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Science Forum

  1. 21 Jul '09 12:22 / 2 edits
    Was reading a bit about electric cars: found a UK company 'Smith' that makes electric vans,

    It seems they only sell in scenario's where they can be re charged easily; city n delivery
    vehicles. guess this is obvious. but is it possible to make ones that have a long range?.

    was wondering. very basically. If you covered a car in solar panels, used lithium batteries,
    and had a small petrol base generator. howlong could it stay running.. using affordable technology?
  2. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    21 Jul '09 13:34 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Black Star Uchess
    Was reading a bit about electric cars: found a UK company 'Smith' that makes electric vans,

    It seems they only sell in scenario's where they can be re charged easily; city n delivery
    vehicles. guess this is obvious. but is it possible to make ones that have a long range?.

    was wondering. very basically. If you covered a car in solar panels ...[text shortened]... d a small petrol base generator. howlong could it stay running.. using affordable technology?
    I wondered the same thing, if solar panels fixed to the roof and sides could recharge an electric if it was parked in the sun. It is clear there is not even close to enough energy from PV panels to run a car while it's running, but it may be possible to store enough charge to drive 10 or 15 klicks from a charge that takes place during the day, say 8 hours of sunlight. At least it would extend the charge on the battery which was charged up at home. If the panels could generate 500 watts during the day, that would add up to 4 Kwhrs. Not sure what that would represent in terms of kilometers of run though but it would at least extend the existing charge. The question would be how much and how much would those panels cost. Other issues would come into play too, like how durable would they be on a car, with rain and dust and so forth.
  3. 21 Jul '09 17:18
    I think a usable vehicle would have to be extremely light with a decent surface area so I doubt this fits in with affordable technology. For example a BP Solar BP3170N has dimensions 1593mm x 790mm x 50mm weighs 15.4Kg and puts out 170Wp.

    There is still a place for the present PV technology, a friend of mine is fitting panels on the top of his camper van to stop the leisure battery from completely discharging.

    Solar car racing is quite interesting for the really expensive stuff.

    http://www.wsc.org.au/

    I’d love one for nipping to the shops.
  4. 21 Jul '09 18:28
    cool thx

    might work somewhere hot i guess ... my simple maths came up with a solar panel the size of a large tent ...
  5. 21 Jul '09 20:04
    Originally posted by Black Star Uchess
    Was reading a bit about electric cars: found a UK company 'Smith' that makes electric vans,

    It seems they only sell in scenario's where they can be re charged easily; city n delivery
    vehicles. guess this is obvious. but is it possible to make ones that have a long range?.

    was wondering. very basically. If you covered a car in solar panels ...[text shortened]... d a small petrol base generator. howlong could it stay running.. using affordable technology?
    Solar just isn't ready for your every day electric car except possibly for assisting with the charging in places with lots of sunlight.

    Electric cars do still generally have a shorter range than petrol engines and even worse take longer to recharge (so you cant easily keep filling up on gas during the journey).

    However I think that there is absolutely no reason why families that can afford two cars do not have one of them electric for shorter journeys. My parents always owned small motor cycles for short one person trips.

    I think the major problem right now is availability of affordable electric cars combined with fears about being able to maintain them.

    If I could afford to import an electric car from China, I would do so.
  6. Standard member black beetle
    Black Beastie
    22 Jul '09 05:13
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Solar just isn't ready for your every day electric car except possibly for assisting with the charging in places with lots of sunlight.

    Electric cars do still generally have a shorter range than petrol engines and even worse take longer to recharge (so you cant easily keep filling up on gas during the journey).

    However I think that there is absolute ...[text shortened]... ble to maintain them.

    If I could afford to import an electric car from China, I would do so.
    Tesla Model S rocks -not to mention Tesla Roadster, which it can really fight hard against an Elise on the mountain when the conditions allow up to 60mph max
  7. 22 Jul '09 19:59
    hybrid cars are interesting ... i looked seems c60 mpg is the going rate for hybrid or eco diesel / petrol engines .

    kno solar panels don't generate enough, maybe a 10th of the electricity needed ... but in a sunny place they might charge a car...
  8. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    22 Jul '09 20:54
    Originally posted by Black Star Uchess
    hybrid cars are interesting ... i looked seems c60 mpg is the going rate for hybrid or eco diesel / petrol engines .

