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Electric Vehicles Power Homes with Reversible Charging


During the height of Hurricane Sandy's devastation, when much of New England was without power, it was not unusual to hear reports of people offering to charge strangers' cell phones using their cars' electrical outlets. Now, Nissan and GE hope to take this idea one step further: enabling EV batteries to supply homes with electricity should the power grid be disrupted.

The system that was launched by Nissan in Japan this past June, uses the charging station that normally fills the LEAF to instead reverses the flow of electricity to power the house into which it is installed. The system is able to switch from alternating to direct current, and back, while outputting six kilowatts to a home. This is enough to provide families in need with essentials such as working refrigerators and water heaters.

According to Nissan engineer Heather Konet, a fully charged LEAF could provide up to one to two days of emergency power. And if Sandy is any testament, those two days could mean quite a lot to those affected by natural disasters. However, reverse charging is not currently available outside of Japan, and no timeline has been released for its transition into the US market.

But, according the Txchnologist writer Michael Keller, “the researchers who developed the system see it as more than just spare batteries for when the lights go out.” They hope that the LEAF's batteries can create a smart residential power management system that will alleviate strain on the grid. Not only would this take some pressure off power companies, it would also reduce electric bills, including premiums for expenditure during times of peak demand.

With similar goals for grid management, Nissan and GE have combined forces through a strategic partnership aimed at creating a GE smart home powered by the Nissan LEAF. GE's contributions include the development of an industrial Internet, magnetocaloric refrigeration, and control systems that communicate between appliances and the grid.

With any luck, we will see minimal need for these innovations, but when we do, Nissan and GE are preparing to back us – and our power grid – up.

Full story at Txchnologist

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