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Nanotech Battery Claims to Solve Electric Car Woes

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the down-with-woes dept.

320

rbgrn writes "A123 Systems claims to have invented a Lithium Ion battery that not only can discharge at very high rates of current but can be recharged very quickly without damage to the cells or overheating. From their website: 'A unique feature of A123Systems' M1 cells is their ability to charge to high capacity in 5 minutes or less. That's a significant improvement over traditional Li Ion, which typically requires more than 90 minutes to reach a similar level of charge.' Using this technology, General Motors has announced a plug-in hybrid SUV and Venture Vehicles is developing a fully electric 3 wheel vehicle. Politics aside, the main technological hurdle to mass adoption of electric cars has been a fuel station replacement when driving distances beyond a single charge worth of range. Will we finally be seeing high current recharge stations in the next decade?"

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320 comments

conservation of energy (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053658)

While i'm all for new tech, let's take a second to re-examine this. We're going to take electricity and power our cars... ok but this has to come from somewhere right? And it isn't like we're going to generate it on the spot. So we're going to put MORE strain on the existing power grid to power these recharge stations.

The power itself is made from something, usually not nuclear because "oh noes it's unsafe!" [note the sarcasm] but instead things like coal. So now we're gonna have to burn more coal (which pollutes more than nuclear) to power this. Keeping in mind the entire process is lossy.

I'm all for electric cars, but we'll need a lot more than a good battery to make it practical.

Tom

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18053690)

Noone has thought of those issues, or solutions to them, before.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054384)

I assume parent is being sarcastic... mod up! And mod down the stupid grandparent.

Re:conservation of energy (4, Insightful)

dretay (583646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053714)

I believe the problem with nuclear power has a lot more to do with disposal and storage than with the safety of the reactor. Plus if the CO2 emissions are centralized at power stations rather than spread across the entire country (as is the case with cars) emission reduction techniques will probably be a lot easier.

Re:conservation of energy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054244)

Yeah, where the nuclear material is packed into dense solid wastes that can be disposed of carefully instead of farted into the atmosphere.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

picob (1025968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054246)

True, but another problem is that the supply of coal/oil/gas is limited. Efficiency is important.

Re:conservation of energy (5, Interesting)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054822)

I believe the problem with nuclear power has a lot more to do with disposal and storage than with the safety of the reactor.
Well, good news, the Integral Fast Reactor [wikipedia.org] solves this issue. It recycles the "waste" until it is entirely consumed and all the of the really dangerous elements are burned up as well. There is very little actual waste left over, and it is far far less dangerous than what is produced by conventional reactors. They only extract a few percent of the energy from the fuel, and throw out an enormous amount highly dangerous and useful material. By recycling this material, the IFR can actually consume existing waste! It would be a long time before any new Uranium would need to be mined.

Another feature is that it is a passively safe design; meltdowns simply aren't possible. Anyways, the interviews in the external links of that wikipedia article are very interesting and informative.

Re:conservation of energy (2, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053778)

I think you raise some valid concerns, but still this is a step in the right direction. Plus, improved battery tech is always welcome for many uses.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

jabii (715970) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053782)

The problem with coal-generated electrical power lies not only with the pollution and co2 emissions--it's wasteful as well, since roughly half the energy stored in the coal simply goes up the stack at the generating plant.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053898)

The problem with coal-generated electrical power lies not only with the pollution and co2 emissions--it's wasteful as well, since roughly half the energy stored in the coal simply goes up the stack at the generating plant.

Well, then, if you insist on all the negative vibes, then we should abandon research into solar energy too, since silicon arrays have a lower albedo than the Earth's average of 0.39, and this will result in man-made climate change if implemented on a large scale. Roughly two-thirds of the energy stored in the sunlight simply goes to heating up the array instead of knocking electrons down to wire to your local substation.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054110)

Of course, if that solar cell wasn't there the light/heat would simply go into the ground, with a portion reflected back up into, and absorbed by, the atmosphere. Net effect? Neglible.

Re:conservation of energy (2, Funny)

Teresita (982888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053834)

So now we're gonna have to burn more coal (which pollutes more than nuclear) to power this.

Ah, yes, but America is the Saudi Arabia of coal. The whole idea is to wean America off the Saudia Arabia of oil, which is Saudi Arabia.

Re:conservation of energy (4, Informative)

MinusOne (4145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053850)

I'm not sure why someone has to ask these exact same questions every time an electric car article shows up.

Yes, of course you have to recharge you car from the grid. The amperage required is not any more than typical household service, particularly if you are willing to let it charge overnight. 220 volts is even better than 110 for charging cars, and it really doesn't take more than your house already has.

As far as the generating issue, it is much cheaper and easier to clean pollution from a large single source than it is millions of mobile sources which are poorly maintained by their owners. Coal might not be that clean, but new coal-fired plants are better than old ones, and they are probably better than the number of gas powered cars it could replace. It is also more efficient, even with transmission losses, than the gas cars. Finally, if you want to make your power plant cleaner at some point in the future it is a bit easier than retrofitting a large number of cars.

These things have been discussed to death all over the net, you obviously have not read anything about this subject at all.

http://www.electroauto.com/info/pollmyth.shtml [electroauto.com]

Re:conservation of energy (3, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054036)

>Finally, if you want to make your power plant cleaner at some point in the future it is a bit easier than retrofitting a large number of cars.

Also, the power plant is not sitting in traffic on the street next to sidewalks and apartments full of people. Even if the only benefit were to relocate pollution, even if none of the other advantages existed, there'd still be a benefit.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054052)

The amperage required is not any more than typical household service, particularly if you are willing to let it charge overnight.
Great, so you have to lay a cable all the way down the street to your car to charge it up? I can't see that taking off.

Re:conservation of energy (2, Interesting)

am 2k (217885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054190)

The point of the tech this article presents is that the battery only takes 5 minutes to recharge. You could just install a power outlet at the fuel station. Plug your car in, browse the shop during those five minutes (regular refueling isn't really faster than that anyways), and you're back on the road.

