Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jun 26

The cityZenn – Dream Electric Car

Posted in Battery Technology | Electric Cars | Transportation

City Zenn Till now we have battery operated cars or hybrid cars. Hybrid cars reduce your gas consumption and air pollution. If you are using battery operated cars, you can’t drive on the spur of a moment. You have to PLAN and recharge the batteries. Otherwise your vehicle will carry you for a few miles and then it will stop and you will be stuck somewhere you don’t want to. You also have to compromise on the size, space and speed of the car. And since you are using a storage device in the car, you have to fear and respect that too.

Can’t we have a car that goes 250 miles on a single charge? Can’t we recharge it in five minutes? And drive it at 80 M.P.H.? Don’t dismiss it as wishful thinking! A Toronto-based firm ZENN Motors promises such a highway capable model in near future with no gasoline engine, no batteries, and no emissions!

“cityZENN” model will use “Electrical Energy Storage Units” (EESUs), containing ultracapacitors, also known as supercapacitors. These capacitors use barium tinanate coated with aluminum oxide and glass which will help in conquering the disadvantages of chemical batteries. They are more powerful than basic capacitors. Ultracapacitors can absorb power or send a charge faster than chemical batteries because of activated carbon at their cores. They also score over durability and have better tolerance for extreme temperatures.

Safety is a serious concern for vehicles whether powered by petrol, diesel, batteries or ultracapacitors. The storage devices shouldn’t burst into flames under extreme conditions. The new ultracapacitors are supposed to instantly discharge to the ground in case of a crash.

Many have cast doubts over “cityZENN” claims and apprehensive about its deliverables but the analysts and researchers are hesitant to dismiss the possibility of “cityZENN” entirely. Joel Schindall, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who is using nanotechnology to improve ultracapacitors, says “I don’t doubt that they have built a device on a small scale that does store the amounts of energy they are talking about. I just don’t know if they can manage the process of scaling it up … for commercial applications.”

  • Gary Zeranski


    You don’t any longer have the safe feeling that 10 to 25 gallons of a high vapor pressure explosive gives you.

    And you’ll have to contend with the 500 to 1600 mile driving range that an EEStor energy unit will give you.

    Or, if GM’s gift to Exxon (the patent for the large format Lithium Hydride Battery) is allowed to happen you’ll only have 250 to 300 mile range.

    Yes, its a dangerous breed of golf cart.

  • Wayne Checker

    Electric cars are not emission free cars. The batteries must be charged and that requires energy that is generated somewhere. That somewhere could be using dirty coal fired power stations, hydro electricity that interferes with the environment and nuclear reactors that produce dangerous waste products that finish up being disposed in someone’s land. Such emissions problem can only improve when electricity is mostly generated by emission free means.

  • Chris Morehouse

    Wayne, not true. Electric cars WILL improve emissions, even if all the power was from coal burning plants. Thankfully its not, but much of it is, and what isn’t is oil or nuclear, very little is renewable and earth friendly. BUT Coal and oil burning power plants are still WAY more efficient and producing power than internal combustion engines. And even after the losses through power generation, transmission, and battery efficiency it is STILL more efficient to drive off the grid then off the pump.

    As for your beef with nuclear power your points are true but out of scale. Compared to all other forms of non-renewable energy Nuclear is the most environmental friendly. It produces no green house gases, and if only outdated legislation could be lifted to allow plants to re-process used fuel rods it would have 99% less nuclear waste. Even without repossessing fuel Nuclear power is the cleanest forum of generating electricity that can be widely scaled, and probably our only hope for stopping green house gas emission until wide spread renewable power sources(solar, geothermal, tidal and wind)can be implemented on a large enough scale.

    If we could replace all the coal plants with nuclear ones mother earth would be much better off.

  • George Lewis

    I can’t stand the person who’s always posting that “Electric cars are not emissions free” – Hey dude… stop looking at the glass-half-empty side of life and start seeing a shift in peoples use of alternative vehicles (which will get charged in the night time when it’s cheaper and currently wasted!).

