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MIT Electric Car May Outperform Rival Gas Models

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the begin-the-test-of-batteries-or-vice-versa dept.

Transportation 457

alphadogg writes "Inside a plain-looking garage on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's campus, undergraduate Radu Gogoana and his team of fellow students are working on a project that could rival what major automobile manufacturers are doing. The team's goal is to build an all-electric car with similar performance capabilities of gasoline-only counterparts, which includes a top speed of about 161 kph, a family sedan capacity, a range of about 320 kilometers and the ability to recharge in about 10 minutes. They hope to complete the project, which they chronicle on their blog, by the third quarter of 2010. Each member of MIT's Electric Vehicle Team works almost 100 hours a week on the project they call elEVen. 'Right now the thing that differentiates us is that we're exploring rapid recharge,' Gogoana said during an interview. He said that many of today's electric vehicles take between two to 12 hours to recharge and he doesn't know of any commercially available, rapidly recharging vehicles."

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I didn't graduate from MIT; however (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28786693)

Go M.I.T.

Re:I didn't graduate from MIT; however (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28786841)

Its one thing to build a prototype. Its a much bigger challange to produce it. And its a much much bigger challange to produce it while conforming to a myriad of safety regulations (6 airbags, pedestrian safe, etc) get people to buy it without lawyers taking what little profit may be left when it breaks. But yeah, kudos if they get the fast recharge working. Selling out to carmakers would be a better plan than "rivaling" them.

Outperform? (4, Insightful)

djrogers (153854) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786749)

I don't see a single stat there that 'outperforms' a 1994 Honda Civic - in fact it falls short on every aspect. Don't get me wrong, those specs would make the car great on paper, and I am totally behind electric powered cars, I just hate it when headlines lie.

Re:Outperform? (5, Funny)

murphyd311 (1364187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786775)

MPG.

Re:Outperform? (3, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786903)

No not really. A 5-seat Lupo 3L gets 88mpg on the highway. The new VW 2-seater arriving after Christmas gets 250mpg on the highway.

Show me an electric car that can exceed that? It doesn't exist. In fact the best EV ever made (GM EV1) is no better than a Prius (~50mpg) according to greenercars.org and falls short of an Insight (66mpg).

Re:Outperform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28787099)

Whoosh? I assume GP was kidding, seeing has how you'd have a zero in the denominator of your MPG calculation.

Re:Outperform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28787213)

well... yes really. if this new car is fully electric, it would use 0 gas, so MPG becomes a division by zero. theoretically if you put a gallon of gas in the car, it could go forever without using that gas... so that is way "outperforming" 250mpg.

Re:Outperform? (5, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787629)

Dear Anonymous coward #1 and #2:

It's not a division by zero error, because electric cars are not perpetual motion machines. When the EPA or similar organizations compare EVs to regular cars, the electricity used by the car during the efficiency test is converted to the equivalent gallons of gasoline burned, and the EV is given an "MPG" rating. Therefore no #DIV0 error.

Bottom Line: ACEEE.org found the GM EV1 is no better than a ~50mpg Prius or Civic.

Re:Outperform? (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787649)

Another huge area where it will likely underperform: price. Details, details, I know.

Re:Outperform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28787603)

Yeah, sure, as long as you use H.264.

Wait, what?

Re:Outperform? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786929)

So true.

And there's so much shit that will be added that will cut the car's performance and efficiency between when they "finish" it and when it's something you can drive off the lot.

The ONLY thing different about this car is the rapid charging battery. Nothing special, really.

Re:Outperform? (2, Insightful)

greatica (1586137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787147)

Indeed. I'm getting really tired of reading about prototypes with amazing mileage that:

1. Will never pass a crash test.
2. Don't have seat belts / airbags
3. Have no radio, AC, or other features.
4. Can't hold more than one or two people.

I've owned these amazing machines for years. They're called motorcycles.

Re:Outperform? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787549)

But I've seen motorcycles with seatbelts, airbags, radio, and can hold more than two people.

