Stefan Pettersson brings academia and institute closer together
Stefan Pettersson, research manager of the electromobility application area at RISE Viktoria and active in the Swedish Electromobility Centre, has also become an Adjunct Professor at Chalmers University of Technology. His inauguration lecture at Chalmers is titled “Collaborative academia-institute-industry/society electromobility research”.
Stefan Pettersson has a M.Sc. in Automation Engineering and a Ph.D. in Control Engineering. He became an Associate Professor in Control Engineering at Chalmers in 2004. Since last year Stefan is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, and a member of the departmental advisory team.
We took the opportunity to ask Stefan some questions:
In your lecture you will talk about collaborative research, engaging academia, institute, industry and society. What are the benefits of this as you see it?
“Global challenges, like the climate problem, cannot be solved by single persons or organisations. They instead require common understanding and collaboration. Sweden is on the top three list of innovative countries but the pace of other countries is high and we really need to fight hard to keep our position and climb even higher up. I strongly believe that research where different stakeholders work together solving complex problems is beneficial for Sweden’s industry and our ability to be a top research and innovation country in the world. However, more important, by collaboration we will have the ability to better solve the global challenges for the common good of our society.”
What has been the driving force for you personally to join Chalmers as an Adjunct Professor? And what advantages do you see for RISE and the department, respectively?
“I have earlier been working at Chalmers and enjoyed and appreciated being a researcher around competent colleagues. I personally enjoy being a part of Sweden’s top universities and hope that I can create natural bridges between the research at Chalmers and RISE, resulting in more collaborative research and educating more Ph.D. students. I bring to Chalmers a large network of stakeholders and insight into their challenges, many ideas and common research possibilities and can help researchers to be in contact with relevant researchers at RISE. Adjunct Professors are natural persons helping the universities with the third task to bring research results to our society. From the RISE view point, I will get to know the research and researchers better and perhaps RISE will employee some of them, it can give good ideas for common innovation projects and it can provide good opportunities for increasing the competence of RISE researchers.”
What has made you specially interested in research on electromobility?
“After my quite theoretical Ph.D. studies at Chalmers I shifted the research more into the automotive application area. I worked with energy management problems in industry a couple of years before I moved to RISE Viktoria and became responsible for the electromobility application area. I personally like to do and contribute to research that is relevant and where you quite easily see the result of the research in society. Electric vehicles are part of the future transportation system and I am glad to contribute to the shift from fossil fuelled vehicles to a sustainable future with electrified vehicles.”
Text: Yvonne Jonsson, Chalmers
Algorithms provide faster and more efficient electric vehicle charging
As electric cars become more common, charging large numbers of electric vehicles could cause problems with the stability of the local electricity grid. This could be avoided by utilizing smart control charging, wherein the charging power is altered over time by some algorithm. It is also possible to use the grid more effectively by using smart charging. With the right algorithms for charging, researchers want to ensure that the power grid can be kept in balance.
Joakim Munkhammar is an associate professor, research leader of the Electric Transport Group, Uppsala University and involved in Swedish Electromobility Centre. He and his research colleagues are working to find the optimum models for smart charging of electric vehicles.
“Smart” in this case means charging is controlled via algorithms, to achieve a variation in the otherwise expected charge pattern. The advantage is that smart electric car charging could minimize the risk of overloading the local power grid, while during low load times, the charging model will be able to utilize more capacity for charging, compared to standard charging without control.
“Conventional uncontrolled electric car charging can lead to problems with the local power grid. Alternatively, it may be suboptimal not to use remaining resources in the local power grid for electric car charging. This research project is based on developing models or algorithms for smart electric car charging that will allow the charging to avoid local problems in the grid, while at other times they can charge cars faster than with uncontrolled charging”, says Joakim Munkhammar.
The major challenge in the field is to create algorithms that work well and are robust, and that connect directly to existing industry technology. Therefore, the research is closely linked to both the energy and automotive industry, in the form of Vattenfall RnD and CEVT.
“The idea is to link this closer to the industry than before, and connect to CEVT and Vattenfall RnD by creating algorithms that can be implemented in existing technology. The way forward is to create models or algorithms for this, validate them against data and try to implement in actual systems.”
The hope is that the smart charge algorithms developed by the researchers will be used directly in the automotive industry. In this particular study, focus is on passenger cars and home charging, but Joakim Munkhammar points out that the algorithms can also prove useful for other vehicle types.
