BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to onboard charging systems for primary energy storage systems of electric vehicles (EVs), and more specifically to AC current control of such onboard chargers.
Conventional onboard chargers in EVs and other vehicles (e.g., forklifts, boats and the like) and other mobile energy storage installation charged via a battery charger that is plugged into a wall outlet use DC current requests to regulate charging of the battery cells. Such chargers do not use all available AC wall power which is central to the drawbacks of the conventional charging paradigm.
It is one goal of embodiments of the present invention to remove an associated DC efficiency of charging controllers when converting the AC wall power to DC charging current. The particular value for the efficiency is usually not measured for each charging system which can help to reduce costs and complexity. Conventional systems typically therefore assume a DC efficiency for each model and use of a charging system. For each charging system, the actual DC efficiency will likely be greater than the assumed efficiency but may be less in some cases. When the actual DC efficiency is less than the assumed efficiency, there is a risk that the charger will draw too large an AC current during charging in the absence of AC current limiting circuitry. Depending upon many factors, consequences of drawing too large an AC circuit include, when not properly protected, tripping an AC current breaker and increasing a fire risk, among other concerns. When the actual DC efficiency is greater than the assumed efficiency, adverse consequences are reduced but time to charge is needlessly increased for the overall charging.
To reduce these risks, the assumed DC efficiency is conservative as compared to the inherent manufacturing variation of the charging systems. The larger a disparity between any given charging system's actual DC efficiency and the assumed efficiency, the greater the drawback of these conventional systems.
The drawbacks of being conservative with the assumed DC efficiency are several-fold. For one, charging the battery with a conservative charging system means that, over the same period for a charging system that more accurately reflects the actual DC efficiency, fewer Amp-hours are provided to the battery. This will mean that the charging time must be increased to achieve the same state of charge (SOC) or the SOC will be less for the same period. For example, it could be that over an eight hour charging cycle at twenty amperes, that a conservative charging profile results in four fewer Amp-hours. This could translate to 5 fewer driving miles or 15 extra minutes of charge time.
Further, the more conservative the assumption of the DC efficiency, the more inefficient is the entire charging cycle. Part of the reason for this is that there is an energy "tax" associated with charging. Namely, there are pumps and regulators and other fixed auxiliary loads that are operated during charging. The longer that charging takes, the longer this tax is applied which reduces charging efficiency. Typically these auxiliary loads are constant, perhaps around 500W. EV charge times typically are between 4hours and 48hours, but do vary and longer and shorter times are possible. In the 48-hour case, when a charger is using only 90% of the wall power, the charging process could use a couple of kW-hour more since charge time could be extended by 4 hours (1.1 * 48 hours). Therefore, not utilizing full wall power decreases overall system efficiency.
Some conventional system may employ a DC current sensor in the charging system in attempts to address this problem by closing a regulation loop but this adds costs. In other systems, a Battery Management System (BMS) may use a DC current sensor but delays in communicating sensing current from the BMS to the charger increases a risk of control loop instability.
What is needed is a charging system that improves utilization of available AC power during onboard charging of energy storage systems of electric vehicles.
 JP 2008-259372 A
describes a device for charging a battery that is configured to prevent a battery charging current from exceeding a maximum allowable charging current of the battery. The device comprises a rectifier for rectifying an alternating current into a direct current and a controller to control an amount of power generated by the rectifier.
 US 2008/0197811 A1
discloses a battery charging circuit comprising an AC to DC converter, a charging control switch, and a charger controller. The AC to DC converter provides a charging power to a battery pack. The charging control switch is coupled between the AC to DC converter and the battery pack. The charging control switch transfers the charging power to the battery pack. The charger controller detects a battery status of the battery pack and controls the charging control switch to charge the battery pack in a continuous charging mode or a pulse charging mode according to the battery status. The charger controller also controls the AC to DC converter to regulate the charging power according to the battery status.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention provides an AC current control charging system as defined in the claims.
Disclosed is an electronic system for charging an energy storage system of an electric vehicle with charging using an AC power source, includes an energy access system, coupled to the AC energy source, producing an input AC current/AC power; a charger, coupled to the energy access system, for producing an actual DC charging current responsive to a control signal; a controller configured to adjust the actual DC charging current based upon a maximum for the input AC current/AC power and a difference between a target DC charging current and the actual DC charging current.
