UK scientists harness microwave energy to extend EV range

University of Birmingham scientists have developed an energy storage system for electric vehicles, promising up to 70% extended driving range

University of Birmingham researchers are developing an energy storage solution named e-Thermal bank to improve electric vehicle (EV) performance.

Led by Professor Yongliang Li, the system combines a chemical heat pump with microwave energy for heating or cooling, enhancing cabin temperature control and minimising energy consumption.

This secondary energy source for EVs is charged at charging stations using microwave energy to store energy within the vehicle.

During discharge, the stored energy is utilised to generate heat through an exothermic reaction and cooling through a liquid-gas phase change process, effectively managing cabin temperature while minimizing energy consumption.

Professor Yongliang Li, Chair in Thermal Energy Engineering at Birmingham’s School of Chemical Engineering, said: “Heating and cooling the EV cabin requires considerable energy and is the most significant contributor to EV range reduction. We aimed to offload these thermal management tasks to a microwave driven process.

“Microwave is a fast heating method because microwaves penetrate uniformly through materials and so deliver energy evenly into the body of the material.

“The energy cost can be minimised by coupling with a smart meter to charge the system when energy is cheap and the stored energy can then be used at any time.

“We predict that by replacing conventional HVAC and possibly a small portion of the battery pack, e-Thermal banks would provide efficient cabin temperature control and a range extension of up to 70%, at a lower cost than increasing battery capacity.”

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