Just when we all thought Shai Agassi’s Better Place electric car company had the electric car technology field sewed up in this part of the world, some university students in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron have come up with someelectric car innovation of their own, reports Maan News.
Although not as sophisticated as Agassi’s technology, which involves developing not only a full size electric car, the Renault Fluence, and an exchangeable lithium- ion batter pack to power it; these unknown Palestinians have developed a home-made version of an electric powered vehicles whose batteries are charged by solar energy.
Developed as a school project by engineering students at the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, the golf cart-like vehicle uses 12 batteries, totaling 24 volts, which can power the car for 3 to 5 hours.
Running at its maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour, the batteries can last for only 100 minutes, but given the short distances around town, that would probably be enough for errands.
Dr Zuhdi Salhab, who supervised the project, told Maan News that sourcing the material to create the alternative energy presented an obstacle, but he praised the students’ creativity. Given the chance, Salhab said, Palestinian students could come up with more “great projects that stimulate global development.”
The batteries are rechargeable, so alternative electricity from a home plug can be used in the winter. The technology is very basic compared to that of “rival” Better Place, and the vehicle the students designed resembles something more out of a “how to” magazine like Popular Mechanics like what we featured in a Green Prophet article back in December 2009.
The main difference here is that the Hebron Polytechnic students have managed to integrate the use of solar energy to provide power for the batteries – as long as the sun shines. And in the Middle East it can shine bright 300 days of the year.
But, unless these students are able to acquire funding to further develop their “project car,” the home made solar power invention will most likely remain a curiosity item in a location where people get around either by gasoline power or more primitive means like donkeys.
It’s doubtful that a UN aid organization or some international entity like the World Bank will take much of an interest in this school project.
But again, when Israel’s Shai Agassi started out a number of years back, he probably had no idea if his concepts would reach the stage where his company was able to acquire funding of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Up to now, the cars being designed by Better Place do not have solar energy panels incorporated into their cars, as the batteries have to be either recharged by standard electrical current or exchanged when they reach the 160 km cruising limit.
The designers of the Palestinian vehicle – the TMT – have to decide whether they want to continue innovating their design, and eventually try to market it; or let it be relegated to being just a glorified self powered donkey cart.
Maybe countries in the United Arab Emirates or other wealthy oil producing states might lend the students a hand – unless they are afraid this new invention might hurt their sources of wealth; that being the stuff that comes from the ground and is now the source of all the problems in the Gulf of Mexico.
More articles on electric cars: