Southern California Edison's fleet grows greener

  • 16-Dec-2009 05:14 EST
EVTC batt. test status.JPG
Engineers Gabriel Andaya (left), Loic Gaillac (center), and Jorge Araiza of Southern California Edison's Electric Vehicle Technical Center view the status of battery test programs.

A technical center for testing and evaluating electric-drive systems, batteries, and infrastructure options has functioned for more than 20 years as a partner to industry, government, and research organizations.

The Electric Vehicle Technical Center (EVTC) run by Southern California Edison (SCE) obtains information from a variety of undertakings, including dynamic vehicle testing on industry-accepted duty-cycle routes, vehicle charging/discharging tests, charger efficiency testing, and lithium-ion battery module/pack testing under controlled lab conditions.

The data collected through in-house and on-road testing contributed to the recent development of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charger performance standards for the California Energy Commission, as well as to battery test procedures for the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, according to Edward Kjaer, Director of Electric Transportation for SCE.

EVTC's current slate of activities includes eight stationary and mobile application tests on lithium-ion batteries, as well as on-road PEV and hybrid vehicle performance evaluations of a yard hostler, Ford Escape hybrid SUVs, and hybrid utility bucket trucks, according to Loic Gaillac, Lead Engineer for Energy Storage at EVTC. A medium-duty PHEV utility bucket truck—built on a Ford F550 chassis—is part of an evaluation/demonstration program involving SCE, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

SCE's electric vehicle fleet—at 300, the nation's largest—is an extension of the indoor testing environment. "Starting with prototype testing in the 1990s, SCE's EVTC has conducted full life-cycle studies, including battery and charger evaluations, on hundreds of EVs that performed field service for utility operations," said Kjaer.

The 18 million mi (29 million km) accumulated on SCE's EV fleet have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 9600 ton (8700 t) and pollutants by more than 2200 ton (2000).

"This EVTC is about generating real data so that we get good public policy going forward," said Kjaer.

A study released by the EPRI and the National Resources Defense Council projects that by 2050, widespread use of PHEVs could reduce annual vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases by more than 450 million t (500 million ton), akin to removing one-third of today's light-duty vehicles from the roadways.

The EVTC is continuing efforts with other utilities across the country to "develop industrywide utility fleet vehicle specifications by weight class, industrywide utility fleet fuel-economy requirements, utility fleet user-education programs, and industrywide best practices—all designed to help achieve a significant increase in fleet fuel efficiency and a commensurate decrease in greenhouse gases and other emissions," said Kjaer.

EVTC officials expect to hire at least three additional engineers in 2010, said Kjaer, noting that the EVTC currently employs five engineers, four technicians, three administrative support personnel, and four part-time contract employees.

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