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Old 03-13-2009, 06:50 PM   #15
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Right now the in city commuter car may benefit from batteries however there are a lot of 80,000 GVWR over the road tractors that the electric gig ain't gonna cut it. For RV's, I tow a 7500 # boat and trailer to the lake with a 4000 # truck. This is a 55 mile hour and ten min trip. I think the technology is far from doing that kind of job.

While the car may be zero emissions the place the car gets recharged from (a power plant) isn't zero emissions. So I am not buying the clean air thing too much.

On a different front, I believe the system has over looked solar as a source to generate power back to the grid. There are a significant amount of homes that could generate enough power to send it back into the grid. Heck my home in Phoenix is empty during the day with little power usage. With panels on the roof I could be generating power that is pumped back into the grid. Multiply that by say 100,000 homes in this city (5th largest in country) and there would be more electrical power to use. And the limit is only based on how many buildings (homes, businesses and ?) that have good access to the sun. Combine this with wind power and my question would be why are we using any petrolem to generate electrical power? And we are.


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Old 03-13-2009, 06:54 PM   #16
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Electric tow good....
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:51 PM   #17
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Technology advances in fitful ways. Sometimes someone comes up with a critical, world changing idea that no one else ever thought of and maybe that girl is 15 and starting her Ph.D. at MIT and will publish her first paper on this in 2 years. Or maybe some 75 year old guy who has been working on this for 40 years will finally figure it out. Who knows? Inspiration can come fast or slow, let's hope for fast. Maybe it'll be obvious like the wheel, maybe not.

Out in the Mojave Desert they've been working with solar panels that focus the sun on a tower filled with something—water, mineral oil maybe—to heat it up and store the heat to run turbines all day and night. That's a promising development, but may take a lot of square miles to make a lot of electricity (just think how many watts it takes to light up Vegas and power the slots). Commuter electric cars fill a need for short commutes, but in a long, long traffic jam or a snowstorm (heater, wipers, lights on), will we see people not with gas cans walking along the side of the road, but wheeling batteries to their cars? Obviously, even commuter cars need a longer range, but I suppose that's coming.

I like Bob's electric tow vehicle. Perhaps we can string those wires everywhere and have the thing that contacts with the wires ("trolley" on trolleys, "pantograph" on trains) on top of all the cars like those electric trolley/busses I used to see in cities years ago. They were wheeled and not on track, followed the old trolley lines on a street with the tracks removed or paved over. Wouldn't be pretty, but it could work.

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Old 03-14-2009, 09:24 AM   #18
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Electric cars?


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History of Electric Vehicles
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:30 PM   #19
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Just to throw a little fuel on to the fire, I'm not a supporter of any lithium based battery storage. Instead, I look at a bright future of ultra capacitors. An ultracap can sit on the side of you house and trickle charge all day (or night) from the grid/solar/wind and can fill a matching sized ultra capacitor in your vehicle in five minutes. Ultracaps are lighter, smaller and hold more energy than lithium ion and are not toxic to the environment. Also, the recharge cycle on ultracaps in the MILLIONS of cycles range instead of the thousands of cycles range the lithium ion is.

Believe it or not, electrics are starting to be used in the Port of Los Angeles to reduce or eliminate diesel emissions. These are real trucks that are being converted to all electric to move short haul freight all day long. The range is listed as 40-60 miles, which isn't band considering the amount of weight and the short distances each truck is moving each day. It's only a matter of time until this starts to trickle down to consumer trucks.

Check this out:
YouTube - Heavy Duty Electric Truck
Port of Los Angeles & SCAQMD Roll Out Heavy-Duty Electric Truck - News - Work Truck

Here are some keywords for everyone to google regarding ultra capacitors:
Zenn Motor Company, EEStor, Lockheed Martin

It's coming!
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:42 PM   #20
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"While the car may be zero emissions the place the car gets recharged from (a power plant) isn't zero emissions. So I am not buying the clean air thing too much."

We're also from Phoenix, with endless sunshine. We have a 6.3 kW solar array on our roof and a cool, efficient home. Thanks to net metering with carry-over credit to the next month, our array produces almost enough clean energy over the year to power our home. We may expand the solar array so that we may cleanly charge our future all-electric car. The much-improved 2009 federal tax credits are very favorable to go solar. IMO, depending on what part of the country you live in (plenty of sunshine), if you can afford your current electric bill, then you can afford a solar array instead.
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Old 03-14-2009, 03:55 PM   #21
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Zen Motors http://www.zenncars.com/is a Canadian Electric Car company, they are partnered with EEstor who has developed the ultra-capacitor technology. Zen announced a new CityZen model out later this year with the capability to charge in 5 minutes and range of 400 kilometres on a single charge. I think this technology will advance rapidly now there is some support behind it ... It seems the electric truck could be the ideal tow vehicle - as someone pointed out that our North American trains are electric (the diesel motors just power the generators) ....
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:37 PM   #22
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So, how does the ultra capacitor work? I checked the Zenn website, but it doesn't really describe it.

