NREL, ARPA-E pair on electric vehicle, energy storage research

The three projects are funded under the AMPED program with more than $7.4 million from DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has joined DOE and research partners in launching the Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) program with a kick-off meeting in San Francisco.

Over the next three years, NREL engineers will work with teams led by Utah State University, Washington University, and Eaton Corp. to optimize the use, life, and cost of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for electric vehicles through improved battery management and controls.

The three projects are funded under the AMPED program with more than $7.4 million from DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

NREL is a recognized leader in EDV energy storage R&D. In addition to groundbreaking thermal evaluation and analysis, NREL's energy storage modeling, simulation and testing activities include battery safety assessment, next-generation battery technologies, material synthesis and research, subsystem analysis, battery second use studies and battery computer-aided engineering.

Lab research improves energy storage devices — from materials to batteries, ultracapacitors and complete energy storage systems — by uncovering new ways to enhance thermal performance and lower life-cycle costs.

The ultimate goal of these projects is to make EDVs viable options for a larger and wider population of drivers. The projects for each team are:

Power Management of Large Battery Packs — Utah State University ($3 million)

Objectives: Reduction in battery size, 20 percent longer battery pack lifetime or 20 percent reduction in battery pack energy content and 50 percent increase in cold temperature charge rate

Researchers in NREL's Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems (CTTS) will work with the Utah State University team to develop electronic hardware and control software for an advanced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle battery management system to maximize the lifetime of each cell in a battery pack. Other project partners include University of Colorado (Boulder and Colorado Springs) and the Ford Motor Co. Laboratory testing will take place at both NREL and Ford.

Battery Management System Design — Washington University ($2 million)

Objective: 20 percent increase in the use of untapped Li-ion battery capacity at the cell level

The Washington University team will develop a predictive battery management system with innovative control hardware that uses advanced mathematical models to optimize battery performance. The system will project optimal charge and discharge of batteries in real-time, enhancing battery performance and improving battery safety, charge-rate, and usable power capacity. NREL's CTTS researchers will use the lab's breakthrough battery multi-physics models to guide the design of the control algorithms and will demonstrate the capability of the algorithms through laboratory testing.

Predictive Battery Management for Hybrid Vehicles — Eaton Corp. ($2.4 million)

Objective: 50 percent improvement in fuel economy of heavy-duty HEVs without sacrificing battery life

Eaton Corp. will collaborate with NREL to develop a power control system to optimize the operation of commercial-scale hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), integrating NREL battery life predictive models with Eaton HEV control algorithms. The planned approach provides a cost-effective solution that reduces the size of the battery needed for operating large hybrid electric vehicles with no loss in battery life or vehicle performance. NREL will perform hardware-in-the-loop testing in its laboratories to demonstrate the new system.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.

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