An electronic system for charging an energy storage system of an electric vehicle using an AC power source, includes an energy access system, coupled to the AC energy source, producing an input AC current/AC power; a charger, coupled to the energy access system, for producing an actual DC charging current responsive to a control signal from the input AC current/AC power; a voltage sensor that measures a voltage level of the energy storage system; a current sensor that measures a magnitude of the actual DC charging current applied to charging the energy storage system; and a controller, coupled to the current sensor, wherein the controller is configured to adjust the actual DC charging current based upon a maximum for the input AC current/AC power, a difference between the voltage level, and a preset maximum voltage level target of the energy storage system, and a difference between a target DC charging current and the actual DC charging current.
Some advantages from the present invention follow from control of AC input current rather than output DC current of an onboard battery charger. These advantages may include, depending upon particular implementations and embodiments, full utilization of available wall power, which reduces battery charge time and costs, and may increase efficiency in high power applications such as EVs. (The built-in margin required of conventional DC regulation systems is not required as it is not possible to exceed available AC current or AC power.) Other advantages include a potential for reduced system costs as the charging system does not employ a redundant DC current sensor (that may be implemented in some conventional systems) to close a regulation loop, and system efficiency is increased for those systems having fixed auxiliary loads. Shortening charging time from using all available AC power reduces the amount of the built-in energy "tax" that results from operating the auxiliary loads during charging. Further, embodiments of the present invention reduce control complexity by not needing to estimate and feed forward power consumption of all various non-battery loads during charge. The preferred embodiments of the present invention implement a single feedback control from a charge "master" to a source of power. Other features, benefits, and advantages of the present invention will be apparent upon a review of the present disclosure, including the specification, drawings, and claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a general schematic block diagram of an AC current-controlled charging system;
FIG. 2 is a representative control process used in the system shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a flowchart of an AC current-controlled charging method; and
FIG. 4 is a flowchart of the charging current establishing step shown in FIG. 3.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Embodiments of the present invention provide methods and systems for a charging system that improves utilization of available AC power during onboard charging of energy storage systems of electric vehicles. The following description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention and is provided in the context of a patent application and its requirements. In the following text, the terms "energy storage system", "energy storage assembly", "battery", "cell", "brick", "battery cell", "battery cell pack", "pack" "electric double-layer capacitor", and "ultracapacitor" may be used interchangeably (unless the context indicates otherwise" and may refer to any of a variety of different rechargeable configurations and cell chemistries described herein including, but not limited to, lithium ion (e.g., lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt oxide, other lithium metal oxides, etc.), lithium ion polymer, nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium, nickel hydrogen, nickel zinc, silver zinc, or other chargeable high energy storage type/configuration. A context for one implementation is use of rechargeable Li-ion battery packs designed for plug-in electric vehicles (PHEV, HEV, and EV and the like).
FIG. 1 is a general schematic block diagram of an AC current-controlled charging system 100. System 100 includes an onboard charging system 105 (e.g., onboard an electric vehicle 110) for charging an energy storage system 115 of vehicle 110. A battery management system (BMS) 120 is coupled to charging system 105 and to a DC current sensor 125 to control charging of energy storage system 115. Sensor 125 measures actual DC charging current provided to energy storage system 115 from charging system 105. BMS 120 provides a control signal (iACControl) to charging system 105 and charging system 105 provides an iACAvailable signal to BMS 120.
Charging system 105 uses power from an off-board AC power source 130. Preferably source 130 includes an electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) that implements an SAEJ1772-2009 standard. This standard includes specification for a power connector that is designed for single phase electrical systems with 120 V or 240 V. This power connector includes five pins: AC line 1 and AC line 2/Neutral power pins, ground pin, proximity detection pin, and control pilot pin. Preferred embodiments of the present invention use the control pilot pin which is a communication line that coordinates charging level between an EV and charger. Other control pilot signaling protocols are possible and embodiments of the present invention may be configured for operation with these control pilot signaling protocols as well.
J1772 specifies that the control pilot signal will: verify that the vehicle is present and connected; transmit supply equipment current rating to the vehicle; allow energizing and de-energizing of the AC power source; and establish vehicle ventilation requirements. The transmission of supply equipment current rating is a parameter used in the embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a representative control process 200 used in system 100 shown in FIG. 1. Process 200, includes a first control loop feedback mechanism 205 and a second control loop feedback mechanism 210. These mechanisms are represented herein as proportional-integral (PI) controllers, though other controllers could be used as well (e.g., proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers and other controllers). First feedback mechanism 205 uses a difference between a target voltage for energy storage system 115 and a maximum voltage (feedback) to determine a reference current. The reference current ranges between a maximum DC discharge current (iBatDChgTarget) and a DC charging target current (iBatChgTarget). The measured voltage may be of a cell, a brick, a module, a pack or other unit of energy storage system 115.
