The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: What is holding back electric car technology?  (Read 144276 times)

SteveFish

  • Guest
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #175 on: 22/12/2010 21:28:17 »
Geezer and Peppercorn, one point and a question. There are more battery types than Li-ion. Please explain why you think that Li-ion is inherently unstable, and why you think this is not just an engineering problem. Don't tell me about appliance battery problems, they may have just been poorly designed. Steve
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #176 on: 22/12/2010 22:00:59 »
Geezer and Peppercorn, one point and a question. There are more battery types than Li-ion. Please explain why you think that Li-ion is inherently unstable, and why you think this is not just an engineering problem. Don't tell me about appliance battery problems, they may have just been poorly designed. Steve

I think thermal runaway was mentioned - I think this is a particular issue with Li-ion (for reasons I don;t profess to understand). I don't know if this is as serious with the newer LiFePO chemistry.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #177 on: 22/12/2010 22:13:57 »
Steve,

There are many other types of batteries, but as far as I'm aware, the only technology that has enough energy density to make EVs practical at the moment is Li-ion.

All batteries can be dangerous, as can gasoline, because they contain a lot of stored energy, but only when we do rather extreme things to them. e.g. your car battery will explode if you "crowbar" it with a dead short, as will Ni-Cad cells, however, they do not spontaneously combust.

Unlike many other battery technologies, Li-ion cells contain a flammable electrolyte. Also, lithium is highly reactive and releases hydrogen in contact with water. They have multiple failure modes that can lead to thermal runaway, and when that happens, they start to burn. One of the best ways to initiate the thermal runaway is with heat, so when one cell starts to burn, there is a high probability of a domino effect that cannot be stopped.

They have a much higher probability of failure at elevated temperature. Unfortunately, when you charge them and discharge them, they get hot!

No doubt many of these concerns can be mitigated with very good engineering and vigilant quality control programs, but this particular technology is always going to be susceptible to catastrophic failure. Remember, Sony was one of the major players who got burned by this stuff already, and they are not exactly a fly-by-night corporation.

However, I'm no expert on this technology. There are a lot of good articles on the web that do a much better job of explaining the precise conditions for failure than I can. If I dig up a good one, I'll post a link.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #178 on: 22/12/2010 22:45:16 »
There is not a locomotive equivalent of this configuration - A train would never be developed in the parallel Diesel-and-Electric route (although...???).

Yup. You spoke too soon  :D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_73
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #179 on: 23/12/2010 00:19:20 »
There is not a locomotive equivalent of this configuration - A train would never be developed in the parallel Diesel-and-Electric route.
Yup. You spoke too soon  :D
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_73

touché! ;)
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #180 on: 23/12/2010 02:33:10 »
A lot of car manufacturers want to add a little techno-babble to their car descriptions.

Anybody really know why you want a "Hemi" in your pickup, or even what the heck it is?

The Hybrid is now widely recognized as a fuel/electric regenerative drive system.  So, in that sense, it is good to have a simple term for people to understand.

However, what the auto manufacturers don't tell the people is that there are other ways to improve automobile fuel efficiency than adding expensive hybrid systems.  Several European vehicles have broken 70MPG without the hybrid technology.  In fact, the Prius only gets mediocre fuel efficiency compared to European cars.  The original Honda Insight actually did much better than the Toyota, as well as its Honda successor.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #181 on: 23/12/2010 07:04:12 »

Anybody really know why you want a "Hemi" in your pickup, or even what the heck it is?


Isn't a hemi the thing that gives you a very sore bum?

Actually, my truck has one (a Hemi - not a sore bum). Once upon a time it actually meant "hemispherical combustion chamber", but I have to admit I haven't whipped one of the heads off to confirm that they are remotely hemispherical.
 

Post by SteveFish click to view.

SteveFish

  • Guest
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #182 on: 23/12/2010 18:16:45 »
Shrunk
Geezer, you have just given me a bunch of old information on LiCoO2 technology. There are probably a dozen different Lithium ion battery types with some in production and others under study. Here is a link to a slick presentation that was made by a MIT lithium battery researcher for the EPA about one version, the LiFePO4 battery that are already on the market. Safety concerns are covered. It is just an engineering problem. Steve

www.epa.gov/opptintr/nano/p2docs/casestudy3_chiang.pdf
 

Post by Geezer click to view.

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #183 on: 23/12/2010 18:44:02 »
Shrunk
Geezer, you have just given me a bunch of old information on LiCoO2 technology. There are probably a dozen different Lithium ion battery types with some in production and others under study. Here is a link to a slick presentation that was made by a MIT lithium battery researcher for the EPA about one version, the LiFePO4 battery that are already on the market. Safety concerns are covered. It is just an engineering problem. Steve

www.epa.gov/opptintr/nano/p2docs/casestudy3_chiang.pdf

Steve,

I'm glad to hear that they think they've solved the chemistry problem.

However, as far as I am aware, the Tesla and the Volt are still using technology that's prone to spontaneous combustion. It would be a pity if some of these early vehicles create issues that put the general public off the idea of EVs similar to the way the Hindenberg put the general public off airships.

