What is holding back electric car technology?

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Offline baker1

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« on: 15/12/2008 02:47:57 »
anyone have any fresh ideas that might advance the electric car concept?
 
« Last Edit: 18/12/2008 18:14:47 by chris »

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Offline Pumblechook

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Re: What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #1 on: 15/12/2008 07:12:48 »
Electric cars have too many snags. 

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Offline Don_1

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Re: What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #2 on: 15/12/2008 07:25:05 »
Until electricity can be generated efficiently without the use of fossil fuels or nuclear reactors and stored in equally efficient batteries, I do not see electric powered transport as the answer to our problems  vis-à-vis CO2 and pollution.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline teragram

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Re: What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #3 on: 18/12/2008 17:56:04 »
Don_1, "..... I do not see electric powered transport as the answer to our problems  vis-à-vis CO2 and pollution."

With the greatest respect, what is the answer?

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Offline Bored chemist

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #4 on: 18/12/2008 18:48:43 »
Fewer people?
Please disregard all previous signatures.

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Offline techmind

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #5 on: 18/12/2008 22:07:17 »
anyone have any fresh ideas that might advance the electric car concept?

Probably the biggest problem is that the energy density of batteries (ie stored energy compared to weight and to size) is low compared to petroleum.
In other words, you have to have a big, heavy (and expensive) battery to get you very far. Carrying deadweight around decreases performance for stop-start driving, and increases the energy requirements to climb hills.

We then have the small issue of practical power-connection (charging) for people who don't have private garages or driveways. Drag cables across pavements and leave overnight?
No viable battery technology can recharge in the few minutes taken to refuel with petrol (and no present domestic supply could provide enough instantaneous power/current to do so anyway).


I'll leave it as an exercise for someone else to calculate the energy in Joules (then kilowatt-hours) in 45litres of premium unleaded, and then calculate how many hours it would take to pull that same amount of energy out of the domestic 240V electricity supply limited by a 60amp company fuse...

Needless to say, if everyone swapped to an electric car overnight, we'd need some major upgrades to our electricity distribution infrastructure one way or another. I think we'd more than double our electricity usage.
« Last Edit: 18/12/2008 22:15:05 by techmind »
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Offline Chemistry4me

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #6 on: 18/12/2008 22:56:41 »
No one wants to invent a viable one because they'll get assassinated by some oil company hired hit-man...

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lyner

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #7 on: 18/12/2008 23:21:08 »
It's much cheaper (and legal) to buy out inventors, actually. They are always doing it. When the time comes to jump, they'll all jump into the electrical pond - using the technology which they own already.

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Offline LeeE

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #8 on: 19/12/2008 00:29:02 »
The main thing that's holding back electric car technology is weight.  Then performance.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Don_1

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #9 on: 19/12/2008 08:36:17 »
Don_1, "..... I do not see electric powered transport as the answer to our problems  vis-à-vis CO2 and pollution."

With the greatest respect, what is the answer?

Fewer people?

Apart from BC's answer, I do not know. We need to travel less and supply our needs from our own locality. Since this is simply not possible in towns and cities such as London, New York, Paris etc. etc. we must continue to transport our requirements over great distances.

Go buy a pizza and look at the ingredients. Now think of where those ingredients came from; Wheat flour perhaps from America, tomatoes from Holland, sun dried tomatoes from Italy, olive oil from Greece, cheese from New Zealand, herbs from France, pineapple from Brazil, ham from Denmark, cardboard packaging from the UK and all put together in Germany.

How many thousands of miles has that pizza travelled???

This planet cannot sustain man's appetite.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline teragram

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« Reply #10 on: 19/12/2008 20:28:45 »
"Electric cars have too many snags."  
"We then have the small issue of practical power-connection (charging) for people who don't have private garages or driveways. Drag cables across pavements and leave overnight?
No viable battery technology can recharge in the few minutes taken to refuel with petrol (and no present domestic supply could provide enough instantaneous power/current to do so anyway)."
"Needless to say, if everyone swapped to an electric car overnight, we'd need some major upgrades to our electricity distribution infrastructure one way or another. I think we'd more than double our electricity usage."
"The main thing that's holding back electric car technology is weight.  Then performance"   .........etc. etc.

So do we then just give up?, and admit that we cannot progress beyond the 19th century when it comes to transport technology?
I thought this was a science forum!!
Reading all this, the "fewer people" answer is the one we'll have to put up with.

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Offline Pumblechook

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #11 on: 19/12/2008 22:56:07 »
"So do we then just give up?"

How do you solve all the problems then?..  Wave a magic wand.






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lyner

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #12 on: 20/12/2008 00:06:51 »
The charging time problem is far from intractable. I have a cordless drill with just two batteries. One charges whilst I am using the other and the system works on a continuous basis for all but the most intensive jobs. A third battery would cope with almost any circumstance.
A petrol station could be replaced by a battery swap station - no deliveries needed - just a whacking great mains supply cable and a vast number of  batteries on charge. The volume taken up would be somewhat more than the existing fuel storage tanks, of course, but change over would / could be quicker and a lot safer than pouring inflammable fuel all over your shoes instead of into your tank.

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #13 on: 20/12/2008 09:19:41 »
30-odd years ago on Tomorrow's World they said we'd all be driving nuclear-powered cars by 2000  [:D]
Fledgling science site at http://www.sciencefile.org/SF/content/view/54/98/ needs members and original articles. If you can help, please join.

