INTO THE FUTURE
Electric scooters have long been popular in Europe and the Far East, and are now starting to make major inroads into the US. With increasing frustration over traffic gridlock, oil prices, and air pollution, the electric scooter is emerging as a viable, economical and clean mode of alternative transportation.
In the following article Ed Benjamin takes a look at recent advances in the technology behind the batteries that propel these electric scooters. Ed is one of a few internationally recognized experts on the electric scooter industry. He runs a consulting business devoted to the industry and recently took a leadership role in forming the US Electric Bicycle and Scooter Association with most of the leading manufacturers who market in the US.
Thomas Edison invented the lead acid battery back near the turn of the century. And the lead acid battery is still the mainstay of vehicle batteries, starting cars, and powering most electric vehicles.
Today, the lead acid battery is much more efficient, and sealed gel cells are virtually maintenance free. These batteries are the most cost effective way to store energy for a light electric vehicle like an electric bicycle or scooter.
However, there are alternatives. Ni-Cads store more energy for their size and weight. Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are better still. And Lithium Ion batteries are so superior that they changed the usage patterns of notebook computers and cellular phones.
Here is a table that compares the performance of various battery types when used in light electric vehicles.
If we use an example of a 7.5 Kg. battery, a popular size on today's electric bikes, here is the range we could achieve…and the costs:
Lead Acid: 15 km $22.00
Nickel Cadmium: 25km $66.00
Nickel Metal Hydride: 40km $600.00
Lithium Ion: 60km $2250.00
Lithium Polymer: 100km $3750.00
There are other factors that affect the choice of batteries. The short course would be that Ni-Cads can be damaged if the user does not understand when and how to charge them. And that the different types and qualities of batteries have a different number of cycles that can be expected. (A cycle is one charge / discharge cycle. If a battery is expected to last 300 cycles, which means it can be charged 300 times.) Different types of batteries have different performance characteristics at high and low temperatures.
And, there are some emerging battery technologies that may be superb for electric vehicles. The Nickel Zinc and Zinc Alkaline Manganese batteries are very promising.
Written by: Eco Shop
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