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Integrating Capacitors Into Car Frames

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the integrating-is-just-a-fancy-word-for-duct-taping dept.

Transportation 189

necro81 writes "It has long been recognized that adding capacitors in parallel with batteries can improve the performance of hybrid and electric vehicles by accepting and supplying spikes of power, which reduces stress on the battery pack, extending range and improving cycle life. The challenge has been figuring out where to put them, when batteries already compete for space. A new research prototype from Imperial College London has integrated them into the body panels and structural frame of the vehicle itself. In their prototype, carbon fiber serves as both the structure for the vehicle and electrode for the energy storage sandwiched within."

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What could go wrong? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36341810)

as a side benefit it functions as reactive armor in a collision.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

cfriedt (1189527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341834)

yea, totally.

Also, I bet there will be a big handful of mechanics who get a nice 10A buzz when they remove the panels without properly discharging the capacitors first.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

myurr (468709) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341864)

Could we also see exploding body panels if they're hit by lightening?

Re:What could go wrong? (4, Insightful)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341962)

A sure way to see an exploding anything is to hit it lightning.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342318)

Lightening not needed. This will result in exploding body panels if they're hit by a raccoon.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343514)

I hate it when somebody fires a raccoon at me while I'm driving.

Re:What could go wrong? (0, Informative)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341988)

yea, totally.

Also, I bet there will be a big handful of mechanics who get a nice 10A buzz when they remove the panels without properly discharging the capacitors first.

That's a feature, not a bug. Only authorized dealers can work on the thing -> monopoly on service. We already see this in the cars' computers, as well. Did you know that if a non-authorized dealer changes the battery in a modern Ford the radio won't work until the owner brings it in to an authorized dealer for service? Because only authorized dealers (and those who have been burned) know that the "anti-theft" radios disable themselves if they do not get continuous power. Protip: jumper cables to a third batters at the time of battery change prevents this situation.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342262)

So does that mean that if you leave a light on and run your battery down, you have to take it to the dealer to get it repaired? What freaking lunatic came up with that one? Not that I'll ever buy a Ford again, given my experiences with them, but that just clinches it.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342490)

The truth is full of caveats, but if it gets low enough to warrant replacement and one does not use jumper cables to wire in another battery (dangerous with the positive terminal being very short and near much metal) then the answer is yes. A simple jump start won't require dealer service.

Volkswagen too (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343206)

So does that mean that if you leave a light on and run your battery down, you have to take it to the dealer to get it repaired?

Inded, that is exactly what it means.

Volkswagen, same thing. Happened to my 1996 Golf. I left the lights on, ran down the battery -- so the radio locked itself tight, awaiting the release code.

Re:Volkswagen too (1)

Silfax (1246468) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343382)

Inded, that is exactly what it means.

Volkswagen, same thing. Happened to my 1996 Golf. I left the lights on, ran down the battery -- so the radio locked itself tight, awaiting the release code.

With my old departed 95 Jetta (@350k miles), the reset code came on a card in the user manual for the radio.

Re:What could go wrong? (2)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342290)

Seriously? I got a used Honda Odyssey earlier this year, and my 2-year-old has already managed to kill the battery once (by turning on a light inside the vehicle that we didn't notice he did). Got a free jump from our local AMA-affiliate (AMA is the Alberta equivalent of the CAA which is the Canadian equivalent of AAA - not sure what the equivalent is in other parts of the world). Noticed the light, turned it off. But the radio and nav systems were both locked out. Opened the user manual where the previous owner put the stickers with the passcodes, entered them in, and everything was working before we left the driveway.

When looking at these vehicles, I tried some out at the dealership (they wouldn't come down in price far enough, so I left after wasting 5 hours there). In the middle of winter, all the batteries were dead. So I asked the sales critter about it, jokingly complaining about the $35 labour charge for resetting the radio if I didn't already know about it. He said that the sales critters would generally do this for free.

I'm not sure if he's lying (he is in sales, after all), or if Honda just has nicer policies, but I'd be somewhat surprised if Ford charged for this.

