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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Today, Duke Energy has a fleet of more than 12,000 vehicles and mobile equipment. To do its part for shareholders, communities, and the environment, Duke’s Fleet Services is always exploring new technology vehicles to extend useful life, and reduce fuel consumption and pollutants. To stay up-to-date with and to support this new technology, Duke Energy recently attended and was a major sponsor of the 12th annual HTUF (High-efficiency Truck User Forum) national conference. This is a premier event for the advancement in commercialization of medium- and heavy-duty hybrid and high-efficiency trucks. HTUF has been a catalyst to speeding up product development in commercial transportation.
Duke Energy purchased three of its first hybrid bucket trucks by participating in one of the HTUF projects. Currently, we use 18 medium duty hybrid bucket trucks that use 30% less fuel, provide quiet operation at the job site, and substantially reduce diesel engine emissions. We also plan to continue our efforts to bring more PHEVs to our fleet as they fit our operational needs and make it more cost efficient. Being involved with HTUF and several vehicle manufacturers across the country, Duke Energy better understands how new technology vehicles fit our fleet’s needs and also helps shape products in the best interests of the commercial transportation market.
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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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Wouldn’t it be great if your car could talk to the nearby gas stations and you could top off your tank using the lowest cost option? In concept, this is very similar to what Toyota wants its electric vehicle models to have the ability to do.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recently developed a communication protocol to enable electric vehicles and charging stations to communicate with utilities. Using these new communication standards, Toyota is developing a vehicle telematics system to enable its electric vehicles to send and receive communication signals to and from Duke Energy, via the internet or through smart meters. Through an Indiana-based pilot called Project Plug-IN, Duke Energy and Energy System Network (ESN) have established an ideal test bed in which Toyota can test its new telematics system that will be available in future releases of the Plug-in Prius.
The really novel part about this demonstration between Duke Energy, ESN and Toyota is that this will be the first real world test of the new protocol in the homes of Duke Energy customers. This type of utility -to- vehicle communication could allow Duke Energy to send pricing signals to vehicles, allowing the vehicle to use driver preferences and energy costs to determine the ideal time to charge.
This new method of communication will not only help utilities better understand how electric vehicle charging could affect the grid, but also provide key input into Duke Energy’s forecast of long-term infrastructure needs. The benefit to customers could potentially be even greater by introducing new ways for them to engage their utility for future time-based rates or demand response programs. This technology can also help automakers develop better vehicles to suit customers’ needs as well as give customers more control over their vehicles’ energy consumption.
Yet another benefit to all of this work is the economic impact. Toyota Motor Corporation’s large presence in the state of Indiana has been primarily limited to manufacturing. However, through collaboration with Duke Energy and Project Plug-IN, a pilot program under which Duke Energy has deployed more than 100 intelligent electric vehicle charging stations, the automaker is now beginning to take on R&D activities in the state.
The project was officially announced in August and is expected to run through 2013.
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