Re:Outperform? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787049)

Yep, my RX8 could hit 150mph (240 kph) easily. 161 kph (100mph) is hardly outperforming. I realize that most people don't generally drive that fast, but if we are going to compare specs, we should be able to hit the same speeds even if they are dangerous.

Oh, and it should cost roughly the same (~$30k) for that performance. ;)

Re:Outperform? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787101)

I don't see anything in the summary that says it will outperform gasoline cars. It does say that it will recharge in ten minutes, which is certainly outperforming other electric vehicles.

Re:Outperform? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787553)

I don't see anything in the summary that says it will outperform gasoline cars

What about this?

all-electric car with similar performance capabilities of gasoline-only counterparts

Seems to me that suggests it should have greater performance than it does. 200 mile range? I can manage about 500 in my Buick...

Re:Outperform? (1)

daenris (892027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787567)

How about the summary title:
"MIT Electric Car May Outperform Rival Gas Models"

MIT car FAILS to outperform... (5, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787623)

Primarily on the fact that while a 1994 Honda Civic exists, the MIT Electric car that the page describes doesn't even exist yet. Not even in the "We're heading to the track to start testing" phase. Hell, not even to the "Lets turn the key and make sure the lights work" phase.

They just finished tearing apart the donor car a week ago. So far all they have is an over weight drive train, a single power cell package prototype, and a whole lot of pipe dreams.

This story is something that belongs in The Onion...

"Local Farm Boy Dreams Up Revolutionary New Automobile"
While no details on how he is going to overcome any of the significant obstacles in his way, we are excited that he has in fact been dreaming and has some ideas. Local organizations have donated some amount of parts for him to start working with, and his father has loaned him a welder.

That's about what we have here.

-Rick

Battery Issues (2, Insightful)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786755)

Will they have the same problems as the Ipods? Exploding?

Re:Battery Issues (4, Funny)

really_irish_man (1559155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786833)

Not quite, but the did make the mistake of using some cheap aftermarket Firestone tires.

Re:Battery Issues (2, Informative)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786925)

No. In fact the biggest improvement of this car appears to be the nanophosphate battery. It doesn't use the chemicals inside traditional li-ions that become heated when overcharged (lithium particles start leaking across to the anode).

Re:Battery Issues (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787137)

Only if they name it the "Pinto" or the "Grand Victoria".

Re:Battery Issues (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787551)

Um, gas powered cars never have a problem with their energy source and fire?...

but... (3, Insightful)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786759)

The team's goal is to build an all-electric car with similar performance capabilities of gasoline-only counterparts, which includes a top speed of about 161 kph, a family sedan capacity, a range of about 320 kilometers and the ability to recharge in about 10 minutes. They hope to complete the project, which they chronicle on their blog, by the third quarter of 2010

How much will it cost?

Re:but... (2, Informative)

jeffstar (134407) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786819)

from TFA the batteries alone are 80k and require 1000A at 356 volts for the 'rapid charge'. That is 356 kW.

Re:but... (3, Interesting)

sconeu (64226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787107)

Add in the "10 minute recharge" and you get 356/6 KWh = 59.3KWh

Re:but... (0, Troll)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787021)

If they told you, it would just be in Euros... so you'd have to get a converter to figure it out... just like listing a US car developed at a US University with metric system stats...

Re:but... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787063)

The metric system isn't only used in Europe.

Metric units? (-1, Troll)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786763)

What's w/ the metric units? MIT is in the USA and we don't need no stinkin' metric units!

Re:Metric units? (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786967)

You do if you want to do science, or be part of the global economy, or just not be an ignorant american. (I happen to me an american and in the science field)

Re:Metric units? (2, Insightful)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787123)

You do if you want to do science, or be part of the global economy, or just not be an ignorant american.

While using metric units may make it a bit easier to communicate with the non-USA parts of the world, not using them certainly doesn't stop anyone from doing science (lots of science was done prior to the invention of the metric system), or from being part of the global economy (I think the USA is a pretty big player), or from learning...

