ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE
ISSUE 11 | DECEMBER 2013 | CHARGEDEVS.COM
Technology Trickling Up P. 44
CadillacELR CALBATTERY’S SI-GR ANODE MATERIAL P. 24
SCALING UP BATTERY TESTING P. 38
FIRST LOOK: THE ITALIAN SUPERBIKE ENERGICA EGO P. 54
FUJI FINANCES FAST CHARGERS P. 78
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THE TECH contents
18 Don’t fill the void
Q&A with Bernard Perry of Porous Power
24 Out of the incubator
CalBattery’s silicon-graphene anode material
32 Flubber the HMI Creatively displaying BMS data
38 Scaling up testing NETZSCH’s new battery calorimeter
CURRENT EVENTS 12
Smart nail developed for Li-ion penetration test Maxwell and SK to develop ultracap/battery combo
Dow sells battery-making division Dow Kokam
UQM’s new high-voltage motor/controller system Researchers show major advance in Li-S chemistry
Protean and FAW-VW to produce new drivetrain
3M licenses NMC patents to ECOPRO
72 Lean and mean
The EV charging pioneers at ClipperCreek
78 No money Down
Fuji Electric on financing fast chargers
82 DCFC billing models
Tom Saxton on encouraging efficient usage
CURRENT EVENTS 66
ABB earns UL listing for SAE Combo DCFC
Honda joins V2G demo project
New York City requires new parking to be built EV-ready
Eaton’s HyperCharger scales up to one megawatt SAE announces WPT frequency/power classes
SolarCity’s smart energy storage uses Tesla battery tech
Announcing the 14th International
advanced automotive battery conference February 3 - 7, 2014 - The Hyatt Regency, Atlanta
Technology Focused Symposia in parallel February 4 and 5
Automotive Application Focused Symposium - February 5 - 7
Large Lithium Ion Battery Technology & Application (LLIBTA)
Advanced Automotive Battery Technology, Application and Market (AABTAM)
Track A: Cell Materials & Chemistry Session 1A: High-energy Li-Ion Cathodes and Anodes Session 2A: Electrolytes for Non-Aqueous Batteries Session 3A: Beyond Lithium Ion Track B: Battery Engineering Design & Application Session 1B: Cell and Pack Engineering Session 2B: Safety and Durability Validation: Testing and Modeling Session 3B: Battery Management in Automotive Applications Large EC Capacitor Technology & Application (ECCAP) Session 1: Advances in EC Capacitor Materials & Cell Design Session 2: New EC Capacitor Products and Business Development Session 3: EC Capacitor Storage System Application
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Session 1: xEV and xEV-Battery Market Session 2: Energy Storage for Low-Voltage Hybrids Session 3: Lithium-Ion Batteries for High-Voltage Hybrids and PHEVs Session 4: Battery Pack Technology Session 5: EV Technology, Logistics and Infrastructure Tutorials Offering five world-class tutorials, including the fundamentals of EC Capacitors and Large Li-Ion battery technology.
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Join us in Kyoto for the first Asian Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) May 19 - 23, 2014 - International Conference Center Kyoto, Japan Top energy-storage technologists from Asian carmakers and their suppliers will assess the Asian xEV market and the battery technology that will power it.
Tel: 1 (530) 692 0140 â€˘ Fax: 1 (530) 692 0142 email@example.com â€˘ advancedautobat.com AABCs are organized by Advanced Automotive Batteries
THE VEHICLES contents
DC Quick Charger • 208 Vac three-phase 20–50 kW output • Access control, payment and networking options • CHAdeMO and SAE combined charging system—coming soon
AC Level 2 Commercial Charging Station • 30, 48 and 70 amperes • Single, dual and optional Level 1 outlet styles
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AC Level 1 & Level 2 Residential Charging Station • 16 and 30 amperes • Ideal for single- and multi-family homes
Italian manufacturer CRP starts building e-motorcycles
62 Fuel Cells vs Batteries
• Attractive stainless steel enclosure
Industry opinion by Jeffrey Wishart
Mitsubishi slashes price of 2014 i-MiEV Tesla wins Ohio battle as dealership war spreads
Saab restarts production, plans an EV for 2014
Via Motors presents solar tonneau for plug-in pickup
European safety agency gives BMW i3 four stars
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations on the
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Publisher’s Note The Market Marches On As 2013 winds down, the slow and steady growth of the plug-in vehicle market continues. Cumulative sales of plug-in vehicles in the US are now over 160,000. According to the Department of Energy, the number of public charging ports is just shy of 7,000. New plug-in models continue to enter the market, and prices are steadily dropping for the existing stable of EVs. The Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, for example, have all seen thousands of dollars shaved off the entry level models since their introduction in 2010-2011. General awareness of EVs remains low among consumers, according to a new survey by Navigant Research. The majority of those surveyed were not aware of specific plug-in models: only 44 percent of the respondents were familiar with the Volt, and less than a third were familiar with the LEAF, Tesla’s Model S, Ford’s C-Max Energi and BMW’s i3. However, the firm found that consumers have favorable views of plug-ins. Six out of ten agreed that EVs are less expensive to own than gas cars in the long run. In other words, the adoption rate is slow but the potential for more market penetration is enormous. Less than one percent of US households have a plug-in vehicle, and among them, customer satisfaction is through the roof. Up next in 2014 are new entries from the German brands. Will they nudge the needle to the next level? Marketing efforts for BMW’s i3 have been a fullcourt press since its launch, with US deliveries beginning in spring 2014. Other introductions expected later in the year include VW’s E-Golf and the all-electric Mercedes B-Class. Explosive growth for electrified vehicles lower down the technology ladder is more predictable than for the sexier plug-in segment - in particular, microhybrids (aka start-stop systems). Ford has announced that 70 percent of its lineup will feature its Auto Start-Stop system by 2017, increasing fuel efficiency as much as 10 percent. That’s not exactly the oil-free utopian future that EV purists have envisioned, but the more advanced energy storage systems in vehicles, the better.
EVs are here. Try to keep up. Christian Ruoff Publisher
ETHICS STATEMENT AND COVERAGE POLICY AS THE LEADING EV INDUSTRY PUBLICATION, CHARGED ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE OFTEN COVERS, AND ACCEPTS CONTRIBUTIONS FROM, COMPANIES THAT ADVERTISE IN OUR MEDIA PORTFOLIO. HOWEVER, THE CONTENT WE CHOOSE TO PUBLISH PASSES ONLY TWO TESTS: (1)TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE, AND (2) IT MEETS THE INTERESTS OF OUR READERSHIP. WE DO NOT ACCEPT PAYMENT FOR EDITORIAL CONTENT, AND THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OUR EDITORS AND WRITERS ARE IN NO WAY AFFECTED BY A COMPANY’S PAST, CURRENT, OR POTENTIAL ADVERTISEMENTS. FURTHERMORE, WE OFTEN ACCEPT ARTICLES AUTHORED BY “INDUSTRY INSIDERS,” IN WHICH CASE THE AUTHOR’S CURRENT EMPLOYMENT, OR RELATIONSHIP TO THE EV INDUSTRY, IS CLEARLY CITED. IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ANY OPINION EXPRESSED IN THE CHARGED MEDIA PORTFOLIO AND/OR WISH TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR VIEW OF THE INDUSTRY, PLEASE CONTACT US AT CONTENT@CHARGEDEVS.COM. CHARGED ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED BY ISENTROPIC MEDIA. COPYRIGHT © 2013 BY ISENTROPIC MEDIA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRINTING IN WHOLE OR PART IS FORBIDDEN EXPECT BY PERMISSION OF ISENTROPIC MEDIA. MAILING LIST: WE MAKE A PORTION OF OUR MAILING LIST AVAILABLE TO REPUTABLE FIRMS. IF YOU PREFER THAT WE DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME, PLEASE WRITE US AT CHARGED - ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE, ATTN: PRIVACY DEPARTMENT, PO BOX 13074, SAINT PETERSBURG, FL 33733. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO CHARGED - ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE, ATTN: SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES, PO BOX 13074, SAINT PETERSBURG, FL 33733. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $29.95 FOR 1 YEAR (6 ISSUES). PLEASE ADD $10.00 FOR CANADIAN ADDRESSES AND $36.00 FOR ALL OTHER INTERNATIONAL ADDRESSES. ADVERTISING: TO INQUIRE ABOUT ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES PLEASE CONTACT US AT +1-727-258-7867. PRINTED IN THE USA.
Christian Ruoff Publisher Laurel Zimmer Associate Publisher Charles Morris Senior Editor Markkus Rovito Associate Editor Jeffrey Jenkins Technology Editor Joey Stetter Contributing Editor Nick Sirotich Illustrator & Designer Nate Greco Contributing Artist Contributing Writers Brian Gallagher Jeffrey Jenkins Michael Kent Charles Morris Markkus Rovito Tom Saxton Joey Stetter Jeffrey Wishart Contributing Photographers Victor Bezrukov Vincent Desjardins Alex Nunez Nicolas Raymond Warut Roonguthai Luc Viatour Cover Image Courtesy of GM Special Thanks to Kelly Ruoff Sebestien Bourgeois For Letters to the Editor, Article Submissions, & Advertising Inquiries Contact Info@ChargedEVs.com
SPONSORED EVENTS Advanced Automotive Battery Conference February 3–7, 2014
SAE World Congress April 8-10, 2014
Next Generation Batteries April 28-30, 2014
San Diego, CA
Alternative Clean Transportation Expo May 5–8, 2014
Long Beach, CA
EDTA Conference and Annual Meeting May 19–21, 2014
For more information on industry events visit ChargedEVs.com/Industry
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ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE
CHARGEDEVS.COM AUG/SEP 2012
Fisker’s Future TONY POSAWATZ ON MOVING THE START-UP ‘ONWARD’
POLYPLUS REACHES FOR 1500 WH/KG P. 24
LI–TITANATE, CITY BUSES, & THE UTILITIES P. 40
A CLOSER LOOK AT REGEN BRAKING P. 20
PAT ROMANO ON CHARGING FOR CHARGING P. 62
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Smart nail developed for Li-ion penetration test Jeff Dahn and his colleagues at Dalhousie University have added some intelligence to the lowly steel nail in order to improve penetration testing on Li-ion batteries. The team described its project in the current issue of the Journal of Power Sources. An abstract: Nail penetration is one safety test that Li-ion cells experience in order to simulate some aspects of an internal short circuit event. To our knowledge, nail penetration is usually performed with an ordinary steel nail. Normally, the only data gathered has been a simple pass/fail result depending on whether or not the cell emitted smoke or flame, along with a thermocouple on the surface of the cell. A “smart nail” has been developed to allow the collection of temperature versus time data at the point of nail penetration. This nail, in conjunction with a thermocouple on the cell surface and tabs on the ends to measure voltage, should provide some new insights into the behavior of cells during this type of abuse testing as well as aid in the developing of safer Li-ion cell chemistries.
Ultracapacitors (aka ultracaps or supercapacitors) have rapid charge and discharge capabilities, a tolerance of extreme temperature conditions and a long operational life. However, their killer application may be as partners with lithium-ion batteries, which offer higher energy density. Maxwell Technologies, a manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage products, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Korean energy provider SK Innovation to develop energy storage solutions leveraging the complementary characteristics of SK’s lithium-ion batteries and Maxwell’s ultracaps. “As our name implies, we are seeking to move beyond the limitations of existing technologies to develop and deliver products that better meet the requirements of the most demanding energy storage and power delivery applications,” said Stephen J. Kim of SK Innovation’s battery division. “Our goal is to develop truly differentiated products that will create large new opportunities for both companies.” “While our respective products currently meet the needs of many applications as stand-alone solutions, Maxwell has always believed that ultracapacitors and batteries can be integrated to provide optimized products that offer the best of both worlds in terms of energy and power,” said David Schramm, Maxwell’s CEO. “We are very pleased to have found a major lithium-ion battery producer in SK Innovation that is willing to invest in joint product and market exploration.”
Photo courtesy of Maxwell Technologies
Maxwell and SK to develop ultracap/battery combo
Industrial giant Dow Chemical has sold its interest in battery manufacturer Dow Kokam to MBP Investors LLC, an affiliate of Townsend Ventures. Dow Kokam makes large-format nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) lithium-ion cells and systems for the fleet transportation, stationary storage and industrial markets. The company’s Midland Battery Park in Michigan includes one of the highest-capacity Li-ion battery manufacturing plants in the world. Dow said its decision to shed Dow Kokam fits with its strategy of focusing on the materials portion of the battery value chain, rather than batteries themselves. “Today’s announcement is another example of Dow’s strategic actions to narrow our market participation,” said CEO Andrew N. Liveris. “We remain committed to delivering competitively advantaged solutions to the battery market through our battery materials business, where our position in the value chain is strategic and margin growth opportunities are clear.”
Photo courtesy of Alan Gore/Flickr
Dow sells battery-making division Dow Kokam
“Increasing our ownership in Dow Kokam will allow us to bring our market expertise and resources to this business in a way we couldn’t do before,” said Townsend Ventures CEO Dennis Townsend. “The acquisition is a strategic fit with our other battery investments, allowing us to leverage complementary technologies to position Dow Kokam as a leader in the emerging large-scale energy storage market.”
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Researchers show major advance in Li-S chemistry Colorado-based UQM Technologies has added the PowerPhase HD 250 to its line of components for heavy-duty EVs. This system consists of a permanent magnet motor/generator and a DSP-based controller, and is designed for high-voltage electric and hybrid vehicles, including heavy commercial truck, transit bus and marine applications. “The PowerPhase HD 250 provides an ideal solution for trucks and buses that are designed to operate at voltages between 450 and 750 V,” said UQM CEO Eric R. Ridenour. “Commercial vehicle systems are a significant part of our business, and this new system further expands our opportunities within this segment.” “Higher operating voltage creates lower operating current, enabling lower weight or lower resistance losses in vehicle wiring, and this is an architecture choice for some manufacturers’ electrified vehicles,” said UQM Vice President of Engineering Jon F. Lutz. The UQM PowerPhase HD 250 provides 900 N-m (664 lb-ft) peak torque and 250 kW (335 hp) peak power. Maximum input (battery) voltage is 750 volts, providing up to 95 percent energy conversion efficiency. UQM’s PowerPhase systems are currently used in Hino electric buses, Proterra electric buses, Electric Vehicles International medium-duty trucks, Zenith Motors electric vans, Boulder Electric Vehicle commercial vehicles and ReGen Nautic marine propulsion systems.
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Photo courtesy of UQM
UQM’s new high-voltage motor/controller system
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery that has more than twice the specific energy of current lithium-ion batteries, and that lasts for more than 1,500 charge/discharge cycles with minimal capacity loss. This is the longest cycle life yet reported for any lithium-sulfur battery. The results were reported in the journal Nano Letters. “The Li-S battery chemistry has attracted attention because it has a much higher theoretical specific energy than lithium-ion batteries do,” says Elton Cairns, one of the paper’s co-authors. “Li-S batteries would also be desirable because sulfur is non-toxic, safe and inexpensive.” However, Li-S also has its challenges. During discharge, lithium polysulfides tend to dissolve from the cathode - one reason why the cell capacity begins to fade after just a few cycles. Another problem is a conversion that causes the volume of the sulfur electrode to swell and contract up to 76% during cell operation, which leads to mechanical degradation of the electrodes. To address the problem of polysulfide dissolution and chemical degradation, the research team applied a coating of cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) surfactant to the sulfur electrode, which reduces the ability of the electrolyte to penetrate and dissolve the electrode material. The team also developed a novel ionic liquidbased electrolyte, which inhibits polysulfide dissolution and helps the battery operate at a high rate, increasing the speed at which the battery can be charged, and the power it can deliver. The ionic liquid-based electrolyte also improves safety, as ionic liquids are non-volatile and non-flammable. The battery initially showed an estimated cellspecific energy of more than 500 Wh/kg and maintained it at >300 Wh/kg after 1,000 cycles - much higher than that of currently available lithium-ion cells, which currently average about 200 Wh/kg.