Re:What could go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342390)

Off topic, but related to your post. My family has had Hondas for 25 years now (we're probably getting the 6th this year). Honda is generally pretty good on things. But why are you going to the dealer to reset your radio? You can do it yourself. [honda.com]

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342484)

I don't know if the dealer would charge for resetting the radio, because i found out about it when getting a quote from the dealer before changing the battery myself. I was lucky. As for the codes, they are not in the user's possession as that would defeat the purpose of having a code in the first place (the dealer's argument when I asked where the codes are). And in any case, even if the codes were in the user's possession, how many would even think to open the fine manual?

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342586)

I don't know if the dealer would charge for resetting the radio, because i found out about it when getting a quote from the dealer before changing the battery myself. I was lucky. As for the codes, they are not in the user's possession as that would defeat the purpose of having a code in the first place (the dealer's argument when I asked where the codes are). And in any case, even if the codes were in the user's possession, how many would even think to open the fine manual?

Actually, in the UK, Ford generally put a sticker with the code on the radio itself if it's ever been reset. If you buy a second hand Ford here, pull the radio (insert screwdrivers into the 4 corner holes, pull them towards the middle, and pulll the whole lot out by the screwdrivers) and chances are you'll find it.

Re:What could go wrong? (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342632)

My sister just bought a brand new Ford - the radio code is "in her possession" in that it's included with the car's manual. They do suggest you don't keep it in the car with the rest of the car's documentation, and that you don't lose it.

Code-locked radios (for anti theft) have been common for years, mainly because the factory radios don;t usually have removable facias.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343148)

It might be dealer policy, then, rather than corporate policy. I'll ask the dealer, thanks.

Re:What could go wrong? (3, Interesting)

ArcCoyote (634356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342732)

Stop spreading FUD.

Some anti-theft radios have a code, provided with the owner's manual, that you can enter after the radio has lost standby power. Others know what vehicle they are in.

I'm fairly sure what you were trying to say is that in modern vehicles (As in Fords with the Sync system) the electronics are keyed to the VIN, which is provided by the car's computer. If you remove the radio and put it in another vehicle, it will require rekeying, which can only be performed by authorized service centers.

There are strict laws when it comes to car safety. Car manufacturers can NOT knowingly (intentional or otherwise) make it dangerous to service a car, as doing so may affect emergency personnel or the driver/passengers in breakdown situations.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343138)

If the facts regarding the case of my 2007 Ford Focus impress fear, uncertainty, and doubt upon those who read them, then complain to your friendly Ford engineer, not to me. There is no reason for me to not tell what happened.

Re:What could go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342788)

Italian geek here.

Well, the reported fact regarding Ford cars and radio is really true. I experienced it when my battery went down (broken) all in a sudden during winter and after replacing it the car radio wasn't working at all. No code request at all (inspite of what stated on owner's manual).

Only bringing the car to the Ford car dealer I got it fixed up.
No other dealer or shop was able to fix it up: all said to go the a Ford shop.

I like my Ford Focus, but that awesomely annoyed me.

Re:What could go wrong? (2)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342618)

On the bright side, a conductive bullet hitting the side will cause a nice discharge and maybe a fire. Or if a piece of metal pierces the capacitor after a collision, and the discharge either ignites gas fumes if the car is a hybrid, or the short heats something and causes a fire. Yes, energy storage in the frame is a really good idea. Also, if capacitors are in a door panel, which of course moves, then the energy-carrying cable leading out of the door will be flexed every time the door moves, until the day the cable breaks. Although window motor cables seem to endure without breaking, so maybe it's okay.

I remember experiments in college with exploding-wire phenomena, where we pulsed conductors with capacitors and vaporized wires. This both generates a shock pulse and can do a soft X-ray discharge. Yeah, I want that in my car.

Re:What could go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342660)

Yes just what i was about to say what about in a smash nice big high current discharge guarenteed to cause at the very minimum a fire hazard .

Not a good idea at all much like electric cars in general very alpha work in progress

   

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

ygslash (893445) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342862)

Better be careful not to stand in a puddle when you open your car door.

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342902)

caps in my car? not for us auto-philes: we prefer our cars to be dc-coupled.

WARNING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36341814)

WARNING: Do not travel over 88mph in cars with capacitors in the body framework.

Re:WARNING (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341866)

As long as the capacitors don't store 1.21 jiggawatts of energy it should be okay.

