Posts tagged ‘electric cars’

February 1, 2012

What Exactly Are Fuel Cells?

Everyone has heard a lot about fuel cells – mainly as a promising future energy source for cars and other vehicles, but now Apple has applied for two patents on using fuel cells in their iconic devices, the iPhone and the iPad. The use of these technologies would make it possible to provide small devices with extended battery life of days or even weeks – without charging.

But what is a fuel cell?

Fuel cells are largely like a battery but with a constant fuel supply they won’t run down, hence they don’t need to be recharged. They feature two electrodes inside, with oxygen and hydrogen passing over one of them and thus generating electricity, alongside water and heat. The principle of its operation is more based on chemistry and not on combustion.

Where can you find them?

Fuel cells come in various designs using various chemical components, and they are applied in many fields. Besides the most commonly known market – vehicles, fuel cells are also used in several systems in hospitals, hotels, schools, offices, as well as telecommunications facilities, wastewater treatment plants, landfill plants, breweries or even wineries. As they are light and work well without the need for a connection to the electricity grid, they are also used by the military or emergency services.

And now Apple wants to use them in their devices, which therefore could become smaller, lighter, and don’t need to be charged as often as current ones. There are already some consumer electronics devices available with fuel cells but these are rather bulky.

Some gadgets today can also work with fuel cells, for instance kettles, portable chargers, and a fuel cell sticker has even been developed.

Why are fuel cells so promising?

First of all, due to their technology their carbon emissions are very low. Fuel cells are also highly efficient, reliable, flexible, and scalable. They are also quite light and thus can be used in many applications for which current batteries may be too big or heavy.

This means that they can offer a lot of possibilities for future energy storage, while still being environmentally friendly.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

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August 29, 2011

Go Faster With Electricity

Do you like fast cars? But want to save petrol, money or the environment? Besides mass-market electric cars, like the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt, the Vauxhall Ampera or the Mitsubishi i-Miev, there are already numerous sports cars available with hybrid or fully electric engines, which are still as fast as anyone could dream of.

Electric sports cars already on the roads

Probably the most well-known member of the category is the Tesla Roadster. It accelerates to 60 mph in only 3.9 seconds, and the special lithium-ion battery allows the owner to drive 245 miles with only one charge,

Fisker Karma

As a committed environmentalist, even Leonardo di Caprio owns a Tesla and has just recently purchased another fast hybrid vehicle that is capable of doing 67 miles with only one gallon of fuel (about 3.5 litre per 100 kilometres), a Fisker Karma. Its top speed is 125 miles per hour, and it even has a solar glass roof for utilising solar energy. The car paint is recycled, similarly to the recycled Ultrasuede interior.

The UK-based company, Lightning, has developed the Lightning GT, which accelerates to 100 km/h (about 62 mph) only in five seconds, and can be charged in three various ways, the ultrafast method only using ten minutes of topping up. The distance that can be done with one charge is about 240 kilometres (about 150 miles), while it features a unique lithium titanate battery, which is said to be charged faster than more usually used lithium-ion types.

Meanwhile, another speedy car is the Venturi Fetish, which goes from 0 to 100 km/h in less than four seconds, and sports a top speed of 200 km/h (about 124 mph). It offers a range of 340 kilometres (about 211 miles) allowed by the latest lithium ion polymer battery design.

Venturi Fetish

These state-of-the-art cars come with several luxurious features at a similarly luxurious price, of course.

Concept cars

Besides the existing models, more and more car manufacturers are introducing electric concept sports cars, as well.

Mass-market manufacturers, like Audi and Nissan have already showcased some concept cars. Audi has been working on the e-tron Spyder, a plug-in hybrid with two electric engines, while Nissan recently announced the ESFLOW, which shall speed up to 100 km/h (about 62 mph) in less than five seconds, and which would have an electric engine on each rear wheel.

Koenigsegg’s Quant [7] is also designed for acceleration, which it can do from 0 to 100 km/h in only 2.2 seconds, which is also supported by its lightweight carbon fibre material.

Another great potential may be developed by Morgan Motor in the frame of the +E project, with the aim to design a pure electric car with state-of-the-art features and solutions.

The future

Electric cars have gradually advanced, primarily by their efficiency. While electric sports cars may seem to be expensive toys and target only a small niche in the electric car market, they may be a key in reaching out to new audiences.

Also, as they are usually sold at higher price, they can include important improvements, which may not be researched and/or implemented for mass-market vehicles, but which may be useful for any electric car.

Furthermore, as costs are expected to lower, eventually they may even become everyday sights on the roads.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image from Fisker Karma, Venturi, Koenigsegg

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