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GE WattStation   (Source: GE)
Cuts charge time and uses smart grid technology

General Electric (GE) has announced their newly developed electric vehicle charger called the GE WattStation. The WattStation is expected to help the public embrace the idea of electric vehicles (EVs) by using smart grid technology and decreasing the time needed for a full charge.

There are still, however, a lot of skeptics within the general public that are afraid of turning over to the electric side of transportation. But according to Steve Fludder, the vice president of GE ecomagination, having charging stations that are quick, easy, and readily available when needed is the key to getting the skeptics to accept the idea of and possibly pursue electric vehicles

"For more than 100 years, GE has worked to optimize energy use. Given our expertise in electrical distribution, WattStation is a natural progression in our commitment to creating cutting edge innovation for the next century," said Dan Heintzelman, president and CEO of GE Energy Services.

The WattStation was designed by Yves Behar, a renowned industrial designer and founder of San Francisco-based Fuseproject, which is a branding and design firm Behar started in 1999. Fuseproject's clients include big names like Disney, Hewlett Packard, Nike, Microsoft and Target. 

The WattStation cuts charging time on a 24 kWh battery for an electric vehicle from 12-18 hours to approximately four to eight hours. In addition, the smart grid technology will aid utility companies in managing the effect of electric vehicles on both regional and local grids, which will ultimately allow them to gauge electricity demand and provide access to more charging stations.

"Good design is when a new technology enters our life and makes it simpler, beautiful and healthy," said Behar. "The GE WattStation achieves this with a welcoming design that is seamlessly integrated in the urban landscape and becomes a natural part of our daily driving routine."

The WattStation will be available commercially in 2011, but GE expects to release a home version of the charger in late 2010. The WattStation is a large step forward for both GE and the adoption of electric vehicle's, but it isn't the only Earth-friendly news floating around GE as of late. 

GE recently signed two new partnerships that could help raise the popularity of EV's. The first was signed in April of this year with Project Get Ready, which is a nonprofit organization that helps communities prepare for electric vehicles by planning and designing the electric grids. The second was a separate three-year Memorandum of Understanding  signed in May 2010 withNissan that will develop new technologies to build a smart-charging infrastructure.



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First step
By Spivonious on 7/14/2010 11:23:54 AM , Rating: 3
Installing products like this one is the first step towards wider acceptance of pure electric vehicles. The next step is getting that charge time down under one hour. 4-8 hours is fine if you're parked overnight or during the day at work, but not for long road trips.




RE: First step
By NanoTube1 on 7/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: First step
By Flunk on 7/14/2010 12:32:11 PM , Rating: 3
So you don't want a gasoline or diesel car either?

Realistically 10-15 minutes is really the sweet spot, even if it's just an 80% charge.


RE: First step
By hughlle on 7/14/2010 1:50:05 PM , Rating: 4
I also am not interested unless it is charged within minutes and not hours. If you break down on the road you either have to get someone/somewhere with power for it, then how long do you have to wait to get it charged enough to get home, or do you just end up getting towed all the way back home?


RE: First step
By DougF on 7/15/2010 8:19:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you break down on the road...

Then it doesn't matter if someone brings gasoline, diesel, or a portable charger...what you need is a mechanic or a tow truck. Fuel source has zip to do with a break down, and if you're not smart enough to figure out you need more energy (gasoline, electrons, etc) than there are miles before the next refueling station, well, you probably have 15 credit cards, lease your car, rent your home, play the lottery, and are a lifetime member of the QVC channel...


RE: First step
By DanNeely on 7/14/2010 3:52:34 PM , Rating: 4
I don't think it will ever happen that quickly. It's not just a matter of batteries with extremely fast charging rates/ultra capacitors with higher power densities.

To charge an EV sized battery in minutes you need to draw current at a level comparable to a city block or subdivision. Making idiot proof connections at that power level is probably the easiest step. Dissipating the enormous amount of waste heat produced (on the order of burning several ounces to a gallon of gas), and upgrading the grid to handle their wide spread usage are much bigger issues. The grid would need both to run heavier lines from the substation to anywhere the minute chargers were located, and to handle much larger spikes in demand (burning more fuel but not actually converting any of it to power).

