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Old 09-21-2007, 07:18 PM   #21
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T-Al and Greg,

EEStore and their variant of super-caps have been vapor-ware for a long time. Maybe some day, but don't hold your breath. Tesla motors is going with Lion - that tells us something.

Another interesting technology for electric cars:

Home -

Basically, the old lead-acid battery, but they replace most of the lead with carbon foam. Brings the power/weight ratio in line with Lions at a fraction of the cost. Improves the reliability of the battery at the same time. It's all recyclable.

Lat time I checked, they were in production with batteries with carbon foam on ONE plate only - this improves characteristics, but they need to replace BOTH plates (pos and neg) to compete with Lion. But they still have some hurdles to get that second plate into production.


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Old 09-22-2007, 03:25 AM   #22
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So which technologies are the most viable for automobiles (in the next 10 years)?
  • Electric/battery
  • Ethanol
  • Bio-Diesel
  • Better engineering (Hybrid)
  • Efficient Engines and clever design
I have a little concern about the vegetable based technologies pushing food prices through the roof. Also consider that livestock feed will be affected.

Can the switchgrass idea work and does the government have enough unused land to meet needs? What about drought and other weather related disruptions.

I personally think we need to revive our nuclear program. I like the idea of wind and solar.

It seems that we will be using a variety of sources. We may need a variety of source to ensure that we do not have a single point of failure if one source is disrupted. Because of the potential for disruption... Electric seems to be the best idea. Although, I am not sure it is the most efficient because of the number of times energy has to be converted to get to electricity.

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Old 09-22-2007, 05:45 AM   #23
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One other thought... about electrical power generation. Perhaps an EE that works in that industry may know.

It seems to me that a power plant typically turns some sort of turbine. Whether it be water, steam, or wind driven. I think some coal, gas, and oil fired plants take some generators off-line when during non-peak periods and try to conserve.

My question is related to wasted electricity. It seems to me that we are probably wasting electricity since some portion probably goes unused. Is this the case? If so, is there a practical way of storing that amount of energy for later use? Or how can we more efficiently make use of it to save energy?
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Old 09-22-2007, 06:31 AM   #24
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The last two posts were interesting. Lately, I've been on a a quest to understand non-randomness and , perhaps, a bit overly occupied by it. But . . . .

Years ago, I read an article (actually an article about a scientific article) about a monkey breed living on some islands in the eastern Pacific. Some scientist was studying them and in that process discovered one day that one of the monkeys had started taking a longish stick, stuck it in his mouth to get it sticky, and then put it down an ant hole to collect ants for lunch. All new and innovative behavior and a chance for the scientist to watch new technology move thru an environment.

Shortly afterward, while on another nearby island visiting a different group he noticed that these monkeys also had just started using the same food gathering technique. And theses monkeys don't swim. . . . . Somehow this new monkey technology moved from one island to, over a brief time, a group of islands. All, it seems, spontaneously and without much monkey effort or cross island communication. Hmmmm? (Although, I guess maybe a few male monkeys could have swam across the ocean at nite with silk stockings and showed the lady monkeys how to use the sticks. Sorry, this thought just happened and was typed before I could stop it.)

Anyway, as my small hi-jack goes, I think lots of good technologies spread seemingly spontaneously and rapidly thruout the human world too. Sometimes scientists working separately arrive at similar answers to things, or formulas or whatever, without even knowing about the other person. Einstein was working alone in a patent office, in a non-academic setting, and came up with a bunch of wonderful ideas. Simultaneously, a flood of related ideas powerfully worked their way up and outward from the scientific and research community, responding, as I see it, to a powerful need in the environment. When Ray Kroc was thinking about a fast food restaurant chain, both the environment for its application was perfect, the correct combination of private cars, traveling and desire for consistent foods, and the idea just took off and was subsequently widely applied by many others with slightly altered game plans (KFC, Jack in the Box, etc).