Image courtesy of Protean
Protean and FAW-VW to produce new electric drivetrain In-wheel motor developer Protean Electric is partnering with FAW-Volkswagen in China to develop a new electric propulsion system. FAW-VW will create a new rear-wheel drivetrain for an EV based on the Bora compact sedan, using two Protean in-wheel motors. “This is a two-phase project that will capitalize on the torque and packaging freedoms that Protean Drive can bring to an automaker,” said Protean CEO Kwok-yin Chan. “Our technology will return the space to the new
[ Y S I ER
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Bora vehicle platform that was formerly occupied by an in-board motor and powertrain.” Protean’s new permanent magnet synchronous motor provides a 25% increase in peak torque compared with the previous generation’s design and can deliver peak output of 1,000 N-m (735 lb-ft) and 75 kW (100 hp), or 700 N-m (516 lb-ft) and 54 kW (72 hp) continuous. Each in-wheel motor comes with its own power and control electronics packaged inside the motor, which communicates with the vehicle by utilizing a common vehicle control system. Protean engineers inverted the conventional motor design - the rotor is on the outside and the stator on the inside. According to the company, this improves performance and makes the motor more compact, providing space inside the motor for power electronics. Protean plans to begin production of its in-wheel motor in 2014, at the company’s new manufacturing facility in Liyang, China.
The Project Targets 400Wh/kg Half the weight of current Li-ion EV battery systems
The Final Deliverable Li-S battery and powertrain, proven in Lotus EV simulator, delivery 2016
] The Project and the Funding REVB is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board
The Consortium OXIS Energy (lead partner) Imperial College London Cranfield University Lotus Engineering
3M licenses NMC patents to ECOPRO 3M and Korea-based ECOPRO have entered into a patent license agreement that aims to further expand the use of nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries. Under the agreement, 3M grants a license to US6964828, US7078128, US8241791 and all global equivalents. The cathode compositions of nickel, manganese and cobalt offer a balance of power, energy, thermal stability and low cost. NMC cathode materials can be tailored through changes in composition and morphology to meet a wide range of customer requirements, from high-energy handheld consumer electronics to high-power electric vehicles. For large format battery applications, the thermal stability of NMC cathode compositions brings improved safety performance, and can contribute to lower total battery system costs.
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with 3M, and we are very excited about the customer solutions ECOPRO can offer using the newly licensed NMC compositions,” said Mr. Dong-Che Lee, CEO of ECOPRO. “The compositions can be particularly beneficial in emerging applications for lithium-ion batteries in the transportation and grid energy storage markets.” “The compositions described in these patents will enable battery customers to further reduce cost and minimize materials cost fluctuations that are typical with higher cobalt cathode compositions,” said Christian Milker, business manager, 3M Electronics Markets Materials Division. “This agreement with ECOPRO will accelerate the market adaptation of the technology and enhance our ability to meet the rapidly growing needs of lithium-ion battery manufacturers.”
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DON’T FILL THE
of Porous Power Technologies
Image courtesy of Porous Power Technologies
n 2006, Porous Power Technologies was formed around a new microporous membrane material designed specifically for use as a lithium-ion battery separator. At that time, most battery separator materials were originally intended for other applications and adapted when the lithium-ion market began to develop. The companyâ€™s founders saw an opportunity to offer better performing separators and developed its proprietary polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) technology for commercialization over the next five years. In 2011, Porous Power formed a strategic partnership with the high-performance fiber-based materials company Ahlstrom. The billionEuro-a-year-Finnish company, which now has a 49% stake in Porous Power, specializes in manufacturing nonwoven fabrics - one of the components in the separators. The companyâ€™s initial products are available for earlystage evaluations, with over 30 customers around the world at different stages of testing. On January 1st, 2014, Porous Power will launch its next generation of safety-enhanced, commercially available product - a ceramic-grade PVDF separator.
Charged caught up with Bernard Perry, Chief Business Development Officer at Porous Power, to get some details about the advantages of using the purpose-built material in EV batteries. Charged: Give us the sales pitch. What makes Porous Power’s new products special?
Charged: Why is high porosity important? BP: You need a high-porosity separator in a Li-ion cell in order for the ions to flow back and forth between the electrodes. Higher porosity means less heat generated in the cell and more energy available to be used. Uniform porosity is beneficial for this and for things like absorbing the electrolyte and avoiding variations in ion flow. Polyolefin separators tend not to absorb electrolytes very easily or thoroughly. People have figured out how to do it quite efficiently for small cells - for example one inch by two inch. But for a larger-format cell like the 10- or 12-inch square surface of a 30 Ah EV cell - getting the electrolyte evenly distributed through all the layers is a real trick. It takes a lot of time, and you have to be really good at what you’re doing, otherwise you’ll leave dry spots that won’t be detected easily. Dry spots, without electrolyte, are likely to be a point of failure at some point during the battery’s life. If you look closely at a lot of polyolefin separators, they’re just not that uniform from corner to corner and edge to edge. There are areas of high density and areas of low density because of the nature of that manufacturing process. In the areas of low density, ions will flow easily, and in the areas of high density ions will flow slowly - forcing them around to the low-density areas and causing concentrated flow. That generates different heat profiles across the surface of large-format batteries. This can cause damage to the separator, but also change the surface effect on the electrodes adjacent to the separator. As it gets heated differently, it develops different surface characteristics. The more variation you put into the separator - or the surface of the electrode - the quicker it will fail, significantly reducing the cycle life of that cell. Because we have exceptionally uniform porosity, you do not have as much variation in ion flow. The surface degradation of the electrodes is very uniform, which contributes to improved safety and longer battery life.
If it shrinks away from the electrode edges, there are problems. So, they put ceramics on top to reduce the shrinkage and add thermal stability.
Bernard Perry: Most of the battery separators on the market now are polyolefins, either polypropylene or polyethylene. They were manufactured with heat extrusion processes. After extrusion, they are stretched to make the film porous and to orient them. The problem is that the more you stretch them, the more energy is tensioned into them. When the cells get hot, this tension is released and causes shrinkage, which reduces performance and can cause shorting. Nonetheless, this is how they make state-of-the-art products that are going into the Li-ion batteries that we know and love today. These polyolefin separators are reasonably good products for smaller electronic applications - cell phones, computers and power tools - but as you start getting into the larger format cell assemblies like electric drive vehicles, you need something more. Porous Power’s polymer is not polyolefin. We use an engineering grade PVDF. It’s a very flexible polymer that we solution cast. In other words, we turn it into a liquid solution and then cast it onto a substrate. We never stretch it. We actually coat it onto another film - a sacrificial film. Then we remove the high porosity PVDF. It looks like a kitchen sponge, as opposed to a rigid piece of plastic like polyolefin. Because our separator is cast, not stretched, the porosity is very high, exceptionally uniform and stable. We also reinforce the product with a polyester nonwoven scrim. That works like a structural scaffolding to give it tensile strength and help in the battery assembly process. It also provides a skeleton inside the battery separator to prevent the battery from shorting out if the electrodes come in contact.
Unrestrained Shrinkage at 130˚C
Image courtesy of Porous Power Technologies
Using test method ASTM D1204
Wet process Wet process 12 micron 20 micron polyolefin polyolefin
Dry process 20 micron polyolefin shutdown trilayer
Dry process 25 micron polyolefin monolayer
Charged: What is the role of ceramics in battery separators? BP: Virtually all large-format cells are using battery separators that contain ceramics. It reduces shrinkage, adds thermal stability and higher temperature performance. When a polyolefin separator gets up to about 110 degrees C, it starts shrinking quite a bit - up to 5%. If it shrinks away from the electrode edges, there are problems. So, they put ceramics on top to reduce the shrinkage and add thermal stability. The problem is that when you overcoat a porous structure, you fill up the pores, and it’s very difficult to maintain high or effective porosity. We don’t overcoat ceramics. We actually mix ceramic particles into the solution before we cast the separator. When the pores are formed, the ceramics are embedded into the wall system and not in the pores. So our separa-
Porous Power’s SYMMETRIX HPX
Porous Power’s SYMMETRIX HPXF
We don’t overcoat ceramics. We actually mix ceramic particles into the solution before we cast the separator.
tors with a high loading of ceramics are about the same porosity as our separators without ceramics. With a polyolefin separator, the maximum you can really get them to is about 55 percent porous. Overcoat them with ceramics on two sides, and you net out at about an effective 40 percent porosity. Not only do they lose a lot of effective porosity, but most start with a lower porosity to begin with. We start with about 65 percent porosity. After the addition of the ceramics, we only lose a couple of percent
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DEC 2013 21
Image courtesy of Porous Power Technologies
and net out at around 60 percent. That allows us to have a safer, lowshrinkage separator with increased robustness, extended cycle life, lower internal impedance and improved safety. That is the big benefit that we have over the competition. There are a couple other companies that have ceramic products similar to ours - that are not coated - but there are also big differences between us and them. Charged: How does the PVDF polymer compare in terms of safety? BP: Using the solution casting technique, we’re able to make separators that shrink very little compared to polyolefins that are stretched. That is a benefit on the performance side and also on the safety side. It’s a flexible product. If the cell is ever damaged, as in a penetration abuse situation, the PVDF will not shrink away from the nail. Rather, it will stay in place. The PVDF will not burn or support a flame. It’s stable through 160 degrees C, at which point it starts going into a gel state. A damaged cell may no longer function, but when the PVDF gets hot it tends to stay where it is even if you put a nail through it or have an internal short in the system. With a polyolefin separator, the tendency is for it to shrink away from any hot spot. By stretching it during manufacturing, energy is put into the system. If you have a short in the cell, you get a super hot spot. Then the polyolefin will shrink away from that spot, exposing the electrodes. This opens up the likelihood that the electrodes will come into contact and have a potentially catastrophic failure. Charged: How does the PVDF polymer affect cycle life? BP: It’s a higher-grade polymer that’s intended to last for many years. Our targets are the EV market, the power battery market and the energy storage systems market, where you need the batteries to last. By mixing our polymer into a solution, were able
It’s a flexible product. If the cell is ever damaged, like in a penetration abuse situation, the PVDF will not shrink away from the nail, rather it stays in place.
to add in all sorts of active and inactive ingredients to provide different functionalities - like scavenging of contaminates that can be liberated though improper cycling of a battery. When a battery cycles, there is a lot of electrochemical activity going on in the cell. When there is a charge put across the chemistries, you can start forming insoluble reaction products inside the battery. You can call them bad actors, because they basically work to slow or eventually kill the performance of the battery. So there’s a lot of emphasis these days on finding ways to soak up these bad actors and you can do that with certain types of additives. We have a particularly effective way of delivering these additives inside the separator, again without affecting porosity. Also, as a cell cycles it expands and contracts because
THE TECH of the heat generated. There is a micro-hammering effect on the surface of the separators because they repeatedly contact the electrodes. After a few hundred of these events, the surface of a rigid polyolefin separator will change. In other words, the porosity you start with is not the porosity you end up with because of the physical effects of the hammering. Because our material is very spongelike, it flexes with each of these charge and discharge events. It’s like a mattress. The surface porosity does not change very much even after 1000 cycles. Another of the more interesting aspects of our PVDF material is that we feel the battery separator of the future is going to have to operate in a higher voltage environment. 4.2 V is great for these smaller cells, but in order to improve EV batteries, you’re going to have to improve all the different components. For cells to work at high voltages - the 4.7 V, 4.9 V, 5 V range - you need electrolytes and electrodes that are specifically designed for those voltages, and a separator that is not going to oxidize. This
oxidation is a change in the polymer chemistry, initially on the surface, and eventually all the way through - kind of like rust. Polyolefin separators oxidize very quickly at high voltages. PVDF separators exhibit much less of a change over time. If you open up a battery with a Polyolefin separator that’s been cycled 100 times at high voltage, the separator is going to be discolored. The PVDF separator is going to look brand new - it’s very stable at high voltage. Charged: How does the cost of your products compare to those currently on the market? BP: We’re very cost-competitive with the high-end ceramic separators that are offered by the top-of-theline manufacturers. Our new ceramic-grade product comes out at the beginning of 2014, and it’s priced to be competitive. We’re still pre-revenue, but expect our first over-the-hump sales will be early next year.
Module and pack level testing CAN, I2C SMBus capable Drive cycle simulation Import drive cycle from table of values Battery power is recycled to AC grid in discharge Utilizes Maccor’s standard battery test software suite No system power limit, up to 900KW
Out of the
World and Into the
California Lithium Battery took advantage of national and local government programs so it could focus on its revolutionary silicon-graphene anode material. Now with EV, electronics, and energy storage customers lining up, it hopes to break the battery bottleneck. By Markkus Rovito
Image courtesy of California Lithium Battery
Embedded Silicon-Graphene Composite Anode Material
hen you think about a bottleneck, you think about constriction - something that moves in a particular direction and runs into a tightening of available space. In the case of traffic, the bottleneck that brings us all together in frustration and occasional road rage, you alleviate it by adding layers - new lanes to accommodate the progress of vehicles. There is another kind bottleneck affecting the future of our roadways as well. Unfortunately, for the bottleneck of electric vehicle battery capacity and energy density, there is no left lane opening up just ahead. Our only real solace in this waiting game is knowing that construction is in progress. Yet just as with traffic, alleviating the battery bottleneck will mean adding new layers of complexity to the workspace: new battery chemistries and technologies, new working relationships, new infrastructures. California Lithium Battery (also known as CalBattery) exemplifies the kind of interrelationships and operating structures needed to fuel the battery powder keg that seems set to explode in a few yearsâ€™ time. The small startup has thrived on the partnership of government with private enterprise, the teaming of business manager with scientist, and most importantly, the fusion of silicon with graphene to produce a highly energy-dense anode material.
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If CalBattery accomplishes its current goal of changing the battery game by commercializing the silicon-based battery anode - specifically, its patent-pending silicon-graphene (SiGr) composite anode material - it will be partially because of a US Department of Energy (DOE) technology transfer program. In 2011, the DOE held its first “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge.” Realityshow reject name aside, the program specifically targets small American startup companies and gives them a chance to license unused patents from the DOE’s national laboratories at bargain-basement prices. In 2009, CalBattery co-founder and CEO Phillip Roberts was leading Ionex Energy Storage Systems, working on grid-scale energy storage systems for renewable-energy integration in California, when he was approached by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), the oldest of the DOE’s national research labs. “I was speaking at an energy storage conference,” Roberts said, “and one of the Argonne reps came up to me and asked ‘how would you like to lower the cost of your lithium battery by 70 percent?’ I started laughing. I said, ‘Yeah, sure, where do I sign up?’” While it may have sounded too good to be true at first, the Argonne team, led by the new material’s inventor Dr. Junbing Yang, later convinced Roberts that its SiGr composite anode material had great promise. In ANL tests, it showed the potential to dramatically improve Li-ion battery performance, as well as lowering the average cost per kWh. Within two years, Roberts and his business partner Wei Cui had spun off CalBattery as a joint venture and, through the DOE’s America’s Next Top Innovator/Startup America initiative, begun working with Argonne to fasttrack the development and commercialization of this new
Photo courtesy of Argonne National Lab (Flickr)
When you get a license, unfortunately they don’t give you an instruction manual. It’s just kind of a general idea in which direction to head. The real work to get to a product, that’s a whole new challenge.
high-capacity SiGr battery technology. During that time, CalBattery settled down in the newly-opened LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI) in the “Cleantech Corridor” near downtown Los Angeles - ironically, not in Silicon Valley. LACI began in 2011 with major funding from the City of LA and the LA Department of Water and Power. The facility offers deeply discounted office and lab space, executive mentorship, and a network of potential customers and financiers. Thanks in part to the slow-burn environment that LACI provides, CalBattery spent a quiet 2011-2012 working behind the scenes with Argonne under a Work for Others agreement, eventually leading up to CalBattery’s official licensing of the SiGr composite anode from ANL in November 2012. The company’s plan was to rapidly commercialize the material, but even with the license secured, not all the pieces were in place yet.
“ Photo courtesy of Argonne National Lab (Flickr)
It’s a big change to go from the research side to an earlystage startup... But I’m not interested in just being the first person to publish the research. I want to see the research go into a commercial product.
“When you get a license, unfortunately they don’t give you an instruction manual,” Roberts said. “It’s just kind of a general idea in which direction to head. The real work to get to a product, that’s a whole new challenge.” Roberts needed a partner to scale up the SiGr production to commercial levels, and who better than the inventor himself? Junbing Yang, Ph.D. had been with Argonne since 2004, had a strong background in R&D on highenergy and high-power lithium-ion batteries, and is credited with inventing the ANL silicon-graphene composite anode material that CalBattery had just licensed. For about a year, as CalBattery worked with Argonne, Yang continued to optimize the process of producing SiGr. However, he had zero executive or startup experience. “It’s a big change to go from the research side to an early-stage startup. I had to make a decision,” Yang said. “But I’m not interested in just being the first person to publish the research. I want to see the research go into a commercial product.” This past June, Yang joined CalBattery as Chief Technology Officer in charge of new product intellectual property (IP) and development. “To go from scientist to entrepreneur, it’s a lifestyle change,” Yang said. “Here, in this early-stage environment, you do everything by yourself, very quickly, and economically efficient. It’s totally
different. It’s an evolving story. Maybe after six months, I’ll have more personal feelings for this change in myself.” Roberts then chimed in, saying, “He’ll certainly have more gray hair; this is my third startup and I have plenty of gray hair to prove it!” With Yang and the rest of the executive team in place at the LACI headquarters, CalBattery opened a pilot production facility 30 miles down State Route 60 in Brea. Now it’s full-speed ahead with scaling up production, and CalBattery thinks that in a few of years it can churn out SiGr on a commercial scale.
