Friday, September 3, 2010

"Smarter" more efficient electric cars

Originally posted 7 Jan 2010:

If you have any interest at all in EV's then you need to watch this video!

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute professor Illah Nourbakhsh presents
the CREATE Lab project ChargeCar, a community approach to electric cars.

The lecture is part of the Sustainability and Computer Science... Seminar,
a forum for discussion of ways in which computer science can and will
contribute to sustainability, energy, and the environment, and to
foster greater consciousness, conversation, and collaboration in this
In a nutshell, their research (which is continuing) strongly points to using a combination of a relatively small supercapacitor and a battery to power an EV, especially for one that will be used in urban or other high traffic, and/or hilly driving conditions.
Here's an article that talks about the research that Carnegie Mellon has started on this:
The researchers calculate that an intelligent electric car controller could recapture 48 percent of the energy during braking and that a supercapacitor could reduce 56 percent of the load on the batteries and reduce heating of the batteries — which shortens battery life — by 53 percent.
Directly related to this is something called "split-pi" which lets you use the supercaps with batteries that run at a higher voltage.

Apparently, high voltage capacitors are very expensive, and unless you use low voltage batteries and drive motors (and the associated heavy cabling), the cost becomes prohibitive. So, if you can raise the voltage using the split-pi power converter -- which is 2-way, then you can use higher voltage batteries and motor, and use smaller gauge cabling, too.

Here's a video demonstration of the split-pi -- it is software controlled, and can double the DC voltage in one direction, and in the other direction, it can cut it by up to half.

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