Re:Metric units? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787197)

It depends on your market... I work in the oil industry and we do business in barrels. Last time I checked that wasn't an SI unit. Also, the MIT team is likely using metric because they are in science. Had they been in engineering, they'd have used english units. (Disclaimer: I didn't RTFA, so they may have been engineering students after all, in which case MIT is vastly different than my engineering education)

Re:Metric units? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787223)

If you plan on selling them anywhere BUT the USA you certainly DO need metric units. BTW, how many two liter Coke and Pepsi bottles do you have in your fridge? Rather than sixteen ounce sodas all I see are one liter ones. The only soda that comes in imperial units are twelve ounce cans.

The metric system is slowly gaining traction here. IMO that's a good thing; it cost US manufacturers lots of money to use imperial units when trying to sell elsewhere.

Physics? (3, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786773)

This doesn't sound feasible. Back of the envelope:

Lets say 20hp average power required.
That's 15kilowatts.

At 100kph (62mph), 3.2 hours for 320kilometers.

48 kilowatt hours.

Lets say it's a 96 volts dc system. That's 500 amp/hours.

500 amp/hours charged in 10 minutes is 3000 amps, assuming 100% efficiency.

And these are the conservative numbers!

Even if all the other tech were there, how are they going to move 3000 amps into a car?

Re:Physics? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786805)

Note that amp/hours should read amp-hours. Might as well nitpick myself before someone else does. :P

Re:Physics? (4, Informative)

jeffstar (134407) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786847)

TFA says it is a 356 volt system that charges at 1000 amps.

a 500mcm aluminum conductor should move 1000A just fine.

Re:Physics? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787205)

>>>a 500mcm

A what? I hope that's not micrometers because such a thin wire would not carry 1000 amps.

Re:Physics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28786945)

The largest circuit in my home right now is 80 amps and that is for the backup heat element. Most of the rest are 30 or smaller. Receptacles are 20 amps. Most older homes have 15 amp receptacles. A larger home might have a 400 amp total service.

Re:Physics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28786955)

356 volts at 1,000 amps according to the original article.
They know that is a lot.

Re:Physics? (2, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786981)

Holy cow, that is dangerous. The recharge time and the pollution of the batteries really kill the electric car. Most people will not be able to afford two cars. Anyone have any info on progress for a hydrogen powered car?

Re:Physics? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787183)

What pollution of the batteries?

They generally contain valuable materials and are recycled.

Re:Physics? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787497)

Yes. Exxon-Mobile and other companies have been drilling all over the place, but so far nobody's found any hydrogen underground. The fuel cell car won't run without that.

Re:Physics? (3, Funny)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787019)

They forgot to mention the recharge mechanism involves lightning, that should charge it quickly if harnessed.

Re:Physics? (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787055)

That will be especially useful when the car travels back to the 1950's.

Re:Physics? (4, Funny)

Satanboy (253169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787103)

No, no, no, no, no. This sucker's electrical. But I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.

- Dr. Emmett Brown

Re:Physics? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787275)

"Mr. Fusion powers the time circuits and the flux capacitor, but the internal combustion engine runs on ordinary gasoline. It always has. There's not gonna be a gas station around here until sometime in the next century. Without gasoline, we can't get the DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour." -Doc Brown

Maybe he would have been better off with the MIT version...

Re:Physics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28787547)

Don't you mean jiggawatts, Doc?

Re:Physics? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787593)

The script probably said "gigawatts", but there were few people then measuring anything in the "giga's" at the time, so I can see the mispronunciation to be acceptable.

Re:Physics? (4, Informative)

b0bby (201198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787447)

Watch the video. He explains that they are hooked up straight to the MIT power plant, and are thus able to dump huge amounts of power ("20 homes" worth) into the thing. They're pushing the envelope on the rapid recharge stuff.

Re:Physics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28787467)

Lightning?

Re:Physics? (2, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787577)

The batteries can take that kind of current, it is just that it wrecks there long-term life span. Simply put, you can charge a battery almost as fast as you can discharge it. 3000 Amps at 96 V may sound like a lot to your average residential home owner, but in the scheme of things, it isn't that much power. It is only 300 kW of power. Most factories have multi-megawatt substations. With 200 A, 240 V residential services (heating usage), it is only about 6 residential homes. The total transformer capacity of a 3 transformer hydro-poll array is probably about 300 kW.

