Dramatic new approach to electric vehicles
Mar 20, 2015 Raghu Das
The IDTechEx conference Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing, Berlin 28-29 April, tears up the rule book on the electric vehicles market, which will be worth $500 million by 2025 (IDTechEx Research figures 2015). At this event we will reveal the new components that are increasingly merged into smart structures and involve many new companies.
Increase range in many ways
This event goes far beyond convention, delving into technology that increases range and recharging time on tough duty cycles and showing how to link many types of energy harvesting - it is far beyond conventional piston engines as range extenders. However, there is a place for ultra-low-cost piston engine range extenders down at the $1000 level, as will be presented by Tata Motors European Technical Centre. The sweet spot for range extenders is around 30 kW and the demand is rising. Over nine million will be made in 2025 according to IDTechEx analysis, covering a great breadth of requirement. Thermoelectric, photovoltaic and electrodynamic energy harvesting systems on or in a vehicle can each typically generate 0.5 to 20 kW intermittently. The intermittency can be complementary, so the planned combined systems can be a great improvement, acting rather like a range extender that does not require fuel.
New range extenders
As range extenders, fuel cells have a high cost of around $100,000 to make. With high cost of ownership too, when we include the special refuelling infrastructure, they have been in a trough of disillusion recently after being over hyped for use in vehicles 20 years ago. Nonetheless, Green GT Technologies of Switzerland's overview at the coming event will show how a lot is going to happen around 2020-2025.
An IDTechEx overview will include next generation rotary combustion engines as range extenders, from companies including from Libralato in the UK, and energy harvesting shock absorbers that can also charge batteries. Batteries? Lithium metal options will be explained as interest in them increases from a low level. They promise a more compact (or longer range) and eventually lower cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries. They are sometimes solid state and therefore shapeable. Additionally, new progress with battery replacements in the form of supercapacitors and lithium-ion capacitors will be revealed.
Free piston range extenders
Libertine FPE of the UK will present on free piston engines that generate electricity directly without driving a generator. Libertine is developing power conversion technology that will deliver 37-47% fuel-to-electrical conversion efficiency in small power generation and convert 10-20% of waste heat to power in heat recovery applications. This typically produces a third more power than incumbent technologies. Libertine aims to make free piston technology a leading format for sub 100kWe power generators in low cost hybrid vehicles and other applications.
Jet engine range extenders
Aircraft Auxiliary Power Units (APU) are jet engines and the Capstone versions from the USA have been used as range extenders in buses and trucks with limited success. Now Microturbo-Safran have miniaturised jet engines and lowered the cost using 3D printing, at least experimentally.
Harvesting leverages range extension
Paradoxically, adding new components in the form of energy harvesting can further increase range and even save on total cost of ownership. An IDTechEx overview of this will explain how new forms of energy harvesting and storage will appear in a plane, boat, car or bus near you. Just as one example, consider the thermoelectrics that will be presented by Komatsu of Japan. Caterpillar of the USA and others are researching the harvesting movement in all three dimensions, which can power active suspension. As we explain, the holistic approach will win and it now includes smart vehicle structures.
Bodywork doubles as major electrical system
There is a move to load-bearing and protective vehicle structures doubling as electrical and electronic components and circuits. This is rapidly going beyond printed bird strike detectors in aircraft wings and antennas in car windshields. Presenters Imperial College London (structural supercapacitors), Canatu of Finland (transparent conductive film), TactoTek of Finland and Local Motors of the USA will explain this huge leap forward through the use of in-mold electronics, drop molding and more. For example, TactoTek manufactures 3D structural electronics by integrating printed circuitry and discrete electronic components into injection-molded plastics. Local Motors is an American motor vehicle manufacturing company focused on low-volume manufacturing of open-source motor vehicle designs using multiple microfactories. It has already co-created an electric-powered 3D-printed car.
People new to you that you should meet
At the IDTechEx event in Berlin, masterclasses on 27 and 30 April cover structural electronics, electric vehicles and much more. The 28 and 29 April will also play host to a large tradeshow.
Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman of IDTechEx says, "We have avoided the usual PR pitches by the famous names making electric vehicles. Instead we have sought the key innovators from across the world and only inserted the big names where there is a new approach to be revealed such as Jaguar Land Rover looking to use printed electronics. The eight parallel conference sessions and the exhibition offer a unique one-stop-shop on the future with emphasis on how to make money, not on academic obscurity."
This well-established event has 150 exhibitors expected, 200 company and university presentations, and expects 2000 attendees from over 42 countries. It is end-user focused with needs and experiences aired. Latest technology developments and roadmaps will be revealed for the first time with demonstrations, new samples and much more. See www.IDTechEx.com/eve15