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Thread: Electric cars? Not as good as we think.

  1. #1 Electric cars? Not as good as we think. 
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    As I attend a University I run into quite a few starry eyed idealist who think the answer is electric cars.

    That assumption was examined as this study review environmental impact from production to disposal.

    Comparative Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional and Electric Vehicles - Hawkins - 2012 - Journal of Industrial Ecology - Wiley Online Library

    It turned out to be a trade off between saving a bit of fossil fuel if you don't live somewhere where most electricity is still produced by fossil fuel (WA state better than Kentucky for example), and increase of toxins during production and disposal.

    "We find that EVs powered by the present European electricity mix offer a 10% to 24% decrease in global warming potential (GWP) relative to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles assuming lifetimes of 150,000 km. However, EVs exhibit the potential for significant increases in human toxicity, freshwater eco-toxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and metal depletion impacts, largely emanating from the vehicle supply chain."


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    I find this research shocking.


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    And early generation computers hardly qualify as clunky slow calculators by today's standards. What, electric technology is a failure? Quick, give up and keep burning gas! Them l'ectric thingies ain't M'erican, don't want none!

    How about constant improvements in battery technologies like here; Sugar battery
    I'm assuming that the bulk of post production toxicity is a result of battery electrolytes. The rare earths used in the motors can be recycled. And they aren't that rare, and have alternatives; Rare Earth Metals - Rare or in Short Supply? - Admiral Metals

    And here is a dinosaur getting outrun by a mammal;
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    What, electric technology is a failure?
    No need for the hyperbole really. It is afterall an objective look at electric car tech and cost after more than a century of development.

    And demonstrates, unlike the polarised politics that too often surround such issues, nothing is a free ride.

    My prediction is in 40 years or so most of us will be driving hybrid tech with a small biofuel powered engines. But we'll see.
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    I think, the least pleasant thing which is principally associated with electric cars is that high voltage electricity is dangerous.
    It makes it problematic when a repair in road conditions needed, in accidents and to also keep children away from them.
    Try to imagine that your EV broke somewhere in the wilderness, you need immediate repair and it's raining. Not a best time to
    open the hood.
    But in the future with advances in superconductive materials, voltage could be reduced, who knows...
    My prediction is in 40 years or so most of us will be driving hybrid tech with a small biofuel powered engines. But we'll see.
    I agree that hybrids look more flxible than EV in the foreseeable future. They could run on two types of energy.
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    Yet electric vehicles offer the possibility of being powered from sources other than fossil fuels - which oil based fuels obviously cannot. Intermittent ones accommodated almost as readily as 24/7 supply. The shift away from fossil fuels in electricity generation is a pressing requirement and the failures to push ahead with that contribute to the poor relative advantages derived. As for pollution outcomes, developing and growing supply chains for electric vehicles to displace fossil fuels requires adequate standards be put in place for whole of life cycle. None of these are really intrinsic and insurmountable problems, rather, are ones to be adequately addressed.
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; September 14th, 2014 at 05:16 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Try to imagine that your EV broke somewhere in the wilderness, you need immediate repair and it's raining. Not a best time to open the hood.
    Now imagine trying to do the same thing - fixing your gasoline engine in the rain, each cylinder having an explosive mixture detonated within it several times a second, with finger-amputating fans and belts spinning rapidly, and with cables carrying thousands (not just hundreds) of volts to each spark plug. Might want to keep your kids in the car - but where? Over a tank full of explosive liquid? Might be even worse.
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    It's annoying that the anti-electric studies always throw in the "assuming X electricity source" part. Obviously it would be foolish to assume any particular source for power grid electricity.

    If electric cars become widespread, that will add to consumption of powergrid, but also it will be a special kind of consumption where the car owners might not care exactly when the power becomes available, so long as it falls within the window of time before they'll need the car again. IE - it's the kind of demand you might be able to fill using solar/wind.
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    Electric cars seem to be the only game in town right now if you want to run your car on something besides fossil fuel. Hydrogen and biofuel don't look very promising to me.

    I think wind and solar would run into the same problem for transportation as they do for grid electricity - unreliability. With nuclear power you could charge your car battery during the off-peak hours and start each day with a freshly charged car battery. With wind or solar, you'd never be sure when you're going to be grounded.
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    When the sun is shining (or wind blowing) and solar (or wind) is the cheaper supply option, EV's will charge with solar (or wind). Weather prediction will combine with smart charging software at (solar fitted) home and electricity purchasing software will help facilitate it when the vehicle is parked elsewhere. Coal, gas and nuclear will have to deal with being forced into intermittency in an open energy market - and be more expensive during those times the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing to make up for it. And energy storage will be more attractive as a consequence, driving it's wedge into a complacent energy market and letting solar and wind grab yet more market share. While big ticket nuclear waits for the emissions policy certainty that can only come from the collapse of mainstream political antagonism to a low emissions future, renewables will keep on incrementally eating into the market share it's been failing to fill.
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    Maybe so, Ken, but the point remains that electric cars are not a particularly good fit with renewables, as they are so often touted. They fit very much better with nuclear power, as they would tend to even out the load demand, and that matches well with the nuclear plant's base load characteristics. You mention weather prediction. From the standpoint of electric cars, I guess this means that you will look at the weather forecast to decide whether you want to make a trip or not. Or possibly, grid operators will look at the weather forecast to decide when to fire up the fossil fuel or nuclear plants, which as you note, will become much more expensive to operate in that intermittent manner.

    The electric cars will not be particularly well suited as grid storage devices because it means that sometimes they will need to be discharging to fill in the gaps of generation. During the times they are discharged, they are not available for their main function of providing transportation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Maybe so, Ken, but the point remains that electric cars are not a particularly good fit with renewables, as they are so often touted. They fit very much better with nuclear power
    I'd say nuclear power is a much better source of baseline commercial/residential power because you need that all the time - and nuclear power plants excel at generating a rated power for decades at a time. They are very bad at throttling up and down to meet demand.

    By the same token, electric vehicles are best when sources of power are unreliable or intermittent, since they can decide when to take that power, and can then store it for later use. Indeed, one thing that electric vehicles would excel at is being used as "dispatchable loads" to allow better integration of wind/solar into the grid. Too much power from wind due to a windy day? EV's start charging at 2pm when the wind is strongest. No power from wind or solar due to a cloudy, still day? EV's don't charge during the day, and instead charge at night when nuclear power is more available (indeed, when nuclear power _must_ be used to keep the plants from having to throttle generation.)