If you go back and read what I've posted, you'll see that was the point I was trying to make.

When the technology that goes into EVs is sufficiently mature to meet the market needs in terms of safety, reliability and costs (capital and operating), I'm sure it will be adopted on a large scale. If we force the technology into the market prematurely, it could do more harm than good.

Just to reiterate, I do not have any objection to EVs in principle (despite any impression you seem to have to the contrary).
 

Post by SteveFish click to view.

SteveFish

  • Guest
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #184 on: 24/12/2010 01:37:47 »
Shrunk
Geezer, I believe that the LiFePO4 battery is intended for use in cars, but there are some even more interesting Lithium ion batteries on the horizon. I think there is one that can take a full charge in 30 minutes without getting hot. When talking about these things it would help me if you said what you do think is the appropriate course. It sometimes seems to me that you are an enthusiastic naysayer. Steve
 

Post by Geezer click to view.

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #185 on: 24/12/2010 04:08:50 »
Shrunk
Steve,

Naysayer, no. Electrical engineer, yes.

It comes from being a Senior VP of Engineering in high technology companies in California and having marketing guys, who don't know engineering from their elbows, tell me "it's simply an engineering problem". I imagine the poor blighters that are trying to get useful energy from fusion are being told the same sort of thing. The guys that worked on the hydrogen fuel cell cars that we were all promised fifty years ago probably had to deal with similar interference.

It's one thing to make a prototype of something and get everyone all hyped up about it. It's another thing entirely to make a product based on that prototype in high volume, and that difficulty increases in a very nasty nonlinear fashion when there is any possibility that the product will maim or kill the customers. It takes years and years for a corporation to establish a good name. It only takes about five minutes to destroy it because somebody overlooked an, apparently, insignificant detail.

It would be extremely interesting (if not downright scary) to listen in on some of the dialogue between the departments in GM that are responsible for the Volt. The pressure on the various engineering groups must be quite incredible. Perhaps J. Assagne can help us out with that one.

I can assure you of something. If the chemists are still looking for safer chemistry for Li-ion batteries, there is a lot of concern about the technology. No doubt GM and the rest are keeping a very close eye on these developments, but they can't switch to an alternative chemistry at the drop of a hat. The qualification cycle for a modified technology will be incredibly expensive, and although it's possible to accelerate the process with various ageing techniques and huge numbers of samples, it still takes an enormous amount of time and money.

Just to give you an idea, one very effective technique is to take a very large sample and devise an accelerated life test that causes every member of the sample to fail. Each failure is then carefully analysed and categorized. Every time you change anything in the design or manufacturing process, you have to consider very carefully whether you have to start the whole bloody thing over again, or not. If you try to cut, what looks at the time to be a very small corner, look out!
 
 

« Last Edit: 24/12/2010 07:46:24 by Geezer »
 

Post by SteveFish click to view.

SteveFish

  • Guest
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #186 on: 24/12/2010 16:41:34 »
Shrunk
Geezer, my point was that in a thread about what is holding back the electric car it would be helpful, especially in light of your work experience, to talk about what should be done instead of latching on to one problem and beating it to death. Our grandchildren's world needs some solutions. Steve
 

Post by Geezer click to view.

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #187 on: 24/12/2010 20:01:11 »
Shrunk
Geezer, my point was that in a thread about what is holding back the electric car it would be helpful, especially in light of your work experience, to talk about what should be done instead of latching on to one problem and beating it to death. Our grandchildren's world needs some solutions. Steve

I seem to remember that it was you who said I had introduced a red herring. I didn't. There are real concerns with Li-ion batteries. If you had simply asked for more information instead of jumping on to your soap box and giving us a lecture about "not understanding the big picture" as if we were part of a covert conspiracy to thwart the development of electric vehicles, this thread would be a much happier place.

What needs to be done is for everyone to set realistic goals for EVs that fall within the limitations of the current technology, which is still fairly immature. It needs time to be properly evaluated and refined. EVs are not yet a "silver bullet" that can solve the CO2 problem associated with personal transportation, although I'm sure they will help in a small way.

If battery technology advances significantly in terms of energy density, to, for example, double the current levels, that would make a huge difference. Unfortunately, as you can see from the report on the Volt, the density levels seriously limit the all-electric mode range. This will probably disappoint many potential buyers, and I'm sure it is greatly disappointing General Motors. You can bet they are doing everything they can to reduce that limitation.

There is also some irony associated with EVs. I might be feeling very "green" when I'm driving my EV, while I was actually exporting significant fossil carbon release and pollution to another part of the World. On the other hand, someone who who was running an automobile on synthesized gasoline that had been produced without releasing any fossil carbon would actually be much "greener".

EVs are one of many tools that we have at our disposal to solve the problem, but every one of them has some upside, and some downside. We are all going to have to make some compromises and accept some risks, and the sooner we all realize that, rather than looking for instant fixes, the sooner we will solve the problem.

 

Post by SteveFish click to view.

