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Old 04-05-2008, 02:39 PM   #21
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Only if it is more efficient or cost effective than all electric cars, or flywheel cars, or hydrogen cars (hydrogen is just another storage medium ).
Sorry ERD, I wasn't very clear I guess.
Electric cars are a far better solution than the air car. All I was saying is that the air car would get some fraction of our transportation off of oil.

Similar to ethanol, it lowers our dependance on foreign oil. But it costs as much if not more energy and raises food prices. It sucks as far as a solution goes, but it still reduces the need for oil. If reducing oil consumption is the only qualifier, ethanol and air both work as partial solutions.
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Old 04-05-2008, 02:51 PM   #22
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Solving the problem from the wrong end. Until we start making energy from something other than oil, coal and natural gas...what uses that energy is irrelevant. Air and electricity made from fossil fuels is no better than a gas motor.

But unlike nuclear reactors and football field sized solar arrays, people just cant feel bad about a car with a battery, big fat capacitor or air tank in it.

That is until they're hit by an F-350
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:32 PM   #23
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Until we start making energy from something other than oil, coal and natural gas...what uses that energy is irrelevant.
Incorrect. An electrical engine is much more efficient than a good old fashioned internal combustion engine. Se even if your electricity is coming from burning oil you are still being more efficient with that energy.
I agree that both ends need to be worked on, but improvements at either end are both a good thing.
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Old 04-05-2008, 04:12 PM   #24
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To the best of my knowledge the % of electricity generated by oil is small and will be even less as more solar and wind generators go on line.

I have two issues with the Telsa: cost ($98,000 is a bit much), and recharge time/range.

I want a car that I can drive for 8 hours on the freeway - 300 mile range if I can re-charge during a lunch stop.

If we are to change our national addiction of gasoline the vehicle needs to accommodate 4 persons (parents and two kids), their gear, and be under $25,000 for the basic model.
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Old 04-05-2008, 04:28 PM   #25
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Incorrect.
Hmm. I thought it was pretty well proven that the average delivered unit of electricity minus production and distribution costs of both the electricity and the device thats intended to replace a gas motor...was below the efficiency and cost of a reasonably sized modern gas engine and gasoline production.

Cuz...if it wasnt...we'd all be using whatever was by now, right?

But then there are people who think the jury is still out on global warming...

Brat - Roughly 50% of the electricity generated in the US is from coal, 19% from natural gas and 3% from diesel/equiv. Nukes are 18% and hydro is about 7%.

So going back around to the original point, if everyone starts driving electric/compressed air/bean powered cars, we'd have to make a lot more electricity. So wheres that going to come from and how will it be produced?

Oh gosh. We do have a shitload of coal, dont we?

About 20 years later when all the NIMBY problems are resolved and solar production is efficient enough for us to produce the national supply from solar farms in out of the way places...providing of course that we decide as a nation to spend money on trivialities like this instead of the really important ones we're funding now...maybe. Just maybe.
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Old 04-05-2008, 04:35 PM   #26
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I wasn't looking at this issue from a global warming POV.

It is all about oil, a good part of which is used in automobiles. We need to decrease our consumption of oil big time. IMHO it is a national defence issue.
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Old 04-05-2008, 04:51 PM   #27
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Eh, I always look at the big pic. Doesnt help us to cut back on oil if we then have to raise our natural gas imports by a factor of 20, or if we have to sacrifice losing a few thousand lives a year to increasingly dangerous coal mining.

What we REALLY need is something the size of a really big picture window, maybe two, that can be slapped on any house to produce more electricity than the household can use, including charging the cars. All for about $3-4,000 installed.

Then you put some slightly oversized batteries in the cars to extend driving range, but use them for your overnight electricity storage with a limiter to keep them from being overtapped to the point where you wont be able to get where you're going the next day.

Might make the situation of two people with four cars pretty attractive

Or go the other way around and put efficient fuel cells in the cars and plug those into the house when you're home to provide power to the house.

But then WHERE will we get all that hydrogen?
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Old 04-05-2008, 05:58 PM   #28
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Incorrect. An electrical engine is much more efficient than a good old fashioned internal combustion engine. Se even if your electricity is coming from burning oil you are still being more efficient with that energy.
According to Tesla, their car is much more efficient from a wheel-to-well measurement. 2x the miles per unit energy used than a Prius.

Tesla Motors - well-to-wheel

But, this is a vehicle with expensive Lion batteries. Something affordable just won't do so great.

Remember, though the electric plant is more efficient than a small ICE, there is a long chain:

Generate E > transmit E (~8% loss is the national grid average) > convert to DC and charge batteries (~20% loss?) > discharge batteries (~ 10% loss?) > electric motor and controls (20% loss?).


