Battery technologies over the last decade have improved massively making electric cars much much more viable than they used to be. Lithium-ion batteries are the current market leader, far outweighing alternatives such as Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries, or Lead-Acid batteries and Ultra capacitors.
The three primary components of a lithium-ion battery are the positive and negative electrodes and an electrolyte. Generally, the negative electrode is made from carbon or graphite, the positive is made from a metal oxide and the electrolyte is composed of lithium salt in an organic solvent. The electrochemical roles of the electrodes reverse between anode and cathode, depending on the direction of current flow through the cell.
Depending on composition, the voltage, energy density, life and safety of a lithium-ion battery can vary dramatically. Recently, nanotechnology has helped to improve performance and reduce the possibility of batteries catching fire.
Current ev batteries can last between 10-20 years.
This illustration shows the inner workings of a lithium-ion battery (Argonne National Laboratory)Most people will ask the question that the power stations providing the electric for charging cause emission but no one seems to ask the question of the vast amount of emissions from mining and refining the materials to produce the battery.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk once said that the batteries used in his company’s vehicles should be called “nickel-graphite” instead. His claim that lithium-ion batteries should be “rebranded” has significant merit: a lithium-ion battery is made up of only 2% lithium in cell mass, while graphite, the anode material, takes up 33%. Hence to make a battery, you need 20 to 30 times more graphite than lithium. This means graphite is an essential part of our lives – all portable devices that we use need to have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It’ll become even bigger once more electric cars like the Tesla Model 3 hit the road.
This section was written by Kristen Hall-Geisler from HowStuffWorks.com.
Fossil fuels (like gasoline and diesel) are running out and getting a bad rap for nasty tailpipe emissions — and rightly so. As governments and consumers demand new fuels and higher gas mileage, new sources of power, like batteries, are coming into play. The latest in battery technology is lithium-ion, and it’s being used in the electric cars and hybrid cars of the future. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter than previous battery technology and they hold a charge a lot longer, too.
So, where does lithium come from? It comes from the Earth, of course, but it doesn’t require strip mining or blowing the tops off mountains like other resources do. In fact, according to Reuters, most of the lithium on Earth is in South America, specifically in the Andes Mountains that run through Chile, Argentina and lithium market newcomer, Bolivia. There are also deposits in China and the U.S., some of which are mined traditionally from the rock.
But most often, lithium is found in briny underground ponds. The liquid is pumped out and left to dry in the sun. The resulting material is made into lithium carbonate and then processed into just lithium. This process accounts for a small part of an electric car’s overall environmental impact; the copper and aluminum used in the battery actually do more damage. The lithium is then brought to a battery plant via plane, train, truck and boat — none of which are using lithium-ion batteries themselves right now. Fossil fuels are hard to avoid at this point in the chain.
The plant assembles the batteries, and the batteries are placed in an electric vehicle, which has zero emissions. Electric cars don’t even need tailpipes, since there’s nothing but electricity coming out of the batteries.
Even after years of service in an electric vehicle, lithium-ion batteries still have a lot to give. It can often still hold as much as 80 percent of its charge, so it can be pressed into service as power storage for the grid, say, in conjunction with wind farms, according to TreeHugger.
All good things must come to an end, but lithium-ion batteries believe in life after death. When they’re truly at the end of their usefulness, the batteries can be taken apart and their bits reused. Tesla, for example, recycles the cooling fluid, wires and electronics in its batteries. The rest is smashed to smithereens, melted down, separated into component metals and recycled.
Lithium-ion battery recycling facilities are coming online, but it’ll take time for them to really ramp up. The batteries themselves, and the vehicles that use them, are just now coming to market. Any recycler who builds now will be ready when the first round of cells is ready for its next life.
Nothing is less sexy than getting hit with a whopping great bill when your trying to save money, so how much do electric vehicles actually cost after you have purchased them.
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
The largest battery size currently available is the Tesla model s 100d – the 100 representing amount of kWhs it can store.
The cost to charge for this vehicle at 10 pence per kWh would be £0.10 x 100 = £10.00
The table below shows the costs for various vehicles assuming price per kWh is 10 pence.
|Vehicle||Battery Size||kWh Cost||Cost to Charge|
|Tesla model s 100d||100||0.10||£10.00|
In the UK it costs roughly 10-14 pence per kwh. So as you can see the charging cost is extremely cheap.
This unfortunately though is the not the whole picture when is comes to charging.
In the UK a home charging point will cost around £1,000, but as part of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge scheme, the government will provide a grant of £500 towards the cost. A wallbox is safer and quicker than using a domestic plug socket, as it communicates directly with the car, with charging time reduced by 30-60%, depending on the vehicle.
In the case of Chargemaster, grant-funded prices start from £279 for a 3kW charging point, rising to £1,200 for a significantly quicker 22kW point. In all cases, the Homecharge kits are covered by a three-year warranty.
Renault recommends the mid-range 7kW wallbox for the Zoe, which provides a full charge in seven to eight hours. Meanwhile, Nissan says that a wallbox will charge a 24kWh Leaf in 9.5 hours, or seven hours for a 30kWh Leaf.
EV Charging explained
There are three core types of EV charging – slow, fast, and rapid, . This represents the power output, and therefore charging speed, available to the driver charging their EV.
Slow units (up to 3kW) are best for overnight charging and usually take between 6 and 12 hours for a pure-EV, or 2-4 hours for a PHEV.
