GE researchers, in partnership with Ford and the University of Michigan, are currently developing a miniature sensing system that has the potential to extend the life of batteries in electric vehicles.
"The car battery remains the greatest barrier and most promising opportunity to bringing EVs mainstream." said Aaron Knobloch, principal investigator and mechanical engineer at GE Global Research. "Improvements in the range, cost and life of the battery will all be needed for EVs to be competitive. With better sensors and new battery analytics, we think we can make substantial progress at increasing battery life.
Knobloch added that this will bring down the electric vehicle's overall cost and the cost entitlement of buying an electric car.
Current EV batteries monitor the health of the battery by looking at factors like temperature, voltage and current. GE will attempt to offer cost-effective sensors with new measurement capabilities, saying the current factors limit the understanding of the auto battery operation and health.
University of Michigan scientists will use the GE data to verify the advanced battery models.
"Ensuring a battery's health over many cycles requires taking frequent snapshots of its condition as it ages," said Charles Monroe, a chemical engineering professor on the University of Michigan team. "Control systems on cars have to be able to use this vast amount of data quickly and efficiently. Information provided by advanced sensors will allow us to create and verify finely resolved physical models to underpin battery management schemes.
He added that the hardest part will be to make battery management programs adapt and work quickly.
Ford also recently invested $220 million to reopen a Sterling Heights, Michigan, factory that will focus on building new hybrid transmissions to be introduced on the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid. Re-opening the factory will eventually create 225 jobs and help advance Ford's Hybrid and electric technology further.
Electric vehicles are becoming more advanced with consumer demand, and they're being used for more than just driving. Even more mini MINI EVs are helping pick up javelins, discus, hammers and other projectiles from field events at the 2012 Olympic Games to save the athletes time.
The cars use electric batteries that can support 35 minutes of use with a remote range of more than 300 feet. They are one fourth the size of a normal MINI.