Re:WARNING (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342122)

1.21 jiggawatts of energy

Sir, this is not a number.

Re:WARNING (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342258)

Technically, it's an incorrect spelling of a valid alternate pronunciation of gigawatt...

Re:WARNING (1)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342266)

1.21 jiggawatts of energy

Sir, this is not a number.

Sure it is. What it's not is a unit of measure.

Re:WARNING (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342474)

To clarify, watts are not a valid measure of a charge of energy. The energy in a capacitor is it's charge, which is measured in coulombs.

Re:WARNING (1)

Ruie (30480) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342564)

Energy is energy, charge is charge.

If you know the capacitance and how much charge is stored you can compute the energy you could extract from the capacitor: E=Q^2/2C (see wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ).

Larger capacitors (larger C) store less energy for the same charge (i.e. it is easier to charge them), but can store larger amounts of charge overall. Typically you charge up to a certain voltage, in that case E=V^2C/2, so the stored energy goes up with capacitance.

Re:WARNING (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343570)

To clarify, watts are not a valid measure of a charge of energy. The energy in a capacitor is it's charge, which is measured in coulombs.

Charge is not energy. The energy in a capacitor is measured in Joules, just like any other sort of energy. Now for a capacitor, the energy stored in it is a function of its charge, which is indeed measured in Coulombs. But they are not the same (they are not even proportional, and capacitors of different capacity store different energy for the same charge).

Stop using cars (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341816)

Cars were invented hundreds of years ago, but technophobes continue to stuppornly insist on driving everywhere. Wouldn't live be much better and greener I miugt add, ifd we all used jet areplanes? The question answeres itself, gentelmen. Plus, there would be more sexy in the airplanes than in cars becayuse of the airplane lift efect on gravitry.

We build excitement! (5, Interesting)

whitelabrat (469237) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341854)

Does anyone fail to see the problem of having what would likely be several Farads of high voltage stashed away in the body panels? I would expect if fully charged the capacitors if shorted, in a fender bender or whatever, they would leave little trace that they or anything that touches them ever existed. Just a spot of charred metal and the smell of electrolyte.

And what about the aging of capacitors or capacitor failure? It's certainly exiting when a small capacitor goes POP! Imagine when one of these suckers blow your doors off while you're driving!

Re:We build excitement! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341880)

in a fender bender or whatever, they would leave little trace that they or anything that touches them ever existed

Could save a fortune in tow trucks.

Re:We build excitement! (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341932)

It's certainly exiting when a small capacitor goes POP! Imagine when one of these suckers blow your doors off while you're driving!

Capacitors that go POP are usually electrolytics, where the electrolyte boils when it gets shorted. There are capacitors that are self-repairing, a short vaporizes the conductor around the failure. Presumably, the capacitors they are proposing here, doping the carbon fibers with lithium, would work that way.

Re:We build excitement! (1)

dolo724 (22338) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342986)

When I was in the first grade (1968ish), we had a Sears and Roebuck television set with whatever special warranty for service. This was a big deal, because it went past the "mechanical massage" stage of repair, so dad called the Sears Television Repairman to the house.
All I remember of this is:
1. the nice man sticking a screwdriver into the back of the set
2. a loud POOF
3. tiny bits of foil floating amid all the smoke in the living room
and
4. the nice man says "yup, this is going into the shop"

Re:We build excitement! && Danger (1)

foolish_to_be_here (802344) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341966)

Does anyone fail to see the problem of having what would likely be several Farads of high voltage stashed away in the body panels? I would expect if fully charged the capacitors if shorted, in a fender bender or whatever, they would leave little trace that they or anything that touches them ever existed. Just a spot of charred metal and the smell of electrolyte.

And what about the aging of capacitors or capacitor failure? It's certainly exiting when a small capacitor goes POP! Imagine when one of these suckers blow your doors off while you're driving!

Mod parent up. In the effort to improve the safety of the driving public a high energy arc as a result of a minor vendor bender is going the wrong way. It is insanity.

