Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All Electric Cars? Not a Good Bet

Electric storage batteries cannot store enough energy to transport an electric powered automobile very far. This is a serious drawback, and one of the reasons that some people are predicting that it may be more than 50 years before electric cars are taken seriously by most of the buying public.

Brian Westenhaus takes a look at new competition for EESTOR, the maker of a mysterious hybrid battery : supercapacitor. He discusses a "Reticle Carbon", a new electrode material for ultracapacitors that may give electric cars a big boost. As described by Brian, the technology looks fascinating. They may have to wait for financing, however, in this extreme economic slowdown of 2009.

One California startup plans to boost the range of electric cars by placing charging machines at convenient locations. They call them "vending machines for charging electric cars." An important development for California, where daily commutes can be far and long.

For those wondering, Elon Musk's Tesla electric car is still out there working, planning to make a big splash soon.

Hybrids are a necessary link in the development chain, combining internal combustion engines with electric motors. Here is an interesting look at the hybric car, going back to the 1800s.

Some electric car enthusiasts are promoting a "battery swapping" approach to extending range, but executives at Mercedes are giving that idea a thumbs down. Mercedes is promoting permanent lithium ion batteries with a driving range of just over 100 miles.

The bottom line is that traditional internal combustion engine automobiles are in no immediate danger of being replaced by all-electric cars. So far, hybrids have not lived up to their promise, and are more expensive in both short and long term calculations, when taking into account battery replacement.

Al Fin's prediction? Fuel cells that run on all types of hydrocarbon including ethanol and methanol will begin to replace the ICE within 10 years. The new power plants may very well also incorporate newer, lighter hybrid ultracapacitor : battery storage packs for extended boosting power when passing or accelerating onto a turnpike. Fuel cells are on a rapid developmental trajectory, as are ultracapacitors and batteries. But all electric autos are an impractical solution looking for a cause. Only carbon hysteria delusions underlie the persistent demands for all-electric cars.

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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

So maybe a in the midterm a battery, ultracapacitor and a small fuel cell or biofuel engine would coexist in one vehicle? The complexity of multiple energy sources might be mitigated by the redundancy and the ability to choose between power sources of different advantages - energy storage, efficancy, power, etc.

Franky, I am holding out for a vehicle which can run off of the energy from old textbooks being burned in a barrel.

8:41 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

In a barrel? Perhaps in a fuel cell. Less emissions that way.

Your idea of combining a battery, fuel cell, and ultracapacitor to replace an internal combustion engine is something I blogged about a couple of years ago, while comparing the energy density / power density curves for the different power sources.

9:19 PM  

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