There aren’t many things wrong with a new electric vehicle (EV). This is because EVs do not have nearly as many moving parts as a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle, so they don’t need repair as often. They also do not require tune-ups or oil changes, and they are safer because they typically have a lower center of gravity and do not roll as easily. Also, there is no gas tank to catch fire and explode in the event of a severe accident.
One problem has arisen, though, and it’s not strictly mechanical. For people who commute to work and enjoy listening to morning talk radio or news and weather broadcasts, driving an EV may preclude listening to car radio because of the electrical interference. This is caused by the frequency converter that turns electrical energy into mechanical energy to control the EVs electric motor speed and direction of rotation.
This conversion, of different voltages and frequencies into balanced electrical currents, happens over and over in milliseconds, and creates an electromagnetic field which distorts or even blocks reception. The solution is to insulate an EV’s wiring and the motor itself, an expensive process that translates to even greater cost on the showroom floor. Fortunately, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM (Berlin) have discovered a few workarounds that will in future allow EV owners to enjoy their morning radio.
Using computer simulations, laboratory tests have determined where in the EV components should be located to reduce electromagnetic interaction. Second, researchers developed a symmetrical power module—an integral part of the frequency converter—which prevents interference altogether. This device is still in development, but Fraunhofer’s research will be useful not merely in insuring that EV drivers can listen to their radios, but may come in handy when residential installations of solar photovoltaic (or small wind) energy distort or disturb radio reception inside the house as a result of inverter use.