SteveFish

  • Guest
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #188 on: 24/12/2010 23:03:56 »
Shrunk
Geezer, the red herring is railing against cars that are going to blow up worse than the Pinto (or whatever) without offering an alternative. In the next 20 years, or so, we are going to have to be well into the process of transferring to a transportation system that is much less dependent upon fossil fuels. This can be high mileage gas and diesel small cars. but more importantly this should be toward renewable biofuel or electric technologies. If we don't do this we will be stuck with expensive fossil fuels at a time when it will be much more expensive to make the switch. This imperative is also important for solving both global warming and ocean acidification issues so, at least, all the concerns are congruent. If we don't do this my grandkids are going to be up the proverbial creek without a paddle. If we don't do this the only paddle will be military action to try to get a larger share of the dwindling fossil fuels or descending back into a third world economy for western nations. This is the big picture that I am concerned with. I am enthusiastic to hear what solutions you have to solve this problem. Steve
« Last Edit: 24/12/2010 23:08:18 by SteveFish »
 

Post by Geezer click to view.

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #189 on: 25/12/2010 03:11:01 »
Shrunk
Geezer, the red herring is railing against cars that are going to blow up worse than the Pinto (or whatever) without offering an alternative.

Steve, pardon me, but stop trying to put words in my mouth. I was not railing against electric cars. I don't believe I even mentioned the Ford Pinto (perhaps it was you that brought it up). Furthermore, I had not realized you had implemented the rule (in bold above) on this forum. I'll try to be more careful in future.

The title of this thread is "What is holding back electric car technology?". That was the question I was attempting to answer. The fact that my answer greatly offended you is your problem, not mine.

If you want to start a new topic along the lines of "What are we going to substitute for fossil fuels when they run out?" or something along those lines (which I agree is a very good question) then please start a new thread. Threads tend to go downhill fast when we try to answer different questions.

BTW, Happy Hollidays!
 

Post by SteveFish click to view.

SteveFish

  • Guest
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #190 on: 25/12/2010 04:41:13 »
Shrunk
Geezer:

Never mind.

Steve
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #191 on: 08/01/2011 08:34:24 »
This is Ford's response. I think they are doing a good job by setting realistic expectations. Their comments regarding infrastructure are very interesting.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20110107/tc_pcworld/forddebutsallelectriccar
 

Offline Pumblechook

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #192 on: 10/01/2011 18:35:34 »
Electric car sales have droppeded like a stone in the UK.   
 

Offline teragram

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 122
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #193 on: 18/01/2011 18:41:03 »
Electric car sales have droppeded like a stone in the UK.  

From what, to what?
 

Offline preacher

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #194 on: 25/01/2011 11:32:33 »
i have a solution to the electric car problem, but most people will say that its to easy to be true, but i am tryin to be careful about revealing my discovery. i just hope to have enough security before revealing the idea
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #195 on: 25/01/2011 12:52:35 »
i have a solution to the electric car problem, but most people will say that its to easy to be true, but i am tryin to be careful about revealing my discovery. i just hope to have enough security before revealing the idea
Which particular electric car problem?... I look forward to be able to invest my many millions in your idea...
 

Offline preacher

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #196 on: 25/01/2011 14:14:43 »
i have a solution to the electric car problem, but most people will say that its to easy to be true, but i am tryin to be careful about revealing my discovery. i just hope to have enough security before revealing the idea
Which particular electric car problem?... I look forward to be able to invest my many millions in your idea...


the problems as regard to charging the batteries and the weight, my electriccar just need two 200 amps battery to start the car, once the car has started it first 20 revolution the arrangement picks it from there. and once the car is on motion the battery will be serving as a bridge while charging.
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #197 on: 25/01/2011 17:13:36 »
the problems as regard to charging the batteries and the weight, my electriccar just need two 200 amps battery to start the car, once the car has started it first 20 revolution the arrangement picks it from there. and once the car is on motion the battery will be serving as a bridge while charging.

200 Ah battery? Are you claiming power or peak energy drawn? Also Amps means nothing without Volts.

Charging from where? (please don't say the rotating wheels...)
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #198 on: 25/01/2011 17:39:15 »
Uh oh! I hope we're not trying to break the law again.
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #199 on: 26/01/2011 05:28:38 »
the problems as regard to charging the batteries and the weight, my electriccar just need two 200 amps battery to start the car, once the car has started it first 20 revolution the arrangement picks it from there. and once the car is on motion the battery will be serving as a bridge while charging.
200 Ah battery? Are you claiming power or peak energy drawn? Also Amps means nothing without Volts.
Charging from where? (please don't say the rotating wheels...)
A little more explanation is needed.
Many electric motors are "Capacitor Start" to give a little extra boost at low revs.

Ah is a little different...  Amp Hours, or how long the battery will last.
Most car batteries can put out on the order of 1000 Amps at 12.6V (or maybe with a voltage drop) for a brief period of time. 

Your issues, of course, are both the acceleration curve, and the maintenance power.  I've ridden bicycles enough to know that I can't coast forever on the flats  :-\
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #199 on: 26/01/2011 05:28:38 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums