Argonne National Laboratory

Connectivity and Communication

Argonne's direct current charging digital communication controller, the Smart Grid EV Communication (SpEC) module, enables rapid recharging of electric vehicles along heavy traffic corridors and at public stations.

Argonne's direct current charging digital communication controller, the Smart Grid EV Communication (SpEC) module, enables rapid recharging of electric vehicles along heavy traffic corridors and at public stations.

Argonne researchers provide support to emerging technology development in grid connectivity and communications, bridging the needs of electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and utility companies. This research and development effort focuses on practical applications that enhance the market acceptance of plug-in vehicles and the charging infrastructure.

This work identifies gaps in connectivity and innovative technology hardware/software solutions to address barriers to widespread EV adoption. Efficient distribution of power and the tools for controlling load demand will require a fusion of new sensors and controllers, particularly low-cost metering devices. Whereas current research focuses on EV connectivity and controlling charging loads, these same technologies can be redirected to controlling other distributed loads on the grid, including major appliances found in our homes. Argonne connectivity and communication research encompasses:

  • Enabling technology development to support the EV-grid integration
  • Enabling communications to actively manage vehicle charging loads consistent with smart grid load demand controls
  • Reducing the cost of electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Enhancing the viability of fast/consumer-friendly charging
  • Harmonization of global connectivity standards

Argonne efforts to ensure EV–grid connectivity include 1) verification of standards and battery charger interoperability in EV-grid communication field trials; 2) development of gateway smart energy profile software solutions for direct current (DC) and utility interactive charging; and 3) implementation of electricity sub-metering use cases in hardware/software prototypes. Technology contributions for near term rollout include:

  • Miniaturizing End Use Metering Devices (EUMDs) so they are easily integrated into existing junction boxes and inexpensive to produce. The introduction of these devices for smart grid applications, for both businesses and homes, will be a transformational technology that replaces the much larger and expensive additional utility meter for tracking power flow to individual loads.
  • EV communication controllers are being designed and validated for communicating and controlling power demand from the grid for alternating current (AC)/DC/wireless charging of electric vehicles. The next generation of these controllers will support reverse flow of power from the vehicle’s stored energy source to the grid to stabilize the grid or address peak demand events.