    The electric cars will not be particularly well suited as grid storage devices because it means that sometimes they will need to be discharging to fill in the gaps of generation. During the times they are discharged, they are not available for their main function of providing transportation.
    Since most EV's very rarely use their full battery capacity, you still have quite a reservoir of power available while maintaining their utility for transportation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    I'd say nuclear power is a much better source of baseline commercial/residential power because you need that all the time - and nuclear power plants excel at generating a rated power for decades at a time. They are very bad at throttling up and down to meet demand.
    Current commercial nuclear power plants are designed as base load plants, but that doesn't mean they cannot be designed to swing load. For example, naval nuclear power plants provide all the power for the submarine or aircraft carrier, as much or as little as needed. Also, if you can move some demand to the off peak hours, that's that much more power that can be supplied by base load plants.
    By the same token, electric vehicles are best when sources of power are unreliable or intermittent, since they can decide when to take that power, and can then store it for later use. Indeed, one thing that electric vehicles would excel at is being used as "dispatchable loads" to allow better integration of wind/solar into the grid. Too much power from wind due to a windy day? EV's start charging at 2pm when the wind is strongest. No power from wind or solar due to a cloudy, still day? EV's don't charge during the day, and instead charge at night when nuclear power is more available (indeed, when nuclear power _must_ be used to keep the plants from having to throttle generation.)

    The electric cars will not be particularly well suited as grid storage devices because it means that sometimes they will need to be discharging to fill in the gaps of generation. During the times they are discharged, they are not available for their main function of providing transportation.
    Since most EV's very rarely use their full battery capacity, you still have quite a reservoir of power available while maintaining their utility for transportation.
    So you think people are buying more battery capacity than they need? It may be true that they don't use all of it every day, but they probably want some margin just in case, and using it for grid storage is going to cut into that margin.
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    Why electric energy storage still cannot even closely compete with fuels in energy density?
    Is there some fundamental physical laws which make it impossible?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    So you think people are buying more battery capacity than they need?
    Absolutely. Look at how many people buy four door cars to drive themselves to work every day, and how many people worry about EV range and want batteries that give them ranges much exceeding their daily requirements. They buy cars with larger batteries "just in case I want to . . . ."
    It may be true that they don't use all of it every day, but they probably want some margin just in case, and using it for grid storage is going to cut into that margin.
    If you need all that range (which I do perhaps once every two months) then you tell your car to not allow the battery to be used for V2G.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Why electric energy storage still cannot even closely compete with fuels in energy density?
    Is there some fundamental physical laws which make it impossible?
    No, just practical considerations. Fossil fuels, for example, make use of oxygen in the atmosphere; this is a "free" oxidizer that is often not used by batteries; this increases the effective energy density of fossil fuels. (Interestingly, air-aluminum batteries can take advantage of this, but are somewhat messy to recharge.) A second issue is that chemical energy can be transformed more directly to mechanical energy, which is useful for transportation.
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    I'm also doubtful about EV's directly doubling as household energy storage - we will want to keep the car charged. Yet, like shopping around for cheaper fuel, we may choose to delay if there is financial incentive and reasonable likelihood of significant savings. And if it's not too inconvenient. Smart software, that not only tracks projected weather related energy costs, but tracks our usage habits and grabs the power when it's cheap was what I had in mind. That opportunistic charging can easily be restricted to above a selected minimum charge level.

    Rather than EV's powering homes, it's more likely to be the other way around, with stationary storage offering more cost effective but less energy dense options. As EV batteries lose capacity they may find a second life as stationary storage, perhaps even still dedicated to vehicle use as the equivalent of drums of fuel kept for a rainy day. I look forward to using the excess from my rooftop solar to charge an EV and probably would endure some inconvenience to do so.

    Much depends a lot on how electricity markets are managed for how much financial incentive there is to charge up opportunistically - here in Australia the big established players are beginning to recognise solar as a real threat to their businesses and are already using their lobbying clout (in combination with alllied symbiotic mining sector's) to play dirty and act to restrict market access. They have a lot of old, already past use by date, and unable to cope with intermittent competition infrastructure and want it's profitable life extended by putting the burden of costs of change on the unwanted renewable competition. The impetus towards variable/time of use metering from the established energy sector is fading, I think because it actually makes renewables more attractive, not less. Very low and even zero feed in tariffs haven't stopped the growth of PV or prevented them offering their excess to the network and, ironically, that makes it harder, rather than easier to argue against it on cost to consumer grounds. Besides seeking to get network operators to refuse the feed in from new solar they look to be starting on shifting the balance of pricing away from metered usage to fixed charges as a means to reduce incentives for unwelcome competition from customers turning to self supply options that feeds excess into the network. They are getting a lot of support from the current crop Conservative government regulators that reject the science on climate (whilst rarely being willing to openly say so) and are hostile to the goal of a low emissions economy and to solar and wind as the most obvious beneficiaries of policies aimed at emissions reductions.

    But meanwhile I don't think we're anywhere close to running out of innovation on energy storage; more like we are gaining the in depth understanding of materials and their useful properties that will let us home in on our idealised mature technologies with less intervening steps. An EV industry may well put the effort and financing into developing low cost storage that the electricity generation sector has avoided and the spin off from that may well be technologies that enable renewables to push past the limitations of intermittency.
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; September 15th, 2014 at 04:26 PM.
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    EV's are rapidly getting better. New battery technology will at least double capacity, and I have seen reports suggesting ten fold increases. Already there are electric cars with a range of 350 kms. Doubling that will make long distance driving possible. It has also been reported that rapid recharge is coming, in which 80% of a full charge can be attained in 10 minutes. That is just time to drink a refreshing cup of coffee.

    The power source must, clearly, be something other than coal burning power stations. Like many others here, I see nuclear as the best long term option for solid base load generation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    It has also been reported that rapid recharge is coming, in which 80% of a full charge can be attained in 10 minutes.
    It's already here. There are already a dozen fast DC chargers in San Diego that I can get an 80% charge at very quickly. (Well 15 minutes rather than 10, which is more like a sandwich than a cup of coffee.)
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    I do not know why, but for me a heat engine have more "charm" than other type of propulsion such as electric or compressed air, for example.
    Principally, a heat engine doesn't have to be really polluting, for example they could run on thermal batteries (Stirling) or some clean fuel similar to natural gas.
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    It is probabnly the noise. New Scientist recently had an article on the response of car owners/drivers to engine noise. The absense of engine noise in electric cars is a major disincentive to people buying them. Most owners get a cheap thrill from the Vrooom Vroom!
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    Skeptic, that's actually a bit disturbing. Are "we" this shallow? It does seem that we are. It's actually antithetical to rational decision making. I've noticed similar for offroad motorcyclists and jetski enthusiasts; they appear to prefer these toys noisy, yet, because of the noise they end up with access to areas to play with them in restricted.
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    I am not sure that we should use the term "shallow". However, according to New Scientist, the noise of an engine plays a big part in both our enjoyment of the vehicle, and our choice of what to buy. Apparently electric cars will generate lots of noise once the speed is high enough, and both wind noise and tires on road noise gets high enough. But at lower speeds, the lack of noise is a bar to consumer appreciation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    It is probabnly the noise. New Scientist recently had an article on the response of car owners/drivers to engine noise. The absense of engine noise in electric cars is a major disincentive to people buying them. Most owners get a cheap thrill from the Vrooom Vroom!
    Solution- digital sound generators that make an authentic "vroom vroom" from hidden speakers/shakers.
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    Hydrogen fuel cell should eventually catch on and actually become the dominate power for most domestic vehicles, imo.

