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Danish MECc EV project promises 500 mile range and "refuel" time of less than three minutes

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July 26, 2012

The first EV to use the MECc range extender will be ECOmove's forthcoming QBEAK

The first EV to use the MECc range extender will be ECOmove's forthcoming QBEAK

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A collaborative project involving ECOmove, Insero E-Mobility and Serenergy is aiming to produce a fuel cell range extender for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that should boost the distance between charges to at least 497 miles (800 km). The first vehicle to receive the new bio-methanol-based Modular Energy Carrier concept (MECc) cells will be the QBEAK car we featured yesterday.

The air-cooled, high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (HTPEM) power system with integrated reformer (to allow it to run on bio-methanol) has been developed by Serenergy and will be available as a basic MECc range extender with a 2.5kW fuel cell and tank, but a modular design caters for more cells/tanks to be added for greater range. The system converts bio-methanol into DC current to charge a vehicle's onboard batteries, with waste heat directed to the cabin heating/cooling system.

A fuel cell developed by Serenergy

A fuel cell developed by Serenergy

Incorporating the combined fuel cell/BEV technology into an electric vehicle is claimed to extend its range by at least four times that of many EVs available today and will offer drivers a tank "refuel" time of less than three minutes, similar to gasoline cars. Other reported system benefits include improved charge stability that could extend the life of an EV's batteries, and low cost rollout of fueling points (as the existing fuel distribution infrastructure could be used).

The project is being managed by Insero E-Mobility and will be first implemented in the shortly-to-be-available QBEAK electric vehicle from ECOmove. The group has also secured the backing of the Danish government in the form of financial support under the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program.

Sources: ECOmove, Serenergy, Insero E-Mobility

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
18 Comments

What electric vehicles need is to have a standard battery system that when empty can be hotswapped out for a full one, in exchange for the price of filling up (naturally a markup would be applied since they have to be able to pay for the facility and the initial cost of the new batteries). Naturally the one swapped out would be quickly analyzed for viability before put on the line to be recharged and replaced into another EV. When newer, more advanced batteries come out (with synchronized releases of course, like whenever new video cards come out), stations would have a smaller reserve of the new ones, and allow people to spring for an upgrade.

A different tactic, which would also involve removing the battery, is to place the battery in a bath of supercooled liquid to counteract the heating effect from charging the battery with a much higher voltage input than would otherwise be possible without setting the battery on fire. This way a battery fit to go 500 miles could still charge in a couple of minutes.

Onihikage
26th July, 2012 @ 03:03 pm PDT

Onihikage...and that is more practical? Batteries weigh a LOT. it is not a simple, small car battery. To remove and replace flat EV batteries would take a lot more time than refuelling in the above explained method.

And considering the bio-methanol recycles CO2, it doesn't add extra CO2 into the atmosphere. Depending where you live in the world, the power source used to recharge batteries externally may not come from environmentally friendly sources (I live in a city powered by a coal-burning plant)

A bio-fuel powered fuel cell with 500 mile range and refuel time of 3 minutes (using readily available refuelling infrastructure) is far more practical than your alternative.

Jacob Shepley
26th July, 2012 @ 07:34 pm PDT

So ECOmove and their partners are going to a fuel cell powered car with good range presumably between stops for methanol. Too bad it looks like a cheap plastic toy that got left in a locked car on a hot sunny afternoon.

Why bio-methanol? Natural gas-methanol is cheaper and looks better for the environment.

With the appropriate gear to route the battery's out gassing and automatically top of the battery's water from the fuel cell's exhaust and fuel cells that can eat hydrogen directly (I know a given but...) nickel-iron batteries could work well and avoid the problems of more energy dense batteries.

Why fuel cells? ICE has been historically cheaper with a much longer service life. It also can run on a variety of fuels which can come in really useful if you run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere such as between Flagstaff AZ and Albuquerque NM.

Anybody want to do and show the research and math to show which is more efficient when you include manufacturing and proper disposal.

re; Onihikage

How do you intend to establish real energy storage capability of the batteries as opposed to the specification for brand new; you would not want to pay for 5 kw hours and only get 2. Nickle-iron could reduce this to insignificance but the energy density is lousy.

Supercooled liquids are expensive and you would end up using more energy to cool the battery than to charge it.

Besides a battery that carries enough energy to move itself, four people, 100kg of luggage, and of course the car carrying the load at a reasonable speed (115kph) is at least one revolution away.

Slowburn
26th July, 2012 @ 07:43 pm PDT

Onihikage, I was thinking almost exactly the same thing.

AngryPenguin
26th July, 2012 @ 08:26 pm PDT

The idea of hot-swap batteries is already being explored and is quite simple. A basic version of this is already used for electric forklifts in industry. You drive up, disconnect the battery, roll or lift it out and replace with a fresh one, good for another 8 hours. The equipment required to automate the swap would be not much more expensive than the current outlay required for pumping and fuel storage in a contemporary refuel point.

Just consider the savings to be made from not having to truck fuel out to refuelling stations....

Ian McIntosh
27th July, 2012 @ 12:16 am PDT

An extension to the hot swap battery for very long distance driving, is a trailer similar to the single wheel 2 hitch ball type (that I currently use to carry my scooter) that requires no special driving skill and handling machinery. Above all the key to succsess in the EV concept is CHEAP. I would be happy with lead acid batteries and a speed of 120 kmph if I could get a range of 350km and home recharging on alternate rechages.

pointyup
27th July, 2012 @ 02:42 am PDT

Switchable batteries are not just being explored, it is being implemented and in use today in denmark among others.

