Is there a self charging electric car? An electric car cannot charge itself to any degree where it would never need to be charged. The Light year One is a car that can self charge with solar panels but even that car cannot tun for a long distance without needing a full charge and here is why.
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The second most asked question we get asked about EV’s is why don’t you use a generator on each wheel to charge your batteries as you drive down the road? This one sometimes comes more as a suggestion rather than a question.
And it comes in various forms like one big belt driven generator instead of one in each wheel or using a wind turbine to capture the wind to turn it into electricity and charge the batteries that way.
I’m sure there are other similar ones out there but they are all essentially the same thing. The idea is a very simple one, capture the energy as the vehicle moves and put it back into the batteries, that way you can keep on going without ever needing to charge.
The short answer is yes, that actually would work. Some systems do exactly this already in our electric vehicles, they are called regenerative braking.
It recaptures the energy used to move the car and it puts
it back to the batteries, it does this by turning the same electric motor used to push the car forward into a big generator.
So if this already exists why do we still have to charge them? The reason we can’t build a car that self charges as it goes down the road is because it would essentially be a perpetual motion machine.
How Do Self Charging Electric Cars Work?
There is a scientific consensus that perpetual motion is impossible as it would violate the first law of thermodynamics. This law states that energy can only be transformed from one form to another, but it could not be created or destroyed.
So we can only move energy around so why can’t we move energy from battery to motion and then convert it back to the battery and then back to motion again and so on and so on and so on?
Well, that would be because everything that we have ever built has inefficiencies, everything in one way or another loses energy, let’s use the following example of a simple setup to demonstrate this.
Let’s say that you have a battery with X amount of energy stored in it, then you have a motor connected to it. The motor is coupled to a generator that is also connected to the same battery, in theory, the setup should be able to keep spinning forever as the energy used to spin the motor should be turned right back into electricity by the generator.
In theory, once the system is going you should be able to remove the battery and it should keep spinning forever, but it won’t, it can’t because there is energy being lost to friction both in the motor and in the cables used to connect the motor to the generator.
In the cable, the friction is called resistance and the resistance makes the cable convert some of the electrical energy going through it into heat. The same thing happens in all the cables that make up the inside of the motor and the generator, but resistance will not be the only source of heat in the motor.
Mechanical friction will also be responsible for some heat build-up, so as more and more energy gets transformed into heat there will be less available for the motor to turn into mechanical rotational energy and eventually, the whole cycle will collapse and the energy will get used up.
This will happen very quickly and that’s without adding a 3,000-pound vehicle with a multitude of heat converting and efficiencies to eat up all of your energy.
So unfortunately in this case friction and heat are the two reasons we cannot have our self charging electric cars.
I hope this simple example will help you get a better understanding of the challenges that the EV crowd faces every day.
What About Self Charging Hybrid’s?
Vehicles range anxiety and confusion overcharging tend to sit at the top of the list of concerns that people have when they talk about making the switch to an electric vehicle.
They’re not sure how to go about fuelling on a long-distance trip, they worry that the battery may run flat and the many still believe that they will need to replace their car battery pack every few years at a stupidly expensive cost.
Sure, great work has been done by Tesla EV advocates and education programs at certain dealerships to get more people plugging in, but for the most part, while people may say they want an electric car they don’t want to worry about charging it.
So when Toyota started promoting its self charging hybrid technology this year with a massive ad campaign, we saw more and more people get excited about Toyota’s brand new revolutionary technology.
I mean a car that doesn’t need plugging in but it’s good for the planet is great right? The car that’s capable of electric propulsion but doesn’t ever need a charging station, why should you bother with a boring polygon electric car if Toyota’s cracked the code, right?
In the past few weeks, we have had a lot of people reach out to ask us how this amazing new technology works and since we like to listen to our viewers we decided we do just that today.
I’m about to tell you just hang out as self charging technology works, so make sure you don’t go anywhere because you need to know it’s big secret, and it will surprise you.
But before I do let’s look at Toyota’s bog-standard Hybrid Synergy Drive technology, you know the one that’s been used in its Prius hybrids and more recently other hybrid variants of standard range cars for a long time.
It uses an Atkinson cycle internal combustion engine connected to a planetary gearbox which in turn is connected to two electric motors. for those who don’t know an Atkinson cycle is a special engine setup that lets the intake valve be held open a little longer than it would be on a standard internal combustion engine.
This allows the engine to be a little more efficient in its running at the expense of a little bit of power because internal combustion engines are most efficient in a narrow power window Toyotas HSD does everything it can to keep the car’s engine running in that narrow powerband.
At low speeds it takes any excess power made by running the engine at its optimum speed and captures it using one or both of the electric motors, they then turn that energy into electricity which is then stored in a small battery pack as chemical energy for later use.
When the car is driving very slowly and the battery pack has enough charge the car uses just the electric motors to power itself along switching off the entire combustion engine completely when the battery is drained the engine kicks back in and recharges the battery pack.
And at periods of really high power demand like accelerating or climbing the steep hill at speed, the engine and electric motors work in unison to push the car along provided of course there’s enough charge in the battery pack.
If the car is a plug-in hybrid like the Toyota Prius prime there’s an onboard charger that can be used to charge the car’s battery pack as well, when the battery pack is empty the HST reverts to using its gasoline engine and then operates like a regular hybrid.
How Does A Hybrid Car Charge Itself?
But you’re saying if that’s the standard hybrid we all know, you don’t need to explain that how does Toyota’s self charging Hybrid work?
It works with advertising, yep advertising. It’s a new way that Toyota is using to promote its hybrid technology, rather than simply call it a hybrid Toyota is throwing in a bit of old-fashioned advertising spin to make you think of an electric car. Toyota’s revolutionary self charging hybrid isn’t.
To have a car that truly self charges there any external fuel source you have to break the laws of thermodynamics, it’s the same reason you can’t drive an electric car along and recharge its battery pack from a second motor attached to its other axles.
It’s why you can’t put little fans on the front of an electric car that’s spin as the wind passes over the car moving along drawing the energy and then using it to then push the car down the road.
Energy can sadly not be created nor destroyed, only transferred. And every time you change one form of energy into another a little tiny bit of it is lost to the system through the friction or some other resistance.
The noise you hear when you run an internal combustion engine, that’s energy being wasted as it becomes sound. The heat it produces, well, that’s another type of energy loss.
Of course in Toyota’s case it’s a little more sneaky. Technically it’s hybrids do charge themselves or rather they use power from the internal combustion engine to charge the car’s battery pack.
But to do that they’re not creating energy, they’re turning the chemical energy from the petrol into kinetic energy inside the engine. That kinetic energy is then transferred to electrical energy inside the motor and then to chemical energy inside the battery pack.
To do this, however, there are a lot of energy losses in the system and you still need to provide power to the system for this all to happen.
So if Toyota’s hybrid system hasn’t changed why the new name? That’s simple. In a world where electric cars are more popular and people are thinking of charging up their electric car using a charging station.
Toyota’s simply cashing in on the electric car trend by renaming its hybrid drive train as being self charging and voila, it’s on the electric car bandwagon.
As I said at the start of this very few people understand how electric vehicles and hybrids work, but it’s also a stinky predatory move.
So the next time someone tells you that you’ve got a self-charging hybrid or worse still, a self-charging electric car, just point them to this article.
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