The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in partnership with the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN), hosted an event to test high-power EV charging connectors, currently under development by the industry (OEM’s, utilities, equipment manufacturers and suppliers).
Vehicle and electrical equipment manufacturers are working on new Megawatt Charging System (MCS), based on the CCS standard, for the largest EVs, with power output beyond 1 MW.
At the NREL event, held on September 23–24, 2020, several prototype connectors and inlet hardware were revealed.
The best solution is supposed to become a new charging standard for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, equipped with really huge battery packs, for which the CCS output (currently at 350 kW) is not enough.
"Results from the tests will help inform the development of interoperable connector and inlet designs. An industry standard for megawatt chargers will streamline the introduction of commercial electric vehicles by providing fleets with stability and certainty in accessing infrastructure globally."
The NREL’s Electric Vehicle Research Infrastructure (EVRI) in the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) allowed to test seven vehicle inlets and 11 charger connectors. It means that the competition for the best design is fierce.
The evaluation included:
- the fit and ergonomics of the connector designs (how easily they could connect and disconnect the connector from the inlet itself)
- how to keep connectors from getting damaged over time
- challenges to minimize cable length, reduce thermal cooling requirements and weight
- a functional evaluation of the thermal performance of the connectors and inlets
"Researchers performed a functional precheck with all supplied hardware at the event to confirm function before an in-depth evaluation test matrix covering all connector and inlet combinations. The results from this review are shared with the hardware developers to facilitate improvement to the designs to ensure consistent performance across connector and inlet designs. The event was followed by a virtual task force meeting to review the evaluations."
Hopefully the feedback will enable improving the connector and the industry will come out with a single standard.