Clayton B. Cornell writing for gas2.org on May 13th, 2009
Video of the switching station in action and photos added below.
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN- Last night at approximately 10:30 PM PST (1:30 AM EST), electric vehicle services provider Better Place will demonstrate key elements of their battery switching station technology. This is the first public exhibition of a battery switching station—which Better Place lauds as the final piece of a “total electric vehicle solution.” The company was invited by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment to set up an exhibit in Yokohama.
“Range anxiety,” as it’s called, describes the most fundamental fear expressed by would-be adopters of electric vehicles. It’s no different than the fear of driving through sparsley inhabited parts of the United States, where it’s important to know your car’s mileage and the distance to the next gas station.
Electric vehicles differ in that their fuel is electricity stored in a battery pack. But battery packs can’t be recharged in the same amount of time that it takes to pump 10 gallons of gas. It usually takes hours. That means that either EVs are restricted to short driving distances, fully charging during long breaks in commuting (like work or home), or, they just never take off.
Better Place intends to solve this problem, and thereby eliminate range anxiety, by swapping out used batteries for fully-charged replacements. If this can be done in the same time as a pit stop (under 5 minutes), it would offer drivers a hassle-free way to dramatically extend the range of their electric vehicles.
Better Place CEO Shai Agassi’s TED speech:
Clearly, Better Place will face numerous challenges when bringing this technology to market. A multitude of these stations must be built before range anxiety can be completely eliminated, and that’s going to take time an money (each station costs $500,000, though Agassi says that’s half the price of a regular gas station). But if the idea works, it could revolutionize transportation.
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If you do not read this post, at least watch and listen to Shai Agassi's talk. The prospects for the human race are so dire and so thrilling that it is hard to imagine living in a more strategic moment in history. It is a time when every human being must strive and struggle as if every life depended on putting in the maximum effort to free ourself from a slow but certain death that will come from continuation of business as usual. It is a time when we do...have... the strength and the knowledge of what to do but we may not have the wisdom to choose the difficult path even though it is relatively short compared to the familiar path to a hellish future.
Try to put 20kwh into a battery bank in a few minutes. You would have to have jumper cables from Hoover Dam. Now try to do that with 20 cars at the same time at one station. Now try to do that with 100 stations at the same time in the same city. This is why they have battery pack swaps.
3000 psi compressors cost about $3000 wholesale. Compare that with $300k for a CNG compressor or even more for hydrogen. You would need about 6 cubic feet of storage at 3000 psi to go 100 miles. Since I truly can refill with air in minutes, it is very convenient. If I were a station owner and I could spend $3000 to charge people $5 for air, I would jump at the chance.
Hi SJC: 20 kwh in 3 minutes = 400 kw = some industrial users demand that much 24/7, so it is possible, but the use of demand fee will be high. Except during the peak demand period, most big cities can supply an extra 40,000 kilowatts = 0.04 gigawatts to charge 100 vehicles at that rate, simultaneously. The 2007 Tesla Motor Car web site claimed about that charge rate, but the Tesla battery is 56 kwh and is air conditioned during fast charge. Typical 20 kwh battery packs would likely explode in the second minute at 400 kw if not sooner, so you are correct, 80 percent charge in 6 minuets, is borderline, without lots of temperature sensors in the battery pack, and/or air conditioning the battery pack.
I don't think there is any magic in compressed air, so the motor on the air compressor needs about 400 kw to charge the tank in 3 minutes, equivelent to 20kwh. Doesn't the 6 cubic foot tank get hot enough to start a fire if filled that fast? I'd guess a $3000, 3000 psi air compressor takes at least ten minutes to fill a 6 cubic foot tank.
Why can't the air compressor compress natural gas at the same rate? I know mandated government safety regulations. Neil
440 volt at 1000 amps times 10 charging stations is a LOT of power, this is the reason for the battery swap. CNG compressors cost a lot because CNG goes boom. They have to be magnetically coupled multiple stage compressors that cost a lot. Magnetically coupled so that no electrical current or sparks are near the NG. A gas pump at a filling station is very expensive for the same reasons.
As far as filling 6 cubic feet to 3000 psi in 5 minutes, your compressor has already filled tanks and you are just transferring the air from one tank to the other. There is no severe compression so there is no high heat. A 6 cubic foot tank at 6000 psi through a regulator will transfer air pressure to the car tanks until both sets of tanks are at 3000 psi in 5 minutes easily.
Compressed air, with electric, is the way to go. Using the air(drag) forced on the vehicle, to turn a turbine to give continuous charge back to the batteries to run the compressor, would make the cars go much further. The batteries would then be able to be changed/charged before they fully discharge and then lessen maintenance needed to extend the life of the them. Check out www.pentapowerturbines.com and maybe we can advance the electric cars faster. If we all work together on this we can surely devise a way. Thanks. Brian.
This is a fabulous speech that I will send to all my contacts outside Pickens Plan, and I hope that others who listen will hear what creative thinking can come up with. The media spends too much time on what is happening with Kate and Jon and their eight kids, and the octomom. THIS STUFF COULD CHANGE THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT. Spread the word. Go to other discussions, other forums, and refer them back to this one so that otheres will hear Aggassi. THere will be naysayers, but never mind them. This idea of the disconnect between the battery ownership and the car ownership is the key. Lt's use that key and open up a new clean way to transport ourselves. On my other post I had not yet seen this video. Yay for U tube!
We are - DEFINITELY - heading in the right direction!
12 years ago GM, in it's EV-1, had a "range extender" that combined a very small gasoline motor with a generator. If you needed to go further than the range of your plug-in hybrid (on electricity alone), you'd turn it on and it would produce electricity to extend the range. If I recall correctly, with the EV-1 the range was easily extended to 250 miles, and still getting - bottom line - 150 mpg.
Please check out GM EV-1, and the SONY production (just Google it) "Who killed the electric car."
I did not know about the range extender. That made the EV1 a plug in hybrid. Expanding the concept, even the tiniest internal combustion motor could also provide a small amount of heat in cold weather, some air conditioning in hot weather, and/or charge the battery enough to drive a few more miles if the battery was low while the car was parked for ten or more minutes. It could also improve acceleration slightly by raising the battery voltage slightly, when the battery was near the end of it's useful life. It could also speed the charging process if the power outlet could only supply 15 or 20 amps at 120 volts, instead of the 240 volts or the 440 volts suggested by SJC. Are some of the plug-in electric cars standard equippment to accept 440 volts? Is a connection for dc from solar panels standard on any vehicles? How does the charging circuit know how many amps the outlet can supply without tripping the circuit breaker? It appears owner savvy is a plus. Neil