Dark Matter

Electric Cars

19 posts in this topic

There have been a few interesting Electric Cars in the news lately. The miev looks like a design with possibilities.

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

http://www.mitsubish...atis/index.html

http://evworld.com/n...fm?newsid=21956 - The Bill goes electric!

The big question mark over these is the cost and capacity of the batteries. If they can get the Lithium Battery pack down to a few $K then it looks interesting. They are also short range, so you cant do a Sydney to Melbourne road trip in one, but if you drive less than 100Km a day every day then its good.

I did some basic estimates of how an electric car like this could fit in with a solar power installation to work out what the energy cycle could be.

Some givens:-

o 16KWH battery capacity, 160Km range --> this implies 10Km/KWH for the miev

o petrol has an energy equivalent of about 10 KWH/litre - this means that a small compact petrol car rated at 5l/100Km is 50KWH/100Km, or 2Km/KWH

- petrol is much better at storing energy, but an IC engine is about 5 times less efficient than the Electric Drive system.

o You live 50Km away from your work - so the miev can do the 100Km round trip every day on 10KWH of charge

o A 2KW solar array on your roof provides an average of 5H a day - 10KWH per day of solar electricity - which matches the energy consumed by the miev

So in a simplified scenario, every day:-

The Solar Array pumps 10KWH into the grid during the day (peak).

Your 100Km round trip to work uses 10KWH of stored energy in the miev Lithium battery

At night the miev is plugged into the grid and recharges 10KWH using off-peak electricity

The Electric Vehicle and the Solar Array are doing good things - reducing the use of petrol AND shifting the load on the coal fired generators from peak to offpeak.

Per day:-

10KWH of energy into the grid during peak

10 KWH of energy drawn from the grid during offpeak

5 litres of petrol not used by an IC engine

You drive 100Km on solar power - no nett energy from fossil fuel required

The obvious missing parts of this equation are the setup costs and the buy/sell rates of grid electricity.

The initial cost of the Lithium Battery for the car, and the cost of the 2KW solar installation are going to be major factors. The economic viability depends on the upfront investment over the life of the battery, car and solar array.

If Electric vehicles can replace even 10% of our car fleet, I think that Australia should be seriously trying to develop Solar and Battery technologies. They aren't labour intensive and the potential benefits look to be huge.

UNSW was at one stage a world leader in solar panel research. What happened?

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UNSW was at one stage a world leader in solar panel research. What happened?

Good stuff!

My wife and I bough electric push bikes. I live 1.5km from Brisbane CBD, so I have a vary lazy ride to work in 5 minutes. The electric motor is great for going uphill.

One weak area in electric vehicles are the batteries. They used to not last very long and tend to be quite expensive. So innovation in battery technology is something to watch in the future.

Regarding the solar research... all I can say is - good grief! Politicians! :angry:

http://www.theage.co...90626-d00r.html

Dithering Australia leaves promising solar future in the dark

PADDY MANNING

June 27, 2009

Governments fail to get behind scientists who are leading the world.

AUSTRALIAN support for the solar industry is faltering just as the technology promises to deliver baseload power.

Recent breakthroughs in concentrating solar power technology allow heat energy to be stored almost indefinitely — in molten salts — and dispatched as needed.

...

In the US, SolarReserve and a division of giant defence contractor United Technologies plan a series of solar thermal "power towers" in the Californian desert — generating between 50MW and 300MW each — again using molten salts to store energy and able to run 15 hours without sun.

Even better solar technology is being developed here, at the Australian National University, using super-heated ammonia to store energy. A company called Wizard Power is in a joint venture with ANU to commercialise the process.

John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian New Zealand Solar Energy Society, fears a bitter replay of earlier brain drains.

"Australian scientists and research and development are at the leading edge of the world," he says. "What we lack is government support to commercialise and capitalise on that research. We will be the dumb consumers of the technology that we invented."

The Australian Government has shown this month that it is all over the place when it comes to solar energy policy.

