Power Up On The Go

A major concern for people thinking about buying their first electric vehicle is something that has come to be known as range anxiety, the fear that the car will run out of juice before they get to their destination or a recharging point. The perception is so widely felt that it’s considered an obstacle to large numbers of consumers adopting the technology. Yet experts say electric vehicles powered by renewable sources like the sun and wind are necessary to achieve energy independence and to slow human contributions to climate change.

One way of extending electric vehicle range besides the difficult road of improving battery technology is to build recharging infrastructure like that which has been developed for gasoline distribution and sales. But the act of recharging itself also throws up obstacles for widespread adoption–getting a quick boost to extend range by 50 miles can take 20 minutes using DC fast charging, and connecting to a regular AC household plug can take 20 hours to refill a depleted battery. 

A few groups of researchers around the world are looking beyond these early issues in the developing electric vehicle industry. Instead of building refuel points like those used in the gas station model, they are working on delivering electricity to vehicles while they’re on the go, no stopping needed. It’s called wireless power transfer, and it is starting to show promise. Learn more and see the video below.

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Steven Johnson on the impending electric car revolution being led by Tesla:

And if that’s the case, then the automobile industry will go through exactly what the computer and software world went through with the rise of the PC, the Web, and the mobile revolutions. Smaller companies that bet heavily on the new paradigm will become dominant in an amazingly short amount of time; behemoths who cling to the old models will swiftly become afterthoughts. The EV revolution will be like Hemingway’s classic line about going broke: it will happen gradually, then all of a sudden.

Agreed. This is going to happen sooner than most people think.

[via Daring Fireball]

The electric bus that charges when driven | SmartPlanet

The fledgling electric vehicle industry is fraught with problems including so-called ‘range anxiety’ and the long wait for charging at stations, but an EV developed in South Korea could show us a glimpse of future public transport.

The Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV), developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is an electric vehicle that can be charged while stationary or driving — removing the lengthy wait at a charging station between trips.

Volvo and Siemens in electric car tie-up - FT.com

Volvo, the Swedish carmaker owned by China’s Geely, has formed a partnership with Siemens, the German engineering group, to develop electric cars and the equipment needed to run them. Siemens’ industrial head told the Financial Times that the group was in talks with several other carmakers to provide them with hardware for electric cars, and that it saw this as a “significant” future business.

Siemens and Volvo said on Wednesday they would work together on joint development of electric motors, inverters, and charging elements for electric cars, as well as charging infrastructure and software to manage the cars’ motors.

The two companies plan to integrate the technology initially into an electric version of Volvo’s small C30 hatchback, which the Swedish carmaker will begin producing in small volumes this year. Volvo will deliver up to 200 vehicles to Siemens for internal testing by the end of 2012.

High Temperature Capacitor Could Boost Electric Vehicle Reliability

A new capacitor design which can better handle the temperatures in electric vehicles has been developed as part of the Advanced Capacitors for Energy Storage (ACES) project, a technology strategy board project.

According to National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the goal to get electric vehicles an automobile market share of more than 50% by 2050 is impeded by the ability of capacitors to handle high temperatures generated by electric vehicle components, making them less reliable than desired.

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Water-Based Battery Could Extend Electric Car Range

by GE Reports

Imagine a brave new world where an affordable family electric vehicle (EV) could cover the distance between New York City and Washington, D.C., on a single battery charge. It remains a fantasy, but perhaps not for long. Scientists at GE Global Research and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are developing a new kind of water-based “flow” battery for EVs that could achieve this driving range and go beyond it.

Grigorii Soloveichik, who leads the project at GRC and serves as the director of the GE-led and Department of Energy-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, says that the batteries could be 75 percent cheaper than those available on the market today and might also multiply the current EV driving range. “The DOE wants a battery that can power a car for 240 miles,” he says. “We think we can exceed that goal.”

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Volvo Tests A Road That Can Charge Cars And Trucks | FastCompany

Charging electric vehicles while they are on the move may seem a bit out-there. But, in fact, we already do it for major groups of vehicles–trams and trains, for instance. French cities have completely wireless trams, and their record is good. After 10 years and about 7.5 million miles, they haven’t reported serious problems.

In Sweden, Volvo is applying the same technology to roads, opening up the possibility that people would no longer have to fear getting stranded by a dead battery–a major hurdle to people’s willingness to buy an electric car.