Electric vehicles | St. Louis Public Radio

Electric vehicles

A charging Nissan Leaf.
Nissan

Engineers in Missouri are taking on a challenge that could make owning an electric car far more convenient — building a charging station that fully charges up a car in 10 minutes.

Electric cars can help reduce carbon emissions and the human contribution to climate change. But the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle’s battery represents a major roadblock to owning one. The fastest available technology is the Tesla Supercharger, which takes an hour to fully charge a car.

The U.S. Department of Energy has given $2.9 million to a team of engineers develop fast-charging electric vehicle stations. The team includes engineers from Missouri S&T, Ameren Illinois, battery maker LG Chem Michigan and Bitrode, a St. Louis battery testing company. The goal is to develop a charger that works almost as fast as a gas station, said Jonathan Kimball, an electrical and computer engineer at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

A school bus.
Vipal | Flickr

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources proposes spending the $41 million it received from the Volkswagen settlement last year on replacing school buses and other heavy-duty vehicles. 

The German automaker agreed to spend billions of dollars to settle allegations of cheating emissions standards. Missouri is among the states that received some of those funds to address nitrogen dioxide emissions. Nitrogen dioxide is a component of ozone pollution, which can cause respiratory health issues, such as asthma. 

Heavy-duty vehicles are a major contributor to nitrogen dioxide emissions.

A charging Nissan Leaf.
Nissan

It's rare for utility companies and environmental groups to agree. But both want the state of Missouri to spend its share of last year's national Volkswagen settlement on electric vehicles and charging stations. 

After the German automaker agreed to spend billions to settle allegations of cheating  emissions standards, Missouri received $41.2 million. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has held several meetings to determine how to spend the money.

A Nissan Leaf getting charged up in a parking lot.
Nissan

Motorists in Missouri will soon see new signs pointing to alternative fuel sources along interstate highways. The signage is part of a recently announced Federal Highway Administration effort to create 85,000 miles of alternative fuel corridors across the country.

The signs aim to ease "range anxiety," or motorists' worry that they will run out of fuel, for those who drive cars that run on electricity, propane, natural gas and hydrogen. The initiative could encourage such motorists to travel further.

Spporting the use of low-emission vehicles could help the nation reach its goal of cutting at least 80 percent of greenhouse gases by 2050, the FHA officials say.

A Nissan Leaf getting charged up in a parking lot.
Nissan

Motorists driving Nissan Leafs or Chevy Volts could travel farther on Interstate 70 next year.

Ameren Missouri filed a proposal to the Missouri Public Service Commission this week to build six "charging islands" on the highway. 

The company is trying to meet a need for power stations linked to a growing demand for electric vehicles, now that the technology has become more affordable. Additional stations would allow cars to travel longer distances, said Ameren official Mark Nealon, who is overseeing the project.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 26, 2013 - The renewable energy community has long been in something of a quandary. Everyone wants more solar and wind power, but the dilemma is obvious.

What do you do when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine?

This articl first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 5, 2012 - According to two of the most influential corporate voices in the automotive field, rising gas prices will keep driving demand for alternative energy. But the twin challenges of slow adoption and a lack of infrastructure continue to complicate the search for cleaner, cheaper fuel.

Electric vehicles are on a roll

Jun 6, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 6, 2011 - When Jeff Dale's cousin in California would call and talk to him about the joys of owning an electric vehicle, the 59-year-old Alton resident had a predictable reaction.

"I'd just kind of roll my eyes at my wife," he laughed.

The eye rolls stopped with a price spike that hit petroleum products a couple of years back.