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Old 09-24-2007, 06:07 PM   #41
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ERD:

I just read that stuff earlier in the other thread. Duh! Time to start visiting here less.

I suppose I missed a slew of roast beef-methane conversion jokes too? Have fun.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:30 PM   #42
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Just thinking about all those batteries and what they're made of, plus extraction before and recycling after. Yech.

Not applicable to cars per se, but this was an interesting short article in the Economist about large-scale solar:

Solar power | Trapping sunlight | Economist.com

Quote:
The world's biggest solar farm, where more than 400,000 mirrors cover four square miles (10.3 square kilometres) of California's Mojave desert, was built in the 1980s and still churns out 354 megawatts of electricity, enough for 90,000 homes. But until recently no more large solar plants have been built, despite soaring demand.
... CSP systems capture and focus the sun's rays, using mirrors, to heat a working fluid to high temperatures and use it to drive a turbine. By contrast, photovoltaic solar power systems, mostly used on home rooftops, let light interact directly with semiconductor materials to generate power. As a source of large-scale power CSP is less expensive and more practical, not least because the technology can deliver power for hours after the sun sets using thermal storage. America's south-western deserts are an abundant source of sunshine that could meet the country's power needs several times over without releasing a molecule of carbon dioxide. ... Electricity from the new plant in Nevada costs an estimated 17 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), but projections suggest that CSP power could fall to below ten cents per kWh as the technology improves. Coal power costs just 2-3 cents per kWh. But that will rise if (as seems likely) regulation eventually factors in the environmental costs of the carbon coal produces.
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Old 09-24-2007, 09:01 PM   #43
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Harvey S. - we worked together on Skylab. Later I transferred to New Orleans on Space Shuttle - Harv later worked on said solar farm turned 65, retired and has recently passed on.

Moral - don't forget to ER while you are saving the world. At least Harv got some good retired years in.

heh heh heh - meanwhile back at the barbershop/Popular Science - whatever happened to solar in orbit - sent the power back to Earth?
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:31 PM   #44
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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.
Yes, the true costs of fossil fuel (environmental, subsidies, etc) is not included in the price the consumer pays. It makes it tough for alternative energy to compete. Rather than complicate this mess further, by trying to balance out those subsidies and 'free passes' on environmental issues with another set of complicated subsidies and grants and incentives, I say just tax the fossil fuels. Then there will be a competitive market for the alternatives.

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Old 09-25-2007, 02:58 AM   #45
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I agree, the internal combustion and diesel engines are not going away soon... It could be the mainstay for another 20 years or so. But then again, it took years for the basic automobile to replace the horse and buggy.

Interestingly enough, electric cars were developed early on along with BIO-Diesel. I cannot predict the timing, but my personal belief is that we are seeing the beginning of the end of those types of engines (as the predominant motor) for personal vehicles.

I agree that there needs to be some work on better battery technology... But I believe that electric is the most viable approach. Ethanol and Bio-Diesel (plus Hybrids) are stop gap solutions.

One of the nice things about Hybrids is that they are getting research dollars focused on the electric problem (i.e., battery technology). I believe the problem can be solved. But, there are probably multiple things that may have to change in the ways cars are designed.


Another thought about America: Could the cost of personal transportation mean the end (or reduction) of urban sprawl and cause migration back to cities... Build up, not out!
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Old 09-25-2007, 09:50 AM   #46
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Anybody notice the hybrid twist on the planned Chevy Volt? It comes with a tiny gas engine that can be used to recharge the batteries. That is, the engine never drives the car -- it's like a little generator that you run when you're out of juice.
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Old 09-25-2007, 10:07 AM   #47
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Anybody notice the hybrid twist on the planned Chevy Volt? It comes with a tiny gas engine that can be used to recharge the batteries. That is, the engine never drives the car -- it's like a little generator that you run when you're out of juice.
That is called a series hybrid T-Al. There are some advantages, but as far as 'twists' go, that one is very old indeed:

HybridCars.com - History of Hybrid Vehicles

1898
The German Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, at age 23, built his first car, the Lohner Electric Chaise. It was the world's first front-wheel-drive. Porsche's second car was a hybrid, using an internal combustion engine to spin a generator that provided power to electric motors located in the wheel hubs. On battery alone, the car could travel nearly forty miles.

1902
A series-hybrid runabout competed against steam and gas-powered cars in a New York to Boston reliability test.

1910
Commercial built a hybrid truck which used a four-cylinder gas engine to power a generator, eliminating the need for both transmission and battery pack. This hybrid was built in Philadelphia until 1918.


History of Hybrid cars | Hybrid Cars

In Ontario, Canada, in 1914 the Galt Motor Company rolled out the Galt Gas Electric, a pure series hybrid that featured a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine of 10 horsepower driving a 40-volt, 90-amp Westinghouse generator. It was claimed the Galt could wring 70 miles from one gallon of gasoline or, alternately, do 15 to 20 miles on the battery alone. But a top speed of about 30 mph sent potential buyers to more powerful, speedier alternatives.

