South Carolina Patent of the Month – July 2021

Electric vehicles run on electric motors which need to be charged. Some versions of electric vehicles are hybrid, using an electric motor and an additional auxiliary power source. Regardless of the single or hybrid power source, energy is stored in one or multiple batteries which are rechargeable. Charging the battery causes the battery to heat up. Increasing the charge current speeds up the charge time but also further increases battery temperature. This increased temperature decreases battery life and performance. Proterra Inc. has developed a method to increase this charging efficiency while reducing the negative limitations.

Proterra’s charging system determines the state of charge of the battery when it’s connected to the charging source. It then determines the necessary charge current based on this charge state. So a battery that is half charged could use a different current than one that is near empty. The charge current will also depend on the type and number of batteries and their individual chemistry. Considering the chemistry of the battery allows for selecting the best current without compromising the battery life. For instance, certain batteries can handle a higher current without having their battery life impacted. As such, the charging system considers this threshold and adjusts as needed. At the same time, it considers the temperature of the battery. If it increases past a threshold value, the charger will reduce the current and allow the temperature to cool. By regulating the current in relation to the battery  chemistry and temperature, the charging speed and performance can be optimized to best suit the vehicle. Proterra isa leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission EV technology, working to develop state-of-the-art technology for clean and efficient transit.

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