A new approach to power converters
Challenges posed by the road transport
Classical road transport using fossil fuels in internal combustion engines (ICE) is one of the largest polluters, currently generating about 60 % of the total emissions released into the atmosphere from human activity.
Although passenger cars are the major source of pollution, light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles are not far behind, accounting for almost the 40% of total CO2 emissions from road transport in Europe. Thus, the electrification of these vehicles, especially heavy-duty types, is a promising strategy to limit environmental pollution, contributing significantly to the mitigation of global change, with its consequent societal benefits.
For the first time in 2020, EU truck manufacturers within the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) have expressed their commitment to decarbonise this sector by 2050 at the latest and trends show the rising interest and offer of heavy duty electric vehicles.
Truck manufacturers are investing heavily in new solutions, such as alternative fuels, batteries and hydrogen. Battery electric vehicles are the first zero-emission technology to reach the truck market and will be immediately followed by hydrogen-powered trucks. However, there is no standard solutions of powertrain components for the different models and types of vehicles available.
The RHODaS project is working on solutions to increase the stake of heavy-duty electric vehicles in road transport.
Objectives of the RHODaS project for greener mobility
The RHODaS project aims at developing disruptive topologies of power converters using new semiconductor materials as well as cutting-edge digital technologies to improve architecture efficiency, power density, reliability, cost and sustainability. Moreover, multi-disciplinary approaches of modular power electronics for Integrated Motor Drive (IMD) and ecodesign considerations are addressed, to create compact solutions that can be integrated in a wide range of heavy-duty transport, enabling these electric vehicles to be more sustainable and autonomous throughout the entire lifecycle of their components.
A more common, modular approach may unify design, manufacture, performance and safety requirements, to create a cost-efficient value chain in the EU, based on economies of scale, as a competitive advantage against Asian and USA manufacturers. Moreover, this approach will not only benefit EV car manufacturers but also complementary markets like urban mobility, transport and logistics, through the establishment of a Pan-European supply chain within the automotive sector that is based on effective circular economy models as the power electronics solutions can also be applied to light-duty vehicle types M and L.
How to achieve greener mobility
Targets of the RHODaS project
- Improve efficiency and performance of power converters while increasing affordability of powertrains for heavy-duty EVs
- Reduce size and weight of the power converters
- Application of digital technologies and sensors for advanced on-line monitoring and intelligent estimation and prediction of states based in advanced modelling and prediction techniques using Big Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence
- Effective integration of the power electronics and TMS in a modular and compact IMD to evaluate the overall performance in a complete e-axel test bench
- Integration of ecodesign, material criticality and circularity considerations into the RHOdaS powertrain solution, as well as viable circular business models for their future commercialisation
- Promote collaborative research and interaction between academia and industry throughout the entire supply chain
Policy framework for the electric transport
From the perspective of the EU, the fight against climate change is a major issue exemplified by the targets set in the Paris Agreement, the Green Deal and in the EU 2030 Climate & Energy Framework. For the first time in 2020, EU truck manufacturers within the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) have expressed their commitment to decarbonise this sector by 2050 at the latest.
As part of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, the “European Roadmap on the Electrification of Road Transport", published jointly by the European Technology Platforms Green Vehicles, ERTRAC, EPoSS and ETIP SNET1, has been the major source of recommendations for the projects funded by the European Green Cars Initiative in FP7, followed by the European Green Vehicles Initiative in Horizon 2020.
In these ambitious research programs, major attention has been paid to the development of improved battery technologies (Battery 2030+, BEPA), with higher power and energy ranges able to increase the driving ranges, while allowing fast charging at reasonable cost. In the first period of the Horizon Europe program, high power variants such as 4gen Li-ion and solid-state batteries are proposed for fast charging, airborne, heavy duty, hybrid segments targeting >500W/kg and >700 W/l
In line with the European Green Deal objectives, the targets set in the Paris Agreement and the EU 2030 Climate & Energy Framework and the European Roadmap on the “Electrification of Road Transport”, the research and innovation activities of the project will be focused on developing highly innovative power converters with new semiconductor materials, integrated with advanced digital technologies, and new topologies of power electronics to improve architecture efficiency, power density, powertrain reliability and cost, enabling vehicles to be more sustainable and autonomous.