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Old 06-14-2010, 04:19 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I look forward to the day when trains, trucks, and airplanes run on renewable, low-carbon electricity (which we don't have), but we're not there yet.
I think this is the key. - Net energy gain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We have electrified mainline railways in the UK for most main lines (I think) as well as Eurostar and the new high speed link proposed to come all the way up to Scotland. The problem is generating the power to run them. At the moment we are projected to be either just about OK for power in 10 years or (more likely IMHO) looking at a shortfall.

Additionally if you are going to carry out the comparison between liquid fuels and EV then you also have to factor in the cost of the infrastructure and the power / resources needed to make the batteries, motors, controller electronic components (electronic manufacture uses a lot of nasty chemicals) and thats on top of the normal car resources excluding ICE components. You could argue that infrastructure is there already powering our homes but this is a new level of demand our current system doesn't cope with. We (consumers) have demanded energy use far beyond what our parents had or even we had a few years ago. Another one to add to the list.

But the key one to most people is not the extreme of efficiency its acceptible efficiency vs convenience. A car with an ICE and liquid fuel has an unlimited range as long as there are fuel stations with fuel in them - debatable how sustainable that is - but at the moment its where we are. People are still not sure about EVs with quoted ranges of up to 150 miles, perhaps 200, maybe 250 and then a long-ish recharge time. The disapointment of that remote control toy car at Christmas gradually being unable to crawl across the carpet and having to wait for an hour to play again play on people's minds. They (EVs) are getting better and I hope will continue but at the moment ICE and liquid fuels work.

Having said that the Apteras of this world may as well forget it for me. Impractical as my only car and I prefer my cars to have a full complement of wheels. If GM can make an Impact work a decade ago why not improve on it now.

One of the reasons I believe Hybrids are a milemarker on the road to whatever we may use 50 years from now (if we can use anything at all) rather than the ultimate solution is because Hybrids were supposed to give us the best of both worlds - that the infinite range of being able to refuel instantly only better with extended range because of stored and regenerated power. In the real world with people who don't drive EM stylee they get disapointing mileages. The number of road tests of the Prius in the UK failing to match the claimed MPG forced Toyota to issue statements about it.

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Originally Posted by RobertSmalls
This reminds me of a fun fact: the green energy infrastructure of tomorrow will be built on the brown energy of today. How much would it cost to build a wind farm, hauling 150' blades and 60-ton nacelles, using battery-electric trucks? And what if the electricity to charge those trucks came from coal extracted using battery-electric mining equipment and delivered by electrified heavy rail?
I honestly believe we are about 20-25 years too late to be able to do this on a scale large enough to make a difference. The cost comparison between green energy (whatever that is meant to mean) vs fossil fuels is too much in the fossil fuel favour to make those projects pay. And when the balance goes the other way we probably won't be able to put in the investment required in terms of brown energy anyway.

Add in the fact that 2bn Chinese also want cars, houses, air con, video games and so on, and they have an unelected government which is not too bothered about how they get those things as long as they keep the population happy to stay in power, and we have serious problems ahead.

I think the business-buzzword-bingo of "doing more with less" is more likely to change to "doing less with much less" in the future. For those who believe their way of life is non-negotiable I quote Richard Heinberg - "Nature doesn't negotiate".

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Old 06-14-2010, 05:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I have seen many arguments about EV's not being that much more efficient or cleaner than ICE's because of the efficiency of the power plant involved, and that coal is so dirty.

However taking the energy back to the power plant is equivilant to taking the fuel cycle back to the refinery. And EV's still win out efficiency wise even by their calculations which doesn't even take in regenerative braking, that has to say something for EV's.

Not long ago I calculated how much power I would use if I switched entirely to electric for tranportation (other technical issues asside), and found that my electricity consumption would double. Considering that I have an average US carbon footprint, going completely EV would pose some serious problems for our grid.

We already have batteries that can be charged from 20% to 80% in under 5 minutes, their capacity by weight and volume is seriously lacking. However when you consider the ammount of power required to charge them in that amount of time (1Mw+ for an automotive application) and that you need to have some kind of connector that is both idiot proof, efficient and durable you begin to realize the obsticles ahead for a full EV conversion.

Edit to add: and yes EV's are the future, and Hybrids are the stepping stone to get there.
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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At 30 miles range on the 7.5kWh = 250Wh/mile and that is very doable with the A/C on.

The X-Prize is using the 33.4kWh/gallon figure -- this is the "direct" BTU equivalent.
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:08 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Okay, Robert Llewellyn has a new pilot video podcast of his aptly (renamed) series called "Fully Charged":



Really, really good stuff! He does not mention (specifically anyway) about grid losses, when adding up the carbon footprint of electricity. Is it included in the calculations?

