Investigation of regenerative and alternative energy sources for electrified passenger vehicles

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Lyles, Carl Thomas
Bras, Berdinus A.
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The electrification of passenger vehicles has been a step towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by automobiles; however, in the United States many plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) must still be plugged in to a grid that is heavily reliant on the burning of fossil fuels to charge. The goal of this thesis is to investigate how to develop a system capable of fully charging a PHEV using only alternative and/or regenerative energy sources. In developing such a system, various alternative and regenerative energy sources were investigated with the intent of reaching a specified daily energy goal; sufficient to charge a PHEV. These energy sources were evaluated based upon criteria such as novelty, ability to reach desired daily energy goal, applicability to BEV/PHEV, etc. The primary technological categories considered include but are not limited to regenerative and solar technologies. The evaluation of technologies indicated that a major opportunity lies in solar technologies, and in particular concentrated photovoltaics. Design alternatives for a concentrated photovoltaic system capable of reaching the desired energy goal are described. The design alternatives utilize Fresnel lenses as a means of concentrating a large area of sunlight onto an array of photovoltaics affixed to a vehicle. Various tracking mechanisms for the concentrating systems have been outlined to meet given design criteria. 3-D ray tracing algorithms have been developed to determine the path of the tracking mechanisms depending upon the time of year and on the geographic location. The same algorithms have been used in conjunction with typical meteorological year data to determine the expected output of the concentrating systems based upon the solar resource and solar angles at a specific place and time. The findings suggest that a concentrated photovoltaic system designed specifically for charging an electrified vehicle may generate sufficient energy over the course of a day to power a typical driver’s trips. However, for such a concentrating system to be commercially feasible there are still many design challenges to be overcome. Design limitations and implications for further research are discussed.
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