On May 16, 2018, Swedish Electromobility Centre and its theme Electrical Machines and Drives invited to Theme Conference, a meeting point for researchers and engineers from both industry and academia to discuss the latest technical developments in their field.
The event was held at the historical and beautiful Kulturen in Lund. In a sunny and warm summer setting, the attendees learned from an exciting technical program configured around three different topics: modelling and testing of electric drives, unconventional machine designs and system concepts and analysis.
The event was smoothly guided by Thematic Area Researcher Francisco Márquez, and we caught up with him to ask about the concept and outcome of the day.
Fran, what was the purpose of the Theme conference?
“To gather as many researchers from Theme Electrical Machines and Drives as possible in order to discuss the technical details of some of the projects funded by the Centre – the available time does not allow to discuss all of them! Organising a full-day event also allows for more in-depth discussions, both during the presentation and question time, and while mingling at lunch and coffee breaks.”
What was your impression of the day?
“It was a very productive day! Not only did we get to know the details from some projects that hadn’t been shared yet, but there also were new faces – both from the Centre and outside – and a fantastic guest presentation from AVL Germany about novel techniques for e-motor emulation.”
Other highlights from the presentations?
“All the presentations were really interesting, with a strong technical detail focus rather than just general overview. From a personal perspective, I really liked the presentations focusing on testing of both electrical machines – dynamic testing and loss characterization – and power converters, with the e-motor emulator. On the other hand, the presentation about the effect of AC current on battery ageing was also excellent and brings up an interesting topic for joint research with Theme Energy Storage!”
What feedback did you receive from the attendees afterwards?
“Everyone seems very happy with the outcome! Most attendees appreciated the quality of the presentations, the fact that they were technically focused rather than commercial or of a more general scope. Moreover, they also expressed that it was nice to have a full day to “forget” about the office job and focus on interesting technical discussions, having direct access to those performing the research.”
How will you continue from this conference?
“We are now planning the activities to come in the autumn. As usual, we will try to focus on those aspects that are regarded interesting by our partners in the Centre, both industrial and academics. In addition, we will surely participate in the Roads to the Future conference – the Centre’s general scope conference. Stay tuned!”
The life-span of lithium-ion batteries is a limiting factor for the electrified cars of today. Researchers from Chalmers now have succeeded in developing models to avoid premature aging of batteries, models which can also provide the car with higher performance in terms of shorter charging time, longer mileage and faster acceleration. The research has been rewarded the Volvo Cars Technology Award.
The researchers in the project were awarded the Volvo Cars Technology Award 2017. The awardees are, from the left in the picture, Doctoral student Anton Klintberg, Professor Torsten Wik, Hannes Kuusisto from Volvo Cars and Industrial doctoral student Björn Fridholm. They were all honoured with flowers and diplomas by representatives from Volvo Cars, with CEO Håkan Samuelsson in the lead.
An increasing number of car owners consider replacing their fossil-fueled cars with vehicles that are powered entirely or partly by electricity. However, the batteries used in electric vehicles are still comparatively expensive, and there is still a lack of knowledge concerning how the battery life-span can be kept as long as possible.
”If you charge lithium-ion batteries correctly and use them in a smart way, you can avoid premature aging of the batteries,” says Torsten Wik, Professor and research group leader in automatic control at Chalmers. “It may sound simple but there are many factors to consider, and it is important to understand how battery life and function are affected.”
More precise and adaptive calculations
One of the difficulties is that it is not possible to measure the condition of the battery, it must be calculated. Also, the factors are constantly changing, depending on the temperature, current and cell voltage, as well as the age of the battery. This means that the algorithms must be adaptive in order to constantly adjust to the changing conditions.
“The novelty is that the algorithms we have developed constantly depend on the behaviour of the individual battery cells, instead of having to assess the condition of the battery in advance,” says Torsten Wik. “This makes our calculations much more accurate. The capacity of the battery is thus being used more efficiently, and you can avoid putting a strain on the battery that causes it to age prematurely.”
Tests show that the battery thus can deliver an additional 10 percent in peak power and that the actual maximum power can be estimated at an accuracy of 2 percent.
Lithium-ion batteries are central components in electric cars and have major impact on performance and costs for the future development of electrified vehicles.
The automotive industry shows great interest
Research has been ongoing since 2012 and is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency. Volvo Cars is participating as a partner, and Björn Fridholm, industrial doctoral student, has an active role in the project.
“The battery is the most expensive component in an electric car,” says Björn Fridholm. “If we can use the batteries more efficiently, it would be of great economic significance and a strategically important driving force for the continued development of electric vehicles. The cooperation with Chalmers has built up important knowledge, that we at Volvo Cars now are implementing in our products.”
Recently, the researchers in the project have been awarded the Volvo Cars Technology Award in the category Research. The project has so far resulted in three patent applications.
“It’s great that the results of the research have come to use so quickly,” Torsten Wik says. “Now we proceed to refine our calculation models even more. In the next step, we will focus on what is physically happening in the battery cells. This will require a large extent of computational power in the vehicle, but in return it is likely to provide additional potential of cost reductions and improved performance.
