tedln
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Electric Cars!

I was reading an article on the following link about batteries for electric cars.

https://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100913/ap_on_bi_ge/us_electric_cars

The government is spending about 2.4 Billion dollars to build some Lithium Ion battery factories in states. So far, the factories will employ about 390 people. I suppose it is a good deal, because of the government money, it keeps the factories in the United States. Initially the batteries will sell for about $30,000 each.

I know I won't be able to afford one of those cars because I would have to buy a new battery some day.

A question I have always had about the electric cars is how much will the electricity cost to recharge the battery each evening? Will it cost more to go 100 miles on electricity versus gasoline.

The batteries themselves wear out and the internal components are highly toxic. How are we going to dispose of that without polluting the environment?

At a time when we are trying to force people to cut back on the use of electricity in order to reduce carbon emissions, won't electric cars simply exacerbate that problem.

In cities and suburbs where it is anticipated the electric cars will be best used driving people to and from work, we already have severe brownouts when everyone is running their home air conditioners. Are we going to need to make a choice between running the air conditioner or charging our cars at night.

We won't have enough wind energy available to pick up the slack for many, many years.

I remember when Jimmy Carter forced the electricity generating plants to switch over from burning natural gas as fuel, and start burning coal. His reasoning was we have an abundant supply of coal and the government thought we would run out of natural gas in about twenty years if we continued generating electricity with gas. No one thought about the consequences of acid rain, or particulate emissions, or todays big problem; carbon dioxide emissions. We now know we have at least a 100 year supply of natural gas even if every power plant was burning it. He also made the maximum national speed limit 55 mpg in order to save fuel.

Considering the additional electricity consumption which will occur with electric cars, I am concerned that we may be heading for another Jimmy Carter moment because all the ramifications haven't been thought through.

Ted
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I heard somewhere that municipalities are planning to build solar panel roofed parking sheds for recharging the electric cars.....

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As Applestar points out electric cars can run off electricity generated by solar or wind or whatever. Fossil fuels have to be drilled/mined and are not renewable.

Plug-in rechargeable electric or hybrid cars actually help the system, because they would mostly be plugged in over night when demand is low, so it balances out the demand. And the hybrids can give back to the system. Their batteries are also recharged by their own brake action and power train. So if they are plugged in they can feed electricity back into the power system.

I don't know why the batteries would be so expensive. It's the same battery that is in the Prius hybrid. MH (my honey) has one, bought 8 years ago. At that time, they told us the battery would cost $10,000 to replace (haven't needed to replace it yet). But that was back when Prius was so limited production that we waited on a wait list 9 months to get one. I know now that production has increased so much, prices must have come down a lot.

You can't believe everything you read. I know when Prius was new in this country, there was a big orchestrated campaign to convince people that they were rich people's toys, wouldn't really save you any money, etc etc. Tons of absolutely false information being circulated as truth.
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applestar wrote:I heard somewhere that municipalities are planning to build solar panel roofed parking sheds for recharging the electric cars.....
Okay, do we leave at the shed and walk the rest of the way to work or the rest of the way home from the shed. Maybe they will have electric buses to carry people from the sheds to or from the shed to home.

Ted
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tedln
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RBG

I think most of the Brown Outs in the big cities occur at night when people are home consuming a lot of electricity. I know they do in Dallas and Houston. When they are at their large office building or shop, Creature comforts are more efficient (cheaper) to furnish to a lot of people. The cost per person is lower than when all the people go home and start using a lot of electricity. Most big buildings don't turn their air conditioning off at night. They set the temp a little higher (usually automatic) and then change it back early in the morning (also automatic.) The reason is the fact that it takes to long to cool a big building if you allow it to get excessively hot and companies don't want their employees sweating for the first couple of hours after they arrive at work.

As Applestar points out electric cars can run off electricity generated by solar or wind or whatever. Fossil fuels have to be drilled/mined and are not renewable.

It will be many years before solar or wind will be able to make a significant impact on our electricity supply. Nuclear could make a difference faster than wind or solar, but it would take at least ten years to get all the approvals and finish construction for even one nuclear plant.