Beyond CalBattery’s startup backstory, there’s also the saga of its keystone, the silicon-graphene composite. “Silicon has been kind of the Holy Grail of battery research for about 10-15 years,” Roberts said. “It’s such a big deal because silicon absorbs lithium 10 times better than any other material. The key is to have it work in a stabilized manner for extended cycle life. The problem is that during lithiation (charge/discharge cycle), it expands to over 400 times its size, and when it discharges, it goes back down. If you put it into an electrode in a battery, it’ll break the contact and lose its capacity in less than 10 cycles.”
DEC 2013 27
Because a silicon-based anode holds so much promise for lithium batteries, many other companies and entities are trying to find new methods to stabilize silicon as well, but Yang feels that the Calbattery method is the best so far. “To stabilize silicon, you want the silicon to be intermittently mixed with graphene,” Yang said. “The silicon must not agglomerate to produce a material with the best performance and longest cycle life. The way other researchers or companies incorporate silicon into graphite is different. They basically have silicon loosely sitting on the surface of the graphite, which does not help, because during cycling the silicon particles migrate and then agglomerate, causing rapid capacity fading. I tested many other silicon procedures. We know ours is the best, because we tested the materials with the same procedure, so we can make an apples-to-apples comparison.” Roberts claims that the result is a stable anode material with three times the specific capacity of any other, and that it’s closer to being commercial-ready than any other silicon-based solution. “It has triple the capacity to absorb lithium ions,” Roberts said, “and when you combine it with other high-energy-density cathode and high-
Polycrystalline silicon rod
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Photo courtesy of Argonne National Lab (Flickr)
You can’t just mix them up. We tried it; it didn’t work. To coat it doesn’t work. The only way it works is to put it in as a gas.
Photo courtesy of Warut Roonguthai
Yang found a composite production process that works around the limitation of silicon’s expansion. It’s a gas phase deposition process that uses organosilane heated up to a gas. The sub-micron-size particles form between crevices in the graphene layers and uniformly embed themselves throughout these platelet layers, creating a stable silicon-based anode composite material that maintains its structural integrity for long cycle life, for use not only in EVs but also in consumer portable device applications. “You can’t just mix them up,” Roberts said. “We tried it; it didn’t work. To coat it doesn’t work. The only way it works is to put it in as a gas.” “The silicon gas goes everywhere, and then it decomposes to form solid particles,” Yang added. “That’s how you form this embedded structure.” The resulting composite allows silicon to expand and contract, but not so much that it breaks the battery electrode contact.
Graphene’s hexagonal structure
THE TECH voltage electrolyte materials that CalBattery is currently developing, you can double or triple the energy density. We tested it with some of the best battery cathodes and electrolytes, and it worked very well with all of them. Then we were confident enough to go to the next step to put in the effort and resources to rapidly commercialize it.”
With the entire industrialized world starving for a breakthrough in lithium battery capacity, CalBattery has attracted more attention than Roberts initially expected. Roberts told Charged that they have interest from many major EV and lithium battery OEMs - as was evidenced by the long lines waiting to speak with Calbattery at a recent industry show in Detroit. With the dream of smartphones and laptops that last 24 hours in everyone’s mind, CalBattery has revised its initial business strategy and is now targeting consumer electronics as the first application for SiGr-based batteries, followed by electric vehicles, and finally stationary energy storage applications.
“With EV batteries, the commercialization process takes five to seven years,” Roberts said. “You first have to develop the cell, then the pack, test them in the field, and there are OEM liability issues that slow the market entry process down even further.” How much longer? CalBattery is currently perfecting and scaling up the SiGr production process, including building its 3rd-generation reactor for continuous-flow production, and developing low-cost manufacturing techniques. Both Roberts and Yang think that in a few years they will be able to start selling a finished product to key customers, and begin selling the material on a grand scale (many thousands of metric tons) in four years or so, depending on capital resources. Yang said that using a commercial-scale reactor, they could produce fifty metric tons of SiGr material per reactor, per year, and eventually more as their process understanding and global demand grow. “We do not think it’s a problem to scale up,” Yang said, “because for this process we can use existing equipment borrowed from another industry. What we did was modify the reactor.”
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THE TECH The company has supplied SiGr samples to certain customers, who are already looking to develop their nextgeneration SiGr batteries with them. While CalBattery says that SiGr works with existing cathodes and electrolytes, the company is also working on its own SiGroptimized cathode and electrolyte materials to use in full cells for EVs and cell phones. The Company is currently being sponsored by a global industrial giant to build and demonstrate an 800 Wh/l cell phone battery in Q1, 2014. Most of the prospective Calbattery OEM customers have already developed their own cathodes and electrolytes and are just looking for a high-capacity yet stable silicon anode material. The bottom line for Roberts is that SiGr can be used as a drop-in replacement for current graphite-based anodes. And with a Who’s Who in both the EV and lithium battery worlds waiting in line to incorporate the Calbattery silicon anode material into their nextgeneration EV and cell phone batteries, he thinks the company can capture 10-25 percent of the estimated $6 billion LIB anode market by 2020.
“If it’s not the Holy Grail, it’s one of the keys to substantially improving the next generation of lithium batteries without a doubt,” Roberts said. “From my experience it’s what everybody’s been looking for, and I would say it’s the most promising lithium battery material entering the market today. A lot of people talk about lithium-air or sulfur, and while it’s exciting, that’s a long time down the road to a commercial product, if ever. This anode product is designed as a drop-in replacement for graphite, and it’s going to improve anything and everything that needs to store energy practically and cost-efficiently. It not only pays for itself, it is fundamental to making high energydensity lithium batteries possible in the very near future. That’s why we think it’s going to be a game-changer making the cost of EVs on par with gas vehicles, tying renewables together with low-cost grid energy storage and - my daughter Jasmine’s favorite - making it possible to use a smart phone for twice as long on a single charge. It’s a potentially disruptive technology that could transform a lot in our society for the better.”
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By Brian Gallagher
Brian has had a variety of engineering and management roles designing human machine interfaces (HMIs) in the biotech and automotive industries. Most recently, he is the cofounder of Andromeda Interfaces, which develops HMIs for many different industries.
How can we successfully translate the data into a form that technicians and engineers can use to diagnose or test battery packs easily?
ith the adoption of lithium-ion battery technology in electric vehicles, the role of battery management systems (BMS) has become vital measuring and reporting critical real-time information about the operation of the battery pack. An EV’s pack is comprised of many individual cells working together in groups. The primary responsibility of the BMS is to maintain the same state of charge (SOC) among all the cells by performing energy management. It is essentially the “brain” of the pack, and data is continually being monitored, processed and stored to prevent damage to the cells. The amount of cell data being provided by the BMS is comprehensive, and becomes quite a challenge to troubleshoot in the event that an issue arises. The question is: How can we successfully translate the data into a form that technicians and engineers can use to diagnose or test battery packs easily? Critical BMS cell data The single most important function of a BMS is cell protection. Lithium-ion cells possess characteristics that make it necessary to monitor them. If the cells are overcharged, they can be damaged and cause overheating. If the cells are discharged below a certain
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threshold (approximately < 5 are driven by human motiWhen any of the cells go percent of total capacity) the cell’s vations, so they can change out of balance, individual capacity can become permanently slowly, whereas activities or cells can get stressed and reduced. tasks are much more tranlead to premature charge The second most important funcsient since they are based termination, and, in effect, tion performed by a BMS is energy on whatever technology management. In an ideal design, all is available. For example, contribute to a reduction in the battery cells in a pack should be the overall capacity and cycle taking a trip to the bank, kept at the same SOC. When any of a person’s goals are likely life of the battery pack. the cells go out of balance, indito include withdrawing or vidual cells can get stressed, leading to premature charge depositing money into their bank account. Nowadays, a termination and contributing to a reduction in the overall person would take advantage of an ATM machine to fulcapacity and cycle life of the battery pack. fill those goals, but 100 years ago your only option was to Voltage, temperature and location data for each cell go inside the bank and interact with a bank teller. In any is needed to enable the BMS to successfully perform its era, the goal is the same, but the activities and tasks have job. Depending upon the battery pack’s energy and voltchanged completely, because of technology. age design requirements, the total amount of data being In the world of Interaction Design, which is the pracmonitored and maintained by the BMS from each of the tice of designing interactive digital products, tools and cells can become overwhelming. services, there is a design process called Goal-Directed. Battery packs are pushing higher and higher voltages to In its simplest form, Goal-Directed implements a process increase their efficiency and to deliver more power. Let’s to ensure that when designing digital products with huassume we have a battery pack with a nominal voltage of man interaction, end users will be able to quickly achieve 600 VDC with LiFePO4 cells (3.3 V nominal). We would their desired results rather than becoming tangled in need up to 182 cells to reach the battery pack’s operating computer or machine minutiae. voltage and, depending upon your energy requirements Now that we’ve gone through a crash course on Goal(kWh), that number could double or triple. If we considDirected design, let’s revisit our BMS application and er monitoring each of the cell’s voltage and temperature apply this design approach. measurements, there are potentially over 250 data points The type of person who would care if the BMS is to monitor. performing its duties is most likely a test engineer. Test A traditional approach to displaying this amount of engineers are responsible for resolving or identifying data points is to set up rows for each of the units moniissues so they can continue testing and validating both toring the battery cells and then establish columns to the BMS and the battery pack’s design. They rely heavily populate each of their measurement readings. In visual on diagnostic tools to aid them in their efforts. So what programming-speak this is classically performed with would their goals be for utilizing these tools? Data Grid View controls, which is basically a spreadsheet. You may think that their goals would be to perform This amount of data displayed on a screen doesn’t testing and validation more efficiently, but this is not translate well for anyone who needs to quickly interpret necessarily true. Efficient testing and validation are the the battery pack’s performance from each of the battery goals of the test engineer’s employer. Test engineers are cells. It will take time to process all of this text on the more likely concentrated on their personal goals of being screen. competent at their job and keeping themselves engaged with their work while performing routine and repetitive Know your goals tasks. Goals are not the same as tasks or activities. A goal is Knowing our test engineer’s goals, and having a clear an expectation of an end condition, according to wellunderstanding of a BMS’s purpose, we can come up with known software designer and programmer Alan Cooper, a user interface to make the experience of viewing batwhereas both activities and tasks are intermediate steps tery cell data more intuitive instead of processing a giant that help someone to reach a goal or set of goals. Goals matrix of data in text.
THE TECH Creatively displaying battery cell data In an effort to find new and innovative ways to display cell data - and in collaboration with a colleague who is a BMS expert from a major Li-ion cell manufacturer we developed a new graphical design approach dubbed “Flubber.” At this point Flubber is only a concept; it doesn’t exist in any testing products. This discussion is intended to open up ideas and inspire other HMI designers to think differently about the wealth of information that comes from the BMS and consider other ways to help test engineers read a pack’s data more quicker. Flubber appears as a histogram that has been smoothed
out with a spline function. It represents the number of cells in a battery pack. The Y-Axis plot shows the battery cells voltage range from 2.0 V to 4.0 V, and the X-Axis represents the cell’s SOC levels. The goal is to ensure that the battery cells stay close to each other while moving across the X-Axis. This would suggest that the cells are well-balanced throughout their usage (charging or discharging). If the batteries are well-balanced and fully charged, then Flubber will be at a sharp peak to the right of the plot (Figure 1). If they are completely discharged and balanced, then Flubber will be flat and furthest to the left (Figure 2).
Figure 1: Well-balanced and fully charged
Figure 2: Well-balanced and discharged
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DEC 2013 35
If the cells are out of balance, then Flubber should look scattered throughout the plot (Figure 3) and we can then change the color to red to indicate that something is wrong. If the majority of our battery cells are balanced and charged, but there are a few still out of balance, then our graphical representation would quickly point out our castaways (Figure 4). Another feature we could implement is interaction with our battery cells to see specific measurements from each of them. This would be a similar concept to a company’s plot for stock prices over time. When viewing these types of plots on mobile devices, you can interact with them by touching any point on the plot to bring up
The overall objective is to satisfy a test engineer’s personal goals: utilizing intuitive software tools to effectively perform the job.
a dialog box with their stock price at that given point. We could apply a similar concept to view our battery cell measurements on Flubber (Figure 5). Among the vivid screenshots, the user should be able to quickly identify whether or not the battery cells are completely balanced and determine if they are fully charged or discharged. The overall objective is to satisfy a test engineer’s personal goals: utilizing intuitive software
Figure 3: Out-of-balance cells
Figure 4: Well-balanced cells with outliers
THE TECH Figure 5: Interactive display
tools to effectively perform the job. When considering how people interact with software tools, we should first remember that a tool addresses human needs by amplifying human capabilities. Creating tools that aid people in helping them achieve their
goals will keep them satisfied, effective and delighted to keep using them. Before creating any tools for humans to interact with, you first have to understand the personâ€™s goals and motivations for using them and then design them to fit the human body and its cognitive abilities.
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hen a battery technology firm develops a new material, typically the first step is to test its performance in a small-format battery package known as a coin cell. Coin cells are used directly in many consumer products, but they also serve as a stepping stone in large-battery research and development. Engineers begin the R&D process on a small scale for a few different reasons. When testing an experimental material that is very energetic, you don’t want to test a lot of it. Also, prototype materials - like new anode or cathode chemistries - are produced in a laboratory environment in small quantities. Evaluating them in a coin cell format serves as an early detection system. If a cell performs well in a coin package, it’s scaled up and tested again. One of the most valuable testing tools for this type of energy storage research is the calorimeter. This instrument is used to measure the heat released by the cell during charging and discharging. It’s very useful for the battery technology community, because in order to understand the cell’s energy efficiency and improve performance, lifetime, and safety, it’s necessary to have a precise measurement of the heat generated during cycling. NETZSCH Instruments North America, a company that specializes in precision test equipment, is a manufacturer of high-temperature coin cell calorimeters. The extremely accurate devices perform charge/discharge tests in isothermal mode to measure battery performance and efficiency, and in temperature-scanning mode, users can study cell safety and decomposition thermodynamics and
kinetics. It’s well known that a battery in a car will experience decreasing efficiency in colder weather, but by how much? You need to characterize that and evaluate which electrolytic components will give better performance at higher and lower temperatures. MMC 274 Nexus® calorimeter To do so, a furnace is set to a given temperature - 40 degrees C, for example - which brings the coin cell to that temperature. The cell is cycled, and a variety of measurements are recorded. Then the temperature of the system is raised and the cycling tests are performed again. Researchers then test different chemistry variations in the same instrument and compare them based on the heat signature of the cells. This type of testing gives cell designers a multitude of metrics that they need to evaluate new battery materials. Scaling Up Beginning in the first quarter of 2014, NETZSCH will offer a scaled-up version of this valuable tool. The new Isothermal Battery Calorimeter (IBC 284) - based on a technology developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory - is a first for the industry. It offers battery developers all of the very precise quantitative measurements of smaller bench-top coin cell calorimeters, but now for
t Photo courtesy of NETZSCH Instruments
testing By Michael Kent
Named among this year’s most significant innovations by R&D Magazine, the new device is a combination of known theory, new techniques, creative design, and scaled-up functionality.
larger-format cells and battery modules. The IBC 284 surrounds sample cells in a thermostatic bath designed to reach a very stable temperature equilibrium - using a standard 50/50 water-glycol fluid held at an extremely precise temperature setting, up to hundredths of a degree. Named among this year’s most significant innovations by R&D Magazine, the new device is a combination of known theory, new techniques, creative design, and scaled-up functionality. The instrumentation is able to accurately characterize heat output and efficiency of batteries under varying temperature, loads and use conditions, providing precise and critical information previously unavailable for larger-format systems. Temperature has a big impact on the performance, safety, and life of batteries, and thermal management is critical to the operation of Li-ion packs, particularly for EVs. Even today’s most advanced battery management systems have a relatively crude understanding of the operating parameters of the battery pack. NETZSCH’s new system offers a better understanding
IBC 284 - Isothermal Battery Calorimeter
of efficiency and heat generation in large battery cells, modules and packs. Jean-Francois Mauger, the company’s R&D Director, told Charged that the principle behind the IBC 284 has been used for about 10 years, but this is the first commercially available test system that has complete thermal isolation, the ability to test large cells and batteries, and the features needed to test high-energy batteries safely with a level of accuracy and functionality not seen in other calorimeters. Scaling up the precise measurement of heat generation will ultimately help engineers build better vehicles - optimizing thermal management systems, extending battery life, improving safety and reducing costs.
