The problem of the autonomy of electric cars
Electric cars are undoubtedly the future of automotive transport. Today, in France and more generally, all over the world, electric battery vehicles are gradually replacing vehicles running on internal combustion engines. The reason for this change is above all ecological. It is now proven that this type of vehicle is cleaner for the environment. But also more economical! Indeed, with the increase in the price of fossil fuels, electrical energy becomes more interesting.
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However, despite its advantages, some drivers are hesitant to replace their fossil fuel car with an electric vehicle. If the purchase price of an electric car is still high compared to a traditional car, this is not the only reason given. Many drivers worry about ending up on the road with a nearly empty battery. And especially with no nearby charging station.
Contrary to the number of service stations, there are still too few charging stations for electric vehicles. In addition, recharging a lithium-ion battery that equips an electric vehicle can take several hours. Which is not very practical for long trips.
Researchers at the University of Kansas School of Engineering in the United States may have found the solution to this problem. In a study, they see the possibility of recharging electric cars using peer-to-peer (P2P) technology while continuing to drive.
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Electric cars that charge with a cloud-based system
This revolutionary system would allow two electric vehicles to share an electric charge while continuing their journey.
“A car may have a fully charged battery and it may not have to drive for a long time. In this case, it could very well sell part of its electric charge to another vehicle which has to make a longer journey and whose battery is not very charged”. – Tamzidul Hoque, professor and author of this study.
There is therefore clearly an economic advantage for those who sell part of their electrical load. And a time advantage for the driver on a long journey since he does not have to stop.
A cloud-based system could allow the two electric cars to communicate in close proximity. The two paired cars could then drive together with their speed synchronized and locked during the load sharing time. This load sharing would be done by charging cables that would automatically connect the two vehicles.
One of the essential roles of the cloud would be to analyze the state of charge of all the vehicles in circulation in a given sector. How ? Through algorithms. These would be responsible for determining the vehicle that would be closest and most available to share its load with another vehicle in demand.
Read also: Electric car: a “quantum” charging system faster than a full tank of gas?
Vehicles equipped with two different batteries
For this system to be effective, electric cars must not remain connected for too long. It may be, for example, that one of the two vehicles wishes or must change the route. So that the one who transfers part of his electric charge to another can do so in a sufficiently short time, the researchers propose the concept of multilevel battery.
This is a system that would include small, fast-charging batteries capable of quickly storing the peer-to-peer electrical charge. After the disconnection of the two vehicles, these batteries would only have to send the stored charge to the main battery of the vehicle.
The team also proposes a solution for areas with high traffic density: deploying large batteries installed on trucks that can recharge several vehicles at the same time. These “loader trucks” would only be located on major roads such as highways.
The researchers used simulation software called SUMO to create scenarios involving electric vehicles traveling on a highway. They also introduced in this software their concept of mobile charging as well as that of “truck-loaders”.
Thanks to this simulator, the researchers noticed that their system would allow an interesting reduction in the number of times the vehicle would have to be refueled. They also noticed a sharp decrease in carbon emissions. In the event that the “loader trucks” are also recharged by renewable energies.
For this idea of peer-to-peer charging to see the light of day, it will necessarily require the financial support of major manufacturers in the automotive world.
Read also: Here is a battery that charges to 60% in just 6 minutes
Chakraborty, P., Parker, R., Hoque, T. et al., “Addressing the range anxiety of battery electric vehicles with charging en route”. Scientific Reports. 12, 5588 (2022); https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-08942-2