Range anxiety – how long before we look back and laugh about our earlier fears? Like any new technology, the battery industry for electric cars is fast improving with a variety of innovators promising more range, higher energy density and smaller, lighter batteries.
IBM has taken up the challenge to design a 500-mile range battery that is 1/10th the size and weight of current batteries, but with a twist. Instead of focusing on lithium-ion batteries, the company is taking an “air-breathing” battery concept from the 1970’s, and trying to make it a reality. Here’s how it works: when the electric car starts, this battery will take in oxygen from the air, which will then mix with lithium-ions to create a chemical reaction producing electricity and propel the vehicle. Once the battery is recharging, it releases the oxygen – as though it were exhaling – and the cycle begins again. IBM and its partners hope to have a working model by the end of 2013.
A team at Stanford University has taken a different approach, looking to improve upon the current lithium-ion battery by increasing the capacity and number of times the battery can be charged in its lifetime. They use silicon as a way to bind lithium-ions, as opposed to the current method using graphite. The team has already created a battery that continues to work at 85% capacity after 6,000 charges/discharges, which, when compared to current lithium batteries usually only last up to 1,000. The team believes that the use of silicon opens up the possibility of a lithium battery holding 10 times the current power density.
These are just two of many exciting advancements in battery technology, as the industry continues to announce contributions to this space. Duke Energy is bringing this new technology to the next level by testing many types of battery chemistries and evaluating the benefits of energy storage to the grid. These projects range from using energy storage at a large utility scale wind farm all the way down to the transformer level in a customer’s backyard. These tests will allow Duke Energy to determine not only the best location for energy storage on the grid, but also its application such as energy shifting, renewable smoothing, and frequency regulation.
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Happy National Plug In Day!
Oh wait, you didn’t hear? This is the second annual celebration of the amazing technology of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV), and 50 cities nationwide are participating.
PEV drivers and enthusiasts will come together to share stories, brag about the longest they have gone without filling up on gas, and how much they love their PEV (or multiple PEVs). Some cities will hold PEV parades, presentations, educational booths and a possible chance for PEV fans to sit in the driver’s seat.
Come out and join the fun on September 23rd:
195 N. Rosalind Ave.
Orlando, FL 32801
(Event will occur at corner of E. Central Blvd & N. Eola Park)
7235 East 96th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46250
Durham, North Carolina
318 Blackwell St
Durham, NC 27701
Interested in other locations? Check your local area for the nearest event!
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Now that the Charge|Carolinas pilot is underway and Duke Energy is beginning to understand the impact plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have on our grid, we sat down with one of our first pilot participants. Ken Clifton not only teaches his students at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College about how to be more ‘green,’ but he also lives it. His first step to driving more ‘green’ started with the purchase of his Prius, but, with the launch of the Nissan Leaf, he decided it was time to go all-electric.
What made you decided to purchase an all-electric car?
There are many reasons why I decided to drive all-electric. One major motive was the poor air quality in my Rowan County, which tops at 10 on the worst in the nation. But it was also the added benefits of the smooth, quiet ride that my wife and I experienced when driving the Leaf at the Concord Mills’ Nissan Electric Drive tour, which confirmed we had both made the right decision to reserve a Nissan Leaf.
How did you hear about the Charge|Carolinas Pilot?
I learned about it through Duke Energy’s PEV e-newsletter. I was reading the July 2011 e-newsletter that featured Duke Energy’s Charge|Carolinas pilot and the beginning of enrollment. I had already reserved my Leaf, so I went online to www.duke-energy.com/plugin and signed up that day.
How was the process?
Very easy. After signing up, I received paperwork to fill out and began the charging station installation process.
How long did the installation take?
It took a few hours, but the electrician was very knowledgeable and quickly setup the charging station in my desired location.
So, what has it been like to drive an all-electric car every day?
Since bringing home my Nissan Leaf, I’ve not had to adjust my driving much due to my job being close. My wife, who also owns a Leaf, has had to make some adjustments and plan her commute because she drives further for work.
How much and how often do you charge up?
I usually only charge up to 80%, but my wife has to fill up to 100%. I have gotten into the habit of plugging in whenever I get home. The longest either of us has had to charge was four hours.
What is the furthest you’ve ever driven?
The most miles I have had to drive was 49, which is well within my vehicle’s driving range.
What would you recommend to others interested in purchasing a PEV?
I would recommend evaluating the distance they drive, to ensure the car meets their needs. Also, where you live can make a difference. Residents up north have colder winters and this can affect the range as well as use more energy to heat up the car. But, I definitely feel that everyone should look into buying one. Along with my electricity, I found out that my second charging station was made in Mebane, NC. It feels good to know I am buying American Made.
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