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Old 09-23-2007, 09:54 PM   #21
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I truly think, personally, we're on the cusp of a large and extended bull run with a fair share of it revolving around curbing our emergent toxic environment.
Many people are saying that investments in "green" technologies will be winners. I don't think I'd bet on it. As presently construed, most "green" technologies benefit a large group (e.g. everyone who lives in the environment=everybody), but must be paid for by a much smaller subset (who derive comparatively little benefit from their investment). So, unless we come up with structures that bring incentives for the "payees" to want to do the environmentally sound thing, they won't. ERD50's "Plan C" probably has the best chance of getting the incentives right.
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:26 PM   #22
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ERD:

I'm not quite so frightened of gov't sometimes. They've incentivized lots of things in the past, and it's worked out. Railroads were originally given free land if they promised to put rails out west. Utilities were given regional franchises to deliver electricity. Ditto with rural phone service. It worked and oftentimes worked very well. Blanket cynicism doesn't solve one single problem ever.

I like C also. And a mandate of some sort to clean up dirty coal burning plants or find alternatives soon. It's all coming. And, yes, I'd like to see the whole pool table top tilted toward the clean energy pockets. But I don't want the gov't digging grooves in the table top either. It seems to me that we need to incentivize 'clean in the abstract' but leave business free to actually find it in the particular. Praise and a gold medal probably won't work--but it wouldn't hurt either.

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Old 09-24-2007, 03:29 AM   #23
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No matter how you slice it. Tax credit or government funding, the government looks at that like paying for it out of tax resources. It is kinda perverse, but they see them as the same (less money to spend on other government programs).


I agree with entrepreneurial endeavors. I like R&D targeted at the future... we should always be doing it. But I believe we need to focus our efforts and investments on technologies that are practical and viable in the near to intermediate term (5 - 20) years. Something that will deliver 35 - 50 years out is too far away.

One thing about developing infrastructure that is nationwide... it takes time. Plus huge amounts of money. I am not confident that business will get problems that that large will get off the ground without government assistance of some kind. Businesses (investors) are too focused on short-term returns.

Here is a little different question on the same subject: are we seeing the beginning of the end of the internal combustion and diesel engines. Are they going to be replace by electric over the next... say 35 years? I do not mean that they will totally go away... but will most vehicles in 35 years sport electric motors?
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:33 AM   #24
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Here is a little different question on the same subject: are we seeing the beginning of the end of the internal combustion and diesel engines. Are they going to be replace by electric over the next... say 35 years? I do not mean that they will totally go away... but will most vehicles in 35 years sport electric motors?
Yes, I believe so.
The biggest single advantage to electric cars is that you can easily change the energy source without needing to shut down the power plants to retool them (i.e. such as the refineries are retooled to change the gasoline mixtures).
If you use coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar or wind to generate electricity it makes no difference. The electric car can make use of it without blinking an eye.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:56 AM   #25
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The gov. does have to get involved in alternative sources both through research and incentives. There is no free market because the costs (war) are not priced into petroleum products. There are all kinds of agri-biz subsidies with ethanol that put a thumb on the scales. I think we should form a serious study group with the charge to "get it done" (like Nords said in the thread about work). These people should be scholars and engineering professors without strong ties to a particular industry and should be charged with examining the whole chain of costs including the "hidden" ones. We did it for the space program and the Manhattan project; this is arguably far more worthwhile in the long term, for our own well-being and survival.

There's a university gym I used to pass with huge plate-glass windows. There was an array of dozens of treadmills which were in constant use day and night. I always wanted someone to hook these youngsters up to the building's power plant! ;-D
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Old 09-24-2007, 09:22 AM   #26
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There's a university gym I used to pass with huge plate-glass windows. There was an array of dozens of treadmills which were in constant use day and night. I always wanted someone to hook these youngsters up to the building's power plant! ;-D
I've often wondered about that.