Jonas Fredriksson explains about Swedish Electromobility Center’s summer school on components and systems studies for electromobility. An intensive week where lectures and practical exercises will be mixed with social activities.
Who is the summer school intended for?
– It is intended primarily for PhD students with interest and research profile in electromobility, at all Swedish universities. However, researchers from the Centre’s industrial partners are also welcome.
Why do you arrange a summer school?
Swedish Electromobility Centre is a national centre of excellence with doctoral students and researchers at several Swedish universities. This means that common activities lead to a lot of traveling for some members. In the summer school we gather in one place for a week and study and discuss electromobility focused together. In addition, participants get the opportunity to get to know each other and create contacts with other researchers and research students who deal with different aspects of electric mobility.
What will I learn during the week?
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.
Why should I attend – aren’t the courses I take at my university enough?
Courses taken within your own research school are usually in-depth courses within your research area. Because electromobility is an interdisciplinary research field, finding courses that provide a comprehensive picture can be difficult. The summer school provides both a broader understanding of the electromobility area and of where the research challenges lie within the different parts of the area.
I want to participate. What do I do?
– You register for the course at Swedish Electromobility Centre’s website. The course itself and course material are free, but you pay for travel, accommodation and living. During an intensive week, lectures and practical exercises are mixed with social activities. The examination consists of active participation during the week as well as the solution of a project assignment that will be reported on a separate occasion.
Swedish Electromobility Center summer school When: 21-25 May 2018 Where: Toftaholm Manor, outside Värnamo. http://toftaholm.se/
On Jan 31, 2018 Maria Taljegård, presented her licentiate thesis “The impact of an Electrification of Road Transportation on the Electricity system in Scandinavia”. After the presentation, I caught up with Maria to hear more about her research.
In order to reach the 2020 CO2 emission target set by the EU, the transport sector must reduce emissions by 20%. In essence, this will probably entail an electrification of the road transport sector through EVs (Electric Vehicles) and very likely, a higher demand on the electricity system through static charging or ERS (Electric Road Systems). In her thesis, Maria looks at the possibility for EVs to provide a demand-side management to the electricity grid.
Using the Norwegian road, E39 as the focus of the study, breaking it down into segments with information points, the study showed large variations in energy and power demands over time and location along the road. Further calculations were made by developing a vehicle energy consumption model to estimate the variation in energy and power demands, given different electrification options and drivetrains.
The thesis found that an installation of ERS on all European (E) and national (N) roads in Sweden and Norway could cover over 50% of vehicle traffic. Installing ERS on 25% of the total E and N roads would connect all the larger cities in Norway and Sweden. It was also shown that with a cap on CO2 corresponding to 93% of emission deduction by the year 2050, the electricity demand from EVs in Scandinavia and Germany could be met by mainly an increase in generation from wind power and to some extent, coal in combination with carbon capture and storage.
“A smart integration of passenger EVs (vehicle-to-grid; V2G) can to some extent be used to manage variability of renewable energy sources by, for instance, substantially reduce the need for peak power capacity in the system.”
I caught up with Maria after her presentation and posed a few questions that had come to mind while listening to her results:
In your opinion, what were the biggest advancements in your field during 2017?
“I think autonomous cars are definitely an interesting area. And battery development. There are aspects we don’t know much about yet – such as what V2G will cost and how it will affect the lifespan of batteries. Another very interesting perspective is how the future will look in regard to how we travel and how we use our cars. Will we own our cars or share them? And if V2G gets implemented on a large scale, how will that be resolved if you, for example, lend your car to someone when you’re on vacation?”
What do you think the near future will bring to your area?
“Our driving habits will probably change a lot depending on which direction development goes. For now, the biggest issue for larger vehicles, of course, is range. A truck should optimally have at least a 4 hr range and for today’s batteries to manage that, they would get too heavy. I think an expansion of ERS will have the biggest effect on road transportation costs for heavy vehicles because it would reduce the demand on range and they might drive the same routes most of the time, meaning ERS routes could be optimised. And if we add autonomous, electric road trains to the equation, personnel costs (drivers) could be reduced. Furthermore, driverless, heavy traffic could move at night, eliminating the cost of drivers altogether.”
Finally, I asked Maria what her biggest take-aways and findings of her work were. She answered, “Smart charging can help the electricity grid avoid having to invest in peak power. A big challenge with optimised charging – ie V2G – is the communication between homes and cars, so that not all electric appliances run at the same time.”
“I think all experts must interlink so that we get the expertise we need from all areas. One of the biggest assets of the Electromobility Centre is that I can network with these experts and find new contact points with people I wouldn’t necessarily have found on my own.”
Text Magdalena Einarsen photo, Maria Taljegård & Magdalena Einarsen
For the second year in a row, Swedish Electromobility Centre will host a summer school focusing on Components and system studies for electromobility. It is intended for PhD students in the field of e-mobility.
Registration deadline is 12 April.
Don’t miss you chance to take part in an intense week of learning, interacting and having fun together. We hope to see you there!