    kno solar panels don't generate enough, maybe a 10th of the electricity needed ... but in a sunny place they might charge a car...
    It seems to me a vacation vehicle like a small bus could be fitted with solar panels and then you go to some campground and soak up sun for a week or so, then you have enough charge to drive to your next campsite.
    It could also power modern gypsies who would do just that, go to some site, sit on it for a week or two and move on. I bet that would work.
  9. 23 Jul '09 04:39
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    It seems to me a vacation vehicle like a small bus could be fitted with solar panels and then you go to some campground and soak up sun for a week or so, then you have enough charge to drive to your next campsite.
    It could also power modern gypsies who would do just that, go to some site, sit on it for a week or two and move on. I bet that would work.
    Well in that case they don't need anything special other than an electric caravan. They could fit ordinary solar panels to its roof and even have an extra array or two to unpack and put outside. They could also run much of their equipment of it. However, if the campsites have a power source, recharging off that would also be an option. One reason for using a solar vehicle is you can charge it why travelling to extend the range - I just don't think solar is ready for that and probably never will be. It is far more likely that battery technology will solve the range problem first.
  10. 23 Jul '09 16:34
    sonhouse i liike the solar caravan idea! is cool ... yes may not be hugely popular
  11. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    25 Jul '09 17:05
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Well in that case they don't need anything special other than an electric caravan. They could fit ordinary solar panels to its roof and even have an extra array or two to unpack and put outside. They could also run much of their equipment of it. However, if the campsites have a power source, recharging off that would also be an option. One reason for usin ...[text shortened]... ver will be. It is far more likely that battery technology will solve the range problem first.
    Battery technology my solve the range problem, there are new versions that combine batteries with ultra capacitors, the battery stores the main bang of energy and the ultracaps can unleash that power a hundred times faster than any battery, so you have extra oomph when going uphill or accelerating but the fact remains that the energy needed to charge the battery in the first place is still going to come from some electrical source, solar, wind, nuclear, fossil fuel, etc. If it comes from fossil fuel you have just borrowed from Peter to pay Paul CO2-wise. To make it fully green you have to have some CO2-less power otherwise you are just urinating into the turbulence so to speak
  12. 26 Jul '09 02:07
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Battery technology my solve the range problem, there are new versions that combine batteries with ultra capacitors, the battery stores the main bang of energy and the ultracaps can unleash that power a hundred times faster than any battery, so you have extra oomph when going uphill or accelerating but the fact remains that the energy needed to charge the ba ...[text shortened]... e to have some CO2-less power otherwise you are just urinating into the turbulence so to speak
    I read they are working on carbon nanotube capacitors. If it works out it will also solve the problem of charge time. Theoretically it will take on a charge as fast as the charge ckts can handle.
  13. 27 Jul '09 08:01
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Battery technology my solve the range problem, there are new versions that combine batteries with ultra capacitors, the battery stores the main bang of energy and the ultracaps can unleash that power a hundred times faster than any battery, so you have extra oomph when going uphill or accelerating but the fact remains that the energy needed to charge the ba ...[text shortened]... e to have some CO2-less power otherwise you are just urinating into the turbulence so to speak
    Firstly, electric cars are significantly more efficient than fossil fuel driven ones, so even when the source of energy is carbon based, there are significant green advantages. Secondly, there are many electric power sources that are not fossil fuel based. Thirdly, if the fossil fuel to electricity conversion is done in a power station there is the possibility of using it more efficiently than petrol engines do and there is the possibility of sequestering the carbon dioxide (not achievable in a car).

    I would like to use an electric car in Zambia where all the electricity is hydroelectric - and there are still some unexploited sites for hydroelectric power.
  14. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    27 Jul '09 09:32
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Firstly, electric cars are significantly more efficient than fossil fuel driven ones, so even when the source of energy is carbon based, there are significant green advantages. Secondly, there are many electric power sources that are not fossil fuel based. Thirdly, if the fossil fuel to electricity conversion is done in a power station there is the possib ...[text shortened]... ectricity is hydroelectric - and there are still some unexploited sites for hydroelectric power.
    Hydro power has its hidden problems too. It seems if you dam up a river and use that water to generate power, it can lead to methane emissions which are 20 times more dangerous as CO2 as an atmosphere pollutant. How that happens is the river is dammed up, all the plant life, trees, grasses, etc., are covered over. That causes a decay action that turns all that stuff into products that are digested by bacteria and subsequently end up turning into methane. That's a big problem in the arctic. As things warm up, there is so much plant life in tundra regions that a massive amount of methane will be released from the now thawed out ground due to bacteria coming to life and digesting plant life and then the atmosphere gets tipped even more towards a warming trend. Of course a hydro dam is a lot less dangerous than an awakened Arctic but it happens in thousands of places around the world with hydro, like in the American northwest.
  15. 27 Jul '09 13:19
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Hydro power has its hidden problems too. It seems if you dam up a river and use that water to generate power, it can lead to methane emissions which are 20 times more dangerous as CO2 as an atmosphere pollutant. How that happens is the river is dammed up, all the plant life, trees, grasses, etc., are covered over. That causes a decay action that turns all t ...[text shortened]... it happens in thousands of places around the world with hydro, like in the American northwest.
    Kariba dam is big, but I honestly don't believe that it could possibly have generated enough methane to come anywhere close to the amount of CO2 is has saved over its lifetime (about 1977 to date and beyond).
    It is a once off convert and release of whatever was growing on the ground at the time. If you consider that most of Zambias grass is burnt by forest fires every year, you will realize that it is insignificant in the grander scheme of things.
    I must also mention that Zambia has a large flood plain in the easter province which probably produces far more methane every year than Kariba dam ever did. Should we dam up the flood plane and actually create a methane saving and hydroelectricity?
    The Victoria Falls power station (which is where my hometown gets its power) does not have a dam at all.