What is e-mobility and why do we need Electric Cars?
Electromobility (or e-Mobility) is the idea of utilizing electric powertrain technologies and their communication with in-vehicle technologies for the propulsion of vehicles with the electricity. Electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrids are examples of EV powertrain design technologies that have become more popular because of their environmentally friendly nature and their lower maintenance costs. Currently, EV sales are approaching 2.3 million which is only 2.4% of the actual market. However, this number is expected to skyrocket in the next 5 years based on the increased popularity and advantages of electric vehicles.
Although electric cars have become more mainstream, there are still many consumers who are reluctant to transition. For electric cars to replace their gasoline counterparts the EV’s must have similar or better performance, price, range, battery, and life. Experts have predicted that the Electric Vehicle (EV) will be able to compete with conventional gasoline cars within the next 10-15 years.
What are the latest trends in the Electric Vehicle Industry?
Most electric cars have a high-density battery that can hold more energy compared to the regular battery of similar size. The electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries which have longer life span, higher energy-density, and power-density than other batteries. The ability to have a denser battery means that the EV battery design can be optimized allowing for space to be created for other components.
Also, recent studies have shown that EVs convert about 59%–62% of the electrical energy to power whereas gasoline cars only covert about 17%-21%. This difference in conversion rate is because of the heat released by combustion engines. Moreover, the electrification of cars also enables the use of higher voltages for reducing the amount of current used for a specific amount of power. For example, increasing the 12-V supply voltage by a factor of four to 48 V results in a 16x reduction in power. Overall, electric cars are much easier to maintain and regulate than gasoline cars.
The electric cars of today only have a range of 150-310 miles and the batteries seem to last about 200,000 miles (including all charging and discharging cycles). Since all EV batteries need to be charged frequently, there is a prominent need for good and fast charging technologies. Today, with the use of a 50kW charger, many electric cars can get a 100 mile range within 35 minutes of plugging it in. However, with the continual improvements to the EV battery design and EV motor technologies we can expect the charge time to reduce to the point where it takes less than 15 minutes to fully charge your electric car.
The research and development of electric cars is a very busy aspect of EV as new technologies, developments, improvements, and advancements occur regularly.
What are the shortcoming and downfalls in terms of EV Design and EV Testing?
The leading issue with electric cars is that they cannot compete with gasoline cars on few parameters like performance, range, cost, life etc. As a result, design and manufacturing engineers must constantly come up with ideas on how to improve the performance of the EV battery and traction motor. The performance and aging of all critical components of electric vehicles highly depends on the temperature distribution and developing hot spots within. Therefore, faster and more accurate temperature measurement is necessary at each stage of EV thermal management during product development and testing.
The EV powertrain testing and EV battery testing are being done at high voltage some time up to 2500V. The key challenges in EV testing are safety, measurement accuracy and repeatability at such high voltages. Typically, an EV prototype is fitted with approximately 600 to 700 thermocouples for temperature measurement. The thermocouples, if installed at high voltage components of the EV prototype pose safety risk and measurement inaccuracies.
How Fiber Optic Temperature Sensors revolutionize EV Thermal Management?
A form of revolutionary technology that is being used in electric vehicle testing is the fiber optics temperature sensing (FOTS). They have been proven to be much safer and accurate than other sensors even when they are being tested in high voltages conditions such as at 2500V. This testing is important for EV batteries, traction motors and EV inverters, because they should be able to operate efficiently under high voltages.
Although most sensors are susceptible to noise interface which leads to inaccurate and unreliable results, fiber optic sensors are not susceptible to any measurement errors. Additionally, fiber optic temperature sensors are very thin as they vary from 200-500 micrometres which allows them to be placed anywhere in a car. Fiber optic temperature sensors are ideal for EV powertrain testing at extreme temperatures because the sensors are accurate and fast responsive over a wider range.
Finally, the transition from a thermocouple to FOTS has been proven to be very rewarding to both design and manufacturing engineers because it is more accurate, reliable, repeatable, and extremely quick. Fiber Optic Temperature Sensors guarantee a much safer product that leaves no room for error and eliminates the possibility of a recall.
Rugged Monitoring Sensors and Monitors for EV Testing
Rugged Monitoring (RM) has developed several products such as the LSENST and LSENSB sensors which utilize fiber optic technology of temperature measurement. The sensors are being used by major EV manufacturers globally, in measuring temperature of high voltage components such as EV battery, electric motor, charging port, high voltage connectors, EV inverters and power electronics.
The RM sensors have a temperature range of -270 °C to +250 °C and have a repeatability of ±0.2 °C. Along with these characteristics, they also have easy to use monitors that display results in a precise and quick manner. Also, RM has created proprietary software that shows remote visualization of temperatures while having an intuitive user interface. The software is designed to provide the most relevant information while protecting the data with the greatest level of security.