Re:We build excitement! && Danger (2)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342102)

As opposed to, say, driving around with ten or more gallons of gasoline in the car?
Or even, real live CNG, since vehicles are out there, and fracked gas is Our Future.
We'll be fine (or rather, no worse off), as long as an arcs-in-crashmobile doesn't run into a leaks-gas-in-crashmobile. :-)

And semi-seriously, how many deaths to you predict that this would cause, and how does that number compare with pedestrians killed per year (US, 3000), people-in-cars killed per year (US, 30,000), or people dying early for lack of exercise per year (US, perhaps 300,000 -- it's a good fraction of all CV deaths, as well as some cancers, strokes, complications of diabetes, etc).

Re:We build excitement! && Danger (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342364)

There is a reason why fuel tank is universally located in a protected area behind and on the side of the car. They're talking about installing capacitors in DOORS.

Gas tanks in doors would likely get your car banned off the road in a very short order.

Re:We build excitement! && Danger (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342694)

There is a reason why fuel tank is universally located in a protected area behind and on the side of the car. They're talking about installing capacitors in DOORS.

Gas tanks in doors would likely get your car banned off the road in a very short order.

Oh quit whining. They would be protected by the airbags. Snuggled up right next to your elbow. They'll be fine.

Re:We build excitement! && Danger (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342382)

Gasoline is relatively inert, until mixed with the proper amount of air, the function which a carburetor or fuel injection system performs. You can snuff out a lit match in gasoline, as long as the fumes haven't been allowed to build up significantly. This is why gasoline as a fuel is so safe compared to many of the proposed alternatives, such as the looming disaster that hydrogen fuel poses.

Re:We build excitement! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342248)

Since the idea of using high voltage at all seems to be pulled out of your ass I assume that you are a troll.
It is highly contraproductive to put a different voltage over the capacitors than the battery voltage.
If you don't like the idea, don't buy that car.

Re:We build excitement! (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342348)

what would likely be several Farads of high voltage

The term you are looking for is coulombs of energy. The coulombs in a charged capacitor is C x V, or the capacitance times the voltage the capacitor is charged to. Coulombs can also be expressed in terms of I x T, or the time at which a discharge at a specific current will take.

These two figures kind of define capacitance, and it gives you a handy way of figuring out the (theoretical) amount of discharge current versus time a charged capacitor of known value will deliver. It's also an offbeat way of measuring the value of a capacitor (charge to known voltage, measure coulombs you get from a full discharge by integrating time x current.)

Re:We build excitement! (1)

ko7 (1990064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343170)

Actually, Coulombs is a measure of charge, not energy. The energy (in Joules) stored in a capacitor is 1/2 CV^2. Stated another way, the amount of energy stored in joules is equal to one half the number of coulombs of charge times the voltage across the capacitance. But otherwise, your statement about the total charge being equal to the integral of the current over time (which can be construed as a count of electrons moved... 1 Coulomb = 6.241 x 10^18 electrons worth of charge ; 1 amp of current = 1 Coulomb/sec)

yeah so (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341858)

touch the wrong thing in your car and it kills you.

Re:yeah so (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342064)

Like in a hybrid car. Or in a powered on anything car.

Re:yeah so (1)

zerro (1820876) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343244)

so much FUD here! - try touching the space in between a serpentine belt and any tensioner/roller - Might not kill you, but the effect may not be any better than touching a large, live capacitor...

Re:yeah so (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342666)

So like any normal car then.

Good idea but... (2)

Sollord (888521) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341862)

I'd think they'd be far safer in the front and rear quarter panels I wouldn't want a capacitor in my cars door or roof that is just asking for trouble when it comes to accidents especially ones where the passengers might have to be cut free from a wreck.

innovative idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36341876)

Whe not being used for driving, the capacitors can double as a theft deterant by zapping the crooks with 50,000 volts... sweet.

risk to emergency medical services (5, Insightful)

sleep-doc (905583) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341890)

Besides mechanics, please recall that EMS and police often face the issue of getting through metal to reach injured passengers. The 200 volts typically in a hybrid battery is one issue, knowing the location of batteries and how to disconnnect them another, but the thought of potentially still charged capacitors in the body frame sounds like an issue that could hinder response to emergencies.

