SAE's J1772 'combo connector' for ac and dc charging advances with IEEE's help

Image: Combo plug and inlet stnd alone - MCM resolution.jpg

SAE's J1772 coupler standard is being revised to address dc fast charging (enabled by the two pins at bottom) in addition to ac charging, the specifications of which already are spelled out in the standard.

A strategic partnership in vehicular technology related to the smart grid between the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) and SAE International is less than half a year old. But its value in influencing the speed and quality of global standards rollout is already in evidence. SAE's work on a prototype charging coupler that leverages technology standardized by IEEE is one prime example.

In the first quarter of next year, SAE plans to establish a standard, integrated coupler that would allow electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs/PHEVs) to be charged from either a conventional 15-A ac wall outlet or a dc connector of up to 90 kW.

The SAE J1772 "Electric Vehicle and Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Conductive Charge Coupler" standard—agreed to in 2009 and officially published by SAE in January 2010—is the world's first industry-consensus standard to provide critical guidelines for safety, charging control, and connectors used to charge EVs/PHEVs. Automakers including Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota have adopted SAE J1772.

The in-development SAE J1772 "combo" solution would take another leap toward stabilizing and unifying the global market for manufacturers of EVs/PHEVs. The standard is planned to enable both ac and dc Level 1 as well as faster Level 2 charging via a single vehicle inlet for the first time. Manufacturers would be able to leverage one coupler in EVs/PHEVs for all markets, regardless of the differences in electrical systems and charging locations from country to country. Integrating the different types of charging functionality would also greatly enhance the convenience of operating such a vehicle.

SAE J1772 goes further still by uniquely defining communications between an EV/PHEV, off-board charger, and the smart grid. Power Line Communications (PLC) is defined in SAE J1772 as the technology for enabling these vehicle-to-grid communications, without requiring changes such as the addition of another pin to the coupler architecture.

That's where IEEE comes in. PLC implementations from both the HD-PLC Alliance and HomePlug Powerline Alliance are based on IEEE 1901-2010, the world's most mature, robust, and advanced Broadband over Powerline standard. And the IEEE 1901 Inter-System Protocol prevents interference when the different PLC implementations are operated within close proximity of one another.

The drive toward an SAE J1772 combo solution illustrates the need for the strategic partnership recently forged by the IEEE-SA and SAE—and, more broadly, the coordination across historically disparate technology spaces and organizations that is demanded by the smart grid.

Another example is the ongoing IEEE P2030.1 "Guide for Electric-Sourced Transportation Infrastructure" standards project. Work is being carried out by four task forces—vehicle technology (including charging systems), electric grid (from generation to consumer), roadmap (including privacy and roaming), and communication/cyber security—and then integrated within the full working group for broader discussion and input.

The smart grid effort is different in the sweep of technologies, industries, and markets that it touches. For manufacturers, utilities, governments, and consumers to realize the smart grid's benefits as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, the global standards community must operate cooperatively to logically integrate the work across technology spaces.

In the past, SDOs (standards-development organizations) tended to work chronologically—one after another, almost in a vacuum from one another. But, if an SDO missed a development in a related industry while working on its own standard for the smart grid, that SDO could be sending its stakeholders in the wrong direction—or in the right direction but much more slowly than is necessary. There are so many tentacles, and the velocity of development is so great, that the smart grid demands a new, more coordinated mode.

The IEEE-SA/SAE partnership in vehicular technology related to the smart grid—confirmed by a memorandum of understanding signed in February 2011—is designed to accelerate more meaningful standards that drive greater improvements in market access, cost reductions, and technological innovation. As part of the partnership, IEEE-SA and SAE are sharing with one another their draft standards related to the smart grid and vehicle electrification.

Both SDOs are already global leaders in these domains.

SAE ground vehicle standards technical committees are leading the vehicle transportation industry in the development of standards to provide safer processes and practices for effective implementation of hybrid-electric vehicles. SAE has developed 46 such standards; 30 more are in process. SAE J2836/1 "Use Cases for Communication Between Plug-in Vehicles and the Utility Grid," for example, establishes use cases, specifying the electronic information (such as vehicle/owner identity, charging-station location, the amount of electricity used, and electricity price per time of day) that the vehicle will exchange with the grid.

IEEE, meanwhile, has more than 100 standards and standards in development relevant to the smart grid. Among the IEEE standards projects that figure to have strong bearing on the EV/PHEV industry are, in addition to the aforementioned IEEE P2030.1:

• IEEE P2030 "Draft Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System (EPS), and End-Use Applications and Loads."

• IEEE P1901.2 "Standard for Low Frequency (less than 500 kHz) Narrow Band Power Line Communications for Smart Grid Applications."

By working to ensure that the two SDOs' efforts complement one another, IEEE-SA and SAE are forging a more efficient and collaborative standards-development environment for their constituents. The SDOs' constituents are the driving force behind this partnership, in fact. They want a global marketplace with no boundaries, and IEEE and SAE are global organizations that are known for producing globally relevant standards. This partnership is enabling IEEE and SAE to do so more effectively and more quickly.

Written by Jack Pokrzywa, Director of Global Ground Vehicle Standards, SAE International; and Mary Reidy, Chair of the IEEE P2030.1 Working Group.

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