The bigger problem is that you get really fast charge/discharge rates by sizing the charger/motor/battery combination for peak power transfer. This means your efficiency goes through the floor, you abuse the battery, thermal losses increase dramatically, etc. Some schemes define optimal power transfer as the point at which losses equal energy stored. If you implemented this logic, you have created a 300 kW space heater inside your battery, and that can't be good.

Offload the capacitor? (2, Interesting)

SomeDanGuy (1070108) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786793)

I'm sure the smart folks have already considered this option for "fast charging", but why not have a big capacitor that stays plugged into your wall at home and builds charge slowly, but when you connect it to your car, it can very rapidly transfer the charge to your own capacitor. You'd basically be off-loading the slow-charge step to a place that doesn't move around anyway.

Re:Offload the capacitor? (2, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786943)

On one hand, I'm rooting them to fail because I think that no electric car can both save us from running out of gas *AND* solve all of the other problems inherent to the automobile that are also near the bursting point (like wasting tons of money to make four-lane highways filled with cars carrying only one person).

But, on the other hand, I'm looking forward to disassembling the "fast charging" system you propose to build railguns with the big capacitors.

Re:Offload the capacitor? (0, Offtopic)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787177)

(like wasting tons of money to make four-lane highways filled with cars carrying only one person)

What system can you come up with (besides flying cars) that can't take advantage of our current highway infrastructure? Light rail/Subway? Solutions like mass transportation need a certain population density to work effectively.

Re:Offload the capacitor? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787311)

>>>wasting tons of money to make four-lane highways

Building train tracks isn't any better. I don't want to be one of the dead people inside a D.C. Metro train. Also if I did ride one of those things, it would take me 2 hours a day to get to work instead of the usual 1 hour.

And of course there's the freedom to be able to leave D.C. and drive to the beach, or west to the mountains. There's no way to do that in a train.

Re:Offload the capacitor? (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787039)

That sounds really safe! I can just see the firemen playing rock/paper/scissors to determine who goes into the garage with the fire hose first.

Good bridge solution (5, Informative)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786795)

In order to rapidly recharge those batteries, they'll need 350 kilowatts. "That's enough power to blow the fuses on 20 residential homes at once ... so we'll be hooking up directly to MIT's power plant to get that kind of power," Gogoana said.

Their idea is to give you two options: (1) rapid recharge in 10 minutes at a suitable power plant, or (2) overnight recharge at home.

This is a great idea because consumers can buy it and use option #2 while more and more electric-vehicle charging stations are built as the tech becomes more mainstream. A good bridge solution.

Good luck team.

Re:Good bridge solution (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786907)

And 'gas' stations will remain practical.

Re:Good bridge solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28787143)

yep. because its SO HARD to make batteries which can be swapped like propane tanks at gas stations instead of spending millions of dollars on a fast charger, power plant and fast charging, long lived, non explosive battery chemistry.

Re:Good bridge solution (2, Insightful)

daenris (892027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787673)

Have you ever swapped a propane tank at a gas station? The replacement tank is usually dirty, beat up, and not actually filled to capacity. I gave up doing that a long time ago and just pay a little extra to take my tank in to be refilled. I would never consider just swapping out something as expensive as the batteries in an electric car at a gas station.

Re:Good bridge solution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28786935)

(3) Combine/Use (1) and (2) A home power storage device that draws power 24/7 til full and then delivers that power to the car in a spatter of minutes?

Re:Good bridge solution (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787025)

Isn't a slow charge better for the battery? We might be able to use 3 for an extra charge during the day, but it would probably be a good idea to keep the trickle charge option.

It's impossible. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28786817)

all-electric car with similar performance capabilities of gasoline-only counterparts

Look, it's just not possible. The energy density for batteries is simply so far away from what you get with an internal combustion engine, that it's not funny.

Look, I'm not saying that electric cars aren't useful, more efficient, more enviro-friendly, whatever.

But you aren't going to get performance similar to a gas vehicle until there are revolutionary breakthroughs in battery technology.

