This is good to hear. The technology is badly needed in our society. My sole question is: can our grid handle a large percentage of cars going electric? All around the USA I see a steady increase in the cost of electricity. Am I the only one that is itching to invest in solar and electric generation in general? Another application this can be put into is off the grid Energy storage. Off the grid Inverters are cheaper. Emergency power might act as secondary storage for the grid too. I honestly see the future grid requiring Grid-tie solar or wind systems to come with a certain rating of battery power. Eventually the grid will become too erratic for our slow turning turbines to match.
ervin0072002, this might not be the battery technology for the grid. There are others. Some of these other technologies will not be appropriate for transportation. Battery technology is a key technology in integrating renewables with our current electric generation systems. Much of the rise in cost of electricity is due to regulation, not problems with the grid. The electric grid is one of the most reliable things in our lives. I am not sure of where your anxiety comes from.
TJ - While the grid runs a little more to the edge in the northeast, line maintenance is a big cause of problems there.
Moving from Texas to Virginia 9 years ago, I was shocked at how poorly the line right-of-ways are maintained. Back home the power companies thought nothing of removing any trees even remotely threatening to lines; here they are content to carve a little path through the trees. The rest of the states up here are about the same.
Watashi wait till you see your first really BIG Northeast hurricane or snow storm! (Every 12 to 15 years.) The northeast has much better eqipment to handle such but, only after they get to you. I can remember one storm in PA it took two weeks+ to restore power. Here in Texas we have rolling black outs blamed on everthing but the real cause.
We got hit two years ago in the big record breaking snow storm in VA. Luckily our provider had just done the line trimming that summer and our outage was only 3 days.
Texas is not neccessarily any safer from mother nature. A few years before I moved up here, my parents were without power for over a week because an ice storm with high winds had snapped every wooden power pole for 30miles, between Amarillo and their small town.
That's exactly the sort of problem I was talking about. Why the heck should my little neighborhood go without power for 2, 3, 4 or 5 days (I've experienced all those) because someone else's trees fell on the lines several miles away, or vice versa? Why do we all have to be connected on this enormous grid? I think local generation and storage makes a lot more sense, especially when we begin considering adding a mix of sustainable energy sources and storage technologies. Those are bound to vary by location.
Ann, re: large grids: you should check what happened not so long ago, how all smaller generators were killed by introducing legislation that it is *illegal* to supply electricity to *anybody* unless you are a "utility". I fear it is the same greed that removed almost all tram and train lines from our cities (and we are paying through the nose to put *some* back in to reduce congestion somewhat) as well as other local monopolies who (mis-)used law making to kill competition.
In theory, large grids can be efficient and reliable, but with growing larger the vulnerability of grid-wide events also increases. Decentral generation and buffer capacity alleviates that, but utilities have been so adverse from local generation (even net metering is fought tooth and nail) that they essentially only invested where they had to, building large centralized grids. The result is that when it goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong. (Unless you have your own backup solution - which is a brainchild of mine that I hope one day to productize - in fact Envia may become part of that solution depending how they progress with their material devt, but I will write a separate comment about that)
cvandewater, I'm familiar in general with legislation by utilities to keep control over energy generation, but it is by no means illegal to have or use a home generator, at least where I live in California. What specific legislation are you referring to?
Thanks, cvandewater. I certainly do remember that. Once again, the issue i about control, both of resources and of profits. Hmmm...I wonder if it's illegal to give, not sell, power to your neighbors? People in many places are starting local barter systems.
I used to live in a house in Europe where I installed 3kW PV panels on the roof, then connected them to a 2500W inverter that supplied all power back to the grid. The reason I designed that system this way is because the grid went down only once in the 7 years that I lived there and that outage was announced days earlier in the newspaper. These years I spend a lot of my time in India. I do have backup batteries installed in my house for my phone, internet and computer so that every day when the power goes out (rotating load shedding) my communication is not interrupted.
The way that many people are prepared for outages here in the USA, is by having a camping stove or BBQ. Preferably you might also have a fire place and a few cords of wood, so that when the power goes out, you can keep yourself warm in a cold night and cook a hot meal or coffee. Having an EV around allows you to trade off driving range with power supply to your home, maybe not to generate power for the entire home, but at least for essential services such as communication, keeping Internet up, your phone battery charged, computer running and to run a few efficient LED lights for example. I have wind-up / solar charge radios and flashlights so that I can receive news and check my surroundings at night. With a larger battery bank you may keep more services up such as a TV to get news and entertainment, (efficient) ceiling lights, alarms, garage door opener and so on and maybe even keep your freezer cold enough to avoid spoiling the food. Of course, the larger you go the costlier. Having a camping stove and a small backup battery around is not breaking the bank - many people have already invested in a UPS anyway.
Traditionally battery banks have been Lead-Acid chemistry. Either flooded, gel or (for high power) AGM. These days it looks like the end of lead-acid is coming quickly due to the price drop in LithiumIon chemistries. You can buy cells for around $1 per Ah which is already competitive with better lead-acid formulations for Solar backup and EV usage. That is why there is a big shift and even a small scale industry for conversion of e-bikes and scooters from Lead-acid to LithiumIon. Any means to reduce cost and weight is a very interesting step for a lot of these applications. Maybe not for the typical Fork Lift, because it needs to be heavy anyway, so the huge flooded lead-acid cells are an advantage there, but many other applications will quickly switch to LithiumIon chemistry.
