Computer and Electrical Engineering

COMPELECENG1: Motor Drives for Electric Vehicles

Mentors: Dr. Ali Bazzi, Assistant Professor, Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Drives Laboratory, Center for Clean Energy Engineering, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and his research team

There is a rising trend in transportation electrification with hybrid, electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles being explored and commercialized by automotive companies. What is not commonly known is that some of the earliest cars ever made, such as the 1914 Detroit Electric Car, are purely electric. Mass production of gasoline and diesel engines at low cost led to divergence from electric cars, but advancement in electronics, material, thermal management, and component reliability have made them more attractive in recent decades, especially with rising environmental concerns. A modern electric drive is composed of three main parts: electric machine, power electronics, and control. The electric machine is the electro-mechanical component where electricity is transformed to mechanical motion or vice versa. As their name suggests, power electronics are electronics that can transfer large amounts of electrical power and are utilized to provide controlled electrical voltages and currents used by the machine. Control makes the machine and power electronics achieve their desired operation. In this project, participants will build and run an electric drive with these three main components but a much smaller scale, similar to an RC car. They will combine an existing power electronic system, an off-the-shelf electric machine, and a digital controller to run the machine at desired mechanical speeds and torques. This year, a driving profile will be automatically loaded to the microcontroller to mimic an urban drive cycle. A battery will be used as the main source for the electric drive. Participants will be appropriately trained for lab safety and will get hands-on experience with the integration, testing, and operation of this prototype drive. Energy consumed by the drive will be measured and reported for different driving schedules. All the research will be performed in the Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Drives Laboratory at the Center for Clean Energy Engineering.