Smart Grid Research:
Making the City Green + Smarter
The smart grid is a key element of President Obama’s plan to lower energy costs for consumers, achieve energy independence and reduce greenhouse gases.
And with the president Obama's goal to have one million PHEVs on the road by 2015, a smarter grid also becomes increasingly important for managing the added electricity demand created by these next-generation vehicles.
Ted Bohn, a principal engineer at Argonne, sits on an international committee working to develop the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) new connection standard called J-1772. The group is defining this standard, so manufacturers can build compatible connectors and vehicle sockets that will support both charging and two-way communication.
“Communication is what allows a charger to be a smart charger,” Bohn said. “It’s not simply a plug-in and turn-on charger like a cell phone charger. The smart charger allows you to charge your vehicle at a rate that is bargained between the consumer and the grid.”
Interactive Grid Model
To illustrate how this process works, Bohn and his colleagues at Argonne created an interactive smart grid model for demonstration purposes. In May, Bohn presented Argonne’s smart grid model to international audiences at the EVS 24 Conference in Stavanger, Norway and Test Site Sweden’s Tech Transfer Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The model shows how different types of consumers could interact with the smart grid. For example, a frugal customer may wait until off-peak hours to charge a PHEV because it is cheaper, while an environmentally-conscious customer may pay more to get their electricity from wind power instead of coal.
In addition to helping people save money and help the environment, the smart grid is also a big help to electricity providers.
Argonne's Pilot Electric Vehicle Charging Project
|Solar array and charging station.|
Solar energy will come from 3.8 kW Sunpower panels with a DC/AC inverter and a tracking array mount that allows the mounted panels to tilt toward the sun, guaranteeing an optimal angle for power generation. The solar array features a monitor to track how much electricity is being generated by sunlight. A 60-foot free standing Skystream 3.7 wind turbine will supply wind power.
The deployment of charging stations will begin with 20 parking spots strategically located around the lab's 1,500-acre campus. The eventual goal is to have enough charging stations to accommodate 5 percent of Argonne employees, which equates to 160 parking spaces. The installation of the charging stations, solar array and wind turbine will be completed sometime in 2011.
As a member of the Grid Interaction Tech Team, Ted Bohn, principal electrical engineer in Argonne’s Transportation Technology Research & Development Center (TTRDC), is excited about the prospect of having a small-scale, functioning EV charging infrastructure on site.
“As a laboratory focused on energy R&D, this is the right thing to do,” Bohn said. “But it’s also a great research tool for us as we pursue the development and validation of smart charging and smart grid technologies. We can use this on-site charging infrastructure for data collection and for field tests on our new prototype technologies such as software-defined radios and compact metrology units.”
Not only will the program offer a means for recharging both employee-owned and laboratory fleet EVs and plug-in hybrids, it will also give transportation researchers a real-world test bed to gather data and validate smart charging technologies.
“There is good synergy between Argonne’s EV Charging Pilot Program and our ongoing smart-charging and smart grid technology development projects,” said Bohn.
Smart Grid Projects
|The SAE J-1772 plug-in vehicle connector facilitates both charging and communication.|
|A prototype of Argonne's compact metrology system|
|Field programmable gate array (FPGA) technologies to develop improved software-defined radios for the smart grid|
Codes and Standards DevelopmentArgonne researchers are helping create codes and standards that will enable widespread adoption of electric-drive transportation with smart grid interoperability. For example, the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) J1772 connection standard will enable manufacturers to build compatible connector plugs and vehicle sockets that support both charging and two-way communication with utility companies. Another standard, SAE J2847, will specify the communications systems between electric vehicles and utility companies. Engineers are also actively pursuing the development of standards related to plug-in vehicles and methods to test them.
Smart Grid MetrologySmart grid metrology systems are end-use measurement devices (EUMD) that measure and communicate energy usage information to ensure accurate consumption readings and fair billing.
Argonne researchers have made a major breakthrough with the development of a compact metrology system that is a fraction of the size and cost of existing systems. The groundbreaking technology is garnering international attention due its low price of less than $30 per unit and its compact size (smaller than a business card). This technology would also be an alternative to installing a secondary charging meter specifically for charging an electric vehicle.
Software-Defined RadioThis wireless technology, which allows one radio to use different frequencies depending on needs at the time, will provide more bandwidth for electric utilities to communicate with consumer vehicles.
Argonne researchers have developed a software-defined radio technology in a low-cost field programmable gate array (FPGA) device that would enable electric vehicle-to-grid interoperability for a wide variety of infrastructure resources. This promising technology offers a less expensive and more efficient option for smart grid communications.