When I read the article I was thinking of a household UPS. Having passive backup and conditioned power would be very attractive! However, it would be a short duration backup for an entire home and the cost of the system would still likely be high compared to other backup technologies.
Most people around this area have gas generators for backup. I have priced gas and diesel generators that could fully cover my home (and 1 or 2 others) for multiple days. I am considering buying a small gasoline unit for my current home/farm/recreational needs.
When I build my next home; I will look a little more closely at the home UPS concept. I will likely have a permanent backup generator installed, but who knows? - maybe an electric storage revolution is just around the corner.
There is a growing market for grid storage and there are multiple reasons for it.
First, the cost of batteries (especially high-cycle life like Lithium Ion) is coming down together with other (minor) costs such as high power semiconductors for compact grid inverters,
Secondly there is a growing problem of old infrastructure that is too weak to guarantee the afternoon/early evening peak consumption, which may overload the infrastructure so there is a need for peak shaving devices and utilities are investing in these already where it makes sense compared to investment in line upgrades.
Third, the business case can be positive to invest in and install home backup storage which will provide all of the above and can be paying for itself due to the cost saving of shifting expensive day time consumption into the low tier night tariff (for TOU consumers) and contract with the utility for grid offloading AND the payment from the home owner to get a guaranteed clean and several-day backup power for his whole house. Unless you are doing something out of the ordinary, a house will on average draw a few kW. You may have a 200Amp service but that does not mean that you are drawing 200A 240V = 48kW. To allow power peaks, the inverter for the house may be required to indeed be able to deliver 50kW but a battery bank of say 100kWh should be sufficient to give in the order of 2 days of whole house backup - provided that you don't turn on the Airco full blast like you would do on other days... Keeping the fridge cold, the (gas!) furnace hot and so on will be your main concern - you can delay doing laundry a few days for example.
Hope this gives some ideas for the whole house backup...
TJ, that was nine years ago. That is not a bad rate for any system we rely on.
The issues you experience locally are in the distribution network, not the grid. In the Chicago area we have ComEd as the distribution company for most people. They still have above ground lines. They experience outages from that. SmartGrid will not solve that problem. I live in a town that has its own distribution company (actually an arm of local government). Our lines are almost all burried. We have vey few outages. It is as simple as that. Other communities locally have considered setting up their own distribution systems and burrying the lines becuase of the service interruptions from above ground lines.
Naperlou, I agree with you that the smart grid will not solve the outage problems we repeatedly have here in the Chicago area. When we had problems last June (many people lost power for days, if you recall), a spate of articles appeared about the smart grid, in an attempt to drum up support for it. I'm not sure where that gets started, but if the smart grid gets implemented without burying the power lines, I think a lot of people will be disappointed.
naperlou Glade to see at least some communities are smart enough to build under ground distribution network(s). Soon, I forsee, future "green" offerings of local generation & peaking systems much like I have described elsewhere herein. These new generators are compact, super efficient, quiet and polution free. Above all the new generators don't use fossil fuel.
It is interesting though, that the new machines being, fision, cat, or other based are all ALSO reduceable to small "on-board" HIGH energy sourcing machines, needing LITTLE or NO repetitive refueling. THIS (generates (sic)) the problem!
Those at the highest levels of world governments along with the world's scientific and black-ops communities have hit a Techno-Energy barrier based on OIL ECONOMICS and secrets that HAS TO BE RESOLVED BY WORLD GOVERNMENTS and FINANCIAL MAKKETS before hidden progress becomes visible and usable to the public.
Love to hear these tales of startups with a new low-cost, high-energy density battery story to tell. Given all the research and R&D dollars being poured into electric car battery research, my guess is we have to be nearing the point where a lot of the early disappointments either have evolved or are being replaced with new startups and technologies that are much closer to the mark of advancing the cause. Afterall, each failure or disappointment points up valuable lessons learned that can then be applied to the next round of developments that get battery density and cost closer to where we want to go.
Beth, yes, this is a great story. One of the unique aspects of it is that these guys are not just battery integrators. Tesla, GM, Nissan are just buying Li-Ion cells from suppliers and putting them together in battery packs. This is obviously not the way to go to get EVs into the mainstream. An EV is very simple compared to a IC powered car. In the Tesla, for example, there is no transmission. They were planning to use one but found that the electric motor had more than enough torque. That motor weighs only 70 lbs. The battery pack weighs around 900 lbs. It also cost (this is for the roadster) over $25K. Electricity storage is the biggest engineering challenge we have today. If that can be solved at a reasonable cost, we have the means to do many things that we couldn't do in the past.