    This is a peoples movement. The government has too much easy tax money coming in with every gallon of gasoline… so we must be positive and start helping people to use emissions free vehicles! Once we are a strong enough movement, we can cause change in our government to create clean power plants like Solar-Thermal and Wind Power Plants… But we must first start by creating a large grassroots community of like minded people. If you keep pointing out negatives (which there will always be) and at-the-same-time, not praise people for doing the right thing (which is all you’re doing)…

  • Wayne Checker

    George, you missed my point. The claim is that the electric car is emissions free. A reasonable interpretation of “emissions free” means no emissions which neither you nor Chris has demonstrated in your posts.

    On a lighter note, I once heard that “emissions free” means the pollutants are discharged elswhere rather than where the car is run.

    The electric car virtues expressed in these posts indicate that we can expect a lowering of emissions. I will not dispute that, but I can’t stand the person who claims “no emissions” to beef up the claim of how good the vehicle is when what they really mean is “less or improved emissions”. Promote the vehicle for what it is (a reduced emissions vehicle, etc.) and on merits that can be demonstrated.

  • Marilyn

    We have solar electric panels. I also have a pool that uses half of the electricity for the pump. If I fill the pool, I will have enough “emission free” electricity to power an electric car. I’m considering doing this when the right car comes out.

  • jsawvel

    The cityZenn will cost between $25,000 and $30,000. Here is a great article on a cost comparison between a cityZenn and a regular combustion vehicle.

  • Don Feeney

    I had solar panels installed on my roof and so far they have generated an excess of 200 kw’s. When the electric/solar/wind? generated car of my dreams is available at a reasonable price I’m selling my HYundai and will be a bit freer of the internal combustion engine. How many kw’s does it take to charge a battery? Is my dream car available? 20’000-30,000 If so I’m ready to buy.


  • Chris Morehouse


    Long answer:

    A good benchmark on electric cars is 250 Watt*hours per mile. The actual energy consumption will very depending on the cars weight, driving conditions and speed. For example driving 70 MPH on level ground with no wind might take 250 Wh per mile while driving 40 in the same conditions would put you around 150Wh. The first Estor power systems are suppose to have a 15Kwatt*Hour capacity. Assuming a charging efficiency off 80% and you would need to supply 18KWh of power to the car to fully charge. Now your probably not going to fully charge the car every day. How large is your Solar system in Watts and how many hours of direct sunlight do they get on average? If you have like a 1.5Kw system that gets 6 hours of sun a day you’d be able to charge the car about half the way every day. Of course that leaves no power for your house. It Total charge the car every day your probably looking at more like a 3 Kw system with an average of 6 hours good sunlight a day. Thats 3 KW’s to your house, not from the PV panels, since you will have some loss through your inverter and PV control system.

    Short Answer:
    Not yet. Unless your PV system is one of the very high end 4.5-5 Kw systems you wouldn’t be guaranteed to be able to completely charge a 15KWh battery system every day and still power your house. Thats not to say getting 20-30% of your driving power from the Sun wouldn’t be an admirable achievement.

  • David

    Be prepared for the major vehicle manufactures to do everything that they can to obstruct a viable electric vehicle.

    Dave (UK)

  • kari

    I love to see that such observant and intelligent people are watching such key and/or potentially momentous issues like these. You all have managed to spell it all out for those viewers who may not be as savvy you. Oh, and Dave, I completely agree… there has been resistance to just about every movement in history, and sadly this one probably won’t be any different. *sigh* Never the less, we must keep supporting what progress is made.

  • Wizardtom

    How can they make the claim of ZERO EMISSIONS without charging it completely by solar power? How much COAL are they burning for a four hour charge? They are just taking the emissions out of the city by burning it off site at the power plant!

    THIS IS NOT ZERO EMISSIONS; Prepare to fool your conscience if you drive electric charges with anything OTHER than complete SOLAR charge. But Solar panels also pollute the air FAR more harmful chemicals during manufacturing and extraction of the materials.

    The NET global benefit is ZERO; the only answer, honestly, at the moment is to STOP DRIVING.

  • Chris

    Wizardtom, first off, the vehicle itself has no emissions, how you get your power is your own business. Second, no one is going to just stop driving, so this is a pretty good alternative. Third your not “just taking the emissions out of the city.” You are significantly reducing those emissions. Large power generation is way more efficient then ICE power generated by a cars engine. As fare as solar being the only zero emission power source, try again. Ever heard of Nuclear power, that has virtually no emissions. Or hydro power. Add these the the already more emission efficient power generation of a central station and you have a NET global benefit that is certainly not ZERO, and is in fact very significant.

