Electric Cars and other Green Alternatives
Fill ‘er up: Will that be electric or air, sir?
OK. I’m stretching it about pulling an electric car into a re-fueling station (gas station to you petrol users) and telling the attendant to “fill ‘er up.” But maybe it isn’t that far off. Wheelbarrows full of $$ is flowing into start-up technology think tanks to be first on th block with the “next big thing” in fuel technology. And one of these would be a battery that will recharge in 20 minutes or so, making a bathroom and snack stop long enough for a recharge.
We all know that with a new administration in the White House, whether it be Hilary, Obama, or McCain, there will be a surge of energy toward “green” and a diminished dependence on foreign oil. One of the developments will be in storage batteries, so that plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles can go longer without needing to recharge the batteries.
At the forefront of development is A123Systems whose lithium ion batteries now power urban electric busses and the new Think City Car (mileage between plug-ins of 100-120 miles) from the Norwegian carmaker, Think.
Ford once owned Think and sunk in a bunch of development expertise, but lost interest and sold it off. Now GE has sunk in about $4 million–as well as $20 million into A123Systems. Big bucks makes the difference in the amount and speed of development of these break-through technologies.
Detroit and Japan are also on the fast lane for battery and electric car development and you can expect to see major advances unfolding rapidly. In addition to batteries, other companies (with lots of venture capital) are also working on electrical storage units (they may not be called batteries) that will use other than lead acid structures with reduced weight–one of the problems with current batteries.
Another promising development is the use of non-polluting, readily available, storable, compressed air for vehicle propulsion from a company called The Air Car Factories. Think of refueling with an onboard air compressor, and the life span of a compressed air tank will be longer than a battery with fewer disposal problems at the end of its life. And how much can air cost?