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Re: Triumphs of engineering
BRDD-Man   1/16/2012 1:45:23 PM
Excellently written!  Thanks

Staber Dearth
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Re: Redistribution of Energy Production
Staber Dearth   1/16/2012 1:39:03 PM
Also, metal hydride storage has not advanced appreciably to extract the tied up hydrogen quickly enough for it to be viable for most applications.

Also, hydrogen is typically gotten by steam methane reformation (SMR) which use hydrocarbon as the feedstock (lot's of CO2).  Unless we are diasociating water via electrolysis to get H2 and using renewable energy inputs to do it, we are merely squeezing the closed system part of the balloon on our planet.

We've got far too many technically challenged but heavy on the tree hugging ignorance amongst us, a lot of them gullible and shallow politicians.

I once told a disagreeing poster to do the material and energy balance to prove a point about an energy process and he accused me of muddying up the discussion.   Absolutely amazing...

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Re: Redistribution of Energy Production
Technophile   1/16/2012 1:14:11 PM
Let's keep in mind the other big issue with hydrogen that seems often forgotten in the media hype:  it's not an energy source, it's an energy storage material.  There aren't any hydrogen mines.  Hydrogen is not a primary source of energy.  We still need to mine uranium, coal, etc. or build solar collectors or hydroelectric dams to come up with the energy needed to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, which is later burned in the car engine (or used in the fuel cell) to release that stored energy, at less than 100% efficiency.  Then we must use more energy to compress the hydrogen into tanks, much of which is lost as waste heat.   Look at an air compressor in the hardware store; there's a reason they have fans blowing air over cooling fins!  Hopefully some of that loss will be recoverable.


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No news here
pkoning   1/16/2012 12:59:35 PM
I don't get it.  I could have done this 11 years ago with my Honda Insight.  Anyone who owns a Prius can do this.

Remember, in spite of the blindness of the press and the successful marketing snowjob from GM, a Volt is just a hybrid.  It has the same limitations as a hybrid (uses gasoline, has a complex power train) and the same benefits (doesn't depend on finding places to plug in).

If someone did a cross-country drive in a Leaf or a Tesla, THAT would be news.  Doing it in a Volt doesn't prove anything other than that GM has better marketing people than DN has journalists.

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Superbattery Development & Manufacture
ecolamp   1/16/2012 12:56:24 PM
It's clear to me that we need to apply the engineering and scientific talent we already have to come up with a "SuperBattery" regardless of the preceived current efficiency of the total system.

After we solve the basic problem of a light weight energy storage device then we can address the primary source of power........maybe it has to be Nuclear ! maybe solar...We can figure that out later...

The main impediment to getting rid of the internal combustion engine and the importation of oil ......is the lack of an Energy Storage Device

We must have a "SuperBattery"

and we must work on it's development and manufacture Now !!!

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Re: Redistribution of Energy Production
RadioGuy   1/16/2012 12:45:34 PM
WW says:

  "Uranium: 20,000,000 MJ/kg
   Hydrogen: 142 MJ/kg
   Methane: 56 MJ/kg
   Propane: 50 MJ/kg
   Butane: 49 MJ/kg
   Gasoline: 46 MJ/kg

   From an Energy Storage argument, it appears we should be shoveling funds
   into a "hydrogen economy", if we wish to maximize energy storage efficiency."

The problem with that hydrogen tank is that hydrogen is so light weight that the tank needs to be either very large or kept at enormous pressure (700 atmospheres is a figure that comes to mind). In either case, that tank ends up being a pretty large and heavy metal structure. Once you adjust the numbers to include the weight of the tank along with the wieight of the fuel, the numbers look quite different.


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relevance of highway mileage
Dave   1/16/2012 12:36:18 PM
  I had to chuckle once again at the comparison of the Volt's highway mileage during a cross-country trek to that of an old Honda. Really, who cares about highway mileage these days? Population density is highest at each end of the country and that's where the jobs are. For the average working stiff who lives on either coast, citymileage is of utmost importance and that's where hybrids and electric vehicles embarass cars of old. Let's see an old Honda Civic get 50 MPG in high-traffic conditions!

 The other thing that bothers me is any comparison of diesel vehicles to hybrids without mention of the large fuel cost differences between diesel and regular gas. It can be as high as $.50/gallon here in CA.



D. Sherman
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Triumphs of engineering
D. Sherman   1/16/2012 12:17:12 PM
The history of engineering shows that the longer people have been trying unsuccessfully to solve a given problem, the less likely it is that a solution exists. "Breakthroughs" tend to come when the field of investigation is still fresh. When the concept of electric batteries was first discovered, they were obviously extremely useful and so lots of effort went into experimenting will all sorts of chemical combinations and mechanical structures. Most of the basic chemistries used today are a century old, with improvements only in manufacturing processes. Some of the "obsolete" technologies were elegant in their simplicity, such as the "crow's foot" battery used for railway signaling. It consisted of two simple chemical solutions, one foating on top of the other, with a simple heavy cast electrode in the bottom. Its great advantage was that it could provide a small amount of current for a very long time (sound familiar?). If it wasn't for the fact taht it would spill if tipped over, it would be great for today's micropower sensors and telemetry devices.

Even the "new" lithium batteries are really only "new" in the sense of metalic lithium becoming widely available, and new manufacturing processes that can harness lithium's energetic reactions in a way that keeps the battery from self-discharging or catching fire and yet still provides electricity when needed.

Virtually every article in the popular press about battery "breakthroughs" ends up being about either supercapacitors, incremental manufacturing improvements, or theoretical research that is far from producing any sort of product. The articles typically then go on to repeat the standard points about all the great things we could do if we had better batteries, and when the government should fund more research. What is missing is any reporting on an actual functional, manufacturable battery that is truly a breakthrough in terms of energy density (one order of magnitude improvement would be a nice start) over anything currently available. Currently, in terms of how far it can propel a vehicle, the Chevy Volt's complicated and expensive battery pack is equivalent to about one gallon of gasoline.

Like nuclear fusion, battery "breakthroughs" seem destined to always be the energy source of the future. The public has been led (mostly by writers) to believe that the way to get useful new inventions is for the government to throw money at the problem. "It worked with nuclear fusion. so it should work with everything else" is the fallacious argument. If you can turn desired technologies into practical products just by having the government throw money at them, why waste time on batteries? Why not have the government fund the invention of anti-gravity machines and Star Trek "transporters"?

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Re: Redistribution of Energy Production
RobLewis   1/16/2012 12:16:04 PM
Free market, schmee market. As has been demonstrated countless times, the "free market" is good at one thing: allocation of scarce resources IN THE SHORT TERM. For long-term projects requiring bold vision and unusual risk-taking, forget it.

We would have no microchip industry today if we had simply left it all up to the free market. The Defense Department's willingness to pay "above market" prices to get the benefits of miniaturized digital circuits got the whole ball rolling.

IMO, the government should be shoveling money at any technology that offers a reasonable hope of improving our energy prospects, in the full expectation that many of them won't ultimately prove out. Call it "waste" if you want, but we often learn more from our failures than from our successes. And this is the kind of long-term, multi-pronged, high-risk effort that the so-called free market just can't address.

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Re: Redistribution of Energy Production
herbissimus   1/16/2012 11:47:56 AM
i see alot of numbers here, but the numbers that matter more are 1.1 billion indians, 1.3 billion chinese, upwards of 3 billion other 3rd world going on first world people who thirst for admission to the middle class.

so whatever transportation device or modality had better take these numbers into account or from this perspective its not going to matter much what the 300 million americans do.

7billion / 300million = around 1/20th of the problem we all face on this little blue marble hurtling through space

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