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lyner

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« Reply #14 on: 20/12/2008 11:25:02 »
Raymond Baxter was a Sports commentator, wasn't he?

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Offline graham.d

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #15 on: 20/12/2008 14:14:04 »
You are all a bit negative I think. Electric cars do not necessarily mean batteries for a start. What about Hydrogen Fuel Cells for example? It is still an electric car with a relatively simple and efficient electric motor and it does not take longer to fill up with hydrogen than with petrol or diesel. London has a couple of Mercedes buses that work with such a design at the present time so it is a practical solution.

I can also say, from having tried out a Lexus hybrid for a couple of days, that even batteries, when combined with a petrol engine, certainly improve the fuel consumption. In the case of the Lexus, this was combined with very impressive performance too. It may not be wholly green, but it is certainly a step forward. I admit there wasn't too much room in the boot (trunk) though.

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Offline teragram

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #16 on: 20/12/2008 15:59:37 »
Thanks to graham.d for some common sense.
My next comments are these:-
My car can cover well over 700 miles on one “charge” (50litres).
This range capability is useful to me three or four times a year.
The majority of car journeys are I think within the range of even present day electric car technology.
We still are building and buying cars which can achieve ridiculously high maximum speeds (average speeds in U.K. towns are I think about 20m.p.h.) and are ridiculously heavy. Transport fuel demand could be reduced enormously (15-20%) by reducing trunk road speed limits from 70 (U.K.) to 50m.p.h., (be a lot safer to).
These are some of the points in response to “what could we do without new technology?”

The amount of energy in 45 litres of petrol is about 1,700MegaJoules, but the petrol engine converts about 1,200MegaJoules of that into waste heat, 500MegaJoules into motive power. Diesel engines are of course superior, but not astonishingly so.
If the motive power was supplied by electric motors, only about 170MegaJoules would be wasted,
In response to the original question:-

Electric motor technology is advancing encouragingly, see Siemens e-corner, Flightlink PML, (both in wheel motor technology, NO COMMENTS ABOUT UNSPRUNG WEIGHT PLEASE).
Battery technology also, see Altairnano in California (application of nanotechnology to battery development).
The possibility of motors such those above means that a car would have no gearbox and clutch (needed in conventional cars because the I.C. engine is so ill-matched to the load requirements) and no differential, all of which contribute to poor efficiency. They are perfectly suited to energy recovery on braking (not a fantastic amount unless you’re in a race, but useful)

I find all the negative attitudes to the need for drastic new methods of transport and energy to be extremely discouraging and I repeat "I thought this was a Science Forum"

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Offline Pumblechook

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #17 on: 20/12/2008 17:09:50 »
It is a science and engineering forum and not a science fiction forum.

Batteries.... You need at least a ten fold increase in energy stored per weight.  You need cheap safe and long life batteries.   
 
Unless domestic electricity supplies are beefed up by a factor of several times (very unlikley to happen) home charging will always be slow.  Even charging on an industrial scale will never be fast.  Battery swapping seems to be the only alternative and at current battery weight and bulk it is not really on.

People want  versatility..  They may do the same short journey day after day but they will want to go and see their granny etc etc now and again which involves an extra 10 miles.   A 50 mile range will mean you won't risk going more than 20 miles from home. 

Look at the G-wiz.  You have to take range figures etc with a bucket of salt. 


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Offline yor_on

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« Reply #18 on: 20/12/2008 17:11:26 »
In fact 'fewer people' is the viable answer:)
This is what we need to consider.

Any way, there are a lot of short term solutions energy wise:)
If we would 'permanent' them though the power(s) 'that be' would have to change.
As our society would change.

Less central control.
more diversification with lesser possibilities to 'supervise' us.
Unless we accept a 'police state'.
Which wouldn't surprise me:)
"BOMB DISPOSAL EXPERT. If you see me running, try to keep up."

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #19 on: 21/12/2008 17:03:57 »
One issue with batteries and fuel cells is that they store an enormous amount of energy and if they're damaged there's a risk of all that energy being released at once in an explosion.  This doesn't sound too different from the case with petrol but while petrol will burn it won't explode in atmospheric air.  It explodes in the cylinders but this is only after it is atomised and mixed with air in the right combination.  In this respect petrol is safer than batteries or fuel cells.

Hydrogen fuel, carried separately and used in a fuel cell type convertor, might be the best option.  As with petrol, Hydrogen won't explode in atmospheric air unless the mixture is right, although it will of course burn, but it's problematic stuff to carry around.  It's molecules, being so small, will leak out of fuel tanks very quickly unless they're made and maintained to a high standard.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Don_1

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« Reply #20 on: 21/12/2008 17:20:41 »
There is a great deal of emphasis on electric cars here, i.e. personal transport. If you really want to do something which will be of some benefit to the environment, forget electric cars, in fact, forget ALL forms of personal transport which need more than your own body power. Then tackle the wider problem of the transport of provisions.

An electric 42 ton truck??? I don't think so.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #21 on: 21/12/2008 18:08:38 »
I gather the Tesla Roadster has been tested by Clarkson on Top Gear and the prog is on tonight on BBC2.  Sounds like Tesla objected to the findings.  For one thing there is some argument about the charging time of 16 hours versus 3.5 hours.   I would have thought that 3.5 hours is simply not possible with British domestic (or any other in the World) supplies and 6 hours would be more like it.

