Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Batteries

The CARe 500 is an electric version of the Fiat 500, and is now available in Europe

Fiat recently announced that it will be manufacturing an electric version of its cute li’l 500 automobile for the North American market, starting in 2012. If you can’t wait that long, however, you can get one in Europe right now – you just won’t be buying it from Fiat. The Italian automaker gave Swedish company EV Adapt permission to buy the stock 500, swap out the combustion motor for an electric one, and then resell the car as an EV. Sold as the CARe 500, the vehicle is now available throughout Europe. In an interesting move, buyers have the option of purchasing a battery-less car for a reduced price, and then renting its battery pack.  Read More

A new planar sodium-nickel chloride battery could deliver 30 percent more power at lower t...

In the continuing search for ever more efficient and cheaper batteries, researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have managed to increase the performance of sodium-nickel chloride batteries in an interesting way – flattening them. No, not running them down until they’re out of juice, but rather replacing their typical cylindrical shape with a flat disc design. The redesign allows the battery to deliver 30 percent more power at lower temperatures, making them a viable alternative to lithium-ion batteries.  Read More

Tang in St Francis Bay, South Africa

Vehicles of the wheeled variety aren’t the only ones going green. U.S. companies International Battery and Electric Marine Propulsion (EMP) are partnering up to build a hybrid power train for the world’s largest plug-in, hybrid electric boats and yachts. The partnership has resulted in one of the world’s largest plug-in hybrid sailboats, a Tag 60 catamaran christened Tang, hitting the water on September 21. It is a 60 ft (18m) carbon-fiber speedster that can be powered by the wind, even when the wind isn’t blowing.  Read More

The 2011 Giant Twist ebike has a claimed maximum range of almost 100 miles

Remember when the Segway was launched in 2001? The company proclaimed that it was going to revolutionize personal transportation, but... well, although Segways are still around, they’re hardly a common sight. What could soon be a common sight, however, are electric bicycles. While a variety of styles were on display at this year’s Eurobike show, commuting ebikes were by far the most common. An electric drive makes sense on a commuter – you still get some exercise and don’t have to register it as a scooter, yet you also don’t arrive at your destination all hot and sweaty. As with all electric vehicles, however, range is always an issue. That is now being addressed, however, with ebikes that can travel up to 160 kilometers (99.4 miles) on one charge. If your commute is longer than that, you really might want to consider, you know... driving.  Read More

Sanyo is about to add some new additions to its eneloop universe series of portable power ...

Since introducing its eneloop rechargeable battery technology in 2005, Sanyo is reported to have shipped over 130 million cells. Now the company has announced some new additions to its eneloop universe series which provide a power boost to a host of mobile devices including Apple's iPad, Sony's Xperia smartphone and Nintendo's DS series portable gaming devices.  Read More

Soldiers' loads could be lightened by several pounds through the use of batteries that are...

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a virus in order to design rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that could be woven into clothing to power portable electronic devices. Not only could these batteries be incorporated into fabric, but they could also be poured or sprayed into containers of any size or shape, thus allowing the shells or other parts of devices to double as their power source. MIT believes such batteries would be particularly beneficial to soldiers, who commonly have to carry several pounds of batteries to run their various gizmos. This development is reminiscent of the University of California’s nanogenerator-enabled clothing that harnesses power from the wearer’s movements, and could perhaps even be combined with such technology.  Read More

Drexel University's Dr. Yury Gogotsi (right) and colleagues have developed an ultrahigh-po...

Supercapacitors, also called electric double layer capacitors (EDLCs) or ultracapacitors, are electrochemical capacitors that have an unusually high energy density when compared to common capacitors. They bridge the gap between batteries, which offer high energy densities but are slow, and “conventional” electrolytic capacitors, which are fast but have low energy densities. An international team of researchers are reporting the development of a mirco-supercapacitor with remarkable properties that has the potential to power mobile electronics, wireless sensor networks, biomedical implants, RFID tags and embedded microsensors, among other devices.  Read More

Tiny flakes of lithium manganese phosphate can serve as electrodes for batteries (Image: D...

Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are used in everything from mobile phones to cars. Most of the batteries available today are designed with an oxide of metal such as cobalt, nickel, or manganese, which adds to their cost. Researchers looking for lower-priced alternatives to existing lithium ion-metal oxide batteries have discovered that a little wax and soap can help build electrodes and will allow battery developers to explore lower-priced alternatives to the lithium ion-metal oxide batteries currently on the market.  Read More

The RaceAbout, at last weekend's Finals stage of the Automotive X PRIZE

The purpose of the Automotive X PRIZE is to stimulate development of real-world, practical environmentally-friendly vehicles and the resulting designs make for a wildly varied collection. Of the 12 vehicles currently left in the competition, some look like they rolled straight out of Blade Runner while others – like the RaceAbout – would hardly raise an eyebrow in today's car showrooms. But despite its mainstream looks, this thing definitely makes a strong visual – and technological – statement.  Read More

MIT researchers have made an important step toward producing a lithium-ion battery that de...

Researchers at MIT have found that using specially treated thin layers of carbon nanotubes in batteries can boost the amount of power delivered per unit of weight by up to ten times. While the technology still needs improving, its full development and large-scale employment would certainly revolutionize the way we use any electronic devices, from an iPod to an electric car.  Read More

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