Charging time and cost are two of the biggest obstacles facing electric vehicle battery technology today. Fortunately, researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden just developed an integrated motor drive and battery charger that can shorten charging time from eight hours to two while reducing overall cost by $2,000.
In an ideal world, electric vehicles would be able to recharge in five to ten minutes before returning to the road. However, that kind of device would cost over $100,000, completely overshadowing the price of the car. Saeid Haghbin, the main developer of the charger, sought to maximize efficiency while making the system more affordable.
Most electric vehicles do not use their electric motors and inverters during the charging process. To reduce cost, weight, and size, the team decided to loop these elements into the circuit. The battery is charged through a transformer and a split-phase electric motor that was specially designed for the project. While it’s still in need of refinement, the charger has garnered a Swedish and international patent. Chalmers is searching an international manufacturer, and Volvo AB is furthering work on the prototype.
“Electric cars have been discussed as a possible solution to reduce carbon emissions for a long time, but scientists debate whether this mode of transportation is the future or not,” says Haghbin. “If we manage to solve the main problems with the battery and the battery chargers, I think the electric vehicles will succeed. And in general, I think electric transportation will become more common in the future, for example trains, trams and plug-in hybrids.”