Thursday, March 31, 2011

Volvo adds ethanol heaters to its electric cars

volvo electric

Volvo has announced a new addition to its electric vehicle range: an ethanol-powered heater designed to keep the batteries and occupants warm during the harshest of weather.

Fully electric vehicles traditionally rely on electric immersion heater systems to keep their occupants warm, which can take a long time to heat up from cold and which can drain the batteries, reducing the range of the vehicle.


When batteries are cold, they also have a lowered capacity - meaning that it can be difficult to get the car up to speed until the batteries have warmed up.

Volvo's solution is to fit its electric vehicle range with a bio-ethanol heating system, which allows the car to heat up from cold extremely quickly without draining the batteries, and hopefully without harming the environment.

The clean-burning ethanol, sourced from plants rather than fossil fuels, is an interesting solution to the heating problem: while it isn't energy-dense enough to be used as a petrol substitute for a combustion engine, it burns warm enough to create an efficient heater system.

The tank designed by Volvo is designed to carry 14.5 litres of the bio-ethanol, which the company claims provides thirty hours of heat on its highest setting. While the cars will use the bio-ethanol heater by default, they can be switched to the battery-powered immersion heater in warmer weather or if the ethanol supply has run low.

The company has confirmed that it will be fitting its bio-ethanol heating system to its entire electric vehicle range, to provide guaranteed operation in temperatures of as low as -20°C.

source: expertreviews