Re:conservation of energy (2, Insightful)

Clockwork Apple (64497) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054248)

Dude, if I could get safe gasoline piped into my house then I would be happy to use a hose to get it all the way out to my car. Consider the convenience of fueling up without waiting in line for the pump, without worry that some asshole on a celphone will run you over when you walk in to pay, without waiting in line while some dickhead screws with writing a paper check to pay for his one pack of smokes, without getting short changed by the clerk or involved in a hold up.

Shit man I can think of lots of reasons dragging a hose or cable to the curb is better than always having to go to a public service station. The fact that you already have an electric bill just sweetens the deal.

C.

Re:conservation of energy (4, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054130)

> The amperage required is not any more than typical household service, particularly if you are willing to let it charge overnight.
> 220 volts is even better than 110 for charging cars, and it really doesn't take more than your house already has.

Yes it would add a hell of a lot of load to the grid if everyone had an electric car cooking at home every night, but that problem is probably managable, since night time is normally lighter loaded.

The big question nobody wants to look at is Interstate recharging. Take a look at a big fscking Roadrunner station with twenty plus 'pumps' recharging batteries in five minutes and run those numbers. Put the sucker out in the boonies between cities and ask yourself where they are going to get the power from? Now imagine everyone is running away from a hurricane/terrorist attack and those 'pumps' are going to have to be able to hammer away for 12 plus hours with a line at every pump. Onsite storage isn't an option for that kind of demand and the grid as it currently exists simply can't do it either.

Everyone wants to think it just because 'big oil' doesn't want electric cars that the infrastructure hasn't magically appeared. It isn't. Even if the demand existed to justify it, nobody currently knows HOW to build it. These are hard problems, but we do need to keep trying to solve them because buying oil from our enemies isn't the brightest idea even if you think 'global warming' is a communist plot.

Re:conservation of energy (4, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054308)

So the question becomes "How much range does this electric car have?" (If the batteries are good enough, then on-site storage DOES become an option, at least as a hefty ballast load.)

I wonder how much charge a tanker-truck sized truck could carry as cargo? This might actually be cheaper than maintaining lines if the losses were lower than line loss. (Don't know how to figure that?) (And depending on how expensive the batteries were.)

Also, the obvious way to go, if one can work out the mechanics, is to charge the vehicles by swapping batteries. It might not be the best...but also it might. This would, however, require:
a) standardization of size, shape, and connections, and
b) a meter built into the battery which would display how many watt-hours it was storing.
This probably won't happen because any economic benefit would probably be marginal, and also because getting companies to agree on a standard is...dubious.

Nope (4, Informative)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054380)

Even if the demand existed to justify it, nobody currently knows HOW to build it.

Umm... what? You're just wrong here.

Long-distance (100+ miles) electric transmission is quite common throughout the US. Link [wikipedia.org]

In most states, you're rarely more than a hundred miles away from the nearest power plant, of one kind or another. Another link. [wikipedia.org]

Yes, a commercial recharging station on a major interstate would probably need it's own substation. But the paper mills in northeastern NC I drive past on the way to visit my parents every few months have their own substations. The electric load from those is much higher than any electric roadrunner would ever need. It's not a particularly hard problem, or one that hasn't been solved before. It would put more demand on the electric grid, that's true. And if everyone in the US bought an electic car eventually, we'd definetely need to build more power plants.

But it's not lack of a technical innovation,nor a conspiracy, that is preventing that from happening - it's the chicken/egg problem. Few people will buy electric cars before the infrastructure exists, few companies will set up infrastructure while there's few customers.

Re:Nope (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054752)

I have been saying for years that the problem is simple. Build cars that are all electric, but have the power source in the trunk. Make the connection to the rest of the car a simple plug (or two), and you have a perfect vehicle to support whatever future power source we decide to go with. If you just travel around town, you drop in the battery pack. You want to go across country, you drop in the gas generator. You want to head up to the mountains for a ski weekend, you drop in the fuelcell because you know there is are a couple of hydrogen refuling stations between here and there. The electric company has a secret meeting with the oil and hydrogen company? Drop in a propane generator and away you go.

I seems that the auto industry is intentionally trying to force use to stay on oil. Even the prius was obviously designed as a way to prevent the move away from oil.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

rothlmar (982182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054250)

Finally, if you want to make your power plant cleaner at some point in the future it is a bit easier than retrofitting a large number of cars.

I think it's safe to say that the replacement cycle on cars is a bit shorter than the upgrade cycle of power plants, so this particular benefit probably won't materialize.

Re:conservation of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054670)

The gains you might see in pollution reduction/energy generated would be possible, you're right. However, the gains in terms of miles traveled or work done/pollution outputted STILL depends on the end use maintaining their vehicle properly. If somebody doesn't grease axles and maintain their electric motor (whatever goes in to that, I'm not personally knowledgeable enough to speak specifics) and the efficiency on their EV starts to plunge, then they'll be using more electricity per mile and consequently recharging more often, getting less work per parts of pollution.

Granted, I'm slowly coming around to the idea of electric vehicles being a good way to unhitch the consumer economy from dealing with changing fuel sources. Just please, don't spread the myth that suddenly pollution and efficiency wouldn't depend on the customer. It still would, and the energy loss in generation + transmission of energy combine with an unmaintained vehicle could potentially add up to pollution and efficiency that's just as bad.

Re:conservation of energy (5, Informative)

AaronW (33736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053872)

This has been discussed many times in different circles. Even with coal power plants, the amount of pollution created by electric cars is less than gasoline cars. For one, pollution needs to be controlled in a few centralized sources, and with the proper equipment, which modern plants are required to have, coal power plants emit less pollution than the gasoline and diesel vehicles it could replace. Also, the efficiency of electric cars is higher than internal combustion powered cars, even taking into account the line losses. It is not unusual for batteries to reach 90% efficiency, and electric motors also are able to get into the high 80's and 90's in efficiency. Plus, there's much less drive train with electric, often requiring no transmission, or like the Tesla, a 2 gear transmission. Many power plants are at least 40% efficient, which is much better than what an ICE is capable of. And when power comes from sources like hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, solar or even natural gas, the pollution is significantly reduced or eliminated. Also, most people would be charging their cars at night, where there is often a vast surplus of electricity since power plants can't just shut down for the night, and hence it is a lot cheaper.