DEC 2013 39
CURRENTevents Tesla wins Ohio battle as dealership war spreads
Mitsubishi slashes price of 2014 i-MiEV
Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi has drastically dropped the price of its 2014 i-MiEV, and added several features as standard equipment. The new MSRP is $22,995 - a $6,130 price reduction from the previous 2012 model year vehicle.
After factoring in the federal tax credit of $7,500, the net MSRP drops to only $15,495. California residents could be driving electric for $12,995 - no more than the price for a bottom-of-the-line gas burner. And this is no stripped-down model - standard equipment includes CHAdeMO DC quick charging, a battery warming system, heated front seats, heated side view mirrors, aluminum wheels, fog lights and even a leather-covered steering wheel. To date, more than 30,000 Mitsubishi i-MiEV and i-MiEV-based production vehicles have been sold, most of them in the European and Asian markets.
Ohio was the site of the latest battle in the war between Tesla and the auto dealers, and the subversives from Silicon Valley seem to have won the day. The Ohio Dealers Association got an anti-Tesla amendment added to Ohio Senate Bill 137 - an unrelated bill that requires drivers to change lanes when highway maintenance vehicles are alongside the road. The proposed amendment would have banned Tesla (or, theoretically, other automakers) from selling cars directly to customers, and required it to make sales through independently-owned third parties. Groveport auto dealer Rhett Ricart told the Columbus Dispatch that he fears the long-established independent franchise model could unravel if states allow manufacturer-owned stores. “Tesla is Armageddon,” he said. However, Tesla VP Diarmuid O’Connell described traditional auto dealers as “classic incumbent monopolists,” and said, “The reason we sell direct is not to eviscerate the franchise dealer model. It’s because we’re introducing a novel and innovative technology that requires a lot of customer education and support.” Tesla is steadily growing more skilled in the arts of war. A lobbyist representing the company sent Ohio House members a letter asking them to block the amendment. Tesla also issued a press release in which it urged its supporters to contact lawmakers, and pointed out that there are more than 250 Roadster and Model S owners in Ohio, that Ohio companies supplied over $10 million in Model S parts and components this year, and that the company already operates a service center in Dublin, and plans to open stores in Columbus and Cincinnati this month, as well as a number of Superchargers before the end of the year. Finally, the electric automaker deployed its most potent weapon. The Columbus Dispatch showed photographs of members of the Ohio legislature taking test drives in an 85 kWh Performance Model S. The amendment was defeated.
Photo courtesy of NEVS
Saab restarts production, plans an EV for 2014 National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the company that took over the Saab brand name, has started production…of a gas-powered car. Production of the Saab 9-3 Aero Sedan, with a 220 hp, 2.0 liter turbo gas engine, has begun at the Saab plant in Trollhättan. Sales are initially focused on China, but a small number of vehicles will be sold directly to Swedish customers via the NEVS web site. The company plans to start slow, at a production rate of about ten cars a week and then gradually increase the pace to meet customer demand. It plans to launch an electric car based on the Saab 9-3 in spring 2014, with China as the first market. NEVS partner and part owner Qingdao has placed an order for a pilot fleet of 200 EVs, with delivery to begin in spring 2014. “I am proud of the dedication and focus that NEVS management and employees have demonstrated over the year that has passed since we became owners of the
plant in Trollhättan,” said Kai Johan Jiang, NEVS founder and main owner. “Swedish expertise along with Japanese technology around batteries and new lightweight materials and our Chinese group’s focus on green technology is our strength for the future.” NEVS’ purchasing organization has built partnerships with some 400 suppliers, engaging a total of around 2,400 companies all over the world.
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The first question the “average Joe” asks about an EV is often, “Why don’t they put a solar panel on it?” Leaving aside technical details about surface area, insolation, voltage levels and the requirements of vehicle design, the simple answer is that it wouldn’t produce enough energy to justify the cost. However, Via Motors’ VTRUX are aimed squarely at the commercial market, and the fleet operators who are buying them aren’t concerned with stylish looks or making an environmental statement, but only with demonstrable fuel savings. So if Bob Lutz tells us that the company’s new solar tonneau will pay for itself, we’d say it’s worth a look. Lutz himself introduced the solar-powered, plug-in electric truck at the LA Auto Show. Unlike smaller solar options that have only enough power to run a cooling fan, the truck’s bed cover has enough real estate for two high-capacity panels with up to 800 watts of total generating power - enough to significantly contribute to actual vehicle range, according to VIA. The company says that on long summer days the new bed cover option, called SolTrux, can provide up to 5-10 miles of additional electric range per day. This will potentially boost the plug-in electric range from 40 to 50 miles - with up to 400 miles of “extended range” in hybrid mode. The solar panel bed cover is designed to charge the traction batteries whenever sun is available, while driving or parked. If parked for long periods of time, like at an airport for several days, the truck can be fully charged upon return without a connection to the grid. The solar tonneau top opens and closes just like traditional bed covers, but will also come with an easy garage “hoist” option to remove and store the bed cover in just a few minutes. VIA hasn’t yet released an official price, but the company told Charged that it’s target is a retail price under $2,500 - which could mean an 18-24 month return on the solar investment. Not a bad fuel discount coupon, if you consider that up to 25% of your average daily fuel could be free for as long as you own your truck. In addition to saving money on fuel, the solar option can significantly reduce the carbon content of the electricity used.
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Photo courtesy of VIA Motors
Via Motors presents solar tonneau for its plug-in pickup
VIA’s standard extended-range electric trucks offer a combination of all-electric driving around town and hybrid modes for longer trips. The company claims that by combining the 40-mile battery electric range with up to 40% fuel savings in hybrid mode, the result is a “very real” 100 MPG for the average driver. The gas engine is used only to generate electricity, not unlike a diesel-electric train. VIA’s electric motor drives the truck’s 4WD system through a transfer case and maintains most all of the sophisticated technologies that come with the Chevy Silverado or Express van. The trucks and vans also come with 240 V and 120 V outlets with 15 kW of exportable power for tools or emergencies. VIA says that for fleets and home owners who have already installed solar panels, this truck is the perfect match. The company argues that with a plug-in electric truck in the garage, the value of the solar energy generated goes way up when it is used to displace the equivalent cost of gas or diesel. At the LA Auto Show, Lutz also announced the start of production for the plug-in trucks and vans. As a key part of its transition from the development phase to full-scale production, John Weber, former CEO of motor manufacturer Remy, has been chosen as VIA’s new CEO. Remy is a supplier to VIA, and the two companies have been working together under a joint development agreement since 2011. VIA plans to ramp up production on three electrified models in 2014, and is now taking orders for the VTRUX pickup, starting at $79,000.
European safety agency gives BMW i3 four stars The European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) published the results of its crash test of the 2014 BMW i3, in which the new EV Bimmer scored four out of five possible stars. The score compares unfavorably with other popular plug-ins such as the Volt, LEAF and Model S, all of which earned five-star ratings. According to Euro NCAP, “In the side barrier test, the i3 scored maximum points, with good protection of all body regions. In the more severe side pole impact, dummy readings of rib compression indicated that protection of the chest was weak. The front seats and head restraints provided marginal protection against whiplash in the event of a rear-end collision.” BMW responded to the less-than-perfect score, stating that the i3’s deficiencies have nothing to do with its extensive use of ultralight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or its bottom-mounted battery pack. “An extremely rigid passenger cell made from carbonfiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and the precise interplay
of its restraint systems allowed the BMW i3 to record outstanding results for adult occupant and child occupant protection in the Euro NCAP crash test. The testers noted an exceptionally low risk of injury in both front and side impacts, as well as in the Pole Side Impact test. Particularly striking here was the low degree of deformation in the CFRP passenger cell, which also enhances the effectiveness of the restraint systems.”
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Photos courtesy of GM
technology trickling up
owadays, when the incrowd thinks of the planet’s coolest car, a Model S or one of the European brands might come to mind, but there was a time when the unchallenged monarch of automotive luxury was the Cadillac. Surely no other car has been mentioned in as many classic movies and blues songs. And a Cadillac remains the top seller in the large luxury sedan category, beating out even trendy Tesla. So when America’s largest automaker launches an electrified model in its luxury line, it’s a milestone in automotive history. It’s also a somewhat controversial move, at least to EV pundits, because it defies the traditional wisdom that innovation starts with the luxury vehicles and trickles down to the mass-market models. GM has taken the opposite route, honing its electric technology for three years in the Volt before incorporating it into the Cadillac ELR two-door coupé, which goes on sale in January.
tech has been proven - they wait for the first review, see that it works and has been refined, then they jump on board.” The Volt now has over 500 million miles under its fan belt - the beta test is over, and it’s time for the luxury buyer to experience what the technology can do. Several reviewers have expressed a bit of sticker shock at the lofty price of the ELR - Consumer Reports said the car is “priced out of its league,” while Automobile believes it will face tough competition not only from the Model S but from the BMW and Mercedes coupés. MSRP starts at $75,000, compared to $34,185 for the 2014 Volt. Both cars are built on GM’s Delta II platform, use the Voltec propulsion system, and have similar performance specs. Will buyers really pay double the price to experience the ELR’s luxury features? Absolutely, says GM. The electrified luxury vehicle represents a new portion of the market. Those who
Photos courtesy of GM
Charged spoke with Kevin Kelly, GM’s Manager of Electrification Technology Communications, as well as ELR Chief Engineer Chris Thomason and Product Manager Darin Gesse. They told us that the rationale behind GM’s strategy had to do with the newness of the technology. The combination of an electric powertrain with a gasoline range extender was something that had never been available before, and early Volt customers knew that they were taking a risk by buying the vehicles. As Gesse told us, many Volt buyers are the type of customers who could afford a luxury car, but want to be on the cutting edge. That customer base has been a huge asset for GM, offering invaluable feedback on their real-world experience with the car. However, the luxury car buyers who will be interested in the ELR are not the beta-testing type. “They are our fast followers, who want to be part of the change, but they want to make sure the
There are very few features available beyond the base ELR. It’s an all-in luxury car out of the chute.
appreciate design and technology, and have the means to buy what they want, couldn’t see themselves in a “hybrid” car before, but now they can. When people see the ELR at auto shows, many say something along the lines of, “Is that electric? It can’t be - it looks too good.” That sounds like “mission accomplished” to the GM team. As for the price, Gesse says, “We invite students of the industry to compare and contrast. We welcome the comparisons. Could we have set the price lower, and then optioned it
up? Yes, but we didn’t feel that was the right thing to do for a luxury offering. There are very few features available beyond the base ELR. It’s an all-in luxury car out of the chute.” Those features are formidable: LED lighting, active air shutters, automatic high/low-beam headlamps, a Bose 10-speaker sound system with active noise cancellation, and a hand-cut-and-sewn interior with leather seating and microfiber suede headliners, just to name a few. Optional autonomy and safety features include a full speed-range adaptive cruise control that can take you from a full stop to highway speed and back down again, collision-imminent braking, side blind zone assist and rear cross-traffic warning. The base model has 16-wayadjustable seats, but those with especially delicate backs can upgrade to a 20-way-adjustable system. The ELR uses the same Voltec powertrain as the Volt
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- the hardware is identical but the software features a couple of improvements. ELR Chief Engineer Chris Thomason explained that, as engineers are wont to do when they have a little time for experimentation, they found ways to elicit a little more power and torque from the propulsion unit. Total system power is 162 kW, which breaks down as 117 kW (157 hp) in charge-sustaining mode, and 135 kW (181 hp) in extended range chargesustaining mode. Torque is 400 N-m (295 lb-ft). Total range is 345 miles, and electric range is 37 miles. A unique feature of the ELR is its pair of steering wheel-mounted paddles that control the regenerative braking. Volt owners told GM that they wanted to be
more involved in the driving experience, and to be able to engage regeneration when they desired. “We found they were shifting to low frequently, so we asked how we could make that ergonomically more accessible, as well as make good use of a hardware set that we already had available to us,” says Chris Thomason. When you depress either paddle, you experience a deceleration rate that is more aggressive than if you had shifted to low (engaging the regen also lights the brake lights). When you release the paddle or apply the accelerator, regen disengages. Regeneration also works the same way as it does in the Volt. HiPer Strut and continuous damping control (CDC),
Engineering Notes Scientia potentia est Tim Grewe, Cadillac ELR powertrain Chief Engineer, explains that knowledge is power when it comes to electrified powertrains We often hear automotive engineers talk about the need for a better understanding of the components of an EV. Some have said that there is an inherent inefficiency in many systems because the parts - like the battery cells, motors and inverters - have historically been developed independently of each other and then integrated together. Others point out that the ICE has seen millions of man-hours spent on refinement - pushing efficiencies and maximizing power while the study of advanced electric powertrains has only just begun. The 2014 Cadillac ELR is a good example of exactly how a better knowledge of the system can lead to better vehicles. “We upgraded everything,” GM’s Tim Grewe told Charged. While all of the ELR’s hardware is essentially the same as the Chevrolet Volt’s, Grewe was referring to the control systems - the advanced mathematical algorithms that determine everything about how a vehicle operates. Motor The motor of GM’s Voltec powertrain is controlled by an inverter that operates at about 10 kHz and creates a fundamental frequency sine wave. To push the limits of the motor’s performance, the automaker embarked on a two-year development program that resulted in a unique pulse width modulation (PWM) control technique. The new algorithm builds upon a control theory developed in the 1990s that injects harmonics - through a complex series of math equations - into the original sine wave, boosting power. “In the 90s, they used to call it third harmonic injection,” explained Grewe, “where you take the third harmonic of the
primary frequency and inject it back in. That actually makes the motor have more capabilities. We went about ten levels beyond that, so it’s way past third harmonic injection.” The result is a very complex PWM pattern that has been tuned to give the new Cadillac more performance without upgrading the hardware. Usually, when a motor’s performance is pushed to its limits, a lot of electrical noise is generated - which turns into audible noise. But Grewe says that GM’s new technique is capable of avoiding those pitfalls and offers power without the noise and vibration - which gives the ELR a more luxurious experience. The team also developed new tricks to avoid generating more heat in the motor. “Fundamentally, there is more heat with more power because the efficiency is pretty level with these techniques,” said Grewe. “We started off saying that we’re going to go for more performance - full speed ahead and we’ll let the cooling system figure it out. But because this car is all about efficiency, we decided not to do that. Instead, we used an in-depth modeling of every grain boundary in the steel of the motor and found ways to control the magnets very precisely. In the end, we added more capabilities and more efficiency.”
THE VEHICLES When you depress either paddle, you experience a deceleration rate that is more aggressive than if you had shifted to low
Photos courtesy of GM
another pair of features that aren’t found in the Volt, were born out of the demands of the ELR’s 20-inch wheels and tires. HiPer Strut is based on the MacPherson strut front suspension design, and features dual-path top mountings that separate the transfer of spring and damper loads to the body structure. It improves ride-and-handling
Batteries The ELR also commands higher peak power from the battery pack. Through the use of Chevy’s opt-in data gathering campaign - in which Volt drivers allowed OnStar to collect their vehicles’ usage stats - GM was able to learn more about the load profile of batteries in the fields. With that knowledge, the ELR could push the technology envelope to control the battery pack more precisely. Discharging cells to too low a level can permanently damage them, but with a more complete understanding of operating conditions and real-world demands, GM’s engineers are able to “push it right towards that minimum SOC a lot quicker and control a lot tighter around it,” said Grewe. Repeatedly running a battery to its minimum SOC is something that can easily be tested in a simulator, however on the road it’s very difficult to plan for all possible scenarios. For example, in a traction control event in the snow - with the tires spinning and then gripping the pavement hard - all that energy has to be absorbed by this system. If it’s not controlled accurately, the batteries could be overloaded and damaged. “If you get a big tip in transient response where you want to pull 130 kW out of the battery,” explained Grewe, “we now have the dynamics in the real world about how that’s going to happen, so we can tune the controls to get 130 kW, which is the cell manufacturer’s recommended limit. We can do that with precision through all of these advanced controls. Before, we wanted to make sure we had a little bit of design margin, so the power limit in the Volt is about 110 kW.”
