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The Quest For an EV Fast-Charge Standard

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the everyone's-plugging-their-own-plug dept.

Transportation 248

An anonymous reader writes "This article explores one of the stumbling blocks currently facing EV adoption: 'Sure, there are already public charging stations in service, and new ones are coming online daily. But those typically take several hours to fully replenish a battery. As a result, the ability for quick battery boosts — using a compatible direct current fast charger, the Leaf can refill to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes — could potentially become an important point of differentiation among electric models. But the availability of fast charging points has in part been held up by the lack of an agreement among automakers on a universal method for fast charging — or even on a single electrical connector.'"

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My solution (3, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240810)

I think some of the battery arrays should be able to pulled out of the car and swapped in with a charged battery array. This process could happen in under a minute.

Re:My solution (5, Informative)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240862)

I think some of the battery arrays should be able to pulled out of the car and swapped in with a charged battery array. This process could happen in under a minute.

Someone [betterplace.com] is working on that.

It's too early (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241506)

Odds are decent that batteries are on the way out -- ultracapacitors are the candidate for replacing them. Currently (pun intended) UC's don't have sufficient capacity, but the capacity curve has been steadily rising over time, and as the stored power required for a vehicle to go a certain distance is slowly dropping, they're likely to meet sooner or later. At that time, batteries become buggy whips in search of (missing) horses.

Aside from the present position on the total energy curve, UC's offer wider temperature ranges, less toxicity, much faster charging, essentially unlimited charge/discharge cycles, have such a long lifetime compared to a battery that they reduce the disposal/recycle problem to basically irrelevant (you could probably will your UC's a few generations down the road), and present less of a fire/explosive hazard and are easily fused in array form in safe fashion. Constant voltage output is easily obtained with off the shelf electronics, and as UCs don't age the way batteries do, determining the actual charge, as opposed to an estimate, for UCs is far more easily accomplished. Current in, self-discharge rate out, current out.

This applies from small loads to large ones; In fact, as small devices become more and more efficient, as has been the trend for some time, they are walking down the curve towards practical use of UCs even faster than vehicles are.

Speaking for myself, I wouldn't invest in a Lithium Ion startup today; it looks to me like the world's worst bet. And as for connectors and standards... it's just too early. A connector designed for the relatively anemic charge rates of a Li battery would probably go up in a flash if subjected to the current inrush that an equivalent capacity array of Uc's could demand -- and limiting the charge rate to Li rates is silly. It'll take quite a connector to provide a fast, efficient charge to an UC array, but it'll *so* be worth it. Electronics that monitor the voltage drop across the connector while aware of the available contact area could maintain a safe charge rate, pushing current at prodigious rates, potentially (hah) charging the vehicle in seconds -- far faster than either fueling up with gasoline *or* charging a battery. And contrariwise, a (relative) trickle from a could also charge the UCs overnight, leading to relatively simple and inexpensive home charging stations. Bucket-brigade techniques, where the home charger trickles itself while you're off elsewhere, then is able to quickly charge the vehicle require equivalent storage in the charger itself and so are more expensive, but again, would be so worth it.

The thing is, until all this settles out -- and it is very much in flux (hah) right now -- it doesn't make much sense to standardize on anything, unless it's a trivially replaceable connector system at the charging station.

Re:It's too early (5, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241878)

Ultracapacitors currently only have about a tenth of the energy density of a battery and whether they can be improved more than two or three times while maintaining reasonable costs is far from certain.

Other than that, they're all good. Their efficiency is impressive (about 95% of electricity will end up in the motor, unlike batteries which can convert as much as 50% of it to heat during charging/discharging) and their working life makes them very attractive - current batteries aren't going to last more than a few years (much less if you're continually quick-charging them) and the e-waste millions of car batteries could produce down the line is huge.

Maybe we'll just have to get used to the idea of having a big chunk of the car space dedicated to the capacitor.

Re:It's too early (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241926)

Wow, that sounds awesome! I guess the only drawback would be the whole non-existence thing.

Re:My solution (2)

Gription (1006467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241638)

That is so obvious that I would suspect that a large company or a government could never get the idea out of a committee. Everyone who has had a R/C car is familiar with the idea because you want to use the thing instead of watch it sit there plugged in...

Two things would be required to make this work out:
- The cells would need to be packaged in one or two standard formats.
- They would also have make it so the condition/replacement of the batteries are a group thing. The charging stations swap out any dieing cells so and that cost is spread across the whole marketplace.

Re:My solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37240872)

I might be a little picky about swapping my brand new cells with an unknown station's current cell stock.

