Can electric cars charge themselves?
Given the current advertisement by manufacturers, it is okay to think about what they are. Some of the most common brands such as Toyota and Lexus call themselves the self-charging vehicle. In fact, it warranted for someone to wonder whether can electric cars charge themselves. Furthermore, we have seen wireless charging systems for phones already. This would be a very huge technological leap forward. In my previous article, I discussed whether you can plug your EV into a regular outlet. Here I want to discuss whether electric cars can charge themselves.
So, can electric cars charge themselves? Yes, they can charge themselves. However, this is very common for hybrid cars. However, they can only charge themselves a little bit. It is not possible to have your electric car charged to capacity.
Why are they called self-charging electric cars in the first place? You will be interested to know why manufacturers refer some of the models as self charging. It is because the battery is charged when those cars are on the move. Quite interesting, huh? Toyota, Lexus, and Kia hybrids are some of self-charging EVs.
Charging takes place when you slowing down your hybrid car. All electric cars you will find in the market come with an advanced braking system. This braking system known as regenerative braking which generates power when the car is braking. It is a clever way of increasing your range.
If electric cars can charge themselves, how does it work?
i. Can electric cars charge themselves through Inductive charging?
An electric car that charges itself has interesting engineering behind it. I know you will find it interesting to know that electric cars that charge as you drive are many in the market. Let us first discuss how wireless charging works in the first place. You probably own a phone that charges wirelessly. Well, self-charging electric cars work based on the same principle.
You must have a receptor coil already installed in the chassis. There is an emitter coil found on the ground or the road. The power is transmitted through induction. So, you will find that a series of emitter coil are set on the road since your car travels very fast. The amount of power received is only for a fraction of a second.
ii. Induction routes being tested
Since you now have the answer to the question of how does a hybrid car charges itself through induction, it is only fair to at the routes you can use for self-charging. In France, there an induction route in the Satory where there are series of the transfer inductor coil. However, this is only an experiment. For your information, it was realized that for an EV that drove at speed of 100 kph, a charge of 20 kW was acquired.
According to well-cited studies, Israel will have an induction route that is 1.6 kilometers long by 2022 courtesy of ElectReon. Electric cars that charge as you drive in Israel will enjoy additional power while traveling between the Visby and the airport. This is how the local authorities plan to not only convert Israel to a carbon-free zone but also a carbon negative country.
What are the challenges?
Can electric cars charge themselves topic will not be complete if we do not look into some of the challenges this engineering phenomenon faces.
The charging by induction is still in the experimental stages. As you have realized, you can find an electric car that charges itself, yet you have heard limited or no news about charging routes. It is because it is still in the experimental stages and if deemed feasible, you and I will benefit a lot.
The challenges arise since a lot of parties have to be involved, the automotive manufacturers, highway infrastructures, and the electric grid. While the market is almost flooded with self-charging electric cars for sale, there is little that has been down about charging routes in the US. The problem is that roads will require to be rebuild again. So, the question of how to finance that work arises bearing in mind that not all parties believe it is feasible.
Today, manufacturers are yet to establish a standard way of charging EV, each has its own charging system. for this induction charging to work effectively for all self-charging electric cars, the system has to carter for EVs with different needs.
Can electric cars charge themselves using alternators?
The answer is no. let me explain. I know you either own or have driven a gasoline car so far. An alternator is an electric device that is used to charge your car battery as you drive. As the name suggests, it creates an alternating current. The alternator is driven by the engine itself through belts and pulleys. A system electric component converts the AC to DC for storage in your lead-acid battery.
Self-charging electric cars or plug-in hybrid cars do not have the engine as regular cars do. So, there is no way to create the mechanical energy needed to turn alternators. Not at very high speeds anyway. This as to happen, it would be using electricity to produce electricity. As someone with knowledge about energy and work, you know some of the power would be lost as heat, through friction, and perhaps as noise. There is no use to fit electric cars that charge themselves as you drive with alternators.
All is not lost, do not lose hope yet. There is a way of converting mechanical energy into electricity. The motion of the wheels is turned into electricity when braking using regenerative braking.
Can electric cars charge themselves using regenerative braking?
Yes, it possible to charge an EV using regenerative braking. When I answered how does a hybrid car charges itself, I only spoke about inductive charging. Well, there is another way, regenerative braking. In fact, this has been the widely used method of recovering some electric energy to extend the range. Self-charging electric cars for sale in the market have this feature.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can be changed from one form to another. When you apply brakes to your car, bicycle, skateboard, or even a scooter, the mechanical energy ( kinetic energy) is converted to heat and sometimes to noise. The EV, however, has a system that converts the kinetic energy to electric energy instead! Very interesting I know.
Do you still remember the alternator we talked about in the previous section? Regenerative braking works similarly. The motion of the wheel is used to turn a motor that generates electricity that is stored in the lithium-ion battery. The self-charging electric cars have a smart charging system. The role of smart charging is to ensure that the battery is not destroyed if it is charged to capacity.
It is not, however, very clear whether this is charging the EV themselves or a way to improve the car’s efficiency. Manufacturers estimate that only about 60-70% of energy is recovered through regenerative braking. Nonetheless, regenerative braking is very useful since it increases your range significantly. According to the Tesla website, the Model S is capable of generating about 32% of total energy when driving downhill.
i. What determines the amount of energy recovered through regenerative braking?
Surprising, the factors that determine how much power your car consumes also determines the amount of energy recovered through regenerative braking. One of such factors is the weight of your car. The speed of your vehicle is the second factor that determines how much power is recovered.
So, before we are done with the question, can electric cars charge themselves, let us talk about how weight determines how much power is recovered.
The heavier your EV is, the more kinetic energy it has and the more the amount of energy recovered. Kinetic energy is a function of the mass of your self-charging electric car and the square of its speed. Below is the kinetic energy equation
E_energy= 0.5 * m* v^2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Equation 1
Where m and v are the mass of your-self charging electric vehicle and its speed.
Final thoughts on can electric cars charge themselves
It would be extremely helpful to mankind if electric cars, skateboards, scooters, and bikes become very efficient and cover more range.
It not out of place for you and me to worry about an empty charge before reaching our destination. Moreover, there are only limited charging stations for EV in US and Europe. This are the two major hindrances to mass adoption of EV.
For the time i have used electric vehicles, there are two factors that are disheartening. One of the factors is the limited ranges covered by some of the models. The second factor is the length of the time needed to charge some of them. Taking an electric scooter, for instance, some of them takes up to 5 hours to charge to full capacity.
Having EVs charge themselves in whatever manner feasible would solve a lot of problems in the transport industry. While the benefits of your electric vehicles are many, a lot has to be done. Improvements would be required when it comes to the range, battery life, and initial cost.
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It a common knowledge that the cost of electricity is lower than that of gasoline. A review on electric vehicles versus gasoline vehicles shown that an EV owner is likely to pay $ 300 per year for fuel. On the other hand, those who own regular cars pay more than $ 1500 annually.