What are the results from the research so far?
“In a study, presented at the E-mobility Symposium in Stockholm in October, we have found that the amount of problems with the local power grid expected to occur with home charging is minimal. Therefore, the need for smart charging here is largely non-existent. The results, which are preliminary, are calculated based on electricity consumption without heating and are a comparison between electricity consumption from households with or without electric car charging and a given fuse level. Later, we will calculate what happens with the power grid. It may be particularly interesting on block level or city level.”
“We also found that electric car charging could be done faster for most of the year’s days, for virtually all simulated cases with different installed charging power.”
The results can consequently be of importance to the individual car owner, but also in a broader perspective.
“Smart electric car charging is designed to utilize resources more efficiently, in this case the local power grid. Therefore, all parties could win by implementing such algorithms. For society, range anxiety for electric car drivers can decrease by shorter charging time and for electricity grid providers the stability of the local grid could be enhanced, and it could also help to keep the local power grid in balance, even with for example local solar production, which could otherwise create problems.”
What are the needs of further research?
Aside from neighborhood and city level of home-charging public and workplace charging are the next challenges in the research. Then, research on the power grid’s impact from electric car charging is required, and the combination of electric car charging and intermittent sources of energy, such as wind or solar power, is important to determine how the algorithms are to be designed. Furthermore, it is a challenge to create transports for future smart cities, where this is only the first step”, concludes Joakim Munkhammar.
/ Daniel Karlsson
The world’s first battery recycling research conference
Our vehicles are moving towards an increasingly electrified future, but without functioning battery recycling technology, development will stop and electric cars’ batteries are still very difficult to recycle industrially. Now researchers and industry gather at Chalmers to attend the world’s first research conference with the main focus on battery recycling.
Research on recycling of lithium batteries from, among other things, electric cars and portable electronics has grown as we approach a fossil-free and electrified society. Metals and minerals that are necessary for the batteries will sooner or later end. Cobalt, for example, which is one of the most common substances in the batteries, is now expected to reach its production peak around 2025. Cobalt is also considered by many to be a so-called conflict mineral where human rights are often violated in connection with mining in the form of child labour and slavery.
“This is a very critical issue where it is crucial that we find a solution soon. Sustainable cobalt supply and recovery is crucial to the electric car’s existence, “says Assistant Professor Martina Petranikova, organiser of the conference.
However, there are more areas in the battery life cycle that hold them back in terms of durability. Among other things, electric cars, when consumed, still have so much energy that recycling can be dangerous. In addition, electric vehicle batteries may vary so much between manufacturers that it is difficult for the recycler to know what the battery contains. At the same time, it is a competitive advantage for the companies to develop new assemblies on the batteries and thus the producers have to talk to the recyclers in order to find a right design
“The industry is very interested in finding the right recycling technology. Among other things, they are obliged to take care of the waste from their products, such as used batteries. With different combinations of batteries, they are very difficult to recycle industrially. Today we can recover most of a battery, but it takes time and is costly. With the conference, we want to meet and solve these problems, “said Martina Petranikova.
In order to find a sustainable solution, the entire battery life cycle must be coordinated from production and development to collection and recycling, as well as legislation. Therefore, Chalmers researchers in industrial recycling gather researchers, experts, manufacturers, users and recyclers under the same roof to share their knowledge, their expectations, technical and financial realities, and also their dreams to take the initiative for a circular economy of batteries .
The Circular Economy of Batteries Production and Recycling, CEB, will be held at Lindholmen Conference Center 24-26 September 2018.
Electric vehicles a game changer for cities and transport
The rapid development of electric vehicles affects all types of traffic, but also brings new challenges. How do we design our cities with even more types of vehicles in motion? Electric aircraft, when will it become reality? At the initiative seminar “Electromobility – Back to the Future”, on 13 September at Chalmers, these questions will be raised.
Electric vehicles are nothing new. They have been around for more than a hundred years. Back then however, the battery technology was immature, with short range and big batteries.
“At first, electric vehicles were overtaken by cheaper vehicles with combustion engines. Today, we see that very efficient batteries are emerging. The climate question also accelerates the development. There is a will among politicians, industry and the public, which probably will lead to the replacement of conventional combustion engine vehicles in the long term”, says Sinisa Krajnovic, leader of Transport Area of Advance at Chalmers.
