New Device Enables Two-Way Electric Vehicle Charging

Technology could charge vehicles, improve household power supply, and reduce strain on the grid.

A new technology could allow an electric vehicle to charge other electrical devices—including homes and other electric vehicles.

Developed by a team of researchers from Australia’s Macquarie University and led by Seyedfoad Taghizadeh, the technology—called an Intelligent Charger—would allow the vehicle to function as a power source when needed.

The system would be installed in a vehicle and can be charged easily by plugging it into a household outlet or battery—the same way that conventional chargers work. But for a house that relies on batteries for electricity storage, the fully charged vehicle could transmit power in the other direction, charging the house—essentially functioning as a backup electricity generator.

“It is also useful on the road,” said Taghizadeh. “If the car runs out of power and is nowhere near a charging station, the device lets the driver plug into another electric vehicle and boost the battery that way.”

How EV charging works.

The Intelligent Charger could perform four functions simultaneously. In addition to charging or discharging an electric vehicle’s battery—its primary function—the device could also perform reactive power compensation (essentially functioning as a capacitor bank), regulate voltage in the household, and reduce harmonics. As a result, the household could improve the quality and reliability of its power and use that power more efficiently—which could result in a lower utility bill. In addition, the device would reduce stress on the vehicle’s battery, resulting in a longer battery life.

The technology could also reduce stress on the electricity grid as a whole. Taghizadeh and his team anticipate that the device could mitigate concerns by power utilities trying to meet the increased demand on the grid from electric vehicles—which could grow to 64 percent of the vehicles on the road in the U.S. by 2030. A two-way charger would lessen the strain on the grid while also being able to power a household in emergency situations. This would make the technology particularly useful in locations where electrical power is unreliable or fluctuates, such as remote areas or communities with outdated or malfunctioning power sources.

The researchers are currently exploring ways to bring the Intelligent Charger to market. Such a device has the potential to increase the appeal of electric vehicles by making them valuable household tools—not just an environmentally friendly way to get around.

Read more about electric vehicle charging technologies at What You Need to Know About Batteries for Electric Vehicles.