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Electric Audi in your future?

Hi all,

Attended Electric Vehicle Exposition in Alameda, CA yesterday and saw and
drove some nifty new technology.
-Honda's EV minicar: image a microvan the length of civic with A/C, power
windows, all electronic dash.  Drove this one an it feels and accelerates
just a civic with a 100 mi. range.  Powered by NiMH batteries.
-Electric assist bike: you pedal and motor/electronics amplifies your
effort by 4.
-GM's EV car: super sleek, very fast, super expensive.
-Electic motorcycle:bigger than a motor scooter, smaller than a real
motorcycle, and makes interesting whine as it takes off.  
-Ford Ranger electric pickup: Factory slick but the whole back was nothing
but batteries.

There were home-brews too-everything from a ratty looking VW square back to
a Golf GTI covert.  Rode in the GTI with the owner and I was very
impressed-9" diameter DC motor pulled 500A in full out acceleration with 3
people and just about 100A cruising with a 80 mi. range (16 X 6V in series).

As usual, batteries were the limitation with total ranges of < 100 mi. and
very heavy weight even for the latest Hi Tech/Hi Bucks application.  So the
most interesting device I saw was a patented Hydrogen generator for a fuel
cell.  As you may know, a fuel cell is powered by hydrogen and oxygen and
produces electricity and water as a byproduct.  Well its kinda dangerous to
carry a hydrogen tank around.  This generator I saw is called the "Power
Ball".  The fuel is a polyethylene ball about 3/4" in diameter.  Inside the
ball is sodium hydride, which reacts violently with oxygen to produce
hydrogen (that's why its encapsulated in the polyE).  A piston mechanism
inside the generator slices the ball in half which exposes the sodium
hydride to oxygen and a mini explosion occurs. This explosion re-cocks the
piston mechanism and re-loads another ball.  The generator was a rugged
looking tank that stood about 20 in. high and was about 14 in. in diameter.
 It contained 720 balls that would produce enough hydrogen to power a fuel
cell for approx. 300 miles!  When you ran out of balls, you open a little
hopper on top and pour some more in.  The company thats producing the
generator is in the process of building a automated plant that would
produce the balls  and recycle the polyE and waste byproduct into new
balls.  They estimate that the balls would cost about 1 cent apiece!

So maybe in the future you'll be claiming that your "E-quattro" (mandatory
content) is the best handling electric car in the world and gets a whole
0.5 mi/ball ;-)


Tony Lum
Fremont, California, USA

Audi Owner/Operator/Mechanic by Necessity ;-)

1987 5000CS Turbo Quattro
1985 4000CS Quattro
1980 5000S Sedan