Plug-in rechargeable electric or hybrid cars actually help the system, because they would mostly be plugged in over night when demand is low, so it balances out the demand. And the hybrids can give back to the system. Their batteries are also recharged by their own brake action and power train. So if they are plugged in they can feed electricity back into the power system.

I've never read that. It is my understanding that when you drive a hybrid, you drive it until it runs out of electricity. It then switches over to the gas engine. The brakes can add a little back into the batteries, but when enough is available, it should switch back over to driving electric. I think the point with an electric car is to always have enough in the battery to get you home. I can't imagine a battery being so full, it can give some back when you get home. You would know better than me because you own one.


I don't know why the batteries would be so expensive. It's the same battery that is in the Prius hybrid. MH (my honey) has one, bought 8 years ago. At that time, they told us the battery would cost $10,000 to replace (haven't needed to replace it yet). But that was back when Prius was so limited production that we waited on a wait list 9 months to get one. I know now that production has increased so much, prices must have come down a lot. It's a much larger battery than the prius.

GM is set to start offering all electric cars. They will not have back up engines. You are supposed to drive 100 miles on a charge. The batteries will be much larger.

You can't believe everything you read. I know when Prius was new in this country, there was a big orchestrated campaign to convince people that they were rich people's toys, wouldn't really save you any money, etc etc. Tons of absolutely false information being circulated as truth.

It may be misinformation, but when I weigh the source (API), I don't believe they would purposely furnish misinformation. I see no reason to. GM will build the car, as will Ford, and Chrysler, and all the other companies. I will go to a dealer and kick the tires, check under the hood, and ask a lot of questions. I think most buyers would. What could be gained by misleading people on that subject.[/b][/i]
Last edited by tedln on Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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not going to get into the power debate. But the reason why there was an orchestrated campaign against the Prius 8 yrs ago is because at that time no American companies were making hybrid vehicles. Instead of getting on the bandwagon at the beginning, they just worked on trying to scare people off of them.

We have had the Prius 8 yrs. It just recently had to have it's first actual repair (as opposed to routine oil changes, etc). The repair was covered under the extended warranty and still cost us almost nothing. It gets between 40 - 50 mpg depending on how/when/where it is driven ON REGULAR grade gasoline. It is a mid-sized luxury sedan (when they make all those comparisons to show how it doesn't save you any money they tend to compare it to subcompacts, which it isn't) with plenty of room for 5 people, a huge trunk, and every bell and whistle that was available then, including plenty that weren't available on American cars back then (push button start, voice activated turn by turn navigation system, etc). It is quiet and comfortable and reliable.
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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You are supposed to drive 100 miles on a charge.
When I read that, first thought that came to me is that perception of 100 miles would be different between a NJ resident like me and some one from Texas.... :wink:

tedln
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rainbowgardener wrote:not going to get into the power debate. But the reason why there was an orchestrated campaign against the Prius 8 yrs ago is because at that time no American companies were making hybrid vehicles. Instead of getting on the bandwagon at the beginning, they just worked on trying to scare people off of them.
Nope, I don't want a debate either. I am trying to see the logic in what we are doing or at least proposing. I think the questions I'm asking are simply questions I have. Hopefully someone can enlighten me on the aspects of the electric car that I may be overlooking.

Ted
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tedln
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applestar wrote:
You are supposed to drive 100 miles on a charge.
When I read that, first thought that came to me is that perception of 100 miles would be different between a NJ resident like me and some one from Texas.... :wink:
applestar, you are probably right, but since all electricity use stops when you stop at a traffic light, you would probably get 90 miles on a charge versus my 100 miles strictly on the highway. I understand the rate of consumption increases to drive highway speeds versus lower in town speeds. You may actually get more miles on a charge at 30 mph than I will get at 60 mph.

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Read Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R Brown. Very data driven, step by step look at what is going on on our planet and what we need to be and can be doing about it. Talks about electric cars, plug in hybrids, changing the way we grow things, power generation what can be done with solar, wind, and other renewables, how much all these things would cost, etc. In very practical down to earth terms, with research and examples of what is actually being done.