Fast chargers cover those with 7kW and 22kW power outputs, which typically charge an EV in 3-4 hours.
Rapid chargers are divided in two sections – AC and DC. Currently available Rapid AC chargers are rated at 43kW, while Rapid DC are typically 50kW. Both will charge an EV to 80% in around 30 minutes. There are two different main connector types for Rapid DC chargers – CCS and CHAdeMO – though additionally, Tesla Superchargers are also Rapid DC and currently charge at around 120kW.
As if this wasn’t complicated enough….
This is where things get slightly more complicated, because, as yet, there isn’t a universal connector for electric vehicles and the different chargers. Thankfully, Zap-Map has provided a handy guide to the various connectors.
There are three categories of charge connectors: slow, fast and rapid. Here, we list them, and detail the different types of connector within each category.
Slow charge connectors
- 3-pin 3kW AC
- Type 1 3kW AC
- Type 2 3kW AC
- Commando 3kW AC
Fast charge connectors
- Type 2 7-22kW AC
- Type 1 7kW AC
- Commando 7-22kW AC
Rapid charge connectors
- CHAdeMo 50kW DC
- CCS 50kW DC
- Type 2 43kW AC
- Tesla Type 2 120kW DC
Check the car’s handbook and the charging network provider websites for more specific information, you might need to factor this in when planning your charging stops on a long journey.
The last thing you want is to get to a charging station when your battery’s low, only to find it’s not compatible with your car’s charging input.
For example, the Nissan Leaf features two charge sockets: a Type 1 for slow and fast charging, and a CHAdeMO for rapid charging.
Meanwhile, the Renault Zoe has a single Type 2 inlet for slow, fast and rapid charging.
Dawn of a new age
In a nutshell electric truly is sexy and will become more so in the years to come when manufacturers come up with a ‘USB’ for car charging, as having to rely on an app to be able to not only find a charging station but for one suitable for your specific model of car is ridiculous. Additionally faster / cheaper charging methods need to be a ‘must have’ and new technology such as solar windows used for windscreens etc could add a charging addition whilst on the move.
The alternative power solutions
Solar powered motorcycle
This is a world where individuals bring changes and transformations. When Tony Danger Coiro, a student at Purdue University, bought an old Suzuki bike for $50, nobody thought much. But today, $2500 and several years of hard work later, the same bike is a masterclass when it comes to green biking. ‘Run on the sun’ seems to be the designer’s motto as he retro-fitted the bike and made modifications. It now runs silently, reaching speeds up to 45 mph for a range of 24 miles.
The experience is simply surreal – a cheap, silent and green way to travel fast knowing that your carbon footprint is zero! Having received a provisional patent for his work, he has launched into a bigger project now. He is now obsessed with the figure 100. He wants to design a 100 hp bike that runs for a range of 100 miles at a speed of 100 mph – completely on solar energy! This will be something that the world will look out for!
Solar powered car
Lightyear One, a car whose ability to use solar power has been thought of as an impossible feat, just won a Climate Change Innovator Award. Designed by the Dutch startup Lightyear, the “car that charges itself” can supposedly drive for months without charging and has a 400 – 800 km range.
Compressed-Air powered bike
An ultra-light weight, aerodynamically designed bike by Edwin Conan runs on compressed air, a concept that we just discussed, with a difference. It has two compressed-air tanks to provide the thrust. But the best part is that there is zero pollution involved even in the refilling of the air tanks. The bike hosts solar panels that provide energy to amass the air into the tanks! Thus, this is an absolutely green bike.
A rotary air engine has been utilized, which is compact and powerful, revving up to 3000 rpm. It is a single geared bike and the sprocket has been directly bolted to engine’s axis which is in turn bolted to the rear wheel. The air tanks are made of strong and light carbon fiber. The idea of including solar panels ensures that on a good sunny day, the bike will have an infinite range! Cameras that record the sun have replaced the lights on the bike.
Compressed-Air powered car
Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) is poised to produce the first compressed air-powered car for sale in the United States by mid-2019. Production in Europe is schedule for the first quarter 2019, for US buyers estimate delivery, for those who paid their deposits is 2nd half 2019.
The AIRPod vehicle, developed by MDI (www.mdi.lu), is the solution to urban pollution and urban mobility. With its small size, a tiny price, zero pollution, and a fun and futuristic design, AIRPod marks a turning point in the range of urban vehicles. It is a real breath of fresh air in cities and the prelude to travel without pollution.
Hydrogen Cell powered motorcycle
Alex Bell and Andres Pacheco, a pair of engineering majors at Swarthmore College, told us they spent two years and about $10,000 cobbling the Frankenbike together for a class project examining the viability of hydrogen-powered transportation.
What they came up with lacks the sex appeal of, say, the hydrogen-fuel-cell Suzuki Crosscage concept, and it’s about as powerful as an electric bicycle. But that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
Bell and Pacheco stripped the guts out of a junked Buell Cyclone and installed a Ballard polymer exchange membrane fuel cell that provides juice to an AC induction motor. The motor produces a whopping 1.6 horsepower and the bike tops out at 20 mph. They concede the motor is woefully underpowered, particularly given that the bike weighs 400 pounds, but they consider the bike a stepping stone.
The only real long term options for zero emission technology are as I see is hydrogen cell powered and solar powered or a combination of the two.
For motorbikes the catch however is a silent bike is an accident waiting to happen, to coin the phrase “loud pipes save lives” as it’s accurate as many car drivers often don’t look for bikes, they just hear us coming, if we are silent ……..