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Old 02-15-2009, 08:54 AM   #21
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To muck things up even more.

Cradle to grave efficiencies are harder to figure out.

Throw in transportation costs of coal, gas, oil, ore, mining, refining and concentrating of reactor fuel, disposal of fly ash, spent reactor fuel, co2 emissions, carbon credits, ---I'm running out of breath---, environmental impact studies, government permits, political kickbacks, security costs, river heating from cooling stacks, fish population studies, snail darter, a few wars to keep it going or keeping it form others, etc..

Whew, no end in sight for collateral expenses. All of which impacts total efficiency.

Go figure.
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:46 AM   #22
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Is being environmentally conscious a political attribute? I hope not. If it is, we should never discuss it on this forum--it would be verboten, as it might get someone upset or something

Eeek sorry, I should not have phrased it that way. And won't do it again

The discussion has not been quite what I expected, but fascinating all the same.
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Old 02-15-2009, 10:16 AM   #23
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How did the electricity get from the power plant to the electric car? Several hundred miles of wire, several transformers. Every step of the way there are losses. Our present grid is approximately 90.5% efficient. "Plug" (har, har) that into your equation for electric cars and they become less efficient than IC cars.

OTOH, the IC engine efficiency doesn't include the fuel burned in physically transporting the fuel from the refinery to the gas station.
And the efficiency of an electric motor doesn't include the efficiency of production and transportation of electricity.
You can't get an accurate comparison of efficiencies if you compare 'well to wheel' efficiency of one to the 'engine to wheel' efficiency of the other.

In addition, why take the worse case of fossil fuel efficiencies? My energy comes from solar, wind, nuclear, natural gas and some coal. Coal overall is half of our electric power generation. Most of the other half is more efficient.
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Old 02-15-2009, 10:28 AM   #24
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On a related note, I had been thinking that the recession and financial crisis would cause a delay in the development of electric cars. That's not the case, according to this Forbes article:

Crisis Bodes Well For Electric Cars - Forbes.com

Also, the stimulus package includes... "About $11 billion goes to modernize and expand the nation's electric power grid and $2 billion to spur research into batteries for future electric cars. "
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Old 02-15-2009, 12:06 PM   #25
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I'll have to find some better sources, don't have the time right now, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of the round numbers being thrown around above are way off. Fossil Fuel plants use multi stage turbines, and I think they get far higher eff than what are being quoted.

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Old 02-15-2009, 12:12 PM   #26
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Hah! Two billion!! That's nothing!

Add up the total market for cell phones, laptop computers, iPods, GPS, and every other portable electronic device you can think of. Add the military contracts out there already for their portable power needs. That entire market is driving battery research, and doing a pretty good job of it. Yes, batteries have not advanced faster than some other technologies, but I think that is simply due to the chemistry involved, not from lack of motivation.

For those who don't know - the design requirements for batteries for cars are right in line with those other products. There isn't really much unique about whether that battery chemistry goes into a cell phone, laptop, or EV.

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Old 02-15-2009, 12:14 PM   #27
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On a related note, I had been thinking that the recession and financial crisis would cause a delay in the development of electric cars. That's not the case, according to this Forbes article:

Crisis Bodes Well For Electric Cars - Forbes.com
I don't buy it. It looks to me like he created a scenario to fit his desired conclusion rather than the other way around.

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Old 02-15-2009, 03:04 PM   #28
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From: High Efficiency Solar Arrays
"In 1999, Spectrolab announced the completion of multi-junction solar cells, which will achieve a conversion rate of nearly 27 percent."
But I doubt they will fit into your ER budget
Oh, I want to believe. I really do. We've maxed out our roof space with cheap low-efficiency solar panels, and if I want to squeeze the last dollar out of our utility bill (or use a plug-in vehicle) then we need to either build a pergola (with more panels on top) or buy replacement high-efficiency panels. And I'm not eager to restart the amortization process.

Have you by any chance seen a commercially-available source of these panels? I'm just asking because there seems to be this huge disconnect between the research engineers and the sales staff...

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I think that part (but not necessarily all) of the reason is that weight doesn't matter much for submarines.
The specific energy of Li-ion has increased from 100 Wh/kg to 200 Wh/kg since it was invented in the early 90s. Not exactly Moore's Law but still pretty good. Lead-acid is only about 40 Wh/kg. But cost and safety are still concerns for large Li-ion batteries.
I forget the weight of the typical submarine battery, but if it becomes an issue I'll log into an old-nuke discussion board for the numbers. However in the context of a 7000-ton LOS ANGELES-class submarine, going from lead-acid to LiIon would probably not result in significant weight reduction.

