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EV Battery Stations

Modular, replacable batteries for electric cars
  [vote for,

Gasoline is a standardized fuel source and that's what makes the fuel station infrastructure possible. What about electric cars? Electric cars are not practical because recharging takes too long and their range is limited.

What if the electric car batteries were standardized, modular, and easily replacable? A driver could drive into a battery station and have their batteries "replaced" with charged batteries in minutes...about the same time it takes to fill up the gas tank. The spent batteries could then be recharged at the battery station for the next user. Each "refueling" would cost $2 and be fully automated. Charging each battery could be done with solar power cells on top of the station which would effectively give the station owner 100% profit. At a range of 100 miles (currently the average range of mass produced EVs), one could get the same range as a gas powered car for about $6. On top of that, you could charge the batteries yourself with the onboard charger that most electric cars come with. The network of gas stations could easily be upgraded with the ability to handle EV battery replacement and recharging. This would put provide the gas stations with increased business and sustainablity as the use of gas vehicles lessens in the next decade.

The automakers would have to agree on the battery voltage, current, shapre, etc. This is currently the case (most electric car manufacturers currently use 12 volt deep-cycle batteries...they're just not put into an easily accessible place and their shape does not allow for interconnectability without wires). You'd want a battery designed like an AA battery (just larger) where the postive and negative terminals are exposed on opposite ends and you would simply load the batteries into the car serially. You could even adapt the current car battery shape and add "divots" to the bottom of the batteries so that you could just "stack" them together in a row under the car.

At any rate, this would solve a lot of the drawbacks of owning an electric vehicle and make EVs more popular.

titaniumtommy, Sep 30 2002


       I just put another carrot in front of the wheel and my hamster moves me right along. No need for this.
Mr Burns, Sep 30 2002

       From my anno on the Battery Swap idea...   

       This is a fundamental problem facing electric vehicle operators. From what I have seen in the past regarding these related ideas, they've been universally rejected at HB.   

       From me, a Croissant (+). Here's why:   

       Who's to say that an operator of a fleet of electric vehicles cannot operate a hot-swap battery system? You could have a number of spare battery cartridges being charged at home base. Instead of parking the vehicle overnight, the driver could just swap cells.   

       You could also have a network of manned or unmanned service stations around the service area where vehicles could pull in and swap.   

       The additional beauty is that the operator could monitor the quality of each battery at the charging stations and replace or refurbish dud packs as necessary.   

       A logical extension of the service is vehicles participate in a charging scheme. The vehicles or, just the cells, are owned by the company and you rent them and the charge is inclusive. There's a deposit paid for the vehicle or the cells. The company needs some control over vehicle maintenance to ensure that the cells are not physically abused by poorly maintained electric vehicles.
FloridaManatee, Apr 22 2003

       Then again, who's to say that it won't? I suppose, as long as the volume is high, then in an efficient market, the price will tend to the variable cost, being the large consumer/ industrial electricity tariff. I guess at under 5 cents per kWh, $2 buys 40+ kWh; enough for a decent ride around town.   

       I'll give [titaniumtommy] the benefit of the doubt. After all, as the idea's proposer he's probably (hopefully) done his math.   

       And besides, the market is defined by an arms-length transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer. If [titaniumtommy] is willing to offer a $2 charge, I'll be a buyer. The market is made. ;-D
FloridaManatee, Apr 22 2003

       I give it a yes, but offer a twist - one that for sure won't see the light of day for another 50 years but you never know.   

       Man has been using nuclear power for quite some time now, I think that the big challenge is to make the public understand that this technology is safe (if it is), with a small reactor (I'm thinking, no bigger than a car battery) you shouldn't have any issues powering your car maintenance-free for about 6 months. Nuclear subs can stay below water for some 3-4 months and still have power and air supply, I would assume that the food shortage will become a problem long before power does.   

       What would this technology not be good for a vehicle? The army is currently testing a prototype nuclear reactor for unmaned planes, which would allow these to remain in the air for months without maintenance.   

       Imagine, you step into your car and don't have to wonder if there is power because you simply don't have to turn it off (you can't the reactor needs to be constantly on and monitored) you simply insert the key to have the car recognize a valid driver and just press the pedal to go.   

       For the gas station idea, well, instead of swaping heavy batteries (the smallest ones take the whole trunk), you can instead pickup some nice cold and clean water (for keeping the reactor functioning, it is like a steam engine) and off you go... Instead of filling up with gas, you would fill up with water (and dump the water at the same station, which would get cleaned and recycled).   

       This also yielding 100% profit to the operating entity.   

       Why, such a gas station could be fully automated - only a security guard on duty might be required.
stemarie, Apr 22 2003

       Titianiumtommy did not consider the cost of keeping the extra battery packs on hand. A low tech lead acid battery pack costs over $1000. Other batteries cost several times that. A battery service station would have to invest in at least a few hundred packs, so the initial start up cost of a single station would be at least $500,000 and prob. closer to $1,000,000.   

       Also missed was any consideration of how the service station would recharge and store all those battery packs. Even a low volume station would have to store and recharge several hundred battery packs a day. A typical battery pack will recharge in 5 to 10 hours, so a small service station would need to be able to recharge three to five hundred battery packs at a time. Commercial power costs much less at off-peak time, so most likely they would want to recharge all the packs at night. This would require at least 500 chargers and some sort of charging / storage racks. Add at least another $250,000 to $500,000 to the start up cost.   

       The packs have a limited number of cycles. A lead acid pack is only good for 300-600 recharges. $2.00 a charge is a money loosing proposition when each battery cycle is costing $3.00 in lost battery life.   

       These numbers are based on 6-volt golf car batteries, the least expensive battery suitable for an EV. Lead acid prices are not likely to get much better any time soon.   

       Other battery technologies do last longer, but with a much higher initial cost. Saft charges $8000+ for a NiCad pack suitable for a car. I've heard that NiMH packs are MUCH more expensive.   

       Having the car owners buy a second pack is not likely to fly either. Why pay an extra $2000 - $8000 dollars to be able to swap packs when you could just recharge at home or at work.
andrewfischer, Oct 20 2003

       //Why pay an extra $2000 - $8000 dollars to be able to swap packs when you could just recharge at home or at work.// - to increase the duty cycle that you can operate the vehicle, or to extend range (in the case of exchange stations)
afinehowdoyoudo, Mar 03 2010


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