De Montfort University’s Department of Technology is leading a £375, 000 study, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund; to develop innovative ways of making electric vehicles go further on one charge.
Researchers are hoping to help spark demand in Britain’s electric car market by trying to find the answer to drivers’ concerns over the vehicles’ limited range. This is because sales of electric vehicles have remained below expectations with many polls showing drivers are worried they are unable to travel long distances on one charge. The team also includes staff from CENEX, the Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies.
Dr Eric Goodyer, of DMU, in Leicester, said: “Electric vehicles are now an established technology, and available from many major vehicle manufacturers. However their perceived lack of range is holding back market penetration for travellers who make long journeys. This is where Range Extenders can make a major contribution. Existing techniques consist of little more than a traditionally powered motor that is used to recharge the vehicle’s primary drive battery pack. They can add literally 100s of miles to the vehicle’s range, but are little more than a simplistic battery charger that cuts in when the battery is getting low. This research project will examine more fuel efficient means of delivering range extension.”
The £125,000 funding is matched with more than £250,000 of money from DMU, which has established a reputation for innovative research across many fields. There will be three innovative strands to this engineering project.
Firstly, the vehicle’s performance will be individually modelled to develop a battery charge algorithm that maximises the effectiveness of the traditional fuel burn.
Secondly, artificial intelligence will be used to manage the range extender – replacing the ‘recharge when low’ approach. Finally, data from a SatNav coupled with a journey planner will be used to decide when to recharge the vehicle battery.
The project will also examine whether it is better to use a hydrogen fuel cell range extender instead of a petrol or diesel model; and enable DMU to extend its existing engine research lab to provide facilities including a rolling road and vehicle network analysis equipment.