I vaguely remember simple radio capacitors, vacuum tubes, superhetrodyne circuits, and things like that, but by the time transistors got common, I moved on. How can this thing store a monster charge, and then let it out in small enough amounts not to blow the motor across the state?

Are the big car companies looking at this? I can understand GM not doing anything that is in any way new, but I'd think the Japanese companies would be checking it out.

Another use: Could an ultra capacitor be also used for a particle beam weapon? For example, when traffic is in the way, a blast could clear the road. And if you need more volts, just raise the pantograph to the nearest power lines and charge up.

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Old 03-15-2009, 06:41 AM   #23
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Gene, are you running with your Shields up?
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:12 AM   #24
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A short thanks to the contributors--its nice to read a reasoned discussion on a topic that often brings out zealots on either side.

BMW has already shown a prototype X3 with ultracapacitors and it is expected a similar tachnology will be on the X5 in 2010--there's a large cap order from a "...German automaker." The hybrid design in use today in the Cadillac Escalade and ohter GM vehicles was co-developed by GM, Chrysler and BMW--except BMW has not offered it to the market yet.

I have not dived in to the technology deeply yet--I think the ultracaps don't have enough energy density for an all-electric vehicle yet.

Yes, the power plants pollute but the theory is that it is easier to control the pollution on fewer large power plants than on many vehicles that will have careless maintenence. I agree--its a good theory; it will be interesting if it actually happens.

(OT, a similar theory is getting the opposite approach: in an effort to reduce gasoline vapors when refueling there is a next step effort beyond the vapor recovery nozzles we have here in the SanFran area. There was a lot of discussion about upgrading those pumps, but the new goal seems to be adding more expensive complex vapor sucking and storage to the vehicles. Pretty dumb, IMO, but that way the oil companies do not have to pay.)

So what do I do with the NiMH batteries in my Honda Insight toad when they need replacing? I'm not supposed to throw batteries of any size in the landfill now, and my company has battery collection boxes that we mail away to remove that pollutant. I think a big pile of NiMH or Li-ion or similar will have recycle value just like lead acid does today.

So, just as I don't drive my TerraYacht to work every day I don't use the Insight to haul a trailer or a bunch of passengers. The city car rental on demand companies are doing well here too, especially in SanFran where parking is almost non existent, and some neighbors rent large cars when they have to haul a lot of people or stuff.

Different solutions for different needs--my contractor friends still need a real pickup truck. Every day, all day.

Tesla's offices are about 4 miles from my office and they are struglling a little, but still in business, delivering electric sports cars. I'm not sure thier business model is realistic to build a car that I can afford, but an economical car for just local jaunts with about 200 miles range would meet most of my weekday needs.

www.betterplace.com concept has easily exchangeable battery packs, so, if your charge is low, you just drive in to a service location and they swap it for a fully charged one. You would own the car, lease the battery pack or access to them. This is a new, interesting business model, could even enable long trips in the electric vehicle where you pull off the highway, swap batteries, echange fluids with some fresh coffeee intake, and continue on. Not promising for towing a bullet, but maybe feasible for a Class B, Sprinter-like rig.

Its really great to see lots of ideas with similar goals, and hopefully the market will have enough cash to develop many of them and then sort out what works.
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Old 03-16-2009, 07:23 AM   #25
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Honest question....Will the proposed cap and trade environmental laws hinder progress on plug in hybrids due to increased energy costs.

"Yes, the power plants pollute but the theory is that it is easier to control the pollution on fewer large power plants than on many vehicles that will have careless maintenence. I agree--its a good theory; it will be interesting if it actually happens."

The problem here is that every time a coal-fired plant in the southwest retro fits scrubbers at great expense, there is demand for even more controls that drive up energy costs.

Perhaps some one smarter than I can explain why hydro and nuculeur(sp?) seem to be off the table in alternative energy discussions.
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Old 03-16-2009, 08:35 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Denis4x4 View Post

Perhaps some one smarter than I can explain why hydro and nuculeur(sp?) seem to be off the table in alternative energy discussions.
Because the bleeding heart tree huggers have it that dams are bad...and they can be, if built with the old school of thinking, but there are environmental ways of doing it, just costs money and the almighty dollar has the final say. A more eco friendly dam drives up the cost per kwh. You can't build dams the size of Hoover everywhere, which means that you'd have to dam up many areas to generate sufficient energy. They are however a renewable source of energy and most operational lifespans of maintained dams can be a hundred years or so. For example, some of the dams in the U.P. of MI run by Wisconsin Power were built in the 30s and 40s. They have upgraded and done some repairs, but these babies are there to stay until someone yanks them out. The concrete is stronger now than it was right after it was poured.

