DailyDirt: All Electric Vehicles

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Electric vehicles are gaining some increasing acceptance on the roads, as some drivers realize that the vast majority of their trips are less than a 40-mile roundtrip. The “range anxiety” factor is still a concern for a lot of people, but there might be some alternatives to the existing rechargeable batteries in use today. Here are just a few examples of possible solutions to improve the energy storage capacity in electric cars.

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Companies: alcoa, phinergy, quant, tesla

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Comments on “DailyDirt: All Electric Vehicles”

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Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

nanoFLOWCELL's Dubious Claims, and Cleverly Shifting the Goalposts Back and Forth.

The particular system described is one of a flow battery backstopping a high-performance ultra-capacitor. The characteristic of a capacitor is that it can release all of its energy more or less instantaneously, and it can do so billions of times without any degradation. One of the classic high-voltage capacitor circuits is the photographer’s electronic flash. Capacitors are used in the regenerative braking systems in Formula 1 racing cars. The Chinese have used ultra-capacitors to power buses, recharging the capacitors at each bus stop, and saving the expense of stringing continuous wires along the bus’s route. The idea of using an ultra-capacitor to avoid needless strain on the battery is, in itself, a sound one.

The problem arises with the other half of the nanoFLOWCELL system, a Flow Battery. A flow battery is simply a fuel cell in which the active chemicals are dissolved in an inert fluid– typically water– and can therefore be delivered from holding tanks. This allows a wider range of active chemicals than those which are customarily used in fuel cells, but the catch is that you need a lot of water to make various metal oxides, metal sulfates, etc., behave as fluids, and flow-batteries generally do not have very high energy densities. There are applications where this does not matter, but an electric automobile is probably not one of them.
I am informed that the nanoFLOWCELL company involved has not filed any patents, or disclosed the chemical composition of its energy-storage fluids. I am also informed that the proprietor has a dubious reputation for making claims which evaporate in thin air.

One persistent problem about electric cars is the way in which their promoters conflate instantaneous power and long term energy. The true claim that a car can go two hundred miles an hour (for a minute or so), and can go a thousand miles (at five miles an hour, or so), is glossed into an unstated claim that the car has sufficient performance for ordinary commuting, which unstated claim may very well be untrue.





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