In the UK, De Montfort University’s Department of Technology is leading a $604,000 study (partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund) aimed at advancing range extenders.

BMW i3 w/o REx

BMW i3 w/o REx

Joining the University is CENEX, the Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies.

Dr. Eric Goodyer of De Montfort University says this in regards to the study:

 "Electric vehicles are now an established technology, and available from many major vehicle manufacturers.  They are of particular value in urban environments, and are supported by a growing infrastructure of charging points."

"However, their perceived lack of range is holding back market penetration for travellers who make long journeys. This is where Range Extenders can make a major contribution."

"Existing techniques consist of little more than a traditionally powered motor that is used to recharge the vehicle’s primary drive battery pack."

<em>Chevy Volt Range Extender</em>

Chevy Volt Range Extender

"They can add literally 100s of miles to the vehicle’s range, but are little more than a simplistic battery charger that cuts in when the battery is getting low. This research project will examine more fuel efficient means of delivering range extension."

The study will focus on three main points:

  • The vehicle’s performance will be modeled to develop a battery charge algorithm that minimizes fuel use.
  • Artificial intelligence will be explored to determine how it can be used to manage the range extender
  • The study will determine which type of fuel (gas, diesel or hydrogen) should be used in range extenders.
The end goal is to advance the range extender beyond what we see in use today.  The researchers believe that the drop-in gas engines used today are perhaps not the right choice for range-extending operation.  The team of researcher hope to determine what's the optimal engine/generator for range-extending duties.