- Category: Indian News
- Published on Friday, 25 May 2012 03:52
- Written by Akash
- Hits: 5195
1. Cheap is not best
2. Batteries will die
3. Speed is not your friend
4. Know your brand
- Category: EV Technology
- Published on Monday, 21 May 2012 15:09
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 780
A look at the electric vehicle batteries and materials landscape today
Most green technologies are not so green on closer examination it turns out. Electric vehicles are no exception and the batteries that power them and the materials used in their fabrication seem to be at the core of the problem by all accounts.
In China and other countries of the developing world (including India) lead acid vehicle batteries invariably end up in the local river or landfill after discharging a few years of short service. The batteries in 125 million e-bikes in China last a mere 300 cycles,which is barely one year of life. Unfortunately, lead acid batteries that were powering the first generation of electric vehicles – from bikes to golf carts and forklifts - did not have very green footprints owing to soft regulations and poor advancements in storage technology. But tighter legislation (in the USA, Europe and Japan), more vociferous customers and some key technological breakthroughs are likely to phase out lead acid batteries by the end of this decade. Which is well because the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that 120 million people are currently exposed to the health undermining effects of lead. It is further understood that a great majority of these people are in occupations in the developing world (like cheap mass manufacturing of goods) where the presence of lead is very high.
A recent event show casing the state-of-the-art in the industry that took place in Silicon valley took a long hard look at the current electric vehicle battery and materials scene. It introduced some exciting research developments while dispelling some myths at the same time. It turns out that lead is not the only contender for the toxicity sweepstakes. For instance it was pointed out by Electrovaya, a leading Canadian traction battery maker, that methyl pyrollidone used in the manufacture of lithium ion batteries is quite toxic,more than was realised before. It is capable of inducing birth defects and is now classified with mercury on the same toxicity scale.
If this was a shocking revelation to delegates. Elbit systems,a leading Israeli defense company,wowed them with findings that could probably be the basis of the next generation of batteries. Using little more than water and carbon, super-capacitors,according to Elbit, had the potential to reach high energy densities (comparable to lead acid batteries) but with far longer life and a faster charge/discharge factor. Studies done by the University of Texas' school of engineering have also reported similar achievements claiming that such devices worked well at low temperatures,something most batteries have a problem with currently. Super-capacitors also win the race for being the greenest of them all. A bus operator in the USA is already powering its fleet solely with super-capacitors (and no batteries!).Oshkosh, a truck maker, now has a hybrid where super-capacitors replace the traction batteries, stating that they are 'driven as much by life and performance as by superior green credentials.
Alongside the need to develop more efficient storage devices is the drive to replace rare and expensive raw materials needed in the fabrication of both batteries and motors. As seen with super-capacitors, these substitutes often come with improved performance. It is to be seen if they result in reduced costs as well. Advances in motor technology with new materials and new techniques look promising. Nidec of Japan claim that they have achieved the lowest cost point of any traction motor. They have not only dispensed with expensive magnets containing neodymium and dysprosium, they do not even have a copper winding in the rotor. Copper prices have been on the upward swing along with rare earths.
These developments seem to point in a direction where energy harvesting technologies and applications are moving away from conventional storage devices (batteries) as well as a range of toxic materials used in their production. This is good news for us and the planet.
- Category: Events
- Published on Friday, 10 February 2012 10:51
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 1075
An e-Cyclothon for the cause of clean mobility
Janice Valdez drove up to our doorstep a week after Auroville (where Evfuture is located) and the Pondicherry region had taken a hurricane beating on the night of 29th December 2011. The fallen trees, power lines and relief work on the roads didn't dampen her spirits. She spent a few days here and spoke to people about her journey,which had taken about three months, spanned two continents, crossed three Indian states and clocked in around 1000 kilometers of e-cycle distance.
Janice is an artist with a background in theater. Her family is of Filipino descent who came to British Columbia more than 30 years ago. She moved to Vancouver in 2001 and started 'Humanergy Coop' (HUM) in 2011 to promote the mass acceptance of clean mobility powered by human (humane!) and electrical energy. She is deeply concerned about the deteriorating quality of the environment (particularly in the developing world) due to pollution and feels that a quick transition to sustainable technologies and applications is urgent. The electric cycle for her is the perfect symbol of this synthesis between human need and environmental responsibility.
Janice set out from Vancouver in November 2011 on a historic journey on her STROMER electric cycle on a trip dramatically and tellingly named “Mumbai to Manila”. It was both a journey to promote and accomplish sustainable travel using an electric cycle as much as it was one of discovering her ancestral roots in the Phillippines. She flew into Mumbai and to her first taste of all things Indian – from crazy traffic and curious onlookers to high urban noise (and pollution) levels and spicy food. She made a lot of friends and found supporters of her cause in the most unlikely places. She then flew to Bangalore in the south from where her 'cyclothon' would formally start. Her STROMER eCycle got packed and accompanied her like a faithful pet during these transits (between pedaling) by plane and train.
From Bangalore (where she met a lot of bicycle enthusiasts) she cycled to Mysore in Karnataka before going off to Ooty in the Nilagiri hills via the scenic wildlife parks of Mudumalai and Masinagudi. The climb up to Ooty was quite a tough one, she confesses, and placed considerable stress on her STROMER ( a leading Swiss e -cycle brand), with the sharp inclines and devilish hair pins of the Nilagiri hills extracting harsh dues for the experience of climbing them. But this was amply compensated for by the beauty of the mountainscapes she pedaled through and the warm people she got to meet.
From Ooty it was on to Aleppey in Kerala via the bustling towns of Trichur and Kochi. She got to ride in a canoe in this 'Venice of south India" and met (again!) kind souls (who helped find a box for her cycle) and an air conditioning expert who was an avid cyclist.He gave up his car temporarily to show his solidarity for the cause of sustainable transportation by joining her on his bicycle for a few miles.
She packed her STROMER into The Allepey-Chennai express train and landed in Chennai for the last but one leg of her historic e-cycle trip in India in the Christmas week of 2011. Her trip to Pondicherry was delayed by a few days due to Hurricane (cyclone to us) 'Thane',amongst the strongest to have visited these parts in more than fifty years.
For us it was both wonderful and a relief to be able to talk about things (other than the cyclone and its ravages) with Janice,particularly about electric mobility and the next transportation era. We salute the spirit of individuals like her who are spearheading campaigns of awareness solely driven by personal motivation and concern. EVFuture was happy to host her for the few days she was here and has agreed to being part of the 'humanergy' network to find ways to bring clean mobility into the public domain through events and other platforms. We look forward to seeing her again soon on her next eCycle saga.
To know more about Janice Valedez,the Mumbai to Manila eCycle trip and the coming dawn of electric mobility, visit her website www.janicevaldez.com .Also visit www.humanergycoop.com to know about the policy and planning initiatives pro-green cities like Vancouver (which is aspiring to become the world's 'greenest city') take to become people and cycle friendly.
Janice invites you to join her facebook group called "humanergy- cycle our light". Become part of a new cycle in the making!