On a positive note, it surprised many when the May budget allocated $1.35 billion to part-fund construction of up to four solar power stations generating up to 1000MW each.

But Grimes is concerned that, amid continuing uncertainty over the Government's renewable energy target (RET) and emissions trading scheme — and in the wake of the financial crisis — it will be difficult to raise the matching private capital needed to get those projects off the ground.

...

"At this point in time there is no Federal Government support for domestic-scale PV (photovoltaics) in this country," says Grimes, "which demonstrates the lack of long-term thinking for this really important industry. There is no road map. All the PV manufacturers have pulled out — they're all gone, it's all over."

Australia has the best solar resource in the world, but the domestic market has not had the scale needed to support the rapid commercialisation of our home-grown solar technologies.

Australian scientist David Mills had to go to California to find backing for his company, Ausra, to build his solar thermal power stations there. (Local venture capital outfit Starfish Ventures has a stake.)

UNSW researcher Zhengrong Shi made a fortune taking Australian-developed PV technology to China, listing solar panel manufacturer Suntech on the NASDAQ technology stock exchange.

Brilliant Australian-listed Dyesol, which makes third-generation photovoltaic cells, had to go to Wales and partner manufacturer Corus to commercialise its power-generating Colourcoat steel panels.

Australia's state governments could help promote a home-grown solar energy industry, but are pulling their most important policy lever in just the wrong way. More than 60 jurisdictions around the world have introduced a gross feed-in tariff, which pays home owners for every renewable kilowatt they generate.

...

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Good stuff!

My wife and I bough electric push bikes. I live 1.5km from Brisbane CBD, so I have a vary lazy ride to work in 5 minutes. The electric motor is great for going uphill.

One weak area in electric vehicles are the batteries. They used to not last very long and tend to be quite expensive. So innovation in battery technology is something to watch in the future.

Regarding the solar research... all I can say is - good grief! Politicians! :angry:

http://www.theage.co...90626-d00r.html

Hybrid car with balls - not so boring !

http://www.caradvice.com.au/51037/kepler-to-release-800hp-hybrid-supercar-at-dubai-motor-show/

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Nice analysis there Dark matter, and supports my thinking that practical electric commuter vehicles are very close, and when batteries get to about 20% of the energy density of petroleum, they will be an almost complete replacement, although charge time could be a real impediment for a vehicle that is driven long distance, like trucks or taxis.

There's a good article here on Autospeed about some research by Lotus engineering into optimising hybrids, which they view as an interim step towards full electric vehicles.

Despite the global requirement to reduce CO2 emissions driving a move to the increased electrification of vehicles, the realities of economics provide a serious challenge for electric cars. Whereas stationary energy consumers do not require a significant energy storage capability, vehicles do - and current battery technology is both heavy and expensive.

When compared to cars using a conventional liquid fuel powertrain, electric vehicles have four primary disadvantages: range, charge time, mass and cost. Primarily, these are all attributable to the use of a battery. Across the industry there is widespread research into new battery technologies - however, these may still be many years away from volume production.

In the mean time, the range extended plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (RE­-PHEV) is a 'stepping stone' to a viable electric solution.

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Nice analysis there Dark matter, and supports my thinking that practical electric commuter vehicles are very close, and when batteries get to about 20% of the energy density of petroleum, they will be an almost complete replacement, although charge time could be a real impediment for a vehicle that is driven long distance, like trucks or taxis.

There's a good article here on Autospeed about some research by Lotus engineering into optimising hybrids, which they view as an interim step towards full electric vehicles.

Normally when I have these ideas someone is onto it already...

As I read your post I thought why not do the following:

Could we not have the batteries leased by a petrol franchise and you pull in and they rip out the old and in with the new under a small crane. If all the car manufacturers had a standard size compartment with acces from top down, and it just gets pulled up and droped in. It might actually be quicker than filling up? I reckon in time it would be like going through a car wash, one gadget flips the bonnet another anfastens the battery then lift and replace.