Re:risk to emergency medical services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342088)

as much as it is a risk, it is probably also easier to just earth the entire frame, before cutting, probably a standard procedure anyway with modern hybrid cars cause you just don't know if there is a short and the entire car body is live. Not only that but they will probably put them somewhere like the chassis, ( perhaps near the engine mount, isolated from the rest of the frame but still near the engine and possible to run wires through the chassis to the batteries etc ) out of the way and where hazard crews wont get buzzed if they try get the person out.

Another Potential problem perhaps more serious then risk to safety crews, is risk to yourself, when filling up a hybrid car. who's to say that during a short, when filling your car with *insert type of gasoline you use here* the sudden addition of a grounded metal device entering the car causes a spark to jump from your car to the pump with highly flammable liquids passing through.

Re:risk to emergency medical services (2)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342220)

You sir, need to do a little more research :)

" ( perhaps near the engine mount, isolated from the rest of the frame but still near the engine and possible to run wires through the chassis to the batteries etc ) out of the way and where hazard crews wont get buzzed if they try get the person out."

If you hit the wire coming from the PARALLEL wired cap, no matter if it's the engine side in your example or the wire going to the battery side, BOTH sides of the wire to where the parallel caps are hooked up carry the EXACT same charge. So even if you hit the wire going to the batteries in your example, is no different than cutting the wire between the capacitor(s) and the engine (again in your example).

Plus your grounding idea has issues of it's own :)

Rescue sheet behind the sun visor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36343526)

Have a rescue sheet readily available behind the sun visor, so that the emergency personnel can avoid the capacitors while cutting through the metal. More info about rescue sheets here: http://www.rescuesheet.info/
Please, spread the word.

Not very well thought out... (3, Interesting)

s13g3 (110658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341906)

Agreed with previous posters, having electricity stored in such a way throughout a vehicle - regardless of volts or amps - doesn't seem like such a hot idea (pun intended). It would certainly be a no-go on any vehicle with any sort of secondary, fueled motor, be it gas, hydrogen, etc., and the potential for other accident based on age, faulty manufacture, simple atmospheric conditions (how well will these fare when exposed to salt air in coastal areas) and too many other things to list here is simply enormous. There is danger enough in basic battery systems during a car accident, especially a major one that might involve another I.C.E. vehicle on fire... I don't relish the idea of trying to an injured person out a car that might kill me for touching the wrong exposed part of a wrecked frame.

Re:Not very well thought out... (2)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341970)

If you replace electricity with fuel, you would get to the same result, I assume.

At least they try to think outside the box and then see where it leads them. Sure it might kill a few people, but so did planes and steam engines and a lot of other things before they were turned into more save designs.

Re:Not very well thought out... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342870)

Sure it might kill a few people, but so did planes and steam engines and a lot of other things before they were turned into more safe designs.

The Wright Flyer, 1903. The DC-3,1936.

It can take a long time to build trust and safety into your new machine.

The hybrid gas-electric car with a capacitor enters a market where there are many good - competitive - alternatives. It won't be granted a bye on safety simply because the tech is new.

It isn't as if you were launching the first passenger steamboat on the Mississippi.

Re:Not very well thought out... (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341998)

It would certainly be a no-go on any vehicle with any sort of secondary, fueled motor, be it gas, hydrogen, etc.

Why? Even if the vehicle in question lacks an ICE and liquid fuel, it has potential to crash into another vehicle so equipped.

throw away car? (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341930)

Combine these capacitors in body together with the motor in wheel [e-traction.com] thing, and you'll get that much closer to a car, that you can't fix without replacing too many functional parts, when all you needed to do was to replace wheels (how about winter?) and do some body work after a minor accident, so at some point the most economic thing will be just to toss the car away and get a new one.

Is that where they are going with this?

How about stopping with all this nonsense with the batteries and working on nuclear engines instead?

Re:throw away car? (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342050)

Given how badly the morons around here drive, the last thing I'd want is them in charge of is a small nuclear reactor.

Re:throw away car? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342270)

Why? A small nuclear reactor would be much safer than a tank of gas for example, as small nuclear reactors are only based on decay of the non-fissionable elements. Containing small amounts of nuclear material inside a metal box is not really that complicated, and it does not explode on impact for example.

Re:throw away car? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342418)

True, but I can already see the 'after-market power booster kits' that would crop up. So every clank-clank motorhead moron is now digging into the sealed metal box and trying to 'supercharge' the nuclear reactor.

