Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Electric Vehicles

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I've always been interested in fiddling around with things and for that reason, building an electric vehicle would be a fun project. I've helped out old friends in the past with many automobile projects. Like swapping out engines or working on Jeeps. But converting a vehicle from gas to electric would be a big undertaking. It isn't cheap either.

While searching and reading many pages on the subject, I found a blog dedicated to the subject. He converted one car years ago and is now working on another one. He just put up a very informative blog post about converting your first car. He also wrote a very cool calculator for figuring out what will work and what won't.

While this could be a fun project to undertake, I'm not sure it's something I'll ever do. I don't have a garage, so that would make the logistics difficult. I also wonder about new battery technology and what could be around the corner. I think many people that convert vehicles end up using lead-acid batteries because of the cost and that they seem to be a little more forgiving than other battery types. The lead-acid batteries more or less work out to ~30 mile range vehicles, which is good enough for 80% of the trips American's make.

So after reading many blogs and websites documenting the work that other people have gone through to convert a vehicle, I started looking at what the big car manufacturers are working on. The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids are pretty popular. I'd be more tempted to go with the Civic because of the look of the vehicle and cost. The one I'm most interested in is the Chevy Volt. It was a concept car shown at the last round of car shows. There are some pictures here, including one of the mule they use for testing. The difference with the Volt is that it will plug in and will run for miles. It will only use the gas engine once the batteries have been depleted.

I'm not a big fan of Hydrogen powered vehicles. I can see that technology as an easier thing to replace gasoline, but there is some overhead with generating Hydrogen. The combustion engine wastes a lot of energy as well. Using electric motors is much more efficient and they have great pickup. The big problem is energy storage.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for energy storage. That will effect so many things in our lives.


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