Refuelable Electric Vehicle (Semester Unknown) IPRO 313
Garza Rodriguez, Hector
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In light of the global sustainability movement, several mainstream ideas and designs for low to zero carbon emission vehicles have been developed. In the case of all electric vehicles (EVs), Li-Ion batteries seem to be the favored technology due to their high energy density relative to competing energy storage technologies. Despite its superiority to other batteries, it still lacks the energy density to practically achieve comparable range to a fossil fuel powered car, and faces additional challenges in terms of refueling and infrastructure development. Therefore, technologies are needed to ease this demand and possibly supplement it. IPRO 313 has undertaken the task of using Zinc as an electrochemical fuel. The design is based on a Zinc-Air fuel cell developed by John F. Cooper of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) . The design allows the zinc to be provided as < 1 mm sized pellets in a saturated solution of KOH. Using Zinc as a fuel means that exhausted fuel, ZnO, can be recycled. The fact that the metal is recyclable lends this technology to requiring a minimum of new material to sustain the transportation infrastructure. Most importantly, in comparison to current refueling mechanisms, Cooper et. al showed that a battery can be refueled in less than 10 minutes  making it a good competitor in the current and emerging eco-friendly vehicle market of which the IPRO plans to build on. So far the IPRO has designed and constructed one prototype and conducted pressure drop experiments. The plans now are to improve the current ZAFC design and investigate the relationship between the electrolyte flow rate and the energy output. Once the single ZAFC has been tested and is providing the output needed, several more will be constructed and put together in an array to supplement the primary battery pack used to provide instantaneous power to the electric engine. Subsequently, the team will begin working on the staple of the project which is to design a mechanism which will refuel the ZAFC array by replacing the old electrolyte and zinc solution with a fresh electrolyte and zinc to all cells.