google-logoI love most stuff from Google. I use Google Apps and Gmail for my email, I communicate with Google Talk, and I use the mainstream Google Search for my search needs. A piece of interesting news surfaced last week – in typical Google fashion of dipping their grubby mits into nearly every part of your life, apparently Google is working on a way to improve plug-in hybrid car charging. The project is called RechargeIT.org.

They are n the early stages of looking at ways to write software that would fully integrate plug-in hybrid vehicles to the power grid in order to minimize the strain on the grid. Right now of course usage is maximum during the day, especially working hours. Things get much more easy at night when the lights are off and everybody is in bed.

“We are doing some preliminary work. We have begun some work on smart charging of electric vehicles and how you would integrate large number of electric vehicles into the grid successfully. We have done a little bit of work on the software side looking at how you would write a computer code to manage this sort of charging infrastructure,” said Dan Reicher, Google’s director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives.

Managing power requirements of the grid has become very important. A scenario that the Google rep gave was a hot day in July when 5 million Californians come home. You don’t want all of them plugging in their Teslas at the same time! The grid management technology that Google is developing will allow power companies to allow the owners to opt into a system where the power company can turn off a certain number of vehicles to charge, and turn them on later. This is so the number of vehicles that can charge at any one time can be manageable. In return, the vehicle owner could get some kind of credit or discount from the power company, as turning on backup power sources for the grid can be cost inefficient for the power company.

RechargeIT.org includes a controlled Driving Experiment where plug-in hybrid vehicles owned by Google were used by its employees in a free car-share program. Usage patterns were monitored (using an embedded Linux and GPS system) and the average economy reported was over 93 mpg on average and 115 mpg during city trips.

In the process of building its large datacenters, managing electricity has become somewhat of an acquired expertise for the search company. To handle the massive volume of Google search queries daily, Google needs many many servers and these servers need to be powered. They’ve put alot of work into ensuring their servers are as efficient as possible, even down to minimizing the losses of converting AC to DC.