  • Bob

    Wizardtom either works for big oil or wants a Flintstones car. This is an incredible achievement and is possibly the most environmentally friendly invention since the hydro dam. I think everyone should get on board.

  • Ted

    The advent of the hybrid has swayed my opinion of the electric vehicle. Yes electric vehicles still requires a method to generate current. The point is the no matter the source of you current and its distribution system (Coal, nuclear, solar, hydroelectric, etc.) that is more efficient than shipping and piping crude around the globe, refining that into gas/diesel and then trucking that into gas stations to be burned from a small internal combustion engine. Less energy is used by the electric vehicle though both are relatively inefficient.

    In response to Bob: Hydroelectric has its own set of drawbacks. Yes it does generate emissions, but it has killed more freshwater fish (salmon, trout, etc.) and has dropped water temperatures tremendously (that energy comes out of the water as heat). It turns out that Hydro dams are the most useful power grid capacitors on the grid to offset production by wind turbines; we’ve had an excess of electricity generated by wind that was being consumed, during this time the dams were producing zero energy by spilling water. Coal and Nuclear power plants take days to turn down and therefore cannot reduce the power being delivered to accommodate the wind and solar production.

    The ideal is to have a closed energy system. If you could put enough solar panels or wind turbines to generate all the energy consumed in your household then energy companies would only need to supply power to commercial and public (gov’t) entities.

  • Bob

    To Ted:

    I never said the hydro dam was perfect, I said it’s the best we have and it is. I don’t care how many solar panels I put up, they’re not going to heat my house at night and that is the problem with solar. Solar and wind are both problematic because they are only as reliable as weather patterns permit and in the case of solar, it won’t work at night, which in Canada is useless because we need the heat most in winter. Shorter days make Solar almost useless. I stand by what I said that the Hydro Dam is the most effective form of clean energy we have. Yes it does increase the temperature of water somewhat but even Hydro-Quebec’s 59 dams have not had a significant impact on the ecology of Quebec. Remember, these dams are relatively minuscule compared to the size of the regions that they can serve. And more importantly, they don’t stop working when the wind dies down, clouds roll in or the earth turns away from the sun.

  • Ed

    A little late on this announcement as reported in the news Zenn is no longer in the car market!! They are going to be suppliers of power packs to the BIG guys. As usual the technology will be withheld again.


  • Robert

    I agree with George Lewis. This is a people’s movement and an intelligent business investment. Check this link out and imagine every parking lot from Wal Mart to JC Penney and/or every Mall in the sunbelt investing in this to:
    Provide shade or rain cover for customers
    Generate electricity for their stores or common areas
    Thereby reducing operating costs – lower prices?
    Selling their electricity to EV cars parked, charging while they shop
    The Public Relations for the first to install is huge. I live in Florida and right now it is hot. I would prefer to shop at a store that provided covered parking.

  • Benjamin Rowlands

    My belief is, for the next 10 to 20 years we should be focusing on rechargeable hybrids.

    You plug in your car at night to give you between 40 and 60 miles for normal commuting, plus a regular petrol/diesel hybrid engine for extended journeys and high speed motorway cruising or times when you need the extra power to accelerate quickly or simple forgot to plug the car in the previous night. The vast majority of journeys could take place using electricity from the mains (shopping, daily commute and collecting the kids), but delivering the power for fast acceleration and extended range of a standard combustion engine when the need arises.

    We see so many charged vehicles and hybrid vehicles but few which match the target market which is a rechargeable hybrid with a reasonable electric only range.

    Europe needs to act quickly to standardize the charge plug, voltage and currents to enable manufacturers of cars and domestic/commercial charge stations to invest.

    We won’t see charge stations at your supermarket or high-rise car park until standards are met and car manufacturers are producing hybrid cars with a rechargeable capability.

  • Daniel D Martin

    I think a combination of Wind and Solar is possible with batteries that accumulate power for when needed
    If there would be the will they could produce all the power needed on Earth as of 2025
    They just have to fight a very powerful Oil-Coal lobby

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