I don't see any normal sized EV cars going beyond the super commuter level: 50-100mi range; charges over several hours at work/overnight unless some sort of battery swap service becomes widespread. For longer trips a small gas engine would recharge the on-board battery while the car was being driven. Even when charging from gas this would be better than running the motor to drive the wheels directly because internal combustion engines have peak efficiency levels near their maximum power level, while except when accelerating car engines typically run well below that point.

I doubt a battery swap service will happen either because it would either require swapping a large number of small batteries (slow, more opportunity for error), or that all car makers standardize on one or two battery packs. That's not really plausible either because different size/performance/price cars will have need for different size batteries.


RE: First step
By oab on 7/14/2010 7:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
Did you just say idiot-proof?

Sorry, I stopped reading right there.


RE: First step
By tastyratz on 7/16/2010 2:03:38 PM , Rating: 2
You are absolutely right. I actually calculated the math out on an old post with how much energy it would take to charge a battery in a reasonable and convenient time period. I wish the numbers were handy but your right, the electrical grid could in no way accomdate those kind of draws or fluctuations. I remember it was something astronomical like 2,000 or 20,000 amps @ 120. Heat dissipation would be akin to a meltdown - not just a few ounces of gasoline. Fast charging AA batteries dissipate minimal btu.
The btu in waste energy to charge that large of a battery that quickly would likely just result in a fire.

Electric cars have always been and will always be a novelty. No matter what kind of "carbon nanotube" battery or other technology is developed - your simply going to need raw energy density in a portable platform and a means to deliver it. Without a MR fusion in each back yard there is just no way to deliver it... ever. Even as technology develops the copper will still be too expensive on its own.


RE: First step
By Pirks on 7/14/2010 11:48:29 AM , Rating: 2
This problem will be solved in the next few years with the next version of Chevy Volt that has battery capable of providing a 100 mile range.

When such cars become common (relatively soon I think, with Obama pusing it) then most of the time people will use batteries when commuting to work and back and for shopping voyages, while they will switch to gas when taking extended trips over 100 miles (pretty rare for most).

Everybody's happy. Zero emissions and no gas spent most of the time, but the 300-mile range is there when you need it. Nirvana!

After 10-20 years hopefully batteries will give us 300 mile range alone, without gas, and ol' buddy ICE will take a dirty nap, at last. Err.. I mean in light cars and maybe vans, but heavy trucks will probably use diesel forever, I can't imagine batteries capable of propelling 100,000 pound trailer. Not in this century... Also ICE is real good in rail and ships, so large efficient heavy duty diesels won't die, unless some super magic AND CHEAP nano batteries are invented in the next century ;)


RE: First step
By Dr of crap on 7/14/2010 1:19:41 PM , Rating: 2
OH ye small minded.
Where do you think the batteries for this new world of yours comes from? Where to you think the eletricity comes from to charge these cars?
All the EVs do is transfer the CO2 from the tailpipe to some other local. It's still getting into the air, it's just not as easily found, and hidden from the consumer!
Also after the car/battry is past it's usfullness, what are you going to do with the toxic batteries in them?


RE: First step
By NanoTube1 on 7/14/2010 1:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
You are right on both accounts but only in the short term.

From what I understand, carbon nano tube batteries gets fully charged in seconds and last a very long time (should be in the range of decades). Clean and modern nuclear reactor technology is available today and you can also convert existing coal power stations into a clean and green operation - though at a very high financial cost.

Last but not least, fusion reactors are on their way and these babies should be the ultimate power stations (±100% clean & safe), though this will take a few more decades IF all goes well. I am hopeful though, check this out (ITER): http://www.iter.org/mach


RE: First step
By niva on 7/14/2010 1:52:41 PM , Rating: 3
Fusion reactors are a long way from becoming mainstream, multiple blocks exist the most basic of which are the fuel for Fusion reactors is very limited here on Earth, and we haven't figured out a good way to properly harness the energy yet.

