Wednesday, February 09, 2011

What I Like About Electrons

In my last post, I wrote about how the Nissan LEAF was beginning to seem like a normal car. For the most part, it is. But if that's the case, what's the big deal? In a word, torque:

torque (tôrk)
The tendency of a force applied to an object to make it rotate about an axis.
(reference: dictionary.com)

When you step on the accelerator after the light turns green, torque is what gets the car moving. Torque gives a car its get-up-and-go. A gasoline engine typically needs to spin up to 2000-3000 RPM before it hits maximum torque. You push on the pedal and the RPMs start to wind up. The engine roars and the car begins to vibrate. Even with a big V8, you get the sense that the engine is working hard to overcome inertia.

On the other hand, an electric motor achieves maximum torque instantly. If you want to ease away gently, step lightly on the accelerator. If you want to embarrass the BMW driver in the next lane, floor it and hang onto your coffee. In either case, it seems effortless, like the car isn't really working at all. Effortless, silent, immediate forward motion.

One step closer to that anti-gravity drive I've been waiting on.

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