EV racing car named Lola breaks world speed record

Jun 27, 2013 by Nancy Owano weblog
EV racing car named Lola breaks world speed record

(Phys.org) —EVs might be parked in people's minds as second cars of convenience, suitable for around-town errands and small-distance commutes. Forward thinkers are hoping to see EVs do their thing on long-distance travel while enthusiasts like the idea of exploring EVs in motorsports, to see what kinds of designs, materials and techniques can achieve better performance and speed. A car named Lola sits in the motorsports camp, and it has just set an electric land speed record for a lightweight electric car, achieving over 200 mph. Drayson Racing Technologies, the company behind the Lola B12 69/EV vehicle, made history this week at a racetrack at RAF Elvington in Yorkshire, England.

The team behind this lightweight electric powered achieved a speed of 204.185 mph, a new world record for such a vehicle. Before that, the record was 175 mph, won by Battery Box General Electric in 1974. (Roger Hedlund won that record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US.)

The Kidlington, Oxfordshire company's chief executive, Lord Drayson, a former government Minister for Science and Innovation,.was behind the wheel of the Drayson vehicle. The company was founded in 2007. Its mission is to work with others to developer more sustainable . The company uses motorsport competitions as a way to focus its efforts. "We bridge the gap between research lab and commercial application- using the crucible of motorsport competition to promote and develop sustainable technologies," according to the company.

Their problem-solving skills were put to the test for a vehicle that could qualify to try for the electric . They had to deliver a car that weighed less than 2,204 pounds without the driver.

They answered the weight problem by modifying a Le Mans Series car. They replaced a bioethanol fuel engine and they used a lightweight battery pack that offered 850 horsepower. The chassis was made with recycled carbon fiber to minimize air friction. "Motorsport has always been the test bed for major automotive innovation," according to the company. "Nowhere else are components and new technologies tried, tested and proven under such extreme conditions as on the race track." But an auto analyst told the BBC there is another way to measure real human strides in making electronic cars more plausible. He said as far as making an EV faster, that was relatively straightforward. What's difficult is making EVs practical—-confronting the physics of how batteries store and release energy.

Explore further: Imec demonstrates organic photovoltaics modules showing excellent optical properties, high efficiencies

More information: www.draysonracingtechnologies.com/

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antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (5) Jun 27, 2013
pack that offered 850 horsepower

I realize that this is a measure people are familiar with. But we should be starting to think in kW instead of hp - especially when it comes to EVs.
Eikka
4.7 / 5 (3) Jun 27, 2013
But we should be starting to think in kW instead of hp - especially when it comes to EVs.


Right after we start talking about food in joules instead of calories.

Noumenon
1.6 / 5 (26) Jun 27, 2013
pack that offered 850 horsepower

I realize that this is a measure people are familiar with. But we should be starting to think in kW instead of hp - especially when it comes to EVs.


I think the point of making such a car is to promote EV and counter misconceptions, so the language of HP is appropriate in that context.
LarryD
not rated yet Jun 27, 2013
Oh, come on lads don't be shy let's go the whole way and use electron volts. I mean, EV & ev...looks like father & son eh? Just means that we'd have to put yotta/yocto numbers into the multplication table Ha!
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Jun 28, 2013
Oh, come on lads don't be shy let's go the whole way and use electron volts.

Electron volts is unit of energy - not power.
LarryD
not rated yet Jun 28, 2013
Yes I know that but if power doesn't come from energy where does it come from?
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Jun 28, 2013
If you really want to measure anything in electronvolts then it would be the battery capacity of the car (which isn't relevant for speed records. It'd be very relevant if thy want to use this car to compete in regular races, though. No good if you can go 200mph but have to swap batteries every lap)
LarryD
not rated yet Jun 28, 2013
Oh come on, I know it isn't Practical but I wasn't talking about technology. I was merely quoting definitions. I was reflecting on many years ago when electric cars COULD have been researched but wasn't...it wasn't going to make certain people rich enough. A great pity because we might be that much further on.
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (24) Jun 28, 2013
I was reflecting on many years ago when electric cars COULD have been researched but wasn't...it wasn't going to make certain people rich enough. A great pity because we might be that much further on.


How much stock did you own back then? None? How about now?

If all the tree-huggers existing today would only buy a EV, we could cut back on emissions measurably.
LarryD
not rated yet Jun 28, 2013
I was reflecting on many years ago when electric cars COULD have been researched but wasn't...it wasn't going to make certain people rich enough. A great pity because we might be that much further on.