@Beth: Thanks for your post. Envia has been a under-the-radar start-up. We have 35 people with majority of our work-force being a scientist or engineer. At last count we had 16 PhD's. When Lithium-Iron-Phosphate was riding high in 2007, our founders figured that the energy density would never get to a point where the LFP chemistry could be used in an automotive cell cost-effectively. After a thorough landscape search of high energy density cathode material, they found inventions by Dr. Michael Thackeray (already in public domain for over 3 years at that time). Envia licensed those patents and began the long arduous task of developing the cathode material based on this structure. It took long hard 3 years to get to an automotive grade product. Around 2009, we were receipients of ARPA-E award to develop an anode to pair up with our cathode and try and take a shot at the 400 Wh/kg mark. There are so many anode development programs based on Si that have attained extremely high energy densities - but the drawback is that some use exotic (expensive) processes and some are just proof-of-concept small cells and when you pair them up in a real automotive type cell, Si will not cycle without issues. So our scientists developed a Si-C composite anode. Over the past four months, we paired the cathode and anode with our high voltage electrolyte and got to this 400 Wh/kg mark. You'd think that a company developing anode, cathode, high voltage electrolyte and cells would have spent over $80M-$100M or so in 4.5 years of existence. We have raised $28M and a bulk of the proceeds from our last round (of $17M) are still in the bank. Our aspiration is to mass market enable the electric vehicle market that has had so many false starts by dramatically reducing battery pack costs that are largely driven by active material (chemicals) inside these batteries. We hope we can continue to provide some good news over the coming quarters and years as we commercialize our products.
Yes, but why are you not supporting manufacturing in the US and create jobs instead of just lisencing the technology for manufacturing elsewhere? If that doesn't make sense economically, at least give us a chance to manufacture the special machines for production domestically. Manufacturing in the USA is hurting and the last thing we need is to see more exported industry.
These last few years I've been using an electric bicycle for my daily commute and converted my lawn mower to solar (the idea of a green lawn mower just seemed obvious). The efficiency of motors and motor controllers have advanced to the point of being very well-suited for transportation but energy storage is still lagging. The promise of doubling the capacity of the current battery systems would place the energy storage at the same technological level as the power plant and make e-vehicles practical. I couldn't help but notice the very cautious tone of the article, though. There are lots of questions for the future; can the cell produce high drain and deep cycle life without damage, and can the manufacturing process sustain high production levels. This is a company to watch in the future.
@tekochip: We ourselves at Envia are cautious and frankly skpetical of most battery claims. The materials inside our cells (that matter most) and the cells themselves are manufactured with same equipment and processes that are commonly found today. We made sure we do not have any exotic expensive process with low yields. As for cycling, we do well and meet USABC specs - for shallow cycling, some of our cathode composition cycles thousands of times, for deep cycling, our aspiration is 1000 cycles. The 400 Wh/kg cells have cycled 400 times and continue to cycle. Some engineering still remains to be done. But nevertheless, we are excited about getting to this energy density in a real 45 A-h pouch cell. Hope you continue to follow us.
I agree with you, tekochip, this is definitely a company to watch in the future. And, yes, I deliberately took a cautious tone in writing this story. I'll spare you the details, but I've been writing about EV batteries since 1988 and the results haven't always matched the claims. That said, the reports I heard about Envia were very good. I communicated with three battery experts, one automotive expert and one automaker, and learned that a lot of people in the battery community are watching Envia closely. I think it says a lot about the battery community, though, that none of the people I communicated with wanted to be quoted, even though they generally said good things.
Good story, Chuck. With the widespread--though generally unvoiced--belief that battery technology will never keep pace with Moore's Law, and may not even advance at a snail's pace, why aren't fuel-cell vehicles part of the discussion? I can't for the life of me figure this out. Fuel-cell cars have none of the problems of EVs. No $10k to $40k battery packs to fail, catch on fire, or have to be replaced in three years. The only impediment -- and it's a big one, I admit -- is the lack of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
This is a great development and will speed the day we can have a 'commuter vehicle' that is all electric.
As far as hydrogen infrastructure, that's the big problem. Fuel cells will NEVER work because of this. The dollars needed to build a hydrogen infrastructure would never be recovered. Hydrogen is a boondoggle that is used by politicians to distract from real solutions.
Far better to use a fuel for which the infrastructure exists now: Biodiesel. With new algal production methods, we could replace all of the liquid fuel needed for transportation in this country with biodiesel. The infrastructure exists, the engines exist. What we need is the political will. The EROI on biodiesel is very high and this combined with technologies like we see from Envia would make us energy independent within 5 years. The solutions are there. We are held back only by corporate and political manipulation.
Of course - existing "car mechanics" and "infrastructure" are ready for almost any new fuels includinh bio but EV has " no exhausted gases" and are safer - no explosion @ collision! The batterries are their problem and the way CA company is going is well seen future of small (1 to 10 person) transportation means.One more factor is their Life Expectancy.
If somebody figured out how to make an on-board fuel reformer that would convert fuel, butanol or ethanol for instance, into hydrogen, or make a fuel cell that efficiently used molecular fuel directly, you could have the advantages of our fuel infrastructure plus the advantages of electric cars. You could "gas" up at a service station in a few minutes with fairly safe, liquid fuel in a few minutes, and drive hundreds of miles.
Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) were in the news eight or nine years ago as possible substitutes for batteries in laptops. People could carry a few methanol cartridges with them and power a computer for hours. I wrote about the technology in an article, http://www.fpga-faq.org/sb-metal_hold/CD_11/Fuel_Cells_ECN_Jon_Titus_Editor.pdf, still available online. The DMFCs seemed to have promise, but interest dropped off and as far as I know, they fit into only specialized applications. I haven't heard much about them in years.
Oorja makes a methanol fuel cell for powered pallet trucks and tuggers. Nissan has at least 20 units on tuggers in their US plant. I have seen it demo'd at a Cat lift dealer. Instead of running the pallet mover, it sits on top of the Lead-acid battery and keeps the battery (which is running the pallet mover) topped off. The H2O byproduct from the fuel cell can be added to the battery to keep it's cells covered.
Of course this would need to be scaled up to work on an EV, and the water could be left to drip onto the roadway (along with AC condensate). Plus, you wouldn't have a tank of Hydrogen at x-psi to lug around. A fire in the Volt a week after an accident isn't nearly as bad as an exposion from a ruptured tank of Hydrogen.
Fuel cell vehicles still need the expensive battery packs to even out and extend the fuel cell's energy production.
I was part of the first college FUTURE TRUCK team to get a fuel cell ford explorer to work (reletively speaking). We used two Prius battery packs to store the Fuel cell energy and provide an extended 'EV mode' range.
Hydrogen has high energy density, but it takes a lot of room to store enough to be useful. We had two 10,000 psi pressurized tanks that completely filled the back of the explorer; and vehicle range was not going to even come close to gasoline. A key to ever advancing the fuel cell for automotive purposes is developing a reformer so the vehicle can be powered by fuel high in hydrogen content, without the special storage needs.
As you and some of our readers have pointed out, Alex, infrastructure is the number one problem for hydrogen. There's also another problem. A few years ago when I last wrote about this, fuel cell engines were exorbitantly costly -- about $1,000 per kW generated. That means a 100-kW (133 HP) engine would have cost about $100,000. At the time (2005, I believe), the goal was to push the cost down to about $50 per kW generated. Since then, several manufacturers have experimented with conventional spark-ignited IC engines that could run on hydrogen as a way of driving the cost down. I don't know how far that research has come -- maybe one of our readers could fill us in. Or maybe it's time for us to revisit the subject.
You can already buy various limited production specialty cars that run on hydrogen by burning them in the engine. But not sure what the point of that is. You end up with thermaldynamic inefficiency of ICE with heat rejection.
Here is a hydrogen refill station in our neighborhood.
Not to worry about hydrogen, Alex. A fuel cell based on methane--already available as natural gas--would do the trick and we already have a distribution network in place. I believe some materials such as activated carbon and perhaps carbon nanotubes readily absorb methane, so need for high-pressure storage tanks or cryogenic delivery of liquid hydrogen. Flue cerlls run hot, though, so we still must content with high temps, which can limit use in vehicles.
Lets remember batteries require energy to recharge them, regardless of their capacity. Higher capacity means fewer recharges needed for a given use, but more energy needed at each recharge. Where does that energy come from? Some battery-power enthusiasts forget that plugging a battery charger into an outlet simply "transfers" the emissions created by, say, an internal combustion engine to a coal-or gas-fired electricity-generating plant in someone else's neighborhood. You could use a wind generator or a photovoltaic array to capture energy, but would have to store that energy nearby until you need it to charge your batteries. That type of arrangement doesn't make sense due to the inefficiencies of the system components and the need for intermediate energy storage. In any case, the power needed to recharge batteries isn't "free."
So, it's good to see advances in battery technologies, but we need similar advances in the generation of power needed to charge them.
I agree with Jon. And not only do we need better methods for generating power, but we still need better methods for storing it, as well. I don't mean as in batteries, which is actually relatively temporary storage, but longer-term storage in smaller, more localized facilities. Isn't that at least one of the things fuel cells were supposed to be good for? In any case, I'm still waiting for the day when a power outage caused by a tree falling on the line 30 miles away does not make my house lose power, nor does the tree falling on a line near me make another person's house 30 miles away go dark.
Hi, Ann. I have heard about schemes to storre energy in flywheels, but i don't know how well that would work. Ice can store a lot of energy and might prove worth looking into in more detail as a way to supplement heating and cooling homes. Ice at 0 degrees C must absorb 334 joules/gram before it melts into water at 0 degrees C. That means a cubic meter of ice could store 334 Mjoules of energy. Using a heat pump, a home HVAC system could use a few cubic meters of water/ice to save energy. Heat extracted from a home in summer could provide energy to heat the home in winter. The ice/water would not provide all the needed energy, but it could harness available energy and supplement home heating and cooling during periods of peak electric-power demands. For an interesting article in Scientific American from about two years ago, visit: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ice-energy.
