the effect of the wiring harness, two
simulations were performed. The first simulation contains all
the above mentioned geometry as well as the car and source
antenna. The OBD signal is applied at the engine end of the
wiring harness. For the second simulation the wiring harness
is removed and the OBD signal is applied directly into the

Fig. 10. 3D Model showing the chassis as an IE Region.




Fig. 9. Eye diagrams of the OBD signal at the microcontroller with the antenna
radiating at 145MHz: a) with wiring harness and b) without wiring harness.

four way connector on the ECU. For both simulations the

antenna excitation was set to a constant 150V sinusoidal
signal with a frequency sweep varying from 10 to 500MHz.
Fig 9 shows the eye diagram of the OBD signal at the
microcontroller when the antenna radiates at 145MHz. The
EMI is most pronounced when the ECU is connected to the
wiring harness, which works as a receiving antenna at
145MHz. The interference causes distortion to the OBD signal,
and as a consequence the eye height decreases when
compared to the case without wiring harness, as observed on
Fig. 9a and 9b. This is undesirable effect that could lead to
signal integrity problems.

Regular FEBI approach needs an air volume enclosing all

objects of the model, as shown in Fig. 6. Recent advances in
FEM-IE solvers permit to directly solve conducting objects
with an IE solution applied to the surface without the need of
an air region around the object. The example of Fig. 10
shows that the antenna and the motor objects are enclosed by
a yellow air region and they are solved using the FEM solver.
The red chassis is an IE Region, and it is solved directly using
IE formulation, which includes the coupling between all
domains through radiated near and far fields via boundary
integral. This advancement improves even more simulation
time and computational effort.
The two FEM domains and the IE region in Fig. 10 are
physically separated as the coupling using IE formulation is
done through radiated fields. Todays state of the art hybrid
FEM-IE solvers allows IE Regions to be in physical contact
with FEM domains, so the coupling is also made through
conductors. Fig. 11a shows an automotive example of this
application where a door is an IE Region that has a part inside
the FEM domain, enclosed by a yellow air region, and a part
on the exterior of the FEM domain. The complex geometries
(the speaker, twisted pair cable, grommets and connectors) are
solved using the FEM as well as a part of the door. The door
on the outside of the FEM domain is solved using the IE
solver and the coupling between the FEM and IE domains is
made, in this case, through a single conductor which is the
metallic door. The resulted current density is shown in Fig.
11b, where a smooth plot is observed even in the borders
where FEM and IE are connected.
With the introduction of the hybrid solver FEBI that
presents an order of magnitude improvement in simulation
speed and reduction in computational effort, simulation of a
full vehicle according to EMC standards is feasible. A
passenger vehicle was virtually tested under ISO 14451-2
standard showing the EMI from a broadband horn antenna in a
digital OBD digital line for two cases: when an ECU that
reads the OBD data inside the vehicle is connected to the
engine wiring harness and when the same ECU is simulated
unconnected to the wiring harness. An undesirable distortion
on the OBD signal was observed when the antenna radiates at
145MHz and the ECU is connected to the wiring harness. This


Fig. 11. a) 3D model comprising a door as IE Region with part inside the FEM
domain and b) current density (a.u.) at 1GHz on the surface of all solids.

was due to the fact that the wiring harness was acting as an
antenna for this particular frequency due to its physical length.
Recent advances on hybrid FEM-IE solvers were also
addressed. Todays state of the art technology includes the
coupling between FEM and IE domains through radiated near
and far fields and conductors, where the two domains can be
in physical contact.
The importance of electromagnetic numerical simulation
implies not only on cost reduction and lowering time to
market, but also on the safety of vehicles and passengers that
are relying to a greater extent on electronic systems.

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