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Old 09-25-2007, 10:26 AM   #48
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To expand on the pro/con of series hybrids a little:

Remember that I said earlier that when they load the Tesla with enough batteries for a 200 mile range, that also provides enough burst energy for fantastic acceleration? That kind of works against you in a series hybrid.

To get good acceleration in a mid-size car, you still need a fairly large battery pack so you automatically get decent range. Let's just estimate that 1/3 the size of the Tesla pack would give good acceleration for a mid-size car. So you still have a 300 pound battery pack (~ $8,000?), and now you need to add an engine, generator, fuel tank, cooling system, etc to that vehicle.

Then, you drag that engine/generator weight around with you for 40 miles or so before you need it, so that is a negative.

Series my still be the way we go, but I suspect that battery improvements will soon outpace the disadvantages of carrying all that stuff around.

Another 'out there' idea has been one of stopping at a 'gas station' and renting a small trailer when you take a trip. The trailer contains a fuel tank, engine, generator - just plug in a charge as you drive. Drop it off when you are done.

Series designs might also work out better with those super-caps or a battery design that has less overall energy and weight, but can provide higher burst currents. Then you could have a smaller pack for acceleration, and just start up the engine after maybe 15-20 miles. That would better optimize the two systems.

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Old 09-25-2007, 07:27 PM   #49
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Series designs might also work out better with those super-caps or a battery design that has less overall energy and weight, but can provide higher burst currents. Then you could have a smaller pack for acceleration, and just start up the engine after maybe 15-20 miles. That would better optimize the two systems.

-ERD50
True, that would help, but from a technical angle, if the vehicle design criteria is "unlimited range when gasoline is available" (for long trips), then the gasoline engine must be significantly larger (in HP) than the power produced by the electric motors at cruising speeds (larger due to the losses in the conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy and then back to mechanical energy). Given the conversion losses, it might be better to run a (smaller) gas motor all the time as the primary drive, and engage the electric motors only for acceleration or other times when power requirements exceeded the max output of the gas engine. Charge the batteries using regenerative braking and by employing the electric motor(s) as generators during cruising (requiring a little more power from the gas engine). Seems like this configuration would require less starting/stopping of the gasoline engine (with attendant fuel inefficiencies, pollution, wear) and let you avoid a lot of the conversion losses.

Yes, the gasoline engine would run all the time, but you'd still get the marketing cachet (and tax bennies, if any) of a hybrid.

The more efficient configuration probably depends a lot on type of driving to be done.
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Old 09-25-2007, 07:58 PM   #50
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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
Lance Armstrong generates about 400w continuously. The average person on a treadmill is probably only around 150w. I think that it would be tough to pay out the capital costs.

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Old 09-25-2007, 08:01 PM   #51
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Given the conversion losses, it might be better to run a (smaller) gas motor all the time as the primary drive, and engage the electric motors only for acceleration or other times when power requirements exceeded the max output of the gas engine.
Hey samclem, this wiki's for you!

Hybrid vehicle drivetrain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They kick in the engine for sustained high speed driving. Of course, this complicates things with extra clutches and transmissions to match engine/motor/road speed. And more weight.

Also read up some on the A123systems batteries. These wouldn't do much for the Tesla, unless they are safer/cheaper, but they have a much higher discharge rate, and can be charged fast, like 10-15 minutes (still not shipping yet though). But, that would help for hybrids, where you need the boost, but not the range.

I just checked their site, they are shipping them for Power Tools though - didn't know that. So, maybe 'real soon now':

A123Systems :: Home


A123’s award winning Nanophosphate™ technology made its debut in the power tool industry with DeWALT’s professional 36V power tool line.

Mass Produced for Industry Leader
  • + Millions of Cells Per Year Produced for DeWALT and Black & Decker
Fast Charge Capability
  • + M1Ultra Electrode Design Provides Less than 5 Minute Charge to greater than 90% Capacity
Extended Cycle Life
  • + Nanophosphate™ Chemistry Provides Thousands of 100% DOD Cycles
Power to Make a Difference
  • + Nanoscale Particles Provide Unmatched Discharge Power Enabling New Portable Applications
And just for fun - 158 mph in the 1/4 mile on an electric motorcycle powered by A123's



-ERD50
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:15 PM   #52
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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.
.

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

And... Flywheel energy storage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
-ERD50
EEStor may be for real. They have been very secretive but I know someone that has visited them that says their prototypes work. Contrary to an earlier post it is not what most people call a supercap where energy is stored in something called the electrical double layer but it is an electrolytic capacitor on steroids that stores charge across a very high voltage dielectric. This issue as I understand it is can they purify the dielectric material enough to prevent break down.

Exxon did a lot of work on Zn/Br2 batteries in the 70s. They abandoned it in the early 1980s, around the time oil prices went down. I don't think that it is part of the solution.