Re:It's impossible. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787457)

They wouldn't be environmentally friendly here in Springfield, where we have three coal-fired generators and a new natural gas generator, and always produce excess electricity and sell it to neighboring power companies.

If you're near a wind farm or nuke plant it would be environmentally friendly, but not here.

Re:It's impossible. (3, Informative)

Fished (574624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787609)

I'm no expert on these things, but as I understand it the process of power generation in a power plant is fundamentally more efficient than that undertaken in a car. An internal combustion engine is basically inefficient, as it starts and stops combustion thousands of times a second. Also, it's possible to scrub and sequester the output of stationary power plants, but not of a car. So, while running an electric car off non-renewable energy is not exactly ideal, it's better than nothing.

Outperform? (3, Insightful)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786839)

To me, outperform means that it will need to:
1) Hit fewer pedestrians and cyclists
2) Be drivable while drunk
3) Not result in massive traffic jams
4) Not require huge ugly parking lots and parking garages.
5) Be cheap enough so that normal people, instead of rich douchebags, can afford it
6) Require fewer tax subsidies.
7) Allow the user to get some exercise instead of getting progressively fatter.

Re:Outperform? (4, Funny)

mrvan (973822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786941)

Aha! A bicycle!

Re:Outperform? (1)

Niac (2101) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787207)

You are correct! The best possible answer. :D

Re:Outperform? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787005)

8) Cook, clean, and work for me while I relax at the beach.

Re:Outperform? (2, Informative)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787007)

A nice wish list, but most of it has nothing to do with the problem they're trying to solve: making electric vehicles as practical as gas-burning ones are today.

#1-3 could be solved by cars that drive themselves. #4 would involve a shift toward car-sharing or public transportation.

#5 and #6 are valid requirements that amount to the same thing: it should be cheap enough to win in the market. But I think it's reasonable to make it work, first, then worry about making it cheaper.

#7 is really not their problem. If you want to bike to work, that's great, but otherwise the only way your vehicle is going to help you stay in shape is to be large enough to contain a mobile gym. Which seems pretty silly.

Re:Outperform? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787131)

#7 is really not their problem. If you want to bike to work, that's great, but otherwise the only way your vehicle is going to help you stay in shape is to be large enough to contain a mobile gym. Which seems pretty silly.

That gives me an idea: make an electric car that contains bicycle pedals inside. You don't have to pedal hard enough to keep the car running, but any energy you put into the pedals recharges the battery. It would keep you in shape, and would extend the range of the car, even if not by that much.

Re:Outperform? (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787353)

I've got a better idea.

How about you ride your bike to an electric light rail station? Relaxing the requirements of the rail system from a half-mile walk to a five mile bike ride makes it reasonably priced. And then when you hop out of the rail line on the other side, you still have your bike with you.

Sometimes it's best to keep things simple. Your average cyclist can get going faster than 20 mph on less than 100 watts of energy. 100 w-H is nothing compared to a battery pack measured in tens of kW-H.

Re:Outperform? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787513)

I don't have that option. We have a light rail system where I currently live, but my commute runs almost exactly perpendicular to the track.

The apartment I'm looking to move this fall is going to be out of reasonable biking range, but if I had an electric car, it would be nice if I could still pedal along to help reduce the amount of power I have to feed in from my wall socket.

Re:Outperform? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787539)

You're describing "walking". Although I've seen drunk walkers hit pedestrians.

Re:Outperform? (1)

chazzf (188092) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787645)

I'd say you're describing intercity rail, except for #6 and possibly #7.

320 *km*?! (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786851)

To be superior to a gasoline car, it should have more than half the range of a gasoline powered car, I should think. Most gasoline cars are sized to have about 400 miles range, which works out nicely given our average highway speed of 60--70 mph and our typical need to eat interval of five or six hours, with a 12% reserve for miscalculations.

Re:320 *km*?! (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787077)

I would think the average time between bathroom breaks is shorter than the average time between food breaks. That should be the goal.

Re:320 *km*?! (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787661)

I would think the average time between bathroom breaks is shorter than the average time between food breaks. That should be the goal.

Not all of us stop pull off the highway for bathroom breaks when we are making good time. That's what empty water bottles or trees near the side of the road are for.