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Offline teragram

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« Reply #22 on: 21/12/2008 18:50:54 »
The original question was -
"anyone have any fresh ideas that might advance the electric car concept?"
I think I am the only one to have attempted to answer this so far. Most of the replies seem to be merely concerned with stating the problems of electric cars. Any mention of electric cars seems to frighten a lot of people. Why don’t we remember the problems with conventional cars?

"One issue with batteries and fuel cells is that they store an enormous amount of energy and if they're damaged there's a risk of all that energy being released at once in an explosion."

Developments on Li-ion batteries seem likely to address this problem. Also, is being in a fireball any better than being in an explosion?

If every experimenter or engineer just accepts all the problems stated, and didn't bother doing any development, then alternatives will never appear. This applies to every other technological endeavour. I remember the appearance of transistors spawning the argument "transistors will never replace valves". We now have phenomenally powerful computers in almost every home.
Incidentally, this is not an invitation to open the debate here on whether valve audio amplifiers are better than transistor ones.

There is no science fiction here, we just have to change our lifestiles.

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Offline techmind

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #23 on: 21/12/2008 20:36:14 »
"So do we then just give up?"

How do you solve all the problems then?..  Wave a magic wand.

Well, forgive us for being negative, but the thread title appears to be
"What is holding back electric car technology?"
so that could be expected to direct the tone of many of the replies.


Fundamentally, moving an individual around in a steel cage/contraption with 5 to 10x the mass of the occupant is going to be inefficient because you have all that deadweight.

Although it doesn't come with creature-comforts, the bicycle is a far lower-energy method of getting around. It's a shame that inconsiderate car drivers often make cycling on our roads an unpleasant and hazardous activity.

Mass-transit systems (buses, coaches, trains) are far more fuel-efficient than private cars too - but have their drawbacks in terms of limited routes, limited frequency of service, sharing space with strangers etc etc. On the other hand, if more people used them then the logistics of frequency and routes becomes helped by economies of scale.

Electric cars could probably be 2-3x (thereabouts) more energy-efficient than petrol cars - but far greater savings could be achieved by considering wider options for transport.

Another possibility is if we all owned much smaller 1-2 person cars as local runabouts (electric or otherwise), and adopted the mindset of hiring larger cars just on the rare occasions when we actually need to cover longer distances or carry bigger loads.


Electric cars would have some advantages, but shouldn't be viewed as a magic bullet. The solution to excessive energy use is not purely more technology, but technology alongside some changed lifestyle expectations.
« Last Edit: 21/12/2008 20:41:16 by techmind »
"It has been said that the primary function of schools is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions. Some, with whom the schools do not succeed, become scientists." - Schmidt-Nielsen "Memoirs of a curious scientist"

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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #24 on: 21/12/2008 21:00:34 »
I think Top Gear got it about right. A great car but only for as long as the batteries have juice.  The programme will be viewable on BBC i-player.

Electric car manufactrurers and fans do themselves no favours by quoting silly figures that tests and calculations reveal to be bogus.


I don't see how electric vehicles can be more energy efficient than petrol ones.  After all the batteries are only a means of storing energy from some other source and there are losses all the way from the power station to the battery.  Maybe less than half of the mechanical energy produced by the turbines reaches the driving wheels of a vehicle.

You could say electric vehicle users are (deluded) polluting, parasitic tax dodgers if you wanted to be unkind but there is some truth in that.

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lyner

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« Reply #25 on: 22/12/2008 01:18:49 »
Quote
It's a shame that inconsiderate car drivers often make cycling on our roads an unpleasant and hazardous activity.
As they don't pay road tax, do cyclists deserve any consideration? (I'm not advocating knocking them over on purpose.)
And how many cyclists 'consider' the pedestrians they terrorise on the pavements?

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Offline teragram

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« Reply #26 on: 22/12/2008 16:13:54 »
Thanks, Pumbechook, for pointing out that “Top Gear” had planned a feature on the Tesla, I would have missed it otherwise.
I was AMAZED that the car covered 55 miles on one charge when being driven like a racing car. This better than I anticipated. A more useful trial would have included a test of range under more normal driving conditions. After all, how many of us drive at speeds comparable to the lap time of a Porsche something-or-other. Pretty good with a motor the size of a melon, though? The statement that it requires 16 hours for a charge seems a bit suspect. I think the Tesla has a 26KW/hr battery, which if it requires 30KW/hr to charge (a guess) would need 10 hours to charge from a 13Amp outlet. Quite a load for a 13Amp circuit, but most houses have 30 or 40Amp circuits for cookers, showers, etc., why not a car charging circuit? With regard to the time required to charge, when I was working, my car stood in the garage 12 hours each day, and the office car park for 9 hours. Even with a range of 50miles, there would be plenty of time for charging.
The later “Top Gear” feature offered the Honda Clarity hydrogen powered car as an alternative. Thankfully this car uses a fuel cell and electric drive, gaining three times the energy from the hydrogen than would an I.C. engine. I understand however that producing hydrogen uses five the power required to charge a battery. This, with the need for new infrastructures, seems to put it into the “impractical” category.

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Offline teragram

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« Reply #27 on: 22/12/2008 16:17:51 »
I meant of course "five times the power" Moral, proof read before you publish!!