I will note that even if grid losses are 50% (aren't they actually 10-20%?) and you apply that to the total mentioned in the video, then the 40gm/km becomes 60gm/km, which is still far less than for gasoline. In fairness, that 50% increase should *not* be applied to the mining, transport, etc.

So, ~40-60gm/km for an EV vs 450-500gm/km for an ICE powered vehicle, source to wheel comparison of carbon (in the UK).

Hmmm.
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Ok, so thinking back to high school, and the "butterfly" effect that occurs in production circles:

In order to make a gallon of fuel, you need to extract the raw material, which takes fuel.

Then, you need to move the raw material, which takes fuel.

Then, you need to refine the raw material into usable substrates, which takes yet more fuel.

Production of electricity is a lossy operation, using yet even more fuel.

All of the fuel you just used to get fuel was also, at one point, raw, and had the same requirements.

The effect isn't just singular, it's multi-generational. Each KW of energy you use had to come from a previously used KW of energy which came from a previous KW, etc.
What if someone made a solar panel factory that was powered by solar panels? Then used panels made in that factory to power another factory that made more solar panels?
Rinse, repeat.
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:20 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Additionally if you are going to carry out the comparison between liquid fuels and EV then you also have to factor in the cost of the infrastructure and the power / resources needed to make the batteries, motors, controller electronic components (electronic manufacture uses a lot of nasty chemicals) and thats on top of the normal car resources excluding ICE components.
To be fair, then, the comparison should include the cost of manufacturing the ICE car components.

And don't forget the hazmat cleanup costs of gas stations. There's an EPA site (used to be a gas station) a few blocks from my house that they've been working on for months. Who's paying for that?

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You could argue that infrastructure is there already powering our homes but this is a new level of demand our current system doesn't cope with.
Well, maybe. Typically electrical use is a lot lower at night, when most EVs would recharge. So there might be a modest increase in demand, but it will probably take a long time to materialize.
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:51 PM   #17 (permalink)
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What if someone made a solar panel factory that was powered by solar panels? Then used panels made in that factory to power another factory that made more solar panels?
Rinse, repeat.
That's been done, IIRC. I read a few years ago about a photocell factory in Germany that is now powered by its own PV's. You can looking for it, I can't find anything today
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Old 06-18-2010, 03:08 PM   #18 (permalink)
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@Patrick

I pretty much agree with most of what you said. I just think there isn't and hasn't been a full on end-to-end assessment of the technology as yet. Liquid fuels have that infinite range element and infrastructure. EVs the potential to be as good in most respects.

Remember of course people have got used to cars with the utility they have now, so the likes of the 3-wheeled, no room for luggage, and stability challenged likes of the Aptera just isn't going to plump my pillows in the near future. A >50% EV S1 Insight with the ICE as a backup would. I lived for many years with nothing bigger than an original Mini (10ft long and room for 4) so I'm used to limited space, but I prefer a full complement of wheels and some stability.

I hope there is time to nurture new tech, but I kind of worry there isn't enough.
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Old 06-22-2010, 04:18 PM   #19 (permalink)
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How about ethanol. According to this:

How Much Energy Does It Take to Make a Gallon of Ethanol?
(sorry, I haven't made enough posts to post that as a link)

There is only a 38% energy gain from ethanol.

Then look at it from a CO2 stand point:
so for 1 gal of E .72gal of petroleum are used, some is in fertilizer, which is not burned, so let's say .65gal.

To make sugar into ethanol it ferments, which makes CO2. About 80% as much CO2 as it makes ethanol (by weight).
Then you burn the ethanol in your car, dose this make any sense? It wouldn't be at all economical if corn wasn't subsidized.
Okay I'm done ranting,
I just want a turbine drive nuclear powered car, just have to change the fuel rods every 70 years, or 10million miles (which ever come first)
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Old 06-22-2010, 04:32 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Dr. Jerryrigger View Post
How about ethanol. According to this:

How Much Energy Does It Take to Make a Gallon of Ethanol?
(sorry, I haven't made enough posts to post that as a link)

There is only a 38% energy gain from ethanol.

Then look at it from a CO2 stand point:
so for 1 gal of E .72gal of petroleum are used, some is in fertilizer, which is not burned, so let's say .65gal.

To make sugar into ethanol it ferments, which makes CO2. About 80% as much CO2 as it makes ethanol (by weight).
Then you burn the ethanol in your car, dose this make any sense? It wouldn't be at all economical if corn wasn't subsidized.
Okay I'm done ranting,
So suppose you don't use any fertilizer and then use ethanol to do the distilling? And run all the farm implements on ethanol? Is that not sustainable?

Quote:
I just want a turbine drive nuclear powered car, just have to change the fuel rods every 70 years, or 10million miles (which ever come first).
And you'll just have to change your DNA every 30 minutes.

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