Charging Ahead With Electric Cars

 Over a century ago Thomas Edison was charging ahead with electric cars. Not for him, the noisy, smelly complicated engines burning gasoline in controlled explosions running around twenty times a second. He had a vision of quiet humming efficiency, as we would be whisked around the streets on Edison Batteries.

Hard to argue these days with this utopian dream (putting aside looming monopoly issues at that time) as today we are rushing to embrace electric cars, in part or in full, but no longer with Edison’s batteries.

Today, our high tech vehicles are run using lithium ion batteries and we are seeing charging stations springing up in nice places like restaurant parking lots so we can put on weight while our electric car gets charged enough to take us home after we have been charged enough to purchase the road.

The BBC News/Technology section reports on new versions of the Edison Nickel/Iron battery (1). One of the problems a century ago was the length of time those batteries took to charge and the current length of time for us to go in and eat a meal would be much too short. But nanotech comes to the rescue with a large team led by Dai at Stanford U (2).

Not only is the Nickel and Iron very finely divided, but the carbon, which used to be in chunky rod-form, is down to one molecular layer thick of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms which can be pulled off a chunk of graphite using adhesive tape (3) with iron oxide nano crystals on it and using carbon nanotubes with nickel hydroxide nano crystals decorating them prettily.

 In the lab, these are only small batteries, but they charge up 1,000 times faster than the original Edison units – just right for today’s fast foods and indigestion pills. So if this works out, we can look forward to the freedom of the road as we charge ahead with electric cars.


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