Wiki says an ICE in a car ~ 20% eff. A combined cycle power plant can reach 60% eff. But 60 % X .92 X .8 X .9 X .8 = 32% eff.

Tesla doesn't show their calcs (at least on that page), and I made some ballpark assumptions, but still - electric cars don't appear to be all that much efficient than burning oil, and it would be worse with affiordable batteries.

Also, power plants don't have catalytic converters. They actually produce more pollution than cars for a given amount of energy. Which is pretty amazing, but cars were the focus of pollution regulations, so that is where development went.

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Old 04-05-2008, 07:19 PM   #29
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Hmm...and then what do you do with all those batteries when they've reached the end of their life span?

And what wastes and byproducts are generated during their manufacture?
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:14 PM   #30
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What we REALLY need is something the size of a really big picture window, maybe two, that can be slapped on any house to produce more electricity than the household can use, including charging the cars. All for about $3-4,000 installed.

Then you put some slightly oversized batteries in the cars to extend driving range, but use them for your overnight electricity storage with a limiter to keep them from being overtapped to the point where you wont be able to get where you're going the next day.
I like the idea, but we'll probably have to scale things up a bit.

More back of envelope computations: Full solar irradiation at sea level, noon, no clouds is approx 1000 watts/sq meter. If we assume that we can get this for 6 hours/day, that's 6 kilowatt/hours per day per sq meter. Based on calculations in a recent thread, (http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...eal-34484.html
) if you wanted this little commute-o-mobile to go just 120 miles using a steady 30 HP (no battery losses), you'd need to pump 45 kw/hours of electricity into it. That's 7.5 square meters of incident sunlight = 82 square feet. That's about the size of two very big picture windows. So far, so good.

But, we haven't powered the house yet. According to one source ( As TVs grow, so do electric bills | csmonitor.com,) the average US home uses 880 kw/h per month. If we assume we're really thrifty and use just 50% of this, that's 14.6 kwh/day. That's 26 more square feet of incident sunlight collector, or a total (with the collector for the car) of 108 sq feet. (that's over six 6' x 4' picture windows).

But we live where sometimes there's a cloud in the sky. and rain, too. Add 40% collector area for the real world solar irrradiation = 151 square feet of collector.

This has all been at 100% efficiency (sunlight to electricity conversion), which is consistent with the intent of your your "what we need" plea. If we wanted to power this car and this house using present-day PV panels (20% efficiency) we'd need a collector measuring 755 sq feet (about thirty-one 6' x 4' picture windows).

Then, we've got storage losses`. . . wait! Some fool wants to use a toaster! Oh, the humanity !!
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:22 PM   #31
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What happens to the air tank in an accident? Is there one big boom when it ruptures, or does it blow stuff all over?
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:54 PM   #32
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Some refinemments: According to the graphic at the link below, most spots in the US get about 5 kwh per square meter per day (taking into account weather, low grazing angles at morning and afternoon, lack of sun at night, etc). To get the 60 kwh/day needed by the house and car would require:

12 square meters (130 square feet = over five 4' x 6' picture window size collectors) with 100% collector efficiency

60.4 sq meters (650 square feet = twenty-seven 4' x 6' picture window-size collectors) with today's 20% collector efficiency

Image:Us pv annual may2004.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:54 PM   #33
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Hmm...and then what do you do with all those batteries when they've reached the end of their life span?
According to Tesla:

Tesla Motors - touch

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Above and beyond RoHS, our lithium ion cells contain no heavy metals, nor any toxic materials. In fact, our cells and ESS, by law, could be disposed of by putting them in a landfill. However, we have no intention of landfilling our ESS.


There are some exciting potential uses for the ESS in its afterlife. While our ESS is designed to maximize performance and life in our roadster, at some unfortunate point, the ESS will come to the end of its useful life in the application . However, it might be possible to use the ESS in other applications. For example, the ESS could be used as a power source for off-grid backup or load leveling. The battery requirements for such an application are not as demanding as a high performance vehicle battery. This being said, eventually the batteries will no longer hold a significant charge and will need to be disposed of.
and

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The copper cobalt product is sold for recovery of metals such as cobalt, aluminum, nickel, and copper. The slurry is processed into a cobalt filter cake. This cake is then reused in appliance coatings.


Soda ash is added to resulting process solution and precipitates out as lithium carbonate; liquid is bled off after lithium salt recovery, and is sent off as non hazardous effluent for proper disposal.


As you can see, the recycling process is mainly a mechanical and chemical one. It does not involve any smelters; so emissions are kept to a minimum.