I do not think nuclear power plants are the solution. Nuclear power plants are incredibly expensive to build and maintain. And uranium is extremely wasteful and toxic to mine. Concentration of uranium in the ore is usually .0012 or less, meaning a ton of rock is processed to produce 2 pounds of uranium. All the rest of it is left behind as mine tailings. But these tailings are also radioactive and they are left behind as a powder which readily gets into air and water. In the meantime the extracted uranium then goes through considerable processing to make it usable. This is a leaching process, which uses and contaminates vast amounts of water. Then later the spent but still radioactive fuel rods have to be safely maintained for tens of thousands of years, which we have not yet figured out how to do.

Wind, solar, and geothermal energy are cheaper,easier, and safer and they are already being used in large scale applications.
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I will read the book, but the wind, and solar, are way behind in construction and will probably never catch up if they start selling pure electric cars next year and people buy a lot of them. Geothermal is great, but guess what. It has it's own pollution problems. Steam doesn't always come out of the ground clean. It sometimes has sulpher and other products coming up with it.

My brother built the largest geothermal plant in the United States in northern California about twenty years ago. They had a report on 60 minutes a couple of years ago detailing the pollution problems at the plant plus the fact that they are running out of steam. They didn't know that would ever happen. We also have very few places in the United States where the steam is close enough to the surface to capture it. Some people wanted to build a plant in Yellow stone national park. The environmentalists claimed that would be as bad as drilling for oil in Anwar. The fact is, Yellow Stone is the collapsed cauldron of a super massive volcano. They claim it is now expanding at a rapid rate which indicates another super massive volcano in the foreseeable future.

It seems to me, if we rapidly convert to electric cars; it will be necessary to ramp up electricity generation at the coal fired plants until other supplies of electricity become available. I am hoping someone can tell me I am wrong and why I am wrong.

Okay, I have started reading the book you suggested by Lester R. Brown at the following link https://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/books/pb4/PB4ch1_ss6. So far, I have read three chapters. One excerpt is as follows.

"We see the components of Plan B in technologies already on the market. On the energy front, for example, we can get more energy from an advanced-design wind turbine than from an aging oil well. The new plug-in gas-electric hybrids coming to market, like the Chevrolet Volt, can get up to 150 miles per gallon. In the Plan B energy economy of 2020, most of the U.S. fleet will be plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars, and they will be running largely on wind-generated electricity for the equivalent of less than $1 a gallon of gasoline.69"

I followed his end notes for support to the sites he specified. He claims the Chevrolet Volt can get up to 150 mpg. The following site he provided is a sales pitch site and doesn't state mpg for the volt. https://www.chevrolet.com/pages/open/default/future/volt.do

He also claims the following "On the energy front, for example, we can get more energy from an advanced-design wind turbine than from an aging oil well.

His book seems to have a lot of generalities. There is no way to make a comparison between the efficiency of a wind turbine and a generic old oil well.

I will continue reading, but it seems the book is another one telling us all the things we need to do in generalities, but I am finding very little information about how to do those things. Since the scope of his interest is world wide and his primary focus is on food availability and world wide financial equalization, that will require a one world government. I'm not ready for that.

Again, I am just trying to figure out if we start driving electric cars on a large scale soon, will we need to increase electricity output from the coal fired plants to meet the demand.

Did you notice he isn't against genetically modified crops in order to meet world wide demand?

Ted
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tedln wrote: .... It is my understanding that when you drive a hybrid, you drive it until it runs out of electricity. It then switches over to the gas engine. The brakes can add a little back into the batteries, but when enough is available, it should switch back over to driving electric. I think the point with an electric car is to always have enough in the battery to get you home. I can't imagine a battery being so full, it can give some back when you get home. You would know better than me because you own one.

This aspect, I can address. We've had a Prius for almost six years: a 2004 model, purchased on 12/31/04. When you drive this car, the car itself determines, from the load required (uphill and fast? downhill/coasting? stop sign? flat street/slow?), whether to draw its energy from the gasoline engine or the electrical battery.

If *I* drive the Prius, the mileage is consistently higher than when *someone else* [ahem...] drives it. The Prius makes it possible for the driver to modify his/her driving technique because of the almost instantaneous feedback on current mpg. I say "almost instantaneous" because there's a 5-second or so lag between, say, starting to go up a hill and seeing the mpg number drop b/c of the work required of the engine.