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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #28 on: 22/12/2008 16:59:53 »
The Tesla batteries are 53 kWh (I have also seen 56 kWh) so given the efficiency of a charger and the charging process 16 hours from a 13 amp socket sounds to be  the right area or somewhat optimistic....20 hours more like and if you had a higher power supply but still domestic with a 40 Amp breaker 6 hours would the fastest practical 'fast' charge if you kept all other high power devices off (no taking a shower unless it is gas powered).  I also thought that 55 miles wasn't bad when driving at high speed. Do the sums..53 kWh and 185 kW max motors..   For Tesla to turn round and say that Top Gear fiddled it and 250 miles is the correct range.. what planet are Tesla living on??  Sounds like the spokeslady from Tesla has believed her own company hype. 
« Last Edit: 22/12/2008 17:02:27 by Pumblechook »

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #29 on: 22/12/2008 17:11:40 »
Quote
"One issue with batteries and fuel cells is that they store an enormous amount of energy and if they're damaged there's a risk of all that energy being released at once in an explosion."

Developments on Li-ion batteries seem likely to address this problem. Also, is being in a fireball any better than being in an explosion?

The developments in Li-ion batteries are mostly about making them more efficient and not safer and most of these developments focus on making the battery element smaller/thinner, so that more elements can be used for the same size and weight.  If anything, this would tend to make them less robust and more susceptible to manufacturing flaws.  I don't know if you were aware of it but there have been a couple of very large scale Li-ion battery recalls due to the batteries spontaneously bursting in to flame in laptop computers - google "sony battery recall".

A fireball is quite a lot less destructive than an explosion.

Re the Top Gear Tesla test, it seems that at no point did either of the two Teslas they had run out of power during testing, and neither did any major faults (requiring more than a fuse-change) occur.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #30 on: 22/12/2008 17:28:29 »
It seems that they hadn't run out of power?  Do the sums.  Two of us are impressed that they even got 55 miles.   

Sounds like Tesla is in trouble.  The boss has quit.  I never saw the point in such as car unless it was to flog some to rich kids and then wind up the company.   


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paul.fr

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« Reply #31 on: 22/12/2008 22:03:29 »
Thanks, Pumbechook, for pointing out that “Top Gear” had planned a feature on the Tesla, I would have missed it otherwise.


Why would anyone listen to Clarkeson when it come to this subject? He is not known for his eco-friendly views, to say the least.
« Last Edit: 22/12/2008 22:05:04 by Paul. »

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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #32 on: 22/12/2008 22:10:43 »
The Tesla aint exactly eco is it?



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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #33 on: 23/12/2008 12:06:51 »
What if you need to go out in an emergency while your car is charging? "Sorry, dear, I can't take you to the hospital to have that nail removed from your head for another 2 hours 17 minutes. Take an aspirin".
Fledgling science site at http://www.sciencefile.org/SF/content/view/54/98/ needs members and original articles. If you can help, please join.

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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #34 on: 23/12/2008 14:20:02 »
Limited range would suit very few people.  Although many might do a short predictable journey day after day there are times when they will want to go on to somewhere else or make a diversion for a romantic asignation or buy a tap washer.

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #35 on: 23/12/2008 18:09:49 »
Quote
It seems that they hadn't run out of power?  Do the sums.  Two of us are impressed that they even got 55 miles

Just reporting what the Beeb has admitted

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/12/22/bbc_top_gear_tesla/
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline teragram

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« Reply #36 on: 23/12/2008 20:17:18 »
Apologies for understating the battery capacity. Also,hydrogen production requires about 4 types the energy a battery requires, not 5 times (all approximate) as I previously stated.
The charging problems are all defeatable, no knew technology required.
The nail in the wife’s head does not need to wait until the battery is fully charged, even if the battery is completely dead, partial charge is useful. Be more kind to your wives!
Romantic assignations (I wish) need not be at long distance. Anyway, behave!!
Battery cars will get more eco if renewable generation continues to increase.
I remain impressed by the range of 55 miles at racing car speed. As I said, we need to know the range at more civilised speeds. I am not impressed by a flashy sport car though, only by the possibilities it shows for more useful electrical vehicles
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #37 on: 23/12/2008 20:54:09 »
Some of us are accused of being negative but there are serious snags which can't be dismissed easily. You can't assume that some amazing solutions are around the corner.  You can't get around the fact that a high capacity battery needs a beefy electrical supply and charging in minutes really is science fiction.  Even if a suitable battery chemistry existed you are taking about a 200 kW supply for a 20 minute charge (still quite a long time compared to filling a tank with petrol).. say 250 volts at 800 Amps..  The charging plug would be enormous and weigh many kg and the cable would like be as thick as your leg. 

I still think one of the best battery technolgies we have is the 150 year old lead-acid.  The big snag is their bulk and weight.  Li-ion is not a good technology.   

Why did a fuse blow?  Fuses blow when there is a fault. It is what they are there for.

I would like to see a respected organisation or a Uni to do some proper tests on the Tesla.
« Last Edit: 23/12/2008 20:59:24 by Pumblechook »

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Offline Doug Saga

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« Reply #38 on: 29/12/2008 12:26:38 »
get ready to go electric:

Car sales tumble to worst fall since 1991
Car sales during October showed their worst annual decline for seventeen years, falling by just below by a quarter in the worst set of figures seen since the last recession.