Real-time optimizer Field data from early Volt adopters also aided in the development of advanced driving modes. The ELR features a 32-bit RISC processor that, about 100 times per second, assesses where the vehicle is and where the driver will want it to go. Known as the real-time optimizer, the predictive system is trying to find the most efficient mode of operation while delivering the responsiveness desired by the driver. “It’s technically a golden search algorithm,” said Grewe. “It’s sort of like you’re the pilot of the car commanding it where to go with this co-pilot getting you there when you want to be there in the most responsive and most efficient way.” GM says that all the code for the ELR’s real-time optimizer has been rewritten and upgraded from the Volt’s system, to give the car the performance you would expect from a Cadillac. “You can imagine that when you’re getting closer and closer to the edge of stability, you have to be very precise,” explained Grewe. “So we actually built predictive models - strategic optimizers - to say here’s what we think is going to happen next and how we’re going to set ourselves up for it. That’s how you’re able to get this good range and have all this luxury feel. There is a huge amount of technology and optimization in the virtual world to make that happen.” Grewe reports that it was not always clear that the components of the Voltec powertrain could be pushed beyond the performance limits of the Volt. “A lot of engineers were skeptical that the parts would not survive being pushed to the max. Well, I’m the powertrain chief, so it was my job to strike a balance between the skeptics saying ‘you can’t go any higher than the Volt’ and the hard data from the field saying ‘yes we can, if we just control it better.’ That was the development of this car.”
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DEC 2013 49
It monitors road input every two milliseconds and adjusts.
characteristics in significant ways. With a larger tire/ wheel combination, “HiPer Strut is the right way to go to have a more fun-to-drive vehicle dynamic, so we used HiPer Strut in the front, which reduced spindle length, and offers less susceptibility to torque steer…as well as better cornering,” says Thomason. “Also, using the Watts link technology on the rear helped us decouple the longitudinal and lateral loads to tune that more specifically to the ELR.” “Then CDC came up because we said, ‘this is a Cadillac customer - they’re going to expect more,’ so CDC was a natural choice. It monitors road input every two milliseconds and adjusts. You now have the ability, when you select Sport mode, to have a totally different driving experience in terms of your throttle progression, or how responsive the throttle is, as well as the steering effort and linearity, which makes the vehicle more taut and more dynamic.” The ELR offers four driving modes: Tour is the default everyday setting; Sport is more biased toward handling; Mountain gives the ability to reserve more battery charge and have a no-compromise type of driving experience on
Magnetic ride control The MR system changes the fluid viscosity inside the damper by generating a magnetic field that controls the alignment of small iron particles that are homogeneously mixed within the fluid. As the fluid viscosity changes, the level of force (damping) output changes. Higher viscosity means increased (stiffer) damping, and lower viscosity means decreased (softer) damping. Typical current levels needed to generate the magnetic field are up to 5,000 milliamps (per corner). Continuous damping control The CDC system changes the restriction of the orifice (aperture) that the fluid inside the damper is being forced through when the damper is in motion. The orifice restriction is changed via an electromagnetically controlled valve. As the orifice restriction changes, the level of force (damping) output changes. Damping levels are increased (stiff) when the valve is closed, and decreased (soft) when the valve is open. Typical current levels needed to control the electromagnetic valve are up to 2,000 milliamps (per corner).
a significant grade; Hold mode lets you reserve battery energy for whenever you choose to use it for maximum efficiency. “You can achieve equivalent performance in terms of economy and efficiency in either Tour or Sport, but Sport has tauter suspension and a change in the steering feel,” said Thomason. “Sport mode in the Volt, because it doesn’t have CDC, just changes throttle progression. In the ELR there are two more dimensions to the experience - steering and suspension settings change as well.”
Photo courtesy of GM
Why not magnetic ride control? Although GM has invested heavily in magnetic ride (MR) for suspension control, it chose to use continuous damping control (CDC) for the ELR, because CDC has less mass and less current draw, which helps to maximize electric range. Both CDC and MR allow for different suspension modes (Tour, Sport), and continuously vary the level of damping in the vehicle - MR via fluid viscosity and CDC via aperture control changes. The systems monitor vehicle speed, steering wheel angle, lateral/longitudinal acceleration, yaw rate, and accelerator/brake pedal and wheel position inputs to continuously adjust damping to optimal levels. Vehicle roll, heave, and pitch motions are all continuously controlled.
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With the ELR, GM is introducing a feature called Smart Grade, a telematics system designed to help utilities manage electrical demand from EVs. As ELR Product Manager Darin Gesse explains, “If you imagine a neighborhood where everyone is buying an EV, and everyone comes home and plugs in at 7 pm, you can imagine the utility company is thinking, ‘We can do one of two things - we can upgrade our infrastructure to support this, or we can work with the owners of the vehicles and have a say in when they charge, so that we can reduce the strain on the system and avoid infrastructure improvements, at least for the short term.’” Presumably, customers will be offered a reduced rate in exchange for allowing the utility company to have control over charging times. “If you get home at 6 pm and leave at 6 am the next day, you have a large window to charge
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Photos courtesy of GM
THE VEHICLES your vehicle, so you can let the utility have control. So OnStar can work with the utility as the conduit to the vehicle, and set the timing of when charging starts and stops, as well as providing data on how long it’s going to take for the vehicle to charge, and when the customer wanted that charge to be complete.” Smart Grade is in a chicken-and-egg situation at the moment. GM has been working with several utility companies, and there is “certainly” interest, but no programs have been activated yet. The system can be retrofitted to the Volt in the future, and will eventually be enabled in every plug-in model with OnStar. Considering the ELR’s place in the plug-in market, Gesse notes that each of the current vehicles targets a different electrified niche: GM’s sedan-looking hatchback Volt, Tesla’s fully electric midsize sedan, Ford’s compact monocab C-MAX, BMW’s i8 high-performance sport coupé. “None of us are competing directly head-on with each other. We’re all asking where this market is going.” GM is watching all of these market entries closely, and will keep a close eye on how customers respond.
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None of us are competing directly head-on with each other.
As the ELR joins the versatile Volt and the tiny Spark EV in GM’s plug-in lineup, the company certainly seems committed to electrification. “Knowing what we know from the EV1, we think this tech is here to stay, and we’re going to stand behind it,” says Gesse. “We’re going to learn from our competitors (or, call them partners). We’re all in the same boat, we all want to see the market expand, and see where the market can help push that tech further. We’re all doing our own individual plays, but all watching each other.” The gentlemen from GM declined to predict any precise production figures for the ELR, but they expect volume to be limited. “We’ll capitalize on success if it’s there, but for a luxury vehicle there is some aspect of exclusivity.”
Photo courtesy of CRP Group
Bringing four decades of racing heritage with it, Italian 3D-printed parts manufacturer CRP enters the world of electric street motorcycles with its highperformance superbike, the Energica Ego.
By Markkus Rovito
hroughout Italy, racing pervades the culture. Within a 30-mile radius in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, you’ll find the headquarters of Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Ducati, representing a history of luxury and racing vehicles that stretches back a century. The city of Modena has ancient origins, but in the 20th century came to be known as “the capital of engines.” Along with Maserati and others, Modena hosts the headquarters of CRP (Cevolini Rapid Prototyping), a lesser-known company but one with more than 40 years of tradition supplying parts for - at one time or another all the major Formula 1 race teams. Yet it’s 125 miles south of Modena, in the renowned Tuscan countryside, where CRP chose to officially launch its debut into OEM territory. The product: the first Italian electric superbike, dubbed Energica (ay-NAIRzhee-khah). The place: Volterra, where in 1853 Eugenio Barsante invented and patented the first version of the internal combustion engine along with Felice Matteucci of Florence. There, in the classically picturesque Priori Square in the heart of old Volterra, CRP held a charity gala and first press test of a prototype Energica Ego.
Photos courtesy of CRP Group
THE VEHICLES A Tradition of Excellence Outside the ancient walls of the fortress of Volterra, parts of which date back to the 6th century BCE, the provincial hotel where we’re staying has unsurprisingly excellent food and walls speckled with black-and-white vintage racing photos. Outside, a small Fiat-dense parking lot overlooks one of the most famous wine regions in the world. In the distance, the Chianti Hills bear the trademark white turbines of a modern wind farm. Electric vehicles. Wind power. Sure, Italy is ramping up its renewable energy initiative, as is every other European Union country, to meet the EU’s 2020 targets. According to Renewable Energy World, renewables generated 28 percent of Italy’s gross electricity produced in 2011, and around 27 percent for 2012, thanks in part to big growth in solar. And yes, CRP does tout its commitment to sustainable mobility and works with local charging infrastructure companies. However, there’s more to CRP’s going electric than clean air and good vibes. To assert itself as a formidable Italian OEM before it could match resources with the established names, it had to establish a niche. “Electric is a challenge,” said Andrea Vezzani, CFO of the CRP Group. “We cannot fight against Ducati here, so we need to invent something else.” This electric challenge was born out of the trial virtually everyone faced at the end of 2008, when world financial markets imploded. While CRP operates off its rich tradition of supplying parts for racing teams competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula 1, etc., the company’s workload dwindled down to about three months’ worth of orders, and the brass worried about the future. Diversification seemed like the answer. “We want to have our own products to sell,” Vezzani said. “We live in the Motor Valley with all these famous brands. Of course everyone here wants to make something nice, so we chose the superbike. We think our vision is the only product that an Italian company could present to the market right now. We could not make a large production run. The volume quantities will be made from emerging markets, not from Italy. What’s Italian is a beautiful bike - a perfect bike from a precision point of view.” A year after the financial meltdown, an opportunity popped up that would support CRP’s superbike aspirations. At the end of 2009, Azhar Hussain, the organizer of TTXGP, The eGrand Prix, approached CRP about
The volume quantities will be made from emerging markets, not from Italy. What’s Italian is a beautiful bike - a perfect bike from a precision point of view.
participating in the first zero-emissions motorcycle championship. “He had no manufacturers, so he asked us to become a producer,” Vezzani said. By 2010, the company entered several races with its eCRP 1.2, the second version of its electric racing motorcycle. It took several first and second-place finishes, including the title of TTXGP 2010 European Champion. CRP came back to enter the eCRP 1.4 into several races in 2011, but has since put the racing agenda on hiatus. “Actually, after a few months, the real idea was not to sell racing bikes, because the market is too little,” Vezzani said. “All the experience we have in racing is now moved to the road bikes, and we put a lot of passion into our work.” “If you’re going to race on Sunday, you need to have something to sell on Monday,” said Chris Nugent, the media specialist and motorcycle aficionado-turned-ebike convert whom CRP has brought on to evangelize Energica in America, where the company expects to sell the most bikes. “That’s the whole purpose of racing, really. It’s competitive, but it’s got to have an economic logic to it.” Nugent said that CRP will eventually get back into the racing game, but not until sometime after 2015, when the finished Energica Ego will become commercially available. “We were happy to participate in 2010/2011 because at that time, we needed to see the results,” Vezzani said. “Races are the best place to practice and to stress the bikes and all the components.” La Famiglia Although CRP is happy to supply companies like Ducati rather than to compete with them, Nugent sees the same kind of Italian tradition in the two businesses. “When you see this company, you’re going to think Ducati in the 1950s,” Nugent said. Ducati was a father-and-sons business founded in 1926, and by 1953 it split into two divisions to support diverging product lines.
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In the past this was rapid prototyping. In the last few years, you’re talking about rapid manufacturing...For some designers, to have the part the day after is a dream.
factory. “In the last few years, you’re talking about rapid manufacturing - similar to the very final part. For some designers, to have the part the day after is a dream.” With Energica, which will be spun off into a separate company under the CRP Group in 2014, the 3D printing and electric vehicle product lines merge back together. The Energica Ego uses CRP 3D printed parts for its body, and around 90 percent of its parts are made in Italy (the battery is a major exception). Ego Check At first glance, Alessandro Brannetti looks like your average, leather-jacket wearing, cool Italian guy: medium
Photos courtesy of CRP Group
Indeed, the CRP Group has followed a similar trajectory. Founded under a different name in 1970 by Roberto Cevolini, the company established a reputation for the precision machining and casting of parts. By 1996 Roberto’s son, materials engineer Franco Cevolini, started CRP Technology and began developing proprietary Windform materials for use in the 3D printing of custom, smallrun parts for CRP’s customers. Today, Franco Cevolini is CEO of the CRP Group, a growing enterprise that includes CRP USA, a North Carolinian outpost creating 3D printed and machined parts for the aerospace, stock car, defense, and other markets. Whether it’s from America or Italy, a significant part of CRP’s business is creating custom parts from CAD files on 3D printers from 3D Systems in Austin, Texas. The machines are specially modified to work with CRP’s several varieties of Windform composite powders, which offer different characteristics - like tensile strength and flexibility - for the final product. CRP can often accept a new design and ship the part to a customer within 24 hours. “In the past this was rapid prototyping,” said Federico Barozzi, the rapid prototyping manager at CRP’s Modena
Alessandro Brannetti, Grand Prix racer (left), and Giampiero Testoni, Energica CTO (right)
height, trim build, occasional smoker. What I didn’t know when I saw him hanging around the Energica press event was that Brannetti, the guy that drove the eCRP 1.2 to win the 2010 TTXGP EU, was a former Grand Prix racer and, at 33, had been racing bikes for 25 years. This would also be the guy to give me a taste of the Energica Ego’s power. The Ego prototype weighs a hefty 569 pounds, significantly more than the 360-420 pound range that ICE “superbikes” tend to inhabit. Much of that extra poundage comes from the 11.7 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the supplier of which hadn’t been announced at press time. However, despite the weight, the Ego’s oil-cooled, permanent magnet AC motor has to be electronically limited to reign in its ample power. Its 165 lb-ft of torque is dialed back to 144 (195 N-m), and the top speed is limited to 240 kph (149 mph). With all that available oomph, the Ego’s range varies by average speed travelled. You’ll get a maximum range of about 120 miles at 35 mph, 93 miles at 50 mph, and about 31 miles in racing conditions near the top speed. For someone who had only ridden once on the back of a modest street motorcycle in US city traffic, the Ego’s
numbers on open Tuscan roads intimidated me, to say the least. When the writer for Cycle World came out for his test ride in full racing regalia, looking like some kind of futuristic road vigilante from a John Carpenter movie, I decided it was best not to think too much about what I was getting into. When my time came, the CRP engineers briefed me on what to do. Stay low and hang on to the Ego’s “tank” in front of Brannetti, only grabbing the driver if I have to. Try to stay perpendicular with the bike; don’t lean on the turns. Two other riders from CRP driving ICE motorcycles would accompany us on the road at the front and the rear. We took off on the 18-mile road-test loop, and right away my grip on the motorcycle faltered against the massive and immediate pick-up of the Ego. After a few brisk turns, my feet felt slippery against the footrests as well. However, soon enough I was enjoying the exhilarating ride, much more than the iconic Tuscan scenery I barely had a moment of free attention to appreciate. For the most part, Brannetti took pity on me. However, on some of the rare stretches of open, straight roads, he opened up the Ego to show off its smooth and powerful acceleration, easily catching the ICE bike before falling back into line.
