"Many people have talked about using supercapacitors as buffers on a battery, but we also will use artificial intelligence to manage how power is discharged and stored," Nourbakhsh said. "Based on a driver's route and habits, the smart power management system will decide whether to draw power for the electric motors from the batteries or the supercapacitor and decide where to store electricity produced by the regenerative braking system as the car slows down or goes down a hill."
Determining the optimal means of managing power will be one of ChargeCar's primary goals. The researchers calculate that an intelligent electric car controller could recapture 48 percent of the energy during braking and that a supercapacitor could reduce 56 percent of the load on the batteries and reduce heating of the batteries which shortens battery life by 53 percent.
"The number one cost of electric vehicle ownership is the batteries," Nourbakhsh said. "Smart power management will save money initially because it pairs a low-cost battery pack with a small supercapacitor. And it will continue to save money by increasing efficiency and extending battery life." By customizing each vehicle to the owner's specific commute, ChargeCar will save money for some owners by allowing them to purchase the minimum number of batteries necessary.
The converted Scion xB will serve as a test bed for developing smart power management techniques, measuring battery lifetimes and refining conversion techniques.
The ChargeCar project has created a national clearinghouse for commuter data at http://chargecar.org; people across the country are invited to store their commute data via GPS and upload it to the site. The site can then use the data to show individuals the
|Contact: Byron Spice|
Carnegie Mellon University