back to article Nissan super-battery to 'double' e-car range

Nissan is only five years away from the commercial launch of an e-car battery with twice the energy storage capacity per unit weight of current batteries, the company has claimed. According to Nissan, that means that, by 2015, its Leaf e-car will have a range of nearly 200 miles on a full charge. The new batteries are expected …

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Anonymous Coward

In the right direction, but...

...my current car has a range on a full tank about 450 miles, but I seldom do much more than 350 miles before filling up. We all like to have a margin of safety.

Given the longer "fill up" times of battery cars you would probably want to give yourself a bigger margin. In the case of my car we're looking at my having something like 2.5 gallons left from a 12 gallon tank when I refill. So lets call that a 20% margin of safety. So a realistic range for the Leaf would be something under 160 miles. Not so hot.

Bear in mind that I'm a fairly normal driver in as much as I park on street at work and on street at home. So charging a battery fuelled car would be problematic.

So kudos to Nissan for doing something about the limitation of battery tech, but there's a long way to go yet. This is why fuel cells (not necessarily hyrdrogen) are such an attractive idea, refuelling will be much easier.

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Gold badge

Pricing

Nissan won't actually have the option you suggest. The alternative to the new batteries is not the old batteries, it is a conventional engine and it has the edge in most respects. Once the new batteries are available, you won't be able to give the old ones away. In fact, the mere existence of the new tech has probably put some people off buying an electric car in the near future *unless* Nissan arrange for the new units to be drop-in replacements for the old ones.

Hmm, that's got me thinking now. Battery tech is pretty rubbish and over a 10-20 year span I'd expect *several* significant jumps. It would be very disappointing to buy a car in 2010 and be stuck with 2010 battery technology in 2030. Are any current electric cars "upgradeable"? If not, they have a significantly shorter useful life than the polluting equivalent, and since a lot of the carbon cost of motoring is in building the vehicle in the first place, the lifetime carbon footprint of an electric car might actually be larger than the conventional model.

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Grenade

Battery limits

NMC batteries had a shorter cycle life than e.g. LiFePO4 last time I checked. IIRC, NMC also has a maximum operating temperature of 50 degrees C. So don't park it in the sun.

Also, what happens when every third home has one of these cars and plugs it in at night to recharge? 24kWh is an awful lot of electricity to draw; around double that of a small household (or one where kids close the door). No more off-peak power; if the supply grid doesn't collapse and you can build enough nuclear power plants to supply the energy to charge up the cars.

Consumers have to keep in mind that manufacturers will make anything for which they think they have a market. The products function for the manufacturer is that it sells.

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Stop

Yup

That's exactly the point, not to mention that the current "wells to wheels" power use in terms of CO2 and other emissions of electric cars is actually not much better than a reasonably efficient non-plug-in hybrid.

leccy cars are a fad, and can simply not become mainstream anytime in the next 15-20 years. We don't have the grid or power system to support them, and what power we have is nearly 80% from coal, natural gas, and other polluting sources. Until the bulk of leccy jar juice comes from wind and other 100% renewable resources, all we're really doing is A) shifting consumer confidence in the technology, B) field testing better and better battery tech in large scale real world tests, C) and shifting one dirty energy source to another.

Lets look at a REAL and VIABLE 50-100 year alternative that we would be ramped up an using much faster: Gasoline made from RFTS instead of pulling it out of the ground. It's a 60 year old technology, refined by modern sciences to now be affordable in competition with gasoline (roughly $60/barrel to make, or about $3 per gallon at the pumps after markups and transport).

Check out www.dotyengineering.com (of which I am affiliated in no way). Using this gives us time to research batteries, build out wind power, and adjust our car technology, then we can start migrating away from gas to electric with cars that have 300 mile ranges, fill up in 10 minutes, and cost about the same or less as a poetrol car over a 150,000 mile life (including running costs).

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Thumb Up

Yup Yup, sorta

As #1 said, the fewer cycles from this type of battery will have to be overcome and, even then, the dust-to-dust energy (and fresh water, if utility-sourced from coal or nuclear) required for leccies is only on par or worse than with conventional cars, and with less versatility.

That said, battery (or storage capacity, in general) development is crucial to the future utility of local unreliable, but renewable and operation-free, energy sources such as wind, solar, wave-action etc. so that energy may be accumulated in the good times and used anytime. For suburban and rural users (the real car-mavens) with access to such things on-property, a high current-density, many-cycle storage "battery" would make unreliable accumulation a non-issue and allow optimal capture and use of all available energy. Urban, regional or trans-national use of same will require distribution lines that are more efficient than those used at present as well.

