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Collaboration fuels electric car research

Date posted: Tuesday 27 Jul 2010

Fast Facts

  • With other universities and CSIRO, Swinburne is collaborating to research and develop lightweight battery-charged electric cars.
  • The challenge is to develop a strong, but light electric car, which can cover longer distances at acceptable speeds.
  • New and retrofitted electric cars will reduce emissions and help the environment.
Collaboration fuels electric car research

A new research collaboration between Swinburne University of Technology and Hefei University of Technology (HFUT), China will pave the way for the next generation of electric cars.

The project, funded by a research grant from AutoCRC, will focus on developing lightweight battery-charged electric vehicles.

Swinburne’s Dr Weixiang Shen, who previously held an eight year position at HFUT, is working on a novel charging method that will reduce battery charging time and increase charging efficiency.

“One of major setbacks for the commercialisation of electric cars is the long charging time. Currently this may take three to five hours and we can’t expect people to wait that long for the battery to charge before they can drive,” Shen said.

“The technology we are developing will re-charge batteries in as little time as 30 to 60 minutes.”

Together with the CSIRO, the Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing Ltd (VPAC) and La Trobe University, the Swinburne team is also working on retrofitting existing cars with battery and motor systems.

“We are refining the development of a prototype electro motor wheel design that eliminates the need for a separate motor and drive-train assembly,” Swinburne’s lead researcher Professor Ajay Kapoor said.

“This technology will lower the cost of electric cars and the weight and energy savings gained could also lead to greater efficiencies in terms of kilometres per electrons.”

The researchers are also working to improve the design and manufacturing process for electric cars.

“Our aim is to simplify current petrol engine cars by using new materials, designs and fewer components,” Kapoor said.

“Our biggest challenge is to develop a strong, but light electric car that can cover long distances at acceptable speeds.”

To this end, Swinburne has joined with Deakin University, RMIT University and VPAC to produce a lighter car structure.

“Reduced vehicle mass will result in reductions in fuel consumption and associated benefits including fuel savings, reduced carbon ‘wheel print’ and materials recycling - without compromising road-worthiness or crash resistance,” Kapoor said.

“Electric cars are the way of the future and China is a major power in this area. Swinburne welcomes this new collaboration with HFUT and the expertise they bring.”

AutoCRC is Australia’s national centre for coordination of automotive research of which Swinburne University of Technology is a member.



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