No, we need to continue to let the tweaks do things like put LED illuminated cables in their PC's with transparent cases, etc, not have the same sort of tweaks fooling with mini nuclear reactors.

Re:throw away car? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342460)

At some point I expect people to start using nuclear to run airplanes, then trucks and buses and then eventually cars, as the costs of not doing it will be getting higher and higher compared to costs of using such devices. Whatever objections we may have today, will have to give way to the economic realities that are coming in the future, of growing populations, desire to own vehicles and ability of the manufacturers to sell those vehicles, in the market, which will demand less and less pollution, increased energy efficiencies, etc.

It is difficult to push that right now, but let's see what happens 5 years from now, as USA will have its currency and economy destroyed, maybe that's going to be the catalyst for US to start new types of development, to get back into the world economy.

Re:throw away car? (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343052)

A leak in the reactor could cause a few problems though.

Re:throw away car? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343422)

here is what I am talking about [wikipedia.org] , I am sure if they can use something like that on a space craft, they can figure out how to use something of that type in a car, having a number of precautions, including various counters etc., what would prevent any problem ahead of time. It's all a matter of cost, any issue is a matter of cost, but with nuclear reactors the problem is not cost today, it's government not letting people to work with it without government getting their panties in a knot.

Re:throw away car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36343276)

yeh, its not really all that complicated to someone who doesn't understand anything about it.

Re:throw away car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36343410)

Even if it was possible, safe, and cute like rainbows and unicorns, it would still never happen. Politics and the memory of Japan would put an end to that idea in a hurry.

Re:throw away car? (1)

tuxicle (996538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342648)

Sure, because a nuclear engine is so much more easier to fix, right?

Re:throw away car? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342664)

As opposed to fixing car's body, which incidentally also serves as a battery, or fixing wheels, which also serve as the engine?

Actually there would be nothing to fix in that scenario, the reactor would have to be self contained and likely not user serviceable, while what it actually is, is just some hot material, and whatever method of energy extraction, be it a closed circuit water pump or a thermo-couple or something else, with a battery like interface and some instrumentation gauge interface to an on-board computer.

Re:throw away car? (2)

optimism (2183618) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343542)

"Combine these capacitors in body together with the motor in wheel [e-traction.com] thing, and you'll get that much closer to a car, that you can't fix without replacing too many functional parts, when all you needed to do was to replace wheels (how about winter?) and do some body work after a minor accident"

On the contrary, the motor-in-wheel concept radically ~improves~ the maintainability of a car.

Motor-in-wheel eliminates the transmission, differentials, drive shafts, and CV joints. That's a whole lot of stuff that is expensive to repair on modern cars. Also since the power losses of that complex drivetrain are eliminated, a motor-in-wheel car can use a much smaller/cheaper power system. And regenerative braking allows smaller/cheaper mechanical brakes.

Wheel swaps are not an issue at all. All of the motor-in-wheel designs that I've seen, use a tire/rim assembly that bolts on to the motorized hub, just like our wheels today bolt onto the hub. If anything, the rims should be lighter and cheaper than current rims. So more people will be able to keep a set of winter wheels.

The biggest problem with the motor-in-wheel design appears to be the increased unsprung mass, which affects suspension response. I'm confident that problem will be solved by a combination of modern lightweight components, plus changing driver expectations of performance. Folks who drive hybrids today, have already accepted that lower performance and ride quality are an acceptable price for better mileage.

I thought of this too, BUT.... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341944)

I mean, it sounds good at first. Make the whole car frame into a battery with supplementary capacitors. Maximize the power to weight ratio. Why not?

Well... battery material isn't necessarily a great structural material. Preventing short circuits in a vibrating frame with moving parts sounds fairly nightmarish. Replacing a worn out battery means replacing your car. And try not to get into an accident, and god help the EMT that tries to pry you out of the accident, especially if it's raining. That's what I can think of right off. I'm sure there are more reasons too.

Re:I thought of this too, BUT.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342142)

I mean, it sounds good at first. Make the whole car frame into a battery with supplementary capacitors. Maximize the power to weight ratio. Why not?