During October, cars sales fell 23 per cent to 128,352, reflecting the sharply deteriorating economy and the worst of several months of accelerating declines where sales of luxury cars, such as the Bentley, as well as people carriers have been hit particularly hard.

Sales of new cars fell 21 per cent in September, despite the introduction of new '58' number plates, and by 19 per cent in August. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which releases the data, sales last fell by more than a quarter back in June 1991.

The weak figures were underlined by dismal results from the world's largest carmaker, Japan's Toyota, which said that this year's operating profit would be 63 per cent lower than expected due to an "unprecedented" sales collapse in Europe, the US as well as faltering trade in China and India.

the race is on !

"Nissan's own electric car development team is aiming to design lithium batteries with three times the charge capacity of existing models, meaning that an electric vehicle could travel up to 500km on a full charge. "

newbielink:http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article5091986.ece [nonactive]

Japanese industry set for a lithium rush as carmakers turn focus to green motoringLeo Lewis, Asia Business Correspondent
Japan's largest automotive and electronics giants are poised to embark on a worldwide scramble for lithium - the material that could be required in bulk if the roads of the future are to be filled with electric cars.

Companies as diverse as Toyota and Panasonic could add mining or lithium-extraction operations to their portfolio of businesses as the technology that powers laptops and iPods is upgraded to drive the Chevrolet Volt, the Mitsubishi Miev and a dozen other electric cars that are on their drawing-boards.

The lithium-ion battery has recently emerged as a potentially critical stop-gap green technology as the motor industry gradually weans itself off the internal combustion engine. Although substantial advances have been made in the production of a commercially viable fuel cell vehicle, infrastructure issues - such as the lack of any network of hydrogen fuelling stations - mean it could be some decades before they enter the mainstream. Cars that can be plugged in and charged overnight, meanwhile, represent a more immediate development focus for the carmakers.

The impending rush to secure stable lithium supplies comes as large swaths of Japanese industry are suffering a crisis of confidence about their pipeline of raw materials. As a country that relies entirely on imports to feed its factories, companies now talk of building “upstream supply” in the form of investment in mines.

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Panasonic wary of rivals as it prepares Sanyo bid
Panasonic poised to launch bid for Sanyo
Panasonic, which stands to become the world's largest producer of lithium batteries if it completes its planned purchase of Sanyo, its local Osaka rival, has amassed a $10 billion (£6.2 billion) cash reserve for overseas acquisition.

A company spokesman said that while it had no concrete plans at the moment, purchasing an interest in a lithium production facility could “be thought of as one option”.

In addition to the emerging pursuit of lithium, Japanese trading companies have begun an energetic land-grab for other types of mines: bauxite, platinum and nickel are prime targets because of the huge demand from Japanese industry.

Stung by soaring prices earlier this year, motor companies have even begun to look at securing their own supplies of raw materials for steel production. Toyota Trading - an affiliate of the carmaker - has already bought part of a coking coal mine and admitted that further mine investments, including lithium, were a possibility.

Research by The Times suggests that at least ten leading Japanese companies have begun investigating ways of securing lithium supplies, or are mulling corporate alliances that would guarantee a degree of price stability. Some are considering outright purchases of existing lithium production facilities in Chile and Argentina, while others are looking at investing in planned lithium plants in China.

Global leaders in lithium-ion batteries, such as Sanyo and NEC Tokin, have unveiled improvements to the technology that have persuaded big carmakers, such as Nissan, to invest heavily in the development of next-generation electric cars.

Nissan's own electric car development team is aiming to design lithium batteries with three times the charge capacity of existing models, meaning that an electric vehicle could travel up to 500km on a full charge.


Subject: electric cars

The type of technological enabler that will lead to the overwhelming adoption of electric cars:

Battery is actually an ultracapacitor. A full charge should give the capacitor sufficient energy to drive a small car 300 miles (480 km). Although the technology should allow very fast charging (e.g., 5 minutes), standard household wiring is not capable of delivering the power required for this, so charging times this short would probably require purpose-built high capacity dispensing stations.[5]

newbielink:http://www.cleantech.com/news/3174/eestors-weir-speaks-about-ultracapacitor-milestone [nonactive]

newbielink:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor [nonactive]

EEStor's Weir on ultracapacitor milestone
July 30, 2008 - Exclusive By David Ehrlich, Cleantech Group

EEStor claims third party verification
EEStor ultracapacitors to run LightEVs cars
Zenn gearing up for EEStor-powered car
Lockheed Martin to use EEStor's ultracapacitors
Zenn electric cars cleared for Canada
The stealthy energy storage developer's product is real and will meet specs, claimed passionate CEO Richard Weir in an exclusive interview.
Cedar Park, Texas-based ultracapacitor developer EEStor could be a step closer to shipping its first product, announcing the certification of production milestones and the enhancement of its chemical purification processes.

The secretive startup has made bold claims for the performance of its upcoming solid-state electrical energy storage unit, yet the company has some significant partners backing its claims, including Toronto-based electric vehicle maker Zenn Motor (TSX: ZNN), Silicon Valley's Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), the world's No. 1 defense contractor.

Richard Weir, president and CEO of EEStor, told the Cleantech Group his company's certification announcement is significant.

