Powering EVs and Returning to Normal



The public side of design engineering is very slowly returning to normal. COVID infection rates are plummeting, people are returning to work (at the office), and large public gatherings are a thing again. Kinda sorta.

We all watched a favorite sports team quarantined in a “bubble” or play out a whole season in empty stadiums. In 2021, most of the major sports welcomed fans back at full capacity, and along the same lines, our industry is cautiously planning a comprehensive slate of in-person trade shows.

Power engineering’s Super Bowl (APEC) went virtual again, but important events like The Battery Show (September 14-16) should go live this year. And the beginning of 2022 should welcome hundreds of thousands of eager techies back to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.

And speaking of batteries, our August issue deals with an application that relies on these electrochemical devices to function properly – electric + hybrid vehicles. 

Last month, I noted how the process of buying a new car (a hybrid) was a gloomy reminder of the semiconductor shortage, and while hybrids are an important (and affordable) renewable energy entry point for many people, this month’s slate of contributors mostly focus on the “electric” part of the topic.

Teoman Ustan, with ACEINNA, covers the biggest hurdle/opportunity for electric vehicles – the battery’s charging rate. The nation’s infrastructure – built up over the last century – was made to accommodate internal combustion engines. You can stop almost anywhere in the country and find a gas station.

But topping off your plug-in EV is a different proposition, altogether.

Still, the right technology could make it as quick and painless as possible, hence Teoman’s piece “How DC Fast Charging Applications are Boosting EV Car Adoption.”

As Teoman mentions, an AC charging system requires an additional task to complete, so the charging speed is relatively slow. And since “DC Fast Charging bypasses the limitations of the on-board charger and required conversion by providing DC power directly to the battery, charging speed has the potential to be greatly increased.”

In “Eliminate the 12V battery and increase EV performance,” Vicor’s Pat Kowalyk notes how high-performance power conversion is essential to removing the 12V battery (which ups costs and weight and takes up valuable space).

Pat explains how EVs consume up to 20x more power than internal combustion engines, and this has necessitated an additional 12V or 48V battery to handle sudden changes in power.

Throughout his piece, Pat describes how to create a virtual battery “that replicates the essential properties of a physical battery, complete with all the benefits of a battery but without the weight, size or temperature limitations of a battery.”

Best Regards, 

Jason Lomberg

North American Editor, PSD