'Luftstrom' project to streamline EV battery charging

24th June 2015
Barney Scott

The “Luftstrom” research project investigates how batteries in EVs can be charged more efficiently. Luftstrom (English: Airstream) will help accelerate the conversion to climate-friendly mobility. Twelve partners in the German automotive sector, its supply industry and the sciences are collaborating on this project for the next three years. The use of new power semiconductors is expected to reduce losses during charging and, ultimately, make charging almost noiseless.

Electric vehicles are mainly charged overnight. However, charging in the charging device and voltage regulators creates heat that fans of water-cooled aggregates have to dissipate, for example. This can be quite noisy. As a result of the Luftstrom research, the electronic power components will lower the losses during charging by 30%. This means lower waste heat – and with less cooling effort the cooling units become more compact and operate more quietly. Components that already cause very few losses, such as auxiliary power supplies, might even be able to do without the previously required water cooling – which means that the loud fans would be eliminated.

The key to low-loss power electronics lies in state-of-the-art power semiconductors based on gallium nitride or silicon carbide. The Luftstrom project will therefore also determine how such power semiconductors can be used reliably in charging devices, voltage regulators and inverters for auxiliary power units. Its research results will accelerate the transition to air-cooled and fan-less systems for future generations of electric vehicles.

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is contributing funding in the region of around €3.9m to the Luftstrom research project, for which Infineon Technologies has the project lead.

The entire automotive value-added chain for the production and use of these new systems is represented in the Luftstrom project. The twelve project partners include AVL Software and Functions GmbH, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Component Technology IISB, the University of Applied Sciences Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Infineon Technologies AG, Lenze Drives GmbH, Robert Bosch GmbH, RWTH Aachen University, Siemens AG, Leibniz University Hannover, and Volkswagen AG.

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