Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cedric Lynch: “They won't equal petrol-engined bikes unless somebody comes up with better batteries…”

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Team Agni's engineer, Cedric Lynch believes battery-powered bikes have a long way to go before they can offer performance that's similar to IC-engined machines...

An Indo-British outfit, Agni Motors won the inaugural TTXGP at the Isle of Man this year. Road RacerX recently caught up Agni’s chief engineer, Cedric Lynch, who believes it will be hard for electric bikes to equal the performance of conventional racebikes, because of the inherent limitations with currently available batteries. Here are some excerpts from what Cedric had to say:

On how long he thinks it will take for electric bikes to start offering performance that’s similar to conventional, IC-engined bikes

I don’t think that they will equal petrol-engined motorcycles unless somebody comes up with better batteries, or unless they allow the electric bikes more streamlining than the petrol-powered bikes are allowed, because the energy content of even the best batteries. The best ones you can buy store at an energy density of about 200 watt-hours per kilogram, but the best that can give it out at a high rate – like 120 minutes – are more like 130-or-so watt-hours per kilogram. And that is a tiny fraction of the amount of energy which is stored with a petrol engine.

On whether he thinks better, more efficient batteries will soon be available

They’ll never reach a level comparable with petrol, because the battery’s storing in it all the materials that will take part in the chemical reaction, and the material will remain in the battery after the reaction is finished. So it’s a bit like the equivalent of storing both the petrol and the oxygen, and then capturing all of the exhaust gases and carrying them on the vehicle. If you were to do that with a petrol engine, you wouldn’t have such a big weight advantage.

Although there is a type of battery that uses air as one of the reaction components – the zinc air battery, for example – but I think it is not capable of very high discharge rates at the moment. I think there is an Israeli company that is developing those for highway vehicles, but I think it’s not capable of very high discharge rates, suitable for racing, although it will give several hundred miles on the road. But it does have the serious practical drawback that you can’t recharge it yourself, from your own electricity supply.

See the full interview on Road RacerX, but from what Cedric says, it does seem it’ll be a long, long time before Rossi & Co. will be riding electric bikes…


A video of the TTXGP winning Agni racebike, at the Isle of Man

2 comments:

Ugo said...

As Lynch said, there are lithium air or metal air batteries that store up to 10X more energy than Li batteries. Those, coupled to a supercapacitor can surely do the job. They can't be recharged, but in a race contest it is irrelevant.
All it takes is a bold approach and a 100 kW motor (that Agni isn't producing, I think)!

Andrew said...

I don't think it takes an engineer to figure that one out - it's kind of obvious...

However I do believe electric-powered vehicles have a future, but the power will have to come not from batteries but from super capacitors. These are in early development still, so there's a few years to go yet.

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