The Latest Electric Vehicle Controller

The researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have designed, fabricated and demonstrated a PHEV traction drive power electronics system that provides significant mobile power generation and vehicle-to-grid support capabilities. (The Oak Ridge press release isn’t specific, but here PHEV seems to mean Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle, not parallel hybrid EV.)  The device acts as the vehicle charger.

Oak Ridge PHEV Controller. Click image for the largest view. A high resolution image is on the Oak Ridge press release page.

The effort has yielded an interesting take on the potential that an EV controller offers when there is substantial storage and some generation ability.  Have a seat – this hasn’t occurred to many – the Oak Ridge controller provides more power than typical freestanding portable generators; the PHEV can be used in emergency situations such as power outages and roadside breakdowns or leisure occasions such as camping. Day-to-day, the PHEV can be used to power homes or businesses or supply power to the grid when the power load is high.

In the midst of freezing rain, ice storms and “snowmageddon” the press release seems prescient or well planned, perhaps.  But the idea positioning has serious emergency value merits.  It would not be much of an expense to wire one’s home charge arrangement such that emergency power would be available from the car.

Oak Ridge likes to say it as “An advancement in hybrid electric vehicle technology is providing powerful benefits beyond transportation.”  That’s a little strong, but lets look at what information is available.

Gui-Jia Su of ORNL’s Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center says, “The new technology eliminates the separate charging mechanism typically used in PHEVs, reducing both cost and volume under the hood. The PHEV’s traction drive system is used to charge the battery, power the vehicle and enable its mobile energy source capabilities.”  Wait a minute . . . That remark would mean to this writer that wall current would be the connection to the EV, not a charger.  Not a special plug.  If so, that does simplify things, one would need either a 110 volt or 220 volt extension cord for the personal infrastructure investment for EV ownership.

Su also offers the charging system concept, which is market ready, could also be used to enhance the voltage stability of the grid by providing reactive power.  Some clever folks out there with smart meters are thinking they might hedge the power company; take current overnight, give back current during the afternoon.  Whether the pricing will make that viable isn’t a topic yet – it had better be soon.

The controller is the work of The Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center, the DOE’s broad-based research center, charged and funded for helping lead the nation’s advancing shift from petroleum-powered to hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The center’s efforts directly support DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program and its goal to provide Americans with greater freedom of mobility and energy security while lowering costs and reducing impacts on the environment.

From the photo above some interesting features are visible.  The controller is built on a production DSP universal controller board.  It’s using a Texas Instruments chip.  And it’s cooled with a fluid system seen to the right side.  It’s not especially big either.  As a lab unit it’s not been optimized for production, but the row of 10mm Phillips headed cap screws denote the diminutive size.

By no means is this all there is to controlling the power in an EV though.  The controller Oak Ridge is proposing is more of an interface controlling device between the battery or capacitor pack and line in or grid source.  There seems to be no facility to control the vehicle itself.  Which is just as well.  That is an area if intense engineering interest to auto manufacturers worldwide.

That suggests the Oak Ridge controller would be an option in an EV design.  Should the offering actually simplify the charging at home and reduce the infrastructure cost for someone to switch over, the market should be very welcoming indeed.  But that’s not to say that every EV would have one, or that every buyer would understand why or why not they’d want one.

Building the technology is one thing.  Teaching consumers how it is their interest might be much harder.  But I’d be game; power went down a couple days here, having the furnace run would nave been really nice.


Author: New Energy and Fuel

1996 Ashrae Handbook Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning Systems and Equipment: Inch-Pound Edition


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1996 Ashrae Handbook Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning Systems and Equipment: Inch-Pound Edition

A Totally Organic Light to Paste on the Wall

Swedish and American researchers have succeeded in producing a new type of lighting component that’s inexpensive to produce and can be fully recycled. Using the new super material graphene, the invention as an example could pave the way for glowing wallpaper made entirely of plastic.  The emerging field of “organic” or “plastic” electronics has already brought low-voltage, ultrathin, and energy-efficient lighting and displays to market as organic light-emitting diode (OLED) televisions and displays in cameras and mobile phones.

But these are not fully organic; they usually contain a transparent electrode made of the metal alloy indium tin oxide.  The indium alloy presents a problem because indium is both rare, expensive and is complicated to recycle.

An OLED consists of a light-generating layer of plastic placed between two electrodes, one of which must be transparent. Now researchers at Linköping and Umeå universities, working with American colleagues at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Rutgers University, are presenting an alternative to OLEDs, an organic light-emitting electrochemical cell (LEC). It’s inexpensive to produce, and the transparent electrode is made of the carbon material graphene.

