# Electric cars are a pipe dream

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

1. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
And none too soon. More details in post here: http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?133084-Apocalypse-Soon&p=3069706&viewfull=1#post3069706 And also 994, 1030, 1043 & 1056. In same thread.
And more of post 1024 from which this comes:

Right: A burning specimen of methane hydrate ice (United States Geological Survey image).
Left: A ball-and-stick model of methane hydrate showing the central methane molecule surrounded by a "cage" of water molecules.
With essentially unlimited fossil fuel available (CH4) I fear mankind is greedy and short cited enough to make Earth into a completely sterile planet with high pressure steam atmosphere. I.e. mankind is going to a very real Hell if we don´t accelerate the switch to solar energy,

3. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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See this 3 minute video made by Consumer Reports: http://youtu.be/458TLFRkAlk

20,000 want to be owners were on the waiting list BEFORE the Consumer Report was published!

5. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
Get yourself on the waiting list, which is now (after the Consumer Reports review) probably more than two years for delivery long. Once your number is about to come up, seek some rich guy to finance your buying it for letting you occasionally drive it. I.e. all you need to save is the deposit money.

I bet that is a good investment of the deposit money: About 6 or 8 years ago there was a sad collison of two airplanes in Brazil. Embaraer´s small corporate jet and a Big Boeing. All 300+ on the Boeing died. It broke into two pieces which ended up many miles apart in the jungle below. (That break up may have followed the collision, which could have caused some lack of control with aerodynamic forces breaking it up - the break up may not have been directly caused by the collison - no one knows.) The little jet flew on with a damaged wing (nearly half missing) and part of tail on the same side missing too for an hour and then landed safely with no one even injured! A writter for the NYTs was on board and many read his stories about the event.

After that for more than a year or so, if you owned even a several years old model of that "little jet" you could sell it for about twice the price of a new one as Embaraer, in a week or so, was flooded by buy orders and due to production limitations, only able then to promiss delivery to new buyers with more than two year delivery delay.

CEOs were saying to themselves: "Hell its my life and only the stockholder´s money."

Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2013

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12. ### Russ_WattersNot a Trump supporter...Valued Senior Member

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5,051
Nothing is free. One way or another, you're paying for it. In this case, providing the charging stations and charges "free" is just another way of saying Tesla has built-it into sale price of the car.

13. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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Cetainly. But still there is "No charge for a charge" as I said. (but of course only for Tesla´s cars).

14. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Well, given that cars started out with a "sell to the rich" model, they are in good company.

15. ### Aqueous Idflat Earth skepticValued Senior Member

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A couple of things in support of theDoctor who was advocating hydrogen powered cars a page or two back.

His position can be reduced to two main goals:

1. eliminate the generation of harmful chemical associated with auto fuels

2. eliminate the recurring costs associated with conventional fuels

3. as a caveat we can add that these goals would include eliminating the bloodshed and turmoil associated with oil and other energy resources.

I would add that he offered this as an alternative to conventional batteries, which are nearly as good in addressing these goals, except hydrogen offers two advantages:

1. elimination of chemical harm associated with batteries.

2. elimination of the slow rate of charging conventional batteries

To be clear hydrogen has serious drawbacks:

1. it's highly explosive

2. it's relatively low in energy density (requires a large volume), which requires that it be used in liquid form

3. it's relatively easy to generate but freezing it/compressing it into liquid form is expensive

4. it's not a fuel, but the by-product of depleting energy from some source, such as the electric grid, which can be costly

5. synthesis of hydrogen (as by electrolysis of water) is lossy; energy is wasted in the process

He also said that since these obstacles are preventing hydrogen from making inroads any time soon, that there will probably be solutions to them in the distant future. At one point he speculated that this may be accomplished in about 100 years.

In support of this I would offer the following:

1. the explosive potential of hydrogen can be reduced substantially by producing hydrogen in pellets. Pellets can be stored, transported and loaded into vehicle tanks without all the costs and serious safety concerns associated with pressurizing hydrogen at the filling station and transferring it to the vehicle's pressurized tank. Some research has been done to confine hydrogen into molecular cages, and this may someday be solved. Eliminating the explosive potential of hydrogen, and the issues in pressurizing it and safely storing, transporting and transferring it, would be a landmark breakthrough towards the goals listed above, while conceivably solving these serious obstacles.