By looking into the rear view mirror at electric vehicles’ century long history, the Transport and Energy Areas of Advance want to highlight the fact that understanding and knowledge now has caught up with technology – along with environmental problems such as greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact from for e.g. battery production.
From electric aircraft to urban planning
“The seminar is a great opportunity for knowledge sharing, mingling and networking for all participants. For my part, I look forward to the many different presentations”, says Maria Grahn, leader of Energy Area of Advance.
The day offers several interesting sessions, including visions for the future such as electric aircraft, technology development and security aspects, strategic decision making and urban planning for electromobility. We will also learn more about what to expect from the national test lab for electromobility (SEEL) and why Norway has the highest number of electric cars per capita.
Prospects good for the 2030 goals
In media, the debate on climate issues has been high since the heat wave this summer, linking to aircraft and other highly energy consuming types of transportation. What, then, is required for Sweden to reach the target and have a fossil-independent fleet by 2030.
“The combination of the two policy instruments introduced this year, Reduction Obligation and Bonus Malus, provides very good conditions for success”, says Maria Grahn.
Reduction obligation means that fuel sold in Sweden must contain a certain amount of fuel from renewable sources to reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions. Bonus Malus gives incentives for car buyers to choose a more energy-efficient car.
“Most researchers agree that electrification of vehicles is not enough”, says Sinisa Krajnovic. “You have to combine several different propulsion technologies. But above all, we need to change our behaviour.”
An overall picture of electromobility
“Electromobility – Back to the Future” is aimed primarily at research and development professionals in academia and industry, as well as authorities, municipalities, regions, business organizations and special interest groups.
“We welcome everyone, but the programme is planned for those who want to grasp the overall picture of electromobility,” says Maria Grahn.
The initiative seminar “Electromobility – Back to the Future” will be held 13 September in RunAn, Chalmersplatsen 1, Gothenburg. Sign up at the latest 3 September.
Text: Ann-Christine Nordin, Emilia Lundgren
Summer School 2018 – a place for knowledge and meetings
This year’s Summer School for PhD students was conducted during an intensive week in May. At Toftaholm’s mansion in Småland, Sweden, around 20 participants met in order to gain in-depth and broader technical knowledge in the field of e-mobility. And not least – to make contacts.
Swedish Electromobility Centre’s Summer School is primarily aimed at PhD students with interest and research in electromobility at Swedish universities. It gives an opportunity to meet, in one single place for a week, to study and discuss electromobility together. In addition, participants get the opportunity to get to know each other and establish contacts with other researchers in different aspects of electromobility.
“The course gives both overview and in-depth knowledge of key components such as batteries, fuel cells and electrical machines as well as tools for systems studies that will be used for evaluation, design and construction of vehicle drive systems”, said Professor Jonas Fredriksson about this year’s course.
Two of the participants during the course week were the Chalmers doctoral students Anton Klintberg and Lukas Wikander. Both are active in control technology and focus on the ageing and health of batteries. They have previously been to single events organised by the Centre. Now they got the advice to apply for the Summer School from their research colleagues.
The week met their expectations, although it was also very intensive with a whole week of teaching and practical moments from the morning to evening.
“It’s good with an intensive course for a week. You get very focused and you do not think about anything else. It is a lot to learn in a short period of time”, says Lukas Wikander. “Therefore, it was good that many of the classes ended with practical exercises, like designing your own battery. It’s a great way to firmly embed your memory of the course. In particular, it forced us to discuss topics with the other participants. It was very good that we came from different research areas. This meant that you did not fall too much into details.”
“In the evening we had an Electric Car Challenge with a miniature car track. We would optimise an electric drivetrain to use as little energy as possible and complete the entire lap”, says Anton. “It was obviously best to drive as fast as possible – as long as you did not drive off the track!”
Both Anton and Lukas were very pleased with the course and the lecturers.
“The teachers were extremely good, both extremely knowledgeable as well as educative”, says Anton.
“There are not many other ways to learn these general things. You would have to discover them later, but it would certainly take three to four years. And by then it’s almost too late”, says Lukas.
In addition to all the new skills, it was also a great benefit to meet and get to know the other participants.
“One of the best things was to meet people from other places and other backgrounds. Both in the same area as ourselves, but also others. These contacts can be valuable for a long time”, concludes Anton.
After the week at Toftaholm, the course will be completed with a home assignment and final report after the summer.
Text: Daniel Karlsson, photo: Elna Holmberg & Chalmers