Visit by Institut Supérieur de l’Automobile et des Transports, France

Visit by Institut Supérieur de l’Automobile et des Transports, France

Professor Luis Le Moyne, Director of the Institut Supérieur de l’Automobile et des Transports, University of Bourgogne, France, visited CHARGE Labs and the University of Windsor during the last week of March this year. During his visit he met with university executives such as the Vice President of Research and Innovation, Vice Provost of International Development, and the Director of CHARGE Labs to discuss and develop collaboration between the two institutions.


Electric Vehicle Research Subject of Industry Reception

Electric Vehicle Research Subject of Industry Reception

A reception in the Industrial Courtyard November 17 will offer an exclusive look at high-accuracy testing equipment, like the specially designed EPT-150.

A research showcase November 17 in the Centre for Engineering Innovation’s Industrial Courtyard will offer a chance to learn about the latest developments in the design, control and testing of electric vehicle motors.

The University of Windsor’s Centre for Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE) lab will host, along with D&V Electronics, a manufacturer of testing systems.
The program will run 3 to 6 p.m. Attendees will also be able to connect with UWindsor researchers to leverage their expertise, to learn about their new research facilities and infrastructure, and to establish collaborative partnerships.

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University of Windsor and IIEST collaboration continues

University of Windsor and IIEST collaboration continues

Over the past few years, collaborative research work has been ongoing between Professor Narayan Kar from the University of Windsor and Professor Kaushik Mukherjee, Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, Professor Mukherjee came to Windsor in 2011 as a visiting Professor and spent one year with Dr. Kar and co-supervised several Master’s and doctoral students. [Continue Reading]

University research team shows solar energy extends electric vehicle driving range

University research team shows solar energy extends electric vehicle driving range

Dr. Narayan Kar and Mr. Sean Moore (CEO – Unconquered Sun), worked together to develop new solar powered electric vehicle technology

Julie Kotsis, Windsor Star

A team of researchers at the University of Windsor and a local solar technologies company have collaborated to prove the benefits of solar power in extending the driving range of electric vehicles.

By harnessing the sun’s rays through rooftop panels, Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies founder and CEO Sean Moore says the driving range can be extended an average of 45 per cent further.

“Every second your foot’s not on the accelerator, when that vehicle’s in the sun, it’s charging,” Moore said. “This way, you have a generator … on your roof.

“Obviously if it’s nighttime or if it’s in a garage, you can just plug it in the wall and it recharges that way too.”

Associate professor Narayan Kar led a team of three PhD students, a masters student and a senior undergraduate in studying the vehicle rooftop solar technology. He said months of research and testing — partially funded by a $20,000 federal research grant received almost a year ago — helped them prove the scientific benefits of solar panels and to show the financial benefits.

The University of Windsor Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE) published a report Dec. 11 outlining the team’s findings. They are expected to publish further technical papers next month.

“What’s great about it is it validates the technology,” Moore said. “It really helps us gain traction in the market … all the research validating the extended range and all the different benefits of having a renewable energy generator on the roof of your car.”

Moore’s company focused on esthetic issues of the rooftop panels by using Lexan, a clear plastic material that is lighter in weight than the typical glass panels used for lamination of solar cells, and a thermal process to form the sheets to fit the radius of different vehicles.

“We have developed an app … that (Moore) can take … on his cellphone to his customers and he can demonstrate the benefits of having a solar panel on the rooftop,” Kar said. “If you have a solar panel and it is in the sun most of the time you will see many days of no (electric) charging needed.”

Moore said he’s hoping to launch sales of low-speed electric vehicles — a new Transport Canada classification in North America — with rooftop solar panels early this spring. Low-speed vehicles have an electric drive train, four wheels on the road and they are restricted to a top speed of 50 kilometres.

The cars, trucks and buses are also limited to a gross vehicle weight of approximately 1,300 kilograms.

“Electric vehicles and particularly low-speed vehicles, the market is expected to be $2.6 billion over the next three years,” Moore said. “With solar on the roofs, they cost literally pennies a month to operate.”

He expects initial demand to come from companies with fixed delivery routes and inter-urban commuters.

Part of the attraction is the cost of the vehicles – estimated at $16,000 for a delivery truck or less than $10,000 for a three-seater passenger vehicle.

Kar, who is also Canada Research Chair in Electrified Transportation Systems, said the search is on for more funding for further research.

“This is not the biggest project in terms of money (for his department) but (it is) in terms of passion, dedication and the amount of time we have spent on this,” Kar said. “We really liked this project and we could really see the benefit of it.

“It was very productive from a research output point of view, student training point of view, relationship building point of view,” he said. “Research is never ending … there is always room for improvement. We have done good things but it could be better.”

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Major Breakthrough In Solar Transportation

Exactly one year ago, Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies and the University of Windsor received government funding for exciting new electric vehicle research and development, aimed at optimizing Unconquered Sun’s already popular Solar Powered Electric Vehicle Powertrain technology. The collaboration has resulted in a Solar Powered Electric Vehicle with an average range 45% further than an identical vehicle without the Solar Powered technology. [Continue Reading]

Studying in Windsor pays off for PhD student

Studying in Windsor pays off for PhD student

Xiaomin Lu works on one of her experiments on her recent trip to India.

Coming to Windsor might have been the best move ever for a young Chinese engineering graduate student who’s trying to improve the performance of hybrid electric vehicles.

“It’s been really good for me,” said Xiaomin Lu, a PhD student who will soon return to Windsor after a productive six-week trip to India to conduct more research. “If I had stayed in China, I never would have had the opportunity to experience so much.”