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Energica Ego first drive reports from the two-wheeling experts
“This brief ride showcased the Ego’s greatest attribute: smooth, progressive throttle response. Torque built quickly, non-threateningly, with no hiccups or the slightest hint of wheel spin. As you would expect from an electric motor, vibration was non-existent. The simulated compression braking was eerily realistic, kicking in as I closed the ‘throttle’ the last few degrees. In spite of its prototype status, the bike felt solid, and handling belied the claimed weight of 258 kg. Steering was light and neutral, the brakes were strong and suspension movement was well controlled. Feet-up U-turns made during the photo shoot were a snap.” Matthew Miles, Cycle World
“If you needed any more evidence that electric power
is a game changer for performance motorcycles, the fact that Energica is delivering another unprecedentedly fast motorcycle using the technology should provide it. Range and recharge times are less completely resolved here than they are on the faster Mission, but the Energica is easier to ride and more road-friendly regardless, while getting close in performance. 9/10” Wes Siler, RideApart.com
“‘Throttle’ response from some e-bikes can feel
disconnected and unnatural, but the Energica’s is exceedingly refined for a prototype. In fact, I’d say it’s production-ready now. As is, reactions at slow speeds are perfectly intuitive, delivering exactly what a wrist is asking for…Although an exhaust note is naturally not part of the experience, the Energica definitely is not silent. Power is routed through straight-cut gears that pleasingly sing at various pitches depending on road speeds - at times sounding a bit like a Star Wars tie fighter, emitting a powerful shriek. 86/100” Kevin Dukes, Motorcycle.com
Photos courtesy of CRP Group
Once they get the energy density up and the traction control, that’ll be the end of gas bikes in racing. When it was over, I felt like I had to peel my fingers off of the Ego and bend them back into their original shape. For a couple of days afterward, just thinking about the thrill ride would induce a tingle in my hands. They told me our top kph speed was in the 140s, or about 90 mph not even close to the Ego’s best. Il Finale More than a year before the production Energica Ego models are due in 2015, CRP has been in talks with four US dealers, with more to come. Nugent is working with prospective dealers, and he anticipates the $25,00026,000 price to be more than some electric motorcycles with less power, like the Brammo Empulse R ($18,995) and Zero S ($15,995) but less than more comparable electric models like the Mission R ($32,499) and Lightning ($38,000). “As the CFO, I would like to increase the price, but I cannot,” Vezzani said with a laugh. “I know my costs, I’m just understanding what is the right price for the market.” “I think the Energica will stand on its own,” Nugent added. “It’ll have the quality and passion of Italian design, and Energica buyers will be less concerned with range. Their primary concerns are going to be performance and looks.”
The Energica Ego will have anti-lock brakes (ABS) - which Consumer Reports says have the potential to reduce motorcycle crash fatalities - in 2015, a year before the EU makes them mandatory. It will also have a bit of momentum from the hardcore motorcycle press, which seems to base its evaluation of e-motorcycles fairly on performance and price above anything else. Vezzani told us CRP hopes to sell 150-200 Egos in the first year, and then ramp up to 500 a year, 1,200 a year, and up to 5,000 a year after 5-6 years. The company seems optimistic about hitting those goals, as the Energica website is already teasing its second model, the Eva. Somewhat counter to their acceptance of electric cars, the racing and high-performance communities seem to be on board with electric motorcycles, although with the usual caveats about battery life. However, if electrics become the top racing motorcycles, bar none, that may also play some part in evaporating resistance to EVs in general. Art Haynie, commercial filmmaker and former Director of Marketing for Lightning Motorcycles, was on hand in Volterra, and sees the rise of e-bikes as just a matter of time. “Once they get the energy density up and the traction control,” he said, “that’ll be the end of gas bikes in racing.”
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Photos courtesy of Daimler AG
Fuel Cells Batteries Mercedes-Benz F-CELL A hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle
By Jeffrey Wishart, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Wishart, a Senior Project Engineer at Intertek, conducts research and development on products and services in the areas of energy, the environment, and advanced transportation. In addition to his supervisory position at Intertek, Dr. Wishart worked for several years at ETEC LABS (the research and consulting division of ECOtality) and at a utility company in Queensland, Australia, conducting research into emerging energy technologies.
f you follow the EV industry at all, you may have heard this little pearl of wisdom: Fuel cells are a technology of the futureâ€Śand always will be. The EV forums are full of comments that fuel cells will never be a part of the transportation system, and that any money spent on fuel cell development is good money thrown after bad. To be fair, fuel cells have seemed to be on the cusp of commercialization in vehicles several times in the past, only to famously fail to take hold - the last time being in the mid-2000s.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive A battery electric vehicle
The benefits of fuel cell vehicles However, fuel cells do have strengths that canâ€™t be ignored. For one thing, unlike in conventional batteries, the reactants (the chemicals that are needed for the electrochemical reaction that produces electricity) are external, meaning that as long as the reactants continue to be fed to the fuel cell, electricity can be produced. The type of fuel cell that is most likely to be used in vehicles is the proton-exchange membrane (aka polymer-electrolyte membrane) fuel cell (PEMFC),
which uses hydrogen and oxygen gases as its reactants. The oxygen gas is simply extracted from the surrounding air. Hydrogen gas serves as the “fuel” of a PEMFC, and when compressed, it is much more energy-dense than even the most advanced batteries (in both a volumetric and gravimetric sense). This means that for a given volume and mass, more energy is stored - well beyond what batteries are expected to achieve for the foreseeable future. One of the main drawbacks of an EV is that the limited energy capacity of batteries means that vehicle range is less than that of a conventional vehicle. With the ability to carry more energy on-board the vehicle, the advantages of a fuel cell vehicle (FCV) start to become apparent. The FCV can achieve a much longer range with an on-board hydrogen gas tank, making the FCV range competitive with conventional and hybrid vehicles. In a real-world test on California roads, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers demonstrated that a fuel cell-powered Toyota Highlander SUV could travel over 400 miles and achieve a fuel economy of 69 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). Another drawback of an EV is the time needed for recharging. Even using the fastest EV charging available, the Supercharger network from Tesla (which boasts a rate of 120 kW), a Model S with the largest battery pack (an industry-leading 85 kWh) would require at least 40 minutes for a full charge from full depletion. Meanwhile, the FCV can be refueled in about the same time as a conventional vehicle - approximately five minutes. Furthermore, the fuel cell and hydrogen community around the world has agreed upon a refueling standard, SAE J2601. Unlike the EV industry, where there is one AC charging standard and two official DC fast charging standards, plus Tesla’s proprietary technology in the US - not to mention the different standards in China and Europe - refueling will be the same everywhere. The “VHS vs Betamax” standards wars that are plaguing the EV industry can be avoided altogether for FCVs. It must be said, however, that there are not currently many hydrogen refueling stations around the country -
Why PEMFC and not other fuel cell types? There are several different types of fuel cells in addition to PEMFCs, including alkaline fuel cells (AFCs), direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs), phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFCs), molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFCs), and solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). However, PEMFCs are seen as the most viable for vehicular applications for the following reasons (the other fuel cell types have some, but not all, of these characteristics): 1. The electrolyte is solid, so leakage of corrosive fluids is not an issue, and the fuel cell can operate in any orientation. 2. Operating temperature is relatively low (80-100° C, 176-212° F), meaning start-up times are short. 3. Power density is relatively high compared to other fuel cell types. 4. 99.999% H2 is required, but air can be used to supply the required O2.
the DOE counts only 10 publicly accessible stations, but many more are in development: California, for example, plans to have 68 stations in operation by 2016. The EV advantage This is not to say that EVs don’t have advantages over FCVs. The efficiency of an EV is unsurpassed, and it will always take more energy to get from point A to point B in an FCV. The higher efficiency is due to the ability to capture energy through regenerative braking, and also to the fact that the electrochemical reaction in batteries is more efficient than the reaction in a PEMFC. The EV is also based on simpler technology that does not cost as much to build. In fact, for a commuter or city car, and especially for a driver who never needs to drive very far and can charge their EV in the garage at night, an EV is very tough to beat. EVs are also more responsive than FCVs: It is faster to get current from a battery than it is to (1) draw hydrogen from the tank and (2) supply air to the fuel cell to (3) produce the equivalent electricity in a PEMFC to power the electric motor that propels the vehicle.
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Competing or complementary technologies? It is apparent that with current technology, EVs and FCVs are both imperfect replacements for conventional vehicles in some ways, and expecting either to make the transition to the dominant transportation propulsion technology is far from a sure bet. EVs have range and recharging limitations, and while FCVs boast an efficiency that is higher than ICE vehicles, they suffer responsive performance issues and do not offer a large enough gain to overcome the higher purchase price and lack of hydrogen infrastructure. What is needed is a vehicle that blends the advantages of EVs and FCVs. Luckily, such a vehicle design is possible. A hybridized design that uses a battery as well as a fuel cell can overcome many of the disadvantages of both EVs and FCVs and compete with the ICE vehicle on performance terms. In fact, it is unlikely that FCVs will be built without energy storage. Even better, they can be designed as plug-ins that can drive on pure electricity for a portion of the range to tap into that high EV efficiency. The FCVs that come to market will likely be fuel cell hybrid electric vehicles, or FCHEVs. A battery on board to support the PEMFC provides the quick response required - and desired - by drivers. An FCV without a battery also cannot recover regenerative braking Why not reversible fuel cells? In order for a fuel cell system to be able to capture regenerative braking energy, the system would have to also work as an electrolyzer to split water into H2 and O2. This would require a source of water on board the vehicle that could be pumped through the fuel cell. This water source would take up space, could become depleted over long trips, and would also need to be replenished. Obtaining water exiting the cathode of the fuel cell would add to system complexity, and obtaining it from an off-board source requires extra plumbing. A method for eliminating the produced O2 would also be required. There is also the problem of storing the produced H2, which would be at a much lower pressure than the H2 stored in the tank, and thus would have to be pressurized - this would require time in which hydrogen exiting the tank for propulsion would not be possible. Regenerative braking performed by the fuel cell would therefore be less efficient and make the vehicle less responsive than regenerative braking by batteries.
energy (it would be theoretically possible but completely impractical to run the PEMFC in reverse and produce hydrogen gas to be stored in the on-board tank), and this is a big efficiency advantage of a vehicle with an electric motor. So having a battery paired with a PEMFC in an FCHEV makes the vehicle more responsive and more efficient. In this way, fuel cells and batteries are complementary - and not competing - technologies. Fuel cell hybrids for the masses The commercialization of FCHEVs is certainly not following the path that fuel cell advocates have been predicting. There are several reasons for this delay: • Fuel cell performance has been lacking. • The fuel cell system is too expensive. • Hydrogen storage technology performance is inadequate. • Hydrogen production pathways have not developed. • Hydrogen refueling stations have not materialized. The technological performance issues are being addressed by the industry and by a renewed interest in fuel cells and hydrogen research by the US Department of Energy. Governments at various levels are also working on the infrastructure issues. Refueling station projects are being funded in clusters to promote FCHEV adoption in certain metropolitan areas (especially in California) in advance of FCHEV deployment. And there is support for cutting-edge research into hydrogen production via algae and other biological pathways. Interest in fuel cells never waned in Asia and Europe as it did in the US, as the growing infrastructure in both regions shows. There were 17 public stations in Japan at the end of 2012, with plans to build 19 more in 2013 and hit the 100-station mark by 2015. There are currently 15 public stations in Germany, with plans for 400 by 2023. A lot of work is being done to remove roadblocks, and the industry as a whole has made considerable progress since the last failed attempt at commercialization occurred circa 2008. The automotive companies, for their part, have been forming partnerships to pool resources and reduce R&D costs. Some of these partnerships include agreements between GM and Honda, FordRenault-Nissan-Daimler, and Toyota-BMW. Several companies, including Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, and Kia, have said that 2015 is the year for FCHEV
Photo courtesy of Honda North America
General Motors Vice Chairman Steve Girsky (left) and Honda North America President Tetsuo Iwamura announce a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies
commercialization, with projected vehicle sticker prices of around $50,000. Hyundai is currently the running favorite to have the first FCHEV to be sold in the US, with its Tucson ix35 and an expected production run of 1,000 cars. (The Honda FCX Clarity has been available since 2008, but only as a leased vehicle for $600 a month, and only in Southern California where there is access to public hydrogen stations.) Other automakers such as Daimler, BMW, Ford, and GM aim to introduce FCHEVs to the marketplace later in the decade. A place for FCHEVs and EVs FCHEVs and EVs can and should co-exist, with each filling its particular niche. EVs are ideal for commuters, and for many commercial applications with repeatable routes, while FCHEVs are suitable for drivers who frequently need to drive longer distances. FCHEVs are also good candidates for larger vehicles like long-haul trucks and buses. AC Transit in the Bay Area has been using fuel cell-powered buses for 13 years, traveling over 750,000 miles. BC Transit in British Columbia purchased the world’s largest fleet of fuel cell-powered buses (20)
The automotive companies, for their part, have been forming partnerships to pool resources and reduce R&D costs. in 2009 for use at Whistler in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Unlike conventional, hybrid, and even plug-in hybrid electric vehicles currently on the market, both EVs and FCHEVs have zero emissions “at the tailpipe.” This makes reducing and eventually eliminating greenhouse gases and air pollutants from the transportation system easier, because it’s more cost-effective to “green” centralized power plants and hydrogen production facilities than individual fossil fuel-burning cars. While EVs are currently ascendant and FCHEVs have disappointed in the past, many believe that FCHEVs are a technology whose time will come. Will that time be 2015? It is still unclear. In the meantime, it is important to increase R&D funding and focus on making sure that any advanced technology vehicle introduced has the performance and efficiency needed to get the public excited.
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CURRENTevents Honda joins V2G demo project
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Honda has joined a demonstration project for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology aimed at providing energy storage to the electrical grid while providing a financial incentive to EV drivers.
Photo courtesy of Honda
ABB, the international power broker, announced that it has received an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listing for its latest family of DC fast chargers, the Terra 53 with SAE Combo functionality. The Terra 53 is available in 20 kW, 30 kW, 40 kW and 50 kW models, and buyers have the option of compatibility with SAE Combo, CHAdeMO or both. All of ABB’s charging stations are equipped with open network protocol support, cloud connectivity, remote monitoring and remote management. “Achieving UL certification supports our mission to deliver safe, compliant, market-leading products to station owners and drivers,” said Andy Bartosh, Program Manager of ABB’s EV Charging Infrastructure business. “In addition, we’ve further optimized the product footprint so that sites can tailor their charging offering to their driving customers. Some sites require a quick 15-minute charge at 50 kW power, and some locations are better suited to an hour-long fast charge at 20 kW power.” US and European automakers, which have backed the SAE Combo standard, praised the new charger. “This paves the way for the automotive industry to make EVs more convenient,” said GM’s Britta Gross. “For example, the Chevrolet Spark EV equipped with DC fast charge capability will be available before the end of the year in California and Oregon.” “The availability of ABB’s UL-listed Terra 53C SAE Combo Charger will support the launch of the BMW i3 in the US in the second quarter of 2014,” said BMW’s Cliff Fietzek. “The Terra 53 gives i3 drivers with the DC charging option the possibility to recharge their car up to 80% in under 30 minutes.”
Photo courtesy of ABB
ABB earns UL listing for SAE Combo DCFC
Partners in the V2G project include: the University of Delaware; NRG Energy; BMW, which is providing 15 MINI Es; Milbank Manufacturing, which is providing charging stations based on UD technology; and AutoPort, which is installing UD control technology into the EVs. Honda is supplying an Accord Plug-In Hybrid with added V2G capabilities. The vehicle receives signals from a grid operator via a charging station, and discharges power from its battery when electric power is requested by the grid. When the grid power supply exceeds demand, the vehicle proactively charges its battery. Such a system has the potential to reduce or eliminate grid fluctuations, which can occur more frequently when renewable energy sources are introduced. “The participation of global automakers like Honda will help demonstrate and refine the technology,” said Professor Willett Kempton. “The University of Delaware has been developing the technology so that vehicle batteries can be used not only for mobility but also for grid services.” “As the US adds more intermittent resources to the grid, finding a lower-cost energy storage technology that also benefits electric vehicle drivers is a great opportunity,” said NRG Executive VP Denise Wilson.
Photo by nosha/Flickr
New York City requires new parking to be built EV-ready
The Big Apple recently took a big step towards electrification, as the New York City Council passed a law requiring that a minimum of 20 percent of any new parking spaces be equipped with buried electrical conduit that can support future EVSE installation. Retrofitting a parking lot for EV charging requires trenching to bury the cable, which is far more expensive than including the conduit before the concrete is poured. In the past five years, 15,000 new parking spaces have been permitted, so the impact of the new law could be substantial. To date, Manhattan has only 210 registered EVs, which may have a lot to do with the difficulty of charging in a dense city where few residents have personal driveways or garages. Fewer than 22 percent of Manhattanites own cars, and half of them park in assigned garage spaces. Parking garages (but not retail parking spaces) are also covered by the new law. Ari Kahn, the mayor’s policy advisor on EVs, said the
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law would add only $4,000 to the cost of a new parking garage. He said adding conduit at the time of construction costs only five percent of what retrofitting the spaces would cost. “EVs increase our city’s resilience,” Kahn said. “Thanks to our work with the garage and parking industries, [the new law] provides maximum flexibility for parking operators.”
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Eaton’s HyperCharger scales up to one megawatt Like EVs themselves, charging stations come in all shapes and sizes. Power management giant Eaton has announced the release of what may be the world’s highest-capacity charger. The new HyperCharger is capable of fast-charging EVs at power levels up to one megawatt (MW).