Cycle Power, Part II
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Old 09-24-2007, 09:45 AM   #27
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are we seeing the beginning of the end of the internal combustion and diesel engines. Are they going to be replace by electric over the next... say 35 years? I do not mean that they will totally go away... but will most vehicles in 35 years sport electric motors?
Absolutely. It makes you realize how primitive an internal combustion engine is. Explosions inside little chambers with liquids being sprayed around; what a mess!

Analogy coming...

Thirty five years ago I was sitting in front of a one-ton keypunch machine in the computer building with a stack of punch cards in my hand. Right now I've got my computer on my lap, and I'm holding a two-square-inch (outdated) CompactFlash card in my hand.
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:21 AM   #28
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Here is a little different question on the same subject:are we seeing the beginning of the end of the internal combustion and diesel engines. Are they going to be replace by electric over the next... say 35 years? I do not mean that they will totally go away... but will most vehicles in 35 years sport electric motors?
Nah. We need some major battery breakthroughs (or $10/gal gasoline) before people would accept a car with a max range of 100 miles.

It works great on Oahu, though. Heck, I could commute on a Segway here.

Remember the 1950s "Popular Mechanics" articles when nuclear power would render electricity too cheap to meter and everyone would be commuting via personal jetcars or jet packs? That's how I feel when people talk about the death of the internal combustion energy and "peak oil"...

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There was an array of dozens of treadmills which were in constant use day and night. I always wanted someone to hook these youngsters up to the building's power plant! ;-D
I proposed this for the TV watchers in our house and was informed that the same should apply to our computer. I backed down.

We took a LifeCycle exercycle to sea on my last submarine and subjected it to amazing amounts of punishment. It was so busy that it had a signup list and rarely cooled down on a 24-hour watchbill. The biggest problem we had in 30 months of use was a burned capacitor, which turned out to be compatible with an electronics spare in our onboard supplies. But other than thousands of miles, we could never figure out a good way to power more than a couple lightbulbs or an in-your-face cooling fan.
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Old 09-24-2007, 11:03 AM   #29
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I've often wondered about that.

Cycle Power, Part II
Well, just because we CAN do something, does not always mean we should.

I found numbers that agreed with Nords and that article on human power. A fit person can generate about 60 watts, around 1/10 HP. Super athletes only hit 1/4 HP for a burst.

So, even at a generous 24hrs/day, 365 days a year, zero downtime, that cycle could generate 525 KWhrs a year, or about $60 of electricity a year.

Now, consider the energy it takes to build the generator and the electronics to convert it to useful AC electricity, and then those things wear out and need to be replaced. Probably a negative overall, or a long payback. Probably better places to invest that money/energy. But I have often wondered the same thing - sure looks like a lot of energy going to waste! I think we need to find a way to make routine maintenance like cleaning, painting, etc attractive to people who like to exercise!

As a very, very rough guide, the cost of something tells you a bit about the cost of the energy to produce that thing. If that generator and inverter cost $150 for example, well, one thing you know is there is LESS than $150 of energy embedded in producing the item. The energy cost (warped by any energy subsidies) must be reflected in the cost, or they would lose money. Peeling the onion, the materials will also include the cost of the energy to produce them.

So, when I see an alternate energy idea, or even a conservation idea that has a long payback, it makes me wonder. Does it really have an 'energy payback'? I'd bet that the most significant cost of a solar panel is the embedded energy to produce it. So the economic payback (minus subsidies) is approximately the 'energy payback'.

(I just can't stop, sorry) - Here is another twist. Considering that solar panels have along life, 30 years or more, if over the next few years, they develop panels that are much more efficient, did we 'waste' the energy to make the current ones? Maybe we should have 'saved it' to make the more efficient variety?

