Electric cars are a pipe dream

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Syzygys, May 20, 2010.

  1. Nobody Suspended Indefinitely Registered Senior Member

    China already has EVs
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  3. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    So do we.

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  5. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    No that is not the reason - the reason is that NEVER has a NG car been designed - all are retrofits into standard car designs. The roof could be the only tank required and made by plastic extrusion - it does not get much cheaper than that.

    BTW I told you in prior post that "a bunch of small tanks" are commonly used BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAPER, than one large tank for transport of compressed gases which need to be very cold, like H2 and He, to become liquids.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
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  7. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Are there any of these plastic extrusion tanks on the market, because I can't find any.

    What I do find are metal or composite, no extruded tanks (and composite tanks, while lighter than metal tanks, are more expensive).

    And when you compare a 9.6" diameter tank, that is 31.9" and holds the equiv of 2.7 gallons of gas you find it weighs 80 lbs and costs $320

    But by going up to just 14" in diameter and 33.5" long you ~double the capacity to the equiv of 5.8 gallonss of gas, at about twice the weight (174 lbs) and somewhat less than twice the cost $570

    Which means in the size of tanks we are dealing with, more smaller tanks isn't a cheaper way to store CNG.

  8. jpappl Valued Senior Member

    Yes but how many actual pumps for public personal vehicles ?

    How accessible would it be if 8 or 10 NG cars pulled into a gas station. IOW, what's it gonna cost to add all those or convert gas pumps to NG pumps.

    Look here:

    "It saves money to plumb Valero stores for alternative fuels as they’re being built rather than modifying stores. To add E85 pump to an existing store costs $100,000, Klesse said"


    Total in all of the cost to convert to the public with NG and where are we compared to installing re-charging stations. The biggest hurdle for the EV is the battery and a system for fast re-charge, which is rapidly changing.

    The biggest hurdle for the NG is converting costs to have pumps ready for the public on a large scale. Either one has to compete with the status quo which I don't think we are there yet. Maybe if gas goes to $ 6 or 8 a gallon.

    By the way, I am not arguing that NG isn't a good way to go. I am merely pointing out that IMO the electric car battery tech and re-charging tech is not done advancing and there may be discoveries that change everything.

    Not sure how much more can be done with NG in the way of effeciency or reducing costs.
  9. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    About 600 for public use, or next to nothing.
    The problem is that use of NG means CNG and that's at 3,600 psi meaning you would have to install big tanks at the refuling stations and refuel them via tanker trucks like you do today with gasoline.

    Not that big of a deal, if you had a big CNG tank at the filling station.
    The refueling is a bit more complicated, but doable.

    The issue is more the classic early adopters problem.
    It's expensive to add one of those tanks and why would you since there are so few CNG vehicles and when considering a purchase why would you buy a CNG car when there are so few filling stations.

    I wouldn't say it's changing rapidly on either front.
    Indeed, a large switch to electric charging would necessitate significantly more generation capacity and lines to carry it. Rapid charging stations make that problem even worse as the demand can be excessive. The ideal for an electric based system is for users to charge overnight when current demand is much lower than capacity. The worst case is to charge on the way home when already capacity is an issue.
  10. jpappl Valued Senior Member


    Yes and no. It should be but what is current is often misunderstood for what can be or will be.

    I predict a steady and sometimes rapid increase in the technological advances in the battery tech and re-charge time. Without that we are stuck with gas and maybe NG, but neither or those is ideal in the long run IMO.

    So it's a must that we succeed in other ways or else we will have no other choices.
  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Certainly 600 NG filling station is nothing for the US. Hell there are about that many in the city I live in (Sao Paulo)*. I have never seen big NG delivery truck at a NG/Gasoline/alcohol/diesel filling station, so I ASSUME, they get their supply by pipeline.

    There is no reason I know of why any home that cooks or heats with natural gas could not have a pump at small cost that could fill the car's tank in less time than current batteries need for full recharge. The APL lab tech who did that 35+ years ago, I think, used a common, two stage**, mechanical vacuum pump with the gas flow going backwards, but I am just guessing.

    Perhaps he bought a pump designed for that use, but they must have been rare 35+ years ago. The biggest problem is probably with the government not collecting any road fuel tax if many start to "make their own" car fuel out of home heating gas. - The government does not like you doing that for the alcohol you drink either as both are big tax revenue sources.

    * Probably the fourth largest city by population in the world. Almost all the taxis use natural gas - it is the cheapest fuel and with two drivers sharing one, it runs 18 or more hours each day.

    ** a one stage pump would be more than adequate - the pressure input to output ratio / difference a two stage one can make is nearly a billion! In high volume production they should not cost more than $200, I would guess. You would save several times that each year in avoided road taxes until the government stop you some way. Wide use of EVs will have the same "must pay road tax" problem.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
  12. jpappl Valued Senior Member


    Thanks for the info, this is what I was getting at. The cost to create the infrastructure has to be brought into the equation.

    Right, and the point of my question. Currently, most stations that carry propane tanks to re-fill your average barbeque tank can't easily take care of a steady stream of 8-10 cars every 20-30 minutes or so.

    To correct this problem will be expensive.

    I would say it's changing rapidly when you consider how far the tech has come since the NiMH in the EV1 or companies like Tesla started slapping a bunch of off the shelf LI's together.

    Did you see this link:


    " The new battery is based on a solid core and its simplified structure means it does not require fire-retardant materials. It eliminates the disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries, which are based on an easily heatable and combustible liquid core."

