UC Riverside researchers are combining connected vehicle technology and evolutionary algorithms to make PHEVs more efficient
Engineers at the University of California, Riverside have taken inspiration from biological evolution and the energy savings garnered by birds flying in formation to improve the efficiency of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) by more than 30 percent.
Titled “Development and Evaluation of an Evolutionary Algorithm-Based Online Energy Management System for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles,” a paper describing the research was recently accepted for publication in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems. The work was led by Xuewei Qi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, and Matthew Barth, CE-CERT director and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCR.
PHEVs, which combine a gas or diesel engine with an electric motor and a large rechargeable battery, offer advantages over conventional hybrids because they can be charged using mains electricity, which reduces their need for fuel. However, the race to improve the efficiency of current PHEVs is limited by shortfalls in their energy management systems (EMS), which control the power split between engine and battery when they switch from all-electric mode to hybrid mode.
While not all plug-in hybrids work the same way, most models start in all-electric mode, running on electricity until their battery packs are depleted, then switch to hybrid mode. Known as binary mode control, this EMS strategy is easy to apply, but isn’t the most efficient way to combine the two power sources. In lab tests, blended discharge strategies, in which power from the battery is used throughout the trip, have proven more efficient at minimizing fuel consumption and emissions. However, their development is complex and, until now, they have required an unrealistic amount of information upfront.
“In reality, drivers may switch routes, traffic can be unpredictable, and road conditions may change, meaning that the EMS must source that information in real-time,” Qi said.
The highly efficient EMS developed and simulated by Qi and his team combines vehicle connectivity information (such as cellular networks and crowdsourcing platforms) and evolutionary algorithms—a mathematical way to describe natural phenomena such as evolution, insect swarming and bird flocking.
“By mathematically modeling the energy saving processes that occur in nature, scientists have created algorithms that can be used to solve optimization problems in engineering,” Qi said. “We combined this approach with connected vehicle technology to achieve energy savings of more than 30 percent. We achieved this by considering the charging opportunities during the trip—something that is not possible with existing EMS.”
The current paper builds on previous work by the team showing that individual vehicles can learn how to save fuel from their own historical driving records. Together with the application of evolutionary algorithms, vehicles will not only learn and optimize their own energy efficiency, but will also share their knowledge with other vehicles in the same traffic network through connected vehicle technology.
“Even more importantly, the PHEV energy management system will no longer be a static device—it will actively evolve and improve for its entire life cycle. Our goal is to revolutionize the PHEV EMS to achieve even greater fuel savings and emission reductions,” Qi said.
The main campus sits on 1,200 acres (486 ha) in a suburban district of Riverside, California, United States, with a branch campus of 20 acres (8 ha) in Palm Desert. Founded in 1907 as the UC Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside, pioneered research in biological pest control and the use of growth regulators responsible for extending the citrus growing season in California from four to nine months. Some of the world’s most important research collections on citrus diversity and entomology, as well as science fiction and photography, are located at Riverside.
UCR’s undergraduate College of Letters and Science opened in 1954. The Regents of the University of California declared UCR a general campus of the system in 1959, and graduate students were admitted in 1961. To accommodate an enrollment of 21,000 students by 2015, more than $730 million has been invested in new construction projects since 1999. Preliminary accreditation of the UCR School of Medicine was granted in October 2012 and the first class was enrolled in August 2013. It is the first new research-based public medical school in 40 years.
UCR is consistently ranked as one of the most ethnically and economically diverse universities in the United States.
University of California, Riverside research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Exploiting Male-Killing Bacteria to Control Insect Pest Species – May 6, 2016
- Engineered Gene Drives and the Future – February 19, 2016
- GPS Tracking Down to the Centimeter – February 12, 2016
- Making Batteries with Portabella Mushrooms – September 30, 2015
- Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity – July 28, 2015
- New device could greatly improve speech and image recognition – May 15, 2015
- Novel Pretreatment Could Cut Biofuel Costs by 30 Percent or More – March 3, 2015
- New Paper-like Material Could Boost Electric Vehicle Batteries by Nearly 10 Times – February 21, 2015
- Scientists Reprogram Plants for Drought Tolerance – February 8, 2015
- Researchers Make Magnetic Graphene – January 29, 2015
- Device Eliminates 93 Percent of Lawnmower Pollutant – July 9, 2014
- Using Sand to Improve Battery Performance – July 9, 2014
- Let There Be Light: Chemists Develop Magnetically Responsive Liquid Crystals – June 27, 2014
- Charging Portable Electronics in 10 Minutes – June 12, 2014
- Improved Supercapacitors for Super Batteries, Electric Vehicles – June 10, 2014
- Cleaning the Air with Roof Tiles – June 7, 2014
- Silly Putty Material Inspires Better Batteries | next generation battery materials – May 16, 2014
- Graphene Not All Good – May 5, 2014
- New Revolutionary Sensor Links Pressure to Color Change | pressure sensor – May 4, 2014
- Mantis Shrimp Stronger than Airplanes | advanced materials – April 26, 2014
- Creating a Graphene-Metal Sandwich to Improve Electronics | downscaling of electronics
- New chemical compound could make humans “invisible” to mosquitoes | disease-carrying mosquitoes
- Increasing Efficiency of Wireless Networks
- ‘Electronic Nose’ Prototype Developed
- ‘Armored Caterpillar’ Could Inspire New Body Armor
- Major Step Forward Towards Drought Tolerance in Crops
- Road to Replacing Silicon with Graphene
- Harnessing the Power of Positive Thoughts and Emotions to Treat Depression
- Restoring Happiness in People With Depression
- The Reinvention of Silk
- Scientists Find Insect DEET Receptors, Develop Safe Alternatives to DEET
- New study offers hope for halting incurable citrus disease
- Tool Created to Avert Future Energy Crisis
- Advancing Resistive Memory to Improve Portable Electronics
- Can This Patch Make You Invisible To Mosquitoes?
