Trends in EV charging capabilities

Sponsored by TTI and Phoenix Contact

The growth of the electric vehicle market may feel inevitable: the focus on reducing CO2 emissions, the current political climate, investment by the government and automotive industry, and the ongoing pursuit of the all-electric society all point to a boon in electric vehicles. Until now, though, widespread adoption of electric vehicles by consumers has been hampered by lengthy charge times and a lack of charging infrastructure. Advances in EV charging technology are addressing these challenges, enabling safe and rapid charging at home and on the road. Charging components and infrastructure are rising to meet the needs of the rapidly-growing EV market, paving the way for an exponential growth in electric transportation.

DRIVING FORCES BEHIND THE EV MARKET

Investment in electric vehicles has been growing for several years, but increased attention and demand has been emphasized by several sectors of society. The growing focus on climate solutions has highlighted the importance of electric vehicles – the ability to both reduce carbon emissions from internal combustion engines and invest in clean energy transportation has become a widespread goal for government and industry alike. This focus on sustainable growth and the conservation of natural resources also drives technology to trend towards an all-electric society – a world with unlimited energy based on renewable resources without harmful emissions.

These environmental and technological drivers are reflected in the priorities of federal regulation and investment, particularly in light of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which earmarked $7.5 billion for EV infrastructure at the federal level, $2.5 billion for EV charging and refueling infrastructure grants, and $5 billion towards the National Electric Vehicle Charging Program. The Biden Administration is also pursuing a goal of building and installing 500,000 DC charging stations across the country.

This trend can also be seen at the state level. States including California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are pursuing legislation to embrace all-electric vehicles. Tax credits, the Electrify America movement, incentives, and mandates also influence consumers and manufacturers alike to embrace the EV movement.

Automakers are joining the move towards electric vehicles, as well. Lead legacy automakers including GM, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Audi are consistently introducing new EV models. By the end of 2022, there are expected to be more than 80 EV models and plug-in hybrids available in the market. There is a growing number of new EV manufacturers joining the market as well, including Tesla, Lucid, Nikola, and Rivian.

Utility companies are also preparing for an all-electric society. It’s important that utilities stay ahead of the curve when it comes to electrification in order to accommodate increasing demand, and critical infrastructure including microgrids will be needed along interstates in order to accommodate power charging stations. Vehicle-to-Grid communication is also gaining traction along freeways.

ROADBLOCKS TO GROWTH

While momentum is gaining for widespread EV adoption, challenges are expected to stymie growth. While incentives will encourage consumers or fleets to switch to electric vehicles, they may come with a catch – there may be a movement for EVs to be able to communicate with infrastructure to track mileage, requiring technology innovations and outdoor communications infrastructure.

One of the largest obstacles to EV adoption at the consumer level is reliable and efficient charging infrastructure. An estimated 9.6 million charge ports will be needed by 2030 to accommodate the predicted growth of the EV market. Almost 80% of those ports will be home chargers, and about 20% will be public or workplace chargers. Currently, consumers hesitate to purchase an EV vehicle due to range anxiety – the concern that their car won’t be able to make a long journey without having to be recharged, and that charging stations won’t be available or efficient when needed.

Public or shared chargers in particular must be able to provide near-constant high-speed charging capabilities around the clock. A driver that stops at a charging station along a freeway likely needs a quick high-powered charge – high-power charging systems will be able to give vehicles a near fully recharged battery after just a few minutes of charging.

High-speed chargers require specific design considerations to operate reliably. Liquid cooling capabilities are necessary to keep the charging pins at an optimal temperature and prolong the time that a vehicle can be charged with higher currents. In vehicle-dense charging areas, keeping the contact pins cooled will create efficient and consistent reliable high power charging to meet the constant flow of consumer charging demand.

HIGH-POWERED CHARGER DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

EV chargers are increasingly being built with a focus on optimizing ruggedness and high-power charging capabilities to meet the needs of EV drivers and overcome range anxiety. A high-powered EV charger with 500 amps is made possible with the liquid cooling and monitoring system – the contact carrier in the charging connector features thermal conductivity and also serves as a heat sink as the coolant dissipates the heat via integrated cooling ducts. These chargers contain a variety of sensors, including coolant leakage sensors and precise temperature monitoring at every power contact to ensure the pins do not exceed 90 degrees Celsius. If that threshold is reached, the charging controller in the charging station reduces the power output to maintain an acceptable temperature.

EV chargers also need to be able to withstand wear and tear and easily undergo maintenance. EV charging handles are designed for wear and tear, rough handling over time affecting the mating face is inevitable. Increasingly, chargers are being designed with modular components, allowing the easy replacement of the mating face.

Cable management in charging stations is also an important consideration for longevity and reliability. High-powered charging cables contain copper wires, liquid cooling lines, and activity cables yet still have to withstand being pulled on or driven over. Other considerations include lockable latches, which allows a driver to leave (Modularity of the mating face along with an illustration of the coolant flow) their vehicle charging at a public station without worry that someone might disconnect the cable.

Other considerations include the design of charging inlets, which must be able to support a variety of charging currents up to 500 amps and include a high degree of protection. Because North American and European electric vehicles have different charging standards, designing an inlet with identical mounting dimensions allows vehicle manufacturers to easily exchange inlets in vehicles built for global markets. The Combined Charging System (CCS) established the standardization of vehicle inlet mating faces – Type 1 for the North American market and Type 2 for the European market are the two most notable systems.

PHOENIX CONTACT CHARX OFFERS HIGH-POWERED COMPONENTS

Phoenix Contact CHARX offers a variety of EV charging components that will enable the widespread deployment of high-powered charging stations – a critical component to consumer confidence when it comes to electric vehicles. Their high-powered charging portfolio takes into consideration temperature regulation, ruggedization, and customization across a variety of applications. Phoenix Contact’s partnership with TTI ensures that customers have access to the inventory of these critical components as well as design assistance.

Sponsored by TTI and Phoenix Contact