If you think about it, an electric vehicle is essentially a battery on wheels, whose energy would typically be used to power those wheels to get you to work or play.
In order to get that energy though, an electric vehicle charger takes it from the grid and pumps it into the battery, storing it as chemical potential energy. In the case of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, a big seller in Japan and the US, that energy is stored in a 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack. On the road, the Nissan Leaf, fully charged, gives you about 70 miles of range before needing a recharge.
Emergency situations though, such as the power outages that occurred in some parts of the Northeastern US after Hurricane Sandy, or power supply issues after the tsunami and related nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, have given us pause in the way we view energy. In the case of rolling-battery Nissan Leaf, is there a way to take advantage of that stored energy? So-called vehicle-to-grid technology allows us to use that stored energy to power critical appliances in the home, such as refrigerators or communications equipment.
Not all electric [some plug-in hybrid vehicles, too!] vehicles have this capability, but some predict that the number could hit 200,000 by the end of the decade. Some vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius Plug-In, have this capability built in, while others can take advantage of aftermarket options. Nichicon Corporation, in Japan, has developed a combination electric-vehicle charger / vehicle-to-grid device. Building off the design of the original “EV Power Station,” which was already equipped to transfer power back to a home or office, Nichicon has added power outlets.
Nichicon’s “EV Power Station Socket Model” will be released next month for about $4,800. As an electric vehicle charger, it is CHAdeMO-compatible up to 30kW, which can charge the Nissan Leaf in less than an hour. As a vehicle-to-grid device, it is rated at 110V with a max output of 6kW.
Image © Nichicon