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Normally when I have these ideas someone is onto it already...

As I read your post I thought why not do the following:

Could we not have the batteries leased by a petrol franchise and you pull in and they rip out the old and in with the new under a small crane. If all the car manufacturers had a standard size compartment with acces from top down, and it just gets pulled up and droped in. It might actually be quicker than filling up? I reckon in time it would be like going through a car wash, one gadget flips the bonnet another anfastens the battery then lift and replace.

I've had that thought myself smile.gif

But I think there are a few big hurdles to overcome with this. Firstly you would have to get the manufacturers all to agree to some standardised sizes, which I imagine could be a nightmare, and secondly, and probably more importantly, I think battery tech is progressing at such a rate that it could make such a system obsolete before it was even fully implemented. There was an link in another thread here I think, to some new experimental research showing a battery that could be fully recharged in a matter of minutes, so if they could combine that with even today's energy density levels, you have a very practical electric car.

As an enthusiast electric cars leave me cold, but I'm not so blinkered as to not be able to see their advantages, and that they will gradually replace the IC engine, and I think this will happen purely on their own merit, global warming or not.

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As much as the electric car will probably be the future of motoring, here's a Top Gear review of the Deisel Volkswagen Lupo from a few years ago that shows what is possible from existing (affordable) off the shelf technology. In short, they do a lap of the M25 motorway to see how much better economy it gets over the petrol version, and it returns a very impressive 75mpg v 42mpg for the petrol version.

I know being top Gear it's not the most scientific test ever, and that around town mileage won't be as good, but it does show the gains possible if we mostly drove as much car as we need, rather than the monsters we tend to buy to satisfy our status anxiety. A lupo won't suit everybody's needs, but it's enough if all you do is drive to work, do the shopping and an occasional short country trip.

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they're working on lithium ion battery technology with 10 x the capacity and 10 x the charging rate right now... the physics has been proven...

but one suggested approach was to store the batteries in a way they could just be dropped out the bottom and replaced or whatever as a changeover. however, with 10 x the charge available, this may not be necessary.

top gear and jeremy clarkson really hate electrics because they're silent and will kill children playing on the street in small sleepy villages. the silence of electric motors is something of a hazard. the diesels do just as well as a prius due to the extra weight of having 2 engines -- but a non-hybrid, electric-only vehicle does not have that disadvantage...

Edited by Sean

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they're working on lithium ion battery technology with 10 x the capacity and 10 x the charging rate right now... the physics has been proven...

but one suggested approach was to store the batteries in a way they could just be dropped out the bottom and replaced or whatever as a changeover. however, with 10 x the charge available, this may not be necessary.

top gear and jeremy clarkson really hate electrics because they're silent and will kill children playing on the street in small sleepy villages. the silence of electric motors is something of a hazard. the diesels do just as well as a prius due to the extra weight of having 2 engines -- but a non-hybrid, electric-only vehicle does not have that disadvantage...

Clarkson, as entertaining as I find him, is talking out of his butt a lot of the time, so I take much of what he says with a grain of salt. He does typify the loud-mouthed ignorance of most global warming sceptics.

However the silence of electric vehicles is a genuine concern, they might have to deliberately fit speakers to generate some noise to make pedestrians aware of oncoming vehicles. I notice this effect when riding my bicycle, I've had far more people almost step in front of me than I ever have in a car, they just don't hear or see you.

In the most recent issue of Wheels, one of the columns is commenting on how all the major Euro manufacturers are developing small 2&3 cyl turbo diesel & turbo petrol hybrids, and expects them to be become mainstream models over the next few years, which would confirm what that autospeed article I linked to above was saying, that hybrids will be a stepping stone to full electric.

Between the further refinement of the IC engine (still plenty of efficiency gains to be had), hybrids and the development of these 'super batteries', I think the hydrogen fuel cell will end up dead in the water for transportation use. There's too many problems with generating the hydrogen in the first place, transporting it, and storing it, with an attendant energy cost at every step, and given that a fuel cell is just a glorified battery used to run an electric motor, using something that stores electricity directly directly just seems so much more sensible.