Batteries also have come a long way and are fairly efficient for storage. It's much better than, say, hydrogen powered cars.

The main drawback right now for electric cars is the cost, and even so they remain popular. I know a couple of people at Tesla Motors and they have already sold out their allotment of cars for the first two years, and these are going for $100K each. It sounds like they will be coming out with a 5 passenger vehicle at around $50K around 2009. With the rapid rate of battery evolution I expect they will become more and more affordable.

One final note, the cost per mile for an electric vehicle is much less than gasoline, even without the large deductions EV owners can typically make. Last I looked, it worked out to something around $1.50/mile even with the very high cost of electricity where I live (where I often pay over $0.20/kwh).

The solution I see for our energy needs is to not only continue to invest in solar and wind, but to also build nuclear breeder reactors and nuclear power generation. The breeder reactors will significantly increase the amount of nuclear fuel available and eliminate much of the nuclear waste which they want to bury in Nevada. And modern nuclear power plants are far safer than the ones of the past. Solar and wind alone will not solve our energy needs though they will help. Hydroelectric is mostly tapped out, though there's still a lot of room for geothermal.

$1.50 a mile? WTF (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053888)

That's supposed to be cheap?

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (1)

AaronW (33736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053932)

I meant the equivalent of $1.50 per gallon of gasoline. Brain fart.

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (1)

David Horn (772985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053966)

What's going to happen when it's cold? I mean, even a small heater for a car is going to draw about 1kW, which isn't going to give long battery life?

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054104)

Yeah right, like the heat in a gasoline powered automobile is coming out of nowhere... ;)

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054336)

Actually, I believe the heat from most auto-heaters is waste heat from the exhaust. (I trust they use a heat exchanger!) If so, then having the heater on may actually make the engine a bit more efficient.

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (1)

josquint (193951) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054418)

Engine coolant is piped from the radiator to a small radiator in the cab which air blows over. Thus cooling the engine a bit faster in the process and using waste heat for something usefull.

TIP: if your in a traffic jam and your engine overheats, turn on your heater.

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054624)

No. Not at all how cars work. There is no heat exchanger in the exhaust. The only time the exhaust is used is for turbos (and some BMW prototype engines).

You could say that autos use 'waste heat' in the same way that lightbulbs are great heaters by using 'waste' heat from lighting the bulb.

The heat is ICE inefficiencies. This is why diesel engines (Like my TDI) take forever to heat up on the road and will never warm up at idle. They're much more efficient than gasoline engines.

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (2, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054218)

Insulate the fucker. 1kW is more than I use to keep my entire apartment heated (an 800W space heater with a thermostat, plus a fan). Try 100W or less to heat a space the size of a car, assuming you put a little extra money into some decent glass (insulating the non-glass parts is trivial).

Re:$1.50 a mile? WTF (4, Informative)

josquint (193951) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054292)

There's an intersting point.

I live in quite cold climate(last week's high was -15F), and getting gas powered cars to start and warm up is a challenge. The number ONE problem we have is batteries going dead overnight in the cold. You can trickle charge them or put a warmer on them to prevent it, but if the entire car runs on battery I would imagine the battery life to be very poor.

Then, tack on the heater issue... Sounds pretty infeasible around these parts. Although, a possible solution would be to do what is currently done with gas cars, and pipe whatever excess heat is made by the motor into the cab. I'm not sure how much that would produce, but it would increase the efficiency a bit.

I've seen a few cold weather tests for hybrid and turbo desiel around here. The hybrids seem to crap out about -10F to -15F and a few of the TD seem to drop out about -35F. The gas, assuming it starts, don't have issues running in cold.

Remaining nuclear fuel (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054182)

Even reprocessing is not leagal in the US, so getting to a breeder program is going to be tough. Without that, shifting transportation to nuclear is pretty pointless since the available fuel will be exhauted before the new reactors are used for long. It is also doubtful that a useful breeder program can be done at even the rather horrendous safty record of the non-breeder program http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civilian_nucl ear_accidents [wikipedia.org] . So, what you are suggesting is both hugely expensive and very likely to lead to mass casualties.

Wind and solar plants, on the other hand add to energy genertation capacity every year they operate, not just fuel supply as with a breeder. And, there are no fuel supply constraints with wind and solar, just timing issues which can be handled with energy storage. The batteries in electric vehicles would be a small portion of the storage solution. These solutions are much cheaper and safer and because of this they'll very likely lead to early decommisioning of present day nuclear plants http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/why-renewables -displace-nukes-first.html [blogspot.com] .
--
Go solar! http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Remaining nuclear fuel (1)

cameldrv (53081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054344)

That's not true. There is enough uranium in the earth to last us billions of years at our current rate of consumption. The only issue is how much it costs to get it out. If the price of uranium were to go up by a factor of twenty, the supply would increase by about a factor of 2000. This price difference in raw uranium would only make a small difference in the overall cost of electricity.

Re:Remaining nuclear fuel (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054476)

Putting fuel prices up by a factor of twenty is a sure way to swap the roles of alternative and conventional energy supplies. Let's do it!

Re:Remaining nuclear fuel (1)

cameldrv (53081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054768)

It won't be necessary until we've constructed thousands of new reactors and run them for decades, and even then, one would have to assume that we didn't figure out a better way of extracting uranium. I have no problem with solar per se, but it's expensive, takes up a lot of space, and if it were widely used, it would require a lot of extra technology to keep a cloudy day from shutting down the grid.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053962)

It does take more than a good battery, but a good battery may be a necessary step. There are only a limited number of ways to deliver power to a vehicle. Gases are hard to contain and not very dense. Liquids are great, but they're expensive to ship around, and the most effective liquids we know are limited in quantity (and those quantities are concentrated in some politically unstable places.) Alternative liquids like ethanol and biodiesel are difficult to produce, and there may not be enough farmland for it even if it is a net energy producer (and there's some question about that).

