MadSci Network: Engineering

Re: Why not use electricity directly, not fuel cells to power cars?

Date: Wed Aug 18 17:02:33 2004
Posted By: Matthew Buynoski, Senior Member Technical Staff,Advanced Micro Devices
Area of science: Engineering
ID: 1086673032.Eg


In a car driven by electric motors, the electricity must come from some 
source. These can be things like:

    a. overhead wires (as trolleys use)
    b. batteries only
    c. a small engine using chemical fuel charging a much smaller (and
       lighter) battery than in option b.

The first of these involves creating a very large amount of infrastructure 
that does not currently exist.

The second is used, but the range and power capability of the vehicles is 
limited. Presently this limitation is such that the vehicles don't find 
much favor in the marketplace.

The third is the basis of hybrid-electric cars, and it is starting to find 
favor in the market. Several are already for sale.  A car powered by fuel 
cells also falls into this category.

Scientific American recently (last few months) published a long article on 
exactly this subject, comparing many ways to power vehicles. You should 
certainly look at that article.

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