How Are EVs Jolting the Core of Power Conversion Technology?
As the electric vehicle population increases, power technology is a crucial component
Electric vehicles (EVs) are important in decarbonization and reducing greenhouse gases. As the number of EVs has grown, power conversion technology has become a crucial component in building a sustainable future.
Electric vehicle charging. Image used courtesy of Unsplash
However, major upgrades in scalability and reliability are needed. EV power converters and related technology are the primary motivators in power conversion innovation.
Research Reveals Power Conversion Potential
In OmniOn Power’s recent State of the Power Conversion Industry report, they investigated the rapid changes in several key areas, including sustainability, electric vehicles, and data centers. In all areas, they concluded that infrastructure upgrades are needed to keep up with demand, and power conversion plays a key part.
OmniOn Power stated that EV adoption is contingent on innovations that bolster efficiency and stability, including:
- Safe battery storage
- Higher battery performance
- Reliable charging uptimes
- Conversion technology weight
- Energy efficiency
They recommended a stronger focus on pulse inverters and energy-converting thermal management systems, which are central to rapid charging and efficiency. This incites infrastructure expansion and helps the grid adapt to handle more energy flow. New power converters will be faster and equipped with modern tech to anticipate demand. Converter manufacturing must also happen more expediently to match government goals and funding.
Battery storage system. Image used courtesy of NREL
How is this process engineered and put into practice? Two possibilities are robotics and remote monitoring systems. Robots can be used in factories building EV engines and batteries. Another example is remote monitoring systems for smart charging infrastructure that will perpetuate streamlined maintenance and constant energy distribution oversight.
Infrastructure Concerns for EV Charging
Power conversion capabilities must be reliable, fast, cyber secure, energy-efficient, and able to scale to meet novel tech power requirements. The grid must be stable and robust enough to handle new power conversion technology for EV charging.
This is where upgraded pulse inverters and thermal management provide a solution. Most EV owners use AC power, which can take up to 10 hours to charge some EV batteries fully. New power conversion could bring batteries to an 80% charge in minutes, akin to traditional fuel-filling times for internal combustion engines.
EV charging system. Image used courtesy of DOE
The grid needs to get power where it needs to go quickly. For example, data centers need power conversion assistance for cooling, but unlike EV chargers, their issues lie with efficiency instead of accessibility. Varied priorities cause disjointed progress.
Trends in Battery Technology and Implications for Power Conversion
Power conversion technology must meet the energy demands of resources like the Internet of Things and 5G, commonly used in EVs. Recent research is determining the efficiency of bidirectional DC-DC converters and how new models may improve vehicle-to-grid charging and increase grid stability.
Grid improvements include upgraded DC-DC connections to prevent overload in vehicle-to-grid charging and backup energy storage. One way to do this is by analyzing battery topologies for balance.
Another suggestion is replacing silicon semiconductors with gallium nitride because it emits less heat. The connections use power more efficiently and prevent constant heat exposure, which degrades surrounding systems.
Other technologies, such as vehicle-to-everything (V2X) converters, strive to rewrite power conversion scripts completely. V2X boosts accessibility to EV charging by connecting it to cameras, sensors, and modular tech to drive down prices and improve scaling. V2X makes power conversion more affordable by around 13.6% and easier to implement, maintain, and repair, primarily because peak load decreases and puts less strain on the tech.
These are only a few advancements that will instigate regulatory action and systemic standardization. Apart from EVs, the breadth of industries that power conversion technology touches requires mandating converter requirements across devices, such as using 800-volt-compatible inverters instead of 400 volts.
Without a consensus, the power conversion sector will not provide as much value as possible to the EV industry or quest for sustainability. It also won’t be able to obtain subsidies and incentives from regulatory agencies.
EV Power Converters Reimagine Energy
Engineers and electronics experts are seeing how EVs have changed power conversion, shaping it with more sustainable priorities. Power conversion technology must reduce the waste energy it creates, find more eco-friendly materials, and become more accessible worldwide to support sustainable tech.
EVs may have been the catalyst for how fast this progress is happening in 2023. Electrical engineers are up to the task by considering modular manufacturing, thermal management, semiconductor material composition, and pulse inverter efficiency. This creates a more cohesive inter-sector relationship between EVs and power conversion tech.