Designed to charge fleets of electric buses and other mass transit vehicles, the HyperCharger was recently installed in several cities, including Tallahassee, Fla., Worchester, Mass. and Stockton, Calif. The HyperCharger is scalable from 200 kW to 1 MW. According to Eaton, it has the highest energy density in its class. On a recent demonstration route, the HyperCharger recorded an average of eight charges and 240 miles per day. “Eaton has a long history of developing electrical and hybrid power systems for trucks and busses,” said Product Line Manager Michael Dadian. “Our new HyperCharger is the latest example of Eaton’s leadership in building a charging infrastructure across North America and helping to set the stage for mass adoption of EVs.”
SAE announces WPT frequency/power classes The SAE task force working on a standard for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) has reached agreement on two important factors. These will be incorporated into a Technical Information Report, which is scheduled to be complete in early 2014. The TIR will be followed by publication of the official SAE J2954 Standard.
“A common frequency of operation for WPT is essential for interoperability,” said Task Force Chair Jesse Schneider. “After 3 years of international collaboration and investigation within the team, consensus had been reached on a nominal frequency of operation of 85 kHz for the light duty vehicle guideline. This frequency lies within an internationally available frequency band.” The SAE team has also determined three power classes for light duty vehicles: WPT 1, 2 and 3. These limits are defined by the maximum input Wireless Power Transfer power rating, as follows: • WPT1 - 3.7 kW • WPT2 (Private/Public Parking) - 7.7 kW • WPT3 (Light Duty Fast Charge) - 22 kW The task force is currently working on completing the remaining interoperability topics, including factors such as the minimum coupling factor “K,” alignment, and coil geometries.
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SolarCity’s smart energy storage uses Tesla battery tech
SolarCity has unveiled a smart energy storage system that was developed with battery technology from Tesla. The new DemandLogic system uses intelligent management software to reduce businesses’ peak demand, which can mean big savings on demand charges. So-called demand charges are fees that utilities impose on commercial properties when the peak power used rises above a specified threshold. Utilities use demand charges to penalize high power consumption during peak periods, and they can be enormous. Operators of public EV charging stations can easily run into expensive demand charges. An energy storage system that buffers the EVSE unit from high power demands during charging could be a way to avoid them. While overall electricity usage in the US has increased only 10% since 2001, utility revenues have increased more than 50%, a situation that some blame in part on increased use of demand charges based on peak demand rather than on the overall amount of electricity consumed.
“Utilities have altered their rate structures such that demand charges are rising faster than overall energy rates, and businesses are bearing the bulk of those increases,” said SolarCity COO Peter Rive. Part of the appeal of DemandLogic is that the system allows businesses to continue operating at full capacity, rather than reducing power usage, as in traditional demand response programs, Mr. Rive said. SolarCity analyzes each organization’s energy usage, and customizes the system size to make it possible for businesses to save more on energy costs than they spend for the storage service. The new systems will be made available to new solar customers signing 10-year service agreements, and are made to store about a third of the energy the solar array can produce. Elon Musk recently noted that the battery cells used for DemandLogic have an energy density of 200 Wh/kg vs 250 for those used in Model S, so short-term supply constraints shouldn’t be a problem.
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LEAN & MEAN BY MICHAEL KENT A straightforward look at the EVSE market from the charging pioneers at ClipperCreek
n a charging station industry filled with multinational conglomerates and 100-year-old automotive suppliers, the independent company ClipperCreek stands out. Relatively speaking, it has had a long history in the EVSE industry - a history that has shaped some definite views of the marketplace. The three co-founders - Jason France, David Packard and Michael Rogers - have been designing and selling electric car charging equipment for over 19 years. They first shipped products in August 1994 from their original EVSE company EVI, which operated until 2003 when the EV market went away. “We just kind of hid in the mud for a while,” said Packard, now ClipperCreek’s President.
Around 2006, they started to hear discussions about the Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF and others. So, they decided to get the band back together and formed ClipperCreek. With a 10-year head start on modern charging technology, the company was able to hit the ground running, and supplied EVSE for early models in the new EV resurgence - like Tesla’s Roadster and BMW’s Mini E. “Since then, things have gone quite well,” said France, ClipperCreek’s CEO. The company has shipped over 14,000 units from its Auburn, CA manufacturing facility since 2009 - not including the trunk chargers supplied directly to OEMs like Chevrolet, BMW and others through its partnership with Delphi. David Packard ClipperCreek says it’s optimistic about the new EV market, but these guys have been around the block, so their attitude could be better described as pragmatic. “The market didn’t grow as fast as everyone had hoped. But in reality, we should be really happy with the growth that we’ve seen,” said Packard. “I’ve stopped waking up in a cold sweat, afraid that the automakers are going to pull out overnight, like they did in 2002. August 30th at 7am is when I got that fax. Not that I’m not sore about it,” he joked. The company’s experience has formed no shortage of opinions about where the market is headed. “We have major competitors and minor competitors. A lot of them seem to be just waiting to see what is going to happen,” explained Packard. “We’re trying to do what we think is right for the marketplace. We feel pretty strongly and want to see the right things done. In some cases it’s not always us doing it. Sure, we’re trying to sell products. But even if we weren’t, we would still tell you our view and wish the right products were out there.”
The products tell the story The market ClipperCreek believes that didn’t grow EVSE will continue to move away from the premium as fast as product realm, and that everyone had more and more customers hoped. But will want simple chargers that are durable, with basic in reality, we functionality, at the lowest should be price possible. Things like really happy connectivity, LCD screens and complicated packaging with the all drive the costs up, so growth that ClipperCreek doesn’t offer them. we’ve seen. “We think driving the cost of the EVSE down is something that has been largely overlooked,” said Packard. “We’ve seen a lot of outrageous prices, for both products and installations.” The company focuses on providing maximum value and the lowest price tag. Building products that will last is key to that equation. “We found from experience that things really take a beating,” explained Packard. One of the biggest benefits of working with Delphi to become a supplier to the OEMs is the rigorous testing process that the products went through. The automakers thoroughly qualify each and every part that goes into their vehicles, and the Level 1 chargers included with cars are no exception. “Our products were pretty good to start with,” said France. “To get into the automakers’ supply chain was a two-year process. Two years of straight torture. Now they’re practically bulletproof.” The focus on durability also extends to the company’s commercial charging stations. “The real world isn’t that nice,” said Packard. He thinks public charging stations that feature things like LCD screens are asking for trouble. The theory is that any EVSE out on the street should be as tough as phone booths were (when you could find one). While the phone in your house is fragile, you could take a bat to the one in the booth. Sure enough,
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ClipperCreek recently made a video of its employees breaking a bat and a hammer on its newest HCS product. “It’s really tough, and that’s the value,” said Packard. “It needs to last at least as long as your car, and to do that it needs to be straightforward and reliable.” To reduce costs, the company makes simple chargers, but it also focuses on making them simple to install. While some manufacturers offer residential chargers with 10- or 12-foot cords, all of ClipperCreek’s units come with 25-foot cords. Packard argues that a 10-foot cord will often require an electrician to add 15 more feet of conduit to install it in a useful location, inadvertently affecting the total cost of the unit. With a 25-foot cable, the EVSE can be installed virtually anywhere in the garage and still reach two cars. “You can put it right near the circuit panel, within an arm’s reach,” he explained.
You don’t have to use mounting plates or take the unit apart and put it back together. The electrician is doing that at $100 per hour - trying to figure out how to build it like it’s an IKEA table.
ClipperCreek’s products are designed to require no assembly. “You just screw it to the wall,” said France. “Then, plug it in or connect the three wires in a junction box. You don’t have to use mounting plates or take the unit apart and put it back together. The electrician is doing that at $100 per hour - trying to figure out how to build it like it’s an IKEA table.” The company encourages customers to use their local electricians, and suggests that there is too much overhead associated with the OEM-specific installation plans. “If you want a trained installer, NECA-IBEW has a great EV program with no overhead associated,” said Packard. “It’s about $100 per hour and they’re in and out.” The products are competitively priced to sell. In November, the company announced that its 20 A Level 2 LCS-25 product, which starts at $495, is now available with a choice of NEMA plugs (L6-30, 14-30P, 14-50P or 6-50P). It’s planning a higher power model line as well - rated for 30 A, 48 A or 64 A continuous - all with a 25-foot
cord and starting at $599. “It’s participated in a lively panel I’m an infrastructure guy partially future-proofing if debate about public charging. and I want it all over the someone wants a residential In front of a large crowd of place, but how much money unit in that realm,” said charging industry experts, he Packard. “We suspect that the expressed a few concerns with are we going to put into it residential market will basically if we’re leaving home every the business models of some of stick to the 30 A range, except the companies represented in day with a full tank? maybe for Tesla owners buying the room: a second car. But there are a lot of the trucks - Via, Smith, EVI - that have higher power The thing that scares me about networks is that we’ve onboard chargers. And many are advocating for higher put over a billion dollars into them and have seen two power public charging to push the automakers to increase spectacular failures. It could be due to mismanagement, the size of the onboard chargers.” but really I think one of the things we’re learning is that the network marketplace is tough because of the Connectivity, networks and charging for charging competition. And the competition isn’t from other ClipperCreek believes that networking should be done networks. through smart grid-connected charging stations, because the utilities have already spent billions of dollars building Number one, electricity is a commodity. It’s really cheap. the communications infrastructure. “It makes so much How do you squeeze more value out of that? Basically, it sense to piggyback on that,” Packard told us. With three comes down to: Are the features worth the cost? generations of smart grid-connected stations, and a new partnership with Itron to implement revenue-grade You also have the credit card industry, which is really metering technology in its EVSE, the company has been mature. The cost of processing is really low. So, why involved in multiple smart grid pilot projects. not take a $1,000 EVSE and put a $500 credit card For commercial customers interested in pay-to-charge processing packet in front of it? And those are low volume stations, ClipperCreek uses Liberty Plugins’ Syncroness costs. code system. It’s pay-by-phone-enabled, and doesn’t require any cellular or Wi-Fi connection inside the EVSE More competition is from home charging. We’re basically itself. “You walk around with a network in your pocket, leaving home with a full tank every day. Do we really why do you need to pay for another one?” Packard need a public charger? I’m an infrastructure guy and I asks. “Subscription plans and networks add so much want it all over the place, but how much money are we unnecessary cost to the marketplace.” going to put into it if we’re leaving home every day with With its point-of-sale stations, ClipperCreek tries to a full tank? If we’re charging at work also, do we really get the cost of charging as close to actual energy cost as need to charge at Walgreens? We’re learning now that as possible. “Adding on the layers of a network’s bureaucracy we start charging for charging, people stop using it. It’s a is going to raise the price, and then no one will use them. scary marketplace because if the price goes up, it doesn’t Based on the EV Project data, we can see that when it’s get used. free, it’s used. When we start charging for it, it’s used a lot less.” Packard thinks that for the most part, drivers What is the business model that works? What will the will continue to charge at home and, as the vehicles public sustain? Is it twice what they pay at home? It proliferate, utilities are going to need to control them to almost has to be subscription-based because nobody is manage peak usage. “The cost is going to be borne by the going to pay excessive amounts per charge. In my mind utilities if they don’t control the stations as they become that’s the only way it could possibly work, because if we more and more popular.” put the charging stations in with the perception that If you’ve ever seen Packard speak in public, you businesses are going to be built around usage, it’s going know that he isn’t afraid to share his opinions on the to fail. If we charge enough money to make it worthwhile market. At the Plug-In 2013 conference in San Diego, he then no one will use it at all, and we hurt the industry.
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DEC 2013 75
The industry doesn’t need any more failures, we need people to be successful. We need public charging to be market-based. Hopefully the retail end of the world will start putting charging stations in and see a real value to having people plugging in and then shopping. He also took a few swings at publicly funded “corridor charging” projects:
If you’re driving from San Francisco to LA in a LEAF, what is wrong with you? Maybe once to say you did it, but overall it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
If we promote that you can drive from San Francisco to LA in a LEAF, people are going to buy the car thinking you can and then have a bad experience. In reality, no one is really going to do that.
What’s great is the breadth of product we’re getting on the market now...If you do go from San Francisco to LA you can buy a PHEV and make that trip a very pleasant experience, not stopping all the time. You have to pick the car for the mission that you have.
All through our lives we’ve handled different missions with different vehicles...It seems like we’re trying to make these cars work for every application. I have a truck and a Volt. There are certain things we use the truck for and certain things we use the Volt for.
Quite frankly, we put a lot of money into corridor charging and I think it’s just ridiculous. If you’re driving from San Francisco to LA in a LEAF, what is wrong with you? Maybe once to say you did it, but overall it doesn’t make a lot of sense. If my kids make me stop every hour
THE INFRASTRUCTURE to use the bathroom on a four-hour trip, I’m mad. If you commute 30 miles, 250 days a year, you take the LEAF. Perfect application. And this is what a lot of people are doing.
There are so many applications that we can tackle in the city, and then go after the long drives five years from now when you have 250 miles of range on a $4,000 battery pack.
Speaking to Charged, Packard and France expressed feelings that privately funded corridor charging is a different story, calling Tesla’s supercharger network “an amazing piece of technology.” “Tesla is spending their own money, not hundreds of millions in government funds,” said France. “That’s their choice as a private entity, and that’s great.” ClipperCreek also supplies EVSE to Sun Country Highway, which has installed Level 2 chargers every 100 to 200 kilometers along the Trans-Canada Highway. The principals of that project have advocated against using public funding for Canadian charging projects, in part “because of the mess we made down here,” said Packard. Although the ClipperCreek founders think many corridor charging projects are ill-conceived, they do see value in DC fast chargers. “Around the city, I think it makes every bit of sense,” said Packard. He thinks most fast chargers will rarely be used, but they will increase people’s confidence about driving 80 miles a day, which is very significant. “There are so many applications that we can tackle in the city, and then go after the long drives five years from now when you have 250 miles of range on a $4,000 battery pack. That evolution is going to come naturally over time. Let’s look for the low-hanging fruit instead of trying to promote EVs for a use that is going to give people an unsatisfactory experience.” Workplace Like many others in the space, ClipperCreek has seen a rise in interest in workplace charging. However, the company reports that a lot of people are wrestling with whether or not the IRS will rule that free charging provided by employers is a taxable benefit. Such a ruling would complicate the charging-at-work scenario and it’s a real concern for businesses. For example, what will be the tracking and reporting requirements? “If I buy basic chargers for my employees today - without any metering or access control - will I have to replace them
with ‘smarter’ chargers if the IRS decides it’s taxable?” A few EV industry organizations have asked the IRS to make a ruling soon, hoping to eliminate people’s concerns. GM has recently stated that it believes charging should not be considered a taxable benefit, and ClipperCreek agrees. “I think that then we will see a lot more workplace charging, and it will be free to the employees - much like coffee is,” said Packard. “Even though everyone doesn’t drink coffee, they provide it for free.” ClipperCreek advocates for Level 1 at the workplace. It argues that to take full advantage of a Level 2 EVSE asset, there is a need to move cars around during the day - affecting productivity - because the vast majority of commutes can be recharged in three hours or less with Level 2. With Level 1, commuters can recoup about 25 to 30 miles while staying plugged in all day. Also, most facilities don’t have enough power for lots of Level 2 charging. Alternatively, they could wire up for Level 1 and offer twice the charging without upgrading panels. “The original installation doesn’t have to creep up to way beyond what anyone can afford,” said France. “Practically any building can support four stalls at Level 1.” “Another big complaint we hear is that people are taking the charging stations even though they only have a 5 or 10 mile commute,” explains Packard. “They’re not the ones who need it, so we have to manage that somehow.” Oddly enough, one of Packard’s suggested fixes is not to use his products. “You can buy a Level 1 station, like the hardware we offer, or even just an outlet.” Outlets are cheap and simple to install, and they enable drivers to use the EVSE cord set that is included with the purchase of every plug-in car. Hearing a company’s president point out that its products might not be necessary is a little strange, yet refreshing. But Packard and ClipperCreek have a clear vision of the EVSE market and where it’s headed. “We need to get the prices down and more people in the cars. That should be the focus. Everything else will take care of itself.”
