Electric Vehicle Technology in the IEEE -Dr. Russell Lefevre
One of the earliest gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles was developed by an important IEEE member, named Victor Wouk. He and his partners converted a Buick Skylark into a hybrid automobile that was shown in 1974. His primary motivation for pursuing hybrid technology was to reduce green house gas emissions, and the automobile was capable of obtaining 85 miles per gallon of gas. In that time frame, gas was inexpensive and emission controls weren’t a concern, and his funding eventually ran out. Wouk continued to promote hybrid vehicles throughout his illustrious career as an electrical engineer and entrepreneur, including the submission of many articles in IEEE conferences and IEEE Spectrum magazine. Victor Wouk is often referred to as “the Godfather of the hybrid car.”
Dr. Wouk’s vehicle is known as a forerunner to today’s hybrid plug-in electric vehicles, and he, along with many other IEEE members, have been involved from the beginning of electric vehicle development. The earliest related document in the IEEE Electronic Library (IEL) entitled “Petro-Electric Motor Vehicles” by JBG Damoiseau was written in 1913. The IEL itself holds an excess of 4000 articles related to Electric Vehicles and more than 1,800 articles on batteries for EVs.
Electric Vehicles Today
Many major automakers, including Toyota, Audi, BMW, Coda, Fisker, Ford, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Rolls Royce and Volvo, have recently announced that they will introduce electric vehicles in 2011. Although this indicates confidence that there will be demand for electric vehicles, and there are surveys supporting that confidence, there still remains skepticism as to whether the Obama Administration’s stated goal of 1,000,000 Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) by 2015 can be met.
One reason for this skepticism is the recognition that light cars and trucks tend to stay on the road for many years. As such, in order to achieve this lofty goal, there will likely have to be incentives to move to EVs or PHEVs more rapidly than has historically been possible. The Electrification Coalition, a consortium of 14 influential business leaders, released an Electrification Roadmap in November of 2009, setting a goal that 75 percent of light duty Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) by 2040 will be electric.
The Roadmap envisions a federal initiative to establish Electrification Ecosystems (EE) in several American cities – meaning cities or regions in which each of the elements necessary for the successful deployment of Grid Electric Vehicles (GEV) would be deployed simultaneously in high concentrations.
The Roadmap envisions the establishment of six to eight EEs for the deployment of 700,000 GEVs by 2013 using a combination of government subsidies for consumers and utilities, installation of a public charging network and other measures of support.
These ecosystems would allow participants to learn which business models work for supplying, selling, and servicing GEVs and help create economies of scale. The lessons learned would then be exported to other communities thus lowering the cost of deployment and accelerating national deployment rates.
The Roadmap was so influential that the US Congress took up its main recommendation in two bills. In the Senate, the bill was “Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010” S. 3511, which was passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources on July 21 by a vote of 19-4, indicating strong bipartisan support. Much of the bill language was then taken up by the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and introduced into the “Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010” S. 3663, the major energy bill currently under consideration by the Senate.
In the House of Representatives there is legislation similar to S. 3511, the “Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010”, H.R. 5442. This bill with bipartisan sponsorship has been referred to the appropriate committees.
From a global perspective, there are at least 18 countries including the European Union that are involved in Electric Vehicle development and expansion. For example, France has set a goal of 100,000 electric vehicles sold by 2012 and Spain has a goal of 1,000,000 by 2014. China has targeted electric vehicle manufacturing as a strategic industry, and many other countries have programs with varying degrees of focus.
As worldwide interest in deploying electric vehicles grows, IEEE has organized its intellectual property articles in journals and magazines and papers presented in our conferences – to better serve the electric vehicle community. This article is intended to identify areas of expertise that will move that process forward.
One of the most important technologies in the electric vehicle industry is the battery. Historically they have been large, heavy, and expensive, with limited lifespan. IEEE members have played a major part in their development, beginning as early as the 1900s. Ongoing battery technology advancements have subsequently reduced many of these problems.
In the 2010 Transactions on Vehicular Technology, A. Khaligh and Z. Li presented the State of the Art of electric vehicle storage systems. The paper entitled “Battery, Ultracapacitor, Fuel Cell, and Hybrid Energy Storage Systems for Electric, Hybrid Electric, Fuel Cell, and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles: State of the Art” addresses the battery situation but more importantly looks at the broader issue that encompasses the full energy storage system technology.
A report on the results of testing batteries for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory entitled “Evaluation of Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries for Electric Vehicles Application” by FP Tredeau, et al in the Proceedings of the Vehicle Power and Propulsion Conference 2009, discusses the testing of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries for Electric Vehicles. 160 batteries were extensively tested and evaluated. The results indicated that lithium polymer cells show very good performance and may become the preferred battery type as manufacturing improves.
