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Charging as if by magic

Bosch and partners develop charging system to create an innovative infrastructure for renewable power grids

  • Led by Bosch, BiLawE project partners are investigating an inductive charging system that can also feed energy back into the grid
  • The system would integrate e-vehicles into the power grid as intelligent power storage units
  • The project is aimed at ensuring high availability of mobile storage for renewable energy

Stuttgart – Battery storage systems in electric cars could soon be to renewable power grids what power banks are to mobile phones: an external battery pack. Quite practical, really – were it not for those pesky charger cables. Currently, drivers have to brave the elements to connect the cable from the charging station to their electric cars. This could be about to change: Bosch, acting as project coordinator, is working with the Fraunhofer Society and GreenIng GmbH & Co. KG on research into an innovative concept for charging vehicles inductively – that is, without physical contact – through a magnetic field while the car is parked at a charging station.

But this new technology can do even more: it also helps make electric cars much more eco-friendly to drive, and power grids more stable. One challenge to their stability lies in the fact that the amount of energy obtained from renewable sources such as wind, sun, and water is subject to natural fluctuations. With this in mind, the consortium, collaborating through the publicly funded BiLawE research project, is developing an inductive charging system to establish an intelligent infrastructure for the sustainable use of renewable energies.

Their solution is based on electric car batteries that enable bidirectional charging: the batteries use a powerful and intelligent charging system to store energy, but they can also feed this energy back into the grid as needed. When strong sun and wind result in generation peaks, the electricity will be temporarily stored in the car batteries. When skies are overcast and winds are calm, it will be fed back into the grid to meet demand. “To make this system work, electric vehicles must be connected to the grid as often as possible and for as long as possible. This, in turn, necessitates a stationary infrastructure – that is, special inductive charging stations that we want to connect to public and local grids, or even isolated grids that supply only a limited area,” explains Philipp Schumann, a physicist who heads up the project at the Bosch research campus in Renningen.

Wireless charging while parking

The advantage of the inductive system is its wireless charging. Because vehicles no longer have to be connected manually by means of charger cables, they can be connected to the grid more often. The project thus also aims to develop a concept for the economical manufacture of charging system components, as well as a business model for various grid services associated with energy recovery. And because the bidirectional charging stations are connected to the grid, they can also reduce the load on and stabilize the grid even when the vehicles are on the road.

Strong partners

The BiLawE (from the German for bidirectional, inductive charging systems economical in the grid) research project received 2.4 million euros in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the ELEKTRO POWER II program, and is supported by the leading-edge Electric Mobility South-West cluster. The partners in the project, besides project coordinator Robert Bosch GmbH, are the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, and GreenIng GmbH & Co. KG. The project kicked off at the start of the year and will run for three years.

The Electric Mobility South-West cluster is one of the most important regional associations in the field of electromobility. The cluster aims to drive forward the industrialization of electromobility in Germany and to establish the German state of Baden-Württemberg as one of the major providers of electromobility solutions. It brings together leading corporations and SMEs and networks them with local research institutions in four fields of innovation: vehicle, energy, information and communication technology, and production.

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 402,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2017). The company generated sales of 78.1 billion euros in 2017. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology.

As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiary and regional companies in 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 125 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 64,500 associates in research and development.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant upfront investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com, www.iot.bosch.com, www.bosch-press.com, www.twitter.com/BoschPresse.

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