The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is conducting field tests on two electric vehicles in Antarctica to evaluate performance at extremely cold conditions. As we recently noted, the DOE isn’t the only one testing green vehicles near the South Pole.
The electric vehicles have been deployed at the McMurdo Station where temperatures can drop to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. So far, the vehicles have logged nearly 140 miles on the ice, and will continue to collected data for another year in order for researchers to decide if the all-electric trucks could replace some of the diesel fleets currently being used. There is a chance, however, that the amount of electrical power needed will be too great to sustain the green vehicles.
The vehicles being used in testing are E-ride EXV2, one owned by NREL and the other by Raytheon Polar Services, a Colorado-based company that, among many other things, supports logistics and for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Antarctica. Raytheon, the parent company of the organization, is heavily involved in government contracts for missile defense, radar communications, and Homeland Security operations.
The EXV2 is a 3,000 pound, two-passenger vehicle with a truck bed that has a top speed of 25 miles per hour, and is powered by a range of lead-acid batteries. While the truck is equipped with battery-warming devices, researchers note that their will definitely be limitations to what the vehicle is capable of doing in such harsh conditions. To see a live web-cam of the McMurdo Station, visit the NSF’s website.