    I tried a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Here’s what it was like. - The Washington Post
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    Hydrogen fuel cell should eventually catch on and actually become the dominate power for most domestic vehicles, imo.
    What is energy density of hydrogen cylinders? Do you know any competitive way to store hydrogen?

    I think liquid fuel would be always easier to store than hydrogen or electricity. If you need some spare fuel in your garage any hermetic and tough canister will fit. If you need to store electricity you need expensive and short-lasting battery.
    Last edited by Stanley514; September 17th, 2014 at 10:00 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple007 View Post
    Hydrogen fuel cell should eventually catch on and actually become the dominate power for most domestic vehicles, imo.
    I think the problems with storing hydrogen are so formidable that they won't be a mainstream solution. However, if a simple and cheap methane reformer can be designed, then fuel cells can run easily on natural gas, either compressed or liquefied. This also has the huge advantage that we have natural gas (we don't have hydrogen.)
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    Hydrogen is a problem. Storage and handling are very difficult. Yet it is relatively easy to convert hydrogen gas to methane, or even methanol. It seems to me much more sensible to make the conversion and use the easier fuel.
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    However, if a simple and cheap methane reformer can be designed, then fuel cells can run easily on natural gas, either compressed or liquefied.
    What is a point? Carbon atom contains almost 50% of energy of methane molecule. You propose loose it for nothing. Efficiency of PEM fuel cells close to 50%. If you design heat engine which uses heat resistant materials and which works close to Carnot cycle you could even beat those fuel cells.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    What is a point? Carbon atom contains almost 50% of energy of methane molecule. You propose loose it for nothing.
    Well, I propose "losing" it to extend range, use an available fuel source and make the vehicle safer overall. Note that gasoline vehicles are pretty popular and even less efficient.
    Efficiency of PEM fuel cells close to 50%. If you design heat engine which uses heat resistant materials and which works close to Carnot cycle you could even beat those fuel cells.
    Agreed, it's just one of many tools available to us.
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    Well, I propose "losing" it to extend range, use an available fuel source and make the vehicle safer overall. Note that gasoline vehicles are pretty popular and even less efficient.
    If you loose 50% of potential chemical fuel energy and get 50% efficiency from the remaining one the ultimate efficiency would be 25%. Not to count looses elsewhere in the system such as electric motor, battery, converter, etc. Not any better than modern ICE.
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    Most alternatives to fossil fuels are best adapted to generating electricity. Biofuels are the main exception.

    However, it may be possible to produce various synfuels with electricity. The best-known possibility is hydrogen, produced by electrolyzing water. But hydrogen is difficult to store. Its boiling point at 1 atm pressure is about 20 K, *very* cold. Its critical point is 33 K and 13 atmospheres, meaning that it does not have a gas-liquid phase transition above that temperature.

    But one can combine hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make a variety of possible fuels, including ones that are liquid at room temperature. However, doing so requires heat and catalysts. The heat could be supplied by a solar furnace, and the catalysts are something that are familiar territory in industrial chemistry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Well, I propose "losing" it to extend range, use an available fuel source and make the vehicle safer overall. Note that gasoline vehicles are pretty popular and even less efficient.
    If you loose 50% of potential chemical fuel energy and get 50% efficiency from the remaining one the ultimate efficiency would be 25%. Not to count looses elsewhere in the system such as electric motor, battery, converter, etc. Not any better than modern ICE.
    Agreed. Now compare that to a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. First you have to make the hydrogen (which is a process that is 50-80% efficient) then compress or liquefy it for storage (about 80% efficient) then convert it back to electricity (50%.) You end up at about the same efficiency; 20-32%.
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    Agreed. Now compare that to a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. First you have to make the hydrogen (which is a process that is 50-80% efficient) then compress or liquefy it for storage (about 80% efficient) then convert it back to electricity (50%.) You end up at about the same efficiency; 20-32%.
    That's true. However all cars will be ultimately forced to switch to synthetic fuels because neither natural gas or oil is endless. In 2030 there could be severe oil shortages. Principally, yes, you could make synthetic methane as well. But I didn't claim that I like hydrogen cars more than natural gas PEM vehicles. I just think that methane reformer + PEM's are hardly better than ICE. Why not just burn methane in ICE?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    That's true. However all cars will be ultimately forced to switch to synthetic fuels because neither natural gas or oil is endless.
    Natural gas is not endless, but methane is, since we can make it from garbage. Thus we have a very straightforward method of switching from a fossil fuel to a renewable source of fuel.
    But I didn't claim that I like hydrogen cars more than natural gas PEM vehicles. I just think that methane reformer + PEM's are hardly better than ICE. Why not just burn methane in ICE?
    You can, and that's another benefit of methane - one fuel to support two approaches to the problem. A short term solution (ICE engine) and a long term solution (reformer.)
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    You can, and that's another benefit of methane - one fuel to support two approaches to the problem.
    Still currently energy density of CNG is just 1/4 from that of gasoline. You need 4 times bigger high pressure cylinder than gasoline tank.
    Not very convenient and could work better only in conjunction with long range plug-in hybrids (which aren't still there).
    I think, propane, butane or dimethyl ether could be closer to optimum if you are looking for a best compromise between energy density and clean burning fuels. Their energy density is 2/3 to 3/4 from that of gasoline.
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    The safety of vehicles has taken precedence over fuel economy. Cars are significantly oversized for the cargo load. Some safety features, such as the rear aerobrake (most passenger vehicles have drag on the rear which reorients the vehicle during highspeed spins), make the vehicle less efficient. The rear aerobrake is an energy loss which could be salvaged (however ugly the proposition may be).

    Electricity is the most efficient form of energy. It is by far the most manipulatable form of energy. While storage losses exist, electricity possesses no momentum; electrons have no weight.

    It is invisible; totally imperceivable without instrumentation. It's behavior is not instinctual.

    Mechanical, thermal, EMF, chemical energy can be converted to electrical energy. Mechanical energy conversion is the most efficient. Thermal energy almost always converted to mechanical energy prior to conversion to electrical energy with the prerequisite of a substantial amount of thermal energy. Chemical energy is most often used for storage of energy.

