Electric Cars and Alternative Options!

*The goal of electric vehicles is to reduce air emissions associated with typical internal combustion vehicles (ICVs), thereby decreasing the emission of environmentally damaging products such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.


What is an Electric Car?

What Can We Do?

SUVs, The Real Truth

The Future Is Here

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Benefits of Electric Vehicles:



Basic Idea:
Array of solar collectors on the car's surface delivers electricity to batteries which then power the car and can be recharged.





For Example
A practical motor vehicle needs about 30 KWH of deliverable energy for

a range of 100 miles.

For reasonable performance about 20 hp must be delivered to the drive train.

Efficiency of energy delivery from batteries to drive train is about 40%

Delivered energy = 40% of stored energy

So you need 30 KWH/0.4 = 75 KWH of stored energy

Energy storage density of lead-acid batteries is .04 KWH per kilograms

So you need 75/.04 = 1875 = 4125 pounds of lead-acid batteries

Power: 20 hp/0.4 = 37.3 KW

Power density of lead-acid batteries is .07 W/kg

So you need 37.3/.07 = 533 = 1172 pounds

So the range requirements are more severe than the power requirements.

Improvements in battery Technology are definitely required.


Other types of batteries:

Material Energy Density (W-hrs/kg) Power Density (W/kg) Comments

Lead Acid 40 70 Long Cycle Life

Nickel Iron 55 100 Very Long Cycle Life

Sodium Sulfur 90 100 300-350 C operating temp

Lithium-Iron sulfide 100 > 100 400-450 C

Nickel-Zinc 75 120 low cycle life


Driving Habits and Requirements:

Long distances - Interstate --> 75 mph and 400 miles range

Daily Commute --> 55 mph and 35 miles range

Puttering around town --> 35 mph and 20 miles range

It is very unlikely that electric cars will ever have production line performance that satisfies the Interstate requirement.

Most practical application is for in town commuting/shopping and this would then eliminate a major source of air pollution

The Key of course is marketing --> people have to buy the product

Performance --> people need to change their driving habits

Range --> not a problem for in town use. City ordinance to make city limits and internal combustion free zone would clearly help

Price --> Probably needs to come down to 10K before people would seriously consider this "glorified golf cart"

Safety --> Lightweight materials --> carbon fiber. High tensile strength but not a Farady Cage (thunderstorm problem!). Also braking is a concern.


California Mandate:

1998: 2% of all vehicles offered for sale must be zero emission vehicles (meaning electric cars)

2003: 10% must be zero emission

As of Fall 1995 the Mandate has been rolled back (see also this release


Some Prototypes:


Ford Ecostar two-passenger electric mini-van used by Post-Office and UPS --> sodium-sulfur batteries

Chrysler TEVan --> nickel-iron batteries

$500,000 given to Yosemite to replace diesel buses with electric buses

$500,000 given to General Motors to loan 50 vehicles to 1000 people nationwide for test drive results

(Most of the above Information from The Electronic Universe Project)





Electric Cars, The Future Is Here


What's Wrong With My Car?

The problems of greenhouse warming, air pollution and oil security are all linked to fossil fuel combustion. Transportation contributes 30% of the carbon monoxide emissions in the United States as well as two-thirds of the USs oil consumption.

SUVs, the Real Truth

You‘d think by the number of SUV vehicles in Western nations that their road system was horrible and the terrain was that of the rockie mountains. Yet, western nations have better road system than any other nation in the world, with more money spent on good highway system than education. The Auto-industry advertising portrays SUVs as the ticket to freedom and the great outdoors. Commercials depict them climbing massive snowcapped mountains or tearing through desert sand dunes, taking their owners into the wild. Missing from these ads are other contributions from SUVs—the brown haze of air pollution hanging

over many of our national parks, images of weather disasters linked to global warming or the oil

derricks and tankers needed to feed gas-guzzling SUVs. And in reality, the only off-road action many of these vehicles see is accidentally driving through a flower bed next to the driveway.

The real truth about SUV’s when it comes to wasting energy, they are out rivaled. Built with outdated, gas-guzzling technology, many SUVs get just 13 miles per gallon. And the higher gas prices are, the more money they waste.

The reality is that SUV’s contribute 43 percent more global-warming pollution and 47

percent more air pollution than an average car. SUVs are four times more likely than cars to roll

over in an accident and three times more likely to kill the occupants in a rollover. They also cost

the owner thousands more on gasoline.




What can we do?

