Advances in Lithium Cells

The cheapest lithium rechargeable cells at the moment are 18650 size, somewhat larger than AA cells. Since lithium batteries have about twice the voltage, the size difference prevents lithium cells being put into equipment designed for nominal 1.5V cells.

A recent laboratory developments has been the incorporation of voids in the lithium anode. These cells expand slightly as they charge and this may some lithium to leave the electrode. The incorporation of pores into the electrode allows the components to expand into the voids rather than breaking free. This will allow for quicker charging, a longer life and a higher capacity.

Battery technology seems to be following a version of ‘Moore’s Law’ in that capacity is doubling every five years or less – and of course the price of lithium batteries is coming down. I estimate that in five years the Tesla S will have a range of 600miles (up from the current 300) which will make electric cars very cost-effective.

A great deal of technology has gone into reciprocating car engines and there will be a great deal of resistance for manufacturers to abandon the internal combustion motor. I remember how long the old contact breaker points in distributors soldiered on in the face of solid state switching. No doubt legislation will hasten the adoption of electric vehicles as towns and cities ban polluting vehicles from their centres.

2013 Tesla Model S (11322176214) cropped.jpg

The Tesla model S.  Changing the fuse, connectors and inverter allowed this model to reach 60mph in 2.8 seconds – quicker than the fastest McLaren.  Not bad for a family hatch back!

Short Range Radio for Cops?

It is frustrating for emergency vehicle to be held up by traffic; the problem being particularly prevalent for motorway cops racing to where they are needed in heavy traffic at weekends and bank holidays.  On those days there seem to be a large number of ‘Outside Laners’.  In bright conditions the blue flashing lights on the cops behind them are simply not easily seen by inexperienced drivers.  They hold up emergency vehicles.  Clearly the cops need another means to warn drivers to move over.

If the emergency vehicle had a short  range forward directed radio beam, whose intensity is speed related, it could be picked up by other vehicles.  This signal can then transformed into an audible and visual signals to alert drivers of cop cars approaching rapidly from behind.

Best Police Cars
Motorway Cops’ from Central Motorway Police Group take loan of a …
Motorway Cops‘ from Central Motorway Police Group take loan of a Lotus Evora to support their campaign to raise awareness and promote road safety.midlandslotus.co.uk

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Graphene – Now to be Put to Use.

Graphene – an allotrope of carbon which is strong, transparent and a good conductor of heat and electricity. An obvious use for this material is in the manufacture of light emitting diode bulbs. Currently LED’s have a light output limited by the heat they generate which adversely affects the semiconductor. Hitherto this material is held between metal electrode – the downside being that metals are opaque and light is absorbed and turned into heat. Graphene electrodes do not suffer this disadvantage yet can be made smaller since they are stronger and can still conduct the heat away. Hence a probable saving of 20% in power wastage over current LED bulbs.

I predict a similar improvement by the adoption of graphene in the electrodes of solar panels ……. for the same reasons.

Electric Cars – Essential Storage for Natural Energy

Natural energy from the wind, sun and tides is intermittent and although it is becoming a significant contributor to our energy needs, carbon based energy production is needed to smooth out the difference between supply and demand. There are at present very few means of storing the energy so that it can be released to satisfy peak demands. Please bear with me whilst I digress slightly.

Some customers have commented that electric vehicles will put too much strain on the electrical grid and this will limit the uptake of electric cars. My view is that electric cars will be essential if natural energy is to become more useful to us.

Electric cars store energy and therefore need to be charged when not in use. Algorithms can be generated so that they are charged when power demand is low yet can release their power during peak periods. The owners of electric cars will be rewarded by a feed in tariff as their cars contribute to the grid during peak demand periods – such as during commercial breaks in a popular television program when viewers plug in kettles to make a hot drink.

John Silvester on motoring and other musings