    Rail transportation is predominately driven by electrical force. Even in the case of diesel fueled locomotion, the energy is first converted to electricity.
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    The aerobrake is really difficult to get rid of. In some instances it actually contributes to aerodynamic efficiency. But not really. It does to some extent for the vehicle behind you.Aerodynamics is achieved when air displaced is replaced unmolested. A bit of forward movement contributes to back pressure. Most vehicle travel, even at slow speeds, with a bubble of air. The wind from a vehicle traveling 24 mph can be felt 100 feet away.Aerobrakes are good at reorienting vehicles. Vehicles have velocity and momentum. When the vehicle is disoriented, the wheels of the vehicle are in opposition to the momentum. The aerobrake, however, is in opposition to the velocity. This pulls the vehicle back into the intended heading. Without the aerobrake the profile of the vehicle is generally adverse to the original heading. Think the handling of bumper cars. Like spin-the-bottle bumper cars.

    Ironically the leading car inhibits the aerobrake of the car behind it. Which is OK because the aerobrake will be functional once the vehicle is no longer in line with the lead vehicle.

    Aerobrakes are found as a scoop on the rear bumper, a filthy airfoil, or as a high rear profile.

    Some vehicles are more drifty. BMW and Mercedes for example. NASCAR also uses a moderate aerobrake but it is more aggressive than the domestic passenger models of BMW. The moderate aerobrake allows the vehicle to apply positive rear wheel drive energy towards the intended heading. This is not any more efficient than scoop style aerobrakes. It is more exciting. Posche is a car that has traditionally rejected aerobraking. Mercedes typically has an un-weighted rear. Contrary to popular belief, I have ridden in an inch of snow in a Mercedes benz with exceptional handling. In Germany the Mercedes is very structurally taught.
    Last edited by vampares; September 20th, 2014 at 06:33 PM.
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    Electric vehicles -- hybrid, gas/electric and electric -- are heavier than the traditional automobile. As automobiles become heavier the aerobrake gets larger. This may not have effected earlier model vehicles, but you must realize, there is an engineer whose sole job is to attach aerobrakes on vehicles. Soon the efficiency of electric vehicles will be roughly 21 mpg.

    To prevent this you must supplant the aerobrake for a more efficient technology.

    I personally despise the situation where gas prices are the strong force in regulating economy. They always want to regulate the Consumer. They should be regulating Business. But they don't have the first idea of what they are doing. Soon I will shoot them.

    Do you know why JFK was shot? It is because he was an attention snatching stupid tyrant. That's all it takes. 123 brains on the windshield.

    I took out the World Trade Center and then they targeted the Pentagon. The world changes by the force of man. When that force of man is derelict, it is surgically removed from good society.
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    I've seen enough of vampares. He's gone.
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    If we can do power-to-gas (I mean methane) it'll be really easy to have existing natural gas suppliers join up as their natural supply diminishes. Isn't a transition to methane fuel the simplest solution?
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    Instead of methane, why not methanol? Methanol is in liquid form, can be made in a fully renewable fashion (from water, CO2, and electricity). Also there exists a direct-to-electric methanol converter.

    Direct methanol fuel cell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    When you combine it with a hybrid, you get something like this:

    Novel Electric Car with Biomethanol Fuel Cell Range Extender


    Not only that, but as a bonus, Methanol is less explosive than gasoline, and the fires are weak enough to be put out using water. So it improves safety on the roadways.
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    Instead of methane, why not methanol?
    Methanol has a high toxicity in humans. If as little as 10 mL of pure methanol is ingested, for example, it can break down into formic acid, which can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, and 30 mL is potentially fatal,[9] although the median lethal dose is typically 100 mL (3.4 fl oz) (i.e. 1–2 mL/kg body weight of pure methanol[10]). Reference dose for methanol is 0.5 mg/kg/day.[11] Toxic effects take hours to start, and effective antidotes can often prevent permanent damage.[9] Because of its similarities in both appearance and odor to ethanol (the alcohol in beverages), it is difficult to differentiate between the two (such is also the case with denatured alcohol). However, there are cases of methanol resistance, such as that of Mike Malloy, who was the victim of a failed murder attempt by methanol in the early 1930s.[12]
    Inhalation risk is mitigated by a characteristic pungent odor. At concentrations greater than 2,000 ppm (0.2%) it is generally quite noticeable, however lower concentrations may remain undetected while still being potentially toxic over longer exposures, and may still present a fire/explosion hazard.
    Methanol fuel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Methanol burns cleaner than gasoline and is safer in the case of a fire, but has only half the volumetric energy content of gasoline (15.6 MJ/L vs. 32.4 MJ/L).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol_economy
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Instead of methane, why not methanol? Methanol is in liquid form, can be made in a fully renewable fashion (from water, CO2, and electricity).
    That's true with just about every fuel out there from hydrogen to gasoline. It's all basically just hydrogen, oxygen and carbon with some energy added. But in general the process wastes too much energy to be economical. That's one of the big advantages of methane - we have lots of it, right now, and can use it as-is.
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    The rub with all hydro carbon fuels is that the carbon is left in the air after we burn it, as CO2. One point in moving to alternative fuel is to reduce greenhouse gases. The only fuel with no carbon foot print is Hydrogen made from water with solar power. It is argued that it is less efficient than other fuels. However how efficient does a process need to be when the raw material and the energy source are free?
    A plus is that with minor adjustments hydrogen can be used in existing internal combustion engins. If we want to get more fancy it will also fuel a fuel cell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    The rub with all hydro carbon fuels is that the carbon is left in the air after we burn it, as CO2.
    Yup. The difference is in where the carbon comes from. Fossil fuels, of course it comes from the ground and goes to the atmosphere. But in an ideal power-to-gas scheme: we flesh-out our hydrogen with CO2 from the atmosphere, for methane, methanol, etc; then combustion returns the CO2 to where we found it. That's carbon-neutral.

    See, I fundamentally agree hydrogen from electrolysis is what we must do. And we can make it better for storage, delivery, and consumption by converting that hydrogen into traditional fuels such as methane (natural gas).


    Kojax, I think fuel cells (as opposed to internal combustion) provide very little power, and are developed with the aim of holding lucrative patents or exclusive rights even. Should I think again?
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    Some countries regard dimethyl ether as a perspective fuel. It is similar in chemical composition to ethanol, but could be synthesized in one stage from coal, for example.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    The only fuel with no carbon foot print is Hydrogen made from water with solar power.
    So is methane made from that hydrogen via the Sabatier process, or even methane made from digesters that process farm waste. They are all carbon neutral.
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    If the electricity used to make hydrogen comes from coal burning power plants, it is far from carbon neutral!

    Until we replace those coal burners, the 'carbon neutral' argument stinks.
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    I still think we have a lot of room for developing better batteries, through greater understanding of materials and their properties, especially surface interactions, as well as coming up with improved methods of producing 'exotic' materials with the properties needed. I don't believe that Li-Ion as it stands is anywhere near the end of the line in batteries, with several means of greatly increasing their energy density being explored, yet it's already getting close to being a viable alternative.