-ERD50
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Old 09-24-2007, 12:30 PM   #30
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.......... Considering that solar panels have along life, 30 years or more, if over the next few years, they develop panels that are much more efficient, did we 'waste' the energy to make the current ones? Maybe we should have 'saved it' to make the more efficient variety?-ERD50

I think this is like having grandkids first........
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Old 09-24-2007, 01:26 PM   #31
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We need some major battery breakthroughs (or $10/gal gasoline) before people would accept a car with a max range of 100 miles.
Why accept a 100 mile range? My electric car (coming in a two years) will have a range of about 200 miles. If you have the funds, you can buy a Tesla Roadster with a 200 mile range set for delivery next year. The breakthroughs that are necessary are already here. Further breakthroughs will make the whole situation better yet.
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Old 09-24-2007, 01:50 PM   #32
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We need some major battery breakthroughs (or $10/gal gasoline) before people would accept a car with a max range of 100 miles.
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If you have the funds, you can buy a Tesla Roadster with a 200 mile range set for delivery next year.
What's wrong with $10 gas? That's cheaper than the electric alternatives right now.

Say you get a nice 30mpg average car. Over 100,000 miles, that is 3,333 gallons of gas. At $10/gallon, $33,333.

It might cost that much to replace the battery pack at 100,000 miles in a Tesla. And a 30mpg vehicle does not cost $100,000 to begin with. See, gas is cheap at $3, maybe even $10. There's not even that many electrics in Europe, where the population densities and price of petrol make them much easier to accept.

True, you can't burn rubber or impress your friends with 0-60 accel in 4 seconds in a 30mpg sedan, but if we are talking function and economy, that is not the point. Can't take the family out in a Tesla either.

Here is how the math works for Tesla:

A) in order to get a 200 mile range, they needed a BIG battery pack, even in a relatively lightweight and very aerodynamic car.

B) Guess what? - once you have enough power for 200 mile range, you also have enough power (coupled with the torque curve of an electric motor) to have that amazing acceleration burst.

C) So, Tesla engineers decided (smartly) to play on that combination, because 0-60 in four second sports cars sell for >$100,000, so they can make that big battery pack 'affordable', in relative terms.

So, dismissing the acceleration, you still need a pack almost that big for 200 mile range in a family sedan (more weight, more wind resistance to overcome). But who is going to add (roughly) $15,000-$30,000 to the cost of a family sedan, to save a few bucks on gas?

The 'every man' electric vehicle is a ways off yet. But cars like Tesla help to get the early adopters in, pay for the research and improve the technology. There is a lot to like about electric, I hope I get to buy one for environmental AND economic reasons.

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Old 09-24-2007, 02:56 PM   #33
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I could commute to w-w-w-w**k for four days with a 100mi range...
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Old 09-24-2007, 03:03 PM   #34
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I could commute to w-w-w-w**k for four days with a 100mi range...
My average monthly travel is about 100 miles.
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Old 09-24-2007, 03:30 PM   #35
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My average monthly travel is about 100 miles.
Oh, i think there is a market for 100 mile range cars. But they don't fit a lot of people's needs. 100 mile range would be fine for me for most of my driving. But once every month or so, I exceed that. If that puts one in a position where you need an additional car just for those occasions, that's a big hurdle for many people.

One 'solution' might be a really convenient, cheap rental system - maybe an electric car company could sponsor that. Seems I've heard of some - you go on the web, 'reserve' a car (it might have even been left at a train station or something), and away you go. All pre-approved and everything.


