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INESC TEC has a technology patented in USA

INESC TEC has just seen the ACDC Cube technology patented in USA. The solution, developed by INESC TEC’s Centre for Power and Energy Systems (CPES), is a more compact and efficient electronic power converter. 

03rd July 2018

The inventors of the technology, which can be used for example to charge the batteries of an electric vehicle, are Diogo Varajão, former researcher of CPES and the current Head of Research and Development of AddVolt, and Luís Miguel Miranda e Rui Esteves Araújo, senior researchers of CPES.

What makes this technology so special in order for it to be granted a patent?

It starts with the fact that the technology has been developed based on a hardware solution that allows reducing the volume and weight of the electronic converter. Let us imagine an electrical vehicle which both weight and volume are critical since the space inside the vehicle needs to be used to its full potential in order to put the largest possible number of batteries there. This way, the smaller the space occupied by the charger of the car, the greater the space available to increase the autonomy of the electric vehicle.

But this technology developed by Portuguese researchers is not used exclusively in electrical vehicles. It is also intended for airplanes, boats or spaceships, where the volume and weight are critical.

Another feature of this technology is related to the bidirectionality with the power grid. What this means is that, through the converter, the vehicle can also provide power to the grid in peak times, exploring the Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) concept which is arising in the energy field.

ACDC Cube can also be used to support the energy storage in batteries, crucial to allow a better integration of electricity production from renewable sources to install in the LV grids, that is, in the domestic consumption grids addressing the Community Energy Storage (CES) concept, which has been explored in Europe and in the USA.

The study of the V2G and CES concepts will allow enhancing the integration of renewable energy sources in the power grid, making sure that the goals that Portugal set for itself in terms of electrical energy consumption based on electrical energy source are easily met. In addition to this, the synergies that can result from the combination of these storage systems with the renewable energies, whose production is variable and non-controllable, will ensure a greater stability and reliability of the power grid.

The developed solution has the potential to extend the maintenance periods of the power converter, resulting in savings in the consumption not only for the equipment manufacturer but also for the customer.

This technology was developed during the Ph.D. thesis of Diogo Varajão, which was supervised by the INESC TEC’s researchers Rui Esteves Araújo and João Abel Peças Lopes. It was scientifically tested at INESC TEC’s Laboratory of Smart Grids and Electric Vehicles under the European project SENSIBLE, which was recently distinguished by the European Commission in the 'flagship project' category.

In March of this year, Diogo Varajão had already been awarded the SEMIKRON Young Engineer Award 2018, awarded by the leading company in supplying power modules for electronic converters that operates in the wind, solar and electric mobility markets.


The researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC and UP-FEUP.