Laptops in flames notwithstanding, submariners would be happy to have LiIon systems replace the status quo. We used to regularly practice a four-finger gagger of a drill titled "Fire in the battery well!!" (Sheesh, even typing that phrase makes me nauseous.) And during excessive discharge/recharge incidents, it's not unusual for the electrolyte to get up over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much fun to be crawling around on top of that teakettle for an hour or two sampling electrolyte specific gravities...
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Old 02-15-2009, 04:20 PM   #29
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I forget the weight of the typical submarine battery, but if it becomes an issue I'll log into an old-nuke discussion board for the numbers.
1050 pounds per cell. (I did the rigging for a full replacement, and triggered an all-morning shipyard strike. )
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Old 02-15-2009, 06:14 PM   #30
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1050 pounds per cell.
So 126 cells, about 66 tons, less than 1% of displacement. Even if LiIon weighed a quarter as much I don't think anyone would notice.

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I did the rigging for a full replacement, and triggered an all-morning shipyard strike.
I don't know which of those would be more painful!
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:13 PM   #31
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So 126 cells, about 66 tons, less than 1% of displacement. Even if LiIon weighed a quarter as much I don't think anyone would notice.
Yeah, not much of a weight difference, really. The cost on the other hand! Ouch. The old lead-acid technology, with modern tweaks to improve lifespan and lower losses, is hard to beat for a fixed installation, like an off-grid solar electric setup.

Where things like Li-Ion shine is in the charge and discharge characteristics, and in the mechanical properties. Install into lots of odd shaped spaces, no acid vents needed or hydrogen gas generated on charge, etc


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I don't know which of those would be more painful!
Rigging the cell swap was easy. Just needed to cut a hole in a mid-level deckplate to lower a hoist through the torpedo room and into the well. We rigged a skid onto the torpedo loading racks, and once the cells were out of the well, it was just like swapping fish.

Now, my cutting a hole in a deckplate while we were in the shipyard... The shop steward took exception to that, and blew his little whistle. If only he'd gotten a yardbird to make a hole when he said they would.

We were on a very tight schedule, and couldn't delay 8 hours waiting for them to find a journeyman Amalgamated Brotherhood of Deckplate Cutters member to make a little hole. Cap'n said make a hole, so I did.

Shop steward tried to chew me out, which I found highly amusing. He'd talk, and I'd fire up the peanut grinder...
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:47 PM   #32
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The old lead-acid technology, with modern tweaks to improve lifespan and lower losses, is hard to beat for a fixed installation, like an off-grid solar electric setup.
Actually, the military has been funding some work on improving the old lead acid cells (reliability, performance and weight), which could make them viable replacements for Lion in EVs.

What is the most important aspect of Firefly's new technology? - fireflyenergy.com

These guys are former Caterpillar R&D. They were working on improving the batteries in industrial equipment, and started working with carbon foam to replace the lead plates and did a spin-off.


IIRC, the first phase (replacing one plate) is in limited production, the second phase (replacing both plates) is still vaporware, or a military secret.

I only knew of them because my son applied for a summer job there while in school.

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Old 02-15-2009, 10:05 PM   #33
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We were on a very tight schedule, and couldn't delay 8 hours waiting for them to find a journeyman Amalgamated Brotherhood of Deckplate Cutters member to make a little hole. Cap'n said make a hole, so I did.
Eh, you just wanted to get everything out of the battery well so that there'd be plenty of time to put down TWO coats of paint in the vacant space...

I don't recall much of NYC's battery replacement-- I must've blanked out the trauma-- but I remember that we had to jumper out two cells less than a year afterward. I just wish the new technology would hurry up and get the bugs worked out, but it's hard to hold my breath that long.

Gosh I miss shipyard. NOT.
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Old 02-15-2009, 10:10 PM   #34
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I would love to have an electric car. However, I am not willing to give up what my present car provides. It needs to go 300+ miles on a charge or charge real quick! Needs to carry at least 6 people. Needs to be a big honkin SUV type vehicle. You see we live 30 miles from the nearest town and 100 miles from the city. It is not unusual for us to put more than 300 miles a day on a car, and carry four or five hundred dollars of supplies. Also, after the government finishes taxing it, it must cost the same or cheaper to operate. Likewise, the cost of the car should be no more than my current car.

So, therefore, I don't expect to be driving an electric car anytime soon. Saw a three wheeled electric on TV tonight. 100 mile range, but it cost $22,000+ depending on options. For now a golf cart or my moped will have to do.

Nords, why don't subs have fuel cells instead of batteries? Seems like it works for the space station it should work in the confines of a sub. Just curious. Could it be lead acid batteries are cheap, and the sub has to be a certain size anyway. Lord knows they would not use the extra room for crew bennies. Although my BIL says boomers are quite roomy.
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Old 02-15-2009, 10:30 PM   #35
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Nords, why don't subs have fuel cells instead of batteries? Seems like it works for the space station it should work in the confines of a sub. Just curious. Could it be lead acid batteries are cheap, and the sub has to be a certain size anyway. Lord knows they would not use the extra room for crew bennies. Although my BIL says boomers are quite roomy.
Good question. Some European sub classes are probably using fuel cells as part of their air-independent propulsion systems, but conventional subs tend to have much smaller displacement/propulsion parameters than nukes. I haven't kept up so I don't know the issues.