How much stock did you own back then? None? How about now?

If all the tree-huggers existing today would only buy a EV, we could cut back on emissions measurably.

None at all. When I was a young 'East End kid' I often visited a retired chemical engineer and he was 'into' this type of thing. Pity no one continued his work after he died.
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (24) Jun 29, 2013
None at all. When I was a young 'East End kid' I often visited a retired chemical engineer and he was 'into' this type of thing. Pity no one continued his work after he died.


My point was that if there is little potential for profit, then there is no motive force to develop it for the market. If You did not foresee a future market to motivate you to invest , then it makes little sense to blame other "certain people" for being fiscally cautious.

Everyone, including those who believe that AGW is an immediate crisis, are free to invest in alternatives back then and now.

There are enough "AGW crisis" believers, that if they only would act for the collective good, and buy EV's even despite their economic impracticality, and reduce their standard of living by reducing their energy use and consumption, it would make a difference, and would render blaming the "deniers" quit redundant.
LarryD
not rated yet Jun 30, 2013


My point was that if there is little potential for profit, then there is no motive force to develop it for the market. If You did not foresee a future market to motivate you to invest , then it makes little sense to blame other "certain people" for being fiscally cautious.


Ain't aiming the blame at anyone! I said it didn't make them rich and my impication was Oil. Not that I have any real argument with that either. It was/is there and and in comparison almost eady for use and other ideas took a back seat. For whatever reasons many people see EV's as evironmentally friendly but even that is questionable. Plugging in for a recharge one must realise that the electricity has to come from somewhere which might be just as unfriendly as oil as might be the production and disposal of batteries.
Your argument says it all; no profit no motive, something Astronomers etc know all too well.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Jun 30, 2013
Plugging in for a recharge one must realise that the electricity has to come from somewhere

I don't see why some people have a problem seeing where the environemtal benefit is in that.

1) The energy CAN come from environmentally friendly sources (as opposed with gas powered cars where it NEVER can come from an environmentally friendly source). The energy sector in many countries is in the process of switching over so that's not even a hypothetical benefit.
2) Even IF you use a fossil fuel based source in the powerplant that supplies the power you can
2a) use the very much higher efficiency of power plants over car motors which (including losses of transmission, battery and motor efficiency) STILL means you're using the fossil fuels more efficiently and
2b) you can combat the emissions at the source (which is much easier than with millions of distributed motors running on highways)
LarryD
not rated yet Jun 30, 2013
Plugging in for a recharge one must realise that the electricity has to come from somewhere

I don't see why some people have a problem seeing where the environemtal benefit is in that.

1) The energy CAN come from environmentally friendly sources (as opposed with gas powered cars where it NEVER can come from an environmentally friendly source). The energy sector in many countries is in the process of switching over so that's not even a hypothetical benefit.
2) Even IF you use a fossil fuel based source in the powerplant that supplies the power you can
2a) use the very much higher efficiency of power plants over car motors which (including losses of transmission, battery and motor efficiency) STILL means you're using the fossil fuels more efficiently and
2b) you can combat the emissions at the source (which is much easier than with millions of distributed motors running on highways)

Agreed! But it isn't me who needs convincing...let's hope it happens soon eh?
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 01, 2013
I was reflecting on many years ago when electric cars COULD have been researched but wasn't...it wasn't going to make certain people rich enough.


The thing about electric car research is that there's practically nothing to research in electric cars. The fundamental technology is literally a hundred years old, and all the ideas are already thought up and tried. There's a whole century of unsuccessful attempts to introduce the EV all around the world.

Investing money in electric car research is wasting your money. Everything in that field moves at the pace of basic research of battery chemistry, which is done elsewhere and for other purposes such as laptops, cellphones, portable tools, grid load balancing etc. so it's not a matter of someone hoarding patents either. If someone actually did make a better battery, they'd be rich anyways despite electric cars.

The US wasn't the only one making EVs in the 90's. They failed elsewhere simultaneously, for the same reasons.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 01, 2013
1) The energy CAN come from environmentally friendly sources (as opposed with gas powered cars where it NEVER can come from an environmentally friendly source).


How about biomethane from communal and agricultural waste?

