It’s hard to believe that cars have only been available to the public for a little over a century.
In that time, they have undergone innumerable changes in terms of body and performance, but one important fact has remained constant: they contain and internal combustion engine that runs, at least in part, on fossil fuels. That all may be about to change, though.
There was a time when a car engine running on fossil fuel felt revolutionary—and indeed, it was, but times have changed. In the late 1990s, as the public became aware of the human impact on climate change, car manufacturers first began unveiling hybrids.
These cars used but electricity and fossil fuels, in a sort of hybrid between traditional vehicles and electrical ones, hence the name. While this was a step in the right direction, it fails to fully mitigate the emissions of fossil fuels.
To solve this issue, the last decade has seen a concerted interest in electric vehicles, or EVs, from nearly every automaker in the world. Leading the charge toward electric vehicles that can perform on the same level as traditional ones in Tesla, who proved that high performance and carbon neutrality aren’t mutually exclusive with its Roadster in 2008.
Despite being leaps and bounds better for the environment than both traditional gas-dependant cars and hybrids, electric vehicles still have struggles with which to contend. For one thing, charging stations can be difficult to come by, but more overarching is the fact that electric vehicles do still leave a footprint.
By requiring electricity to charge their batteries, they are still relying on fossil fuels, since most electricity is still produced by fossil fuels today. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if your home runs entirely on solar or some other form of renewable energy, but for the most part this isn’t the case.
So, just as EVs are truly striking a chord with the public, is it time to look to the next step in this evolution? Is it even possible to create an electric car that doesn’t require recharging? The technology is still young, but the answer is yes.
Cut The Cords
To be clear, there’s no way for an electric vehicle to run forever without recharging, this language simply refers to an electric vehicle that can recharge without having to be plugged in and pulling from the power grid.
As it turns out, that technology already exists. In 2018, Audi debuted ins 2019 A8 L e-tron. This vehicle can charge wirelessly simply by parking above a charging pad. The pad uses electromagnetic energy from two coils to transfer between the car’s batteries and the air gap, losing only about 10% of the energy in the process of the transfer.
While other automakers continue to search for greater efficiency, a tech company called NanoFlowcell has also made a foray into electric cars that don’t need to recharge traditionally. Though the details of their technology remain somewhat murky, the company claims to use two separate tanks of ionic liquids to provide continuous charge.
Other companies are experimenting with adding photovoltaic (solar) cells to the tops of vehicles to allow the sun to recharge the cars’ batteries.
Though the industry is likely several years away from any major breakthrough on the front of electric cars that don’t need recharged, the technology is fast approaching, and it’s bound to make waves.