The UK has another exciting innovation to boast of as automotive technology company Prodrive leads a consortium to develop a flexible DC-DC converter for electric and hybrid vehicles.
The idea behind the three-year project to develop the new power electronics is to reduce the weight and space taken by the electrical power system. The movement has support from the Technology Strategy Board and Prodrive is accompanied in the project by SciSys, International Transformers, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, Raytheon Systems Ltd and the University of Manchester.
During the first year of the project, the consortium will focus on research and then in the following two years the emphasis will switch to application and development with the aim of producing a driveable demonstration car by the end of year three. Market introduction is expected to be around five-seven years away.
At the moment, DC-DC converters are integrated into the power management system to step down or step up the battery voltage in an effort to meet the needs of different devices including cabin electrical systems, fuel cell stacks, supercapacitors and traction motors.
According to Pete James, the Prodrive technical specialist, existing hybrids need one DC-DC converter for the traction motor and another for the vehicle’s 12V system. However, in the future there will be further voltage steps for supercapacitors or fuel cells and it isn’t viable to keep adding converters for every additional voltage. So solving the problem relies on developing new technology with a flexible converter that is capable of handling multiple voltages at the same time on both the input and output sides. This will achieve conversion efficiencies equal to the best single-range converters that are currently available.
Paul is a freelance writer with a background in everything from motoring to finance; and holidays to women's undergarments he just writes about them, honestly! He has now sadly crept into his early 30s and seems to have forgotten everything learned at school Still, he's a green car fanatic and isn't that what counts?
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