Re:My solution (4, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240896)

I don't think they would sell it like that. You probably would purchase a "licence" for a battery, basically, the right to a working one for the pool, pay for the charged swapover, and have failure replacements calculated into the swapover expense. The concept of "new" and "old" battery wouldn't really come into it.

Re:My solution (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241352)

As someone who recently had my normal car battery fail after 1 month of usage. I would be displeased if I had to pay say $20 a battery swap and have some days where I can only go 10 miles while other days I can go 100 miles. On those 10 mile days I may not be able to loop around an go back to the same dealer for a refund. And I doubt you will have competing companies honoring someone else refund for faulty products. So I get a battery swap at Exon Mobile, then 20 miles later I do an emergency stop at Hess. Will they give me a free swap of a battery... No. If they did how long do you think it would be for some shady companies to load cars with faulty batteries that can get them to their competitors and having to do the swap out just to drive them out of business.

 

Re:My solution (5, Insightful)

lucidlyTwisted (2371896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240968)

I might be a little picky about swapping my brand new cells with an unknown station's current cell stock.

Treat them like gas canisters then. The canister remains the property of the company and all you do it buy the contents. The company is responsible for ensuring the canister is functional, safe etc. If the battery develops a fault - you can simply swap it free of charge for a new one. Obviously you are paying for this in part of the fee when you pick up a fresh battery, but it saves having to horde your own precious batteries.
To be honest I am surprised that the industry didn't do this from the get go since such schemes (as mentioned above) already exist all over the globe for many things. All there needs to be are a few agreed standards on size etc. Again, just like gas canisters really.
If one company makes a better battery that can fit into the same volume, then they can compete. heck, such standardisation could stimulate a new battery market.

Re:My solution (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241212)

If they can't all agree on a single charging standard, then they will never agree on a battery pack geometry, let alone chemistry.
And speaking off the summary:

or even on a single electrical connector.'"

I sure as shit hope they don't agree on the same connector if they are going to disagree on things like voltage and current.
Same connector: one at 96 volts, the other at 144 volts. Plug the 144volt car into the 96 volt port and likely nothing happens (or at best you charge very slowly up to a partial charge). Plug the 144 volt charge circuit into the 96 volt car and *boom*.
-nB

Re:My solution (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241374)

With smart battery packs you would assume there would be some sort of identification of the battery characteristics to the charger to prevent things like that. This way any battery would be compatible, and backward compatible with any charger with a common plug and agreed to communication standard.

Re:My solution (1)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241504)

This way any battery would be compatible, and backward compatible with any charger with a common plug and agreed to communication standard.

That made me laugh. Battery makers are second only to the A/V industry in almost never adhering to existing standards -- unless of course they can make money on the churn in doing so, and then release a newer standard (which the then don't follow for a few years) thus guaranteeing the obsolescence of the old standard.

Re:My solution (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241954)

DC step up/down converters are very small/efficient these days. It would be easy to make a car which accepts any voltage from (eg.) 48-240V.

They won't do it of course. The same people who try to lock us into memory sticks and sell us $50 camera batteries are currently planning how to use this as a new way to screw consumers.

This is one place where government could actually step up and do something useful. Want to bet whether they will...?

Re:My solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241330)

Trouble is, when you finally have a standard that gets widespread adoption, you will have fucked everyone over for at least a decade, because the cost of switching to new, higher-capacity/lower weight batteries will be something that no-one wishes to bear. So no, there will be no competition or technical progress in your scenario.

Re:My solution (0)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241480)

Which is maybe why instead of forcing an unready technology upon us with regulations and subsidies we could have let the market do it when it made sense.

Re:My solution (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240878)

I think some of the battery arrays should be able to pulled out of the car and swapped in with a charged battery array. This process could happen in under a minute.

While it's a compelling solution, there are few obstacles to it becoming commonplace, for example:

As with plugs, you'd need a standard battery. Given manufacturers want to compete on things such as range, a standard battery would remove one area where they could differentiate their product; making it unlikely.

You'd need an accurate way to assess battery quality - or else you'll wind up trading good batteries for problematic ones.

I don't doubt that may become solution someday, but think fast charging with a common plug / charge setup is a more likely short term solution.

Re:My solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37240938)

I don't think a battery swap will ever be viable. The people who would need a fast charge will largely have stuff in their trunk, and swapping batteries becomes impractical from a design standpoint. How would you get them out of the car?

