All Articles Tagged "electric cars"
(Washington Post) — Coulomb Technologies last week showed off the installation of its first curbside electric car charging station in the District, part of a multimillion-dollar government grant to provide 4,600 free outlets around the country. The station, located near the Franklin D. Reeves Center at 2000 14th St. NW, was installed by Pepco and Coulomb’s distributor, NovaCharge. It can serve two cars at once.
by Anton Polouektov
With peak oil occupying the minds of energy experts and the Gulf oil spill acting as a painful reminder of the dangers posed to the environment by our unquenchable thirst for fossil fuels, a rejuvenated interest in alternative energy is sweeping the nation. Electric and hybrid vehicles are currently the most viable alternative to gas-powered engines, and Lithium-Ion batteries are the most viable means of powering them.
Lithium, the lightweight silver-white alkali metal that stores energy in lithium-ion batteries, has been attracting growing attention from automotive and energy companies over the past several years and the mineral’s meteoric rise to global prominence is seemingly set to continue unabated as a new generation of electric cars begins rolling off the assembly line.
“We believe that the use of electricity as the energy source of choice for vehicles will become dominant over the next 20 to 30 years,” said Dr. Jon Hykawy, who specializes in lithium and alternative energy industries at Byron Capital Markets. “The rationale is simple; GM noted that it takes 25 kWh of electrical energy to move their Volt 100 miles down the highway, while a conventional four cylinder gasoline-powered car might consume 75 kWh of equivalent energy from gasoline to do the same thing. Electrical vehicles are more efficient than internal combustion-based vehicles, and with increasing energy costs, we need to do more with less.”
Dr. Elton Cairns, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UC Berkeley, echoes the call for increased efficiency.“Oil will be used for the foreseeable future as a major source of energy, but we need to rely also on other sources such as wind and solar energy. We can help the energy situation greatly by using it more efficiently in our vehicles and our buildings.”
Electric cars’ efficiency could help wean the American economy from its dependence on foreign oil. “We could certainly see a meaningful fraction of the traffic within urban cores draw its energy from batteries,” maintains Dr. Hykawy. “That would do a great deal to improve the strength of the US dollar, increase US energy security, stimulate the US economy and increase the quality of life in cities by both cleaning the air and reducing noise levels. By relying on batteries for transport instead of oil, the US can curtail its current $300 billion annual habit for foreign oil.”
An additional benefit of using electric and hybrid vehicles could be their lessened environmental impact – while it is true that lithium-ion batteries have a limited lifespan, experts generally agree that proper recycling techniques can help minimize their pollution footprint, resulting in a more environmentally-friendly transportation network and increased efficiency of resource allocation. “Lithium is not consumed, it simply carries the energy between the anode and cathode in a lithium-ion battery,” says lithium energy expert R. Keith Evans. “There is a strong possibility that much of the lithium will be recycled after the battery reaches the end of its first life, thus reducing the demand for virgin lithium.”
“I expect that most lithium batteries will be recycled at minimal environmental impact,” said Dr. Cairns. “There isn’t a technology out there that has no ecological footprint, no matter what anyone wishes to say.” Dr. Hykway agrees that lithium products will have a very minimal affect on waste. “Lithium production impacts the ecology on remote and fragile dry salt lakes in South America. The batteries may have to be recycled, although my belief is that batteries with only half their storage capacity may find a use in the home, storing cheap electricity purchased at night and allow the energy to be used during expensive peak periods, saving the owner money and balancing load for the local utility. Lithium battery disposal may be the least of our worries.”
(New York Times) — New York City has just unveiled the first of about 100 electric vehicle charging stations to be installed under a national program that aims to have nine metropolitan regions ready when automakers begin rolling out some electric vehicles later this year.
(Washington Examiner) – Maryland officials are banking $500,000 on the hopes that electric cars — which are months from hitting the market– go mainstream by the time they finish installing dozens of car-charging stations along Interstate 95 next year.
Maryland’s Energy Administration is directing roughly $340,000 in stimulus money to a Baltimore company to build 55 electric car-charging stations along the I-95 corridor — placing at least five stations in eight counties and Baltimore City.