I think there are much more opportunities and good research done for regular Fission reactors and properly processing waste from them.

That being said to the environmental folks Nuclear is a total taboo, do don't hope for fast advancements in this regard.


RE: First step
By Iaiken on 7/14/2010 1:51:17 PM , Rating: 3
Hate to come to Pirks defense, but you're barking up the wrong tree.

quote:
All the EVs do is transfer the CO2 from the tailpipe to some other local.


Irrelevant. In fact, this is a good thing. The efficiency of generating electricity, transmitting it and converting it to movement is FAR more efficient than drilling for, refining, transporting, and burning fuel to produce movement. That's even assuming a coal-electric power source.

Not only is net pollution per mile reduced overall through efficiency, you are also putting the more advanced catalysts and scrubbers at the power plant to work instead of inefficient and costly catalytic converters that only work when they are hot and only on a very specific set of chemicals.

Most battery materials can be recycled, in fact, many are so valuable in their raw forms that companies would be retarded not to.

We're pretty much set on the path to electric vehicles becoming the future of the mass market. Give it 10-15 years to mature and the combustion engine automobile will be relegated to the collector/enthusiast segment.

If you are so worried about CO2, you might as well call your life as you know it quits. Stop using electricity, stop using natural gas, never light another camp fire so long as you shall live. Heck, you might as well stop breathing while you are at it.

CO2 production is pretty much unavoidable, so the only real possibility is for us to simply reduce it in a meaningful and thoughtful ways that don't have massive economic consequences attached. That means pushing for improved efficiencies at every level and when it comes to transportation, it's pretty hard to beat the electric car unless you are willing to bike to work or can take mass transit.


RE: First step
By Dr of crap on 7/14/2010 2:04:26 PM , Rating: 2
I am not a CO2 worrysome guy. I don't believe in global warming. I was just throwing that out there. However coal fired electricity WILL NOT be cleaner in our lifetime. Everyone thinks it will, but come on really.
We only bought HUGH SUVs because they were cheap to drive.
Nuclear power, yea not if congress has a say.
Fussion - nope.
EVs are NOT the answer. They are just the step to a better answer. And they will not be that wide spread because not everyone will want to use battery powered cars.
I'd opt for CNG cars for the near future. Cleaner and runs on the same platform cars that we have now with a few mods.


RE: First step
By Iaiken on 7/14/2010 3:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
However coal fired electricity WILL NOT be cleaner in our lifetime.


Again, it's irrelevant. Regardless of how dirty current coal technology is, it is STILL cleaner on a per net unit of energy basis than an internal combustion engine will ever be. That's without even taking into account the huge amounts of energy that are wasted on the procurement, refining and transportation of fossil fuels.

quote:
EVs are NOT the answer. They are just the step to a better answer. And they will not be that wide spread because not everyone will want to use battery powered cars.


Look, I've driven both a Ford Focus electric conversion and at Tesla Roadster and I can safely say that the majority of consumers won't even notice or won't care. The only real difference I found in the electric Focus vs the regular one was that the electric Focus was whisper quiet at all speeds.

As for the Tesla, that car blew my mind. The 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds of nothing but road noise was just as amazing as it's ability to put down more torque than I could possibly ask for at any speed. If I had money for a toy car, the Tesla Roadster S 2.0 would be it.

Basically, these two cars totally eradicated my preconceptions of what an electric car could be. One we have a convenient way of charging them, the differences will not only be almost imperceptible, but slanted in the EV's favor.


RE: First step
By knutjb on 7/14/2010 3:41:00 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Basically, these two cars totally eradicated my preconceptions of what an electric car could be. One we have a convenient way of charging them, the differences will not only be almost imperceptible, but slanted in the EV's favor.
We don't and have never had a convenient (timely) way to charge them in a reasonable amount of time. Sure driving them isn't that much different than an ICE until you want to spend the afternoon 100 miles away from home at the beach on a hot summers day. Until they fix that...


