The Energy Matrix
A Science Ebook e-zine
Spring 200
8 Edition  
List of all editions

Battery Powered Cars

The energy matrix examines the full spectrum of future energy sources and associated problems.  It is meant to be a thought provoking publication for students who will be our future technocrats, engineers, and physicists.  We will include concepts such as solar, DG, CHP and concepts that are not practical today such as ice engines.  Send Comments to



Battery Powered Cars

The hybrid car to the right is not a true electric battery driven car. All the Energy required for operation comes from gasoline. As viewed from the front, a six cylinder engine at left is inline with the electric traction motor at right.  When rapid acceleration is required, the traction motor works in tandem with the gasoline engine to give the car a quick response to sudden power requirements. The electric traction motor gets its power from the litium ion battery. The electric traction motor makes it possible for the gasoline engine to increase its power output in a gradual manner without sucking up a lot of gasoline.  The battery delivers up to 200 kilowatts.  Once the vehicle reaches a steady speed on a level road, the gasoline engine main-

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 Water Versus Battery
as an energy storage medium 

When researching electric cars, I was surprised that the energy density of ice (latent heat per kilogram) was greater than the energy stored in today's batteries. Though the weight of battery is not

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Index for all Editions


Combined Heat & Power (CHP) 

DC Power Grid

District Cooling

Ethanol Viability

Hybrid Cars

Ice made with Coal

Ice Energy Density versus Battery

Heat Storage


Nuclear Energy

Solar Heat Storage in CO2

Solar Heat Storage in Water

Storing Carbon Dioxide

Stoves - Corn Burning

Stoves - Wood Pellet Burning

Stoves - Coal Burning

Tar Sand Oil


Yucca Mountain

Substituting Coal for Diesel

Compact Fluorescent Lights


















Battery Powered Cars

tains steady state operation and recharges the battery.  The battery is also charged by electric breaking.  The battery and a continuously variable transmission, make it possible for the engine to operate at maximum efficiency.  Actually a computer controls gasoline engine, electric traction motor and battery operation.  Battery charging and battery temperature are monitored and controlled by computer.

All electric operation is possible at speeds of 26 miles per hour or less.  The computer actually determines when the car can be operated in the pure electric vehicle mode.  For example, if your speed is low and the battery is fully charged, computer permission to go to all electric mode operation can still be denied if engine is not warm enough to support cabin heating and easy starting of engine.  The ability to assist gasoline engine and recapture some of car's kinetic energy via electric breaking result in greatly improved gas mileage during city driving.  The car can only travel in all electric mode for a short distance.   This is due to the relatively small amount of energy stored per pound of battery.  Per dollar of battery for that matter.  Battery costs over $4000.  This is because batteries store relatively little energy when compared to gasoline or other hydrocarbons.

Energy Per Kilogram in Mega-Joules
From Reference A


Gasoline or Diesel                             46
Grude Oil                                            42  
Graphite                                             32.7
Zinc air battery  (future)                     .4 to .7
Ice (latent heat)                                    .3
Lithium Ion (In Use)                            .26
Lead Acid                                            .1
Water (Top of 100 meter dam)              .001


Above table indicates that it would take about 177 kilo-grams of ion battery to equal the energy in one  kilogram of gasoline or diesel.  Off course an electric motor/battery system can convert the battery chemical energy to mechanical power about three times as efficiently as a gasoline engine can oxidize the hydrogen and carbon in gasoline to produce power.  So maybe only 50 kilo-grams of lithium ion battery would be required to obtain as much power as one kilo-gram of gasoline or diesel.  Still, the plug in electric car awaits a lighter and less expensive battery.  For every 50 kilo-grams of added battery weight you lose about a kilometer per gallon( or .726 MPG per 100 pounds of added battery weight. See Reference B).


For Tribred or battery driven cars charging stations would be required at roughly 50 kilometer intervals.  Tribred vehicles would be able to travel further using gasoline, but they would be carrying the dead weight of the discharged battery on trips that exceeded their maximum battery range.  Thus, it would require the electrification of store and workplace parking lots.  Rest stops on interstate freeways would also would require electrification.

Thus, the hybrid is not yet just one step away from becoming a battery powered car, it simply uses the battery as a reservoir of energy that enables gas engine to optimize its efficiency.  The engine can shut off in stop and go traffic, parking lots, or even when driving at moderate speeds.  The decisions to shut engine off for a while are made by car computer.  If you were stuck in stop and go traffic a long time, the battery charge would go low and engine would be started by computer.  Now the hybrid car engine power would be charging battery of the stopped car, rather than simply wasting energy like a non hybrid car does when stopped in traffic.

The battery in my hybrid SUV weighs 110 pounds.  For the family that wants a car dedicated to driving the kids to school and short trips to the shopping mall, a plug in battery powered SUV with a 1000 pounds of lithium ion battery replacing the gasoline engine would be feasible.  The problem is that the battery would cost $40,000. 

Plug in electric cars that can go fifty miles on a recharge should be available by 2011.  Congress should  be making plans to electrify our interstate highway system.  Free electricity at interstate highway rest stops would be an inexpensive way to provide incentives for investing in the expensive batteries.  Free electricity is better than money, the United States government is deeply in dept, but it owns lots of electricity ( Bonneville Power Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority etc.)  The amount of free electricity would not be much until a substantial number of plug in cars are on the road.  Rest stops already have electricity; therefore, putting a few outdoor sockets at parking stalls would not be difficult.  Of course eventually a major upgrade of the power grid would be necessary to support the charging of electric cars.
































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