Re:My solution (2)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240982)

Even better question, how would you prevent tricks. Fake batteries etc... Heck who knows maybe even cheap chinese knockoffs that seem real but have 1/16th of the battery life, maybe even perform similar tricks to that loopback flash drive that registers as a 8GB and then just rewrites over the old data whenever it hits the 16MB of storage it had, could a similar trick be done on a battery to fool the chargers?

Re:My solution (4, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241152)

The same way that is stopped now with every other item you purchase. By complaining to the store and authorities, and by suing them if necessary. At the very least, stop going there and tell everyone you can.

Fraud is a crime.

Re:My solution (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241158)

Those scams only work when you don't really have any way to get a refund.

If it's the charging station on the corner then you know where to send the battery police.

Re:My solution (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241224)

I'm not implying the charging station being the origional distributer. For charging stations to be viable, they need a large amount of customers. So joe swaps out his good battery for a crap one that can only go 40 miles per charge, drives 35 miles to a swap station, trades the crap one for a real battery, drive 1 mile, change the new battery for another fake, head to another station repeat. Preventing this means adding more paperwork tracking etc... into the system of the batteries, which eliminates the convinience of the swap and opens up privacy worries.

Re:My solution (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241092)

I don't think a battery swap will ever be viable. The people who would need a fast charge will largely have stuff in their trunk, and swapping batteries becomes impractical from a design standpoint. How would you get them out of the car?

Are you seriously saying you can only imagine batteries being placed in the trunk of the car and the only way to get them out being upwards?

I see why you post AC.

Re:My solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241192)

The only place where batteries can be put in sufficient quantity for an EV is in the ballpark area where a gas tank is. That leaves only two options for removal - via the trunk, or via the back seat passenger area. Neither is acceptable.

Re:My solution (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241276)

Or...downwards? Down to where the robotic battery swapper is?

Re:My solution (3, Informative)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241570)

Fortunately for the rest of the world, you're not the only one who is coming up with ideas on how to make it work. There are already pilot programs (in Tokyo I believe) where you pull into a station and a robot drops the battery pack from the bottom of the car and swaps in a new one. Works pretty well in fact. Only takes a minute or two for the swap. Each battery pack is charged at the station. They track each battery pack in service via a bar code on it. They know how many times it's been recharged, what it's expected remaining life is, etc. When one goes bad prematurely, they can just pull it out of service and recycle the contents for the next batch of batteries. For a densely populated urban center with power to spare, it's not a bad system.

Re:My solution (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241710)

Batteries can be made quite flat. It's common practice in EC car design to put them beneath the car body,either side of the driveshaft, with enough shielding to make sure they don't get damaged by an overly-high speedbump. In that position, robotic changeover would be quite practical, if prohibitively expensive.

Re:My solution (1)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241600)

Easy -- make them slide out somewhere other than from inside the trunk.

If they could get the gravimetric energy density of flow batteries up, however, then you could just exchange liquid electrolytes. Not that I think this is better than sliding out sealed cells, but people are used to fueling up with liquid, so it might go over better with the muggles.
 

Re:My solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241016)

Not necessarily. They could make a standard, relatively small standardized battery pack (10cm x 5cm x 2cm, say), and then engines use arrays of these (setting parallels and series to control voltage and longevity), then it would be a matter of a machine being able to handle the specific array of an engine. Perhaps they could even have a couple different chemistries as well, each with a different size, it would still work. Now all an engine would need is a bar code or RFID tag to specify what kind of array it uses. A mechanical arm could read that, pull the batteries out, place them in the proper charging pool, and then grab charged batteries from stock.

Re:My solution (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241242)

While it's a compelling solution, there are few obstacles to it becoming commonplace, for example:

As with plugs, you'd need a standard battery.

This is exactly the sort of thing that could be mandated by law.

(And given that cars are different shapes and sizes I think the only practical way is to have multiple smaller batteries per car instead of some monolithic "battery").

Given manufacturers want to compete on things such as range, a standard battery would remove one area where they could differentiate their product; making it unlikely.

You won't pay a fixed amount per charge, you'll pay by the Watt.

This lets them compete: "You want long life or regular?"

You'd need an accurate way to assess battery quality - or else you'll wind up trading good batteries for problematic ones.

Management of bad batteries will be built into the system (it has to be!) and you only have to keep them as long as it takes to get to the next charging station and swap for a different one.

Re:My solution (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241568)

Sure.
More government will fix it.
Whenever I see a problem I just think to myself "How much more government will it take to fix this?"
Then I add government and the problem is fixed.