I see a sort of semi-spontaneous emergence of energy efficiency and green ideas arising all over the place right now. It's a wonderful and good thing. Now we just need to figure out how to make the back seats in those Priuses a bit bigger to encourage even more, um, good behaviors and thinking.
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Old 09-22-2007, 06:56 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by greg View Post
I knew it! There really is a motor "out there" that gets better than 100 mpg.
Hmmm - sounds like the modern updated version of the 1967 power supply for the 'mag hammer'(slang). I have no idea of wet capicitor technology today. I worked (1967) briefly on modifing the 'hammer' end of the system to drive titanium rivets after NASA stopped pursuing research as Apollo wound down.

I always thought capicitors 'might' be a viable competitor for bats.

heh heh heh - they were still banging away at 'oil cans' in rocket tanks when I retired in the 90's. Of course they ratted around the plant in natural gas powered vehicles also. Maybe someday the econ balance will turn favorible.
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Old 09-22-2007, 07:15 AM   #26
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Yes, once the immediate OPEC crisis was over, the energy initiative Carter started was cast aside. Heck, Reagan even took the solar panels off the roof of the white house (why remove them if they are paid for?).

I also agree completely with ERD. Ethonal is a loosing situation right now. And Hydrogen is a farce so the oil companies can 'put off' switching away from oil.

Batteries are far more efficient, easy to use, and available now as opposed to hydrogen systems hydrogen.

Regarding Tesla, they plan to have a sports sedan model out in 2009 (I am guessing 2010) and a family sedan a few years after that. If I lived in the south, I would probably get one of their roadsters asap

Th!nk ( is also coming out with an electric car in the US sometime next fall I think?
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Old 09-22-2007, 10:04 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
So which technologies are the most viable for automobiles (in the next 10 years)?
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post


Better engineering (Hybrid)

Efficient Engines and clever design

switchgrass ... nuclear .... wind .... solar.

It seems that we will be using a variety of sources.

electricity conversion/waste?

Some good topics chinaco. I'll give it a shot off the top of my head, no time for refs this AM:

Autos over the next 10 years? All the things you listed, but I suspect electric may just be making inroads at that time, still less than half of new sales - just a guess based on the fact that the auto industry is huge, with huge capital investments and change naturally comes about somewhat slowly. And that would require a huge increase in battery production - those plants would need to be built.

Ethanol - well we talked about what a waste the current ethanol program is. 'Switching' to 'switchgrass' has some big tech hurdles to overcome. IIRC, cellulosic conversion may be 10 years out for large scale production? One big advantage is, those crops can be grown in areas that are not so great for current food crops. But is there an environmental danger lurking there? Former undeveloped natural areas start getting farmed?

Remember, for ethanol you basically ferment the sugars into alcohol (~ 25% alcohol), and then apply HEAT to distill (boil off that 75% water) it to 100% alcohol. So it is a fairly energy intensive process, no matter the feed-stock.

Bio-diesel makes so much more sense to me. You take the crop oil and burn it. The refining process is fairly tame. For current engine designs, you need to remove the glycerin to lower the viscosity (that should drive soap prices lower!), not much else. IIRC, if we were to just blend the oil at around 5%-20% (might depend on cold weather?), you don't need to do anything at all. So I don't understand why we don't do that now, until we hit a saturation of the market with a 5% blend. Why try to target 5% of the market with 100% vegie-oil (that requires processing) when you can target 100% of the market with a 5% blend veggie-oil that does not need any processing? What am I missing?

I also like the idea of a variety of sources of energy - let them compete, and lets not be so dependent on any single source.

The waste in electricity conversion is fairly low. 8% loss in distribution on average, motors and batteries are in to 80%-95% efficient range. But the ICE in a car is around 20% efficient, so even after several conversions electricity can still end up more eff overall. See Teslas's well-to-wheel numbers for more on this.

