A few comments below...
Post by JazzMan
Comments in line below...
Post by Steve W.
I love folks who preach how great electric cars are.
Yay! I'm loved!!!!!!
Post by Steve W.
They never take
into account that generating the power to charge that vehicle is doing
more damage than running an auto.
Of course we do! How could we not? Anyone who thinks electricity
comes from nowhere is an idiot. Large scale power production, say from
a large power plant, produces less pollution for the power generated
because of highly efficient technologies that can't really be scaled
to a car. Cars typically lose over 75% of the energy in the fuel as
waste heat from the radiator and from the exhaust. The remaining energy
goes into kinetic energy in the form of the car's moving mass, but even
that energy is wasted as brake heat every time the car stops. A power
plant is able to convert much more of the energy in fossil fuels into
useable power, so effectively it releases less carbon for the power
generated compared to a mobile source like a car. Internal combustion
cars also can't recover any of the kinetic energy because it's
impossible to convert that energy back into fuel.
I'll certainly agree that a conventional gasoline (or diesel) engine is
not exactly a model of efficiency. The highly variable demands of an
auto application are a large obstacle to efficiency from nearly any
Other that then environmentally clean but paranoia inducing power
produced by nuclear plants, the remaining bulk of US power production is
coming from pollutant belching coal fired plants. There are certainly NG
fired plants and a smattering of hydro, but nuke and coal ate the bulk
The location of the power plant as you made note of has less-than-zero
relevance to it's pollution output. Whether it's located in the middle
of downtown or in the middle of a desert it's the technology, not the
location that affects pollution.
I'll also note that while technologies such as solar and wind have
plenty of potential, with the current available technology they both
cause more environmental impact and/or damage than a comparable capacity
nuke or NG plant. This is largely due to the low energy density and
conversion efficiency which causes them to occupy a significantly larger
Solar PV is at what now, about 5% conversion efficiency for the most
expensive cells? Solar fueled steam turbines I think can get better
efficiencies and some use can be made of waste heat, increasing the
overall efficiency, but they still require a large collection area
relative to the power produced.
Wind energy is far more limited in where is can be practically located,
and when someone tries to locate a wind plant they get resistance from
environmentalists who apparently would rather keep coal plants in
operation rather than see progress made with renewable sources.
Hydro while location limited has reasonable efficiencies and energy
density, but once again there is a lot of resistance from
environmentalists to even existing hydro plants. Perhaps they're afraid
they'll end up without anything to complain about...
Post by JazzMan Post by Steve W.
It also seems to escape their notice
that electrics are only useful in large cities since they have such
terrible range they are impractical in the rest of the country.
Duh, where does the vast majority of the population live? They live
in or near cities. LOL! Most people drive less than 75-100 miles a
day in their regular commuting, so for these an EV-1 was perfect. Not
only that, but the new NiMH battery that was being developed was going
to double that range to nearly 200 miles. To say that the minority of
people to whom an electric car wouldn't be practical should dictate what
the majority of the people could use is arrogant and ignorant.
I'm not sure it's exactly the "vast majority", there are a lot more
people living in more rural settings than most city folks realize.
Cruising range of an electric vehicle is only one part of the issue,
recharge time is a much larger issue. Even with a cruising range of
100mi an electric vehicle could be reasonable *if* it could recharge in
the 5 min it takes to refuel a gasoline vehicle. Perhaps a battery
exchange station system could solve that problem. It works with electric
forklifts in warehouses. Cylinder exchange has long been common for
industrial gasses and is now common for consumer propane.
The next issue for electric vehicles is capacity - not for cruising
range, but for cargo. Most electric vehicles are fully taxed carrying
two adults and some groceries. It's not that vehicles with higher
capacities can't be built, but the efficiencies start going down again.
This limits the practicality of electric cars to commuting and grocery
use for the most part (for consumers anyway).
Commuting use of electric vehicles, while more efficient than gasoline
is still quite inefficient. For commuter transit, the most efficient
transport is a quality mass transit system. Unfortunately a quality mass
transit system requires a huge upfront capital investment which it seems
nobody is prepared to make.
The only truly practical large scale use of electric technology at the
moment is in commercial applications. Vehicles that only operate within
the grounds of an industrial complex, local delivery vehicles (pizza,
mail, etc.) with short ranges, and similar. Sure there are some people
who have quite sedentary lifestyles who can make practical use of an
electric vehicle, but they are a small percentage of the population.