Never say never.
LarryD
not rated yet Jul 01, 2013
Eikka, yes I thought you 'proved' my point on two counts, 'investing' and '...100 years old...' The engineer that I used to visit thought more on the lines of gov owned projects (in GB much transport was gov owned at the time) and also for city use only (there were overhead cable bus services at the time and the rail cars before that). But he wasn't working on just car ideas, He could see that in the future there would be more traffic on the roads and thought that electric bikes would be better in town but then that would present other problems.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Jul 02, 2013

How about biomethane from communal and agricultural waste?

It doesn't seem like this is available in the quantities needed (and setting aside extra arable land for producing biofuels is a questionable practice - especially the way it's currently using up land in third world countries which should go to feeding the people there).

Car manufacturers also don't seem to like the biofuels. The E10 gas (10% biofuel mix) has already disappeared again from gas stations (currently most gas is E5 over here).
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 03, 2013
It doesn't seem like this is available in the quantities needed


Not ultimately, but biomethane can be supplanted with synthetic methane made from CO2 pulled out of the atmosphere, or synthesized from CO2 coming out of smokestacks using peak surplus solar energy and wind power.

Besides, hybrid electric vehicles using fuel cells are an option, in which case you only need 1/10th of the actual fuel since you'll be driving electric most of the time, and you don't need heavy expensive batteries to get where you're going the other 10% of the time, and you never have to worry about running out of charge.

The European Union already mandates that biofuels replace 5-10% of the gasoline used for road vehicles, which in practice means that we'd already be able to replace at least a quarter of the cars on the road with hybrid electrics that operate solely on renewable electricity and biofuel.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 03, 2013
Car manufacturers also don't seem to like the biofuels. The E10 gas (10% biofuel mix) has already disappeared again from gas stations (currently most gas is E5 over here).


That's mostly because car engines that aren't designed to be flexi-fuel can't really handle ethanol and other alcohols in the fuel. It eats away at the gaskets at a faster rate, dissolves oils and provides worse lubrication for parts like fuel injection pumps. 10% ethanol/methanol is pretty much the limit where certain plastics start to swell and crack as well, and methanol is corrosive to aluminium. And, the E10 gasoline doesn't necessarily have to contain ethanol/methanol either. I can contain acetone, butanol, or other light solvents as well.

Many car manufacturers don't recommend it for use in their vehicles, even though most modern cars should be able to handle it. Still, half the people are still driving cars that are 10 years or older, that can't handle alcohol in the fuel.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 03, 2013
but biomethane can be supplanted with synthetic methane made from CO2 pulled out of the atmosphere

Which seem rather wasteful as that takes TONS of energy (from what source?). If you use renewables to source the energy then you can just use them directly in the car and eliminate the middle man (i.e. the wasteful process).
Remember that it is the procss of turning carbon compounds INTO CO2 that delivers the energy in powerplants. If you want to put all that CO2 into fuels then that will require rather more energy than you got out in the first place (otherwise you'd have just invented a perpetuum mobile).

Also: Energy in your car is one issue. Having clean air where cars are concentrated (in cities) is another. Hydrogen fuel cells and EVs beat carbon based fuels (whatver the source) in that regard any day.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 04, 2013
Which seem rather wasteful as that takes TONS of energy (from what source?).


It doesn't really take "tons" of energy. It's actually surprisingly little.

You as a German should know that you're having a "surplus" energy crisis at hand. If I'm not terribly mistaken, you plan to produce up to 25% of your electric energy with solar power, whereas currently you're doing about 5%. Meanwhile, your peak output in the summer is around 22 GW which represents half of the demand in the grid. If you increase the solar power production to reach 25% then you'll be having 110 GW peak output with a demand of about 45 GW leaving you with 65 GW extra during the afternoons, and nowhere to put it.

Well, make methane out of it.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 04, 2013
The Fraunhofer institute claims electricity to methane conversion rates of over 60%, and Audi is building a pilot plant in Germany to do just that. Meanwhile, a prototype proves 40% efficiency with CO2 pulled from the air, without optimizations: http://www.solar-...eration/

The next prototype is at the megawatt scale, and its design efficiency is 54% power-to-methane. Of course the efficiency is relatively poor, but it's pretty much the only plausible method of storing energy that is also massively scalable because storing more energy involves just building bigger methane tanks, and methane is easily piped around for heating and cooking purposes which involves no loss in energy because everything is turned to heat.

So, surplus renewable energy happens during peak production, gets turned into methane. Hybrid electric cars need methane to go longer distances. Win-win.

antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2013
You as a German should know that you're having a "surplus" energy crisis at hand.