As vehicle use continue to increase, the U.S. as well as other countries have to address these issues or else confront the environmental, health, economic, and political related consequences. The large industries and policy makers thus have four options: 1.) To reduce vehicle use, 2.) To increase the efficiency and reduce the emissions of conventional gasoline-powered vehicles 3.) To switch to less noxious fuels or 4.) To find less polluting propulsion systems. Although each option is attractive, in reality people, especially in more developed nations, are not going to reduce using their cars; if they have a car, they will use it. In addition, although alternative fuel use is an equally appealing and potential low cost option, these alternative fuels, such as methanol or natural gas, burned in internal-combustion engines, would only lead to marginal reductions in pollution and greenhouse gases. The final option, of finding a less polluting system, such as the electric car option, all together would be an actual solution to some of the above problems because using electric motors could reduce overall urban pollution and greenhouse emissions 20% less than a regular mechanical gas online-powered vehicle. Therefore, laying a foundation system for a transportation system that could ultimately be pollution free would be the most effective step in solving some of the already detrimental hazardous that come from the combustion of fossil fuels through car use.



















What is an electric car?

The term “electric-drive vehicle” includes not only those cars powered by batteries charges with household current, but also vehicles that generate electricity on board or store it in devices other than batteries. Electric vehicles are sometimes referred to as "zero-emission vehicles" because they produce essentially no pollution from the tailpipe or through fuel evaporation. This is important, for it means that the use of electric vehicles could greatly reduce emissions of carbon monoxide and smog-forming pollutants in cities with dirty air. Electric cars are different than gas powered cars because they have an efficient electric motor that drives the wheels and extracts energy from the car’s motion when it slows down. In contrast, internal-combustion cars have a constant running engine whose power is driven through a series of gears and clutches to drive the wheels and to turn the generator. Additionally, electric cars are more efficient because the electric motor is connected to the wheels, thus it consumes no energy while the car is at rest or coasting, which increases the potential energy by roughly one-fifth. Regenerative braking schemes can return as much as half an electric vehicle’s kinetic energy to the storage cells. Also, the motor converts more than 90 percent of the energy in its storage cells to motive force, contrasting the internal combustion drives which utilize less than 25% of the energy in a liter of gasoline.



Hybrid Cars:

Hybrid electric vehicles have batteries to provide electric power but are also equipped with a small internal combustion engine (usually powered by gasoline). Thus like electric cars, hybrids use a combination of energy sources including a battery, yet unlike the electric car, the hybrids’ batteries never have to be recharged. The hybrid vehicles will reduce emissions almost as much as battery powered cars especially in regions where most electricity os generated with coal.

The engine provides a power boost and/or can be used to recharge the batteries, as pure electrics today simply cannot achieve the range, performance, or convenience

of a modern gasoline car. Unfortunately, the extra engine substantially increases pollution from the vehicle, erasing many of the air quality benefits of pure electric vehicles.

Fuel Cells:

Fuel cells burn hydrogen to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide, emitting no other emmitants as they generate electricity. Fuel cells are the least polluting of any method for producing motive power for cars.. Using fuels such as natural gas, methanol, or petroleum, the fuel cells produce hydrogen, which is electrochemically combined with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. Heat and pure water vapor are the only byproducts from the fuel cells’ electrochemical reaction. Phosphoric acid- based fuel cells are currently the most attractive for car use, yet the cost is still an issue. The ideal fuel for fuel cells is hydrogen Hydrogen can be made from many different sources, but when fossil fuels become scarce and expensive, hydrogen will most likely be made from water using solar cells. If solar hydrogen were widely used, the entire energy transport system would be enviro-friendly and fully renewable.

The Future:


"At Toyota, we firmly believe that there is more than one answer to the issue of personal transport systems for the 21st century," said Watanabe. "Toyota is committed to making a true impact on a global scale to eco-projects, and to contributing to the sustainability of the automotive world."

-President of Toyota

Alternative approaches to gasoline powered cars have captured a world-wide attention among industry, environmentalists, and consumers as an option for improving air quality and lessening dependence on imported oil. California currently leads the nation in promoting cleaner vehicles and there is intent to force technological development in the widespread commercial introduction of electric vehicles. The U.S. department of energy has awarded $13 million in research grants to companies willing to explore alternative power sources. The new fuel cells, for example will be designed to emit almost no pollutants and should not exceed even a dollar for the equivalent of a liter of gasoline.

In addition to power sources, advances in aspects of electric vehicle technology has increased in recent years. A technological revolution in electricity storage and conversion devices, electronic controls, software and materials is beginning to generate new opportunities.


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