And if you have little kids onboard (or my mother), you never ever ever pull off the highway unless you are ready for an hour of waiting for everyone finishing buying crap and using the bathroom.

Re:320 *km*?! (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787499)

To be superior to a gasoline car, it should have more than half the range of a gasoline powered car, I should think.

interesting idea.

most people I know are happy to take a gasoline car out on a trip while its fuel-warning indicator is lighted

i.e. the reserve on a tank is more than enough for most journeys. a half-tank could take you on holiday and back.

so the half-of-gasoline-tank threshold would actually be a pretty extreme huge amount of storage to put into an electric car (how often do you drive 300 miles without seeing a fuel/recharge station?)

Nanophosphate (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786871)

Interesting stuff. I wasn't aware Nanophosphate batteries were already in production. I wonder what the capacities are though. Zinc foil and carbon doesn't seem like it'd hold that much charge.

Re:Nanophosphate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28786999)

They have been around quite a while- a123 makes em for dewalt batteries in power tools.

Competitive, huh? (2, Insightful)

dan_sdot (721837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786877)

From TFA:

Gogoana placed the cost of the project, excluding labor, at around $200,000, but much of the materials were donated and the Electric Vehicle Team isn't paid. The batteries alone hold a price tag of about $80,000, but Gogoana said that as more batteries and cars are produced, cost should be driven down.

Don't get me wrong, this is all cool stuff. One day relatively soon, I bet these things will be the norm.

But we need to stop with the hyperbolic comparisons to current cars. Apples and oranges. Any comparisons should be made to other types of experimental work along these lines.

Meh... (2, Interesting)

thenewguy001 (1290738) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786919)

It's not affordable. You can't compare performance statistics with production cars from traditional manufacturers with intended retail prices of around $50,000 when your car costs $200,000, excluding labor.
  • Gogoana placed the cost of the project, excluding labor, at around $200,000, but much of the materials were donated and the Electric Vehicle Team isn't paid. The batteries alone hold a price tag of about $80,000, but Gogoana said that as more batteries and cars are produced, cost should be driven down.

What I want to know is... (1)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28786957)

What I want to know is...how can they create a battery strong enough to power a car for that distance/speed that be charged in 10 minutes but the battery in my cell phone and Blackberry still take no less than 45m.

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787093)

I know squat about this subject, but it does seem that they have some luxuries that the BlackBerry battery doesn't have. For example, it's no problem if the car battery becomes hot to the touch while charging.

Still, good point.

Re:What I want to know is... (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787235)

What I want to know is...how can they create a battery strong enough to power a car for that distance/speed that be charged in 10 minutes but the battery in my cell phone and Blackberry still take no less than 45m.

The batteries in your cell phone and Blackberry are lithium polymer, based on lithium cobalt chemistry. These have the highest energy density of common commercially available batteries, but their safe charging rate is limited to somewhere around 1C -- that is, 1 amp per amp-hour of capacity.

The MIT batteries are lithium iron phosphate. These unfortunately have much lower energy density than lithium cobalt polymer cells (not in the least because there's no polymer version available; the cell are in a metal casing). But they have a high power density and they can take charge rates around 4-5C (for the regular cells; they don't have the specs on the automotive cells on their website). That translates to much shorter charge times.

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787309)

The size of the battery doesn't matter much, except for wire diameter issues and I guess heat. It's chemistry that really matters. The chemistry will be superior to that in your phone by say, a factor of 5 in charge speed. Then it's just a matter of charging a bunch of cells in parallel.

of course we are able to (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787035)

make an electric car that performs like a gas powered car. It only costs 20 times what gas powered car would've cost by parts alone. According TFA, the battery array alone cost 80k, but those are commercial battery packs, not research battery packs. The difference being, it'd be very very difficult to drive the price point down to under 100k. And make such cars marketable.

Electricity (2, Interesting)

The Shootist (324679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787047)

A lot of articles recently about electric autos. Not a lot of (no) discussion about the electrical generation and delivery infrastructure.