Re:My solution (3, Funny)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241408)

Easy solution to that - instead of storing the fuel source in the form of a solid lump, make it some sort of energy-dense liquid. That way the manufacturer differentiates themselves on the basis of how much liquid the vehicle requires to travel a given distance and how much liquid their vehicle can store, and the charging station simply pours liquid into some sort of tank until the tank is full.

Re:My solution (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241602)

That's an amazing concept. If only we had such an energy dense liquid readily available to consume...

Re:My solution (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240918)

I agree with this. Part of the reason ICVs were adopted is that re-energizing the vehicle was simply a matter of pumping gasoline into the tank. A five minute process and you're back on the road. Unless EVs can match the convenience of Internal Combustion Vehicles, they won't be much more than a fad. However, if the automakers can't even agree on an electrical connector, there's no way they'll agree to a swappable battery rack.

Re:My solution (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241382)

I agree with this. Part of the reason ICVs were adopted is that re-energizing the vehicle was simply a matter of pumping gasoline into the tank. A five minute process and you're back on the road. Unless EVs can match the convenience of Internal Combustion Vehicles, they won't be much more than a fad. However, if the automakers can't even agree on an electrical connector, there's no way they'll agree to a swappable battery rack.

100% agree. EVs with gas-electric generators are the future, and like you said they can't even agree on an electrical connector but people think they're going to agree on one standard battery for ALL electric vehicles? Never going to happen. It's also impractical, tiny 2-seater EVs are not going to need the same battery a EV 1-ton truck would need.

Anyone working on a universal swappable battery for electric vehicles is wasting their time. Your best bet is just to put a small gasoline or diesel powered engine in the vehicle to charge the battery when needed. Jaguar is working on a range-extended EV that uses a turbine engine to charge the batteries: [slashdot.org]
"When it runs out of juice, it can be topped up via a standard household mains outlet or be given a boost via two 70kW (94bhp) micro gas turbines."

Re:My solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37240932)

You got to figure there is some kind of corporate constipation holding up such an obvious solution to the problem.
Granted switching about a battery pack that has several hundred volts can have its issues but nothing insurmountable.

Re:My solution (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241350)

I believe that you'll struggle to defend ownership of that idea. Reasonable as it sounds, I think it brings the disadvantages of rental to an industry with millions of consumers used to owning their stuff. Do we need more financial services getting in the way of good technical solutions?

I would prefer to have always the same battery pack installed, having an internal combustion engine feeding the battery when needed and then having buried power rails installed in locations in the city where many minutes and hours are spent waiting for the traffic to move. It would be a mix of an induction hob with the Opel Ampera (AKA Chevrolet Volt).

Re:My solution (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241422)

Some cellphones and portable devices now have special charging setups where you just put the device on a charging mat and it charges.

Scale that up in size and voltage and embed it in the road and let EV drivers charge up whilst sitting at the lights or driving down the interstate.

Re:My solution (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241726)

Expensive. Inefficient. And useful to all the people who realise they can load their back seats and trunks up with all the batteries that will fit and collect enough energy to run their house for a week.

Oh cool (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241806)

So, the manufacturers can not agree on a plug and voltage, and now, your great idea is to be able to swap batteries?
Are you daft or something?

Just like laptops! (1, Insightful)

OITLinebacker (1799770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240870)

You can't even get a single laptop maker to standardize within the models they currently offer. I find it difficult to believe that an industry that can't even standardize on the tires to agree on their connectors. It's a wonder they even all agreed to use Gasoline (and even then you have models that "prefer" specific octane).

Re:Just like laptops! (1)

lucidlyTwisted (2371896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241062)

I find it difficult to believe that an industry that can't even standardize on the tires to agree on their connectors.

Different jobs, different tools. Tyre's do follow standards however. Once you have a set of the correct size, you can fit them to any vehicle. It's not like manufacturers have proprietary wheel hubs. Same thing for batteries, there will be standard sizes, just not one. Although I can see that is may take legislation force manufacturers to co-operate; and perhaps global legislation at that.

It's a wonder they even all agreed to use Gasoline (and even then you have models that "prefer" specific octane).

They didn't all agree, just ask Monsieur Diesel.

Re:Just like laptops! (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241282)

I think he was German... Might not like the prefix "Monsieur" ;)
On another note:
Other fuels that have been tried, but failed included Acetone and something that "smelled of almonds" (that's all I found).
Fuels that have been used in place of gasoline: syngas (from re-formed coal, WWII Germany), Wood gas, Ethanol.
There is a rough standard about fuels, but there are certainly other fuels out there.
The very first cars were steam engines, fueled on oil, coal, wood, and anything else that would burn.
-nB

Re:Just like laptops! (1)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241348)

They didn't all agree, just ask Monsieur Diesel.
I think you will find that he was Herr Diesel (although he was born in Paris).