Fly-wheels are a horrible idea. They are extremely heavy and if you move their axis of rotation even by a few degrees the amount of force exerted on the unit would tear it apart. Fly wheels were considered for trains that stop frequently. The idea was to store some of that energy on a flywheel and reuse it. Obviously even on its intended use it's still far-fetched. Water when in freezes it decreases in density causing it to burst most vessels it's stored in. Water is great energy storage for heating and cooling. Sun to water heat transfer can be 80%+ for heating and with water evaporative process an extremely high amount of heat can be moved with relatively cheap water pumps. HVAC power systems on the other hand are less than 10% efficient and the colder the process the less efficient. You are speaking about a system that is barely 2-5% efficiency. Batteries on the other hand can have efficiency of between 30-70%.
The gyroscopic effect can be delt with by making the axis of rotation vertical. That allows you to drive in circles all day long. Gimbal mounting allows you to go up and down hills. San Fracisco would be an extreme case.
We have our own well. All the water that we use goes through a heat exchanger first. That is how I air condition our house. The slight increas in water temperature keeps the plumbing from sweating and it also takes some of the load off the water heater.
Around 1950 there was a flywheel powered bus, the Oerlikon Gyrobus. Also, the Joint European Torus at Culham Lab uses a huge flywheel, the peak pulse is not far off the whole UK National Grid power. Modern flywheel design is much faster, a light composite wheel with great tensile strength. If the axis is vertical with compliant mountings, gyroscopis moment is not problem. However I think the total energy storage is not that high.
My money would be on algae derived oil, produced in sunny places and easily stored and shipped using existing infrastructure. The CO2 from burning it has been absorbed from the atmosphere in growing it, so there is no net CO2 production.
Flywheels are great solutions for pulsed power applications where you need many Megajoules of energy for a second or less, but I have always been skeptical of their use for lower draw applications. Even with frictionless bearings, they still seem inefficient for low draw use.
Thanks, Jon. I actually had in mind water and rocks. They are often used in passive solar energy construction, an entirely different set of disciplines from what we call solar today, which actually consists of a narrow range of active solar technologies. I have been in houses, in winter, which were built entirely on passive solar principles that were so well designed and constructed and stored energy so well that they used maybe one stick of wood a day in the (small) woodstove to keep the house warm. It's worth remembering that the history of building techniques is very old and many of them worked just fine for a very long time without the addition of external sources of energy, at least for heating. In addition, there was a huge spurt of creative design during the 1970s in this direction.
When considering the whole debate of EV vs. ICE's, a global perspective is needed. The advantages of EV's is that the electricity that powers them can be created by a number of different energy sources, some greener than others. Secondly, from an emission standpoint, dealing with fossil fuel use byproducts is always going to be more efficient at a centralized large-scale power plant rather than dealing with it at the vehicle level. In order to use renewable sources for electricity production, storage at the site of generation is the big hurdle. That might be batteries, but in spite of several posters biases, flywheel energy storage is proven, reliable, affordable, and currently the most efficient. There are currently some energy producers that are putting flywheel storage on-line. EV's likely will have a future because of the relative neutrality of electricity as an energy currency, and it's relative lack of volatility in price compared to ICE's using fossil fuels as their only fuel currency.
Ann R.There is affordable answers that have flown under the radar for a long time. Your explanation being only one of many quite workable and parcial solutions. My cousin in Colorado has used exactly what you described for over 30 years (less the wood stove + the sun) reliably. However, I should like to suggest several ways to elimate the power company and gas station all together.
This can be done by RE-THINKING ALL THE "STUFF" taught to us from elementary school forward. One must start by reading about truly brilant thinkers many times referred to as kooks by others, especially governments of the world. Most of which they HIRED as paid contractorsduring times of war to "milk" these out-of-the-box thinkers of their unorthodox solutions to save the same government that tried to trash their reputations and origional IP for various reasons might expect.
So who are/were these PEOPLE? And how would one find them and their various SOLUTIONS and WORK. Join the discussion on ALT ENERGY I am starting to answer these and other questions.
Ozark Sage, I went to the second solar energy conference, I believe it was in 1974, held in Aspen, CO. It was all about passive solar in those days. In fact, that's what solar meant before a) it became clear that you have to site properly which means building from scratch, which makes it too expensive for the everyday person to do, b) commercial interests aimed at active solar technologies which are, in fact, retrofits to existing improperly sited buildings, and c) utilities like PG&E out here fought all of it kicking and screaming for several decades because it took energy delivery out of their hands and into the hands of individuals (among other reasons).
Along these lines are the Earthship, which is made with recycled materials:
and several other types of self-sustaining building innovations.
A common theme in posts on articles referring to EVs or their batteries mentions the fact that if you charge the batteries with fossil fuels, you are really not reducing your carbon footprint. I agree with this assessment. I do believe EV's will be very complementary to wind energy. One of the knocks on wind energy is that wind often blows at night when utility load is reduced. Many people work during the day and park their car at night. In the upper Midwest at least, there is a massive potential for additional wind development. It is costly to build transmission lines to large load centers. EV's offer an opportunity to sink a portion of the wind generation at night and closer to home thus making the EV truly green, reducing the utilities anxiety on what to do with the excess power (reducing curtailment), and offering a domestic and green source of fuel for transportation.
What works in one geographic location, may not in another. There are opportunities to develop solutions based on the assets of a particular geographic location.
