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The University of Southampton

Employing electric vehicles batteries to store energy for the National Grid

Published: 16 June 2014

Engineers at the University of Southampton have taken delivery of a large state of the art lithium battery and bidirectional charger as part of their research into how to power the next generation of electric vehicles.

Numbers of electric cars and trucks worldwide are set to rise from 1.7million at present to 5.3million by 2020. As they become increasingly popular, it should be possible to link their energy storage capacity to their country's national grid to help even out the peaks and troughs of power generation and storage during the times in the day when they are not being used.  Researchers at Southampton are involved in a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to experiment with charging and discharging batteries and model ways to make the process more energy efficient using smart grids with Internet technology to control the system.

The three year Vehicle to Grid (V2G) project is led by Professor Andrew Cruden with Professor  Suleiman Sharkh at Southampton along with colleagues at Sheffield, Warwick, Liverpool and Strathclyde in the UK and Huazhong and Tsinghua in China together with the China Electric Power Research Institute.

"We need to understand more about the practicalities of using car batteries in this way, whether the process would wear out the battery too quickly or cause too much inconvenience for the driver," explains Suleiman. "Like us, our partners are also involved in cutting edge research in this area which could transform the energy generation and transport in years to come."

Two alumni have provided the equipment needed at Southampton. REAP systems, founded by  Dr Dennis Doerffel, designed, manufactured and installed the Energy Storage Solution based on Yuasa cell technology.  The bidirectional grid-connected charger is designed and built by Dr Mohammad Abusara from HiT Power.

An activity based on the project presented by students will be included in the 2014 summer programme for the University of Southampton's popular Roadshow. It tours events, schools and festivals and was at the Natural History Museum in June.

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