"It certainly allows us to meet present specifications and major advances in energy storage in the future," he said. "It'll meet the voltage, we say that, it'll meet the polarization, saturation, we say that."

EEStor is developing an ultracapacitor which it said will be longer lasting, lighter, more powerful, and more environmentally friendly than current battery technologies.

Texas Research International, acting as an independent laboratory, certified the level of crystallization in EEStor's composition modified barium titanate, or CMBT, powders at an average of 99.92 percent. EEStor said this puts it on the path toward meeting its goals for energy storage.

The company expects its ceramic ultracapacitor, which it said uses no hazardous materials, to have a charging time of 3 to 6 minutes, with a discharge rate of only 0.02 percent over 30 days. EEStor said that compares to more than 3 hours to charge a lithium-ion battery and a discharge rate of 1 percent over 30 days.

"It's all certified," said Weir. "No bullshit in this."

EEStor's milestone comes on the same day that San Diego-based competitor Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq: MXWL) announced a supply deal (see Golden Dragon Bus to use Maxwell ultracapacitors).

Maxwell shipped its Boostcap ultracapacitors to Xiamen, China's Golden Dragon Bus for use in diesel-electric hybrid buses in Hangzhou.

EEStor said the enhancement of its chemical purification processes is one of its most critical technical milestones, but EEStor has yet to release the results of permittivity testing, which will trigger the next milestone payment from Zenn. The automaker said permittivity is a measurement of how much energy can be stored in a material.

In a statement today, Zenn CEO Ian Clifford said the news "bodes well for EEStor's completion of its third party verified permittivity milestone and is a very strong affirmation of our investment in and the rapid progress of our business plan."

Zenn currently makes low-speed electric vehicles, shipping its first production vehicles in October 2006, but plans to roll out a highway-speed vehicle powered by EEStor's technology in the fall of 2009 (see Zenn gearing up for EEStor-powered car).

Zenn has already made three milestone payments to EEStor totaling $1.3 million. Another $700,000 is payable after the permittivity testing, with a final $500,000 due when EEStor ships its ultracapacitors.

Separately, Zenn also holds 3.8 percent of EEStor after investing $2.5 million in the ultracapacitor company in April 2007. After EEStor's permittivity milestone, Zenn has the option to boost its investment to a range of 6.2 to 10.5 percent.

In 2005, Kleiner Perkins invested a reported $3 million in EEStor. The percentage of Kleiner's stake has not been revealed.

"We were invested in to put in a high-volume production line. I think this says we've made some very major strides to completing that," said Weir.

"The plant is going in right now in Cedar Park as we speak. And then we'll, of course, we'll always expand from there."

Lockheed Martin announced its contract with EEStor in January, saying that it plans use the ultracapacitors for military and homeland security applications (see Lockheed Martin to use EEStor's ultracapacitors). The defense contractor did not release the financial terms of the deal.

Weir wouldn't disclose if EEStor is working with any other companies, saying only, "Once contracts are signed, I'm sure we'll have a news release on them."

EEStor's ultracapacitors were previously set to come out in 2007, but Zenn has since said that EEStor has committed to commercialization in 2008, with EEStor's first production line to be used to supply Zenn.

When asked for an update on that schedule, Weir said, "Good things should happen in a reasonable period of time."

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Offline Doug Saga

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #39 on: 29/12/2008 12:30:59 »
newbielink:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ce77ab20-9097-11dd-8abb-0000779fd18c,dwp_uuid=1cba192e-8e15-11dd-8089-0000779fd18c.html [nonactive]

Battery developers race to fuel electric cars
By Bernard Simon

Published: October 2 2008 17:22 | Last updated: October 2 2008 17:22

The race to build the first mass-market electric car has unleashed an equally, and perhaps even more, intense contest to produce the battery pack that will power it.

McKinsey, the consultancy, estimates that venture-capital investment in battery-related companies soared from $153m in 2003 to $1.15bn last year.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Indian car sales suffer biggest fall in eight years - Dec-10TMD’s German groups file for insolvency - Dec-08US carmakers set for slender lifeline - Dec-05November new cars in UK decline 37% - Dec-04German car sales plunge sharply - Dec-02In depth: Detroit in distress - Nov-30“The market is very crowded in terms of new chemistries and cell developers,” says Karina Morley, director of control and electronics at Ricardo, a consultancy that is setting up a battery system development centre in Michigan.

On the other hand, Charles Gassenheimer, chief executive of Ener1, a New York-based battery developer, takes the view that “the pie is going to be fairly big and there is room for a lot of players”.

The most closely watched race for now is between two groups led by South Korea’s LG Chem and A123Systems of Boston to supply the lithium-ion pack for General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt plug-in car.

GM has said it will announce its preferred supplier by the end of the year. Word in the marketplace is that the Koreans are the frontrunners.

Meanwhile, numerous other alliances are taking shape. Bosch, the big German parts supplier, and South Korea’s Samsung recently announced a joint venture to produce batteries by 2011.

Volkswagen has teamed up with Sanyo, the biggest maker of lithium-ion batteries used in laptop computers and mobile phones.

Sanyo, which already supplies the batteries used in Ford and Honda hybrid models, aims to produce 10m cells a month by 2015, enough to power about 1.7m vehicles.

Mr Gassenheimer says Ener1 is talking to more than two dozen potential customers. Ener1 has a contract with Norway’s Think Global, which has promised to have its Think City electric car on the road by the end of this year.

