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No charger electric car.


Bill
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Lockdown gives my mind more time to ponder all the what ifs of life and how things could be changed for the better. This might not be the most exciting you’ll eve read but for me writing something like this is far better than watching telly or going for long walks on a rainy day.

We’ve already done the electric car debate to death and pretty much concluded that while we’d all like one, the range and the ability to charge them is the major concern. With this in mind, I was wondering if there’s any other way these limitations could be overcome and I’m beginning to wonder if we as a country have set about this electric car thing in a completely wrong way.

All the main issues revolve around the charging, whether it’s the time it takes or not being able to do this at home. But what if you could charge your battery just as fast as filling the tank and what if we could make it such that no home charger was even needed? It sounds too good to be true and yet the technology already exists to do this however it’s possibly come a little too late in the day to divert us from the path we’re currently going down.

My theory is that we have batteries that never run out and before you tell me I’m crazy. I’ll add, providing we can keep them charged. So what I’m proposing is a method of constantly charging the battery as we drive around without the car becoming something like a tram. You might think that’s crazy given it typically takes twelve hours to charge a battery but there is a type of battery than can be charged in a matter of seconds. It’s not really a battery as such but rather a large electrical capacitor called a super or ultra capacitor. These devices are able to take massif surges of power that would completely destroy a conventional battery and repeat this millions of times over but their downside is that on a pound per pound basis they can’t compete with the current lithium-Ion batteries.

These are the types of “batteries” currently used in the hybrid formula one cars to produce unbelievable speed and power with an engine the size of a small family run around. They only charge as the car brakes then delivers the power back to accelerate the car. This sort of technology is beginning to be used in electric cars but only to prevent high currents being drawn from the battery during acceleration as this reduces battery life.

So this device looks promising by being able to accept thousands of amps of charge almost instantaneously but the total amount of energy in it wouldn’t take a car very far. But what if the car didn’t need to go too far before it got another boost? If we could build automatic charging points into the road every so often, then we’d never need to worry about charging at home or having restricted range. In reality though, this would be no good because it’d be impractical to have charging points everywhere and as soon as you run out of these, the car would grind to a halt after about a mile. So, the trick is to power the car using a standard lithium-ion battery that is slowly being recharged from each burst of energy stored in the ultra capacitor and this way when you run out of charge points there’s still a hundred or so mile available. This idea is realistic and technically possible and would virtually eliminate the need to use existing charging points because the battery should never need charging.

If anyone’s still following this, they may now be thinking if a normal home EV charger only puts about 40 amps into the battery and the ultra capacitor device charges at 2,000 amps, each boost station will need to be mega powerful. The trick here is to use a second ultra capacitor in the charger that can get it’s charge relatively slowly, eventually building up enough stored energy that can then be released virtually instantaneously to the passing car. Having received the boost, it transfers this received charge gradually to the car’s main battery while its travelling to the next boost point.

The key point of all this is that batteries take time to charge but by using the ultra capacitor’s ability to absorb and transfer energy rapidly, we can effectively reduce the amount of time that it needs to be physically connected. The main battery lasts longer because there’s no heavy charging and also the size of the battery, which is a major cost component could also be reduced.

Food for thought.

  

Bill 😊

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Interesting ideas Bill. But if I can put my pedant's hat on for a minute, when you press on the brake pedal you hope that the car brakes rather than breaks (a pet peeve of mine, sorry 😉).

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bang a few solar panels on the roof as well and that will help a bit more. not a great deal but could keep the battery topped up.

I dimly remember in the distant past reading a science fiction story that had vehicles that used the braking to generate power to charge them. the system used was to turn the motor powering the wheels into a generator to provide breaking. probably still got the book somewhere in my collection.

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It must have been a history book Sid because as far back as when the very first cars were produced, many of them were electric and even in those days they understood and used regenerative braking to put some power back to the battery.  Modern cars still do this where foot off the pedal the electric motor does most of the braking, and while this can stop the car completely, you still need brakes to stay in control.

Putting solar panels on a car wouldn’t achieve much at all, especially here in the UK unless you want everyone to know that you’re some kind of eco warrior but if you’re going to do that then why not go the whole hog and put a windmill on the roof 😊

These ultra-capacitors I’m on about have been around for years as alternatives to small batteries but developments in nano materials such as graphene have allowed them to now store vast amounts of energy for their size. But it’s their ability to accept and release energy so quickly that makes them so unique and while this would soon kill off a normal battery, ultra-capacitors can do this millions of times over

I believe some battery manufactures are already building this technology into their standard battery packs to reduce the damaging effects of short high current demands but by taking this another step further we could solve the charging time issue which is the major downside for all electric vehicles. Only time will tell.

 

Bill 😊

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