This reference current is provided to second feedback mechanism 210. Second feedback mechanism 210 compares the reference current to the actual DC charging current provided to energy storage system 115 (as measured by sensor 125) to establish a control signal that is a command AC control request (line current or line power) provided to charging system 105. The control signal ranges from a maximum AC discharge current (iACDischarge) to an AC available current (iACAvaialable) as determined from the pilot signal from AC power source 130. Process 200 is a generalized description that contemplates not only charging of the battery from an electrical grid in a first operational mode, but also contemplates discharging the battery into the electrical grid in a second operational mode. For systems operating only in the first operational mode, the design may be simplified by setting the discharge parameters (i.e., iBatDChgTarget and iACDischarge) to zero. In the second operational mode, the discharge parameters are negative values to reflect flow from the energy storage system.
As noted above in the discussion of the two feedback mechanisms, there is a maximum DC discharge current as a lower limit for currents in process 200. In many implementations, this current may be zero Amps. In other cases, it will be an actual discharge current to provide for drawing energy from energy storage system 115 to permit such smart EVs to help power devices using grid power. Energy may be drawn from energy storage system 115 to help power devices and processes outside of EV 110. Process 200 may be configured as described herein to handle either contingency.
FIG. 3 is a flowchart of an AC current-controlled charging method 300. Method 300 includes two steps, a DC charging current establishing step 305 followed by a charging system controlling step 310. Step 305 establishes a maximum DC charging current limited by the battery system. This is the AC current control setup step and permits charging system 105 shown in FIG. 1 to use all available AC power. Step 310 controls charging system 105 with the appropriate DC charging current at the appropriate voltage level as established in step 305. The actual DC charging current is limited by the maximum DC charging current.
FIG. 4 is a flowchart of the charging current establishing step 305 shown in FIG. 3. Step 305 includes a first feedback loop evaluation step 405 and a second feedback loop evaluation step 410, these steps corresponding to operation of the first feedback mechanism 205 and the second feedback mechanism, respectively. Step 405 evaluates the first feedback mechanism to set the DC reference current. Step 410 evaluates the second feedback mechanism to set the charging control signal provided to charging system 105.
The system and methods above have been described in the preferred embodiment of a charging system that improves utilization of available AC power during onboard charging of energy storage systems of electric vehicles. As noted above, conventional charging systems have used DC regulation because batteries have current limits based upon voltage, SOC, and temperature. By using the embodiments of the present invention disclosed herein, actual DC charging currents are linked to available AC power. Because batteries want to be charged with a DC current, conventional EV charging systems do not use AC current availability. The embodiments of the present invention connect the energy storage system to the AC power, improving charging operation. For ease of understanding and simplification of discussion, the embodiments of the present invention have focused on implementation using lithium metal oxide technology in the energy storage unit. It is possible to adapt the present invention to other battery technologies.
Système de charge à commande de courant alternatif, AC, dans lequel le système comprend un système de stockage d'énergie (115) d'un véhicule électrique (110) et une source d'alimentation en courant alternatif configurée de manière à charger le système de stockage d'énergie (115), le système comprenant en outre :
un système d'accès à l'énergie (130), couplé à la source d'alimentation en courant alternatif, produisant un courant alternatif d'entrée ou une alimentation en courant alternatif d'entrée ;
un chargeur (105), couplé audit système d'accès à l'énergie (130), configuré de manière à produire un courant de charge continu, DC, réel en réponse à un signal de commande ;
caractérisé par un contrôleur (200) configuré de manière à ajuster ledit courant de charge continu réel sur la base dudit courant alternatif d'entrée, ou d'un maximum pour ladite alimentation en courant alternatif d'entrée, et d'une différence entre un courant de charge continu cible et ledit courant de charge continu réel.
Système de charge à commande de courant alternatif selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre :
un capteur de tension configuré de manière à mesurer un niveau de tension du système de stockage d'énergie (115) ; et
un capteur de courant configuré de manière à mesurer une amplitude dudit courant de charge continu réel appliqué en vue de charger le système de stockage d'énergie (115) ;
dans lequel ledit contrôleur (200) est configuré de manière à ajuster ledit courant de charge continu réel sur la base d'un courant maximum pour ledit courant alternatif d'entrée ou d'un maximum pour ladite alimentation en courant alternatif d'entrée, d'une différence entre ledit niveau de tension et une cible de niveau de tension maximum prédéfinie du système de stockage d'énergie, et d'une différence entre un courant de charge continu cible et ledit courant de charge continu réel.