- New Compound Holds High Promise in Battling Kidney Cancer
- UCSB scientists examine effects of manufactured nanoparticles on soybean crops
- Let the games begin
- Graphene is starting to sound like a potential wonder material for the electronics business
- Tiny iron oxide particles promise big benefits for display technology
Researchers create a self-healing, transparent, highly stretchable material that can be electrically activated and used to improve batteries, electronic devices, and robots
Scientists, including several from the University of California, Riverside, have developed a transparent, self-healing, highly stretchable conductive material that can be electrically activated to power artificial muscles and could be used to improve batteries, electronic devices, and robots.
The findings, which were published today in the journal Advanced Material, represent the first time scientists have created an ionic conductor, meaning materials that ions can flow through, that is transparent, mechanically stretchable, and self-healing.
The material has potential applications in a wide range of fields. It could give robots the ability to self-heal after mechanical failure; extend the lifetime of lithium ion batteries used in electronics and electric cars; and improve biosensors used in the medical field and environmental monitoring.
“Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years,” said Chao Wang, an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry who is one of the authors of the paper. “We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications.”
This project brings together the research areas of self-healing materials and ionic conductors.
Inspired by wound healing in nature, self-healing materials repair damage caused by wear and extend the lifetime, and lower the cost, of materials and devices. Wang developed an interest in self-healing materials because of his lifelong love of Wolverine, the comic book character who has the ability to self-heal.
Ionic conductors are a class of materials with key roles in energy storage, solar energy conversion, sensors, and electronic devices.
Another author of the paper, Christoph Keplinger, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, previously demonstrated that stretchable, transparent, ionic conductors can be used to power artificial muscles and to create transparent loudspeakers – devices that feature several of the key properties of the new material (transparency, high stretchability and ionic conductivity) – but none of these devices additionally had the ability to self-heal from mechanical damage.
The key difficulty is the identification of bonds that are stable and reversible under electrochemical conditions. Conventionally, self-healing polymers make use of non-covalent bonds, which creates a problem because those bonds are affected by electrochemical reactions that degrade the performance of the materials.
Wang helped solve that problem by using a mechanism called ion-dipole interactions, which are forces between charged ions and polar molecules that are highly stabile under electrochemical conditions. He combined a polar, stretchable polymer with a mobile, high-ionic-strength salt to create the material with the properties the researchers were seeking.
The low-cost, easy to produce soft rubber-like material can stretch 50 times its original length. After being cut, it can completely re-attach, or heal, in 24 hours at room temperature. In fact, after only five minutes of healing the material can be stretched two times its original length.
Timothy Morrissey and Eric Acome, two graduate students working with Keplinger, demonstrated that the material could be used to power a so-called artificial muscle, also called dielectric elastomer actuator. Artificial muscle is a generic term used for materials or devices that can reversibly contract, expand, or rotate due to an external stimulus such as voltage, current, pressure or temperature.
The dielectric elastomer actuator is actually three individual pieces of polymer that are stacked together. The top and bottom layers are the new material developed at UC Riverside, which is able to conduct electricity and is self-healable, and the middle layer is a transparent, non-conductive rubber-like membrane.
The researchers used electrical signals to get the artificial muscle to move. So, just like how a human muscle (such as a bicep) moves when the brain sends a signal to the arm, the artificial muscle also reacts when it receives a signal. Most importantly, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the ability of the new material to self-heal can be used to mimic a preeminent survival feature of nature: wound-healing. After parts of the artificial muscle were cut into two separate pieces, the material healed without relying on external stimuli, and the artificial muscle returned to the same level of performance as before being cut.