2. improvements in the efficiency of electrolysis may someday overcome the objection concerning the energy wasted during electrolysis. Since we are talking about the future, it's probably reasonable to assume that someday there will be devices that utilize sunlight to produce hydrogen by something similar to photosynthesis. That is, efficiency concerns may someday be supplanted by new processes modeled after the mechanisms for energy storage and conversion done in living cells, but in a device which produces hydrogen with efficiency.

3. if hydrogen fuel takes root in the future, then burning it may also be done in conjunction with water desalination and purification. This offers some potential benefits for addressing various fresh water resource issues. Taking water from the seas, electrolyzing it and sequestering the hydrogen fuel, then collecting the other compounds produced as byproducts, offers some promise in integrating dissimilar activities into an integrated system with some possible benefits in overall efficiency.

4. the hydrogen fuel cell is not dead, just waiting for improvements to the semipermeable electrode that harvests the electrons. This may be solved in the future although it's not clear how. It's been suggested that there may be a way to form microscopic pores in nickel which might accomplish this.

16. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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adsorbing Hydrogen in metal like titanium hydrate will make its low energy/Kg problems even worse. Also putting it in a "molecular cage" does that too. In both cases, some energy, probably heat, is required to release the stored H2.

The only practical way to get more H2 in a tank of volume V is in the compound NH3 (ammonia) which needs less pressure than CNG fuel does and stores more Hydrogen per unit volumen than pure liquid H2 does. IC engines have run on pure NH3 some decades ago and I believe there are NH3 fuel cells available, if you want to avoid production of NOx, which all IC engines make to some extent. (There is nothing wrong with the release more N2 and H2O that the NH3 fuel cell would make.)

17. ### KitemanSARegistered Senior Member

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624
Beat me to it! Well said.

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thats great

19. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
Not sure electics are a "pipedream" but for the average Joe American, I think so. I'm very certain that H2 fuled car is worse than a pipe dream - it is a night mare!
I still think that what makes the most sense, is alcohol from sugar cane, as only minor mods to existing cars and factories are required - not an entire new technology. In the decade or so needed to convert to alcohol fueled cars, the production of sugar cane can expand to supply every car in the world with fuel.* BTW, the cost of changing a fueling stations pumps to pump alcohol is small too - I.e. US and most of the world would need to spend little on the "infrastructure." - All Brazilian fueling station already pump alcohol and sell more of it than gasoline as it is cheaper per mile driven to use alcohol, especially now that the government five year clamp on the price of gasoline has ended. There is no subsidy on alcohol fuel in Brazil but for last five years there effectively was on gasoline as PetroBras was forced to sell it at a lose - look how their stock price fell - about 80% down!

* for proof that all cars in world could be supplied with sugar cane based alcohol (even if cellulosic alcohol is not cheaper than gasoline too) see:

Big Oil MAY kill us all for its profits, it global warming, increase both the temperature and humidity to be only 35C wet bulb for a few days several times each summer.

20. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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I prefer CH4 as a hydrogen carrier, but NH3 is not a bad alternative.

21. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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Yes it can be better but is a gas, not a dense liquid like gasoline of alcohol. That adds a lot of cost. (Compressing and high pressure tanks, etc.) NH3is a liquid with very modest pressure and is distribute to farms in 10,000 TONS per day already.

22. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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19,037
Agreed. On the other hand, CH4 is already distributed around the country at the rate of 1.7 MILLION TONS per day. We already have pipelines for it, and we already have both ships and trucks that can carry it readily. It comes out of the ground AND can be made from garbage and fecal matter. A lot of vehicles can already run on it. We already have filling stations for CH4. Indeed, many people have CH4 pipes that already go to their homes. Reformers that convert CH4 to H2 for use in fuel cells are readily available.

23. ### KitemanSARegistered Senior Member

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624
CH4 has some marvelous properties and when made with biological sources doesn't contribute CO2 to the atmosphere. But if you are concerned about GHGs, CH4 is a very powerful one whereas NH3 is not. Also, production of CH4 biologically also releases 1 to 1 a CO2.

Finally, making CH4 directly from the environment requires a very difficult step of obtaining CO2 from the atmosphere. N2 is easily available directly from the atmosphere.