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The e-car: Electronics technology applied to sustainable mobility, Part 3

Electronics technology is contributing heavily to the automotive industry with ICs for the DC-DC conversion utilized in the creation of voltages suitable for the central processor to enable actuators and to process the signals coming from the electronic sensors. This implies that ICs can be integrated on a large scale into modern cars and this process has a continuously growing trend:

“What’s interesting is the way technology and automotive are starting to look like a single sector. Nvidia are cheek by jowl with Toyota, Kia, Continental, ZF and Valeo in the automotive sector. The Ford booth was all about the living street, with two autonomous vehicles, positioning them as a mobility and smart city pioneer. We’re seeing an evolution of our industry with automakers looking well beyond the vehicle itself to the full ecosystem.

  1. Everything is Connected
  2. Abundant Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  3. The Augmented Driving Experience
  4. Electrification
  5. Fully Autonomous Mobility

(Source: “Five CES 2018 Takeaways Driving Automotive Electronics”)

In particular, the fourth point of this interesting blog by Dr. Rainer Constapel reports:

” The number of electric and hybrid cars on the roads is growing at a rapid rate. At CES, that trend is even faster. The industry is gradually overcoming range-anxiety issues that have slowed adoption, and now just about every car maker has a solid electric offering. What’s more, they don’t look like geek-mobiles anymore, they have the style, panache and the performance that has the potential to bring the most ardent petrol head into the eco-fold.” (Source: jabil.com)

Electronics technology’s contribution has recently become even more important with the introduction of the electric car that utilizes electric energy to power the motor and the control circuitry including sensors, actuators, air conditioning, wireless charging, connectivity. (see Figure 1)

Figure 1

The electronics technology contribution to the electric car is very valuable. Source: U.S. Department of Energy

 

The electronics technology contribution to the electric car is very valuable.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

 

The electric car is becoming a widely adopted solution for the automotive market because it guarantees zero-emission mobility that reduces air pollution and makes the urban environment healthier and more comfortable:

“Royal Mail, an important postal service and courier company in the UK, unveiled a new electric truck made by Arrival. The company is starting a trial today with 3 versions of the vehicle to transport packages between its mail and distribution centers around London. Paul Gatti, Royal Mail Fleet’s Managing Director, said that a successful trial could lead to a broader adoption of the technology in the company’s fleet of almost 50,000 vehicles” (Source: “electreck”. See Figure 2)

Figure 2

The electric bus made by Arrival Company for zero emission postal transportation, holds promises to become widely adopted in all big urban areas to reduce air pollution. > (Source: 'electreck'.)

 

The electric bus made by Arrival Company for zero emission postal transportation, holds promises to become widely adopted in all big urban areas to reduce air pollution. > (Source: “electreck”.)

 

The electric bus requires electronic circuitry that can operate in an automotive environment with good efficiency; SiC is a perfect substrate for this task:

“Silicon Carbide is a material made of silicon (Si) and carbon (C) atoms organized in a lattice. It has long been known to operate in high-temperature, high-power, high-frequency, and high-radiation environments, thanks to its wide bandgap. To understand the properties of wide-bandgap materials, we must dive into solid state physics. Solids are made of atoms, which, if we take the most simplistic approach, are made of a nucleus and one or more electrons.” (Source: blog.st.com)

The next part of this blog series contains some interesting characteristics of this new material and some possible applications of SiC-based power ICs in the electric transportation market.

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