Re:Just like laptops! (1)

werfu (1487909) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241260)

They didn't standardized on fuel. At the automobile beginnings, you used what you had available as fuel and engine where conceived that way. It's not until late that even producer have been able to regulate strictly quality (octane level) and that a common process prevailed. If 100+ octane level would have been common at that time, it's what we would be running on today.

Re:Just like laptops! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241766)

Um... Apple?

And some are diesel, not gas...

Your point, however, is more-or-less correct.

Re:Just like laptops! (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241842)

The laptops connect to standard wall outlets via their power brick.

Integrate the chargers into the vehicle. Use standard 220 single-phase outlets of appropriate capacity. No risk of getting stuck with an infrastructure of chargers which may not be appropriate to future tech.

Bonus:
High-capacity 220 is nice for welders, air compressors, and other equipment.

Great (2, Funny)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240880)

It's cell phones all over again. Except 100 times the cost. Also, obligatory xkcd reference [xkcd.com] .

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37240952)

As usual xkcd has the solution....standardize on micro-usb for charging your EV.

Re:Great (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240990)

It's cell phones all over again. Except 100 times the cost.

And none of the additional utility that a cell phone provides over a landline.
Electric cars are a bandaid to the problem of automobiles. Give us cities where people can walk, bike, and use an effective bus system and people will actually be willing to give them a shot. New York and San Francisco are expensive to live in for a reason...

Re:Great (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241464)

Possibly, although you have to realize that people really like their cars. I don't own a car, and let me tell you, people think I'm crazy. I do just fine with bikes and the bus system, and I have a wife and 3 kids. It's not because of lack of money either, but not owning a car sure does free up a lot of money. But most people can't imagine not owning a car, and driving it daily. Most people I know drive their car everywhere, even if it's just something that would be a short walk, simply because they have a car.

Re:Great (2)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241640)

That's all well and good but what about the people who need to live and work out in sparsely populated areas? After all, someone has to grow the food that is eaten by people in cities.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241880)

That's all well and good but what about the people who need to live and work out in sparsely populated areas? After all, someone has to grow the food that is eaten by people in cities.

Don't. Just don't.

I gave up trying to explain this to big-city people ages ago. It's not worth it. They won't get it. They CAN'T get it, in fact; to their minds, the world consists of a few 100-or-so square mile blocks of giant housing towers floating of in an infinitely terrifying sea of Here Be Dragons where they don't have Fry's or a mass transit system. Then you try to explain otherwise to them and their brains shut down.

Re:Great (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241428)

Actually it's BluRay and HD-DVD all over again, with the exact same lack of market acceptance and high costs until a dominant standard emerges many years from now.

It's not yet time for a standard (1)

tulcod (1056476) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240884)

Battery technology changes virtually daily, we're not nearly far enough to standardize a rather significant part of the process.

Re:It's not yet time for a standard (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240904)

Battery technology certainly is evolving; but the "put power in" part is a fairly reasonable place to put a nice abstracted interface.

Re:It's not yet time for a standard (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241774)

True, at some point there may not even be a need for public chargers as battery capacity and charge rates improve. You can just charge up at night and drive care-free all day.

Swap the battery? (0)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240950)

I wonder why they don't just have "Gas" stations with a load of charged batteries for the customers, who then drop off their old batts. Just like when you go and get propane for the BBQ.

Re:Swap the battery? (1)

schroom5 (68971) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241002)

Here [engadget.com] you go, already being done.

Re:Swap the battery? (1)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241120)

That's brilliant, even the station itself is robotic. I was thinking you'd just yank it out and dump it in the station, plug in a new one. Now what is needed is critical mass, so that people don't need to stay within 300K of that place in Israel.

Re:Swap the battery? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241534)

Probably because a used, empty propane tank is probably worth about $5, where as a load of EV grade batteries is probably somewhere in the thousands. There'd probably be too much of a problem with people swapping good batteries for bad ones. Or people would have to have a really good credit rating simply to "fill up" their car.

Re:Swap the battery? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241780)

Propane is propane. A battery is not just a battery.
1. Buy Cheapest piece of junk knock-off second-hand battery you can find.
2. Go to out-of-town battery station.
3. Change.
4. eBay.
5. Profit.

