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New Battery Technology


The discussion about climatic change brings forth a subject which has being worked on behind the scenes for a long time and with a lot of commitment, the development of new batteries with much more storage capacity. This seems to be, at the moment the more promising solution compared with the hydrogen technology, because although this is relatively easy to produce, the storage requires, at the moment, either a large amount of energy, or the amount is insufficient for a reasonable range. Moreover, billions would have to be invested in a new filling station network.

How it works

Let's therefore, have a look, at the state of the battery technology in 2007. The present battery used in automobiles still contains lead and a liquid electrolyte. With little power demand it can, due to its low price, high reliability and safety, maintain its place in the car. If the electrolyte is integrated into fibreglass fleece, it even offers a low gas emission and is completely maintenance-free. Only the weight and the lifespan could be improved.

The battery as a sensible possibility of energy storage has been brought onto the scene realistically by Honda and particularly by Toyota. In the above picture you can see the nickel metal hydride battery of the present Toyota Pruis. The company grants a guarantee of 8 years or 160,000 km. This type of battery is probably not yet the final solution, because the Prius uses only a little more than one third of its capacity. The battery is protected by a very restrictive charging management. At, e.g., a speed of 50 km/h it always switches over to the internal combustion engine. The question pops up of why so much mass is being carried around.

Let's have a look at the more likely candidate for the future, the Li-ion battery. We know them already from the multitude of portable devices which have constantly rising energy requirements. These batteries have mastered this challenge, at the same time they did not tremendously increase either their weight or their size.

However, maybe you have also grievously discovered how quickly these batteries run down. They need battery chargers which prevent overcharging and especially, the undercutting of certain charging performance. In the automobile it is, of course difficult to take every single cell into consideration. More than 50 of them would be necessary to reach the necessary voltage for larger electric motors of about 200 volts. None of them may fail because they are all switched in series.

You can keep track on the state of the technology on the internet. Read the report of the company Degussa and the driving report in which the NiMH Honda-hybrid battery was replaced by a self-developed lithium-ion accumulator and achieved 30,000 km without problems. Apparently the fire risk in this construction is also negligible. Twice the range with the same weight compared with NiMH batteries is being achieved provisionally by the development team. 07/08

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