The car battery has *never* run out of juice. We fill the gas tank up when it runs out of gas. This is a small tank, maybe 7 or 8 gallons? It wants to be filled every 400 miles or so.

But the 2004 Prius is a gas/electric hybrid, not an all-electric car. For people with long commutes (e.g., 60 miles each way), an electric car with a range of 100 miles between charges is useless unless there's a charging station at work. And, yes, the other member of this household has a 60-mile commute, so no electric car here, esp. not when the Prius has never needed anything but routine service and one repair of a flat tire.

My 1997 Honda Accord is running quite well, too; it will probably run for quite a while yet.

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Geothermal is not steam. We researched geothermal heating when we were considering what kind of new furnace to install at my church. Geothermal uses the constant temperature of the earth at bedrock level to provide heating / cooling to the surface. Where I am the constant temperature is about 55 d. F year round. That means when the air temp is 95 as it was a lot this summer, the temp at bedrock is 40 deg. cooler. When the air temp is 0 as it often is in winter the temp at bedrock is 55 deg. warmer. The geothermal system does not burn anything, it uses a small amount of electricity powering a small pump to move heat from the earth (or "coolth" in summer) into buildings. It goes through heat exchanges to concentrate the energy so that you can heat your building above 55.

No steam and it is based on the heat storage capacity of the bedrock which can never run out. They are simple practical systems for heating and cooling homes and buildings, using minimal energy, available now. The difficulties why we did not buy one for our church, is since it is not yet so mass produced is high initial installation cost and that it works best for providing an even steady heat. Nice for most buildings, but since the church isn't used so much the rest of the week, we want to let it be cold and then heat it up. Geothermal isn't as good for heating up a large building quickly. But otherwise wonderful.
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RBG,

You are correct in the fact that your description of "geothermal" does now include the service you describe. It is a recent addition to the definition. The term has for many, many, many years referred to heat from the earth in the form of steam to drive generators. It has been used for a thousand years to heat communal bath houses. If I remember correctly Iceland pipes geothermal hot water to every home for heating. They also use it to generate their electricity. I also thought we were talking about ways to generate electricity to power automobiles.

Here is my reference.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy

Ted
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Cynthia,

I have to ask this question because I've never owned a hybrid vehicle.

Do you ever return home with some extra electricity in your batteries that you can return to the power grid?

Also, how do you think of the trade off electric car drivers make when instead of driving a fossil fuel burning vehicle which emits carbon dioxide from its catalytic converter, you drive a hybrid/electric car which gets its electricity from a coal burning plant which emits a lot more carbon dioxide. We don't have enough alternative energy sources on line to provide electricity for thousand or millions of hybrids or electrics.

Do you feel the gasoline/electricity economy are sufficient to justify the extra cost of the vehicle even if there isn't a real reduction of co2 since the electric company pumps it out making electricity for your car?

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For information purposes only!

Coal fired electric generation plants have the ability to stop all co2 emissions right now. All they need to do is install a co2 scrubber on the exhaust stack of the power plant before the exhaust is released to the atmosphere. They do have some inherent problems though. The scrubber is packed with activated charcoal which is a solid product made from wood or coal (wood is much, much better). They burn the wood or coal in an oxygen free environment (using fossil fuel to perform the controlled burn). The charcoal is heated to a temperature hot enough to expand the charcoal opening pores inside the product. The charcoal captures the co2 in the pores, but the charcoal must then be regenerated by heating it again to a temperature with fossil fuels to drive the co2 out of the pores and the co2 is then captured and stored. This process on a large scale would require entire forests be sacrificed to make charcoal. The scrubbers are also very expensive to build and require a great deal of constant maintenance.

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This is Bill, Cynthia's husband.

The standard Prius, like we have, cannot furnish power back to the grid, as it is not designed to be connected to a receptacle. By design, its hybrid battery pack is maintained at 60% charge.