EV cars will only be a practical alternative to good old gasoline when they can go as far as the driver can, so more like 1000 miles is needed than 300. Until then they will remain only a novelty, a city car for those that can afford to have multiple vehicles, and have enough money to not even care about the extra money spent to be using an EV. An EV has more in common with a boat or a motorcycle than a gasoline powered car. If Envia indeed lives up to it's claims, although I'll admit skepticisim, there certainly are a lot of other markets that would use this battery technology other than EVs, so I hope their business plan is not banking on EV sales to survive. As for the use of "biological batteries", we have that now, it is call a bicycle.
I wonder why you would require an EV to go 1000 miles on a charge.
How many times do you drive 1000 miles without stopping in any year? I have owned and driven an EV for several years and it satisfied the majority of my daily driving, so your comparison with a boat is false, unless you live at the coast of Finland or Greece.
BTW, a common solution for the one-car EV household is to simply select the appropriate car and *rent* it for your vacation and other long distance trips. Renting has the benefit that you do not need to worry about servicing your car before that long trip and how to get all your stuff and passengers comfortable to their destination - you can rent any vehicle that does the job well, INCLUDING renting a smaller and more fuel efficient car such as a Prius or Insight for a long road trip when you do not need the bulk, saving you significantly on gas money.
It is the same reason that you do not commute in a U-Haul truck, because for the occasion that you are moving, you rent one.
To re-iterate: a very long distance capable EV will always have a much higher (battery) cost than a medium distance or a range extended short distance EV. So, to avoid the unnecessary weight (=loss of energy) and capital investment for such an extreme distance EV, it makes much more sense to have a decent range that satisfies at least 95% of your daily driving needs and to find a good solution for the remaining 5%.
For some that will be an agreement with a friend or neighbor to swap cars, for others it will mean keeping the old gas-burner for those trips, for others (especially in inner cities and apartment dwellers) a rental car will be a good solution.
The thing with range is not different from the fact that there are no gas cars that go 1000 miles on a tank, simply because it is not economical.
Unintended consequences are always a big factor in any new thing. Both lithium and rare earth materials must be mined and refined and this leads to pollution. China is the big source for both of these items and has an abysmal record when it comes to pollution. It is only a matter of time before the "green" activists point out the consequences of going electric. This will drive the cost of the raw materials up or make them unavailable.
On the other hand a battery that better utilizes it's raw materials is to be welcomed because it uses fewer raw materials although it seems that the more efficient a battery becomes the greater it's safety risks and hence potential for widespread adoption.
I don't know about everyone else, but I'm leary of all the claims of late. It seems there are more than enough new "energy" companies willing to get a whole bunch of our money from the government and then go bankrupt shortly thereafter.
@Mark S - I am skeptical too of battery claims. Envia is not raising capital - almost all funds from Series C raise in December 2010 are in the bank. Company is funded by customer programs. Envia is not looking for any loan guarantees from government - we think cheap loans have not given good outcomes for battery companies in the past. As for skpeticism, it's a good thing considering the recent and long past track record of battery companies - we tried to mitigate that skepticism by - a) using a 45 Ah pouch cell (twice the capacity used in most battery driven automotives today), b) cycling it at least 300 times (it has cycled 400 times and continues to cycle), c) doing third party validation at Naval Warfare Surface Center, Crane, Indiana (conclusions posted on Envia web site). Atul Kapadia, Chairman & CEO, Envia Systems
Nice to see you jump in on the comments and doubts about "yet" another battery announcement. I am impressed by the energy density you claim and are proving in independent testing, because that is always the deciding difference between a scam and a working technology. I have ran tests on different technologies and at wildly different charge/discharge rates, which is another deciding factor for the applicability of a technology. For example, early LithiumIon chemistries had too high internal resistance and were almost unusable in vehicles due to the power density requirements. Modern pouch cells have no issue dissing out power levels that allow record-breaking drag runs.
One thing that concerns me and no doubt your material engineers are working on solutions, is that the capacity of the cells appears to reduce much faster than other Lithium-Ion chemistries. For the 45 Ah cell test results, I see that Infant capacity is about 48Ah which quickly drops after a few 100% deep cycles to about 33 Ah and that capacity slowly reduces to about 26Ah in the subsequent 450 cycles to 80% DoD, which is about 4% loss per 100 cycles. If you build a pack that is large enough to drive 300 miles on a charge (about 60kWh usable, 80kWh gross, which would weigh 200kg with the 400Wh/kg claim) then the 450 cycles translate to about 135,000 miles which is the typical 15k mi per year usage and 8 year warranty that a car gets today. Still, the capacity loss does not allow a smaller and lighter pack to be cycled more often and it also does not allow for the typical high usage delivery vehicles. The numbers that I see from other LithiumIon chemistries is that the cycle life has less impact on capacity loss.
What I cannot find is how calendar life affects capacity. For other chemistries there is definite capacity loss with calendar life, although that is also improving with newer formulations.
I see that you are testing the cell at C/3 which means about 15A from a 45Ah cell. This is not sufficient to stand up against most other chemistries, unless you only consider 300-mile EVs where you need the 80kWh pack and the 25kW is a decent power number to maintain freeway speed in a car. However, to know what happens at higher (and lower) discharge it is good to have those measurements to know the impact on capacity from higher power charge and discharge.
