Between the Lines – A behind the scenes look at the world of The Day the Sun Died
Planes, Trains – but mostly Automobiles
Seventy years from now, will we all really still be driving cars powered by noisy, dirty fossil fuel engines? Or will the growing field of study into vehicles powered by cleaner alternative fuels have produced a commercially viable product to replace what we are so used to?
In Cory Wilson’s world, the days of gasoline driven cars have long since ended – replaced by a revolutionary type of electric battery that utilizes the very air we breathe to produce a long-lasting charge, powerful enough to send a car hundreds of miles before needing to be replaced.
It may sound like a concept relegated to the realm of Science-Fiction, but the truth is we are much closer to realizing this technology than you may think…
Batteries Not Included
The University of St. Andrews in Scotland is home to STAIR, the real-world prototype of the Air-Powered Battery. A product of a four year research project, sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Research Council of Great Britain, the minds behind STAIR have already produced a battery lasting 8 times longer than a Lithium Cobalt Oxide Battery (Like what you would find in your Cell Phone) after only two year’s work!
Here is a diagram of how they aim for it to work:
Oxygen is drawn in through a porous carbon segment of the battery to react with Lithium which, aside from being completely free and in infinite supply, is much cheaper than current battery technology.
It may be several years before STAIR batteries are available commercially – if at all -, but the progress made by researchers at St. Andrew’s University is nothing short of inspirational.
In The Day the Sun Stopped Shining’s universe, developments like STAIR led to development of a battery which replaced Lithium components entirely – using oxygen as the primary reactant. Developed in line with a new generation of vehicle engines ranging from Aircraft to Motorcycles, the ‘green can’ batteries started to appear in new build vehicles 60 years before the series’ events.
Gas Stations shed petroleum entirely 5 years later, specializing instead in the sale and storage of new and used batteries (used cells are easily recycled into fresh ones) which range in size depending on the type of vehicle they are meant for.
It took me almost two hour’s research to discover the STAIR battery, which served as inspiration for the science behind the ‘green coke can’ cells used by Cory Wilson and company.
They were the first technology conceived for the series – as I wanted a futuristic take on modern cars without actually moving too far from what we are familiar with today. That way I wouldn’t have to lose some of the story’s suspense and action by having to explain, at length, what – for example – a flying car looked like and how it worked.
- Tune in after Episode 5 of The Day the Sun Stopped Shining for the next installment of ‘Between the Lines’, where we will look at how the MAG Gun was born!