The plug-in Prius hybrids have been available as a 3rd party retrofit for several years and will soon become generally available directly from Toyota (if not already released in some more restricted fashion) to the American market. It has been demonstrated that a plug-in can be used either to draw power from a receptacle to recharge its battery, or as generator to slowly burn gasoline and feed power into the receptacle to either run the house or to sell back to the power company. The article I read reported that the owner of a retrofit plug-in Prius used this feature during a power outage to use his Prius as a generator to run his house until the power was restored the next day. As I remember, it consumed less than 4 gallons of gas to do so.

One good article on the Prius battery can be seen at https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090510110216AAH8aH2 and is titled "How long does a Toyota Prius battery last? How much does it cost to replace one?"

The answer to the first is, "Nobody knows," because while the hybrid battery pack has either an 8- or 10-year warranty, the factory expectation is that the battery will last the life of the car and very few have had to be replaced in the last 10 years. The battery is kept at an optimal charge, never fully discharged nor fully charged, and therefore is never stressed. The answer to the second is that a used hybrid battery pack can be bought for less than $1,000.

A second article, with further links and a good general article on the Prius is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius

Physics will show that it takes the same total energy to move a car at a given speed, whether that energy comes completely from internal combustion or from a hybrid mix or entirely from battery storage. However, the energy efficiency of the electric battery is much higher than an internal combustion engine burning gasoline, and an electric motor generates no pollution emissions.

The gasoline used by internal combustion cars not only produces emissions when burnt, but further emissions occur when pumping the oil from the ground, transporting the oil to the refinery, refining it into gasoline, transporting it to the gas station, pumping it into your tank, and some evaporation while in your tank.

The transmission of electricity causes almost no emissions.

Which brings us back to the means of generating the electricity. The advantage there is that electrical generation can be provided from a variety of sources, operated with large-scale efficiency, that can be designed to minimize emissions.

Here in California, which has the most stringent environmental laws in the country, most of the electricity is generated by natural gas-fueled power plants and hydroelectric generation from our many dams, plus sizable wind-power farms. There is also a growing solar power contribution (mostly at present at individual residences and/or businesses, but solar power farms are in process). Our power plants are required to be very low emission.

As stated above, you can choose to plug in and charge your all-electric or plug-in-hybrid car during night hours, such as midnight to 6:00 a.m., when power usage on the grid is lowest and peak power plants (generally the worst polluters) are not in operation.

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Hi Bill, Cynthia's husband.

Thank you for the informative reply. I was understanding one comment on the thread to mean the hybrid vehicles with regenerative braking to actually produce enough electricity to return some to the power grid. It is easier to understand the concept of using the hybrid battery as a backup energy source for home needs. If a person already has one or more solar cells for passive generation, you can probably feed the dc voltage back through the same dc/ac converter installed in your home. I would imagine the vehicle only operates on DC current and would need to be converted to AC for home use. There would be some energy loss in the conversion process.

Basis your comments and the information furnished on the links you provided, the initial cost and replacement costs of the batteries is much lower than I thought. My assumption about typical life spans of the nickle metal hydride is wrong. I had no idea they would last that long. I am curious if the attributes of the "Prius" battery are typical across the spectrum of batteries installed by other hybrid and "all electric" autos. I am also curious if all brands use the nickle metal hydride, or will some use the lithium ion battery. The original link I posted to the article stating the battery cost at $30,000 may simply reflect the cost of lithium ion batteries. I don't know, but I am curious.


"Physics will show that it takes the same total energy to move a car at a given speed, whether that energy comes completely from internal combustion or from a hybrid mix or entirely from battery storage."

True, but it required additional energy to attain a 60 mph speed versus a 40 mph speed or 30 MPH speed. Once the desired speeds are attained, energy consumed over a given distance would depend on the efficiency of the electric motor compared to the internal combustion engine. I believe the motor would have a much higher efficiency. There would be little efficiency loss between the battery and the motor, but there would be huge losses getting the coal from the coal fields to the generating plants by railroad, converting the coal to powder ready to burn, and heat loss and emissions converting the coal to electricity.

"The transmission of electricity causes almost no emissions."

Due to the impedance of the transmission lines, large losses occur between the generation plants and points of use. Those impedance losses require more coal to be burned to generate more electricity to meet demand.

