Recharging the Batteries



It has been a mixed year so far, with plenty of innovation on display, but a flat economy put a bit of a spoiler on the industry. The forecast for next year is pretty mixed too, with some people predicting a global recession. As the old saying goes, economists have predicted eight of the last three recessions, so let’s keep our fingers crossed they are wrong this time as well. One thing’s for sure, even a flat market won’t stop the rate that new innovations appear.

The holiday season is a perfect time to recharge the old batteries and set you up for a new year. And next year there will be plenty of batteries getting recharged, both human and physical. There are electric vehicle infrastructure projects ongoing in most advanced countries. Government would love to change over from combustion engines sooner rather than later, but that won’t happen if the infrastructure doesn’t support the changeover. It’s not just the number of physical charging points that are required, the convenience of charging has to become much more like filling a car with petrol to persuade the majority of people to make a switch. Many drivers only do short journeys and could get away with charging their vehicles overnight, but on the, often rare, occasions they wish to make longer journeys, a similar experience to a petrol pump is needed. For business travellers that convenience is an absolute necessity.

Luckily, electronics companies have been working extensively on just that problem. Inside this month’s magazine, Omar Harmon, Francesco Di Domenico and Srivatsa Raghunath from Infineon Technologies get together to tell us how the company’s technologies can work together to provide a modular approach that provides 200km worth of charge in around 15 minutes. The technology keeps costs down by using the same building blocks to create solutions for the different standards implemented around the world. SiC plays an integral part in those solutions, and they possibly wouldn’t even be feasible without the new material.

SiC allows us to switch high currents much more quickly. Faster switching means smaller magnetics are required, providing more compact, and importantly for electric vehicles, lighter solutions. Faster switching also introduces EMI challenges for the vehicles. Electric vehicles rely a lot more on electronics than conventional vehicles, and EMI generation can interfere with the other electrical circuits in the vehicle. This means designers have to be aware of the problems and incorporate solutions throughout the design process. In our second special report article this month, Felix Corbett from TTI looks at these challenges and the techniques and components that can minimise EMI disruption, while surviving in the challenging conditions that automobiles offer.

The whole PSD team wishes you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We’ll be back next year with many more great technical features.