Zap gets a charge

  • 07-May-2010 01:31 EDT
ZAP_Smart_Charging_1 - mcm size.jpg

The Smart Charger Controller’s primary functions are to optimize the charging schedule for minimum cost and enhance grid stability.

Among the recent steps forward in the charge to create a "fueling" infrastructure for electric vehicles was the licensing by car-sharing company Zap of Smart Charger Controller technology developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The technology allows customers to minimize the cost of charging electric vehicles by automatically recharging a vehicle's battery at times of least demand on the grid and least cost to the consumer. Battelle, an international science and technology organization that manages and operates PNNL for the U.S. Department of Energy, also has granted Zap the right to sublicense the technology to Zap Hangzhou of China. Zap plans to distribute the new technology as part of its electric-vehicle business plan, including through its strategic investor and distribution partner Samyang Optics of Korea. PNNL publicly announced the Smart Charger Controller technology last year after completing an earlier assessment that showed America's existing power grid could meet the needs of about 158 million vehicles, or 70% of all U.S. light-duty vehicles, if battery charging were managed to avoid peaks in electricity demand. The controller uses a low-range wireless technology to communicate with the power grid and determine the best and cheapest time to recharge vehicles. Grid Friendly technology inside the Smart Charger Controller senses stress conditions on the grid. When the grid says more power is needed, the controller can temporarily stop charging the vehicle until the stress subsides.

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