It would also be awkward. Robotics could do the changeover, but doing so safely would require a lot of expensive safeguards to protect against idiots trying to stick their hand in the grippers. So you'd need an attendant to man the batteries, using a mini-forklift to get the old ones out and put new ones in. He'll want paying, and it takes longer to change a battery than to refill a tank. Gas-station attendants were largely eliminated as a cost-cutting measure, so I doubt companies will be willing to bring them back. Espicially ones trained in the operation of heavy life machinery.

Let me see if I understand this right (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241782)

You have multiple companies that can not even agree on a plug and voltage, however, you think that they will now agree with batteries?

Demand based (1)

Med-trump (2195662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240958)

It is demand and competition based. When the demand and competition increase, we might see more universal standards coming up.

Re:Demand based (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241614)

Yeah, exactly like what happened with cell phone and laptop chargers.

Oh wait, we had a massive mess of propitiatory connectors in the former before the EU smacked the manufacturers upside the head and forced micro USB and still have a mess of propitiatory connectors in the latter.

Re:Demand based (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241814)

Laptops are all using some sort of simple round connector with the same polarity at this point (I don't remember what the polarity is, but it's the same). Voltages still differ though. But you can buy a multi-charger that comes with about 10 different tips and a voltage selector that will work with any modern laptop.

"and new ones are coming online daily" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241044)

...that's why Costco just removed all of their chargers. Nobody actually used them.
http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/citing-a-lack-of-usage-costco-removes-e-v-chargers/

Charging is not the problem. You could charge the car in 10 seconds, and it still won't matter.

Until electrical vehicles have range they will not be popular, and before you say rapid charging increases the potential range, then you don't understand consumers. Nobody wants to stop at a gas station every 50 miles. Consumers demand the range, pure & simple, the sales show it.

Re:"and new ones are coming online daily" (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241478)

Until electrical vehicles have range they will not be popular, and before you say rapid charging increases the potential range, then you don't understand consumers. Nobody wants to stop at a gas station every 50 miles. Consumers demand the range, pure & simple, the sales show it.

Actually I see electric vehicles as a solution to never having to visit a gas station ever again. Imaging driving to work and back, then having the car fill up while parked overnight on house current for extremely cheap time of use rates (or alternatively, partially recharge while sitting in the parking lot under the sun using solar panels).

Re:"and new ones are coming online daily" (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241832)

That's great. But some of us drive more than 30mi round trip every day.

Battery type is key (2)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241076)

If these cars used Toshiba's SCIB batteries -> http://www.toshiba.com/ind/product_display.jsp?id1=821 [toshiba.com] - then they could go from dead to full charge in 10 minutes.

That would make electric charging stations at gas stations feasible.

It takes 10 minutes to fill an SUV with gas.

Re:Battery type is key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241236)

10 minutes... to pump 24 galons? hmm.... where did you get that number?

Re:Battery type is key (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241342)

Dear Anonymous, please read -> http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_size_is_the_gas_tank_in_a_Ford_Excursion [answers.com] - before you type nonsense.

Re:Battery type is key (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241392)

In any case, 10 minutes is a reasonable time for an electric fill up. It would pay for gas stations to install the electrical switch gear and meters. Obviously, no one would want to spend 4 hours at the "pump".

That is why "fast charging" batteries are so important.

Re:Battery type is key (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241680)

10 Min is a bit too long for me.
Not way too long but a bit too long.
And also.
Will I only have to do this 10 min fill up once a week?

Fast-charging is BAD (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241116)

Heat is bad for batteries, and fast charging makes batteries hot.

I understand that sometimes charging quickly is better than waiting 6 hours to drive somewhere, but if you want those batteries to last then ideally drivers would plan for and prefer the slower charging solution whenever possible.

Re:Fast-charging is BAD (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241468)

Not the case with the Toshiba SCIB batteries. I have seen it.

Re:Fast-charging is BAD (1)

philmarcracken (1412453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241672)

I agree. Batteries are a high resistance storage method right? They don't accept power quickly and if you try to force it in the battery says fuck mein leben, this guy... Isn't that the reason they try and integrate super-caps with the regenerative braking system? So that they capture the bulk of the energy generated from the wheels and then trickle it back into the battery or used to give the electric engine the initial acceleration boost up to the speed limit. From a cold stop is where my instant Liters/per 100kms spikes, not that im a leadfoot. Project better place, as mentioned, has the better option in the long run, battery swap stations. The entire reason he thought of this idea was to eliminate the cost of vehicle manufacturers selling the 'well' of power with the car making it alot more expensive than traditional engines. By separating out this power source and offering it for lease like a mobile phone contract, it can work.

