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Is Your Community EV Ready? NREL’s New Tool Can Score It For You

The Tesla vs The New York Times battle has been hashed over all week, and the consensus in many quarters is that electric vehicles are ready for prime time, but Times reporter John Broder is, to put it kindly, not ready for electric vehicles. Lost in the sauce is the only real obstacle to getting more people behind the wheel of an EV, and that is affordability. Sooo… who’s doing what about that? Well don’t look now but the Obama Administration is doing something precisely about that with $20 million in new funding to develop affordable EV batteries.

Tesla vs NYT ignores EV affordability issue
Tesla vs New York Times vs Affordability

As Times reporter John Broder aptly demonstrated, the Tesla Model S is a brilliantly designed car, but no amount of cutting edge engineering can make up for a driver’s lack of common sense (obviously the same goes for gasoline powered cars, too).

For EVs, the problem isn’t within the battery range itself, it’s the expense involved in engineering high-range batteries. Unlike conventional cars, for which the gas tank is a negligible factor in the selling price, the battery pack is a key feature of an EV. Its size, weight, and configuration make all the difference between affordability and not.

That’s the challenge addressed by the Obama Administration’s latest project, the $20 million Robust Affordable Next Generation EV Storage Project (Range).

The EV Storage Project will be administered by the Energy Department’s cutting-edge research arm ARPA-E, which has just released a notice of the funding opportunity, though it does note that the $20 million is subject to the “availability of appropriated funds.”

The end goal is to come up with cutting-edge solutions that will triple the range of a typical EV from around 80 miles to 240 miles per charge, while chopping costs by around one third. The end result will be an EV that costs under $30,000 and can go on long trips before recharging, pretty much what you’d expect from a conventional vehicle.

At this first stage of the project, ARPA-E is focusing on the battery itself. That means breaking out of the conventional lithium-ion box and trying new approaches like these:

“Aqueous or other low-cost inorganic electrolyte based systems and novel cell geometries are of particular interest, as are flow battery architectures employing liquid or slurry-based reactants that enable physical isolation of active materials.”

It also means developing a “robust” battery that can shoulder other tasks aside from making the vehicle move. That would help extend the vehicle’s range, since it would enable the elimination of redundant equipment and/or structural elements.

Other considerations include the use of little or no flammable or combustible substances, and the reduction or elimination of waste heat.
More ,a href=”http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/17/tesla-vs-new-york-times-fight-ignores-the-money-issue/#kiyPup88kKg4F3FO.99″>cleantechnica.com

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