Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nissan's 338 Mile LEAF Is Real And This Is How It Will Be Done!

Recently Nissan posted a very short video showing a LEAF with a seemingly 338 mile range. The video was nothing more than a fluff piece with no words, no info, etc. Just someone happily cruising the country side without a range concern in mind.

 Now we see prototypes at car shows all the time so seeing something a bit unreal or "way out there" is kinda normal. Remember the "Bladeglider?"  The three wheeled super cool sports car?  Now that was a pretty awesome car. I had a chance to see it up close at the Toyko Motor Show and it is MUCH cooler in person than any excitement a picture could hope to convey.

But a 338 mile LEAF? Even under the very modest Japanese testing parameters, that still equates to 250 miles in America a 300% jump from the current LEAF.  How is it we went up that far that fast?
That is a good question and I am pretty sure I have a pretty good answer.

First of all, what would it take to get that much range?  We all know the LEAF is more efficient that the Tesla and the Tesla needs 85 Kwh to get a similar distance so lets start about there. If this was the case, then where does the battery go?  Did Nissan follow Tesla's lead and create a flat battery profile that would cover the entire underside of the car?  Some have reported the prototype did have less ground clearance so it is a possibility.  But how would that extra weight work with the LEAF?

Well, it wouldn't. Batteries have advanced a ton in the 5 years the LEAF has been out and about but not that much.  This means a drastic weight reduction measure would have to be implemented and to be fair, the video does flash to a part of the LEAF that "seems" like it could be carbon fiber. Hopefully that is not the case. This would drive the price of the LEAF out of my (and probably yours) price range. Now, even if this did happen, I am sure we would still have a super cheap trim option but it will be hard to accept that when so much better is out there.

So how will Nissan provide us all the range we could ever want?  Well, before we get to that (Am I a tease or what!!) People complain that Nissan is not doing enough to advance EVs. They are too closed mouth, too secretive.  I have to think that that opinion is mostly the result of Elon Musk rewriting the rules of auto manufacturing financing. It is estimated that even under the best of circumstances, Tesla will not generate a profit for at least another 4-5 years and that is a prediction made with great optimism, instead Musk basically makes money by creating hype.

So what "seems" like Nissan playing close to the vest is really them being normal and Tesla being "out there."  Now, don't get me wrong; I love Tesla. How can one not love Tesla? Here is a company losing millions but still willing to build a charging infrastructure for the customers, fre... ah, umm,  well for a reasonable cost.

But then again, maybe Nissan is telling us more than enough and we simply need to know how to process the information. For those of you who were good at  "Scavenger Hunt"  you have probably already figured it out.  But for those of you who simply gave up and got drunk instead (like me) lets walk this thru.

Hint #1;  Nissan's battery supplier NEC announces break thru in capacity and cycling back in 2012.  Testing has generally gone on quietly but there is also evidence that the product is now in use and doing very well at least under simulated cycling.

Hint #2;  Nissan partnership with Phinergy. Phinergy developed Al-Air battery technology. Its kinda hard to classify this as a battery in the regular sense when equating it with EVs because the battery is not rechargeable but so I liken it more to the Fuel Cell only MUCH better. In fact; Al-Air is Hydrogen's worst enemy!   unlike a lot of "battery breakthru" announcements, proof of concept has already been acomplished. Several successful prototype runs have been done which is probably why Nissan jumped into this partnership so fast. They predicted production ready cars in "2 perhaps 3 years"

Hint #3.  Ok, I lied, the video does have some words and the video is loaded with clues.  If you have not done so, go back to the link at the beginning and watch it a few more times. Did you see them??
First of all; the normal. Guy starts LEAF, GOM shows 544 km.  Great number and so far, what we know and expect (other than the awesome range speculation!)  But then we see another display that runs a count up to 544 km? Well that is something new, right?  What is that for? My guess is that is how you check your secondary power pack, the Al-Air pack.

Hint # 4; Then the video flashes bullet points;

"Increasing Battery Capacity." Check. see Hint #1.

"Reducing Weight"  Check. remember the carbon fiber mention? I guess a little here and there is ok.

"Improving Aerodynamics"  Check. Remember we mentioned it appeared the LEAF rode lower to the ground? Reduced ground clearance lowers drag.

"Technology That Takes You Further"  Now this is the final bullet point so it could be a summary of the previous points but do we really need a summary of a segment that took about 5 seconds? I think not. The emphasis on the word "Technology" is the clue. Its Nissan's way of introducing Al-Air.

Check my previous post about Al-Air  and its many advantages.  So what do you think about Nissan's 300 mile LEAF? Well, I don't have to, I know!


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  2. Hmmm, seems like you're taking a speculative leap or two here. Not that I wouldn't be stoked to see Aluminum-air meet its' promise, but I don't see grounds for such a groundbreaking announcement.
    An aluminum-air battery that's tolerant of dirty scrap aluminum? That would be the closest thing to a MR FUSION reactor that our generation will ever see and spawn a new energy revolution, along with a huge wave of metal theft.....

    1. well you have to admit the pieces of the puzzle do fit and sure its not a perfect fit and reading between the lines is required to even play but energy storage has been the bain of Man and its really starting to come to a head. We are increasing our ability to produce it daily to the point that meeting our needs is not the problem; its being able to redistribute what we can produce. solve that problem and we are golden and more than a few entities believe Al-Air might be the ticket.

      Now for industrial scale energy management there is still an issue with low efficiency (50% of power available comes off as heat so you won't have to worry about burning electrons to stay warm, they got that covered!) for stationary power storage.

      the real benefit starts when the cycle has gained momentum. AlOH is easy to recycle and relatively clean with low energy requirements. Now what industrialists really want to do is be able to generate the Aluminum during periods where hydroelectric production is high but demand is low. the current options (which may not be an issue if drought conditions persist) are pumped storage which is woefully wasteful.