Don't know much about flywheels. But I know a couple of people that say they are the energy storage technology of the future and always will be. I recall visiting one site that was working on flywheels. They had their prototype in a pit. They put a steel plate about 10" thick over the pit when they operated it in case in came apart. I recall being really impressed with the steel plate.

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Old 09-25-2007, 08:18 PM   #53
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Isn't this interesting (if seemingly dangerous, but so is hydrogen)
Air Car - First Air-Powered Car - Zero Emissions - Behind the Tech - Popular Mechanics
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:25 PM   #54
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Also read up some on the A123systems batteries. These wouldn't do much for the Tesla, unless they are safer/cheaper, but they have a much higher discharge rate, and can be charged fast, like 10-15 minutes (still not shipping yet though). But, that would help for hybrids, where you need the boost, but not the range.

I just checked their site, they are shipping them for Power Tools though - didn't know that. So, maybe 'real soon now':

A123Systems :: Home


-ERD50
I'm optimistic about the phosphate materials for vehicles. It is safe(r) and the materials are cheap although the present manufacturing processes are not necessarily cheap.

Other Li-ion positive electrode materials are unstable and react exothermically if they are overcharged or exposed to high temperatures. Phosphates don't so they have inherent safety advantages.

A123 has been very successful so far. Interestingly phosphates from other institutions have performed as well as those from A123 (MIT actually but I assume that it is similar to A123) in tests done by the national labs.

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Old 09-25-2007, 08:28 PM   #55
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Don't know much about flywheels. But I know a couple of people that say they are the energy storage technology of the future and always will be. I recall visiting one site that was working on flywheels. They had their prototype in a pit. They put a steel plate about 10" thick over the pit when they operated it in case in came apart. I recall being really impress with the steel plate.

MB
All the flywheels I've seen for potential vehicle use are made of various high-strength fibers (carbon, Kevlar, etc) and are supposed to go to tiny, light bits if they fail structurally. But, they still have a robust containment vessel for the flywheel. Any loss of vaccum in the containment vessel leads to breakup of the flywheel, which is also a good safety measure.

I wonder how they cope with the gyroscopic forces as they affect vehicle handling. No matter how you mount the sucker, there's some conceivable circumstance when you'd want the vehicle to move in such a way as to change the orientation of the flywheel's axis of rotation--and that's gonna be really tough to do!
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:36 PM   #56
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Hey samclem, this wiki's for you!
Hybrid vehicle drivetrain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
-ERD50
Dang, there's a lot of good info there, thanks. It's a little hard to distinguish the marketing labels from the engineering ones.

Ref the A123 batteries: I'm envisioning a cool personal vehicle project. First I'll need a scooter frame, some belts and pulleys, and two DeWalt cordless angle grinders . . .
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:38 PM   #57
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Funny, I was going to ask about the gyroscopic effects. A little googling showed that you can cancel out the effects:

If the equations for angular momentum and gyroscopic moment are truly independent, can we separate angular moment from gyroscopic moment in a flywheel? The answer is “Yes” - simply ensure the mass travels in a circular path, but does not rotate. Imagine a flywheel which is simply a frame that carries two masses which are free to rotate independently on their own axles...

Then add some gearing (not shown) that makes the two masses counter-rotate slowly in the opposite sense to the frame’s rotation. This is at a much lower rotation rate than the frame’s rotation, just enough to offset the small gyroscopic moment of the frame. With the right gearing the frame’s gyroscopic moment will be annulled by the masses’ counter-moment and you will have a flywheel with plenty of angular moment, but no gyroscopic moment. Many other arrangements are possible - two contra-rotating flywheels close to each other on the same axis will do the trick; the gyroscopic moments cancel out but the angular moments add.
The application of such a device is to engines in high-performance machines. For example the engines in small aircraft have such a high gyroscopic moment that they can affect the handling of the aircraft, and longitudinally- mounted engines in racing cars can affect manoeuverability.
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Old 09-26-2007, 12:45 AM   #58
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Old 09-26-2007, 02:30 AM   #59
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Hey, Tesla is using laptop batteries. Well. I guess I will need a new one every year! Those maintenance agreements are going to be popular.

A lot of interesting comments so far.

Here is a question?

Do you think we are going to need other infrastructure changes. Maybe we are going to have to make other changes also... Keep the laughter down on these ...

Will our interstate highways need to have some sort of power source (like electric trains). This would enable vehicles to not need a long-distance power source when traveling for distances that are over say over 50 miles on the interstate highway system. This could run side-by-side with conventional vehicles during any transition which would take years. Even take that idea a bit further. Once your car gets on the "on-ramp" and then the system just takes over gets you from "point A to point B". Provide power to ones car and recharge the battery along the way?


Or will there be patches of the road (mile long stretch) every so often on the interstate that are like transformers that recharge while the car is on the road and driving?


Another thing that seems to be important that we lack in this country is a decent high speed train system. If I were going on a 500 or 700 mile drive, I would not mind planning the trip and loading the car on a train (that takes passengers) and unload the car upon arrival and off you we go.
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