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Old 09-24-2007, 03:49 PM   #36
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Turbines stratigically placed deep in Deception Pass, Rich Passage and Agate Pass could probably generate enough power to light Seattle.
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Old 09-24-2007, 04:38 PM   #37
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It sort of sounds like the barrier may not necessarily be bigger, greater capacity batteries but, rather, the ability to do quick recharges. I really can't think of a twenty-five mile gap between gas stations in our area--which has a pretty low population density. If one could pull into an gas energy station and top off the batteries in five, ten, or maybe fifteen minutes, then size (or distance/charge) doesn't matter quite so much: one could drive five hundred miles with an extra half hour or so of waiting for the top off charges on a one hundred mile capacity set of batteries. I do that anyway when I'm driving any distance, get out, stretch my legs, get snacks, walk the dog . . . try to talk the DW into getting another bucket of KFC Subway veggie at full price before supper. I could probably get just as far, just as fast with quick charge ability, but smaller capacity batteries. Plus, they may weigh less too. It seems to me one hundred miles would be a nice compromise range for a utility or family vehicle operating in this manner. Can't quite make it home one evening, stop for a 4KW partial charge and then finish the job overnite in the garage with a slow charge, where nite electricity is cheaper. And easy infrastructure build out: just add more electricity to the gas stations and add a few electric islands for charging. Cheap possibility if the technology is in development--and works.

Is there any info about going that way in battery technology?

And if you buy one, you'd have the best Friday nite line around: Hey, honey, how about a trickle charge tonite?
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Old 09-24-2007, 05:22 PM   #38
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rather, the ability to do quick recharges.

If one could pull into an gas energy station and top off the batteries in five, ten, or maybe fifteen minutes,

Is there any info about going that way in battery technology?
greg, several technologies are working towards that end.

The EESTORE 'supercap' (though still vaporware) is one, capacitors can be recharged extremely fast, if you have the power available. No chemical reaction, just a matter of how fast you can pump in the power w/o overheating the thing.

Those re-charge stations would need a lot of power available of course. To take an 8 hour charge down to 10 minutes (1/50th the time) means about 50X the power for that time. Hmmm, how many KWHrs in a tanker truck of gasoline? That kind of power.

That fireflyenergy carbon-foam-lead-acid is shooting for 'extremely fast' recharge times - no numbers that I could find.

Here's an interesting one: Zinc-bromine flow battery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

All the energy is in the electrolyte fluid. Pump it out, put in fresh, and away you go - all recharged! Then, they put that fluid in a similar battery and recharge the fluid. I guess these batteries may not have all the other characteristics required for cars, but interesting (well, to me anyway).

And... Flywheel energy storage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Says they can spin the flywheel back up in minutes.


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And if you buy one, you'd have the best Friday nite line around: Hey, honey, how about a trickle charge tonite?
And here I thought you were gonna go for the 'quickie' joke


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Subway veggie at full price before supper.
Thought I was gonna miss that one, huh? I bet we could power cars from the 'waste' roast beef!

-ERD50
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Old 09-24-2007, 05:29 PM   #39
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One clever concept that will never happen is this: All the battery packs are interchangeable, and easily swapped out. You drive into the "filling station," drive to the automated rack, nosh on some roast beef, your pack is left there to charge up, you get another from the rack of charged batteries, and off you go.
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Old 09-24-2007, 05:45 PM   #40
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All the battery packs are interchangeable, and easily swapped out.
I've thought about that too. But, just looking at that Tesla design, for safety reasons, that battery pack (900 pounds!) is tucked deeply within the frame of the car. Probably pretty tough to make it swappable, but maybe someday.

A few other tid-bits as I wiki'd:

Energy Storage: Grid energy storage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You can pump water into a reservoir at night (off-peak) and then run the pumps as generators during a peak. I was surprised at the efficiency number.

Quote:
Pumped storage recovers about 75% of the energy consumed, and is currently the most cost effective form of mass power storage.
Also, Nuclear can create hydrogen directly from water:

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High temperature (950-1,000C) gas cooled nuclear reactors have the potential to split hydrogen from water by thermochemical means using nuclear heat (i.e. without using electrolysis).
But....

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The round trip efficiency for hydrogen storage is typically 25 to 36% (50 to 60% for generation and 50 to 60% for storage), much lower than pumped storage or batteries.
What happens to all the oxygen? Is that the next environmental hazard our kids will face? Will some presidential hopeful be wringing his/her hands in 50 years about how we need to do something about all this oxygen - for their grandchildren? We need to get off this hydrogen economy! Who knows?

-ERD50
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