Electric vehicle news from Battery Osaka, PV Expo, Smart Grid Expo
Sep 17, 2014 Dr Peter Harrop
The Reed Exhibitions event last week in Osaka Japan consisting of PV Expo, Battery Osaka and Smart Grid Expo successfully extended an event that started with photovoltaics last year. Indeed most of the stands for next year were booked by the end of the three day event which centered on hundreds of stands with parallel conferences in the exhibition area.
Lessons for the electric vehicle industry were that many companies are moving into photovoltaics on electric car ports and electric boats but for most of them it is only one thousanth of their business as they fight to the death on huge installations on the ground. Supercapacitors were shown to be further improving and even incorporating carbon nanotubes and higher voltage ionic electrolytes in small versions so further penetration of the EV applications is assured.
The Nippon ChemiCon stand was particularly impressive. This mainly involves partly or wholly replacing lithium-ion traction batteries though they also replace tantalum electrolytics. Although vertically stacked graphene supercapacitors potentially replacing big aluminium electrolytics in EV inverters was not mentioned there was big news in Canadian EV (GaN Systems) inverters being displayed that use gallium nitride power components to replace silicon ones so advances are coming thick and fast.
Previously, conference presentations had projected that silicon nitride versions were three years away. Earler this year we had both Panasonic and Sumitomo Electric launching silicon carbide based EV inverters offering a precious 40% saving in space and weight in inverters up to 60 kW. They do not need heavy liquid cooling as they can run hot and they are more efficient. The gallium nitride versions can tolerate much larger currents but they are, as yet, limited to lower power. All this aids the race to longer range, lower cost, faster charging pure electric cars and other vehicles but those hoping to see progress in stretchable photovoltaics over the whole vehicle and other advances had little to find at these shows other than some advanced lithium battery work and the lead acid supercabatteries.
The distant dream of millions of pure electric cars donating to peak demand on a smart grid was covered. Hybrids that do not plug in, currently outselling pure electric cars fourteen to one, will have little to contribute to this as their batteries and super capacitors store little energy.