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Cutting the Cord of Plug-in Electric Cars

Posted on March 14th, 2016 by in New Materials & Applications

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By Michael Movchin [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Can history hold the solution to the range limitations on current plug-in electric vehicle batteries? Instead of focusing on improving battery materials, perhaps the answer is in the cord?

Seems a father-daughter team is doing just that for the Tracked Electric Vehicle (TEV) project in Scotland. An article entitled, “One Solution for Electric Cars’ Lack of Range? Electric Roads” published in IndustryWeek describes how the duo found inspiration in street cars, proposing to embed an electrified metal strip in the roadway enabling battery powered electric vehicles to draw power continuously. While there are still many issues to solve, the project boasts the potential to eliminate the energy density issue for these vehicle.

Engineers are hard at work every day, incrementally improving the technology surrounding our lives. Each successive version of a product needs to be better, cheaper, faster, lighter, cooler or produced in a way that safer, more efficient, or more productive. Whatever the attribute, engineers can hone in to the root cause and find a variable to tweak.

Take batteries for example. Engineers and researchers have found a variety of materials to shrink the size while improving the life of nearly all the devices in our lives. Check out how researchers at the University of Arizona have found a way to use industrial waste to improve the performance while reducing the cost of batteries:

Breakthrough innovation often comes when focus is placed on the function, rather than the object. Instead of seeking a pump with a higher flow-rate, thinking about a method of improving fluid delivery. Instead of focusing on incremental improvements in the battery, Will Jones – the TEV project founder, turned his attention to overcoming the range anxiety exhibited by consumers who worry about being stranded while trying to find a recharge station.

Has inspiration ever struck you from unusual places? Tell us about your quest for unconventional knowledge and what it could mean for the future of your products or companies. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.


 

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

 

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