Ricardo says it has signed up five US customers and others in Europe for its battery development services.

Batteries have always been the main question mark in the viability of electric cars. Concerns include weight, capacity, speed of recharging and safety, especially heat.

Most hybrids currently on the road, notably Toyota’s Prius, use nickel-hydride batteries. But the focus is now on lithium-ion packs, which are more compact and have the potential for a much greater range.

Even Toyota has formed a joint venture with Matsushita Electric to produce lithium-ion batteries for future models. “I don’t think there’s any question that Toyota will be major player in lithium-ion”, Mr Gassenheimer says. Nissan has a partnership with NEC.

Uncertainties still abound. Noting carmakers’ typical pledge that their electric-vehicle batteries will last for at least a decade, Ms Morley asks: “How do you know it’s going to last 10 years if you don’t have 10 years to test it?”

More encouragingly, a consensus appears to have emerged that electricity is the most promising alternative to the internal-combustion engine and that battery technology will eventually be up to the task.

Referring to GM’s Volt, Rick Wagoner, the carmaker’s chief executive, said recently that “for close to a year now, we’ve run prototype battery packs through test after test and our confidence in their ability to deliver the required power, range, safety, reliability and quality has grown with every lap around our proving ground”.

Ms Morley is confident that in five years “we’ll be comfortable with the technology in general”.

Instead of worrying about whether batteries can deliver the goods, she predicts, the industry will be focused on improvements – higher energy storage, quicker charging, longer life, lower cost and lighter weight.

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Offline teragram

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #40 on: 29/12/2008 13:20:06 »
Thanks, Doug Saga, for
a) supplying answers to the original question “fresh ideas to advance the concept of the electric car”, and
b) providing all that info, which will take me some time to follow up in detail. It is encouraging that large PROFIT MAKING organisations seem to be moving forward.
In my opinion the future is the electric car (probably battery powered) or bike and public transport, the other option, presented by Techmind. Answers like “battery cars can’t achieve the range of petrol ones”
assume that we will have a choice, in the near future.

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Offline Doug Saga

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« Reply #41 on: 29/12/2008 13:47:25 »
newbielink:http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSTRE4BH42G20081218 [nonactive]

U.S. government lab, 14 firms team up on lithium battery
Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:08am EST By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Aiming to mass-produce a lithium battery for vehicles, 14 U.S. companies with expertise in batteries and advanced materials have formed an alliance with a government laboratory, the lab said on Thursday.

The alliance, which includes battery industry giants such as 3M Co and Johnson Controls-Saft, intends to secure $1 billion to $2 billion in U.S. government funding over the next five years to build a manufacturing facility with an "open foundry" for the participants to pursue the goal of perfecting lithium-ion batteries for cars.

"It's a huge deal for the nation, and for the lab," said Mark Peters, who is in charge of transportation and battery research at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, which will advise the group.

China, Japan and South Korea are the current leaders in lithium battery research, he said in a telephone interview.

"A small, fragmented (U.S.) battery industry will not long survive in the face of determined Asian competition," Ralph Brodd, a consultant to battery manufacturers, said in a statement released by Argonne.

"(Other) countries understand that he who makes the batteries will one day make the cars," he said.

The best-selling hybrid vehicles such as Toyota Motor Corp's Prius use a nickel metal hydride battery. Lithium batteries are widely considered to be the next technological leap forward for electric-powered vehicles, as they can be recharged in a wall socket like a computer battery.

The National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacture was modeled after SEMATECH, the successful public-private venture created in the late 1980s to restore U.S. prominence in computer semiconductor technology.

Besides Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions, a joint venture of Johnson Controls Inc and France's Saft Groupe SA, and 3M Co, the founding members of the battery alliance are ActaCell, All Cell Technologies, Altair Nanotechnologies Inc, Eagle Picher Industries Inc, EnerSys, Envia Systems, FMC Corp, MicroSun Technologies, Mobius Power, SiLyte, Superior Graphite, and Townsend Advanced Energy.

In addition to an advisory role for Argonne, U.S. truck and auto makers will be asked to join the alliance's advisory board, said James Greenberger, an attorney who was instrumental in assembling the group.


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Offline Pumblechook

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #42 on: 29/12/2008 14:26:22 »
Some people still seem to think a 5 min home charge will be possible in the future ???


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Offline teragram

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« Reply #43 on: 29/12/2008 15:33:07 »

I don’t think anyone believes that a 5min charge period is a possibility in the foreseeable future, just that it will be easy on  a day to day basis to use some of the (long periods of) time that vehicles spend idle to recharge them.




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Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #44 on: 29/12/2008 15:40:03 »
Quite a few of people with no scientific or engineering knowldege seem to think Tesla and others are working on 5 min home charge right now.  I get shouted down when it tell them it is just not possible. 

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Offline Doug Saga

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« Reply #45 on: 29/12/2008 16:26:10 »
newbielink:http://gas2.org/2008/12/22/new-patent-reveals-details-of-eestors-ultracapacitor-technology/ [nonactive]

New Patent Reveals Details of EEStor’s Ultracapacitor Technology
 
Written by Nick Chambers
 
Published on December 22nd, 200828 CommentsPosted in Electric Cars (EVs), Ultracapacitors
A newly-granted US patent (PDF) for the upcoming ultracapacitor technology from secretive Texas-based EEStor contains a ton of detailed information about their near-mythical Electrical Energy Storage Unit (EESU), which has the potential to revolutionize transportation and our energy infrastructure.