Well... battery material isn't necessarily a great structural material. Preventing short circuits in a vibrating frame with moving parts sounds fairly nightmarish. Replacing a worn out battery means replacing your car.

Batteries and, even more so, capacitors can work in parallel to each other, so instead of 1 large car-shaped battery or capacitor you could have multiple units with a degree of access (for qualified personnel) that won't overly complicate replacing them.

And try not to get into an accident

Good advice.

god help the EMT that tries to pry you out of the accident, especially if it's raining.

Electricity already runs between ends of the car. Granted possibly not at the voltage that the proposed car would have, unless it's a seriously pimped out ride. Some degree of caution on the part of the Emergency Services is already advised, I think, and by the time these cars are sold, they'll be quite aware not to touch a crashed vehicle without your rubber gloves.

Re:I thought of this too, BUT.... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343168)

"I'm sure there are more reasons too."

Maintenance and repair alone are deal-breakers.

Invention of petrol car/LPG (3, Insightful)

metalmonkey (1083851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341978)

What could possibly go wrong driving around at speed with a tank of highly flammable liquid strapped to the undercarriage of the car.
What insanity!!!
The same can be said for LPG a high pressure canister of highly flammable GAS just behind your seat - imagine that in a crash.

Any dense energy source put into a car has a potential for that energy to be released in a way that is not intended especially in a crash. It is the details of the design that can make the energy storage (relatively) safe.

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342128)

LPG powered cars are very popular in eastern Europe and it doesn't look like it's a big issue. Haven't heard about LPG tank explosion (in my home country, Lithuania) in years, let alone one killing car driver/passengers.

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342310)

That "whooshing" sound you here is not the leak of propane from your cylinder. It's the sound of sarcasm passing overhead.

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342268)

There's a differences in not the worst case, but the simple case of your examples from this one. We have a tank of volatile liquid which is dangerous when exposed only to an ignition source and oxygen, vs something that could make the car live.

An emergency services worker probably knows full well not to step in a car to help a victim when there's fuel leaking everywhere and a fire nearby. The same can not be said for someone approaching a wreckage which now simply may be live. There's no indication of the danger. Worse still when the standard method of saving something stuck in a wreaking involves the jaws of life going through a power cable it becomes quite hard whereas fuel lines and fuel tanks were typically run in quite well defined areas of a car i.e. not in the roof or in the doors where these could go.

Ironically enough an LPG tank is one of the most solidly built things in a car. There's enough cases of cars exploding but I have yet to hear of an LPG powered one doing the same. Doesn't stop our government from requiring all cars have a special dot on the license plate and banning the cars from underground parking garages.

I agree with you. If the car was invented today it would never pass our safety requirements. You want to go how fast with What chemical strapped in the boot? I mean I can't even walk up the stairs at work without seeing a "stair code" reminding us to take steps one at a time, not use phones, and use the handrails.

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342446)

a tank of highly flammable liquid

gasoline is highly flammable, but not in liquid form. It has to be converted to vapor, which is not an easy all-at-once process. The 'exploding cars' you see on those cop chase stories don't happen in real life.

Whereas a charged capacitor, so long as it's of any use (meaning one that doesn't have a high internal resistance that limits instantaneous discharge) can discharge all of it's energy nearly as quickly as the discharge path allows, and any plain metal bridge serves as an instantaneous maximum discharge path.

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342560)

Good thing you weren't around a hundred years ago, we'd all be riding bicycles today.

Advancement REQUIRES risk taking.

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (2)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343216)

"Advancement REQUIRES risk taking."

You aren't a mechanic I take it? There is a difference between "risky" and "silly".

I defy you to propose a practical way to implement, maintain, and repair "body panel capacitor" technology. Make it crashworthy, easy to fix, and economical to repair. Make it and its interconnects and power management work well in areas subject to road salt in winter.

BTW, cars were well-established a century ago.

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342718)

Compact items can be contained.
LP tanks are designed to absorb impact.
Fuel tanks are located and designed to be protected in a crash.
THE BODY of the vehicle, now sacrificial in modern designs, is WHAT DOES the protecting.
See the difference?

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (4, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342776)

Doors, hoods, and roofs are frequently subject to damage in crashes. Th

Fuel tanks are in protected locations. Bodywork is not a protected location.