Under the supervision of electrical and computer engineering professor Narayan Kar, Lu has been studying novel solutions to enhance the efficiency, performance and sustainability of existing electrified vehicle drivetrain systems and such components as electric motors, power electronic converters and chargers.

In early December, she left for the Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU) where she worked with professor Kaushik Mukherjee, a power electronics and machine drives expert. She met Dr. Mukherjee in 2011 when he was here as a visiting professor in Dr. Kar’s CHARGE lab in the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation.

Specifically, Lu is working on an algorithm that would allow a vehicle charging device to connect to the power grid, and would better control the power flow between the grid and the vehicle’s battery. She’s also developing a computer model that will allow her to study the motor’s performance and predict how it will react in varying conditions, such as changes in torque.

Working in India at BESU gave her the opportunity to validate some of the findings she developed in Windsor.

“It went very well,” she said during a phone interview on her final day in India. “It was easier to access low end components and devices here, and I was able to run a lot of experiments on the machines they have.”

Originally from Guangzhou China, Lu earned her undergraduate degree at Sun Yat-sen University. After her work in India, she planned to travel home to China to visit her family before returning to Windsor.

“This was a great opportunity for her,” said Kar, a Canada Research Chair in Electrified Transportation Systems. “Xiaomin’s research has been revealing some interesting results and we’re confident that her work will ultimately contribute to improving the performance and reliability of hybrid electric vehicles.”

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Nurturing love for electric cars offers opportunity for R&D investment

Nurturing love for electric cars offers opportunity for R&D investment

Hybrid-electric vehicle researcher Narayan Kar makes a point during his lecture Friday at a workshop on electric vehicle technology.

A tremendous amount of research is still required to make electric vehicles an economically viable option for most consumers, but that presents a rare opportunity for investors looking to establish themselves in the sector, according to an engineer who specializes in hybrid-electric powertrains.

“It’s a trillion dollar market that we don’t want to lose,” said Narayan Kar, an engineering professor at the University of Windsor and a Canada Research Chair in Hybrid Drivetrain Systems. “My grandchildren will certainly be driving electric vehicles. I’d like to see them driving Canadian made electric vehicles.”

Dr. Kar was playing host to the The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which held its fourth annual workshop on electrified vehicle components and systems at the university’s brand new Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation. Experts from around the world gathered to discuss the latest in electric vehicle technology.

Consumers have been slow to embrace electric vehicles, and indeed, the challenges are many, Kar said. Most know electric vehicles are good for the environment, but in order for large scale consumer buy-in, there needs to be infrastructure for access to quick charging, reliable and long-lasting batteries, increased range, and costs that are comparable to traditional combustion engine vehicles, he said.

“It’s all about relationships,” said Kar, whose research is focused on optimizing the range and efficiency of hybrid electric motors. “Maybe they aren’t ready for that relationship with an all-electric vehicle. Maybe they just want more romance in that relationship.”

Michael Schneider is one consumer who loves his electric vehicle. An employee at GreenSun Rising, a Windsor-based designer of solar powered generation systems, he’s been driving a Chevy Volt since February. He’s put about 12,000 kilometres on the vehicle so far, but has only consumed about 280 litres of gas.

“It’s more expensive to buy than a gas-powered vehicle, but in the long run, I still think it’s more economical,” said Schneider, who delivered a first-person account at the workshop of what it’s like to own and operate an electric car.

Many European cities have embraced electric vehicles, even incorporating availability of them into their public transportation systems, according to Daniela Chrenko, a professor at the Institut Supérieur de l’Automobile & des Transports in France. There are plenty of opportunities for North American cities to follow that lead and help create new markets for research and development, she said.

“This can be a good string to pull,” she said. “If you look at the history of the auto industry, there were a lot of small companies everywhere, so electric cars may provide a lot of potential for small and medium-sized companies.”

Universities provide an excellent environment for those small and medium-sized companies to partner with academic researchers to address the challenges the electric vehicle faces, said Kar. And those partnerships already happen on a regular basis, according to his department head.

“At least once a week, I’m signing a contract to engage a faculty member with a local industry,” said Maher Sid-Ahmed, head of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Graduate student Bryan Estaban demonstrates a wireless power transfer system that harnesses electricity from a magnetic field. He believes it could be incorporated into electric vehicles, eliminating the need to plug them in.

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Indian students wowed by engineering facilities

Indian students wowed by engineering facilities

BESU students Twisha Talukdar, Titli Patra, Sayak Panja, and Juhi Chowdhury stand out front of the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation.

A group of visiting undergraduate engineering students from India say they like Windsor so much they’d like to come back for a master’s degree.

“It’s a very quiet and calm city compared to where we’re from,” said Sayak Panja, who comes from Calcutta and studies at the Bengal Engineering and Science University. “The infrastructure here is tremendous and the students seem to have a lot of freedom to choose what they wish to study and research.”

Along with Titli Patra, Twisha Talukdar and Juhi Chowdhury, Panja is here for two months conducting research in the brand new Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation. Panja and Patra are working in the lab of professor Narayan Kar on a project that involves maximizing the torque in shared induction motors that may one day be used in electric vehicles.

“We need to decrease pollution,” Panja said when asked about the importance of the work. “Pollution is a big problem back home and developing this kind of technology will help.”

Talukdar is working in the lab of professor Nihar Biswas, where she’s studying a method of using bacteria to reduce sulfates and heavy metals in wastewater, while Chowdhury is in the lab of professor Gary Rankin, researching a supersonic oscillator that can be used in fluid injection systems.

The students said they’ve had a chance to get out and see the city and were especially impressed by Windsor’s waterfront. All of them said they’d like to return for graduate studies and were extremely awed by the new facility.

“It’s so big and shiny,” enthused Talukdar.

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