Charge your car… while driving

The number of electric vehicles continues to grow on the roads; in the United States, a study by Fortune Business Insights predicts market growth ranging from US$28.24 billion in 2021 to US$137.43 billion in 2028. However, the question of autonomy continues to make many drivers hesitate and potential buyers, as well as the prospect of having to wait an hour or more to “restock”. A study from the University of Kansas now offers a method as original as it is surprising: group charging, on the road.

These works, published in Scientific Reportsrevolve around a “peer-to-peer” system so that electric vehicles can recharge each other as they travel on the roads, all under the supervision of a computer system operating from a cloud computing service.

“When multiple electric vehicles are in motion, they can share their load with each other while running – you don’t have to stop to do that,” says Tamzidul Hoque, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

“A car might have a big load and it might not have to go very far and therefore might sell its load to another car – so there’s an economic incentive. The other vehicle, which has to make a long trip, doesn’t have much charge, and not having to stop to recharge can cut several hours off the duration of the trip. »

A mobile computer system, operating from remotely located servers, would “connect” the two vehicles in the same neighborhood; these vehicles could then travel a short distance from each other, exchanging energy without having to stop at a charging station. Vehicles would travel at the same speed, while charging cables would automatically connect them.

“We would have a complete cloud-based system that analyzes the battery status of all vehicles participating in the network, and based on that information, the system tells you that you can connect to a nearby vehicle and share the electrical load,” says Mr. hockey

“All this must be controlled by an online network, which has algorithms that efficiently charge all electric vehicles. »

Also according to the researchers, the vehicles would be equipped with two different batteries for this charging system: a main lithium-ion battery, like those already found in electric cars, and another battery, with fast charging, for use on the road. That second battery, when charged, would “transfer” its energy to the lithium-ion battery.

“You don’t want vehicles to stay connected for too long, because another car might have to change routes and go somewhere else, and you might not have enough time to recharge,” says Hoque. “That’s why we developed the concept of multi-level batteries to reduce charging time. »

In highly urbanized areas, the research team proposes deploying mobile charging stations – gigantic batteries transported by truck – that can charge multiple vehicles at the same time, in what looks a bit like hunters can be refueled in flight by tanker planes. .

“These mobile charging stations would likely operate on major highways, where they would constantly move from one point to another,” adds Hoque. “There were several of them, so at any given time one station could be on the road, while another one is charging, at one station. »

In the eyes of the researchers, such a peer-to-peer system would be more practical, as well as combating this “autonomy anxiety” of electric vehicle owners, while offering a greener alternative.

According to Mr. Hoque, it is certain that the implementation of the charging infrastructure would undoubtedly require the support of a major manufacturer of electric vehicles, but that the system could then expand in an “organic” way.

“Vehicle owners will have this incentive to sell their electric charge and make some money – these two aspects will work together to develop this idea,” he said.

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