RE: First step
By knutjb on 7/14/2010 3:35:01 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
quote: All the EVs do is transfer the CO2 from the tailpipe to some other local.

Irrelevant. In fact, this is a good thing. The efficiency of generating electricity, transmitting it and converting it to movement is FAR more efficient than drilling for, refining, transporting, and burning fuel to produce movement. That's even assuming a coal-electric power source.
You mean it's OK for say California to push its power generating needs & pollution from its residents off to say Wyoming so Ca can have cleaner air?
quote:
We're pretty much set on the path to electric vehicles becoming the future of the mass market. Give it 10-15 years to mature and the combustion engine automobile will be relegated to the collector/enthusiast segment.
That is what was said a hundred years ago. EVs severely limit ones ability to move around through limited range and excessively long recharge time. If EVs are forced down our throats which is what the bureaucrats are trying to do because they know what's best for all of us without asking; must be psychic.
quote:
CO2 production is pretty much unavoidable, so the only real possibility is for us to simply reduce it in a meaningful and thoughtful ways that don't have massive economic consequences attached.
How many times has meaningful and thoughtful made the right decision? Those are feel good words not practical ones. When they are used there are economic consequences attached because there definition and application are determined by the nameless faceless bureaucrat, who as I said earlier, is psychic and knows what's best for me.

With ICE I can have an energy supply that will get me a long distance and refilling that source takes only a few minutes providing me substantial freedom of movement. EVs cannot do this and the promise of this ability has been vaporware for well over 100 years.

When averages, like driving distances, are used as design goals to force a product on citizens by the government, EVs only meet an average, something is wrong.

EVs are unable to harvest food, drive across a farm or ranch, haul much more than a few people, go further than 100 miles on a good day since they are severely restricted at the temperature extreme. Refilling their batteries must be done off-peak and if I work off-hours I am no longer "average" and am screwed. Sure EVs have a good transfer of energy from battery to wheel over ICE but their energy source, the battery, has a very low energy density compared to a gas tank marginalizing EVs practicality.

Sure it's easy to trash EVs practicality because they aren't practical and not a whole lot has changed for them in the last 100 years. What you see is all you'll get for the next 50 years.

There is nothing government central planning can do to change that. NASA has been working on better batteries for over a half-century and all we have is a marginally better battery than the lead-acid ones from 1900 that are still limited at temperature extremes and must be recycled by the industry unlike LAs from 100 years ago that were easily refreshed with fresh acid by the vehicle operator.

EVs are mostly practical for light industrial use and not a whole lot more while battery densities remain low and their weight heavy.


RE: First step
By Hammer1024 on 7/15/2010 10:10:27 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, Scientific America recently did a study on what the impact to the power grid would be if EVs were the norm. They found that in those areas not reliant on coal power, there would be a zero to positive reduction in CO2. For those areas where coal rules, the Midwest and Mideast, CO2 generation would increase.

It's in last months mag.


RE: First step
By Stoanhart on 7/14/2010 3:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
Even a coal plant operating at 60% efficiency, including all of the transmission and storage losses, is more efficient than an ICE in a car. As renewables becomes more prominent in the grid, the efficiency of the cars will improve.

As to LiIon batteries, they are very recyclable. Also, since Lithium is relatively scarce, they are valuable and a number of reprocessing companies will spring into existence that will gladly let you use your old battery as a credit towards a new one from them.

Nothing's perfect, but EVs are better than ICE in almost every way except price, and that will change quickly.


RE: First step
By tng on 7/14/2010 4:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
......but EVs are better than ICE in almost every way except price, and that will change quickly.


I disagree here. First where do you live and work? Is a 100 mile range good enough for you and when you hit the last 5-10 miles of that range what is the top speed of the vehicle?

I think that you need to rephrase that to "Nothing is perfect, but for me , EVs are better than ICE in almost every way except price....."