I bet it's an issue with discharge rate & capacity. After a reactor scram it's not unusual for a LOS ANGELES storage battery of 7000 amp-hour capacity to be discharging at a 4000 amp-hour rate for 10-20 minutes (longer if it's a bad time or a slow crew response). I've had to live with older (near-death) batteries hitting their safety/performance limits where the only other option was to have the Electrical Operator "help" rig the whole ship for reduced electrical by dropping a non-vital bus or two from his panel. That threat gets the crew moving faster next time but it's hard on electrical equipment (and, after watch, on Electrical Operators). I wonder if fuel cells could be abused that hard, and I don't know how they'd be recharged onboard. Although the oxygen generators cough up plenty of hydrogen byproduct, so that wouldn't be an issue.

As M Paquette already mentioned, cost is certainly the deciding factor. Lead-acid is cheap. Unlike quieter propulsion or more powerful reactors, I don't think there's been any compelling reason to change the ol' reliable battery system.

Today's boomers have a lot of space by virtue of their loadout. The older 16-tube boomers weren't much roomier than the attack subs, but the OHIO class subs (with 24 tubes) have more internal volume than the crew can keep clean. We actually had guys transfer from boomers to attacks just to get away from the constant punitive cleaning.

I think the biggest "manhood" difference between today's attack subs & boomers is that the LOS ANGELES-class subs have sanitary tanks capable of being pressurized to test depth, which meant that the toilet flushing valves were made of high-strength titanium & stainless steel. OHIO naval architects managed to save tons of money by developing a boomer sanitary system that wasn't subject to sea pressure, and so they installed porcelain toilets instead of stainless. The manly attack sub crews tease the soft wimpy boomer crews about this, but it's really thinly-disguised jealousy.

There's a huge attitude shift between being a steely-eyed roving predator of the deep versus a quiet bunny rabbit who can hide with pride. I'm glad I served my time had my boomer tour when I didn't know anything better existed. The minute I went to sea on a fast attack and cranked it up "greatly in excess of 25 knots" I knew I couldn't go back to boomer world. And when the Cold War ended, I don't know how the boomer guys managed to maintain the will to live. They probably had to keep reminding themselves that they were doing it for their family's quality of life, but it's like trading in a Ferrari for a big golf cart.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:23 AM   #36
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Oh, I want to believe. I really do. We've maxed out our roof space with cheap low-efficiency solar panels, and if I want to squeeze the last dollar out of our utility bill (or use a plug-in vehicle) then we need to either build a pergola (with more panels on top) or buy replacement high-efficiency panels. And I'm not eager to restart the amortization process.

Have you by any chance seen a commercially-available source of these panels? I'm just asking because there seems to be this huge disconnect between the research engineers and the sales staff...

..
They exist but I think they are currently so expensive that the cost is justified by only the most high end applications. I don't think that you will find anyone trying to sell them to homeowners. I suspect that they would cost more than the house.

You can always try contacting the company mentioned in the reference.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:05 AM   #37
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They exist but I think they are currently so expensive that the cost is justified by only the most high end applications. I don't think that you will find anyone trying to sell them to homeowners. I suspect that they would cost more than the house.

You can always try contacting the company mentioned in the reference.
Yes, You Can Buy This Home Fuel Cell | Popular Science

I know that Coleman was selling a fuel cell as a UPS a few years back. I couldn't find any recent reference to it, so it must have been ditched. A few years back, I do recall going to their website to price it, just for grins.

Found this follow up.

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Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP)(TSX:BLD) and Coleman Powermate, Inc., have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding whereby Ballard will purchase Coleman Powermate's AirGen(TM) fuel cell generator assets. Ballard will acquire all related inventory, tools and molds, software and intellectual property, including the AirGen(TM) brand, and will develop its own sales, marketing and distribution strategy for the fuel cell generator.
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...19/ai_97816634
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:42 AM   #38
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As far as a fuel cell on a sub, I suspect it would complicate things with little added benefit. A fuel cell does not re-charge, it converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity.

You already have a power source, diesel or nuke, that can generate electricity to re-charge batteries. Adding a fuel cell would add an entire new subsystem. Plus, as Nords pointed out the need for burst currents, fuel cells are not good at that, they provide steady state currents, this is usually dealt with be adding... a pack of batteries to provide the surge. So you probably would still need a good portion of the batteries you use today.

Just not much benefit.

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