    How much economies of scale can bring costs down is to be seen, but electric vehicles already offer superior energy efficiencies in charging and use even if there's room to improve in the manufacturing and dismantling/recycling chain. I've wondered myself if some kind of production, direct or by conversion, to high energy density fluid fuels will be necessary; I suspect there will be plenty of roles that it will come into it's own but I still think battery powered electric will be the winner.

    Decarbonising electricity production has a very long way to go, but I don't think it's technology that's the impediment - it's the failure to truly commit to a transition to low emissions. Not just lack of commitment is an impediment; an abundance of well organised, well funded and strongly committed opposition forces the best policies to be delayed, weakened, compromised and uses the delays, weaknesses and compromised policies as grounds for demanding more delay, weakening and compromise - and continues to seek outright rejection of decarbonising as a legitimate policy goal.
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    I suspect there will be plenty of roles that it will come into it's own but I still think battery powered electric will be the winner.
    Not impossible, but could be argued. First of all, there is no very cheap and in the same time universal energy source which could be converted to electricity. Or any such energy source at all, if you wish. But if some day such a source will be discovered and it will be really cheap, why not to produce cheap synthetic gasoline from water and air instead of electricity? EV or hybrid in my understanding is a vehicle for energy scarce civilizations. If there will be plenty of energy, synthetic fuel is more convenient. You could fill a tank in matter of minutes instead of hours, do not care about high voltage shock and batteries disposal. Currently price of EV components such as batteries, PCU, invertor and electronics is a big issue. All this components cost many thousands and high money cost means high energy cost.
    Last edited by Stanley514; September 23rd, 2014 at 07:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Not impossible, but could be argued. First of all, there is no very cheap and in the same time universal energy source which could be converted to electricity.
    Solar is about as close as we come. It's one fault is reliability (most places are dark during the night) - but one solution to that is batteries. Battery powered vehicles are ideally suited to interfacing with an intermittent source of power like solar-PV.

    Or any such energy source if you wish. But if some day such a source will be discovered and it will be really cheap, why not to produce cheap synthetic gasoline from water and air instead of electricity?
    Mainly because EV's are close to 100% efficient, whereas gasoline cars barely hit 30%. (And the process to make that gasoline isn't much better.) Thus you can go 9 miles with synthetic gas or 100 miles on electricity for the same investment in energy.

    EV or hybrid in my understanding is a vehicle for energy scarce civilizations. If there will be plenty of energy, synthetic fuel is more convenient. You could feel a tank in matter of minutes instead of hours
    You can charge EV's in a matter of minutes too, although you are still about 10x longer than a gas car. I can get 70% of a charge in about 15 minutes.

    do not care about high voltage shock and batteries disposal.
    And with electric vehicles, you don't care about toxic exhaust, hot exhaust pipes burning you, or deadly gas pump explosions. Seems to be a wash there.

    Currently price of EV components such as batteries, PCU, invertor and electronics is a big issue. All this components cost many thousands and high money cost means high energy cost.
    ?? Energy cost does not equal monetary cost. Gold is more expensive than aluminum, but aluminum takes much more energy per kilo to refine.
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    Mainly because EV's are close to 100% efficient, whereas gasoline cars barely hit 30%.
    Could you give me a source which claim EV's are almost 100% efficient? Currently they have looses in batteries, motors, inverters, PCU's.
    In total hardy more efficient than 70% I guess, more likely even 50%.
    you don't care about toxic exhaust, hot exhaust pipes burning you, or deadly gas pump explosions.
    Highly pure synthetic gasoline from water and air suppose to burn relatively clean, not to much toxicity in there. There is no sulfur, no heavy metals. Do you know any person who suffered from hot gas pipe or gas station explosion?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Mainly because EV's are close to 100% efficient, whereas gasoline cars barely hit 30%.
    Could you give me a source which claim EV's are almost 100% efficient? Currently they have looses in batteries, motors, inverters, PCU's.
    In total hardy more efficient than 70% I guess, more likely even 50%.
    Where do you think those losses are? Electric motors and inverters are quite efficient. There are no inherent loss mechanisms as there are in heat engines. You can design them to be 99% efficient; for cost purposes most manufacturers settle for 90% or so.

    As a quick way to evaluate the difference, run a regular car 10 miles or so om a highway, then stop and put your hand on the engine, radiator, tailpipe, transmission and catalytic converter. All of them will be warm to very, very hot. That is all lost energy, which goes to inefficiency. And even with all that heat being dissipated from metal surfaces, the car STILL has to radiate even more waste heat through its radiator and dump it via its tailpipe.

    Now touch the brake rotors. They will also be hot; stopping the car after that 10 mile drive requires the car to dissipate that energy as heat.

    Now do the same with an EV. You will find the motor will be a bit warm to the touch, the inverter might be a little warmer. And that's without a tailpipe dumping heat. That's because EV's don't have the inherent thermodynamic losses you get with an Otto-cycle engine. Also touch the brake rotors; they will be a lot cooler because the car recycles that energy.

    The stated efficiency, tank-to-wheels, of a Tesla model S is 88%. Per the EU, EV's are 3x as efficient as IC engines. In real world tests, EV's get between 100 and 130 MPGe (energy in gas vs energy into car.)

    Energy Efficiency of Tesla Electric Vehicles | Tesla Motors
    Electric vehicles - Transport

    you don't care about toxic exhaust, hot exhaust pipes burning you, or deadly gas pump explosions.
    Highly pure synthetic gasoline from water and air suppose to burn relatively clean, not to much toxicity in there.
    You still get NOx no matter how pure your gasoline is. It's a product of combustion in air, not from any waste products in the gasoline. (True of methane as well.)

    Do you know any person who suffered from hot gas pipe or gas station explosion?
    Personally? No. 300 people died in gasoline vehicle fires last year; 2 of those were fueling their cars when their cars just plain exploded. I have never heard of anyone dying in an EV explosion, fire or charging incident.
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    To Stanley

    Re the cost of electricity.

    You said there was no cheap source of electricity. I disagree. The word 'cheap' is purely relative, and you ignore the fact that modern electricity is about the cheapest source of energy the world has ever known, if we rate it in terms of ergs per hour labour required to pay for those ergs.

