Thanks for the comments, Jerry. You are right, I don't design them, and neither do most people commenting here, so thought I'd ask the really basic question to get some enlightenment for all of us.
It sounds like one major problem is the same one as all the other basic electronic problems, such as "not enough" processor speed, RAM, HD space or -- battery life, at least from the user's POV. In other words, these ideal specs are all moving targets. That was a bit of a wakeup, to learn that batteries have improved by a factor of 4. Did you mean in terms of lifetime?
Sorry but foolcells are for those who write FC grants or otherwise make a living off them or misinformed. They when everything is added in they never bother to mention, FC's are 25% as eff as batteries or a third rail. They'd be better off burning the fuel in an engine/gen at 35% eff.
Trains should be run on a thrid rail or overhead wires as many are and almost all trans just by adding contact arms, run on the electric grid. as an added benefit trains going downhill or stopping, their energy can be used to accelerate or climb hills by other trans.
WBS, The Nissan Leaf EV will easily satify your needs with 60-75 miles to spare. And over 7 yrs will pay for itself in gasoline savings.
You could also spend a lot less by doing some work and converting your own. Take a Miata, Corvette or other lightweight car, put in $1200 in golfcart batteries and a forklift motor and for about $3-6k, you can drive very cheaply using no gas. You can spend far more but not needed.
I have a Harley size trike EV that with a nice body costs me under $1.5k in parts to build as a prototype for possible production. It gets the equivalent to 600mpg/mpge using lead with 60 mile range and a 6hp gas generator that gives unlimited range.
Google EV racing and follow the links to make your own EV until they are really in mass production.
I wish I had the money to invest seriously in technologies like this that may one day deliver real benefits to the world. But since that's not going to happen, I'd just like to say: "Thanks, Mr. Gates, for doing it for us."
As long as you are going to run very hot batteries, why not improve upon fuel cells? True, they are far more complex and expensive today, but with improved design and mass production they could become economically feasible. You need three elements, a fuel generator driven by electricity, a storage system and finally the fuel cell battery to reverse the process. One benefit of fuel cell technology is the ability to "burn" multiple fuels. The other is the ability to supplement the renewable fuel source with purchased fuel for those times where renewable sources of electricity may be in short supply.
For electric locomotion fuel cell batteries can be recharged in a couple of minutes, just like internal combustion engines, by filling the fuel tank. Storage batteries cannot be recharged as rapidly. And hairbrained schemes to mimic conveniently short pit stops revolve around swapping out whole thousand pound battery packs at the refueling station.
This is not pie in the sky as there have been hydrogen powered electric busses in service in some cities.
I applaud any and all battery research, but why can't we get some major funding for a proven energy storage technology: Kinetic Energy via the use of high-speed flywheels? It is a proven concept, it has very good storage capability, it is environmentally low-impact, and it can be scaled easily.
I'm sorry any one that has an RV out in the woods understands capacity vs use rate - without a generator. The other thing people don't understand is a discharged battery vs a depleted battery. Battery capacity declines with age and use. For my battery operated electronics I have rechargables and primaries. It is a life style. Cycle the discharged batteries through the charger. The primaries are backups when the rechargables fail and they will. And at some point they all die permanently. I worked on MinuteMan silos for the MX missile. I studied the electrical grid, diesel electric backup generator, lead acid secondaries and primaries. You match the end of life capacity with the desired use rate. It is just that simple. For stationary power there are little worries. It is the mobile applications that are hard. Where volume and weight have big effects. But we had electric cars since the 1900's, right. Just build inexpensive electric cars. It is the initial cost that is prohibitive. I only have a 24 mile commute (round trip) with only a five mile stretch (both ways) of forced high speed. The rest is 35 mph. I don't need blue tooth, web, and all that other crap. Mpg, maintenance, reliability, and cost is what it is all about.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.