Here comes the next key enabling technology for electric vehicles

Cambridge, UK

Here comes the next key enabling technology for electric vehicles
by Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx

The new IDTechEx Research report, Electric Vehicle Energy Harvesting/ Regeneration 2017-2037 explains and forecasts the technologies involved in this newly key enabling technology. Electric vehicles are creating more and more of their own electricity from daylight, wind and other sources including regeneration. Regeneration converts wasted heat and movement in the vehicle into electricity, as with a turbine in the exhaust. More elegantly, regeneration prevents wasted heat and movement in the first place as with regenerative suspension giving a better ride and longer range and flywheels and reversing motors replacing burning brake disks. Shock absorbers can create electricity that controls them to give a smoother ride. Yes, it does make sense. Indeed it is the future.

Existing key enabling technologies will move over within the decade to add the new one – energy harvesting including regeneration. Within 20 years it will become a huge business as tens of millions of vehicles yearly are made as energy independent vehicles (EIV) that get all their electricity without plugging in. The report explains many new EH technologies coming along including triboelectrics, thermal metamaterials, affordable GaAs photovoltaics and dielectric elastomer nanogenerators. With these, energy harvesting will become the most important EV technology of all. Increasingly the energy companies and charging networks will be bypassed completely by the land, water and airborne vehicles starting to appear now. We reveal the significance of breakthroughs by little known vehicle and material companies such as Hanergy, Inergy, Sunnyclist, Sion, Nanowinn, SBL and others as we interview them from Greece to China, Australia to Canada and the UK.

We give many examples to explain why multi-mode energy harvesting is recommended as it reduces and sometimes eliminates the need for those expensive, bulky, heavy batteries that do not last long enough. We show how even multi-mode harvesting e-textiles are in prospect from car seats to tires. The report is supported by detailed technological roadmaps and forecasts of electric vehicles in 46 categories embracing on-road and off-road, on-water and underwater, manned and unmanned versions. When you look at this big picture, the potential for both technology and vehicle suppliers is far greater than it first seems to be. This is the first report to look at all the technologies and all of the vehicles that will adopt them. It is authoritative: for example we just had extended discussions with Toyota on the subject when we accepted invitations to present to them in both the USA and Japan. The PhD level IDTechEx analysts are mostly multi-lingual and they are strategically placed in the Japan, the USA, Germany, the UK and elsewhere and they all travel intensively. IDTechEx events on the subject – including the largest in the world on energy harvesting – give us the inside track too.

The report is in the form of over 160 detailed Powerpoint pages mainly as new infograms clarifying the complexities and the future of both the technologies and the vehicles using the technologies with frank assessment revealing the promise for the future, the achievement now and the dead ends. The format of the report is an executive summary and conclusions sufficiently comprehensive to be read on its own, an introduction explaining terminology and options, chapters on the most promising technologies now and in the future – electrodynamic, photovoltaic, triboelectric, dielectric elastomer generator, thermoelectric and piezoelectric. It is shown how some are being proved in applications such as wave power but vehicle applications are in the roadmaps such as tires, sails, boat hulls and airship fabric that generate electricity and how many will combine into structural electronics. Components-in-a-box gives way to more reliable, more compact, lighter weight smart structural materials. It is all here.


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