It seems to me that we are probably wasting electricity since some portion probably goes unused. Is this the case? If so, is there a practical way of storing that amount of energy for later use? Or how can we more efficiently make use of it to save energy?
I heard recently that most power plants need to have their power changed fairly slowly to avoid excess thermal stresses. This means that after the peak power of the day, they are just burning off excess power for a few hours, and that goes to waste. On the face of it, that seems absurd...but I doubt that the people running power plants are stupid. I'm sure the cost of storing and releasing that power later is more than the cost of just 'wasting' it. But I wonder if they ever tried coordinating with industrial users to see if they could time certain processes to run at that off-time, and give them a lower rate for that? I imagine the number of high-power processes that are time flexible just don't amount to enough to overcome the administration of such a program.

One company is working on small (closet sized?) flywheels to store energy. I forget how much energy they stored, but I think it would be great if small systems like that with maybe 24hours of storage were distributed all over - maybe in each home, or in each neighborhood. That could really take a lot of pressure of the grid, esp if we were to install solar panels nearby. And we would have emergency backup. And, those things could be programmed to soak up the 'waste power' from the big power plants. Maybe when you combine ALL those benefits, they make a better economic sense than single-use of storing excess energy from the power plant?

And top it all of with a big heaping dose of conservation


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Old 09-22-2007, 01:17 PM   #28
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I am saying that it is tough for an individual to really make a difference, that is why we need to WORK TOGETHER to accomplish change.
And top it all of with a big heaping dose of conservation
ERD50.. RIGHT! Arguing about the cost of this or that technology is secondary to not needing it in the first place, like the FIRE rule whereby if you don't spend a dime, it's not just the dime you save, but ancillary things like taxes and all the related future bennies. But... see how hard that simple philosophy is to promote, even when it is in an individual's self-interest, and you can see how difficult it is to imagine it being spontaneously pursued for an intangible shared current benefit or for that of future generations. Regulation is unfortunately necessary; think what a pickle we would be in if we were all driving the cars our parents drove.

On a different energy-strategy note, I found a random link to this article. The econo-jargon is a bit over my head.. but it was intriguing: - Iran oil bourse 'won't undermine US instruments'

Is this guy a loon? He seems to be envisioning a radical implosion of the way we view oil, trade, banking, currency and so forth.

The ‘Irresistible Force’ of the Economic Growth mandated by a deficit-based Money Supply is finally running up against the ‘Immovable Object’ of finite resources generally and ‘Peak’ levels of Crude Oil supply in particular. In my view Keynes’ solution was pretty much the correct one, and is achievable in practice, if pursued from the ‘Bottom up’ via a linked network of national and regional clearing unions, as opposed to the impracticable global institutions he advocated.

Central Banks are simply unnecessary - Hong Kong does not have one - although in Hong Kong a ‘Monetary Authority’ is needed to monitor credit creation by banks.

Banks - as credit intermediaries - are also obsolete - look how peer to peer initiatives such as and are beginning to disintermediate banks.

Don’t derivatives marketers create similar instruments non stop?

That is what they are trying to do with carbon credits and emission trading and the rest. And it's complete bollocks. As the man said: ‘If you want to keep a donkey healthy you don't regulate what comes out of it, you regulate what goes in’. No ‘deficit-based’ solution such as carbon credits can work: it's that simple, and a mathematical impossibility. In that context, the asset-based solution (at the head of the donkey!) is carbon taxes collected at the clearing level.

Do you think US consumers will pay the price for their government’s massive debt in terms of market logic any time soon. And if this doesn't happen, will ultimately another scenario be the end of our natural resources that will close the door? Is the door going to be closed?

We are seeing the end of the current unsustainable system. There is no cure this time within a deficit-based paradigm.
The noise for war with Iran.. does this inform it? Is it (in a minor key) physical control over oil and (in a major key) the avoidance of a general upsetting of our entire applecart that is behind the scenes?

Is the whole modern world economy a kind of bubble?
Not a real student of economics and would appreciate opinions..

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