Re:Fast-charging is BAD (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241764)

Actaully, all of the good cars, like tesla, have that covered. It is cars like Nissan Leaf that has no means of cooling that will destroy their batteries.

Treat them like gass grills... (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241124)

Standardize the batteries and an easy way to roboticaly remove them from the car. Then the driver pulls up, an arm slides out, pulls the battery and slides in a fully charged one. The station can make sure they are fully charged and in good working order. You'd get charged for "filling up the battery" and a general maintenance fee. You also never then have to worry about replacing the battery either.

Great Misconception (3, Interesting)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241150)

Why does EVERYONE have this great misconception that EVs and charging stations are like chicken and egg?

Every time research is done into EV owner driving and charging patterns they show that people really don't drive that far on a daily basis and always prefer to charge AT HOME overnight rather than at some charging station.

Why would anyone want to drive to a charging station and wait an hour when they can just plug in when they get home? That's like having a gas pump at your house, but instead wanting to drive 30 minutes to a "gas station" to fill up.

For EV owners who have longer trips, they can take their second car, rent a car or fly.

Re:Great Misconception (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241660)

People that are already driving EV cars are not the typical consumer. But I agree for the most part. People will want to charge at home so they don't partial charge the batteries thus reducing their life span. As far as the "rent a car on the fly" thought, that is insightful assuming they can keep the costs below taking a train or bus.

Re:Great Misconception (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241826)

Maybe the charging stations could get a better price on power for the end user since they would be a bigger consumer than a single person, and therefore be able to work out better deals with the power company. Maybe they could have onsite solar and wind operations allowing them to generate some of their own power, further reducing the costs to the end users.

Standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241178)

In Tech we have standards bodies to define such things as RJ-11 (phone cord), RJ-45 (Ethernet cord), 1394 (Firewire), or USB, some of which allow power over them. We even have standards bodies for protocols such as 802.11 (wifi) and others.

Why not have a steering committee or standards body form for electric vehicles with an eye to minimizing the connector styles, and to define charging staytions that account for slow charge, fast charge, and even a couple of capacities of each. That way when a car pulls up it always fits, and has a default mode, and depending on various factors and how the plus interacts with the device, allows any alternative options available (slower or faster or smarter).

I have a feeling they will not get my memo, since I am not on any of those bodies. Just NFPA code bodies. Pass it along.

Re:Standards? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241750)

Why not have a steering committee or standards body form for electric vehicles with an eye to minimizing the connector styles, and to define charging staytions that account for slow charge, fast charge, and even a couple of capacities of each.

We've got that, just the standard (IEC 62196) has 3 versions, one from the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), another from the VDE (Verband der Elektrotechnik, a German Electrical/Electronics standards association), and a 3rd from EV Plug Alliance (a coalition of French and Italian electrical companies)

Wrong model: Rent not buy (0)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241182)

They should make electric cars so that the battery pack itself can be quickly and automatedly changed out (at a properly equipped station), Think of driving onto a pad where a robot arm removes/inserts a big standardized slide-in cartridge. One size fits all. Maybe bigger cars and trucks have multiple slots.

Also The standard marketing model should be that you rent batteries, not outright own the batteries.

This addresses many problems:
1) Full electric cars get much cheaper to buy in the first place as you're no longer required to outright buy the most expensive single part... the batteries).

2) (at a properly equipped gas station) You could go from 0 charge to full charge in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank.

3) Assuming a network of such stations, you can go cross-country in an electric car, just like you can now in a gas-powered car. i.e. Without significant recharging delays or much fear of running out of charge in the middle of nowhere.

4) In an electric-only future, we can continue to make good use of existing gas station forecourts (by refitting them to battery swap-out stations) and gas station companies now have a business model even if gas goes away fully.

5) A few big gas station chains now each own literally millions of batteries, you can bet there will be a LOT of funding for the battery tech itself to get better and cheaper faster.

6) Electric car owners no longer need to worry about having to completely replace their battery pack every 7 years.

7) More efficient charging and maintenance, and more controllable/traceable recycling and disposal of batteries. (One issue is that repeated rapid-charging wears out batteries much quicker but today its unrealistic to think electric-only car owners won't trade off battery lifespan for time-saving convenience).

EV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241240)

1 electron volt = 1.60217646 × 10 ^-19 joules

In physics, the electron volt (symbol eV) is a unit of energy equal to approximately 1.602×10 ^-19J. By definition, it is equal to the amount of kinetic energy gained by a single unbound electron when it accelerates through an electric potential difference of one volt. Thus it is 1 volt (1 joule per coulomb) multiplied by the electron charge (1 e, or 1.602176565(35)×1019 C).

