Energy Storage in Cars: Saving Your Car and Saving The Planet
It was revolutionary. The world was about to change. Or that was what we thought at least.
Back in the 1970s, the electric car was a revolutionary idea. It promised a car that could simply be recharged rather than have to be filled up with a completely expendable fuel. An idea about global warming and the effect driving has on the planet were just beginning to take off, and so the electric car seemed like a fantastic solution.
Unfortunately it never really took off and the reason for this was three-fold. Firstly, there was never enough charge to take a car on a long journey. Secondly, the oil companies made it difficult at every turn, patenting as many electric car engines as possible to bury them under a sea of paperwork. Finally, the cost saved on fuel (and more) was spent on electricity.
Then the hybrid car was introduced, and these work fairly well. Companies like Lexus make them today. They help reduce their own carbon footprint, save on fuel, and recharge themselves as they drive. This is an ingenious idea, however hybrid cars do not eliminate the need for petrol. Instead they are exactly what they sound like – hybrids. They require the need for petrol as purely electrical cars are not economically viable. They require too large a battery.
What is the Future of Energy Storage in Cars?
The future of cars relies on miniaturisation and, most notably, batteries need to be made smaller. At the moment car batteries are too big and clunky. Miniaturising is not a job down to entrepreneurs but rather down to scientists, making batteries smaller by physically removing unnecessary atoms and molecules within them. This is something most car companies will not invest in for a very long time.
Instead entrepreneurs have come up with an ingenious way of getting more power into an electric car, and that is by increasing the number of places batteries could go. A car is full of empty space, if only some of it could be utilised.
The notion of keeping extra batteries elsewhere in the car is an interesting one as it is not without its flaws. Batteries are now being placed in side panels, in the boot, within the extra space under the bonnet, and under seats. It is insane to think that cars could become (more or less) moving batteries with seats.
These batteries do store enough energy to take a car a long distance, with Volvo leading the way in development. Batteries can make a car incredibly heavy, but Volvo claim that using nanomaterials will make the car a lot lighter. They plan on achieving this by using carbon fibre and fibreglass.
It was a pipedream in the 1970s, being able to create a car that was completely eco-friendly. Now it is a reality, with miniaturisation promising so much more. Until then we have electric cars, and can reduce our footprint somewhat, by augmenting cars with different areas to store energy. Side panels offer one such option, however, who knows what the future may bring?