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Old 07-30-2010, 09:43 PM   #101
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I simply don't see anywhere near the level of scrutiny about green products that I see for the rest of stuff we buy.
We'll have to agree to disagree, then, but that was supposed to be sarcasm...

I'm sorry, but the whole new wavy, psychobabble, pop psychology spewed on commercials, and for that matter, regular TV programming, has turned us into Stepford consumers. Take this pill, exercise for 5 nanoseconds on the Pie-Master, eat anything you want, wear this "label", and you'll be thinner, younger, richer, and get laid more often...

"Saws an engine block in two, and still slices a tomato paper thin!"
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Old 07-31-2010, 08:39 AM   #102
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Build them and prices will go down:

Electric cars like Chevy's new Volt are too expensive today, but they won't be for long. - Newsweek

Remember how much you paid for things in the past when they were brand new?
A calculator. A LED watch (before LCD watches). A caller ID display. Now they practically can't give them away.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:09 AM   #103
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Build them and prices will go down:

Electric cars like Chevy's new Volt are too expensive today, but they won't be for long. - Newsweek

Remember how much you paid for things in the past when they were brand new?
A calculator. A LED watch (before LCD watches). A caller ID display. Now they practically can't give them away.
Except for the tiny annoying little fact that the entire premise of his article is, how should I say this.... WRONG?

I have pointed it out before, the limiting factor for EVs is battery performance/cost. If it was the CPU or the disk drive, we'd all be driving them now. Batteries are just not progressing at that sort of rate, and selling a few hundred thousand EVs before their time won't change that.

Using his 'logic' so generously, why isn't health care cheap like cell phones? I thought everything comes down with volume?

Some links earlier in this thread:

Chevy Volt

Chevy Volt

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Old 07-31-2010, 09:32 AM   #104
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But don't take my word for it - here's a summary of the DOE's review of battery technology and on their programs :

Link to DOE report

Lithium-ion Batteries Are Still Not Ready for Prime Time -- Seeking Alpha

Quote:
this new report is a relatively upbeat assessment of lithium-ion battery research and development that once again provides a stark reality check for investors in energy storage stocks.
So even a relatively upbeat assessment is a stark reality check.

Quote:
... discussion on 25 pending research, development, analysis and testing projects that are nowhere near complete. It's clear from the Report that the DOE is coordinating a massively complex and expensive drive to improve lithium-ion batteries to a point where they will be cost-effective in transportation applications. It's equally clear that the effort has a long way to go before we're able to accurately assess the likelihood that all or any of the pending R&D projects will result in innovations that can survive the transition from the laboratory bench to the factory floor. The R&D is critically important, but favorable results are not guaranteed, costs are likely to exceed budgets by a wide margin and timing is anybody's guess. The only certainties are it won't be soon and it won't be cheap.

It's also a difficult industry that's constrained by laws of chemistry, requires massive volumes of commodity raw materials and can only be described as capital intensive heavy manufacturing. That means we can reasonably expect steady incremental progress over a the long-term.

However, the game changing 'Moore's Law' type advances we've come to expect from information and communications technology are simply not going to happen in energy storage.
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Old 07-31-2010, 04:09 PM   #105
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However, the game changing 'Moore's Law' type advances we've come to expect from information and communications technology are simply not going to happen in energy storage.
The obvious solution is to have Gordon Moore (who is happily retired and giving away his billions via his foundation) stop looking for Extraterrestrial life and start looking at batteries. It is basically a chemistry problem and Gordon has a PHd in Chemistry from CalTech so he is clearly no dummy.

Then issue the Moore's battery law
"The energy density of batteries will double every two years. "

Hey it couldn't hurt.
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Old 07-31-2010, 04:29 PM   #106
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I am curious how well the hybrid and fully electric vehicles handle extreme cold conditions (40 below zero). I have my doubts about how well they would work in those situations.
It does help that we have the plugs readily available in parking lots!
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Old 07-31-2010, 05:52 PM   #107
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It does help that we have the plugs readily available in parking lots!
True, but the affect of cold on batteries leads me to believe that the engine of the Chevy volt will be running constantly to keep the battery charged. That would have a big impact on the cost savings. Don't get me wrong, the electric motor is the perfect power plant for a car, we just don't have the energy storage technology to make it work well yet.
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Old 07-31-2010, 05:57 PM   #108
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The obvious solution is to have Gordon Moore (who is happily retired and giving away his billions via his foundation) stop looking for Extraterrestrial life and start looking at batteries. It is basically a chemistry problem and Gordon has a PHd in Chemistry from CalTech so he is clearly no dummy.