Your technology holds great promise, so I am excited to see where you will be able to steer this technology into!
I would love to get my hands on one sample cell and test it for capacity loss, self-discharge and other parameters. I am in Silicon Valley, about 10 miles away from your office.
It will be very interesting to see if they can go from theory to production, which is often a huge jump. What I did notice is that there was no mention of any details that could provide a clue as to the chemistry or voltage of the new cells, nor any specifics about performance.
So while I wish them success, I am more than a bit skeptical.
I think (based on hope and little science) that personal transportation, and individual home use will eventually be from a fuel source that gets put into a fuel cell and converted directly to electrical energy. Whether the fuel cell has a replaceable module that gets refilled or the fuel is pumped directly into the cell remains to be seen. ICEs and EVs will continue to improve but ultimately will disappear. There is no current method to provide this type of energy density in a safe, affordable manner, but the research is there, eventually it must happen. The developement of this will likely not come from government funded research, nor will it be done in a large firm being run to provide short-term profits. The existing power grid takes power from diverse sources which have been identified as environmentally destructive; Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Hydro - all environmentally problematical. The same groups who have condemned the fuel, also condemn the power lines and substations, such that it is difficult to site any improvement to the existing grid. The BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhare Near Anything) group have way too much sway over what will happen in the future of energy, roads, and infrastructure in general. Personally, I'm ready for my fuel cell powered vehicle and house.
Active material in a battery is about 1/2 the cost of a full cell. Cell costs are about 1/2 of the cost of a battery pack. So reducing material cost by 50%, reduces the cost in a car by 50%? Must be new math.
I think that although the active material cost is only approx 25% of a complete battery pack, the cost of the entire pack scales with the amount of battery needed. For half the battery, you also only need half the support (BMS) circuits and enclosure/containment/re-inforcement material and so on.
I believe Envia claims that since their material is slightly more expensive (approx 50% higher) but energy density is 3x typical LithiumIon, you would reduce the total pack cost by 50% since there is only 1/3 of the battery amount needed for the same capacity and therefor 1/3 of 150% cost is half the cost for the batteries, what is implied is that the reduced amount of batteries also causes the other 50% of the pack cost to be reduced by half because it scales with the amount of battery.
I was just wondering if the energy density is doubled, what does that do to the volatility? We have had a lot of news about fires caused by lithium batteries in EVs and it is a concern for all of us...has there been any progress on safety measures? I personally like the LFP batteries because of their non-volatility which increases their safety, although they can't compare to the lithium ion batteries for energy density.
So true, Rob and I think your statement applies in any area of engineering. I know that whenever I went to upgrade a test system there was always a number of factors that needed to be considered. What are the trade offs for making the change and does it make sense to do so...sometimes we let enthusiasm prevail, which is not always a good thing and can come back to bite us later. Not to be a pessimist, I am all for innovation and improvement - I just advocate a careful approach that addresses all of the possible consequences...
Nancy I do and don't agree with your point as a developer. Any engineer always has a number of factors they need to consider! Etc. etc. etc..... and YES WE NEED TO LET ENTHUSIASM PREVAIL !!!!....even IF IT FAILS! This allows us to move ahead and KNOW WHERE IT WILL FAIL. I rather think, IN R&D PROJECTES ONLY, one should overrun the bounds early on so as to progress FASTER. Then in preproduction you go slowly to preserve LIFE TESTED gains.
My point is that we need to be agressive until the unknown barrier is reached BEFORE stopping to asertain exactly where that barrier is. This is important ESPECIALLY when your are running AGAINST the establihsment.
Battery development is fine but new ENERGY advances would be better especially IF OIL is NOT considered. Energy solutions remain hidden around the world due to obsolete government enforced patent restrictions, useful only to thoses interesrs benefiting from same, which excludes the general public.
Good points, Nancy. In another discussion on auto dash tools on Design News, there were questions about whether the move from analog controls to digital controls were an improvement. Many of those commenting viewed the switch to digital controls on everything from radio controls to cool/heat controls actually resulted less fine control for the user.
Rob, I think those kind of things would also benefit by usability studies. In many cases, the trade off may not be a big deal, but what is actually desired by the target audience may drive the choice. I prefer analog in many cases because it is my generation and therefore my comfort zone. I was twelve years old before I found out my name wasn't "Turn the channel," LOL. Yes, I would think analog would typically give more fine tune control on an auto dash (an analog meter can certainly show you what is happening that a digital meter may miss but how many analog meters are around) but today's generation is a digital one. Now I must admit at this point that I do love my digital camera and enjoy the ease of photoshop more than my time in the darkroom with all those chemicals!
Yes, Nancy, I too have shifted to digital in many, many ways. In most cases, the move really is an improvement. The assumption now seems to be that digital is intrinsically superior to analog, at least in consumer goods. That means not every instance of an analog to digital move is likely to be evaluated to make sure it really does offer an improvement.
