From gas stations to swap out centres

written by Cornelius Quiring on November 3, 2011 in Electric Motorcycles and General and Green Ideas with 2 comments

The Present

A little foreshadowing if we do nothing

We have a hell of a lot of gas stations and in most cases, the land they’re built on is virtually condemned. Turning those lots into usable property for residential development would be a nightmare. From what I can remember from an entrepreneurial class in college, the lots are far less valuable because it’s so tough to pass safety regulations. Gas is like water and soaks in mighty easy. Definitely not going to dig a well there, I wouldn’t at least.

I’m not sure what the laws are regarding the conversion for commercial endeavours but quiet frankly, I’ve been sold enough stuff. Up until now, I’ve always just rented a room in a house for budgetary reasons so my possession were few but now I’ve started accumulating stuff. At the beginning of this year I moved into a home I could call mine and the house has literally just filled up. I don’t need more. (This is a whole conversation for another time.)

Most importantly we’re trying to ween ourselves of the gas stations liquid energy so we can’t just let the then obsolete structures sit there and become pock mark scars on the skin of our earth.

I think electric vehicles are getting off on the wrong foot

What makes cars so handy right now is that you can fuel up at one of our many fuel stations all over our cities. Electric vehicles alternatively have to be charged at home because the infrastructure isn’t in place to support them. As a result, electric vehicles manufacturers each have their own proprietary battery systems.

Make bikes or batteries, not both

We make these little buggers in standardized sizes, why not in our motorcycles?

What if we standardized battery sizes? Battery companies can put whatever technology they want inside the battery, just make them all the exact same size. Our small batteries for household appliances are currently standardized to sizes such as A, AA, C, D etc… and this made them commercially viable.

As for designing bikes, leave that to the guys who have an eye for it. It’s much like a web developer trying to design a website pr before that, a printing press operator trying to be a graphic designer: it never looks as good.

My Solution

Lets keep the convenient infrastructure of our gas stations that we love so much and pay to swap out battery packs. As I learned last week, on average the money spent over the lifetime of an electric motorcycle is roughly equivalent to that of our current bikes thanks to saved energy cost. But what if we paid the same price to current gas pumps for a battery swap as we do for our petrol? That would be an additional $2678 in 5 years or roughly $10 a week. With a regular income, it is totally feasible and poises motorcycles as the perfect vehicle to test this theory. Plus, there’s a healthy profit margin in there for the station owners.

The size of a battery on a Zero S is roughly 95-lb. Just large enough that it could be designed to fit into 10 battery packs @ just shy of 10lb a piece. These could be easily swapped in and out by hand. Think slightly super-sized battery packs like we have in our cordless drills and power tools except 10 per bike and standard sizes.

This would make adoption much quicker allowing for greater amounts to be spent on R&D to improve battery technology. Power storage is the one great hurdle to storing cleaner, non-regular energy production and as the technology improves, the batteries don’t need get smaller, but rather store more power for longer distance.

The petrol tank will be irrelevant so lets replace that part of our bikes to store our new energy. Batteries on current bikes are slightly larger than most gas tanks but being the creative humans we are, we could adapt.

I’ve put together a visual oh how I see this working.

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With multiple small batteries, one could swap out empties before the bikes charge has been completely drain avoiding that great hurdle to electric vehicles: getting stuck half way home.

This isn’t a new idea but one we should seriously consider.

So could this work? No clue, but the idea seems feasible so I hand it over to you science boffins: would it?