    "Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization predicted it will be possible to cut the battery production cost to one-fifth to one-tenth the current level by 2020."

    I would say that is a rapid advancement.

    And I agree that not all charging would need to be done away from home, especially if the range of the battery itself is significantly increased.

    As far as the increase need for production and transmission lines that needs to be done anyway, so it's a multi-purpose improvement. Not just for personal transportation.
  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Not much. Adoucette is correct- there would only be a gas meter where the car is getting filled and a pipeline from the NG storage tank(s) Many homes have gas meters - they don't cost much. - Certainly far less than the combination meter and pump used for gasoline at each place the car can get filled.
  14. jpappl Valued Senior Member

    I think it would be easier to gas up the car at home then convert the stations. At least for those homes with NG available. Virtually everyone has electricity but there are a lot of communities without NG.

    What is the cost for the average station to convert pumps or add NG pumps ? That is an important part of this.

    Like adoucette said. It's a little bit of cart before the horse. They aren't going to add them if there is not enough demand and nobody will buy the car unless they can re-fuel on the road. :shrug:
  15. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    There certainly are enough homes with NG heating to solve the chicken/ egg problem if a $200 pump can fill the cars' NG tank.

    Also with the cost of cooking with gas less than 1/3 of what it was just three years ago, and much cheaper than cooking or heating with electric energy, more and more communities without NG now will be getting it.
  16. jpappl Valued Senior Member

    I agree with the enough homes part but it doesn't solve the extended system issue. People aren't buying NG cars or EV cars for the same reason.

    Solve the extended issue for NG and it will work.
    Solve the extended issue for EV's and it will work as long as the tech gets there on the battery and re-charge, which I think it will.

    I personally would rather see electrical powered cars for reasons beyond just the car itself.

    We've already had neighborhoods blow up from gas leaks. Imagine every yahoo trying to run a NG system at there home, at least with electric they just kill themselves.

    Gas piping running everywhere is worrysome. If they/someone takes out part of the electric grid people don't die in a massive explosion. They just lose power.

    What are the long term environmental cost to getting NG from the ground ?
  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Unlike the EV, that is already solved as both NG and gasoline are burnt in an IC engine. I.e. for slightly more you can have dual fuel (gasoline or NG) car -even kits re sold now for dual fuel conversions.
    That is a good question to ask, but if cheaper the answer will not have universal acceptance and the shale gas will be used. What is the cost of current used fossil fuels? Does the answer to that stop their use? No. It will be the same story if NG is cheaper.

    We live in a "growth and progress" age where if it is cheaper/ better for this generation, well then the future generations will just have to adapt, try to pay our environmental debts as well as our financial ones.
  18. jpappl Valued Senior Member

    No, sorry I wasn't more clear. The extended issue is availability of gas stations that can fill an NG car if in your scenario we move in that direction. That is a cost, which there would need to be a demand (enough NG cars on the road ) or god forbid political leadership to allow for. This is the problem.

    There are kits, some Jeepers and off road vehicles use them, but on those it's easy to find a place to put the tank as they are typically modified rigs anyway.

    I think the environmental cost surely is improved with large scale NG compared to our current use but the problem is the implementation, which is what we are talking about, not what is the best way to go, but also what is the realistic way. Unless you can convince enough owners to go NG, the network needed will never happen, or at least not until oil goes through the roof. Same with EV's, I just see the cost and ease of implementation easier with the EV once and if the tech reaches the breaking point. Especially since plug in hybryds are becoming more common.

    This is of course the hope and the gamble. Either way at some point we will need to bite the bullet, I am betting it will take long enough that the EV may be ready.

    Biggest problem is we just don't have the political leadership and from an individual basis the desire and willingness to give up something in the short run so that we can improve the long term situation for future generations. It's a shame.
  19. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

  20. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    There is a HUGE difference between propane and CNG.

    Propane is kept below 200 psi.

    To put that in perspective, a typical SCUBA tank is 2,400 psi.

    CNG though is at 3,600 psi.

    Which is why the tanks and delivery are so expensive.

  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

    The Honda GX is a commercially available, purpose designed natural gas car.

    The Honda GX uses a single tank, and CNG doesn't need to be refrigerated.

    More likely you'd do what SCUBA refill places do - use a medium sized compressor to fill accumulator tanks from a gas source then use the accumulator tank to fill customer's tanks. Most cities in the US have access to natural gas lines.

    Or they die in a massive fire; electrical problems cause 70,000 home fires a year, destroy about a billion dollars of property a year and kill about 500 people every year. Indeed, one of the original electric car chargers (Magnecharge) had a nasty habit of starting fires in garages.

    Now compare that to 2400 home fires due to natural gas (more accurately, 2400 fires where natural gas was the first thing ignited.) 50 deaths and $50 million in damages.

    So based on current statistics, natural gas is a LOT safer. It's also an excellent fuel for fuel cells, since it's high in hydrogen - so it may have application for both home cogenerator fuel cells and range-extender EV fuel cells.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    True. But "EV chargers" cost around $2000 and they're just big GFI breakers, because demand is high and supply is low. But already people are selling an upgrade to the standard "slow" cable for $200 that does the same thing. The same thing will happen with NG compressors if the cars become popular.
  23. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Source on that cable?

    Since some of the latest Fast Chargers are going for $10,000


    And the amount of power required is FORMIDABLE


    As to the NG compressors, I think that's highly unlikely.

    If they could make it that cheap they would.
    But they can't (the company that originally made them went bankrupt)

    It's not easy compressing a highly flammable gas to 3,600 psi in the time needed to be effective for home charging.

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011

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