Put the capacitors in a nice standard, removable package and it becomes practical because it can be protected AND easily serviced.

Why, on a supposedly tech-literate forum, does this need to be explained?

Re:Invention of petrol car/LPG (1)

penguin_punk (66721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343266)

I will take my chances. You can ride your bike.

Three words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342054)

capacitor leakage current.

This would effect the range and would cause the batteries to discharge when the vehicle was not opperational.

All they need now is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342072)

1.21 jiggawatts of power

Not a good performance trade off (1)

boley1 (2001576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342086)

Capacitors, like batteries, give more bang for the space (and buck) if designed for lower voltages. Lower voltage = more capacity. Also Distance at high currents matters. Greater cable length = wasted power or greater cable length = bigger, longer and heavier cables. So having a distributed (through the vehicle apart from the batteries), and/or high voltage capacitors is not the way to go. Placing a low voltage capacitor next to or integrated with each battery unit or cell, allows for smaller size, greater capacity capacitors with more efficiency. [Built my first electric car in 1975.]

Re:Not a good performance trade off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342288)

Wrong. E = 0.5*C*V^2, so increasing the voltage of a capacitor actually makes its energy storage ability better than increasing the capacity linearly.

Re:Not a good performance trade off (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342402)

All super caps are low voltage, no way around that; There will just be a bunch of them in serial. The other problem is the electric motors typically run at higher voltages because they're more efficient like that and the AC-DC converter works better at higher voltages for energy recapture.

Series connections could be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342314)

If you're using the carbon fiber structure as an electrode, you would have difficulty making the series connections necessary for higher voltages.

The other problem is mechanical. There's no such thing as a perfectly rigid structure, there is always some flex. For batteries, that could be a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know.

Just puncture one (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342500)

of these panels and you get a short. Did you ever have a shorted capacitor in any of your electronics?
Sounds like a great idea. You can bet they will all be in parallel.

Like the shields from ST: Enterprise (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342582)

Polarize the hull plating!

Static (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342596)

I wonder if the body panels could be engineered to take advantage of that little bit of static electricity that happens if your tires don't ground your vehicle?

Body panels? (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342672)

Or in the frame?

I'd better remember that the next time I'm drilling some holes to mount a CB radio antenna or eight track player.

Re:Body panels? (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342992)

Well fortunately its not 1973 anymore so you should be good.

Impact zones and crash repair. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342686)

Any experienced mechanic would laugh at the proposed locations.
(I'll be polite and avoid the phrase "fucking stupid".)

The door skins and hood are frequently damaged in minor crashes, and required FLEXIBLE connection to the electrical system because they move. Serviceability would suck, and once damaged the parts would be unusable. Good luck ever fixing your car with aftermarket door skins or hood.

Take the SAME area, make a nice compact quick-swap STANDARD form-factor "capacitor module", and use those.

Shocking.. (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342964)

Not one quip 'til now about a Flux Capacitor, or electric/hybrid cars that will be able to travel back in time?
It's a terrible pun, but they could rename the Prius to "Pre-us"....

Logical extension of the monocoque (1)

jeorgen (84395) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342990)

There was a time when all cars were built with a frame and then an additional external skin or paneling, and similar for aircraft. One then realized that one could combine the load bearing and the skin in one material, and this is called monocoque [wikipedia.org] .

Using the skin for storing energy (especially storing "weightless" electrical energy) seems to be just a logical extension of the monocoque concept. Maybe cars will be built in some synthetic double shell lined with massive-surfaced nanoscale carbon structures?

What about HazMat when the cars burn? (3, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343284)

Vehicle fires are common, and even without a petrol tank they burn very nicely. Exotic materials can produce dangerous products when burned, and their inhalation isn't just an EMS issue

When carbon fiber aircraft structures are burned or damaged, Crash Recovery teams are required to spray them with a fixative (commercial floor wax is one) then wrap them in plastic for transport and disposal.

A CONTAINERIZED capacitor can retain material which will be destroyed in a fire if it's the skin of the vehicle.

integrating capacitors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36343488)

Capacitors (with a little resistance) are great integrators - maybe they can do it themselves - with a bit of coaxing - I said they had a bit of resistance (ducks)

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