Electricity is great: you can pump it around easily, and we already have the infrastructure for it. And you can make it many different ways; we can have coal AND nuclear AND wind AND solar AND something we haven't thought of yet (burning switchgrass maybe?). But as with gases, density is a problem, and until you've mastered that the flexibility of electricity for transportation is lost.

The real alternative is finding ways to use less energy overall for transportation (better public transportation, better design of cities, etc.) But those problems present political and social problems at least as big as the technological challenges of building better batteries.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054370)

The real alternative is finding ways to use less energy overall for transportation (better public transportation, better design of cities, etc.) But those problems present political and social problems at least as big as the technological challenges of building better batteries.
Not trying to flamebait here, but every time I hear words to this effect the hairs on the back of my neck raise up. In essence, you're saying "The real solution isn't to invent some new technology to solve this problem (its not like we have a history of innovation or anything). The real solution is to completely re-invent our society because it's completely dependent on a vast supply of affordable energy.

In general, mankind's attempt at science-based engineering has proven far more successful and reliable than attempts to "engineer" societies.
 

Re:conservation of energy (1)

trimbo (127919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053998)

You bring up a good point about generation, but we know how to solve that (build nukes). So to use electricity in cars, the main problem is storage on the car. We have an infrastructure we know how to improve if we want to use electric cars.

With all other alternatives, the problems are generation, distribution and/or storage on the car. For ethanol, we know how to distribute it (just like gas), but it's not so clear how we're going to grow all of that corn and process it (imagine all of the required pesticides, water, etc). On the other end of the spectrum, we know how to produce hydrogen, but have no idea how to distribute it and store it in the car safely. There's no infrastructure for these.

Electricity has a clear infrastructure for all of these needs once the storage problem is solved. It will take years to get there, but at least we know what to do.

Re:conservation of energy (2, Informative)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054028)

I'm all for electric cars, but we'll need a lot more than a good battery to make it practical.

The only piece missing from either all-electric or "real hybrid" is a good* battery. Every Other Problem is a question of just putting existing technology into practice.

(By "good", I mean a battery that will let the vehicle run for at least 20 miles between charges, without adding unreasonably to the battery weight.)

Re:conservation of energy (1)

RallyDriver (49641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054134)

People are already making very practical electric cars [teslamotors.com] using existing off the shelf battery technology from laptop computers.

Re:conservation of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054438)

The EV1 already had around 100 mile range at least, and that was a 10 years ago. The range really isn't a factor unless you live in a rural areas.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054030)

You know, this point always gets brought up as an argument against electric cars.

But it fails to consider that centralized energy sources can still be more effectively controlled with regards to pollutants than independent mobile sources, and, more importantly, it is far easier to incrementally upgrade such centralized facilities over time to progressively use possible newer and cleaner methods of energy production when it would be impractical to distribute said measures effectively in a majority of vehicles.

Re:conservation of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054126)

I actually see a better use for this technology than just plain electric cars (which are a waste) and the obvious (laptops, cell phones, etc)

hybrid fuel cell cars, Honda has a hydrogen powered car that is a fuel cell car, but it basically powers an electrical motor. so that car's still electric, to save on hydrogen, (and thus the energy required to extract so much from water) apply one of these batteries to the system. voila. a truly efficient hybrid. make use of LEDs for interior lighting save energy.

The grid IS more efficient (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054192)

Your post is modded insightful, and I suppose many are inclined to agree. But lets do the math, shall we?

The Wiki [wikipedia.org] , has this to say about modern, large, fossil-fueled, thermoelectric power plants (look for combined cycle [wikipedia.org] ):

"The efficiency of a combined cycle plant can approach 60% in large (500+ MWe) units"

Roughly matches a number I had in my head. Basically, burn coal/oil/gas and get 100 units of heat. Power plant puts out 60 units in the form of electric power, and the remaining 40 units of heat gets dumped into the environment (or a place where that waste heat can be used!).

Let's factor in, say, ~4% losses during transmission over the electric powergrid. Then at the charging station, you have 0.96 x 60 = 57.6 units left.

Then there's losses in charging and discharging a battery. Let's take the suggestion of another poster and place this around 20%. Then you get 0.80 x 57.6 = 46.1 units out of the battery during your ride. That is pure electric power after all losses between burning fuel in the power plant and what you draw from + and - at the battery. An electric motor combined with modern power electronics will convert this into mechanic power (movement) with very high efficiency. I don't have a typical number here, but think >90%. Factor that in, and you get over 40% efficiency for the whole process.

Now I also don't have exact numbers for modern gasoline/diesel cars, but 40% of the heat from fuel turned into movement power? Maybe modern cars are that good, but I doubt it. If anyone has some more numbers on that: please fill us in.

And there's always the option to draw that electric power from a solar panel on your roof, a windmill in your backyard, or other sources (nuclear?). In case your electric car has a fuel cell onboard, that output can bypass the battery charge/discharge cycle -> losses in that cycle disappear.

So if I have my math right, modern gasoline/diesel cars have to be damn efficient to beat an electric vehicle. Indeed, the battery/storage still IS the problem here.

Re:The grid IS more efficient (1)

ishmaelflood (643277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054724)

Good. A step in the right direction.

First why would you cherry pick the efficiency of the most efficient plant, surely the least efficient would be the next one to get turned off? That is, you need to consider the marginal (or perhaps average) efficiency of the powerplant.

A diesel is around 40% efficient, of which maybe 75% gets to the ground.

