BMW's Electric Car - I'm a Convert

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by John Picard, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. John Picard

    John Picard Vice Admiral Admiral

    Latest Electric Car Will be a BMW, From the Battery Up


    I've always considered electric cars to be a joke, because batteries cannot in any way, shape, or form be made to violate the laws of physics. By that I mean charging capacity, durability, and charging time. Couple that with the traditional means of building a car, steel and glass which are both heavy, and add in the weight of occupants and cargo, performance is going to degrade. I was intrigued by the Nissan Leaf, but I think overall it's not going to do well.

    A few months ago, I read where BMW was looking to build a carbon fiber production plant in the United States (specifically, Oregon) for the purpose of building viable, lightweight electric vehicles. Now we're getting somewhere. Here in Norman, Oklahoma, we have a carbon fiber company that is one of the leaders in nanotechnology. Carbon fiber has superior strength to steel at a fraction of the weight. Regardless of what proponents say about electrics, I think the best bet to make the US energy independent is to stick with combustion engines that run on natural gas, which can easily be produced from waste either from landfills or water treatment plants. I know there is a city in California that recently put into motion the process of converting the city's landfill into a natural gas production facility that will in turn power the city's electric generator.
     
  2. Roger Wilco

    Roger Wilco Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Carbon fibre is an interesting material, but I'm not sure making a car's body out of it is such a good idea. Look at some videos of crashes in pro bicycle races on youtube - when carbon fails, it fails in a totally different way than steel; it doesn't crunch or gets compressed or deformed, it loses its structural integrity catastrophically and basically explodes into a million pieces. That's worth it considering its advantages in a bike or a car hood, but in a cars's body? When you're potentially travelling at 100km/h or so?
    There's a reason carbon isn't used more frequently in cars already, and it's not the price - it's not even that expensive in mass production.
     
  3. John Picard

    John Picard Vice Admiral Admiral

    Roger,

    You bring up some good points, however I believe it boils down to two factors: 1) construction, and 2) assembly. For example, a flat piece of steel has very little, if any, structural integrity, yet when it is stamped with certain contours and ribs, it becomes very strong. The carbon fiber will be more like a shell that is attached to some kind of a frame, which would presumably be aluminum or another kind of material.

    I've also recently read where another company has developed a carbon fiber fuel cell that uses nanotubes to store hydrogen rather than the conventional space invasive cylinder. The thought is to make the entire chassis of the vehicle become the fuel cell and thus be more efficient at fuel storage and usage of space.

    These new prospects and approaches to the problem solving make my views of these newer technologies more accepting over those where people are trying to make the new but yet force it to match or be the same as the old.