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2007-12-18

Electromechanical Batteries: Electric Bicycle Dreamin'

Ok.. so this entry is slightly random, but I'm just freaking out, because it's something that's new to me, but not to the scientific community. Where the hell have I been?

Electroechanical Batteries have been in development at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories for over 20 years. According to THIS paper, they hold amazing potential for energy storage. The thing I think they're missing is the potential for vehicles that are much lighter than a car. Anyone who reads this blog knows what's coming next: electric bicycle power. If you could build a electromechanical battery using something like this Halbach array (or maybe something a little smaller) and keep the weight of the other components to a minimum, you could smash the weight/power problem that I have on my human electric hybrid SuperVato. Consider this: my current battery weighs about 26 lbs including the enclosure. The Gaussboys Halbach array weighs 32 oz. Two of em spinning in opposite directions would cancel the gyroscopic effect of the bike, and assuming they were mounted on limited excursion gimbals they could resist the braking and acceleration forces created by the bicycle. I'm guessing you could build a high capacity system for less than 10 pounds. I'm planning on going back to school in the fall for engineering, and now I think I know why: I want to build a Human/Electromechanical Battery Powered Bicycle. Maybe I've just figured out my dissertation thesis… wouldn't that be convenient?

Critics mock the electric bicycle because the products are often poorly made and poorly thought out. Electrical storage has been the Achilles heel of the electrical bicycle, but the Electromechanical Battery would have huge advantages over even the newest Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer batteries because of the longevity and capacity. The weight differential between Electromechanical & Lithium Ion/Polymer appears to be fairly close. Electromechanical batteries would obviously cost more in the prototype phase, but because they appear to be pretty simple, I think the costs could come down significantly if production could be increased. I'd like to see a product like this made as "greenly" and equitably as possible, i.e living wages for the production crew, non toxic assembly techniques performed in energy efficient production facilities.

I can't be the first person to think of this…can I??? The designers and engineers want to make money from this by putting it in hybrid cars and in municipal systems. Most of the money for the project at Lawrence Livermore has come from corporate sponsors, so that's no surprise. That's nice for the car manufacturers, but cars still don't make a lot of sense a lot of the time, even if they DID use less fossil fuel. I'm all for putting this in municipal systems. It can't be any more dangerous than Nuclear power right?

CURRENT MUSIC: Revolting Cocks, Cocked and Loaded

-----UPDATE 7/6/08-----
I'm an idiot. Officially. Up until today I had the words "electromechanical" and "electromagnetic" used interchangeably in this article. Not ok, since they are completely different ideas! My apologies: publishing blog entries after you've been up late writing them isn't always a good idea. ESPECIALLY when you have proofread them at least twice. *Forehead Slap*

3 comments:

Mary said...

Have you read

Halbach Array Motor/Generators
A Novel Generalized Electric Machine

It was presented at the Halbach Festschrift Symposium Feb. 3, 1995

It discusses the Halbach Array and the EMB that they were working on at the time and has a schematic for spin up circuit, extration of power from the flywheel, and the power electronics. It also discusses why the system is better with DC power source.

I am currently in the build stage of a recumbent power assist delta trike that I intend to use to commute to work. I have been doing research on motor options and I am going to try to build a Halbach Array motor. You might take a look at the in wheel motor that the Kansas State University solar race team uses, it is made by an australian company, it is a Halbach Array motor.

nollij said...

Mary, if you read this please contact me as I'm very keen on hearing about your work on the power assist delta trike (and seeing pictures too)! There is contact info on my profile... I will check out the suggested reading, if I can find it.

electric bikes said...

Nice article,thanks!