Nuclear is a left wingers nightmare....you can't say it around them and if you do thoughts of 3 mile island and Chernobyl pop up (which mind you weren't great events to happen). The issue with Nuclear is several fold.

First the plants are god awful expensive to build, and take roughly about 8-10 years to build and have an operational lifespan of about 30 years (extended via NRC licensing).

Second, power is infinite with it, but it is again expensive to make, buy, install and change out the fuel, of which the fuel itself is not renewable anyway. Like oil, there is just so much of this stuff out there.

Last reason Nuclear is a lame duck (not that I believe it should be) is that there are no really great solutions about storing the spent waste. Currently Yucca Mountain has received billions of dollars in construction and development. It is from what I understand in litigation and may never be operational. So what does that mean? Well, it means that the pools at the reactors are full, it means that they are now storing all these spent fuel rods outside in vertical casket type devices....and as the use continues, these multiply.

Of course even if Yucca Mountain was not an issue, the left wing media screams and dramatizes the fact that the spent fuel rods will be on trains and trucks that will cross near almost every single town (basic fear mongering). IMHO, yes there is inherent danger in just about anything we do, but is it worse to have large quantities parked in one place at each reactor? For example, we have a nuke here in northern Illinois, it's the Zion Generating Station off Lake Michigan. It was found to be too costly to replace the steam generator assemblies so they mothballed the plant as it goes through a 15-20 year decommissioning where the whole thing eventually will be going away....and guess what, they will ship the radioactive parts meaning they will still be transported. The plant was built in the 50s. What happens to Lake Michigan if there is a casket leak or the spent fuel rod pool develops an issue? Is that any safer than transporting the stuff to Yucca?

One interesting bit is that there have been few to no new licenses applied for to build new nukes, which again have a build out time of 8 to 10 years and the nations current nuclear fleet of power stations only designed for 30-40 year operational lifespans, far more than half the reactors on line today were built between the 50s and the 70s. That puts us in a very precarious situation because these plants will either need major overhauling or decommissioning before any new similar plants are even near completion, let alone anyone even coming close to saying "sure, let's build one"...and in this current economic crisis, I doubt seriously anyone would fund it.

In a sentence, there are no good reasons these two are totally off the table IMHO.
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Old 03-16-2009, 09:59 AM   #27
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Everything you wanted to know about Nuclear Power:

Nuclear Power in the USA

Also, keep in mind that although they claim a 4 year construction time frame, it has been historically a longer process due to communities being very reluctant to have these in their back yards. Back yards meaning in town or even 50 miles away. Many places added years of litigation, however, in this economy if the feds gives loan guarantees, the state, county and local governments are in such a cash crunch who really knows. Plants cost money to build and operate, which = jobs and tax revenue.

Heck we camped next to the Zion plant in the 80s at the State Park for weeks at a time and I turned out ok, even swam in Lake Michigan next to it's water cooling lines....never mind that twitch I have all the time.
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:30 PM   #28
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Perhaps some one smarter than I can explain why hydro and nuculeur(sp?) seem to be off the table in alternative energy discussions.
Well, I don't know about smarter, but here's my take on hydro. Dam up a river or stream, and the silt stays behind the dam. The water coming out the other side flows faster without silt and causes erosion. The silt maintains sand bars and river banks maintaining an equilibrium and you have a healthy river and ecosystem and less damaging floods (some floods start below the dam; some overtop the dam). Maybe the water behind the dam could be automatically agitated to send the same amount of silt downstream, but that's my speculation. Eventually the reservoir will fill up with silt and have to be dredged, a big expense. Fish that return to their spawning grounds cannot easily get back even with fish ladders and salmon populations are crashing in the NW partly because of dams and partly because of overfishing.

Microgenerators on small creeks and irrigation ditches could power a house, however. Some people are doing this now. A microgenerator can be had for around $1-2K per KW I think. Aspen Ski Corp. is using one or more on a creek on one of their ski mountains. I don't think they use a dam, but just focus the flow through the turbine.

As for the nuclear, no one wants that stuff in their state. Congress knows if they decommission Yucca Mtn., it has to go somewhere else, and no one wants nuclear waste in their state, so Congress does nothing. Yucca Mtn. has fault lines and water drains through it a lot faster than anyone thought when it was suggested decades ago. I don't know how you find a place where you can store stuff that is so dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years and expect it to remain safe. Maybe we can store it at Yellowstone and when the supervolcano blows in somewhere between next month and 100,000+ years, all that stuff will be distributed all over the planet, causing mutations that will enable us to figure out what to do with nuclear waste (do not try this at home).

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