It's certainly more beneficial to put that surplus right in the EV (i.e. into batteries or ionic fluids) via the grid than first grabbing CO2, reforming it into methane and then transporting that to gas stations.

and nowhere to put it

There's better ways to store it than with methane. The aim is to shut down the coal powerplants, too - so no concentrated producers of CO2 should be left by the end of the transformation of the energy sector. The only ones left will be some gas powerplants to even out the demand/supply curves. But those will run exactly at the times when supply of other sources is not abundant.

Methane seems like a short-term-without-a-future solution. It's still a combustion porcess with all the negative pollution effects that entails.

I'd rather see it if we aimed for long term solutions (which is what the energy changeover is all about in any case).
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 04, 2013
Hydrogen fuel cells and EVs beat carbon based fuels (whatver the source) in that regard any day.


The only difference between a hydrogen fuel cell and a methane fuel cell is that one outputs water, and the other outputs water and CO2. There's no particulate matter, no NOx emission, no smoke, nothing. It's as clean as it can be.

The other difference is that hydrogen is an unworkable fuel for cars, while methane works because you don't need to cool it to minus 196 degrees to get meaningful driving ranges out of a tank.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 04, 2013
It's certainly more beneficial to put that surplus right in the EV (i.e. into batteries or ionic fluids) via the grid


The main problem being that you don't have enough batteries, and the cars are driving during the midday solar peak. The cars can't sink more than about 5 kWh maximum per day because people don't drive more than that on average, which means that it would take literally all the cars in Germany to stands still and recharge during the business hours to sink the solar peak.

And it doesn't solve the problem of limited range of the EV, which the hybrid cars do.

so no concentrated producers of CO2 should be left

None are needed, but biomass can be burned to provide some.

Methane seems like a short-term-without-a-future solution. It's still a combustion porcess with all the negative pollution effects that entails.


Burning methane catalytically (or in a fuel cell) produces no pollutants. It's just water and CO2.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 04, 2013
Besides, you also need a source of methane for:
-fertilizers
-synthetic chemicals (drugs, dyes, paints...)
-plastics
-heating and cooking

Especially heating and cooking actually consume more energy than a typical household uses in electricity for all the other appliances. That energy currently comes from natural gas, which is mostly methane. If you want to replace fossil fuels, you kinda have to start to make synthetic methane in vast quantities anyways, and hybrid cars would only represent a small portion of that demand.

And then, since synthetic methane can be made in small megawatt-scale plants, they can provide district heating with the waste energy from the process, lifting the efficiency up considerably.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2013
because you don't need to cool it to minus 196 degrees to get meaningful driving ranges out of a tank

Metal hydrides don't require that
http://fuelcellse...Hydrides

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. I'm not sure we'd do ourselves a favor with the spillage of a nationwide methane infrastructure. (Hydrogen is indirectly also a greenhouse gas, as it prolongs the lifetime of some other greenhoue gases in the atmosphere - so no ultimate free lunch there)

Certainly ther are uses for methane in the industry. But I don't think using it as a widespread car fuel is sensible.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 04, 2013
Metal hydrides don't require that


Indeed, but they basically suffer the same problem as batteries: rare materials, low energy density, highly energy intensive to manufacture, extremely expensive, difficult to scale up to massive proportions.

I'm not sure we'd do ourselves a favor with the spillage of a nationwide methane infrastructure.


There already exists a nationwide methane infrastructure, and one with a surprisingly large reserve of energy at that. According to the article, the existing natural gas network in Germany stores a whopping 217 TWh as it is, just by the sheer volume of gas that's in the underground network.

http://www.greenc...513.html

Turning sunshine into methane would enable Germany to produce a great deal of energy in the summer and use it up in the winter. A small portion of that would go into powering electric hybrid cars.
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 04, 2013
After all, one has to remember that about 4/5th of the energy used in a modern society isn't in the form of electricity, but process heat, domestic heat, hot water, cooking, etc. so turning renewable energy into methane makes a whole lot of sense anyways because most of that will be used directly to produce heat without any further loss.

It's a realistic method to make 100% of the energy by renewable means, not just 5% or 25%. We're not talking about moving mountains and pumping lakes empty here, but using what already exists and works.

And once you have synthetic methane avaliable in abundance, you don't need large expensive batteries for electric vehicles. You only need a small battery for 80-90% of your driving when you can always fire up a fuel cell to drive until your bottom falls off.

Having methane on-board also solves the problem of no heat from electric motors. As it is, EVs typically use diesel burners to provide cabin heating.