Post by JazzMan Post by Steve W.
real non good source for electrical power on a long term scale is
nuclear and the green folks scream when they hear that. But it's a fact.
No other power source is even close.
Nope, not true. Lots of other power sources are capable of generating
the same levels as nuclear, such as solar-thermal, solar-photovoltaic,
geothermal, wind, tidal, etc. Back in the 80's they built a nuke plant
down here that was supposed to cost 1 billion to build. It ended up
13 billion, and will cost over 30 billion in 1980 dollars to decomission
in less than 20 years when the reactor vessels will no longer be safe
of radiation embrittlement. For that same money they could have built
same capacity using solar-photovoltaic and wind. And it's for a
to build a radiologic bomb out of used solar cells and windmill blades.
greens are not only trying to protect our children, but your children
Once again this is a case of people blinding themselves to the realities
due to paranoia. One significant fact is that all of these comparisons
are made against obsolete first (commercial) generation reactor
technology. If compared against a modern reactor design (pebble bed
perhaps) the balance shifts significantly.
The comment about other power sources being capable of generating at the
same levels is only partly true at best. In order to reach the same
power generating levels as a nuke (or even NG or coal) plant *all* of
the other technologies mentioned require a significantly larger
footprint and hence impact the environment on a larger scale. Also when
comparing the technologies remember to factor in production per day, not
just peak output.
A conventional plant can produce x megawatts continuously, whereas a
solar plant needs about 4 times the instantaneous output of a
conventional plant to have the same production. Wind and tidal have
similar limitations. So for comparison with say a 100MW conventional
plant you would need something like a 400MW solar plant to generate the
same amount of power. A 400MW solar plant with even the best
solar-thermal technology would likely cover 10x more ground or more than
a conventional 100MW plant.
The only large scale place where an alternate energy source has truly
practical potential with current technology is with solar PV in a
distributed generation model. In this one model the environmental impact
of the area required is negated since it makes use of existing roof area
on existing housing. The current PV efficiency is still low and the cost
is still high, but a system such as this can reasonably provide 90% of
the electrical energy required for an average home.
Unlike solar heating systems which most often require a fair amount of
maintenance which is not as readily available from commercial companies
(though it could be) solar PV systems are largely maintenance free which
makes them suitable for a mass market. What is needed for this
application to take off is to get the initial cost down to a reasonable
Perhaps a leasing to own model would be a good way to get distributed PV
off the ground on a decent scale. A service company would install and
maintain the PV system while charging a competitive rate for the
electricity produced until the cost of the system had been covered at
which point you would own the system and have essentially free power for
the remaining life of the system.
Post by JazzMan Post by Steve W.
As for fuel cells they are a joke. Current cells fail in less than 10K
and are dependent on natural gas to produce the energy.
I only mentioned fuel cells as a bridge toward better electrical
An electric car doesn't care where the electricity comes from,
fuel cells, etc. An electric car using fuel cells for power generation
can be operated anywhere there's natural gas, propane, butane, etc. This
is almost the entire country including farms and remote areas. Fuel
are twice as efficent at getting power to the wheels as burning fuels
mainly because so little heat is lost unlike radiators and exhaust heat
in a combustion car. Ultimately other forms of electrical generation
have to be developed that don't rely on fossil fuels or nuclear fission,
and electric cars won't care one bit. Oh, and with regards to
electrics can do something that no IC car can ever do, and that's
a significant amount of the kinetic energy by converting it back to
that can be stored in batteries. That one thing alone greatly increases
effective fuel efficiency. And as to premature failures? Pure Hydrogen
fuel cells last a very, very long time. Reforming fuel cells are a
technology but they certainly last longer than 10k miles, and that
is improving day by day. Remember, the very first cars had motors that
rarely lasted more than a few thousand miles, now they are expected to
last 100-200k miles with minimal problems. New technology has to start
somewhere, and fuel cell technology is good because it can leverage an
existing natural gas distribution infrastructure, giving us time to
design and built the trillions of dollars worth of H distribution
infrastructure needed in the future.
They hybrid gas/electric vehicles also make use of regenerative braking.
And at this point fuel cell technology is not even close to ready for a
consumer application. It's even still in it's infancy for commercial
The best hybrid vehicle I've heard of so far from an efficiency /
practicality standpoint is a diesel turbine electric hybrid delivery
truck. The predictability of this application can allow a turbine to be
sized to the application so that the turbine can provide the total
energy (averaged out) and the batteries charge during periods when the
vehicle is stopped or under light load and provide power under peak
Post by JazzMan Post by Steve W.
