Thursday, 11 April 2013

A prediction - Batteries and Electric Vehicles

I have been doing a lot of work in the last 6 months on moving over from generators (petrol/diesel/LPG) to a battery and inverter solution for outdoor events. It has meant a major re-think on how kit is used and what kit is used. I have been surprised by the huge range of power consumption of screens for example. I know that a large traditional glass monitor uses a lot of power (I am a qualified Micro Electronic Design Engineer so I should know that) but what was surprising was the range of power consumption from otherwise similarly specified LED screens.

To achieve what I wanted to do I have had to replace my monitors, viewing system hardware, print station hardware etc. but the end result is I can run for a day using 4 viewing screens and two printers quite happily (with about 50% of maximum power still available) from 4 largish batteries and an inverter.

This has led to me following some off the beaten track reading on the Internet. It recently took me to a site selling large capacity  Ultra or Super Batteries/Capacitors. These are used to store energy in wind farms and for storing energy from regenerative braking on buses etc. Unfortunately they are very expensive and you need quite a few of them to run a system for any length of time. However, they have some huge advantages over traditional Lead Acid/Gel batteries. They weigh a lot less, they can be charged and discharged hundreds of thousands of times, they can be discharged very quickly (if required) and they can also be recharged very quickly. They work at temperature extremes that a traditional battery cannot begin to match.

Here is a quick link which tells you a bit more about ultra capacitors.

Ok, so I'm going off at a bit of a tangent here but understanding how these capacitors are manufactured triggered a couple of thoughts when I saw the following:

So, here is a prediction. I now believe that within 10 years there will be available Electric
Vehicles (EVs) with a range of at least 500 miles and carrying batteries (capacitors) of a fraction of the weight of current devices. They will support braking and coasting regeneration and will recharge from empty to full in less than a hour. These will be affordable replacements for traditionally fueled family vehicles.

Just put a note in your diary for 10 years time and if I'm wrong you can have a chuckle at my expense.

Footnote: 6 days after I posted this the following was in the news
Super-powered battery breakthrough claimed by US team