    A modern power plant, gas, coal, hydro, or nuclear, generates each kilowatt hour of electricity for roughly $US0-10 plus or minus 2 cents (as an average over many such plants). One kilowatt hour of electricity can do a hell of a lot! This is the low cost that comes from the efficiency of a large plant. Of course, the consumer pays more than that, but the power is still 'cheap'.
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    You still get NOx no matter how pure your gasoline is. It's a product of combustion in air, not from any waste products in the gasoline. (True of methane as well.)
    They could be combated with an efficient catalysts.
    Personally? No. 300 people died in gasoline vehicle fires last year; 2 of those were fueling their cars when their cars just plain exploded. I have never heard of anyone dying in an EV explosion, fire or charging incident.
    Theoretically, explosiveness of an organic fuel is not a principal problem. I think you could add some additives which will drastically increase ignition temperature, so it will ignite and explode only inside of diesel engine. Or obtain a fuel with such intrinsic properties, especially in case of biodiesel.
    You said there was no cheap source of electricity. I disagree. The word 'cheap' is purely relative, and you ignore the fact that modern electricity is about the cheapest source of energy the world has ever known, if we rate it in terms of ergs per hour labour required to pay for those ergs.
    Electricity is not an energy source. It is used to transport or to store energy only. Any modern energy source could be with some degree of success used to produce synthetic fuel instead of electricity.
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    Now do the same with an EV. You will find the motor will be a bit warm to the touch, the inverter might be a little warmer.
    If electric motors are such efficient than why they still require an oil or liquid cooling?

    "Engineers at General Electric claim to have successfully tested an ultra-efficient prototype electric vehicle motor with a peak power level of 55 kW (74 horsepower) and the ability to operate at a continuous temperature of 221 °F), using only conventional transmission fluid to cool the motor. According to GE, the motor is up to 5 percent more efficient than any motor available today and could theoretically boost the range of plug-in vehicles. The motor's use of conventional transmission fluid for cooling could lead to lighter, less complicated plug-in vehicles. By eliminating the need for a dedicated cooling system (the motor shares its fluid with the vehicles transaxle) more space will be freed up for various uses (i.e. the install of a higher capacity battery pack or more passenger or cargo volume). General Electric is currently in discussion with electric motor manufacturers and automakers and is looking to commercialize its efficient electric motor by the end of 2015.
    The next task for GE engineers is to duplicate the performance of this motor, but produce it without using rare earths. GE hopes to accomplish this task in the next four years.
    Funds for development of the motor were partially provided by a $5.6 million grant from the US Department of Energy."
    GE Reveals Electric Motor Without Dedicated Cooling System | PluginCars.com

    Average motor efficiency is around 80+%.

    "The Sport Model introduced during the 2009 Detroit Auto Show includes a motor with a higher density, hand-wound stator that produces a maximum of 288 hp (215 kW).[100] Both motors are designed for rotational speeds of up to 14,000 rpm, and the regular motor delivers a typical efficiency of 88%[17] or 90%; 80% at peak power. It weighs less than 70 pounds (32 kg)."
    Tesla Roadster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Instead of methane, why not methanol?
    Methanol has a high toxicity in humans. If as little as 10 mL of pure methanol is ingested, for example, it can break down into formic acid, which can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, and 30 mL is potentially fatal,[9] although the median lethal dose is typically 100 mL (3.4 fl oz) (i.e. 1–2 mL/kg body weight of pure methanol[10]). Reference dose for methanol is 0.5 mg/kg/day.[11] Toxic effects take hours to start, and effective antidotes can often prevent permanent damage.[9] Because of its similarities in both appearance and odor to ethanol (the alcohol in beverages), it is difficult to differentiate between the two (such is also the case with denatured alcohol). However, there are cases of methanol resistance, such as that of Mike Malloy, who was the victim of a failed murder attempt by methanol in the early 1930s.[12]
    Inhalation risk is mitigated by a characteristic pungent odor. At concentrations greater than 2,000 ppm (0.2%) it is generally quite noticeable, however lower concentrations may remain undetected while still being potentially toxic over longer exposures, and may still present a fire/explosion hazard.
    Methanol fuel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Yeah. Methanl will kill you if you drink it, or inhale too much of its fumes. Gasoline has exactly the same problem, though. It can also kill you if you inhale too much of it, or drink it.

    However, Methanol is considered sufficiently safe that it is allowed to be carried by passengers on airplanes for the purpose of powering their laptops (or other electronic devices.)

    Direct methanol fuel cell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    Methanol is toxic and flammable. However, the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) voted in November 2005 to allow passengers to carry and use micro fuel cells and methanol fuel cartridges when aboard airplanes to power laptop computers and other consumer electronic devices. On September 24, 2007, the US Department of Transportation issued a proposal to allow airline passengers to carry fuel cell cartridges on board.[6] The Department of Transportation issued a final ruling on April 30, 2008, permitting passengers and crew to carry an approved fuel cell with an installed methanol cartridge and up to two additional spare cartridges.[7] It is worth noting that 200 ml maximum methanol cartridge volume allowed in the final ruling is double the 100 ml limit on liquids allowed by the Transportation Security Administration in carry-on bags.

    Methanol burns cleaner than gasoline and is safer in the case of a fire, but has only half the volumetric energy content of gasoline (15.6 MJ/L vs. 32.4 MJ/L).
    Methanol economy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Yeah. It does have only half the volumetric energy of gasoline. So unless it were priced at half the price, and/or the direct methanol fuel cell process were substantially more fuel efficient, it would not do well in the marketplace.

    At least not for automobiles. The fact you can use a methanol fuel cell indoors makes it ideal for powering some things that would normally be considered impossible or impractical. Like a vacuum cleaner that doesn't have to be plugged into the wall. Or maybe android robots that do housecleaning work around the home (since we know the computer tech to be able to program them for it is probably either here now, or on the way soon.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Kojax, I think fuel cells (as opposed to internal combustion) provide very little power, and are developed with the aim of holding lucrative patents or exclusive rights even. Should I think again?
    I'm not sure what the motivation is. The guy who invented it is a nobel prize winning chemist.

    It's possible that the slow rate of power from them will make them impractical for automobiles, though. Could extend the range of an electric, but might not work as a total solution like hybrid gasoline automobiles do.

    It's other possible uses appeal to me a great deal, though. If these fuel cells were to break open the "household android robot" market, that could become a major industry , creating some new jobs and maybe helping the world economy a bit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    They could be combated with an efficient catalysts.
    Agreed! And they are combated in that way, even with standard gasoline.
    Theoretically, explosiveness of an organic fuel is not a principal problem. I think you could add some additives which will drastically increase ignition temperature, so it will ignite and explode only inside of diesel engine. Or obtain a fuel with such intrinsic properties, especially in case of biodiesel.
    While I agree that would help, I am reminded of the now-famous test where they crashed a 707 into the desert after adding an agent to the fuel to prevent atomizing and thus prevent fireballs. I don't think you're going to avoid deaths through fire as long as you use flammable fuel. (Battery powered vehicles have their own problems, and if all that energy is released at once, you could have similar fireworks - but in general since they are not inherently flammable the problem is going to tend to be more manageable.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Average motor efficiency is around 80+%.
    "The Sport Model introduced during the 2009 Detroit Auto Show includes a motor with a higher density, hand-wound stator that produces a maximum of 288 hp (215 kW).[100] Both motors are designed for rotational speeds of up to 14,000 rpm, and the regular motor delivers a typical efficiency of 88%[17] or 90%; 80% at peak power. It weighs less than 70 pounds (32 kg)."
    Tesla Roadster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Per your quote average efficiency is 88-90%. Efficiency at PEAK power is 80%. (And since a Tesla will do 0-60 in 4 seconds, it will not often see that peak.)

