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AeroVironment Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), managed by Battelle, have announced a commercial license agreement to integrate PNNL technology into AeroVironment's electric vehicle (EV) charging systems.

According to the parties, the technology may help stabilize the grid during vehicle charging and result in lower-cost electricity for EV drivers. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed PNNL technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems.

The licensed PNNL technology can help stabilize the electrical grid by continuously monitoring the grid’s AC frequency and varying the vehicle charging rate in response. Additionally, in the event of a rapid drop in grid frequency, the charging system stops charging, providing a grid “shock absorber.” Such rapid frequency drops, while small in overall magnitude, indicate that a fault condition has occurred somewhere on the grid and that there is an imbalance between load and electricity generation. By reducing load, the system can be rebalanced.

“Vehicle charging infrastructure is important for the market adoption of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles,” says Dan Ton, the DOE’s program manager of smart grid research and development. “We need charging stations, and we need them to be intelligent in order to work with smart vehicles and smart grid infrastructure to avoid potential strain on the grid and to provide flexible billing transactions for energy and grid services.”

Prototypes of the new AeroVironment charging system are available immediately for beta testing. The prototypes include Bluetooth wireless connectivity for data streaming and local control functions.

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