Chemical Technology Archive

'Energy Independent Vehicles 2016-2026', the brand new report from IDTechEx Research in the UK, argues that electric energy independent vehicles (EIVs) will be one of the most important megatrends this century because buying and delivering fuel becomes a thing of the past and a major source of global and local pollution is eliminated.

Energy Independent Vehicles 2016 2026The report shows how energy independent vehicles have been around for a long time in mechanical form such as the bicycle, balloon, surf board and sailing ship but they tend to require considerable human effort or are difficult or impossible to navigate.

Electrical energy independent vehicles (EIVs) will solve all that while retaining the green credentials. Indeed, the end-game with electric vehicles by land, water and air is for them to be energy independent. This is about to be one of the most significant technological changes in this century with added benefits in helping third world countries and remote regions to prosper.

In this report the electric vehicle market addressable by energy independence technology is forecasted in 45 categories. After a thorough grounding in the technologies, 33 energy autonomy projects by land, on-water, underwater and in the air are analysed. Achievements and potential are presented in easily understood form. The basis is almost entirely research in 2015 by PhD level multilingual analysts doing intensive global travel, interviews and analysis.

EIVs will create all their electricity from ambient energy such as light, wind, waves and tide where necessary storing it until needed. The report also notes how such energy independent vehicles (EIVs) will often also be navigationally autonomous and gives a survey of that aspect in an appendix. Indeed, with navigationally autonomous vehicles there is usually no one on board to carry out external fuelling and recharging and they often work in hostile environments where a refuelling/ recharging operation is troublesome or impossible. Consequently, electrical power autonomy and navigational autonomy go well together but that is not the whole story.

It is made clear why EIVs will be pure electric not hybrid, not even hybrid using a fuel cell range extender – the only form of zero pollution range extender at point of use. We learn how a valuable contribution to motive power will come from energy harvesting when the vehicle is not in use. Examples include erected wind turbines and unrolling or extending solar panels on the vehicles. Add charging the batteries of boats moored at sea with wave and tidal power, wind and solar using devices on-board. Some vehicles will be diverted during their journey to harvest power as with regenerative soaring of Electroflyer aircraft in thermals today and flying even higher to tap the Jetstream which is only a dream at present. Learn of all the other possibilities.

When necessary, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) already surface to garner electricity from waves (by hinging) and from sunshine. Yes, self-powered, zero-pollution vehicles will increasingly use many forms of high power energy harvesting, some of it internal and directed at making them more efficient and that is also a topic of the report. Examples include energy harvesting shock absorbers, regenerative active suspension and regenerative braking. The logical extension of these one dimensional movement harvesters is to devices converting movement in all three dimensions into electricity: Caterpillar and WITT Energy have done that experimentally already. There is a progression from today's EVs to all this, dynamic energy harvesting being one transition on the way to full EIVs.

Another transition was seen in July 2015 with PC Aero's single-seater solar-electric Elektra One Solar airplane flying across the Alps in both directions within one trip. Its 500 km range is substantially boosted by solar panels integral in its wings. That was followed by Sunseeker 2 doing it with two people on-board, again with range greatly increased by solar wings.

There is even a place for some to combine both electrics and mechanics conferring energy autonomy as with energy harvesting sailing boats and Liquid Robotics AUVs currently using mechanical wave propulsion and photovoltaics.

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Written by Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx, (email

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