    If electric motors are such efficient than why they still require an oil or liquid cooling?
    Because they are physically small. Even if a motor the size of a coffee can is 90% efficient, at 12 kilowatts (fairly average for highway cruising) you're going to need to dissipate over a kilowatt in a small space.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    If the electricity used to make hydrogen comes from coal burning power plants, it is far from carbon neutral!

    Until we replace those coal burners, the 'carbon neutral' argument stinks.
    Yes, all energy, including electricity and hydrogen, is best produced where the greatest renewable energy resources are. Hydroelectric in Chile anyone? Solar in Australia? Then the energy exports worldwide not by grid but in ships, much as fossil energy is moved today. So global-market energy must be distributed as fuel. In this case a plug-in electric car is wasteful because it could easier run off that same fuel delivered by tanker truck or ship, that stops in Auckland or wherever.


    Kojax, I'm skeptical of vehicular fuel cells because a "leader" , Ballard Power Systems, for decades drew great hope and investment, plus significant government grants, only to sell its flaccid vehicle division cheap to Ford. Looks like a golden fleece to me:
    Quote Originally Posted by chief executive John Sheridan
    “If you got back to the Ballard dream 10, 12, 15 years ago, it was a dream
    Ballard now hopes to sell backup power systems for telecom, and some demonstration-only fuel cells for Volkswagen (paid by government clean energy grants?). Would you like to buy their stock?
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    Where do you think those losses are?
    Let's to calculate by realistic minimums: Let's say we have 100 Joules at the beginning. Most efficient batteries such as Li-ion have efficiency at 90%. But since you have looses during both charging and discharging, ultimate efficiency will be 81%. So, you have 81 Joules remaining. Then you have looses in inverter or DC/DC converter. If it's 90% efficient you have 73 Joules remaining. Then you have looses in PCU or other controllers. If they are 97% efficient you have 71 Joules remaining. Then you have electric motor. If it's 85% efficient you have 60 Joules remaining. Then you got 60% total efficiency.
    Last edited by Stanley514; September 24th, 2014 at 03:27 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Where do you think those losses are?
    Let's to calculate by realistic minimums: Let's say we have 100 Joules at the beginning. Most efficient batteries such as Li-ion have efficiency at 90%. But since you have looses during both charging and discharging, ultimate efficiency will be 81%.
    OK, that's a bit of a different question. You were asking about tank-to-wheels efficiency before, which is either gas tank to road or battery to road. You are now asking about well-to-wheels, which is more comprehensive, and includes refinery losses, transportation losses, transmission line losses etc. (Or perhaps you're asking about charger-to-wheels?)
    In any case the coulombic efficiency of lithium ion batteries is 97-99%. That means if you put in 100 coulombs you get ~98 out. The additional losses come from charge rate and ESR losses in the battery. In the case of a slow charge (say a C/8 charge, as in my EV) then you lose another 1-2% to heating. During discharge, which is inherently higher rate in an EV, those losses are closer to 8%. So your discharge efficiency is 96% but your end to end efficiency is 86%.
    Then you have looses in inverter or DC/DC converter. If it's 90% efficient you have 73 Joules remaining. Then you have looses in PCU or other controllers. If they are 97% efficient you have 71 Joules remaining. Then you have electric motor. If it's 85% efficient you have 60 Joules remaining. Then you got 60% total efficiency.
    Those are very low efficiencies for both motor and inverter. However, if you had inverters and motors that poor, then you would be at 69% discharge efficiency, or 66% charge-to-road efficiency. Fortunately most EV's are more efficient than that.
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    Those are very low efficiencies for both motor and inverter. However, if you had inverters and motors that poor, then you would be at 69% discharge efficiency, or 66% charge-to-road efficiency.
    You should be a genius who invented one of such vehicles.
    For example this source claims that: "Electric vehicles convert about 59–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels..."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    You should be a genius who invented one of such vehicles.
    ?? I am not a genius. I have designed EV inverters and chargers, and one of our prototype inverter/chargers was 96% efficient (and we didn't spend a lot of time optimizing efficiency.) Companies like Nissan, Toyota are VERY secretive about such specs, but larger commercial off-the-shelf inverters (like the Zilla 2K) run around 98%.

    For example this source claims that: "Electric vehicles convert about 59–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels..."
    Again, you have to define from where to where that number is. Is it generator to wheels? That might be accurate, since you also include transmission and charger losses.

    Also note that if you are doing a full well-to-wheels analysis that is way too HIGH. Well-to-wheels for an EV is about 30% in an area that uses mostly natural gas generation. That's all the losses from drilling the fuel, transporting it, running the generator, transforming it up, transmitting the power, dropping it, charger, battery, motor etc. (For comparison an internal combustion engine car is about 14%.)
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    ?? I am not a genius. I have designed EV inverters and chargers, and one of our prototype inverter/chargers was 96% efficient (and we didn't spend a lot of time optimizing efficiency.) Companies like Nissan, Toyota are VERY secretive about such specs, but larger commercial off-the-shelf inverters (like the Zilla 2K) run around 98%.
    Some company claims it have achieved 98.7% peak efficiency in their inverter which is made of silicon carbide instead of common silicon. However current price of such inverter is 70.000$ which is 10 times higher than common one.
    prodrive
    And I guess this is for a reason. So, if we speak about top-notch and know-how technologies, maybe, but everything has its own price.
    Also note that if you are doing a full well-to-wheels analysis that is way too HIGH. Well-to-wheels for an EV is about 30% in an area that uses mostly natural gas generation. That's all the losses from drilling the fuel, transporting it, running the generator, transforming it up, transmitting the power, dropping it, charger, battery, motor etc. (For comparison an internal combustion engine car is about 14%.
    Currently its difficult to predict which technology has more space for improvement, though I do not disagree that EV are somewhat more efficient. But I said about hypothetical case when we will have oceans of dirt-cheap energy and convenience of liquid fuel could exceed advantages of efficiency. In any case EV's have one more unsolved problem energy density. The most energy dense batteries that researches could currently invision such as Li-S have energy density 500-600 Wh/kg which practically comes down to 400 Wh/kg and at 75% battery to wheel efficiency gives 300 Wh/kg. In the same time gasoline has 3.000 Wh/kg at 25% tank to wheel efficiency. Ten times difference is a formidable difference. I think what they will invent to the end of this century is in best case affordable plugin hybrids.
    Last edited by Stanley514; September 24th, 2014 at 07:55 PM.
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  68. #67  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Some company claims it have achieved 98.7% peak efficiency in their inverter which is made of silicon carbide instead of common silicon. However current price of such inverter is 70.000$ which is 10 times higher than common one.
    Agreed. However, the Zilla (using the far more pedestrian IGBT's rather than GANFETs) costs $4000 for 98% efficiency, which is probably enough for most purposes. It's a nice inverter, and will do about 600 kilowatts peak (far in excess of what most motors and batteries can handle.)

