A better way to charge EVs? Scientists devise "packet-based" approach



Quick Take:  In Southern California and other places where electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming common, utilities are struggling to avoid "cul-de-sac calamity." That's when several neighboring homeowners buy EVs, then plug them in at the same time every evening to recharge, overloading the distribution transformer. Now scientists from the University of Vermont are proposing a novel way to avoid such problems. - By Jesse Berst


Electric vehicles could eventually strain our aging electrical distribution systems, especially at times of peak demand. Many utilities are wondering how to manage if many EVs try to recharge at the same time.


A team of scientists from the University of Vermont has a new proposal. "The key to our approach is to break up the request for power from each car into multiple small chunksâ€"into packets," Jeff Frolik told Phys.org. Frolik is a professor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and co-author of the proposal.


This method would allow an EV to charge for five or 10 minutes. Then the car would "get back into the line," Frolik says. "As long as people get charged by morning, they won't care. By charging cars in this way, it's really easy to let everybody share the capacity that is available on the grid." Drivers with an immediate need for recharging would use in "urgent" mode that puts them at the front of the line (while also charging them the highest rate).