By JR on Monday, July 16, 2012
Green, they may be. But electric cars have struggled to overcome one of the main shortfalls that put buyers off - an inferior range to their petrol-powered rivals. That may be about to change after a new electric car was unveiled that promises to go 500 miles (800km) before the battery needs recharging.
The Modular Energy Carrier concept (MECc), created by three Danish companies, uses bio-methanol to bolster its battery life.
Mogens Lokke, CEO of ECOmove, designers of the innovative 'QBEAK' car said bio-methanol was far better than diesel or gasoline because it produces substantially less carbon dioxide.
'In combination with the way we built the car, which is really lightweight (425 kilograms), we can get the 500-mile range,' he told CNN.
A bio-methanol/ water is converted by the fuel cell to create electricity, while waste heat from the process powers the car's heating and cooling system.
It also benefits from a innovative chassis design which has really pushed the technology forward. 'Instead of putting in a fixed battery, we have built in (six) modules that can be fitted inside the chassis. We can use battery power in the modules or any other kind of energy source,' Lokke said.
The award-winning QBEAK also uses patented in-wheel electric motors to deliver a top speed of 75mph (120kph).
According to Mads Friis Jensen from Serenergy, the designers of the fuel cell, bio-methanol is a cheap and abundant fuel with a short carbon chain. Compared to gasoline, bio-methanol production can cut CO2 emissions by more than 70 per cent
The U.S. Department for Energy (DOE) says direct methanol fuel cells are not hampered by the storage problems that affect other green fuels like hydrogen because as a liquid it's easier to transport and supply through current infrastructure.