See http://www.betterplace.com

JøhP
27th July, 2012 @ 08:08 am PDT

What does it (will it) cost? Fuel cells are fantastic, but fantastically expensive.

The problem with electric cars is batteries cost about 10 cents a mile, and the grid electricity costs about 4 cents a mile, total cost 14 cents per mile. That compares to $3.40/gallon gas @ 30 mpg (for an efficient car) = 11 cents per mile.

Red Baker
27th July, 2012 @ 10:45 am PDT

Ahh, hello? Read the article and stop the rants.

It runs off bio-fuel.

The cost of the batteries is marginally important.

What IS important is the fact they reduced the overall weight of the car FIRST.

And reduced the amount of steel.

It's not the WEIGT of a vehicle that makes it safe, it's the "crush space"

Kenneth.Spicer
27th July, 2012 @ 12:49 pm PDT

I'm always suspicious when they say 'promises xxxx miles range' et al.

bigal
27th July, 2012 @ 02:33 pm PDT

OK - Make it under $35K and I will buy one.

James Ng
27th July, 2012 @ 02:35 pm PDT

re; Kenneth.Spicer

Have you looked at the QBEAK no "crush space."

Steel structures are not that much heavier and they age much better than many of the alternatives especially when taking repeated blows.

Slowburn
27th July, 2012 @ 02:42 pm PDT

All this can be done, along with hot swapping and solar panels. Now a carbon fuel is being used to charge the batteries rather than mechanical force to turn the wheels, what's the efficiency difference in that?

Dawar Saify
27th July, 2012 @ 03:54 pm PDT

Freezing cold weather is a serious problem for battery powered vehicles.

Either you keep the battery heated when not in use, or it will become partly or fully depleted.

Reliable and accessible battery heating is just not possible for a lot of people.

robo
27th July, 2012 @ 04:31 pm PDT

The materials in this vehicle are considerably lighter and stronger than steel. In an accident where a steel vehicle would crush, this vehicle would be more likely to bounce, with the occupants strapped securely inside. A lot like riding inside a crash helmet.

Steel is not the cleverest material to make vehicles. However the major vehicle manufacturers are vertically integrated with the steel industry and don't want to make vehicles out of anything else.

The next generation of transport is coming from new entry manufacturers like this, with complete choice of materials and drive train. The prices are going down and the technology is improving in leaps and bounds. I'm looking forward to a future of seriously efficient vehicles with excellent performance rather than these noisy, smelly dinosaurs we've been stuck with. I've loved them to bits but their day is done.

apprenticeearthwiz
27th July, 2012 @ 06:08 pm PDT

apprenticeearthwiz

^^^^^^

Battery trechnology and fuel cell has been said to be improving 'by leaps and bounds' for the past 20 years and each time, like fusion technology and is said to be just around the corner and will be available in the perrenial 5 years, 'may' 'will' 'most likely' etc etc . The problem with these kind of unproven cutting edge technology is that everytime they are fighting themselves with contraints by the laws of physics and thermodynamics, and with automobile application the contraints are even greater.

In the end it will come down to mechanical, thermal, cost and other constraining prerequisite efficiencies and whether or not these factors will contribute to be a show stopper. Making cars look like miniscule toy cars and light while making it a sure death trap is just a sorry excuse for being inefficient in all levels.

The car looks fugly, I don't care if it can run on 'renewabable energy' or not it has to look aestethically pleasing. I've seen design students with much better designs, this car look downright butt-fugly.

@apprenticeearthwiz

In the engineering world being 'Strong' alone is not the slam dunk of mechanical properties. There are many 'types' of strength in mechanical properties for the intended design purposes. There is no one magical fantastical material that ticks all the strenght properties while being light, inexpensive to obtain, easy to be formed, joined and fastened reliably with other components and mass manufactured INEXPENSIVELY and in the end can be recycled as nexpensively as well. Not even composites.

This is something that even a final year mechanical engineering student knows very well

Prices will not come down on new technologies because ALL of our industry still runs mostly on 'dino fuel', from moving prime movers to making 'green solar panels and windmills' to making plastic parts for this very vehicle in fact it is the contrary. Wake up and smell the toxic fumes.

SpaceBagels
28th July, 2012 @ 06:58 pm PDT

For Travelling Salesmen living in small towns, with no local Car Rental Business - long range is quite important, but when I drove from Toronto to Wisconsin, and then down to West Texas and Back to Toronto, Ontario (Over 10,000 Kms over just a couple weeks) - I rented a Car for the trip. And - I had a gas powered car - I just didn't want to put the miles on my own car!

So - What's different about driving a car with a 100 miles range for most commutes, and renting the other one for seasonal or occasional long drives?! Plus - with websites popping up like www.plugshare.com - showing most every place you can charge a car today - I don't see the need to drive steady - every day - for 4-6 hours, just because you have nothing better to do!

Need to get to work, and back, the bank, the mall, and the grocery store - day by day - that's about it! Just track how far that is for yourself, and multiply by 1.5! If the result of that is within the range of the electric car - you are pretty much good to go for your 80% Plus driving style, and just rent a car for the long trips!

But - hey - clean air and solar power to power your car - don't mean much to some, so don't even try the new stuff until you can't find Gas - particularly when Oil Refineries go down for servicing, or have massive fires that shut them down!

Robert Brian Weekley
11th August, 2012 @ 06:05 am PDT

We need these here !

Brian Zwergel
31st October, 2012 @ 07:49 am PDT
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