Renewable Engineering in Electric Cars
Electric Cars use the energy stored in a battery (or series of batteries) for vehicle propulsion. Electric motors provide a clean and safe alternative to the internal combustion engine. There are many pros and cons about electric cars. The electric vehicle is known to have faster acceleration but shorter distance range than conventional engines. They produce no exhaust but require long charging times. This page provides articles about electric car technologies.
Plugging into renewable energy sources outweighs the cost and short driving ranges for consumers intending to buy electric vehicles, according to a new study. Energy storage is a continually evolving industry, with new devices being engineered and mature technologies undergoing refinement. Here are a few battery innovations that could give a boost to the renewable energy and electric vehicle markets.
“High purchase costs and short driving ranges have been considered to be the main factors which impede people’s decision to buy electric vehicles,
How It Works
Batteries make up the backbone of countless technologies, and they could do the same for renewable energy. Cleantech visionaries believe that batteries in our electric vehicles (EVs) could not only take energy from the grid but could also give energy back to it.
The battery’s chemistry has an energy density of just under 100 Wh/kg, less than that of a Li-ion battery. That makes it suitable for stationary applications like grid-level or residential energy storage, but undesirable for electric vehicles and other mobile uses. That’s unfortunate since its quick charging rate would be a welcome feature in an EV battery. On the other hand, if it can charge quickly enough, the smaller capacity might not be an issue, especially if it drastically lowers the cost. Oh, and its non-flammable – a nice attribute of any battery!
Feeding renewable energy into the electricity grid (‘the grid’) has been a royal rock in the grid’s shoe. Energy demand doesn’t match up with supply. The sun clocks out for the day when everyone gets home and turns on all sorts of energy-consuming devices, exactly when electricity is needed most.
Solid State Li-ion Batteries
On the subject of non-flammable batteries, Dr. Michael Zimmerman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University, examined the benefits and drawbacks of lithium-ion batteries and decided that a solid polymer electrolyte would be safer than the liquid electrolyte currently used. He developed a solid-state Li-ion battery that can be cut, punctured, and otherwise abused without causing an explosion or even a malfunction. Its plastic electrolyte is flame-resistant. In addition, the material doesn’t allow dendrites to form on the electrodes, which increases the battery’s lifespan and the number of charge cycles.
So how would this system work?
The idea is for car batteries to stabilize the grid’s spikes in electricity demand. Car batteries would soak up the sun’s energy throughout the day while solar power is abundant, then offer that excess energy to the grid whenever they’re parked and plugged in.
This system in which electric vehicles both give and take electricity from the grid is known as V2G (vehicle-to-grid).
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) delivered a grant for $4.1M to Ecoult, to help the company improve its flagship product. The UltraBattery, a hybrid lead-acid battery with an integrated supercapacitor, is the core technology behind Ecoult’s UltraFlex, which is currently under test at the Institute for Transformative Technologies (ITT) in India. ITT is evaluating multiple energy storage systems as part of its rural electrification program. Currently, remote locations generate power through diesel generators, which are costly to operate and produce air pollution and greenhouse gasses. Officials are hoping to replace those dinosaurs with mini-grids made of solar arrays and energy storage systems such as the UltraFlex.
But once the obstacles to create the V2G system have been surmounted, free-market capitalists can rejoice because electricity will become more privatized. People could produce solar electricity on their rooftops and use their cars to store it — people would no longer be required to purchase energy from the public utility company.
The public utility could become car owners’ partner in distributing electricity and actually pay people for their help. As mentioned in The Grid, owning an electric car becomes like owning a little money factory. All you have to do is make sure the car is always plugged in.
Los Angeles Air Force Base has made this a reality and created the largest operational V2G system in the world.
Effect on Environment
Although the electric car is promising, its benefit may be exaggerated. Seventy cents for driving 100 miles may be an extremely cheap rate, but it cannot be sustainable when more electric cars are charged at night time. It is better to say how much electricity is needed for driving 100 miles. According to the features and specification of the manufacturer, 24 kWh of electricity is needed for driving 100 miles for a THINK City or a Nissan LEAF. According to the utility bill for residents in Maryland, 24 kWh of electricity costs about $3 instead of 70 cents in the advertisement mentioned above, thereby taking into account the cost of electricity generation and grid transport. Thus, zero emission is not true right now. Producing 24 kWh of electricity will consume about one and a quarter gallons of gasoline. Therefore, the equivalent efficiency for the pure electric car is about 90 miles per gallon, which is higher than any other car including hybrid cars.