Really if you expect the price of an EV to come down now that Obama has said it will, then you probably still beleive that the last 2 stimulus packages that went through helped the average Joe Six Pack find a job.


RE: First step
By HotFoot on 7/14/2010 5:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Slow charging, short range, poor performance in very high or very low temperatures...

These things may be less problematic for others, but for me it's simply a no-go.

For instance: while most days I drive my car on trips 40 km or less, not too irregularly I drive it 500 km each way for a weekend trip. In an electric vehicle, that would require about 4 stops along the way. Currently, at the very fastest charging rates, that's an extra 2 hours onto a 4.5 hour trip. That's just ridiculous. What if I want to go on vacation, when I might put on 800-1000 km in one day?

If all these electric cars are going to be good for is every-day about-town usage, then we'll either need to own or rent other vehicles for special purposes. This becomes redundant and impractical.

On the other hand, I've lived in a couple cities that actually had good public transit systems (visit Munich!). That would achieve the same goal for commuter traffic, and people could own/rent a vehicle that otherwise is capable of crazy things like trips on the highway.

Unfortunately, in North America we've had several decades of horrible city planning, making implementing effective public transit very difficult.


RE: First step
By Pirks on 7/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: First step
By flatrock on 7/14/2010 4:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
The current 40 mile range and the next gen 100 mile range are likely based on city driving where regenerative braking helps out and the wind resistence is much lower at lower speeds. It you want to hop on a highway and drive 70+ mph on the way to work your range is likely to be noticably worse. So if you drive to work, then out to lunch, back to work, then back home you can take a big chunk out of that 100 mile theoretical range. Then if you take the kids to soccer practice, and go to the store after work you are going to eat up more without having much time to recharge. Without the gasoline motor extending the range, the current volt would be far to limited to be of much use for most people. You don't want to get home from your daily commute and have to wait hours before you can drive somewhere else. The 100 mile range will put a lot more people on battery power all day, but the gas motor is still necessary. You don't wnat to get home after a day of driving a bit more than normal and then have some unexpected reason to go somewhere and be stuck home for hours until the battery recharges.

We are a long way from pure electric cars unless the recharging can be reduced to minutes rather than hours


RE: First step
By Spuke on 7/14/2010 6:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The current 40 mile range and the next gen 100 mile range are likely based on city driving where regenerative braking helps out and the wind resistence is much lower at lower speeds.
Currently, the ranges are either actual EPA tested figures (you know city/hwy/combined) or estimates of EPA tests.


RE: First step
By inperfectdarkness on 7/14/2010 1:42:02 PM , Rating: 2
screw charge time. we need battery swapping service stations. i don't care if the battery takes 1 hour to charge or 1 day. i should be able to get my car to a service station & have the battery pack swapped out for a charged one in < 5 minutes. you can still charge me for the "fill up".

in fact, why not just make the cost of a "fill up" equal to the cost of electricity, operating fees for the service station, and a micro-percentage of the cost of a battery pack replacement. that way, the individual never has to worry about shouldering the cost of a $2500+ battery pack--as the cost is funded by the service station; who swaps out worn packs for new ones with funds already paid by the consumer.

anyone else with me?


RE: First step
By NanoTube1 on 7/14/2010 2:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
More than you can even imagine!

Check this out:
http://www.betterplace.com/

Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Bfz_x9e2Fo

Wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_Place

These guys are going live pretty soon here in Israel and other countries. They are doing exactly what you are talking about. Better Place is an Israeli company supported by some of our country's biggest investors and our president Shimon Peres.

Shimon Peres actually went with Shai Agassi together to some of the car manufacturers and he presented the venture himself! How cool is that?! Toyota passed but Renault had the balls & vision to partner with them.


RE: First step
By lane42 on 7/14/2010 11:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
"i should be able to get my car to a service station & have the battery pack swapped out for a charged one in < 5 minutes".

You can't get anything done at a service station in 5 minutes.....


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