Then issue the Moore's battery law
"The energy density of batteries will double every two years. "

Hey it couldn't hurt.
Assuming you're totally tongue in cheek about "Moore's law" for batteries, it does make me think: There should be a relatively easy way to calculate a "theoretical" maximum energy density for batteries. I never took electrochemistry, but I would think you would pick the two chemicals with the highest electrical potential between them and then calculate the volume or weight of those two chemicals per watt or other energy measure that would be possible. In practice, those two chemicals might be too exotic or incompatible to be used in an actual battery, but at least, then we would have some idea of how big a battery would actually be needed to power a car for a reasonable distance. My SWAG is that "you can't get there from here". Energy density like you have in gasoline (because you can burn it - not convert it electrically) is MUCH higher than the potential between an electron donor and an electron acceptor. Fuel cells can get you there, but then we really aren't talking about "charging" a battery anymore. We're talking about fueling a cell instead. Something you can plug in and charge MUST have an absolute limit of how much energy per volume or weight that it can hold. Just as liquid HC have roughly 125,000 BTU per gallon (+/-) there must be a way to calculate the potential of a theoretical "perfect cell".

Maybe it would be better to go the complete opposite way from battery technology and back to ICE technology. With gasoline, we throw away (what?) 85% of the heat of the combustion. If we could cut that in half (by reusing the waste heat - think of a trubocharger that instead operates an alternator to charge up the Prius battery faster than braking. Or maybe the cooling medium for the engine block is an exotic CFHC which can be used to power a "steam" engine to operate an alternator. I'm sure the "smart" folks have already rejected such ideas, but it sure seems easier to my pea-sized brain than trying to find exotic chemicals which can hold electrons in suspended animation for later use. Just my $.02 worth. And, oh yes, YMMV
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:10 PM   #109
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Did anything ever develop from that rumored "almost ready for market" research on supercapacitors? At least it's a different (non-chemical) approach to electricity storage.

At one point, high-speed flywheels offered much better energy densities and lower costs than batteries. For vehicle use, dealing with the gyroscopic forces would be a challenge, but I think there were approaches using gimbals (so the flywheel could pivot and allow the vehicle to change direction without fighting the flywheel). The safety problems (kinetic energy of the flywheel) were largely solved by using a composite flywheel in an evacuated composite containment vessel. If the container is compromised and admits air, the flywheel pretty much disintegrates into some epoxy dust and fiberglass yarn.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:28 PM   #110
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If the container is compromised and admits air, the flywheel pretty much disintegrates into some epoxy dust and fiberglass yarn.
I'll bet that gets exciting.

Submarine inertial-navigation systems used to use a beryllium ball spinning at some ridiculously high RPM in an evacuated chamber which responded to the sub's changes of motion by nudging accelerometers. It was horribly expensive, incredibly delicate & fragile, and a huge PITA to calibrate/maintain. Every submariner heaved huge sighs of relief when it was replaced with ring-laser gyros.

I bet substandard batteries & capacitors could still store more energy than the world's best flywheel... and a lot more cheaply, too.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:17 PM   #111
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There should be a relatively easy way to calculate a "theoretical" maximum energy density for batteries. I never took electrochemistry, but I would think you would pick the two chemicals with the highest electrical potential between them and then calculate the volume or weight of those two chemicals per watt or other energy measure that would be possible.
Excellent question. I have no idea, but I got a pretty quick result from this link from a google search. It seems right in-line with your questions ...

The limits of energy storage technology | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Quote:
And if research regarding the substitution of silicon for carbon in the anodes is realized in a practical way, then the theoretical limit on lithium-ion batteries might break 3 mega-joules per kilogram. Therefore, the maximum theoretical potential of advanced lithium-ion batteries that haven't been demonstrated to work yet is still only about 6 percent of crude oil!

Without considering the practicality of building such a battery, we can look at the periodic table and pick out the lightest elements with multiple oxidations states that do form compounds. This thought experiment turns up compounds of hydrogen-scandium. Assuming that we could actually make such a battery, its theoretical limit would be around 5 mega-joules per kilogram.
If I'm getting that, looks like the theoretical limits of untested compounds are around 10% of what gasoline can do. That doesn't sound too promising . But EVs are ~ 4X better at turning KW into moving the car than an ICE is, so the 6% number really translates to maybe 25% at the wheels.

So that might mean we need to carry 4x the weight of batteries as gasoline for the same range? 12G of gasoline is ~ 72#, so we might need ~ 300# of batteries? Workable if the cost can come down. Not clear how much extra is required to support those batteries (I think the article is based purely on the chemistry, not the packaging?). The Tesla is 53KWHr (191MJ) @ 450Kg. ~0.43MJ/Kg - close to the .5MJ/Kg that they mention for LION.

And flywheels:

Quote:
Energy density comparable to lithium-ion batteries has been demonstrated with flywheels, and a theoretical device composed solely of toroidal carbon nanotubes could reach 100 mega-joules per kilogram. But the fabrication and safety challenges inherent in such a device render it unlikely that even a small fraction of this potential will ever be realized.
BTW, gasoline is ~ 44MJ/Kg

PS - don't trust my math, I'm tired and multi-tasking.

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