The real reason that electric cars use less energy is that they are designed around a limited energy storage system. This biases the design towards high efficinecy. An oil powerd car is not so constrained, so if the choice is between fitting heavier electric chairs for example, and low weight, then there is less pressure to go for light weight. It is much easier to compensate for that by increasing the size of the tank, than it is to increase battery mass in an EV car.

It would be entirely possible to design diesel engined cars using the rigour that defines an electric car, but it is not worth it while oil is so cheap. Check out the Audi A2 for example.

Re:The grid IS more efficient (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054870)

Now I also don't have exact numbers for modern gasoline/diesel cars, but 40% of the heat from fuel turned into movement power? Maybe modern cars are that good, but I doubt it. If anyone has some more numbers on that: please fill us in.


For petrol, you are right - down around 30% - but for diesels (which most modern cars are in high fuel cost places like Europe) you are wrong.

Modern fuel diesel ICEs are 40-50% brake thermal efficiency.

Quote from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_autom obiles [wikipedia.org] :

Diesel engines have maximum energy efficiency of 45% and Petrol engines of 30%


To go closer to real references (rather than just Wikipedia), figure 4 in this http://www.llnl.gov/tid/lof/documents/pdf/237490.p df [llnl.gov] paper shows thermal efficiency hitting 40% for a 1990s VW TDI engine (newer PD & common rail diesels are even better).

Looking to near future, people are pushing ICEs (diesel of course) that can hit 50%+ and meet 2010 emissions targets, eg. from http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/ deer_2006/session3/2006_deer_aneja.pdf [energy.gov] we have:

50.2% Peak Thermal Efficiency at a Single operating Condition
  EPA 2010 Emissions Regulations over Steady-state and Transient Operation

Now, that's for larger vehicles first but the tech will likely work it's way down to car-sized engines (maybe sooner in the US where everyone drives truck-sized cars...).

So, maybe electric isn't the clear cut winner you thought.

Why not have a pooled battery swap system? (3, Interesting)

nickull (943338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054232)

What if you could make a standard for the batteries themselves and fuel stations offered quick change (not charge) capabilities where you pull in and replace your battery. A measuring device could credit you back for unused power in the battery you came in with and you would get charged for the power you take. This type of thing would have to be standardized and regulated (proper testing of batteries, quick change system and process, standard interfaces, centralized billing). Another idea might be to make commercial trucks use the same overhead wires that cities use for electric buses. The city would provide the power for free and the trucks would carry a reserve battery to get them to and from places where the wires don't reach. These are two ideas that are within our reach as a civilisation from a pure technical perspective. If the electricity is cleanly generated (wind, solar, hydro electric), it effectively would reduce hydrocarbon emissions.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054346)

Why does it need more than a good battery to be practical? Are you saying you couldn't be bothered to plug your car in when you get home at night? Or even at work. Who cares if taxes the electric grid? We can deal with that. Emissions? It's easier to deal with emissions at a few centralized locations than 1,000,000 independent units. As long as it gets the Saudis' cocks out of our asses, I'm all for it. 100%.

Re:conservation of energy (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054756)

Car electric or otherwise are the inefficiency in person. They weigh between 1000 kg and 2000 kg (not counting SUVs) and are used to move 100-200kg (1-2 Persons+some extra) around. I let you do the calculus, but that is not very efficient at all. In addition to that, a decelerating vehicle has to transform movement energy into heat. Compared to that, a (modern) streetcar is able to convert the energy back into electricity. Also they utilize less mass to move one person around, can go faster in cities (60-80 km/h instead of 50-60 km/h). And they have not to bother with traffic jams.

If we want to solve our energy problem we have to do two things:

  1. Use technologies to generate and store energy which are not harmful to nature. This includes nuclear plants. As they have two problems. a) They produce radioactive waste, we cannot handle properly and b) the usable amount of nuclear materials is also limited. Beside that, fusion will not work (at least not for another 100 years) and is also pointing in the wrong direction. Decentralized energy production make more sense.
  2. We have to consume less energy. We are able (based on technology) to reduce our energy usage by 80%. Without loosing comfort. We have just to change some behaviors and production methods. For instance a PC consumes more energy being build, than over its lifetime. Similar things apply to cars, modern home electronic, etc.

We could save a lot of energy, when we could run our equipment longer than today. Therefore these tools have to be reparable. Recycling is a good thing, but even better is not dumping it, but repairing it.

As good as this new battery is, it is not solving our energy and resource issues.

Reminder: We run into a copper shortage, when we stay with todays technologies. Electric cars, will need even more copper. So this shortage will come sooner.

Just the beginning (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053684)

There was recently a story about a company in Texas that has similar claims for this type of technology. Not sure what happened to them, but if either or both of them gets it right, I'll be converting my car to electric very quickly after the technology is proven not to be a huge maintenance bill waiting to happen, or worse.

In fact, I will probably invest in solar/other technology to supplement my use of electricity for the vehicle(s) as well. There are a couple of tax cuts for this, and I would like to not be dependent on fossil fuels. Yes, I know that electric generation does rely on them to some extent, but if I'm using solar it will reduce that dependence even further.

I hope this is true. I'd gladly charge up at a station that is currently selling gasoline if I was going to have to travel more than a single charge, but I'd like a single charge to go for more than 30-40 miles. Storage technology is the real hindering factor right now. I hope they are right, and not wanting to charge too much for the storage systems.

EEStor (2)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054280)

EEStor is not working on batteries, but ultracapacitors. While I am not certain about them, they have perkin Klienes (Sun, Google, and others backing) backing. I would guess that those folks have done their work and believe that it has merit. They are supposedly going to deliver this year.

Personally, I would skip the solar for a residence. They really do not make sense. For starters, you are generally at work with your car during the time that Solar is working. That means that you will send the majority of your energy to the grid. But you will be paid bottom dollar for it. Why? Because nearly all states set the rate and it is heavily waited in the advantage of the power company.

Instead, invest that 15K into alternative energy companies. For a sure bet, check out any of the top wind producers. They will all make money for years to come.