    And I guess this is for a reason. So, if we speak about top-notch and know-how technologies, maybe, but everything has its own price.
    Definitely. And that's why I expect commercial EV inverters to be closer to 95% efficient - that remaining few percent doesn't do much for your range or power but has a big impact on cost.

    Currently its difficult to predict which technology has more space for improvement, though I do not disagree that EV are somewhat more efficient. But I said about hypothetical case when we will have oceans of dirt-cheap energy and convenience of liquid fuel could exceed advantages of efficiency.
    Definitely agreed there. Hard to beat the convenience of liquid (or even gaseous) fuels.

    In any case EV's have one more unsolved problem energy density.
    That generally translates to range. And with the best EV's hitting 260 mile ranges, I don't see energy density as a big issue. The big issue with those EV's is price - $100K for an EV puts it way out of most people's price range. Fortunately that, historically, is an easier problem to solve.

    I think what they will invent to the end of this century is in best case normal plugin hybrids.
    Those will probably be the stopgap until we get better batteries. But with capacity improving a few percent a year for the same cost, it won't be long before affordable li-ion batteries are giving 250 mile ranges. For example, even with nothing other than that few percent improvement a year, by 2050 the current Nissan Leaf battery will have a 250 mile range. (And that's just li-ion; other technologies will certainly come along as well.)
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    And with the best EV's hitting 260 mile ranges, I don't see energy density as a big issue.
    It could depend on country. In Belgium or South Korea, maybe, in U.S. or Canada hardly. Most of people would prefer a car which could travel between New York and Boston without recharging.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    And with the best EV's hitting 260 mile ranges, I don't see energy density as a big issue.
    It could depend on country. In Belgium or South Korea, maybe, in U.S. or Canada hardly. Most of people would prefer a car which could travel between New York and Boston without recharging.
    260 miles would get you from New York to Boston without recharging. To get across the country, you'd need to stop and charge, just as people stop and fuel now. (And with fast chargers, that's 30 minutes or so - which takes longer, but is much better than the 12 hours that would have been needed even 5 years ago.)

    However, for the short term, I agree with your earlier point that plug-in hybrids are easier. You cover 95% of your driving (local) with electric, then run the gas engine for the 5% of the time you need to take a long trip.
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    Charging time is the other parameter. If electric cars become common, there will be roadside coffee houses which will have credit card operated charging points. If the car can recharge to 80% of capacity in 10 minutes, that is just time enough for a useful and refreshing break, and one cup of coffee. Then on you go.
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    I think electric vehicle technology would work much better if some powerful and still untapped source of energy will be discovered. To which you could tap anywhere. In this case EV would have unlimited supply of energy. I do not know what could it be. Earth rotational energy cannot be topped without Moon, "ether" of which N. Tesla dreamt about doesn't seem to exist... Maybe some energy teleportation will help?
    Quantum energy teleportation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    I think electric vehicle technology would work much better if some powerful and still untapped source of energy will be discovered. To which you could tap anywhere. In this case EV would have unlimited supply of energy. I do not know what could it be. Earth rotational energy cannot be topped without Moon, "ether" of which N. Tesla dreamt about doesn't seem to exist... Maybe some energy teleportation will help?
    Quantum energy teleportation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    There are some far more prosaic ways to get low cost energy that have great potential but still need to cross some technological hurdles such as -
    Nantenna's

    Double-sided panels could
    absorb a broad spectrum of energy from the sun during the day,
    while the other side might be designed to take in the narrow
    frequency of energy produced from the earth's radiated heat or
    potentially residual heat from electronic devices.
    I think the authors failed to fully apprecialte that any potential to use residual heat would enable low cost thermal energy storage systems, although the ability to harvest radiated heat from the ground may make a lot of the need for storage unnecessary.


    IR-voltaic cells - that is my name for the potential devices that the author suggests may be an application of bi-layer graphenes.

    Our calculations show that the hot electron photothermoelectric effect can be an efficient means of gathering energy from light. Perhaps our devices could be used to gather the infrared light escaping the Earth into the night sky, and turn it into electricity.
    The potential for harvesting heat, for 24/7 energy or thermal storage apply to this one also.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    "We find that EVs powered by the present European electricity mix offer a 10% to 24% decrease in global warming potential (GWP) relative to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles assuming lifetimes of 150,000 km. However, EVs exhibit the potential for significant increases in human toxicity, freshwater eco-toxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and metal depletion impacts, largely emanating from the vehicle supply chain."
    Seems like we never hear the whole scientific truth about the impact on the environment for various things, or perhaps we only hear what we want to hear. One of the real environmentally sensitive persons where I work broke down in tears after she learned the truth about her hybrid. Are we to trust scientists and who should we be listening to?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Seems like we never hear the whole scientific truth about the impact on the environment for various things, or perhaps we only hear what we want to hear. One of the real environmentally sensitive persons where I work broke down in tears after she learned the truth about her hybrid. Are we to trust scientists and who should we be listening to?
    Not hard to find the truth about any energy technology; the information is out there. It's more that people hear what they want to hear.
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    However, Methanol is considered sufficiently safe that it is allowed to be carried by passengers on airplanes for the purpose of powering their laptops (or other electronic devices.)
    Kojax, if you feel comfortable with moderately toxic fuels, I may propose you such exotic substance as methylamine. It has best hydrogen/carbon ratio among all hydrocarbon fuels as it contains 5 hydrogen atoms per 1 carbon atom. It has physical properties (density) between those of propane and butan. Could be obtained by reaction of methanol with ammonia.
    Methylamine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It is probabnly the noise. New Scientist recently had an article on the response of car owners/drivers to engine noise. The absense of engine noise in electric cars is a major disincentive to people buying them. Most owners get a cheap thrill from the Vrooom Vroom!
    I'm not sure it is a noise, modern cars are relatively quite. Simply, I like fire (psychologically) more than electricity and would prefer that propulsion method I use would be based on it. I'm not sure that transport without fire inside could be any romantic.
    Last edited by Stanley514; October 5th, 2014 at 07:16 AM.
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    Electric cars have higher manufacturing emissions than normal cars. Electric cars also use electricity that has its own footprint. And put together these two factors are that negate any climate benefit of electric cars!
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