Battery Management Systems (BMS) Although the battery itself is a dominant technology in EV deployment, BMS also has a major role. A BMS controls the charging and discharging of the battery while guaranteeing reliable and safe operation. One critical element in the design of the BMS is a model of the complicated hardware, software and algorithms that determine how the BMS operates. A new modeling approach can be seen in “Algorithms for Advanced Battery Management Systems,” by N.A. Chaturvedi, et al in the June 2010 IEEE Control Systems Magazine.
Electric vehicles put much greater demand on power electronics technology than conventional fossil fuel powered automobiles. In many cases (e.g., hybrid internal combustion/electric drive vehicles), optimized power electronics suites are essential. Significant advances in power electronics have helped reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of electric vehicles. “Power Electronics Intensive Solutions for Advanced Electric, Hybrid Electric, and Fuel Cell Vehicular Power Systems” by A. Emadi in May 2006 IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics shows how the integration of intensive power electronics solutions within advanced vehicular power systems achieves that goal.
Emadi’s assessment shows how the present automotive electric system is inadequate for the more electric environment of future systems due to expense and inefficiency. In more electric vehicles (MEV) there is a trend toward expanding electrical loads and replacement of mechanical and hydraulic systems with more electrical systems. The list of functions to be carried out and controlled by the power electronics system is very long. The MEVs will need highly reliable and fault-tolerant electrical systems to deliver high quality power from the source to the electrical loads. His paper notes that there remains significant room for improvement to reach an optimal design, and touches on advanced power electronic converters and motor drives as potential means of improvement.
Impact on the Grid
A very important consideration in the deployment of EVs is the impact on the current electrical grid and ultimately on the Smart Grid. IEEE has published papers addressing many elements of this issue including the requirement for new hardware and software by utilities and users, how time-of- use electricity rates affect consumer behavior, the impact on regional electricity supply in countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and other aspects of the problem. One very important issue is how the evolution of the current grid structure to the Smart Grid will enable solutions to potential problems.
Many of the studies addressing this issue have focused on specific areas of interest or concern. Since EVs and PHEVs are not yet in the fleet in large numbers, the studies are based on analyses and simulations using what is known about EVs and PHEVs and the capacity of the present grid as inputs and using the inputs and models to make projections of future capability to predict future situations. These are then used to help develop solutions that are robust and flexible enough to meet the projected influx of significant numbers of EVs and PHEVs.
An indication of the level of uncertainty of how the introduction of EVs and PHEVs will affect the grid is shown in “Speed Bumps Ahead for Electric- Vehicle Charging” by P. Fairley in the January 2010 IEEE Spectrum online. Important leaders in the utility industry demonstrated a concern that the present grid will show major problem areas that may not crash the grid but could cause local problems. Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to predict likely problem areas to help the utilities prepare for the future.
“Impacts of Plug-in Vehicles and Distributed Storage on Electric Power Delivery Networks” by P. Evans et al in the Proceedings of the Vehicle Power and Propulsion Conference 2009 reports on the results of a study funded by the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It is demonstrated that potential adverse impacts from charging batteries in PHEVs can have significant local effects. However the conclusion reached is that when such a situation is identified it can be readily managed.
A paper that presents the trends in analysis, design and evaluation of PHEVs in the future smart grid environment is “Challenges of PHEV Penetration to the Residential Distribution Network” by S. Shao et al in the Proceedings of the Power and Energy Society General Meeting 2009. Here the authors identify enabling technologies including bi-directional charging units and bi-directional meters, communication between the vehicle and the energy management center, intelligent on board power management unit and intelligent energy management center. These technologies are envisioned as an integral part of the smart grid.
As electric vehicles become widely deployed the concept of allowing plug-in vehicles to be capable of vehicle-to-grid operation where the power electronics allows for bi-directional capability becomes an important technology. That is, it must be capable of taking power during charging and providing power while discharging from and to the grid. There is a worthy summary of the technology and a brief note of the economic implications in “A Review of Plug-In Vehicles and Vehicle-to-Grid Capability” by B. Kramer, et al in the Proceedings Annual Conference of IEEE Industrial Electronics in 2008. The article is based on work at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The authors also note that wide spread use of V2G could be a significant enabling factor for increasing use of wind energy.
IEEE has had an emphasis on technology research, collaboration and advancements related to electric vehicles since the early 20th century, and its involvement to date still matches Victor Wouk’s original enthusiasm for the advancement of the electric vehicle. Many
IEEE members across the globe are at the forefront of research and development of the technologies mentioned above, while others are helping drive the manufacturing and delivery of technology for deployment, while still others are dedicated to ensuring interoperability standards. This article has provided a very abbreviated level description of the depth and breadth of the IEEE participation. Interested parties are encouraged to contact the author. (NOTE: David Goldstein, an IEEE member and President of the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington, DC, alerted me to the contributions of Victor Wouk.)
About the Author
Dr. Russell Lefevre has a B.S. and a M.S. in Physics from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a Fellow of the IEEE. He is Adjunct Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering at the University of North Dakota. Dr. Lefevre is a Past President of IEEE-USA and the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society. He is Chair of the IEEE Steering Committee on Electric Vehicles. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org