Apparently one EESU weighs 281 pounds, has a volume of 2.63 cubic feet, can be fully charged in 3-6 minutes, is completely unaffected by temperature, will not explode or catch fire in an accident, and provides 52 kWh of electricity (nearly the same amount of energy the Tesla Roadster battery can hold, which reportedly takes the Roadster about 240 miles).

The speed at which an EESU can be charged is fully dependent on the type of power source used to charge it. Ultracapacitors, in general, can accept a near-instantaneous charge, so, if you want to take advantage of the super fast recharge time, you’ll need to get a heavy-duty circuit installed. For instance, if you are trying to charge it from a regular US 110V/15A outlet, it could take you up to 30 hours to get a full charge.

Continuing on with the Tesla Roadster comparison (why the hell not?), we find that one Tesla lithium-ion battery pack (PDF), containing 6800 small batteries, weighs almost 1000 pounds and takes up about 4-5 cubic feet of space. The Tesla Battery can be charged in about 3.5 hours, again given a high enough voltage and amperage. Given this comparison, you can clearly see how the EESU, if it ever comes to market, would truly be a game-changer.

I spent a couple hours last night combing through the detailed EEStor patent (PDF) looking for other clues and made some minor discoveries of my own. The EESU consists of thousands of tiny “components,” each consisting of 10 “elements.” In turn, each element has 100 alternating screen-printed dielectric layers of barium-titanate ceramic powder (94%) mixed with PET plastic (4%) and screen-printed layers of an aluminum electrode.

EEstor says the volume of each dielectric layer is 0.0005651 cubic centimeters and the volume of each electrode layer is 0.00005806 cubic centimeters. Given that there are a thousand of each layer in each component (10 elements X 100 layers), the total volume of each component would be: 0.5651 cubic centimeters + 0.05806 cubic centimeters = 0.62316 cubic centimeters.

To get to a capacity of 52 kWh of electricity, EEStor calculates that each EESU would need about 31,351 of these components. Therefore, the total volume of an EESU’s charge holding parts with a capacity of 52 kWh, according to my calculations, would be: 31,351 X 0.62316 cubic centimeters = 19,537 cubic centimeters, or roughly 0.7 cubic feet.

What’s odd about this is that, according to the patent, the volume of a 52 kWh EESU plus its “box, connectors and associated hardware” is 2.63 cubic feet. So, almost 2 cubic feet of the EESU is devoted to the “box, connectors and associated hardware”? I find this hard to believe. Maybe somebody else should check my calculations (look at column 5, Table 1, and columns 9 and 10 of the patent for the details).

If you were to combine two of these EESUs in one vehicle, it would still weigh roughly half as much as a Tesla battery pack, but take the car twice as far (almost 500 miles). Additionally, because of the nature of ultracapacitors, it would still only take 3-6 minutes to charge both packs (again, only if you have a powerful enough outlet).

I’ve still got my fingers crossed that EEStor is really making progress on the EESU. The fact that they’re backed by ZENN Motors and Lockheed Martin lends some credence to their claims, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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lyner

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #46 on: 02/01/2009 18:44:07 »
A kilowatt hour is a kilowatt hour.
If you want to charge in 1% of the time the vehicle is running then you need (at least) one hundred times the power input compared with running power. What would be the point of supplying houses with the sort of peak power needed for a rapid recharge (copper costs money, you know) when you could replace batteries in seconds and charge them at leisure?

I really advise you optimists to steer clear of invitations from Nigerian businessmen to help them with their million pound funds transfer. If you believe what you seem to believe about battery charging then you may just believe those gentlemen too.

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Offline Pumblechook

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #47 on: 02/01/2009 19:05:41 »
Simon Wood's, tech director. Lotus Cars (Tesla's partner), report starts off as 'Electric Cars are the Future' but then lists  what he calls 'considerable technical challenges' which is amother way of saying unsolvable problems, particularly fast home charging.   He thinks for EVa to succeed they need at least  100 kWh battery packs which at the moment would be impossibly heavy and a fast charge supply would be over 2 MW which is 150 times a typical household supply.  Whether batteries, capacitors or motors stretching knicker elastic fast home charging will NEVER be possible.
« Last Edit: 02/01/2009 19:08:22 by Pumblechook »

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lyner

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #48 on: 02/01/2009 19:28:49 »
Of course, it's not a trivial problem for the 'depot' either. The effective mean input power which a daily delivery of petrol to a garage represents is very considerable and that would be what we're talking about. Someone could actually work it out but it must be the equivalent to several coal trucks being delivered to the power station per day. (Not a green comparison, I know).
The recharge time would have to be the average time between visiting vehicles over the day - five minutes, say?

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Offline Pumblechook

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What is holding back electric car technology?
« Reply #49 on: 02/01/2009 23:04:24 »
Any fast charging yes, but particularly home charging.    Where are we going to get all the elec from if EVs become widespread?    I wonder with the high voltages and/or high currents (maybe hundreds or thousands of amps) Health and Safety (capitals) wouldn't allow it.  You would need batteries capable of fast charging without being damaged or exploding.  There are Youtubes on-line showing Li-ion batteries exploding.