The result from this process is that we are able to recycle about 60% of the ESS materials and reuse a further 10% (by weight). We currently plan to landfill only the benign fluff, which comprises about 25% of the ESS, but we expect to nearly eliminate this in the future when our volumes get higher and we can justify the effort required to separate and reuse the plastic.


Keep in mind that we have only done a few trial runs with our modules. We’re hoping that we won’t need to recycle our modules for many years to come. However, we believe it is important, before we start shipping cars, to understand and plan for the eventual disposal of these vehicles.
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And what wastes and byproducts are generated during their manufacture?
I'll leave that one for you to google, and compare to an ICE car, catalytic converter, etc...

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Old 04-05-2008, 08:58 PM   #34
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Some refinements: According to the graphic below, most spots in the US get about 5 kwh per square meter per day (taking into account weather, night, etc). To get the 60 kwh/day needed by the house and car would require:

12 square meters (130 square feet = over five 4' x 6' picture windows) with 100% collector efficiency

60.4 sq meters (650 square feet) with today's 20% collector efficiency

I also did some back of the envelope calcs like that a while back. Came up in the same ballpark, about 10 x 50 feet of panels. A setup like that is not out of the question as far as space goes, it could fit on a rooftop. I'm afraid to price one out, though. It's kind of like buying an annuity - 'guaranteed income (electricity) for life!'. Cue the 800 pound gorilla.

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Old 04-05-2008, 11:32 PM   #35
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Eh, I have a bynch of lithium ion batteries that are pretty much worthless after 2-3 years. And those just ran my phone or laptop for a few hours here and there. Pretty sure a battery that runs a car at 80mph down the street isnt going to fare much better.

My marketing bullshit antenna is quivering...

Sam - We just some of those 2x-10x improvements in solar efficiency I keep hearing about that will be happening in "just a couple of years". And some really thick extension cords.

NIcads arent that bad unless you have a good look at Sudbury Ontario. I do suppose that shooting a bunch of Lithium into the water supply might make a lot of us a lot less concerned about a lot of things...
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Old 04-06-2008, 02:10 AM   #36
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So going back around to the original point, if everyone starts driving electric/compressed air/bean powered cars, we'd have to make a lot more electricity. So wheres that going to come from and how will it be produced?

Oh gosh. We do have a shitload of coal, dont we?
While I gather you were being facetious about having a shitload of coal; however, that is as a possibility if the US really wants to wean themselves from the foreign oil nipple. Germany was successful with the conversion of coal to petroleum in WWII when their supply of oil was severly reduced. We could also retort the kerogen from oil shale located in Wyoming. Gulf and Standard Oil had a project in the mid '70s during the oil emargo. Re-opening the valve to cheap foreign oil killed the project.

However, with Obama selecting Al Gore as VP, the environmental issue is more touchy than the US weaning themselves from foreign oil.
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Old 04-06-2008, 05:05 AM   #37
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I saw that design a while back. The company is MDI.

I am fairly sure the engine can run as a traditional internal combustion engine also... it is a hybrid. Instead of electricity, it uses compressed air.

You gotta admit... it is creative.

I think one problem with the air car is with developing the infrastructure. The company's concept is to have stations with powerful air compressors to fill the car quickly.



MDI Enterprises S.A.

I think it is a hybrid vehicle.
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:01 AM   #38
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How about the GREASE CAR which Daryl Hannah drives and promotes as a source for alternate fuel?

Grassolean.com :: Home of the Biodiesel Station

I know that the use of HEMP, the air powered car and the grease car may not be the answers for large scale use but at least they are giving us some ideas on how to protect the envirnoment and cut back on the use of oil.

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Old 04-06-2008, 10:01 AM   #39
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While I gather you were being facetious about having a shitload of coal
Nope. The figures I see show somewhere between a 100 and 250 year supply of coal. Only problem is that we already got most of the easy stuff out of the ground and the last 50/125 years of that supply (depending on whose numbers you believe) are far more dangerous to mine than the first. Might explain the plague of mining collapses and accidents we've had the last couple of years.
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:19 AM   #40
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How about the GREASE CAR which Daryl Hannah drives and promotes as a source for alternate fuel?
I suspect a lot of us would be "eco-chic" like Daryl Hannah, Leonardo di Capria, Ed Begley, Willie Nelson, Al Gore, etc. if we had that kind of money, I know I would. We have a Toyota hybrid and try to buy "green" as much as possible (sometimes the premium is just too much), but $98,000 cars like the Tesla, (intermittant) solar or wind power, or technologies where there is no infrastructure (Ms Hannah has the $ wherewithal to deal with those 'minor' issues) are simply out of reach for most of us. But I guess I applaud them for supporting the development (regardless of whatever else might motivate some of them)...
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