Srikanthan Sridharan won the IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference Best Paper award
Srikanthan Sridharan is helping make electric cars more efficient — and more realistic for public use — by adding a voltage controller to the electric vehicle motor. The controller receives commands from the system and then puts out only the voltage needed. For example, a car going uphill would need more power than when it going downhill. Sridharan’s paper, “Optimizing Variable DC-link Voltage for an Induction Motor Drive over a Dynamic Drive Cycle,” shows that by making voltage use more flexible, the car can use high- and low-level voltage for various functions all the while decreasing loss in the system. This allows the vehicle to get more distance and range from a single battery charge. Losses are typically reduced by 20 percent, and the new design can improve many parts of the industry.
Professor Philip Krein, coauthor and Srikanthan’s adviser, noted that industry participants dominate the IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference and Expo and usually present problems for academia to solve. He was surprised that they wanted to consider how to enhance performance. The authors hope engineers will pick up this power electronics design and apply it in vehicles.
Sridharan is now working at Ford. He likes his interdisciplinary work, full of motor drives, electric machines, power electronics, and control systems. He said that Professor Krein helped him explore all these areas, encouraged him to look at them himself, and then directed him in his research.