Vanderbilt University’s Ken Pence, professor of the practice of engineering management, and Tim Potteiger, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, have developed a battery management device that reconfigures battery modules in electric cars to be online or offline depending on whether or not they’re going to pull down the other modules. The result could be an increase in range of up to 50%, seen as the battery pack ages.
The two used the open-source Tesla high-density, lithium-ion battery to model their method of improving durability and increasing range, adding a controller to each of the battery’s cells.
We know there are some battery cells that run out of juice earlier than others, and when they do, the others run less efficiently. We make sure they all run out of energy at the same time, and there’s none left over.—Tim Potteiger
EV battery gauges give a worst-case scenario on the amount of power left so that users don’t get stranded. That means they commonly show empty with 10% or more power left, Potteiger said. The Vanderbilt device also can connect to electric cars’ software for a more accurate read that allows drivers to get the most range out of a charge.
The older the batteries are, the more likely they are to experience problems making them less efficient, and the more useful the team’s device becomes, Pence said.
They’ll have a longer useful service life. Drivers won’t see the 50 percent return immediately, but they will later on in the life of the battery.—Ken Pence
The two are working with the Vanderbilt Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization to get the device to market.