Posts Tagged ‘efficiency’

Self-Charging Cars

Back in 2010, Toyota developed a solar power system for the roofs of their Prius hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs). The goal behind the initiative for Toyota was to see if a vehicle’s rooftop would provide enough solar power to charge the vehicle’s battery, providing drivers a few extra miles before the next charging session. According to Toyota, it was the company’s first steps towards producing a self-charging car. But the solar cells implemented into Toyota’s photovoltaic system provided just enough power to run auxiliary devices such as the power steering pump, ventilation fan, and air-conditioning compressor. This was due to the fact that the solar cells generated a capacity of only 50 watts.

Compare this with the design of the Lightyear One created by a startup company based in the Netherlands. Total peak output is 1.25kW which is enough power to provide anywhere between 20 – 45 miles of average range per day, according to Lightyear. Lowie Vermeersch created the design of the Lightyear One and an engineering firm based in Germany – Aachen – helped develop its integral 60-kWh battery system. The strategy, according to Lightyear’s chief technology officer, Arjo van der Ham, was their clean-sheet, systems-engineered approach.  This meant a propulsion motor at each wheel, lightweight materials, advanced aerodynamics, and enough sky-facing surface area to host about 1,000 photovoltaic cells. As Eric Wesoff of PV Magazine points out, the challenge to accomplishing the goals of aerodynamic efficiency and solar power efficiency lies in the design. He explains that you want a car that can both charge itself, which would require a broad area for the PV cells, yet remain aerodynamically efficient, which would require a narrow body design.

This is where Lightyear stayed true to its systems approach and the company believes it addressed this challenge in competing design goals. Lightyear believes it has met the challenge by integrating the motors with the suspension via a propulsion motor in each wheel and by making adjustments to the battery size. Lightyear also believes that they have now provided a solid architecture that other companies will use in the future as they push towards self-charging cars.

Taken from: www.sae.org

AI in your EV

Tim Sherstyuk embarked on an ambitious journey towards understanding and improving the efficiency of EV batteries. The idea initially came to him when he was a college student studying chemistry at Carleton University. He wanted to investigate why cell phone batteries die quicker than batteries operating other devices. He and his father, who is an electrical engineer, put their heads together to research why batteries die out and if there is a way to prolong the lifetime of batteries.

One hypothesis is that “pulse” charging can accomplish exactly this. The traditional method of charging – the constant-current method – inflicts a lot of damage and wear on batteries. The hope is that pulse charging will alleviate some of that wear on batteries while they charge.

The Use of AI

The Sherstyuk team incorporates the use of artificial intelligence in their studies of pulse recharging on batteries. They rely on AI because it offers much-needed insight that accelerates the feedback loop during experiments. In fact, other companies have taken advantage of AI, one of which is the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). They implemented AI into their tests and research on batteries and now assert that AI accelerates the progress of research and discovery. They currently use it to run 400 different battery tests and experiments at the same time which would be impossible through traditional channels. In their words, “AI accelerates R&D cycles.”

For the Sherstyuks, the goal is to improve the method of battery charging so that the battery itself lasts longer. Reducing impedance and the damage incurred from charging quickly are examples of what Sherstyuk aims to eliminate during the charging process. Fast charging raises the temperature of the battery which can lead to heightened cell degradation and potentially cause the battery to swell. The Sherstyuks conducted testing by using an adapter-like device that could potentially be built into the charging connector. AI provides real-time measurements during the charging process that helps Sherstyuk determine how much energy needs to go into the battery pack. After seven years of testing, the Sherstyuks see positive results. Though pulse charging is not new, the use of AI provides real-time feedback and data that was previously lacking. Sherstyuk’s hope is to fine tune pulse charging so that the lifetime of EV batteries is prolonged. This would have many benefits, according to Sherstyuk, including environmental benefits as longer battery life would lead to less battery waste.

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