Feeds

Quick-charging electric cars could be round the corner

Main problem of battery vehicles potentially fixed

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Updated The rules of the game for electrically-powered vehicles may be about to change, as new battery technology approaches road service.

Thus far, modern electric vehicles such as the Tesla Roadster have tended to employ large lithium-ion battery packs coupled to electric motor-generators in lieu of petrol tanks and engines. This offers excellent torque, and thus world-beating acceleration. Top speed is usually on the low side compared to hydrocarbon vehicles, but more than adequate for a normal driver's needs. Range is acceptable, a little shorter than typical for a petrol car, but nothing to lose sleep over.

The big weakness of regular li-ion batteries is the time it takes to charge them up, which is normally measured in hours. This substantially limits the distance that can be driven in a day, effectively ruling out such vehicles from many applications.

That may be about to change, however. Nevada-based company Altairnano has developed a new battery technology called NanoSafe™ (pdf), based on "nano-titanate" tech. NanoSafe™ cells offer comparable performance to li-ion, but require only minutes to charge up, provided a suitably robust electric source is available.

A NanoSafe™-powered battery car still can't speed-charge from a normal domestic power socket - that would overload the wiring, and charging up at home can only be done safely over a period of hours. Delivering dozens of kilowatt-hours in a matter of minutes calls for a specialised high-power outlet: but such equipment wouldn't be particularly expensive to deploy at petrol stations and service areas. The main electric power grid should be able to handle such loads.

Road vehicles driven by NanoSafe™ batteries are under development now. Examples include the Phoenix Motors SUV, due for consumer beta-test in California later this year and full release in 2008; also the UK's Lightning sportscar, now taking reservations for 2008 delivery.

These vehicles will still be impractical for long journeys until high-power electric outlets become widespread, which might not be for years - or never, if the technology turns out to be overhyped, overexpensive, or simply doesn't gain acceptance.

But, if the specs are right, it could be humble pie time for your correspondent in a few years. If NanoSafe™ can really do what it says, there is no serious technical obstacle to practical fully-electric motoring and the infrastructure to support it.®

Update

Lightning Car Company Ltd. have informed us that the Lightning will cost "circa £150,000 depending on the final specification." They are looking into the possibilities for export to the USA. The first prototype should be running by the end of the year.

Lightning also said:

"For a fast charge a 3 phase power supply is required and with the interest in electric powered vehicles increasing significantly, more high power charging stations will be installed. Most garage forecourt and industrial areas already have this level of high power source available and therefore can be fitted with a universal charging station."

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
Turnbull should spare us all airline-magazine-grade cloud hype
Box-hugger is not a dirty word, Minister. Box-huggers make the cloud WORK
SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016
Flash WORM has a serious use for archived photos and videos
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
Do you spend ages wasting time because of a bulging rack?
No more cloud-latency tea breaks for you, users! Get a load of THIS
prev story

Whitepapers

Free virtual appliance for wire data analytics
The ExtraHop Discovery Edition is a free virtual appliance will help you to discover the performance of your applications across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.