Great point, Rob. I think in the future we as consumers will have to see how far we want to go to pursue what we personally deem as "better" since it tends to default to digital in most cases and as you so aptly pointed out, will probably do so more and more in the future, regardless of whether it has been fully evaluated or not. I know several musicians who will tell you that you can't truly feel the nuances of the music unless you are listening to an analog recording...but how much more convenient it is to use CDs...and of course I'll take a CD over my old 8 track tapes any time...
Yes, I hear the same thing about vinyl records, Nancy. Neil Young has been complaining about digital music for decades, saying it doesn't capture the warmth of an acoustic instrument. I would have a hard time going back to vinyl most because you have the change the record every 15 minutes and you can't play it in the car, which is the only place I get to really concentrate on music.
There's the ultimate trade off – convenience borne from a society that has evolved into busy lives that don't give us much time to stop and be still! Just like eating at McDonalds when a home cooked meal is sooooooooo much better. I am very guilty!
Good point, Nancy. I have found CDs to be very convenient. Digital music also has another big advantage -- it doesn't deteriorate. While it may not have the full audio range and depth of vinyl, there are no pops and hissing after 1000 plays. Since vinyl is based on friction, it's pretty much inevitable the vinyl recording will lose its fine sound in time.
My rather limited record supply had very few vinyl records without scratches, pops and hissing. One of the advantages of CDs is that I can get my hands around the outer perimeter of the CD without touching the playing surface. As a result, my CDs -- even the older ones -- are in far better condition than any of my similarly-aged vinyl records.
I agree, Chuck. I kept my vinyl records. A few years ago, I went through them with the idea of selling them on eBay. But they were in terrible shape with scratches everywhere, so I didn't bother. Meanwhile, my CDs hold up well.
:-) while I agree you should treat your CD's/DVD's that way, they are incredably tolerant of scratches etc. because of a combination of good error correction algorithms and some cleaver schemes to deal with complete loss of signal. Where as a scratch on vinyl produces a click which is spectrally different from the content, a CD player extends the last detected audio level which barely changes the spectral content and so goes largely unnoticed. One thing CD's don't like is exposure to sulphur. High sulphur paper can blacken the silver reflective layer causing much more significant effects than a few scratches might.
I find very interesting advances on new battery technology for EV's , of course improving energy density in the battery reduces the material quantity required and therefore production costs. The real challenge with EV's is where your energy comes from, because if you can storage more energy but it comes from fossil fuels you are not solving a problem and your electricity bill will also increase when you purchase an EV, the ideal case would be that you can fuel your car from a renewable source like solar or wind power and be more efficient for storaging this power.
The unit discussed below operates on SLCNBF, stimulated liquid contained nano buble fusion princiable.
This WELL TESTED system being prepaired for market is called ****-*****. The system uses doped pure wated contained within a circulating vesel that generates and sustains power after being started. The power is AC & DC controlled and with selectable voltage values, (normally 220 VDC) and (220 VAC @ a lower crrrent). Engergy used to driver a 500kw to 2.5 Mega watt unit is 14,500 watts. Initial TBO is 5 to 6 years continous at below 50 deg.C operating temp. Cold Start to full load is 3 minutes. Design rebuild is 25 years. Total fuelload cost $10,000 dollars (at overhaul). Power selling price is 0.1 cent / kwh and the unit is modular and scaleable. NO EMISSIONS OR WASTE IS GENERATED ...PERIOD.
This is only one type of unit soon to hit the market and there are many more to come. Not only is this design affordable but it can eliminate the Grid mess built over past years. Peeking will in the future be local.
Suddenly vinyl is becoming trendy. It's true that the sound quality was really quite good just as it was phased out, but it comes nowhere close a CD. I am a musician, and I remember the first digitally recorded, digitally mastered and digitally reproduced album I heard. Like many people it was "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits. The sound was breath taking, simply awe inspiring, and made me rush out and buy a better amplifier because now I needed better signal to noise performance.
Then there came MP3s. We went from dynamic range that stretched the limits of the cables carrying the signal, to the squishy sound of a Diamond Rio (I bought the first MP3 player I could get my hands on). Engineers are used to trade-offs and this was a big one, as consumers traded quality for convenience. Storage size went from 10MB a minute to 1MB or less depending on the quality you could tolerate, which was now less than the quality of vinyl. More than a decade has passed and now consumers download more music than purchase media content. Sure enough, one day my kids came to me and said that vinyl records had the best sound. We listened to some vinyl and then I put on a full digital CD and they too were awe inspired, since they had grown up listening to music through an iPod and small diaphragm speakers that they crammed into their ears.
Well, I've written too much, but it's a topic near and dear to my heart. The bottom line is that digital audio has the capability of taking our breath away with quality as good as the source, but marketplace convenience has yielded quality comparable to a cassette.
Next topic, vacuum tubes? Much like a candle, nothing warms my heart like the flickering, blue glow from a pair of 6L6s.
tekochip: I mentioned in a previous comment that I have a tin ear that can't tell the difference between the sound quality of vinyl versus digital. I've been told for years that digital can't measure up to vinyl and I wondered why vinyl didn't sound better to me. Your comment is heartening -- maybe my assessment of sound quality isn't as bad as I was led to believe. Thanks.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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