A better way... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241370)

An idea came to me today because of the after effects of hurricane Irene. My neighborhood lost electricity for about 1 1/2 days and many of the neighbors had gas/diesel powered generators. What a great concept. Have a small, locally available gas powered engine to provide the power to charge the batteries.

They would really be a sort of hybrid between a gasoline powered car and an all electric car...perhaps we could call them hybrid vehicles.

Re:A better way... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241950)

If you put the engine on the car, you then have the problem of hauling a big engine around with you all the time. Weight means inefficiency, and less room for passangers, storage and batteries.

Why? (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241418)

I still don't see why the big desire for batteries. They're heavy, a pain in the ass to change even if you have a standard. You're looking at someone to do it for you, or knowing how to do it yourself using machinery in both cases. In the end, fuel cells will be the way to go, unless there's some amazing earth shattering breakthrough in battery technology.

Liquid batteries (2)

hat_eater (1376623) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241446)

Anyone remembers the Cambridge Crude? [gizmag.com] I wonder if they'll have a working solution (heh) in 2013.

Still not good enough. (2)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241470)

For the Leaf they give 30 minutes for 30 miles using a faster charger. For simplicity, assume driving 60mph, so your 30 minute commute now takes an hour. And this was for the fastest charge that they talk about replacing a gas station, at $40k installation it certainly isn't for the home. Not impressed.

Re:Still not good enough. (2)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241754)

It only adds 30 minutes onto your commute if you wait until you're ready to leave, and then plug it in. I don't know about you, but I typically wake up more than an hour before I leave for work, and I'm sure I can find the five minutes to plug in the car somewhere near the start of the window.

Re:Still not good enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241898)

For the Leaf they give 30 minutes for 30 miles using a faster charger.

Dude...fail. It's 30 minutes for 80 miles using the DC fast charger, which, BTW, Nissan doesn't suggest you do more than once or twice a day. I drove the Leaf just yesterday in Chicago, and lemme tell ya, it's a great ride, and it's only going to get better.

Electric cars are a pipe-dream (2)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241556)

The same people wanting us driving electric cars also don't want us building new power plants that would be required to support the additional load. The power grids can barely handle the loads they're under now.

Re:Electric cars are a pipe-dream (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241900)

Anyone who wants you to drive an electric car but doesn't want more power plants built is an idiot.

An electric car, even getting its power from a filthy coal plant, is still cleaner than an ICE car overall. Once cars are electric they're power-source-agnostic. Replace coal with nuclear and you have a non-fossil energy source with little waste and a clean source of reliable power that solar/wind can be added to, or to be more ambitious, a good transitional source of power to bridge the gap from fossil fuel to renewable energy. So tell that to the next hippie who wants you to buy an electric car and run it on fairy dust (probably won't help, but it's worth a shot).

Re:Electric cars are a pipe-dream (3, Informative)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241924)

Our grid is only at/near peak capacity during parts of the day. At night it's well below half capacity. If we charge at night we're fine.

Highway traffic volume makes this silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241732)

Thinking that you need a "fast charge" concept with an EV assumes that you want to travel long distance in the EV. Most real consumer level use of car transportation is short haul and intermittent. Supporting a battery change station on an interstate highway is silly. How much warehouse space do you need to support a typical Friday evening of summer highway volume at a location ~2 hours drive from any american city of size? Think about the current level of congestion at an interstate travel stop. Now replace the liquid fuel, currently stored underground and easily moved in a pipe, with physically installing a large solid battery pack. Everyone will want a battery swap right about the same place so that they can make it to their vacation destination. Supporting a typical weekend round trip to your vacation home will require hundreds of thousands of battery packs sitting in semi remote warehouses most of the time.

This is never gonna happen.

 

Integrate the charger and use plug adapters. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241788)

The solution to vehicle-specific chargers is to integrate them with the vehicle then plug 'em in to standard 220 single-phase outlets fed from appropriate breakers.

Wrong order (1)

Ancil (622971) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241798)

the lack of an agreement among automakers on a universal method for fast charging — or even on a single electrical connector

If they can't agree on the method for fast charging, it's good that they don't agree on the connector either.

Wrong problem (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241940)

The battery charging issue is the wrong problem, you want power rails in/overhead the roadway so you draw from the grid while driving. Once you have that you only need a small battery to drive into/out of your driveway or parking lot, and it recharges while you drive.
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