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Here is a potential can of worms that might help the push for electric cars or at least not diesel

SMH: Diesel exhaust causes lung cancer: WHO report

Exhaust from diesel engines causes lung cancer, a World Health Organisation agency said for the first time, citing a review of studies.

Diesel exhaust also was linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, based in Lyon, France, said in a statement today. The group published the findings after a review over eight days by a panel of scientists. An earlier review, in 1988, classified diesel engine exhaust as "probably carcinogenic."

The finding is alarming for Australia, as sales of diesel-powered vehicle have more than doubled – from 110,608 to 266,886 – between 2005 and 2011. That figures doesn't include heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses, which are almost exclusively powered by diesel....

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Here is a potential can of worms that might help the push for electric cars or at least not diesel

SMH: Diesel exhaust causes lung cancer: WHO report

The particulate levels are high. It's why I don't live on a main road.

Electric cars need work now but they are inevitable. Any car manufacturer that doesn't have a finger in that pie will be making the equivalent of horse drawn carriages.

I'm constantly surprised that people think renewable energy can't be improved. I'm not a great believer in the technological fix for every problem but even I think our little monkey brains can solve a few problems yet. Highly distributed power generation and alternative energy. There are still fairly extreme policy risks though. Even so I'm keeping a close eye...

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IMO, the game changer is going to be when the total operating cost of the EV favourably competes with the fossil fuel version and the ease of recharging exists. Truck operations are commercial in nature and hence very sensitive to costs.

 

Mercedes electrifies the heavy distribution truck

 

 

...The automaker says, however, that until recently, the costs and ranges of the batteries required for heavy electric trucks made them unfeasible. That has since changed, though, and continues to do so. Indeed, according to Daimler Trucks (a sister company of Mercedes-Benz), the costs of batteries is likely to fall by 60 percent between 1997 and 2025 and power is expected to increase by around 250 percent over the same period....

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I see some charging issues. Pretty soon, if not now, you'll be able to buy an electric car that can charge overnight to do a return trip to anywhere in your city. 

1. Inner city areas where there is limited or no on-site parking. Someone is going to have to provide charging on all inner city streets - don't see that as a big obstacle. There will need to be a universal system.

2. The burbs where mum, dad and 3 adult-ish kids all have cars. 3 are parked on the streets. But the less dense street parking may mean it's not viable to provide charging to all streets.

3. What happens when you want to drive further than one charge? Even a fast charge is going to take, what 15 mins? Those massive freeway petrol stations are going to become the size of Westfield's. McDonalds will cash in. 

4. What happens when you run out of juice and are stranded? Currently RACQ/NRMA/a mate brings a jerry can to get you to a petrol station. 

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I see some charging issues. Pretty soon, if not now, you'll be able to buy an electric car that can charge overnight to do a return trip to anywhere in your city. 

1. Inner city areas where there is limited or no on-site parking. Someone is going to have to provide charging on all inner city streets - don't see that as a big obstacle. There will need to be a universal system.

2. The burbs where mum, dad and 3 adult-ish kids all have cars. 3 are parked on the streets. But the less dense street parking may mean it's not viable to provide charging to all streets.

3. What happens when you want to drive further than one charge? Even a fast charge is going to take, what 15 mins? Those massive freeway petrol stations are going to become the size of Westfield's. McDonalds will cash in. 

4. What happens when you run out of juice and are stranded? Currently RACQ/NRMA/a mate brings a jerry can to get you to a petrol station. 

 

Battery life and recharging time are one of the main  issues with the whole EV technology for the time being. They just don't provide the flexibility of oil based power. Try going off-road with an EV in the middle of nowhere and what do you do for spare fuel?!! They will need to build hydrogen cars with solar panels that split water into oxygen & hydrogen.  That way, you can carry (lots of) water for fuel as well as a battery to store it, so that you can drive at night!

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