Nissan Leaf electric car How it works

14 Май 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Nissan Leaf electric car How it works отключены
Nissan Electric Cars

Nissan Leaf electric car: How it works

Andrew Heasley

Nissan Leaf electric car: How it works

Nissan’s new Leaf electric car is as easy to charge as a mobile phone.

If you know how to plug in an electric kettle, a mobile phone or a laptop computer, you’re ready to take on motoring’s new frontier: the electric car .

Nissan’s production-ready electric car, the Nissan Leaf. has a filler flap like any normal car, but instead of being mounted on the rear flank, it’s at the front, above the bumper.

There are two sockets hiding below the flap, about the circumference of a tennis ball.

One, slightly smaller, has finer prongs, and mates with a plug featuring an inbuilt handle that forms a coupling like a traditional bowser squeeze grip. It clips on and a cord running from it plugs in at the other end into a regular electricity powerpoint. Drawing 200V at 15 amps, that gives a fully charged time of about eight hours.

The second socket is larger, and is meant for high-voltage rapid charging available from rapid charge infrastructure points that Nissan envisages will be established.

This high-voltage cord is thicker to handle three-phase power up to 410v and at 125 amps, cutting charging times to 30 minutes, or down to five minutes for an 80 per cent charge, good for up to 100km.

That’s just the start of the cleverness.

The power goes into a new type of lithium ion battery that Nissan codeveloped with electronics giant NEC in Japan.

Where previous incarnations of electric car batteries were the size of suitcases, the latest generation units hold twice the power, Nissan says, while shrinking in size to a pack smaller than a reem of A4 photocopier paper.

Each battery pack weighs just 3.5 kilograms, and inside each pack are four individual cells that hold the charge.

These cells are flat too which Nissan engineer Sadao Miki (who was in charge of battery development) describes as one of the breakthroughs.

The cells look like a silver-foil covered exercise book, with two connecting tabs sticking out one edge. Four are packed into a lightweight metal canister to form a battery pack.

Another breakthrough for the battery engineers was the use of manganese for one of the electrodes. Without delving into the chemistry, the engineers say the manganese is structurally stable under charge, aiding reliability and it happens to be an element that’s cheap and abundant, helping the battery go into mass production.

In fact, this battery pack will be used by Renault (Nissan’s alliance partner) in its electric cars too.

The batteries are presently made only in Japan, but there are short term plans to expand production in Nissan’s UK, Portugal and US factories.

Forty-eight four-cell battery packs are packed beneath the car’s sandwich floor, adding 200kg, but the added weight helps the car’s on-road stability. The weight is distributed fairly evenly and down low, inside the wheelbase.

It effectively means the car is structured on a kind of electric skateboard.

Thick internal cables take the charge stored in the batteries to an inverter and then on to an alternating current motor which is located between the front wheels, under the bonnet.

An AC motor was chosen over a DC motor because the energy flow is more controllable , engineers said.

Compared to a conventional internal combustion engine, the assembly is about 100kg lighter, and there are some significant bits not required.

Nissan Electric Cars

There’s no radiator, oil sump and cooler, no transmission (as we’ve come to know them) either.

Nissan says 80 per cent of drivers in most industrialised countries drive between 50 and 100 km a day. The batteries have been designed to hold enough charge to drive 160km between charges. That figure is a little academic: it’s a simulated combined highway/city cycle according to the US LA4 standard, and without air conditioining turned on.

Nissan engineers suggest the city-only driving range with air conditioning running may be about 20 per cent shorter.

A sophisticated IT system underpins the use of its electric car.

A Nissan global data centre monitors the charging of the cars (wherever you happen to be in the world). When the car communicates to the centre that it’s charged up, the centre will automatically issue an SMS-style message to your mobile phone, alerting you to its charged status.

From your phone, you can send a message to the car to crank up the air conditioning, so the car is cool before you get in.

You can also program the car remotely via your mobile phone when to start charging, so that it charges up when the electricity tariff is at its lowest cost.

While driving, the car’s range is highlighted in circle on the map from the car’s sat nav unit.

To help extend the range, the car captures kinetic energy when the brakes are applied, and converts that to electricity which is fed back to the batteries, too.

If your destination is beyond your current range, the map displays where the next closest recharge stations are located.

Of course, with all electric cars, there are no emissions from the car itself, making for cleaner, quieter city areas.

But those emissions can be found at the power stations that generate the electricity supply, with Australia’s heavy reliance on coal remaining a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

But should reneweable, clean power be used (from renewable sources such and wind, tidal or solar), the electric future of personal mobility might just be sustainable, too.

Nissan Electric Cars
Nissan Electric Cars

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