Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alternative Propulsion Systems: ETV Motors gets US$12m in initial round of funding

Alternative energy storage and powertrain investments have been on rise lately. Apart from many venture capitalists taking a U-turn on their investment policies (Vinod Khosla being the prominent one), encashing the old industrial investments and dedicating significant portion of their corpus for clean technology (Former president candidate Al Gore's Generation Investment Management Fund et al). After the recently completed investments of Berkshire Hathaway in BYD and GE’s investment in A123 (battery manufacturer) and Think Global (makers of TH!NK City electric vehicle), an Israeli company has raised US$12m in Series A funding for the development of electric vehicle propulsion technology.
Quercus Trust and 21Ventures LLC jointly invested in ETV Motors. The company is developing micro-turbine technology, another possible ‘game changer’ in plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) market. ETV is contelplating the vehicle propulsion system as a combination of high voltage lithium-ion battery and micro-turbine. The company has replaced the internal combustion engine with the micro-turbine to charge the battery. The development stage miniaturized turbines are smaller and lighter than the traditional internal combustion engines.
Meanwhile another stealth company, EEStor announced the ‘huge milestone’ of verification of its Barium-Titanate powder’s high relative permittivity by a third party.
I am no kill-joy for the new technologies, but I hate it when the new kids on the block often accuse the internal combustion engine for gross inefficiencies. While true in their criticism, they forget that the technology is more than 100 years old and no major changes have occurred in its design till date. Not that the changes were never suggested, but either the cost of implementing the changes was prohibitively high or the changes were difficult to achieve technically. Latest in the series is the Scuderi family trying their hand at a new design which is expected to increase the IC engine efficiency from 33% to 40%.
So far so good, we still have to see a reliable technology which can work on roads, not just the research laboratories.

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