Friday, January 15, 2010

The Eve of a New Electric Infrastructure

Ford HEV Plug In 120V
Originally uploaded by lee.ekstrom
Do a little research on electric cars and you'll find some interesting nuggets. One of the more startling facts: At the turn of the century, electric vehicles outnumbered gas-powered vehicles two to one! They had distinct advantages; they were easier to start, quieter, cleaner and required no gear shifting. That all changed with the advent of the electric starter.

The first self-starting ignition was used on a 1911 Cadillac and was invented by GM engineers Charles Kettering and Clyde Coleman. Bye bye hand cranking. The patent for the ignition coil was awarded in 1915. Kettering is best known as the founder of Delco (Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company).

But, even before Kettering was Nikola Tesla with his disruptive discharge "Electrical Igniter for Gas Engines" - awarded U.S. Patent 609,250 on August 16, 1898.

A. Atwater Kent patented the modern form of the ignition coil in 1921 along with contacts, distributor and single coil design.

Detroit Edison and MichCon have made an effort to steadily replace older supervisor vehicles with Ford Escape plug-in Hybrids. Ford recently announced in August of 2009 that they have developed an "intelligent vehicle-to-grid communication and control system for its plug-in hybrid vehicles that "talks" directly with the nation's electric grid." The new system allows the vehicles operator to program when to charge, for how long and at what utility rate.

Until the infrastructure of the country is upgraded, including electrical grid, car-charging outlets, battery swapping, etc. As reported in Green Tech, the California Bay Area along with Better Place is hoping to implement a massive $1 billion electronic infrastructure by 2012. Just like the advent of the electric ignition, this infrastructure will have to be easy-to-use, clean and convenient to succeed.