Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles Congestions

Whilst Australia is yet to see electric vehicles emerge on the market, there are a growing number of EV conversions taking place around the country. Furthermore, there seems to be regular breakthroughs in electric vehicle technology which bring the dream of an emission free vehicle with adequate range and performance ever closer to reality. There are a few bugs still being ironed out, and presently there are still some performance issues for what is a relatively expensive investment, however we are seeing the first signs of viable electric vehicles entering the market in Australia and it is vital that we are ready for them with well standardised vehicle to grid infrastructure in place.


Electric Vehicle Batteries

One of the limitations to past electric vehicle designs has been the battery. Typically batteries are heavy, and don't hold much energy. Using regenerative motor and battery coupling can increase efficiencies, the battery has really been limited to about 200km range for the top end electric vehicles. For many people, this makes an electric vehicle a poor choice, especially when there is no way of charging on long trips. High current charging stations at regular intervals should change this, although it will be some time before we see a network cover all of Australia.

There has been some exciting battery technology advancements in recent times. Firstly the Lithium Nickel battery has been invented. Although fairly complex and difficult at this stage to mass produce, researchers have successfully demonstrated a storage capability some 3.5 times that of lithium ion battery technology. What this means, that once perfected, cars using these batteries could potentially travel up to about 700km's in one single charge, rivalling petrol, gas or diesel powered vehicles.

Lithium Air batteries are also being researched with theoretical energy density potentials of up to 6.5 times that of lithium. Whilst it will take some time to push the theoretical potential towards actual practical and economically viable reality, it is a future possibility for vehicle owners.

One of the advantages of electric vehicles is the ease at which modifications can be made on them. Upgrading the vehicle's battery pack is simple, and requires removing the old battery and possibly the controller, and replacing with the new batteries. When compared to the complexity of engine upgrading on traditional combustion engines, we see a highly modifiable technology emerging.


What about Hydrogen?

In theory running hydrogen based fuel cell vehicles is a positive step, however comes encumbered with several problems. Firstly hydrogen is obtained from chemical processes in industry where hydrogen is an unwanted by product. Unfortunately the amount of 'free' hydrogen is limited and would in no way serve the entire transport industry. Secondly transporting such a gas is very difficult and poses storage problems in both the vehicle and the fuel station. The infrastructure roll out required to support a full hydrogen economy would be very expensive, and we would end up creating our hydrogen from electricity - a very inefficient process. So whilst fuel cells certainly have their place in a sustainable transport industry, it is unlikely to see full scale implementation, and electric vehicles are currently looking like the winners.