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Old 12-20-2009, 10:33 PM   #41
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Yes, I'm sure that power plants have some economy of scale over gas stations on every corner. But %-wise, I bet it's pretty small. Gas stations still get delivery by semi-loads. And I did use the absolute top end of the 36%-40% range for fossil plants in my ROUGH numbers, I doubt it would make a big difference.
Nice that you start out in agreement, but why then do you continue to ignore the other inneficiencies which you include when talking about electricity, but ignore when looking at gasoline?

You have included the cost of producing the electricity. Why not include the cost of drilling for the oil, pumping it out of the ground, transporting it to a refinery (often from one country to another) and then from the refinery to the gas station.
Yes, you mentioned economy of scale, which is not something I mentioned, but should also be included.

For example, let's say that the refining process is 90% efficient (I suspect it is less, but just for an example). Let's further assume transporting the oil is 90% efficient. Then you have your number for EV efficiency, 29.6% vs not 20% but 16.6%. Hmmm, looking even better once again for EVs right now.

Now, these numbers will vary widely. In my example, 100% of the energy will come from solar panels. So while PV panels are only about 20% efficient, I am not burning any fossil fuels in the production of energy. So as far as fossil fuel efficiency we are back up to 80% vs 16.6%.
Now, some people may use coal only for their electricity, so the efficiency tilts more in favor of the well running and tuned ICE engine over an EV, but those are becoming less and less
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Old 12-20-2009, 11:09 PM   #42
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Nice that you start out in agreement, but why then do you continue to ignore the other inneficiencies which you include when talking about electricity, but ignore when looking at gasoline?

You have included the cost of producing the electricity. Why not include the cost of drilling for the oil, pumping it out of the ground, transporting it to a refinery (often from one country to another) and then from the refinery to the gas station.
I don't think I ignored anything, but please help me out with some numbers if I missed something. I actually didn't mention the cost of producing electricity at all - I'm looking at the amount of fuel used and some of the pollutants caused by each method if we went 100% EV, regardless of cost. It makes no difference if fossil fuel goes to a car or to a power plant - it still has to be drilled, mined, etc. True, the refining costs are probably higher for gas, but does that add significantly to the pollution it generates? I don't know, but the IEA says refining gasoline makes up just 4% of the cost - not sure how to translate that into pollution figures. I'll go with my previous figures and assume they accounted for that in those studies, unless you see they did otherwise.


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Now, these numbers will vary widely. In my example, 100% of the energy will come from solar panels. So while PV panels are only about 20% efficient, I am not burning any fossil fuels in the production of energy. So as far as fossil fuel efficiency we are back up to 80% vs 16.6%.
Now, some people may use coal only for their electricity, so the efficiency tilts more in favor of the well running and tuned ICE engine over an EV, but those are becoming less and less
Yes, but I'm responding to the OP which talks about electrics hitting in 2011. Right now we get about half our electric from coal, the worst of the CO2 fossil fuels. That is not going to change by next year, and it'll probably look pretty close to that even 10 years from now. Lots of inertia in big power.

I'm really not arguing that EVs are not the future (sorry for the double negative, but that seems to fit). But they are not a panacea for eliminating pollution with our present electric sources. They certainly don't deserve the title "Zero Pollution Vehicles" today. As batteries improve, and renewables improve, EVs will be able to take advantage of each. That's a very good thing, but we are not there yet, and I'm skeptical we will have even 10% EV miles in another ten years in the US. But I just think that is the reality.

I like EVs and I wish there was a cost effective one to fit my needs today as I'm ready to replace a few family vehicles in the next few years.

-ERD50
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:41 AM   #43
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.... I'll go with my previous figures and assume they accounted for that in those studies, unless you see they did otherwise.
Quoting myself here with a correction - I see that that EPA study apparently did not include refining/delivery CO2/pollution generation in their estimate, at least according to writer at that site I ref'd, and I don't have time to sort through the hundred page docs now.

http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/600r08087/600r08087.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/etv/pubs/sriusepaghgqap24.pdf

He refers you to Tesla's site for full "wheel to well" comparisons, but it looks like (no surprise!) that Tesla cherry picked their numbers. Telsa claims 52.5% "well to station" efficiency for the electricity that fuels their car. But, they use Natural Gas as the source, which is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, yet represents only 20% of our grid supply.

The 52.5% number sure doesn't jibe with what I found on wiki - 36-40% typical, some advanced plants at 48% and a SINGLE plant at 60%. Looks like they based theirs on a single plant, rather than a representative plant?

AT ANY RATE: I did emphasize ROUGH NUMBERS in my post. I don't care to quibble whether 100% EV adoption lowers our emissions to 60% of present, 50% or 40% - my real point was that these EVs are NOT "Zero Pollution", not even close, and they aren't even going to make much of a difference at all over the next decade, and probably not over two decades. First, because adoption will be slow and it takes time to replace the current fleet. Second, because they still create emissions from the source.

But of course we should be researching/developing them - they do provide a benefit (though much more limited than what the average Joe assumes, I think), diversity is good for competition, and they can take better advantage of new, renewable or cleaner sources of electrical generation. It's all good, I just think it might be overstating it to say it is "great".

