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As more electric vehicles crowd into the market, one startup is looking to stand out with an onboard water-making system.

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Mullen Dreams Of Electric Vehicles That Make Pure Water From The Air

As more electric vehicles crowd into the market, one startup is looking to stand out with an onboard water-making system.

The world’s leading automakers are beginning to pour electric vehicles into the market at a rapid clip, and that makes it all the more difficult for a startup to stand out from the crowd. The California-based firm Mullen seems to have figured it out. If all goes according to plan, its new EVs will sport air-to-water technology capable of producing up to five liters of water daily.

On Board Water-Makers For Electric Vehicles

The idea of sucking water out of air is an old one. The natural process of condensation does the trick. The challenge is to scale up and accelerate a human-made condensing system without getting stuck in the energy-water nexus.

In terms of the energy-water nexus, the advent of low cost renewable energy has been a game changer. The rising interest in electric vehicles is also coming into play. Improvements in EV battery technology are fostering to a new whole field of  energy storage applications centered around mobility. In terms of water-harvesting devices, charging an EV battery with renewable energy completes the circle.

Mullen is among those pursuing the water-harvesting angle. It has inked a deal with the Israeli company WaterGen, to apply an atmospheric drinking water devices to its EV portfolio.

The application to electric vehicles presents yet another challenge for the air-to-water field, but WaterGen has packaged its device — a high tech heat exchanger it calls “Genius” — into a relatively small, lightweight footprint for mobile use, without drawing an excessive amount of energy from the battery.

“Watergen’s technology extracts water from the air by enabling the air to move fast into the patented Genius system in a significantly short time, ensuring greater efficiency and thus using less energy,” the company says.

WaterGen estimates that its heat exchanger uses as little as 0.3 kilowatt-hours to produce one liter of water. Depending on the local cost of electricity, that works out to about 7-15 cents per liter.

The company also claims a broad geographic reach, citing a working range of temperatures ranging from 15 to 40 degrees centigrade, and relative humidity greater or equal to 25%.

Mullen Electric Vehicles Rise From CODA Ashes

Auto industry watchers have been keeping an eye on Mullen since 2002, which marked the founding of Mullen Motor Cars. Its signature EV was the the Mullen GT, which lays claim to being the first all-electric supercar in production.

The company took on the name Mullen Technologies Inc in 2014, when CEO David Michery incorporated it following the acquisition of CODA Automotive and Mullen Motor Cars.

CleanTechnica spilled plenty of ink over the electric vehicles produced by CODA Automotive before the acquisition, and for good reason. Here, let’s have Mullen explain it:

“Founded in 2009, the award winning company’s all-electric sedan came with a range of 88 mi (142 km), the longest among its class at the time. At one point, CODA was one of the only two certified EV companies selling EVs across the US; the other company being Tesla. CODA was focused on accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles by improving performance, safety, reducing cost, and commercializing production of battery systems built for automotive applications.”

Who knows what the electric vehicle market would look like today if CODA was a success. Unfortunately for its fans, the company went belly up in 2013 after selling just 78 electric sedans, and that’s when Michery stepped in.

Standing Out From The Crowd

On Mullen, CleanTechnica has some catching up to do. Last month Mullen announced the next step in its joint development deal with hofer powertrain, for the new Mullen FIVE crossover electric vehicles. The plan is to send a fleet of demonstration models on a test drive tour, beginning with the “Strikingly Different” tour later this year and extending into 2023, when the production version rolls off the line.

“The future Mullen FIVE production vehicles will feature performance specs such as a 120-kWh battery pack, 325 miles of range, 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph,” Mullen states. “The future Mullen FIVE RS High-Performance version will feature 0-60 mph in 1.95 seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph. The FIVE RS will be ready for consumers to experience in person in the spring of 2023.”

Lending an assist is a newly announced collaboration with Team Rosberg Engineering on chassis and safety development. Mullen also paired up with the global product development firm ARRK last December for a suite of computer-aided services including the battery, closures, interior, chassis, thermal, and infotainment engineering as well as body-in-white (the completed vehicle silhouette, minus the moving parts).

Mullen’s EV portfolio also includes the somewhat daringly named ONE EV fleet vans, an area in which Ford’s E-Transit and GM’s BrightDrop electric vehicles will make for some stiff competition.

Mullen is banking on the air-to water angle to steer van buyers over to its side.

“This technology is envisioned for Mullen’s fleet of EV cargo vans and can be utilized in both commercial and recreational vehicle settings. The air-to-water systems will provide up to 5 liters of drinking water daily, directly from the air, while the vehicle is moving and can be used as a fresh water source for the vehicle occupants,” Mullen explains.

“Our partnership with Watergen has been months in the making and is a very exciting opportunity for both our companies,” adds Michery who is also the chair of Mullen Automotive. “Mullen will be the first automotive company to co-develop this technology with Watergen for our entire portfolio of electric vehicles. The opportunities for air-to-water vehicle applications are endless, and Mullen is proud to partner with Watergen on this game-changing technology.”

More Solid-State Batteries For More Electric Vehicles

Of course, no discussion of new electric vehicles would be complete without a mention of solid-state batteries, and Mullen has plenty to say on that topic.

Last May, the company announced the test results from the Battery Innovation Center in Indiana for its solid-state polymer battery cell.

“BIC testing shows impressive results of 343.28 Ah at 4.2 volts for Mullen’s solid-state polymer battery cell, which is in line with previously reported results from EV Grid,” Mullen reported. “This data supports solid-state polymer battery cell technology, which when scaled to the vehicle pack level, and at a 150-kilowatt hour equivalent, can deliver over 600 miles of range on a full charge for the Mullen FIVE EV Crossover.”

That figure of 600 miles may seem excessive, but the convenience factor begins to add up when you can bundle more miles into one charging session. In particular, that will come in handy for the many drivers who don’t have access to a personal charging station. The longer range could also help simplify scheduling for fleet managers and gig workers, among others.

Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.

Photo: Mullen FIVE crossover electric vehicle courtesy of Mullen Automotive.

 
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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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