Electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly popular, but the Achilles’ heel of battery-powered cars is that they can be brought to a standstill if just one of the onboard cells stops working. This presents problems in terms of reliability and range, which is why German engineers have come up with a solution that should prevent such problems from persisting.
Developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering and Automation, the system involves the use of microcontrollers that enable cells to be monitored individually across a range of real-time metrics, from the amount of charge remaining to the operational temperature currently being experienced. The system-wide feedback that is provided means that the cells which stop working properly can simply be bypassed and leaving the rest of the cells to keep the EV operating as normal.
However, at the moment such capabilities are not available on board EVs. And crucially, this development will NOT mean that EV maintenance will be made redundant, but rather it will help enormously in identifying battery issues and make the whole process far simpler.
Researchers ultimately intend to make it possible for faulty cells to be replaced individually when a malfunction occurs. Instead of EV owners having to replace the entire battery array as is required at present and is too a significant cost. the former offers a much more efficient, effective and economic solution.
The upshot of this development could not only be the improved reliability of EVs, but instead It could also mean this type of vehicle becoming more affordable and thus more widely used.
At the moment, the relatively low uptake of EVs means that they remain prohibitively expensive thus keeping mainstream adoption from beginning in earnest. But improvements to battery technology will make them more attainable – although researchers on this particular project are still in the process of reducing the size of the proposed system so that it will be practical to put into production.
This week it was announced that the UK government has committed to an agreement which should see every single car sold in the UK by 2050 falling into the zero-emissions category. This is likely to mean that there are incentives available to buyers reducing the costs of EV ownership, and also for businesses to create the technologies that will make this goal achievable.
There are competing technologies involved in the production of zero-emissions and electric vehicles at the moment, but every battery pack manufacturer will continue to play a key role in this area.