Mankind has harnessed “free” energy over the centuries by using the forces of “nature”, and as such, converted that power into mechanical or electrical energy. Just as the water wheels provided mechanical power to grind grain, it can also provide electricity to power sections of the world as does the USA Hoover Dam and Niagara Falls, to name a few. Wind mills powered pumps in Holland and on US Midwest farms, also was harnessed to generate electricity. The sun itself has been used to grow food, dry food, dry clothes, and in the past ~50 years make electricity with solar cells.
The first law of Thermodynamics states that energy can never be created or destroyed. The implication of this is that any work that is done, whether it be by burning a fuel or releasing stored energy from a battery, has to take energy from another source. The energy source of everything on Earth is ultimately the Sun.
We burn fuel to power our car, but only a small portion is used to propel us down the road, the rest of the fuel mass is consumed in heat energy, gases and soot particles. If one was able to collect all the soot and gases from a vehicle's exhaust, one would find that the mass of this material is exactly equal to the mass of the ( fuel burned + air intake ).
A portion of the unwanted heat is used to provide comfort in cold weather. Some have used that heat to cook a meal on their trip home. Many cars and trucks tap into this waste heat and energy by using turbochargers. This is just one example of how much energy is wasted in propelling exhaust gases; one can use a turbocharger with very little drop in power, and a large gain (this is in contrast to a supercharger, which can take up to 1/3 of an engine's power to turn). Truckers can even buy a solid state device that is attached to the exhaust that converts a portion of that heat to electric – FREE ELECTRIC from waste heat at last!
Why not add a generator or alternator (the modern 3 phase AC generator w/rectifiers that converts AC to DC for use in a car)? It takes ENERGY to turn the shaft when it has an electrical load. I know that from classroom lab experiments and personal knowledge. Mechanics (back in the days before computerized cars) had to increase the idle on the carburetor a little higher than necessary so as to not stall the engine when the driver turned on his headlights. Yes, headlights caused the engine to labor. Someone did a study to see how much gasoline a country could save IF daytime running lights were not in use. Substantial. Electrical energy is not “free”. It takes work and lots of it to make energy.
To date, none of man’s inventions have converted one form of energy to another with 100% efficiencies or above.
Even wire has small amounts of measurable resistance (R x A = heat).
Diodes and transistors have a voltage drop of .2-.6V (EV motor controllers get hot!).
A battery has losses giving and receiving. Even in the normal charging process, batteries get warm.
Electric motors develop heat (a waste product) and require a cooling mechanism of air or water (as in the Siemens EV motor)
The transmissions and differentials create heat (wasted energy) and car manufacturers went to front wheel drive to improve MPG. Sounds if EV’s are destined to have hub motors in the near future.
So far, all that we have seen accomplished is better efficiencies:
To use less heating fuels – improved furnace/heat pumps/home insulation
The old tube type radio or TV – today’s solid-state devices that use less electric, produce less heat (not “no” heat)
Incandescent lamps – to the more efficient fluorescents, metal halides, and now the LED that one can hold without fear of getting burnt (not “no” heat).
Friction losses – better oils/greases/tires. Friction reducing products like IXL or MotorKote and synthetic lubricants that improve motor efficiencies and reduce heat.
There is a specific limited finite amount of energy that is available fom each unit of fuel whether it is weight or volume. This finite amount of energy has been independently verified many times. This independently verified finite amount of energy agrees with your modern scientific knowledge of what we expect it to be.
We drive EV’s. What are some basic things that could make or save energy?
Put a generator on that unused exer-cycle and have family members take turns on it while watching TV
Install a windmill. They are making a comeback.
Live near a stream or river? Build a waterwheel. (See articles in Home Power, Mother Earth, etc.)
Turn cow poo into methane to run a motor/generator.
Install solar photovoltaic cells. An EV often requires a KWH or more for every 2 miles driven. The former owner of one S10 vehicle lived “off grid”, but did not have enough spare KWH for a daily commute. IF 30 miles requires 15-18KWH of grid power to recharge, how many KWH of “off grid” power can you produce or spare? Go to www.MrSharkey.com to get some additional alternative energy ideas from an EVer.
Drive with a light foot. Don’t be the first to the next red light.
Lighten your EV.
Make it look like a “jellybean” (A Tom & Ray phrase).
Lighten the battery pack. I like my heavy lead acids because of upfront co$ts. However, Lithium technology is making great strides.
Go with an AC motor system. But a DC system is less expensive but will it affect your personal driving range that much? Some say 10%. For my usual travels, a range of ~40 miles is sufficient. But the lower co$t of a DC kit may get you on the road with less marital squabble. Regenerative Braking. That sounds nice, but practically speaking how much will you gain? In my travels, there are few steep hills that require braking. As for stop signs, not sure how much could be returned to the batteries. Anyway, EVers look for routes that have the fewest hills.
Enjoy your EV project. Work within current limitations. Most of us use what we have available… like a “junk yard warrior”. Improve efficiencies where possible. Keep operating costs as low as “practical” within your financial means. Manufacturers do listen to us and build components geared for the EV crowd. May onlookers admire the success of your work.
To answer the original question: Can I recharge the battery pack while in motion?
YES, going down steep hills and during braking mode. It’s called “regen braking”. It slows the vehicle to a stop whenever activated. Any device used to create usable current detrimentally affects motion… plain & simple.
Solar panels can be used to recharge a car's batteries while in motion, or to power the car directly, but do not produce enough power to be practical for most cars. Covering the roof of a car in solar panels could only be expected to produce enough energy in a day to power a small car for a few miles. They have been used in the past to "trickle-charge" batteries while the car is parked, for instance by the solarvan (http://www.solarvan.co.uk/), but using Solar Power while driving would only slightly extend an electric car's range. In general, solar panels are better suited to recharging vehicles while they are parked.
e=mc2 is used erroneously in this article. The energy you are getting comes from breaking CHEMICAL bonds, while e=MC squared would apply to NUCLEAR bonds. Nuclear fission or fusion take advantage of this law by converting a tiny, tiny amount of mass to energy.