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Larry Butkovich, General Manager of EV Systems at Fuji Electric, on
FINANCING FA$T CHARGER$ 78
n March 2012, Fuji Electric Corporation of America announced plans to begin selling its DC fast charging stations in the US. At that time, the company had already deployed over 300 of its chargers in other markets around the world. The company’s international experience gave it practical insight into the challenges of the EV charging market. During Fuji’s US launch, Larry Butkovich, General Manager of EV Systems, warned that in order for any company to succeed in this new industry, it would have to invest heavily in R&D to offer customers the latest technologies, and focus on reducing product prices. In the June 2012 issue of Charged, we published an opinion piece by Butkovich that detailed the company’s decision to focus on 25 kW chargers, which he argued offered the best blend of affordability and functionality. “50 kW chargers provide a complete charge faster than a 25 kW charger can,” he wrote, “but, contrary to popular belief, the charging time is not cut in half by doubling the power from 25 kW to 50 kW.” A Fuji study found that when fast charging an EV from 30% state-of-charge, “a 50 kW charger will charge at a faster rate for the first 7-10 minutes of the charging cycle, after which it drops off to the same rate as the 25 kW charger, as directed by the vehicle’s battery management system.” Over a year later, the company continues to push towards making the best possible business case for commercial EVSE installations. In October 2013, Fuji announced that its fourth-generation 25 kW fast charger is available with zero-down, zero-interest financing. We caught up with Butkovich to get some details about the new program.
Charged: With your financing announcement, and a few others in the industry, it seems clear that upfront costs are the biggest barrier to installing more public infrastructure. Is that fair to say? Larry Butkovich: Yes, upfront costs are certainly one of the primary roadblocks we face when speaking with businesses and other potential station owners. Large corporations will install charging stations for positive press alone, but smaller businesses are hesitant (or simply unable) to invest over $30,000 in a new technology with an unclear ROI timeframe. By eliminating the upfront costs and the long-term interest fees associated with traditional financing programs, we have effectively removed that roadblock for retail stores, hotel operators, real estate companies, fleet managers, and other businesses looking to provide charging as a service to their customers. DC quick charging offers EV drivers a fast and convenient alternative to home charging, but it can be cost prohibitive compared it to Level 1 or Level 2 options. That’s why some of the larger charging manufacturers are now offering financing for station owners - it’s much easier for them to justify a smaller monthly payment than a large lump sum, particularly with a program like ours that offers zero interest. Charged: Tell us about the details of your financing program - terms, eligibility, etc. Butkovich: The financing program is offered as either a 12 or 24-month program with zero money down
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Our data shows that both new and seasoned EV drivers are willing to pay for a public charging service that adds value to their daily lives.
and zero interest. The program is open to anyone interested in commercial charging stations for electric vehicles, with a quick 48-hour turnaround time guaranteed on all applications. The application process is quick and convenient, with each applicant being assigned a single point of contact at Fuji Electric to ensure a smooth transaction. After completing a simple one-page form, we will work with our partners at Marlin Leasing to finalize the process for a hassle-free experience. Our goal for the program was to keep it as simple as possible, with minimal paperwork and a short turnaround time. We recognize that financing programs are often overwhelming, with lots of fine print and exclusions. We were adamant about avoiding that and found great partners in Marlin Leasing and Union Bank. We are not making money on the financing program. The purpose of it is to encourage potential station owners to get involved and install charging stations for EV owners in their area. We truly believe that the development of publicly available charging infrastructure is a critical component to the long-term success of this industry. Mass adoption of EVs (particularly BEVs) will depend on a few factors: variety and supply from auto manufacturers, purchase price, and fueling options. We are already seeing a wide variety of vehicles being offered, and the vehicle prices are decreasing, so now we must focus on the infrastructure portion. The target of the program is anyone that would have a need for a DC Quick Charger: retail stores, hotel operators, fleet managers, local governments/ municipalities, and other businesses. Essentially, it’s any commercial environment that might benefit from offering local EV drivers a quick and convenient public charging option.
Photo courtesy of Fuji Electric
Charged: Does it include installation costs? Butkovich: The program covers equipment costs only; however, we do have the ability to roll a portion of the installation costs into the program for customers who would like to do that. Charged: What are your thoughts on the overall development of EV infrastructure in the US and other markets? Butkovich: The European and Japanese markets have seen a number of publicly sponsored DC quick charging infrastructure projects. It is unlikely that we’ll see anything as comprehensive in the US again. Current tax credits help, but the question is whether those tax credits will be extended. Even with government support, site owners face high installation and operating costs for DC quick chargers. The early adoption of EVs began slower than expected, which has impacted the pace of public infrastructure advancement. The industry is often described as a “chicken and egg” scenario, with charging manufacturers asserting that, “If you build it, they will come.” It’s not enough to simply install charging stations where EV adoption rates are highest. We can influence adoption rates by installing publicly available charging stations, providing potential EV owners with the reassurance that they will be able to find a charging station outside of their home. EV sales have been steadily increasing since 2011, with a huge increase in sales for 2013 - more than double 2012. Over the last year, EV infrastructure in the US has grown substantially. Much of the infrastructure is still Level 2 charging, but DC quick charger installations have increased as well. EV owners have made it clear that they need publicly available charging options. We have seen an increase in usage of public DC charging infrastructure as car sales increase in an area. EV drivers are really embracing the capability of bumping up their state-of-charge to complete their normal driving routine. Our data shows that both new and seasoned EV drivers are willing to pay for a public charging service that adds value to their daily lives.
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CHARGING BILLING MODELS
Photo courtesy of WSDOT (Flickr)
By Tom Saxton, Chief Science Officer, Plug In America
An increasing number of drivers are depending on public charging to extend the useful range of their vehicles
ith over 160,000 plug-in vehicles on the road in the US, an increasing number of drivers are depending on public charging to extend the useful range of their vehicles, both for extended trips in large metro areas and for even longer road trips. At the same time, there is increased interest among site owners and charging network operators in making public charging infrastructure a viable business. The most obvious way to get revenue from charging is direct billing, but that isn’t the only method, and it isn’t always the best. There are ongoing costs associated with billing, and because electricity is so cheap, the billing costs can be as much as or more than the cost of the electricity. This means that a site that bills for charging may have to charge twice the cost of the electricity just to break even, while potentially competing against other sites that offer free charging.
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Goals of public charging When considering all of the possible revenue models and billing schemes, it’s important to take a step back and consider the critical goals that public charging must meet to support the widespread use of EVs and also be a longterm sustainable business. 1. Raise awareness of electric vehicles. To realize the economic, security and environmental benefits of EVs, the US will need many millions of drivers to go electric. Although most drivers will find home charging adequate for the majority of trips, many people don’t understand this until they’ve driven an EV for a few weeks. As public charging infrastructure becomes more common, it offers a real solution to the problem of range anxiety. 2. Support the broad use of electric vehicles. Whether it’s providing an option for drivers who
can’t charge at home (like those living in condos or apartments), enabling longer commutes, or just providing a safety net to add charge for an unexpected errand, widespread public charging means more electric miles displacing gas miles. 3. Provide a sustainable business model for site hosts. While some will support charging because of concerns about our nation’s economic reliance on the global oil market and the national security problems that creates, most companies will not provide a service that doesn’t offer a direct benefit to their business. Although free charging can meet all three of the above goals, including indirect revenue for site hosts, there are situations in which making charging free creates problems. If charging is free, it will attract some EV drivers just because it’s free. If you can charge for free in public,
Photo courtesy of WSDOT (Flickr)
It becomes a problem when a driver plans on charging at a certain location, only to find it occupied by vehicles just taking advantage of free electrons.
FIGURE 1 Nissan LEAF DC Fast Charge Rate 50% to 100% SOC 35
20% 5 10% 0 0
DC Fast Charge Session (Minutes)
why pay for charging at home? That’s great for raising EV awareness, but it becomes a problem when a driver plans on charging at a certain location, only to find it occupied by vehicles just taking advantage of free electrons. For the most part, this is pretty rare, but there is one situation in which it’s becoming a common issue: urban area DC fast charging. DC fast charging According to Nissan, the Seattle metro area is the fourth largest market for the LEAF and, according to The EV Project, the Puget Sound area is the third largest user of Blink DC fast charging stations. So it isn’t surprising that this area has been one of the first to see waiting lines at these stations. Until August 22, all of the Blink DC fast charge stations were free and, according to reports, this was clearly increasing use by drivers who charged their cars beyond what they needed to comfortably complete their trips, at the expense of others waiting to charge.
State of Charge
Charge Rate (kW)
As the car gains charge, the rate slows to protect the health of the battery.
There are two primary problems with free fast charging: drivers have no incentive to unplug when they have met their charging needs, and drivers will stay plugged into a fast charge station long after the “fast” part of the charge has finished. Figure 1 was derived from data I collected during a session that took a LEAF from just above 50% charge to full. The red line shows the car’s state of charge, as a percentage of full, and the blue line shows the rate of charge in kilowatts (kW). A DC fast charge for a LEAF can begin drawing around 40 kW, or about 120 miles of range per hour. As the car gains charge, the rate slows to protect the health of the battery. This tapering begins at around 50% state of charge. As you can see from the graph, this fast charge session started just above 50%, drawing about 33 kW, with the charge rate steadily dropping. This particular charge took 52 minutes. During the last 30 minutes, the average charge rate was just 3.7 kW, barely above what it would get at a Level 2 station. For the last 42 minutes, the
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Photos courtesy of Oregondot (Flickr)
The decreasing charge rate is not visible to the driver...It would help to have both the car and the station present the driver with this information average charge rate was just 6.6 kW, the same as a 2013 LEAF with a 6.6 kW on-board charger would pull from a Level 2 station. So, for a 3.3 kW LEAF driver seeking a full charge, a DC fast charge station offers no advantage over a Level 2 station above 85% state of charge. For a 6.6 kW LEAF owner, the advantage ends at around 75%. Going up to the 85% mark makes sense even for a 6.6 kW LEAF owner, but continuing to charge all the way to the top makes little sense if Level 2 charging is also available. The decreasing charge rate is not visible to the driver. Neither the LEAF, the Blink DC station nor the Aerovironment DC station (also common in the Northwest) shows the charge rate. It would help to have both the car
and the station present the driver with this information. On the other hand, there are circumstances when a driver may need to get a full charge from a fast charge station, for example along a highway where a charge is needed to get to the next station with a comfortable buffer. In such cases, assuming there’s no opportunity to conveniently switch to a Level 2 station, charging until completely full is reasonable and justified.
Billing model options and efficient use In light of what we want to accomplish with public charging infrastructure and how DC fast charging actually works, let’s examine the most obvious candidates for billing models.
3. Bill per kWh. We pay for gasoline by the gallon. The equivalent for EV charging would be paying by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). This charges drivers for the amount of electricity drawn. If the billing rate for DC fast charging is above that for home charging and public Level 2 charging, then it motivates drivers to only charge to the level they need. Still, it would be better to discourage use of fast charge stations when the charge rate has dropped down below the Level 2 rate. ROI and free charging Fortunately for EV drivers and site owners alike, there are lots of ways other than direct billing to make a return on investment from providing charging. Hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, shopping malls, paid parking lots, etc, can attract customers from competitors. Charging takes time, and EV driving customers are likely to stay longer and spend more than average at these locations. Charging can be a free perk for customers, tied to a preferred customer card, or authorized via access codes given to customers just like parking validation. Site hosts can earn revenue from stations that display advertising - either static or video displays. New revenue models are emerging as more companies are getting into the charging business.
1. Free. Free charging encourages use, and plug-in vehicle adoption, when there are few EVs in a given area. However, it’s problematic because it does not discourage drivers from leaving their EV plugged in past the needed charging time. 2. Flat fee per session. A flat per-session fee is also problematic, because it actually provides a monetary incentive for the inefficient use of a highly valued charging station. When paying $8 for a session, it’s reasonable to insist on getting every electron possible - beyond what is needed or what makes sense from a charging-rate perspective.
4. Bill by time. At a high-use station, the most valuable commodity in play isn’t the electricity - it’s the opportunity to charge. So, billing drivers for time spent at the station directly addresses their use of the charging system. Also, as the charge rate drops, the cost per unit of energy increases. This model also strongly discourages drivers from leaving their cars plugged in after the charge is complete. A minimum charge could be incorporated to cover transaction overhead - for example, $2.50 for the first 10 minutes and $0.25 for each additional minute. 5. Bill by time escalating. This is perhaps the best model for a busy urban site where many drivers need, for example, 10 minutes of charging to pick up 20 miles of extra range. A billing rate might be $2.50 for the first 10 minutes and $0.50 for each additional minute. In choosing a way to bill, many factors must be considered. One size does not fit all. What makes sense for a busy urban station doesn’t make sense for a site along a highway far from the next charging opportunity. Sites that are oversubscribed should consider installing additional stations before resorting to excessive billing rates to discourage use. Sites that are not overused, and that carry benefits to site owners when EV drivers stop to charge, may be best served by business models that don’t rely on direct billing for charging. Whatever billing model is chosen, it needs to be communicated clearly to drivers, so there are no rude surprises when the bill comes.
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Electrification Gears Up To Tweak The
When it looks like a Formula 1 car and sounds like a hovercraft from a sci-fi movie - or maybe a fighter jet from the spirit world - that’s one of the new SparkRenault SRT_01E race cars, specially designed for the 2014-2015 FIA Formula E Championship. That’s right: FIA, the worldwide governing body for Formula 1 and other motor sports, has set the technical specifications for a 10-city, 10-team, fully-electric car racing tour to kick off in Beijing this September and conclude in June 2015 in London. While we’ve seen electric motorcycles go at it in races like the TT Zero, and electric drag racing in the NEDRA events, Formula E will be the first all-electric global car racing series of its kind. As with Formula 1, the Formula E races will be an “open championship,” meaning that manufacturers will be encouraged to build their own cars in order to drive innovation and R&D in the EV space. However, for the first year of Formula E, all 10 race teams will use the same base car, the single-seat Spark-Renault SRT_01E.
While Spark Racing Technology designed and built the SRT_01E, its components come from a consortium effort. Italian firm Dallara constructed the car’s aerodynamic carbon fiber and aluminum chassis, and McLaren Electronics Systems provided the electric motor and electronics. Finally, Williams Advanced Engineering designed the 200 kW battery and its management system. It all adds up to a car that was 10 months in the making when it debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September. Estimates mark the SRT_01E for 0-100km
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By Markkus Rovito in 3 seconds, and an FIA-limited estimated top speed of 225 km/h. In case race fans are worried there won’t be any aggressive sounds spewing from the SRT_01E, they can be assured that the fusion of the electric drivetrain, aero package, and tires on the pavement combine to issue a screaming, futuristic whir in excess of 80 dB, compared to the 70 dB of an average gas road car. In accordance with FIA’s Formula E rules, a one-hour practice session, qualifying session, and the race will all occur on the same day. During practice and qualifying, the SRT_01E’s full 200 kW (270 bhp) power will be available. However, during the race, the cars will be limited to a 133 kW (180 bhp) power-saving mode, with a 67 kW “push-to-pass” temporary boost system. Each team will have two drivers, and FIA mandates two pit stops during each race. For the pit stops, drivers will swap out entire cars, rather than having tire changes, battery pack changes, etc. So there will be a total of 42 SRT_01E cars for the series - the remaining two cars ostensibly serving as backups. In late December, EV maker Venturi Automobiles became the tenth and final team to enter the Formula E Championship when the company and actor Leonardo DiCaprio joined forces to co-found the new Venturi Grand Prix Formula E team. There’s no word yet whether DiCaprio will continue the tradition of celebrities dabbling in racing as a driver, but Venturi rounds out a field that includes Richard Branson’s Virgin Racing, Audi Sport ABT, Dragon Racing, Andretti Autosport and Drayson Racing. When Formula E rolls into its scheduled cities, the likes of which include Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin, Monte Carlo, Miami, and Los Angeles, FIA aims to create a cultural event based on the convergence of technology, sport, entertainment and sustainability. Concerts will follow each race, and FIA plans on the races being both televised and streamed online. Measures like the one-day format and the standardized car were meant to reduce impact on the host cities and keep costs low for the teams during the inaugural series.
Photos courtesy of Formula E
• Hybrid • Start / Stop • Electric
The automotive industry is changing fast. Only a few years ago, nearly every car used the same battery type and common starting and charging systems. That's all changing. The market is rapidly accelerating from only a few hybrid vehicles to broad electriﬁcation in several forms. From start-stop systems to full electric vehicles, the number of battery types and systems continue to evolve.
With an engineering team dedicated to advanced technologies and our close working relationships with manufacturers, Midtronics is committed to anticipating and developing solutions to match the complexity of these new battery and electrical systems. Our superior technologies and advanced platforms enable Midtronics to offer products that match the needs and scale of transportation service markets worldwide.
Visit us at Booth 112 at AABC 2014, Feb. 3-7, Atlanta, GA
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Extended Range Electric Vehicles
CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Iss 11 DEC 2013