Graphene Cathode in a Light Emitting Electrochemical Cell. Click image for the largest view.

The research group is utilizing chemically derived graphene for the transparent cathode in an all-plastic sandwich-structure device.  Using a screen-printable conducting polymer as a partially transparent anode and a micrometer-thick active layer solution-deposited from a blend of a light-emitting polymer and a polymer electrolyte, they’ve demonstrated a light-emitting device based solely on solution-processable carbon-based materials. The results demonstrate that low-voltage, inexpensive, and efficient light-emitting devices can be made without using metals. In other words, electronics can truly be “organic”.

Nathaniel Robinson from Linköping University says, “This is a major step forward in the development of organic lighting components, from both a technological and an environmental perspective. Organic electronics components promise to become extremely common in exciting new applications in the future, but this can create major recycling problems. By using graphene instead of conventional metal electrodes, components of the future will be much easier to recycle and thereby environmentally attractive.”

All of the new LEC’s parts can be produced using fluid solutions, making it possible to make LECs in a roll-to-roll process such as a printing press in a highly cost-effective way.

Ludvig Edman from Umeå University says, “This paves the way for inexpensive production of entirely plastic-based lighting and display components in the form of large flexible sheets. This kind of illumination or display can be rolled up or can be applied as wallpaper or on ceilings.”

The graphene used in the production process consists of a single layer of carbon atoms and has many attractive properties as an electronic material. It has high conductivity, is virtually transparent, and can be produced as a solution in the form of graphene oxide.

For over 15 years researchers worldwide have been trying to replace the indium tin oxide component.  Indium is in short supply, and the alloy has a complicated life cycle. The raw material for the fully organic and metal-free LEC, on the other hand, is essentially inexhaustible and can be fully recycled, back into a fuel, for example.  A non rare earth metallic mixed device is going to be much less expensive and less of a problem when recycled.

A study paper has been published in the journal ACS Nano and is titled “Graphene and Mobile Ions: The Key to All-Plastic, Solution-Processed Light-Emitting Devices.” The authors are Piotr Matyba, Hisato Yamaguchi, Goki Eda, Manish Chhowalla, Ludvig Edman, and Nathaniel D. Robinson.

Well . . . If this scales up commercially those coming generations of TVs might be sandwich built way under an inch thick and much less expensive.  Video could get more pervasive than it already is  – as if that’s possible.  Imagining walls and ceilings that glow sounds interesting, but the sensation is yet to be experienced.

But power consumption should be very low.  To brighten areas where the amibiance isn’t a critical part of the design this invention should get rapid adoption.

On the other hand, the light might be just wonderful.  LED and one hopes this new LEC will be free of the oscillations many of us find annoying in fluorescent lit areas. The lumens per installed area are still to come out, the color temperature and other bits of interest will be topics for development.

Wait . . . Wallpaper?  If the love of my life who has a penchant for wallpaper and changing it finds out . . . Lets hope that the pink spectrum is impossible.  Well, I can hope.


The original post is created by: New Energy and Fuel

Don’t Get Hosed And Get The Wrong Hose (or Inlet)

I like central vacuum cleaners. Having the power head in the garage and a series of inlets throughout the house all connected by tubing hidden in the walls is the equivalent of having structured wiring for your telephone, data, and CATV needs.  What I want to bring to your attention, whether you are planning a new install, adding a new inlet, or just replacing the hose, is that you need to make sure that the hose matches the inlet.

All inlets have two, spring-loaded metallic nubs that make contact with a ring on all hoses when the hose is inserted in to the inlet.  This low-voltage contact triggers the power head motor to turn on when the hose is inserted and off when the hose is removed.  The Nutone NU360 is a standard, low-voltage inlet. 

In additon to the low-voltage contacts, there is another type of inlet that has a trapezoidal shaped connector above the circular inlet that allows 120 VAC, household electrical current to safely flow through the hose and drive power brushes and other AC-powered cleaning accessories attached to the hose. The NUCI390 is an example of an electrified, direct-connect inlet.

So which hose do you use? If you have the standard, low-voltage inlet, then the NUCH230 is the hose for you. If however, you needed more cleaning oomph in the form of an electric power brush, you would need to get a different hose such as the NUCH520. The ‘520, pictured above,  can be inserted in a standard inlet, and comes with a six-foot, pigtail AC power cord attached to the inlet side of the hose.  The pigtail allows connection to a nearby electrical outlet thus allowing the use of the power brush.

The third and final hose is the NUCH620.  This is an electrified, direct-connect hose. No pigtail. Just plug it in and you’ve got both suction and AC power at your control.

Original post created by: Home Controls