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Old 12-21-2009, 09:51 AM   #44
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ERD, I agree that EV's are not zero pollution, nothing is. They are zero emissions AT THE TAILPIPE, which is the claim I have seen. Yes, some individuals take that to mean zero pollution period.
The only reason I brought up the fact that you compared inefficiencies in electrical generation to inefficiencies only in gasoline engines, and not in the transportation or refining of gasoline.
I used rougher numbers than you I was just trying to illustrate the different yardsticks you were using to measure efficiency of EVs vs gasoline powered engines.
And as Tesla mentioned in their documentation, they used Natural gas plants as those are the ones most typical in California.
Again, those numbers will fluctuate wildly from region to region. In my case, it will be all solar, so the efficiency will be many times that of gas engine cars in my case.
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:55 AM   #45
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When talking about battery improvements, there's one aspect that we've missed in this thread, and it's an important one: Charge Time.

If a car's battery could be recharged significantly in a few minutes (or the batteries exchanged), range issues go away. I realize that there are difficulties here, but a breakthrough here would make a difference.

And this EEStor mystery still lurks in the background:

Chevy Volt Exec on EEStor: Claims Are “Way Out There,” But Worth Watching
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:10 PM   #46
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T-AL, in 2005 Toshiba was talking about some LION batteries that could be charged in minutes. And if that EESTOR ( a 'super-capacitor') ever sees the light of day, it should also have fast charge times. But as you say - there are issues with that also.

Again, I think the average person hears "recharges in a few minutes", and they picture it doing that with the same power source (people were talking about this for laptops), like it means it becomes super-efficient. But the efficiencies don't change much - it takes the same power in, these technologies just allow you to pour the same amount of total energy in faster (much faster!).

Using Tesla's numbers of a 54KWHr charge (120V 15A for 30 hours), if we want to do that in 6 minutes (.1 hour for easy math), and we could feed it with industrial 440Volts, it would take over 1200 AMPS for that 6 minutes. Which means you need a cable the size of about 80 heavy duty extension cords bundled together. It could be done, but it's not just a simple plug in cable.

And as batteries get better, the demand for recharge or replace stations is going to drop, making it harder to justify the cost of the installation. With a 100 mile plus range, most people would probably charge at home the vast majority of the time. So stations would be few and far between with such little demand - maybe just on the interstates?

And the Catch-22 is that batteries have to get better for easy swap. That Tesla battery is so large that it is really an integral part of the car. So maybe once they are small enough to be easily removed from the car, it'll be easier to just design more batteries into the vehicle to get you to your destination, or to an overnight charging station.

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Old 12-21-2009, 08:47 PM   #47
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Agreement here with ERD, the fast charge capability has a number of issues to overcome.
I really think a change in mindset from 'I need to be able to refuel in a few minutes' to 'I need to recharge at night just as I do with my cell phone'.
This also makes things much easier on our grid, as off peak charging is far easier on it than high, short surges throughout the high peak time.
Tesla's planned sedan coming out in about 2013 is currently planned to have swappable batteries.
While I don't see the technology of swappable batteries being an issue, I don't see a business model that will work for them.
And as ERD said, as battery tech improves, swap stations will be less and less needed.
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Old 12-22-2009, 01:13 PM   #48
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I agree with you ERD50, and that's what I meant by "there are difficulties here."

Thinking out loud about the recharge stations, it's true the demand could be low, but the markup could be very high. Assuming there's a way to get a charge station working, let's say it takes 12 KwH to charge a car. That amount of juice would cost the station under $2. The convenience factor for the driver, however, might mean that he/she would pay $10 - $20.

Also, I wonder how much time someone would tolerate for recharging. 15 minutes? That means more sales of Dove bars in the minimart.
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:43 PM   #49
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T-Al, good points on the markup for a fast charge. That probably understates it even. We are used to a $30 dino fill-up, so why not at least that much for the electro-juice when it would only be an occasional purchase anyhow - really a "convenience" buy. Most often a cheap overnight 'fill up' at home. So still cheap on average.

And it doesn't seem that the infrastructure would be that expensive. 100 or 200 AMP 220 V service is common for residential - a small business is probably much higher, so 440V 1200 AMP service is probably pretty common (any hotel for example, even current filling stations?). So if any fast charge batteries or super-caps come out that are not a big premium, maybe we will see these options. But again, if the range gets to a days drive, the vast majority will be OK with an overnight charge, so I dunno. Dino-power will be around a while, maybe just simpler overall to rent for the long drives, or if that is a common thing for someone?

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Old 12-22-2009, 02:51 PM   #50
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I wonder if it is time for flywheel energy storage to again come to the surface. It still offers better energy density than batteries (approx 5x better than LiIon), very low environmental impact from hazardous materials, faster "recharge" time than batteries, no technological advances required. The most frequently cited challenges for flywheel energy storage in vehicles are the management of energy from an "exploding" flywheel (which can be managed with a containment vessel and the use of filimentatious materials that become very easy to contain if the wheel comes apart and is exposed to air) and the gyrospcopic effects of the flywheel (easily managed with gimbals).

Seems like they could offer some advantages to chemical battery storage.
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