Offhand, I would look into any company that is trying to address the storage of Energy (except for hydrogen). One that I am fascinated by is Skyfuel.org. Basically, save solar as heat and use it to heat salts that are then driving a generator. What is lacking is that they can pair up with Power plants and use the waste heat to increase the initial amount of energy. From there, solar can "top it off" or they could even use extra power from the plant during their night cycle (rather than seeing them slow down the systems). This can also be paired with Wind so that the nighttime electricity is captured as heat and then turned to electricity during the day (i.e. when they are getting 2-5x the rate).

Probably not (4, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053698)

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for this particular development. But the sort of power you are looking at to charge batteries at that rate is enormous. Figure it out. If you have a battery that can, say, deliver 50KW for one hour, then to charge it in five minutes will require to deliver about 20% more than you get out (conversion efficiency) or a charge rate of 720KW. That's nearly 1000 horsepower in Library of Congress units. You aren't going to be passing that through a handy, easy to use electrical circuit any time soon.

On the other hand, overnight charging of the batteries (when power stations have spare capacity) is an extremely good idea, and indeed the dual hybrid concept good at good write up last year.

So my suggestion is: Yes, this is a really good idea, yes it is progress in terms of better flexibility of power supplies, yes it goes some way to resolve the problem that you cannot easily store electrical power by allowing it to be stored in a big distributed network of vehicles - but ten years is for too soon for it to take over as a technology.

The progressively replacement of gasoline engines by Diesel in Europe has been going on for over 20 years now, and that's probably a realistic timeframe. 20 years to get market penetration of battery vehicles, and then, only if renewable fuels turn out to be a failure, the progressive development of very high power charging stations.

Charge a flywheel over night (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053860)

If the issue is quick charging during the day with electriciy generated at night, why not use a flywheel at the charging station? This system http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/11/beacon_pow er_re.html#more [greencarcongress.com] (thanks Ron Backman) is well along in development. A bank of these should provide both the amperage and the capacity to run a commercial charging station with load shifting.
--
Make you car run on the Sun. http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

I doubt it will work for that. (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053996)

That's a load regulation technology. It's there to absorb and give out relatively small amounts of power to maintain frequency and harmonic performance of power systems. In other words, it's a capacitor rather than a battery.

The root problem is this: it makes far more sense to store surplus energy in batteries than in some intermediate, but that implies relatively slow battery charging since otherwise you have fluctuating high loads. Your solution would mean that, at any moment, the flywheels are being charged by or discharging energy greater than the average power output of the entire EV fleet. You would, in fact, need to install well over 2KW of electrical power transformation for every KW of output required. That is hardly economic.

Re:I doubt it will work for that. (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054224)

Just because it's possible to charge at that rate doesn't mean you must. To me this sounds as if the battery technology is a lot more robust, which in turn means you might not have to "baby" it as much as you do existing batteries in hybrids (never discharge below 40%, never charge above 70%).

And to me, for the near future, pure electric cars aren't going to be practical. Give me a high-efficiency plug-in flex-fuel/diesel hybrid. Overnight charging covers most driving, and the hybrid is good for longer trips. Make it reasonably affordable and I'll be happy.

Good Idea (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054678)

Plug-in Hybrids that are mainly oriented towards the electric propulsion side of things would be a good idea. Because people would naturally be inclined to use the plug-in electric overnight charging, since it's cheaper. But for those times when you're running out of juice on the road, it would obviously be desirable to be able to pull into a fuel station for a quick and convenient refill. If liquid fuel helps you do that refill more efficiently and conveniently than an electric recharging station when you're away from home, then fine. Let the mass market decide which way they find better.

Re:I doubt it will work for that. (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054274)

I'm not sure I see the problem. The issue was how do you do a quick charge, and for that a fast out supply like a capacitor or a flywheel makes sense. Both of these can trickle in so that basically solves the problem. Are you worried that there would be loss during storage? The design specs on the flywheel say it is to deliver 100 kW and hold 25 kWh, so that's a full discharge in 15 min.

Less like a gas station than like a substation (2, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054188)

Cruising down the freeway takes on the order of ten kilowatts or a little less. As Flying Pig points out, getting a quick recharge puts you close to a megawatt.

Every electric drive system I've seen from the Prius to electric dragsters winds up at a design optimum of 200-400 volts. We're therefore talking 2500 to 5000 amps, which is out of wire territory and into busbar territory, before allowing for inefficiencies.

Which may be the real problem. Pump a megawatt through something, and every percentage point of losses means ten kilowatts of heat you have to manage somehow. Some battery charging technology brags of "up to" 95% efficiency. Is there any way to handle that without liquid cooling?

Re:Probably not (1)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054342)

A similar calculation...

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline#Energy_conte nt [wikipedia.org] we see that a litre of petrol yeilds 30 MJ energy. Filling a tank of a small car with 40 litres of fuel takes perhaps 2 minutes to put 1.2 GJ into the the tank, which works out as a power input of 10 megawatts. A bit surprising for something so familiar, but there it is. If you are charging your car at home, you are unlikely to match that.

Hybrids will be the bridging tech (5, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053706)

All of the schemes for a high capacity, fast charging battery paired with fast charging stations suffer from the chicken and egg problem. The car buyers won't buy cars until there are lots of stations to stop at, and the service station owners won't convert revenue generating gas pumps to chargers until there are lots of cars that need them.
The solution is to build hybrids with fast charging batteries. Then car buyers can invest without fear of getting stranded. Once a large fleet is on the roads, service stations will start to convert.

BTW, this all asumes that TFA and similar techs are not vaporware.

Re:Hybrids will be the bridging tech (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053824)

People with commutes that make electric practical will convert, hybrid or not. It is likely that gas stations would simply add charging stations without removing pumps once they thought they would profit by having the charger.

What woes? (-1, Flamebait)

Kohath (38547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053712)

I thought we were all supposed to switch to electric cars for the environment, no matter how much worse off they'd make us. Shouldn't we care more about saving the earth than about the huge hit we're going to take to our standard of living? So what if we're much, much poorer? So what if people are hurt? Do people matter now? Since when?