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Silver badge

200 miles is too far

Drop the range to 20 miles and it is still double the distance I travel 95% of days. This drops the weight of the battery by a factor of 10, so it make a significant saving on the weight of the car. At a guess, a 20 mile battery is light enough for me (large and fit) to carry from the drive to the house and back every day. Charging such a small battery indoors is much simpler than charging a big battery outside. If they get the weight down to the point where granny can carry a battery indoors to charge then electric cars become much more practical.

Wind turbine tax is still much lower than petrol tax, so I would like a practical electric vehicle.

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Peter

There so many new battery technologies coming, that this wil be obsolete by the time it comes out. Nickel is a bad metal from a polution point refining proccess is drity you dont want to use lots of it.

Lithium Carbon air batteries look very promising or Lithium nano Silicon wire.

The grid can easily handle the over night load of battery charging and will keep nuclear plants running flat out, which is the best way to run them. The chargers will be smart and will be shut down by the grid if needed, to reduce load.

The great thing about EVs is changing fuel sources, just build a different power station

not build 10 million new re-designed cars. We need EVs, so we can get out of oil, its not about doing more miles to the gallon. As we go to large Solar power stations, the cars will still work. The 21 century looks good and it will be Electic not based on Hydrogen, the Earth has insufficient Platinum to build all the fuel cells that would be needed. All that is needed now it to perfect the electric smelting of Titanium and we will have, light weight long range EV vehicles.

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Stop

Why do we have cars?

You write that the "smart" chargers would be shut down by the grid if required.

Notwithstanding the practical limits of controlling a system with millions of individual control elements, how does one get to work/school/... in the morning? Better take your coat.

There's a lot of hand-waving about new battery technologies, but all of them seem to be fiddling at the edges of the bounds set by anode and cathode materials with an electrolyte.

Electric vehicles could be viable if they were refuelled in the same way as petrol or diesel; even LPG vehicles. i.e. using a high-density energy storage medium; with energy stored in molecular bonds; preferably in the form of a liquid that's easily handled and can use the same fuel distribution network aswhat exists now. The energy would be extracted from the medium by fuel cells; non-combustion; with only CO2, H20, N2 and perhaps O2 as the process "waste".

The missing technology is that of synthecising a suitable compound (liquid) by using a high-density energy source. We know that nature can do that. So it's not a physical limit.

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Grenade

temperature?

these range specifications. what temperature are they measured at? battery effeciency goes down with temperature. whats it going to be like with a car out in an average 5deg C over winter months?

will anything even start at -5?

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Coat

Hmm..

... strap one of these babies to an iPhone and you might finally get a whole day's use out of it!

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Terminator

...pure capacitance gel?

Sod it; everyone can get motorbikes \o/

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Anonymous Coward

Charging

I love all this cock about smart chargers connected to smart meters. So the plan is to get home of an evening, plug into the mains (presumably with a 200m cable because you can't park near your house) and then the smart charger will drain your battery and sell the leccy back to the grid until the early hours of the morning when it will start to charge your battery on a cheap tariff.

Which sounds like a really great idea until you suddenly need your car at 10pm and your batteries are flat. Great.

Even more fun, you plug your car into the mains (nice video of a man using a 16A commando on the news last night) so that would be AC. In order for your car to put power back into the grid as reported by aunty beeb you would need an inverter. Since the car is plugged directly into the mains not only do you need to drag a transformer and rectifier around in your car you now need an inverter too. Nice extra weight.

Why not charge the cars with DC? Presumably because nobody has thought to come up with a standard.

Hey an theres a thought. What happens if you take your battery car to a country with a different mains voltage.

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Go

Nissan Leaf

I may be the only one, but I'm actually pretty excited about the Nissan Leaf. It's such a relief to see an electric car that actually looks like a car! I don't know what the dipshits at Renault and Mitsubishi and everyone else are smoking, but Nissan have got it right when it comes to styling an electric car. I even like the interior - the colour scheme might not be to everyone's taste, but the style and layout follows very smoothly from what current Nissan drivers know and love.

I'm not majorly concerned about the range, as I only drive 15 miles a day, but this advance in battery tech can only be a good thing. I know that detractors complain that electric cars make no difference to CO2 emissions, but I'm pretty sure my short, stop-start journeys would be more efficient using stored energy from a high-efficiency coal power plant than from an ICE. And as alternative power sources become more commonplace, this will only improve.

I've never been a fan of electric cars before - probably because every model I've seen to date has been fiendishly ugly and impractical. But the Leaf may well be the one to change my mind, as it seems the only thing going against it is the ridiculous name.

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Grenade

stability ?

Having seen some of the nastier laptop fires when much smaller high energy density batteries go wrong, I hate to think what one of these babies blowing will look like or do. Just hope they find a way of containing the resulting fire or explosion.

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