Add in the fact
that they are an energy losing item as well and you see why they are not
really big sellers.
This is just idiocy. Energy losing? They are so much more
efficient at making power from fuel than burning that fuel
that it's not even funny. They aren't big sellers now because
they're still in development and generating units are fairly
expensive. However, they are being installed in large commercial
operations around the world because the increased power effiency
makes them a good investment for the mid-term. As the technology
develops the costs per kWh will come down substantially. How many
steam engines did Watt sell when he started designing them? How
many cars were sold in 1900? How many airplanes flew in 1930?
How many jet engines were on planes in 1950? How many people had
personal computers in 1970? How many people were
on the internet in 1980? How many people had cellphones in 1990?
How many people will be driving all electric cars in 2020? How
much power will be generated by burning fossil fuels in 2050?
Fuel cells are more than "fairly expensive" at the moment. In another
decade they might be more affordable, but now you'd pay tens of
thousands for even a smaller unit.
What really needs to be done *now* is 1. replace (capacity wise) all of
the fossil fueled power plants (coal in particular) with clean safe
current generation nuclear plants and 2. start replacing the old first
generation nuclear plants with renewable source plants on a practical
The problem with both of these steps is not the technology or safety, it
is resistance from irrational paranoid people who are blindly anti-nuke,
and from irrational environmentalists who apparently think we should
immediately go back to the stone age until we can develop renewable
energy technology to a useable level.
One thing that I note is that very few of the environmentalists the you
see protesting one thing or another are actually doing anything about
using alternate energy in their own lives. I was young then, but I
remember back in the mid 70s when people were actually interested in
developing renewable technology and a lot of people were building their
own solar collectors and whatnot.
Today I see a lot of people whining for someone to produce renewable
energy for them, but they are unwilling / unable to do anything for
themselves. The basic technology hasn't changed much, it is still
entirely possible to build a practical working solar heating system for
your home with materials and tools that are all available at your local
Home Depot or Lowe's.
If you own home has solar heating and you make as much use of "green"
technologies as possible, then you have some moral right to say that
others should do the same. If however you drive Mercedes SUV or a 20yr
old pollution belching rust bucket to the protest and then go back home
where you sit around playing an X-Box and eating junk food you need to
think about practicing what you preach.
I suspect death of any sort of mechanical technical education in the
schools is in large part responsible for this. When kids took shop class
in school they were at least exposed to what can be done and learned
something about how to use tools. Today if it's not on a computer it's
not taught and there is a real loss there.
Two true (and scary / sad) stories:
A friend of mine (used to be one of my teachers), is now teaching at a
"talented and gifted technology magnet type high school".
In one class he provided a socket set for a group of students to use in
assembling some parts. The entire group of perhaps six students had no
idea how to use a socket wrench.
In another class there was an otherwise bright kid who had absolutely no
idea how to use a ruler. No lie, he just randomly held it up to the item
in question and read a number. Wasn't use of a ruler taught in
elementary school when you were a kid?
These last few examples show where the real problem lies...
Personally I try to be reasonably efficient in my use of resources.
Being a techie I've always been big on practical recycling, i.e.
salvaging and rebuilding old equipment that would otherwise end up
scrapped. I for the most part buy used business PCs which are quite
adequate for the many uses I have, even my CAD system and keep more
waste out of the landfills. I repair items myself instead of throwing
them out and buying new ones.
I'm not real big on some of the consumer recycling efforts though since
some are "feel good" exercises that really have no practical benefit.
A prime example of this "feel good" recycling is glass. Glass is
basically melted sand, sand as a resource is not under the slightest
threat. In order to recycle glass it has to be collected and transported
to a plant using the same or more energy as it would take to get raw
materials due to the efficiency of bulk transport vs. local collection.
The recycles glass then has to be melted to reuse and it takes about the
same amount of energy there as well. Used glass in a landfill is about
as inert as it gets and has no environmental impact. The end result is
essentially a loss due to the transport efficiencies and labor costs.
I've recently moved to a climate that is more suitable for solar energy
production and on my drawing board already are an air type collector
array to warm my detached workshop which I will also do for the house if
it works well on the shop, and a parabolic solar-thermal steam generator
and steam engine driven electrical generator.
Post by JazzMan
Please reply to jsavage"at"airmail.net.
Curse those darned bulk e-mailers!
"Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of
supply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to
live under the laws of justice and mercy." - Wendell Berry