Re:What woes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054268)

Do you really believe that the USA's standard of living is sustainable? At least, with how we're currently doing things? We're going to take a hit eventually, we might as well do it on our own terms.

Re:What woes? (1)

Vulva R. Thompson, P (1060828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054628)

Shouldn't we care more about saving the earth than about the huge hit we're going to take to our standard of living?

Obviously if we don't invest in doing the first, the second will be much worse off in the future.

Sorry, in real life sometimes things aren't as warm and fuzzy as mom's basement.

High current recharge stations? (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053756)

"...Will we finally be seeing high current recharge stations in the next decade?..."

Personally, I doubt that will ever happen in USA and here's why:

Huge influential oil companies like EXXON-MOBIL made profits of close to US$90 million per day in profits last year. Racking in almost US$33 Billion for the year. Now, who in their right mind can allow such a revenue stream to get suffocated by so called new technology?

I am of the opinion that we'll begin seeing this in "more pragmatic" Europe than here in these United States.

You don't need Exxon-Mobils permission. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053818)

Build one today. Go broke tomorrow.

You're going to need some 2 gauge wire for the charger cable.

But Henry Ford didn't ask the buggy whip manufacturers permission to start building cars. The eventual replacement won't ether.

Re:High current recharge stations? (4, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054042)

because not all their profits are from gasoline.

hell, quite a few oil companies don't even own refineries anymore. A lot of the gas people buy today comes from independant refineries.

I don't think we will outgrow carpet, plastic bags, and the millions of other items that currently use oil.

Plus, they have all that land now, think about it, ready made recharging stations :)

Re:High current recharge stations? (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054082)

Huge influential oil companies like EXXON-MOBIL made profits of close to US$90 million per day in profits last year. Racking in almost US$33 Billion for the year. Now, who in their right mind can allow such a revenue stream to get suffocated by so called new technology?

Who says it'd be the oil companies pioneering this? There are many other companies who'd love to get into it, such as power companies.

Re:High current recharge stations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054090)

Oil companies are not scared of electric or hydrogen cars. They are afraid of efficient vehicles, but as long as people want to drive SUVs (hybrid, electric, or whatever), they'll be selling the energy that powers them. Natural gas already provides a large amount of the electricity consumed. They aren't shipping that from Russia.

Re:High current recharge stations? (1)

TheSuperlative (897959) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054226)

Good companies are agile. Exxon-mobile and its kin have the assets to become a power company tomorrow if it wanted to. They will try to slow the move, yes, but ultimately, they will follow demand or perish.

Cost? (4, Insightful)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053770)

While this is interesting, I have to wonder about the cost of these batteries. I've seen many of these stories before, about some wonderful electric vehicle that's going to replace the gas-burner real soon. Except that the batteries needed cost more than any vehicle currently on the road. But it'll be practical "as soon as we get the costs down!"

I'll get excited when someone announces a reasonably priced, high-density, quick recharge battery. Until then, I'm going to regard it as yet another prototype - an interesting idea, but one of many.

I wonder... (0)

slowness (576562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053820)

how we'll end up refering to these stations in american slang.
Will it be, "I'm going down to the charge station..."
Nah, that doesn't work.

slons

Re:I wonder... (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054416)

Shocks. As in "I need to get a shock." "I'll be right with you, as soon as I get a bit of a shock." etc.

Whats the expected battery lifetime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18053832)

What is the expected battery lifetime? If you have to keep replacing batteries every year or two, this isn't a very good deal either.

Re:Whats the expected battery lifetime? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054680)

Typical li-ion is about 500-1000 charges. Assuming that you cycle through the batteries so that you have an equal amount of charge. For grins and giggles assume that you charge everyday (not likely), then it will last 1.5-3 years. OTH, if you charge every couple of days, then most likely it will last 5-8 years. By then, there will be a number of new batteries and/or capacitors to replace these. All in all, this is actually a very good idea.

Removable battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18053844)

A standardized rechargeable battery that could be slipped out of the vehicle and replaced seems like a possible alternative to the obsession w/in-vehicle recharging. Customers would be charged for energy, depreciation of battery, plus a profit. The vendor would maintain an inventory of batteries in charged/charging condition. For price, product differentiation batteries could retain standard form while being populated with different capacities. Meanwhile the actual swap-out could probably even be handled by a simple robotic mechanism at the vendor location.

Too bad it'll never happen. I suspect that if we were starting all over again w/liquid hydrocarbon fueled vehicles we'd get stuck at "what shape should we make the nozzle?"

Re:Removable battery? (1)

slickwillie (34689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054236)

That's what I have envisioned for decades now. You pull into the "fueling station", swap out battery packs and go on your way.

Re:Removable battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054382)

forost pist (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18053852)

a previously Are you GAY it was fun. If I'm over the same and help us! [mit.edu] found be on a wrong conducted at mIT Chosen, whatever charnel house. distribution. As cycle; take a and the Bazaar With any sort Are 7000 users Join GNAA (GAY users. Surprise For membership. What they think is go of the minutiae FreeBSD continues practical purposes sadness And it was 'Yes' to any Fate. Let's not be on baby...don't

General Motors? (1)

walter_f (889353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053856)

Har, har.

Technologically, GM lagging behind like almost no other car company.

Same as the old boss (0)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053858)

So there will be a new limiting factor.

Rather than fuel oil, we will have wars over platinum/copper/aluminum or whatever the new technology is made from.

Energy crisis "solved!" But at least one material will always be scarce.

Lesson: Be happy with what you have, and don't invent fake crises.

Lithium is supposed to be mellow (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053942)

I voted against this one in the firehose because I thought it got the technology wrong. The company web site mentions phosphates first, but later says they are doing lithium ion. I'm still not completely clear on what the technology is, just that they are announcing some supply contracts. In any case lithium is not that hard to come by, so your resource war might have to wait.
--
Solar: distributed energy: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

The real deal (5, Informative)

g00bd0g (255836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18053972)

These A123 cells are already in production and use. They are standard in the DeWalt 36V industrial battery pack. Most of the model airplane guys find it cheaper to ebay these and pull 'em apart for the cells than to buy them individually from A123.

