EMI in Automotive Systems

automotive_emiOne aspect of the automotive engineering that is recently being mentioned often is the concern of electromagnetic interference (EMI). With the increased utilization of electronic systems, EMI is becoming a more important aspect of vehicle design. Automotive engineers are targeting increased reliability which means designing properly for the intended environment. Other environmental issues include extreme temperatures, vibration, shock, humidity, salt-fog, and corrosive solvents/atmosphere.

Electromagnetic noise emission and immunity issues can range from simple annoyance such as static noise in radio reception to as severe as the loss of anti-skid braking capability. EMI is generated by each system and can cause disruption to the operation of nearby or other interconnected systems. The major source of most EMI is an embedded microprocessor and its digital circuitry with fast risetime signals. EMI levels as seen by closely spaced units (i.e., only centimeters apart) could be even higher than indicated by the measurement data. Therefore interconnecting cables, wires, and printed circuit boards could radiate frequencies that interfere with other components and at the same time be interfered with by adjacent components. However, just as big a concern is interference or immunity due to externally generated EMI such as cellphone towers or overhead high-voltage power lines. Another source of EMI is the vehicle’s electrical system — various relays, solenoids, ignition system, voltage sags from engine starting, inductive load kickbacks, and alternator load dump.

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