Most gasoline engines in automobiles achieve their highest Stoichiometric states at about 65 mph. I wonder what the highest efficiency point (lowest heat loss) of the electric motor would be. I've never seen a study, but I am wondering if more total emissions don't occur between the coal field and $10.00 worth of electricity delivered to your batteries versus an oil field and $10.00 worth of gasoline delivered to my fuel tank.

"Which brings us back to the means of generating the electricity. The advantage there is that electrical generation can be provided from a variety of sources, operated with large-scale efficiency, that can be designed to minimize emissions."

I agree. California is way ahead of most states in the use of alternative energy sources to produce electricity. Due to the alternative sources which approach 20% of total energy consumed, hybrid and pure electric may be more efficient with fewer total emissions than gasoline fueled vehicles. I am not convinced that is true in most states that primarily still depend on coal fired electricity generation.

One technology being tested may be the future of alternative energy. It is called "The Bloom Box". It could easily be applied anywhere. Many large companies are currently using the technology to power their facilities with good results. The technology could make electric cars truly the vehicle of the future because you can carry the generating plant with you.

https://www.huliq.com/10180/bloom-box-future-energy

Since it is based on a purely chemical reaction to produce electricity, the only emission is water.

Thanks again for your interesting comments.

Ted
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Bill again.

The question of costs of and emissions from electrical production vary by location, proximity to primary fuel sources, type of power plant, degree of emission control, regulation, etc. I believe that, in most cases, the power cost of a plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle will be less than a standard gas-only vehicle, even factoring in the cost of the power to charge the battery overnight.

The separate issue of which vehicle would have the overall smaller carbon footprint, taking all factors into consideration, has many more variables to consider; thus the answer will vary from one location to another. Here in California it appears that the answer is generally favorable for the hybrids and, soon, the all-electrics. In the future, I look forward to the fuel-cell vehicles now being developed that could well do better still, both in reduced overall energy consumption and in reduced overall emissions.

Electrical transmission certainly has power losses. Eventually I look to see superconducting transmission lines for the interstate mains, which will greatly reduce those losses. However, what I was referring to was the near-absence of emissions from electrical energy transportation as compared to the physical transportation of coal or oil to the point(s) of use.

You are correct about the highest Stoichiometric state at about 65 mph, but we also need to consider the energy losses to wind and road resistance, where the air resistance losses scale up by the square of the velocity. I believe it works out that the actual peak fuel efficiency comes around 45 mph, which is the speed the car companies used to utilize to establish their rather deceptive fuel efficiency figures before the regulators forced them to publish true mileage figures for city and highway driving as people actually drive them.

I am aware of the marvelous Bloom Box, and several Silicon Valley high-tech firms here are using them. Someday they will shrink to a small enough size to use for a home or a vehicle. It is just a matter of engineering.

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Hi again Bill again,

I agree with everything you said with one exception.

"Electrical transmission certainly has power losses. Eventually I look to see superconducting transmission lines for the interstate mains, which will greatly reduce those losses. However, what I was referring to was the near-absence of emissions from electrical energy transportation as compared to the physical transportation of coal or oil to the point(s) of use."

I think we may be splitting hairs, but to me emissions from a diesel truck hauling gasoline to a gas station are no different than emissions from an electrical generation plant producing electricity to compensate for electricity lost to line losses.

I don't expect to see practical super conductivity in my lifetime or my childrens lifetimes over copper wire. Right now near absolute zero Fahrenheit would be required. The best conditions achieved so far are at about -250 degrees F with a ceramic/metal alloy. The alloy was brittle and fragile. It wouldn't work for transmission lines.

The beauty of the Bloom Box is the fact that each element or plate is about the size of a floppy disc. Each element produces 15 watts. A stack of ten elements is about the size of a brick but has a constant output of 150 watts. Four stacks would be the size of a loaf of bread and produce 600 watts. That still isn't enough power to either supply a home or power an automobile, but if it supplies a battery bank twenty four hours per day, it is enough for intermittent use in a home or auto. If coupled with the device he designed for NASA to produce hydrogen from water with only oxygen as an emission, you now have a vehicle which is fueled with water and only emits oxygen. It would probably require a solar panel on the roof to power the initial h2o separation process.

It may be something only my grand children will live long enough to see, but it is interesting.

Good conversation!

Thanks

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!



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