They do perform extremely well, with about 2/3 the energy density of Li-Po, but with the dis/charge abilities of a good Ni-Cd. They are also supposed to have a very good service life, over 1000 complete charge cycles. At about 1/2 the price of Li-Po's I'm looking at picking some up for an upcoming EV project.

http://www.a123systems.com/html/home.html [a123systems.com]
http://www.a123racing.com/ [a123racing.com]

My EV project:

http://www.easyracers.com/pod/ [easyracers.com]

Gabe

Re:The real deal (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054396)

"They are also supposed to have a very good service life, over 1000 complete charge cycles. "

Not even three years of overnight charging? For a car that's not very inspiring...

Re:The real deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054690)

>> "They are also supposed to have a very good service life, over 1000 complete charge cycles. "

> Not even three years of overnight charging? For a car that's not very inspiring...

How often do you replace the Die Hard you currently have in your car?

You Don't Need to Replace Gas Pumps (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054012)

A couple comments referred to gas stations needing to replace their pumps. Actually, a car that runs primarily on electricity with gas/diesel as a backup would be ideally suited to get charged at grocery stores, movie theatres, shopping malls, restaurants, etc.

Plug in, order amount of electricity, go do your shopping/etc. and come back to a car ready to go. Employers could also do this at their offices, at first offering it as an employee perk and down the road as an additional revenue stream.

This could create competitive advantage in the near team and additional revenue long term for many companies.

What?! (1)

Tatsh (893946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054040)

General Motors has announced a plug-in hybrid SUV and Venture Vehicles is developing a fully electric 3 wheel vehicle.

I do not like either vehicle here, especially the SUV. Do they plan on making normal or small cars? Why waste technology on moving big hunks of junk or "strange" vehicles?

Re:What?! (1)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054122)

Chevy is also in the midst of putting together a normal sedan car. It's called the volt and is a serial hybrid, meaning that the drive system is all-electric with a gasoline generator supplementing the battery pack when it's drained. The thing gets 50 mpg off gasoline and much much more off electricity (I remember hearing 600 mpg equivelent for the electric component). You can read more about it at chevy's website at http://www.chevrolet.com/electriccar/ [chevrolet.com] . The batteries discussed in the article are going into it and are basically the only bottleneck at the moment.

Extremely high power requirements (0, Redundant)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054058)

Fast charging sounds great until you look at the power levels.

Based on some of the numbers floating about it looks like a 100 mile charge requires on the order of 30-50 kWhr (depending on vehicle size, efficiencies, driving patterns, etc.). Delivering this level of charge in 5 minutes means delivering between 360,000 to 600,000 watts to each "pump" at the station -- that's 600 to 1000 amps at 600 V. Delivering enough electricity to service station (a single road-side recharging station might need 3 to 6 MW of peak power to cover 5 to 10 "pumps") will probably tax the local distribution network and require construction of a lot of new power generation and distribution capacity.

As long as electric cars are an oddity, they won't tax the power grid, but any serious level of adoption could make things interesting.

Re:Extremely high power requirements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18054170)

Do you mean "they won't tax the power grid" as in The cars won't put stress on the power grid or the government won't slap huge taxes on electricity. I'd expect the latter comes before the former.

(Yes I'm in the UK where petrol tax is ridiculously high)

Re:Or The Station Can Refuel Overnight As Well (2, Insightful)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054330)

Of course you if you had fueling stations you wouldn't rely on just tapping the grid in real time, you'll install big batteries to charge continuously. Then you only need scale up your batteries and electrical service as business scales upward. You know, like how they store Gas in the ground to fuel your car instead of materialize it instantly when you fill up.

Yes they'll be additional efficiency losses, but initially these stations will only have to service a few people that normally get their charge at either end of a commute. Once demand really takes off we'll think of something else more efficient.

Re:Extremely high power requirements (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054420)

There just seems to be something wrong with this argument. We already deliver that kind of power to fuel stations by tanker, yet when we generate electricity, we like to centralize it in 500 MW chunks. Could it be that it is cheaper to deliver power by aluminum conduit than by tanker but we just don't do that because we don't have batteries for the cars? In any case, there is room below gas stations for power storage already excavated so building in some fast charge capacity should not be too hard.

Re:Extremely high power requirements (2, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054668)

Two issues back my argument. First, gasoline is very energy dense. A single gallon of gas stores about 44 kWHr (of which a car engine maybe extracts 12-15 kWhr).

Second, we already have the gas delivery infrastructure - all those filling stations, refineries, and tanker trucks. You may be correct that aluminum electron pipes may be cheaper than big-rig tankers, but we don't have the aluminum pipes or the power plants to supply them yet.

The U.S. used 390 million gallons of gas per day in 2006. This means that to replace gas with electricity we need on the order of 5.4 billion kWHr per day. This comes to at least 225,000 MW of new generating capacity or about 450 more of those 500 MW chunks. It would require about a 36% increase in total U.S. generating capacity.

It can be done, but it won't be easy or cheap.

don't cross the streams (1, Offtopic)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054492)

Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Or -- put more bluntly -- how can this be turned into a safe consumer product?

Interchangeable batteries (3, Insightful)

sorak (246725) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054640)

This may be a noob question, but why can't electric cars run on a system (especially now), where gas stations become changing stations, like what is often done with propane? We show up, replace an existing battery (which would have to be made easier to replace, I admit), with a freshly charged battery and pay the station for the service.

Cold Temperature Performance (1)

SummitCO (1043824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18054770)

Since not all of us live in California, how are these batteries going to perform in -20F? Did my vehicle range just drop to 10mi? That would kill the marketability of theh e-car. A lot of this country sees cold temperatures but the people will still expect their cars to work.
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  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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