Learn more: A Wolverine Inspired Material
Researchers discover long sought after mechanism in human cells that could help treat diseases caused by viruses, including influenza and Ebola
A team of researchers, co-led by a University of California, Riverside professor, has found a long-sought-after mechanism in human cells that creates immunity to influenza A virus, which causes annual seasonal epidemics and occasional pandemics.
The research, outlined in a paper published online today in the journal Nature Microbiology, could have broad implications on the immunological understanding of human diseases caused by RNA viruses including influenza, Ebola, West Nile, and Zika viruses.
“This opens up a new way to understand how humans respond to viral infections and develop new methods to control viral infections,” said Shou-Wei Ding, a professor of plant pathology and microbiology at UC Riverside, who is the co-corresponding author of the paper.
The findings build on more than 20 years of research by Ding on antiviral RNA interference (RNAi), which involves an organism producing small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to clear a virus.
His initial research showed that RNAi is a common antiviral defense in plants, insects and nematodes and that viral infections in these organisms require active suppression of RNAi by specific viral proteins. That work led him to study RNAi as an antiviral defense in mammals.
In a 2013 paper in the journal Science he outlined findings that show mice use RNAi to destroy viruses. But, it remained an open debate as to whether the same was true in humans.
That open debate led Ding back to a key 2004 paper in which he described a new activity of a protein (non-structural protein 1, or NS1) in the influenza virus that can block the antiviral function of RNAi in fruit flies, a common model system used by scientists.
In the current Nature Microbiology paper, the researchers demonstrated that human cells produce abundant siRNAs to target the influenza A virus when the viral NS1 is not active.
They showed that the creation of viral siRNAs in infected human cells is mediated by an enzyme known as Dicer and is potently suppressed by both the NS1 protein of influenza A virus and a protein (virion protein 35, or VP35) found in Ebola and Marburg viruses.
The researchers in the lab of the co-corresponding author, Kate L. Jeffrey, an investigator in the Massachusetts General Hospital gastrointestinal unit and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, further demonstrated that the infections of mature mammal cells by influenza A virus and other RNA viruses are inhibited naturally by RNAi, using mice cells specifically defective in RNAi.
“Our studies show that the antiviral function of RNAi is conserved in mammals against distinct RNA viruses, suggesting an immediate need to assess the role of antiviral RNAi in human infectious diseases caused by RNA viruses, including Ebola, West Nile, and Zika viruses,” Jeffrey said.
The Nature Microbiology paper is called “Induction and suppression of antiviral RNA interference by influenza A virus in mammalian cells.”
UC Riverside engineers are developing cheap, energy-efficient lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles from silicon in diatomaceous earth
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed an inexpensive, energy-efficient way to create silicon-based anodes for lithium-ion batteries from the fossilized remains of single-celled algae called diatoms. The research could lead to the development of ultra-high capacity lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and portable electronics.
Titled “Carbon-Coated, Diatomite-Derived Nanosilicon as a High Rate Capable Li-ion Battery Anode,” a paper describing the research was published recently in the journal Scientific Reports. The research was led by Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical engineering, and Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering. Brennan Campbell, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, was first author on the paper.
Lithium-ion batteries, the most popular rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles and personal electronics, have several major components including an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte made of lithium salt dissolved in an organic solvent. While graphite is the material of choice for most anodes, its performance is a limiting factor in making better batteries and expanding their applications. Silicon, which can store about 10 times more energy, is being developed as an alternative anode material, but its production through the traditional method, called carbothermic reduction, is expensive and energy-intensive.
To change that, the UCR team turned to a cheap source of silicon—diatomaceous earth (DE)—and a more efficient chemical process. DE is an abundant, silicon-rich sedimentary rock that is composed of the fossilized remains of diatoms deposited over millions of years. Using a process called magnesiothermic reduction, the group converted this low-cost source of Silicon Dioxide (SiO2) to pure silicon nano-particles.
“A significant finding in our research was the preservation of the diatom cell walls—structures known as frustules—creating a highly porous anode that allows easy access for the electrolyte”, Cengiz Ozkan said.
This research is the latest in a series of projects led by Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan to create lithium-ion battery anodes from environmentally friendly materials. Previous research has focused on developing and testing anodes from portabella mushrooms and beach sand.
“Batteries that power electric vehicles are expensive and need to be charged frequently, which causes anxiety for consumers and negatively impacts the sale of these vehicles. To improve the adoption of electric vehicles, we need much better batteries. We believe diatomaceous earth, which is abundant and inexpensive, could be another sustainable source of silicon for battery anodes,” Mihri Ozkan said.
In addition to Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan and Campbell, graduate students Robert Ionescu, Maxwell Tolchin, Kazi Ahmed, Zachary Favors, and Krassimir N. Bozhilov, manager of UCR’s Central Facility for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis, also contributed to this research.