(paragraph)I do not know about Europe, Asia, Africa or South America; but North America doesn't have the electrical generating capacity, nor the 440V lines into the home, necessary to support lighting your room and running your PC, much less any to spare for transportation. Don't believe me? In 1969 the standard delivery into a home was 250V/125V. Today it is 215V/108V. See the difference?

(paragraph)Just another Pig in a Poke people. Move along nothing to see here. (aside) Why does LF/CR not work?

Re:Electricity (1)

The Shootist (324679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787057)

answer, I guess they do, after a fashion.

hmmm (1)

Nyall (646782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787135)

100 hours a week? That is a great way to do faulty engineering.

If I knew my car was designed by engineers who worked that much I'd get rid of it.

Time to upgrade my 67 GTO? (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787187)

I mean if I can get more torque... this could be fun!

Dedication (4, Insightful)

JW CS (1593833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787193)

Each team member works almost 100 hours per week without pay? Suddenly my work schedule doesn't seem so bad. I'm guessing that most of them are taking a full load of classes as well. This sort of dedication must be the reason MIT has such a good reputation.

Re:Dedication (2, Interesting)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787503)

That's more or less typical for a research assistant in some PhD programs. Grad students are worked to the bone. The upshot for these students, at least, is they'll be able to write their own ticket once they get out of school.

For those of us in the real world... (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787385)

161 kph = 100 mph, 320 k = 199 miles (~200). Note that it's quite obvious that the original was based on common units, and then converted to metric.

      And no, of course that's not remotely competitive performance-wise with almost any car on the road, much less does it out-perform anything. The crappiest Kia would eat that alive. Even my fully-loaded minivan would be able to do *both at once* quite easily. In fact it would go about 400 miles at 100 mph (since I routinely get about 450 miles at about 85 mph, with it loaded to the limit).

      Brett

Cost to Recharge? (0, Flamebait)

gandy909 (222251) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787395)

What is the cost to fully recharge an electric car? I could give a crap about 'green' if it's going to cost me more to drive than good old gas. I'd rather pay for gas than have my electric bill go through the roof.

Recharge in 10 minutes? (2, Interesting)

AncientPC (951874) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787403)

In order to rapidly recharge those batteries, they'll need 350 kilowatts. "That's enough power to blow the fuses on 20 residential homes at once ... so we'll be hooking up directly to MIT's power plant to get that kind of power," Gogoana said.

The primary reasons they can get it recharged quickly is using a new battery material (lithium iron-phosphate) and access to MIT's power plant. I know nothing about current grid limits, but I'd imagine we would need infrastructure changes just for a recharging station that supports 10+ vehicles every few miles. Otherwise this is your typical charge overnight on a 220V outlet electric car.

That's all well and fine (1)

scarlac (768893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787461)

But does it come in hotrod red?
I'm looking for something that will go with my exoskeleton...

Piper must get paid one way or the other. (0)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28787627)

Before I get modded as a troll, or flamer, let me state unequivbacly that I support electric cars. However there are some issues that never seem to get discussed, like?

A) what infrastructure will be involved in charging a fleet of electric cars?

B) The staggering cost associated with the batteries?

C)The energy needed to produce said batteries. Where does that come from?

D) Supporters say that it lessens the cost to drive, but just as surely as electric cars come to market the energy or distance travelled in them will be taxed.

E) Carrying around combustible fuel may not be smart, but what about the jaws of life on a high voltage vehicle? Sounds nasty and dangerous, or even worse a two car accident involving an electric car and a gas burner. Sounds like a bonfire to me.

Maybe a better route to travel is utilizing hybrids that burn fuels like bio-butanol + cellulosic ethanol blends, or even diesels, or other synthetic or algal biofuels. I hope their research comes to fruition, however the green washing of everything is getting old. On one hand they want us to turn the thermostat up in the summer, down in the winter. Turn appliances off, and not build any nuclear plants, while on the other hand the tell us that electric cars are the answer yet to charge a fleet say of 100 million electric cars would be an immense load on the system.

Don't get me wrong, maybe one day the math will work out, and it is a good thing researchers all over the place are bringing a host of alternatives to near-term market place. I just hope we never put all of our eggs in one basket again.

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