Here, here!! David, I applaud your strong call to arms to get the private sector and government research dollars behind battery development. I agree that it's a short-sighted view to squash investment here due to lingering concerns about the economy and the still all-out push to promote budget austerity. I love your comment, "We should be glad to pay up, if only for the sake of kissing BP and OPEC goodbye." Ok, maybe not a complete break-up, but it's certainly time in the relationship to start "seeing other people."
I really (really) tried to consume this article from a neutral position, but too many buzzwords and cliches set off my political alarms. Kissing BP and OPEC goodbye? -- so we can embrace GE, GM, and Korea-based LG Chem? Simply changing the name of the organizations that provide energy fixes nothing, other than the spelling of the current boogeymen. We already have a battery that 'breathes in' oxygen from the air. It's called an internal combustion engine. And the hydrocarbon fuel it uses is the product of millions of years of photosynthesis. And the distribution network is already in place and provides countless thousands of jobs. Make it "game over for gasoline" and then figure out how to accommodate all of the displaced careers from exploration, drilling, refinement, transportation, pipeline infrastructure, and convenience stores and gas stations to name a few.
"By extending the technology of power storage beyond car batteries into 'green' areas of solar, wind, and biomass...we will...reduce the suffocating impact of carbon emissions..." Wow. Confusing "Power Production" for "Power Storage" is a common problem in the non-technical media. If all Americans switched to Chevy volts tomorrow, our currently 50% Coal-fired electricity grid will need to charge all of the batteries --- and with no new Nuclear Reactor permits, no unsightly wind turbines off Nantucket and the demise of Solyndra, I can only predict that the electricity shortfall needed to power all of the batteries will necessary come from burning more coal and building more oil-fired power plants. Again --- the theme of Redistribution sucks up all of our debate time, rather than passionately arguing for Innovation.
WW, you are so leading us straight to financial ruin. Feel free to keep burning that oil but you pay for it and all it's other costs which we pay in our taxes of about $1T/yr for oil wars, pollution, corporate welfare, balance og payments, etc.
Oil won't slow just because of EV's but instead from slowing demand from higher oil prices and dropping RE costs. So don't blame EV's for FF job losses.
Coal hasn't been 50% for w while now and dropping like flies as they should because they kill 30k, hospitalize 150k/yr in just the US amoung much other costs. Coal, oil get the profits, yaxpayers get the shaft. By the time any number of EV's are on the road coal plants will be far less, about 20-25% of the cleanest, most eff ones.
And Ev's will be the battery pack of the grid allowing it to balance out without having to run costly generators in case of peak demand, saving enough in fact to charge 50M EV's according to utility studies without increasing capacity.
For those who don't know I've been driving EV's at 25% of an ICE's cost or 15 yrs at about 250-600mpg equivalent. So keep paying your oil masters if you want. I'll pass.
Nukes are not being built because they are way overpriced. Not until gen 4-5 smaller, far safer, more cost effective modular reactors come online will it be viable here.
Back to batteries, we already have 2 'air' batteries available techincally. They are Zinc and Alum/air batteries. They are good for about 1k miles/charge, then you have the insides replaced. Trails worked well but no one wanted to build enough and the charging plants to make them work.
Jerry, thanks for the correction. I've used the 50% coal number for a while now, as a Google search returns values of 57%, 54%, and 45% (an average of 52%), but I'm happy to use the www.eia.gov values of 45% from Coal, 24% from Natural Gas (69% fossil fuels). I'm not sure I would count Zinc/Air and Aluminum/Air reaction as 'batteries', but I'll go with fuel cells. The only difficulty being that electrolysis powered from our 69% fossil fuel grid is required to reduce the oxidized Zinc and Aluminum ore into new, battery cells which are non-rechargeable.
I'm happy to learn the off-peak production level of the grid can be utilized to charge 50M EV's, but I'm concerned that would lead to running at 100% peak capacity 24/7. I'm not sure for how long our current infrastructure could handle that duty cycle without failure...
China uses even more coal than North America. They get 68 percent of their electricity from coal, and goes into the same air we eventually breathe. I've got it in the back of my head that tremendous gains could be made by creating a super-efficient, super lightweight internal combustion engine. And while technology that makes oil use more efficient may be a big step forward in reducing consumption, I really can't see sticking to oil in order to support the industry. I'm glad we didn't support buggy makers or typewriter manufacturers.
Rob I believe we are after the same goals. I've no stick-to-it-iveness to any technology when innovations abound, but as you know, oil and gas is much bigger than the fluids -- it is entire economies that support and surround it. My adverse reaction is to calls for conversion to electric vehicles because they don't burn fossil fuels and are therefore "free", when it comes to energy consumption. It sounds ridiculous to scientists and engineers, but to a general voting public who thinks the moon landing was staged in California and big business is hiding the technology to the flux capacitor, the rhetoric can be disastrous.
I like your transitional approach that may include super-efficient ICEs. I'm rooting for efficient electric motors and transmission systems that are powered by super-efficient on-board turbine generators --- much like a Diesel Locomotive. I spent a few years working in the Fuels and Lubrication Division of the US Air Force Power and Propulsion Directorate... Advanced Turbine Composites and innovations such as the Trapped-Vortex Combustor would go a long way to hybridizing our fossil fuel economy with more efficient use of electricity, all while avoiding an increased reliance on Coal spurred by a political push for rechargeable electric vehicles...
Good comments, William. We seem to be at the beginning of a major transition in technology and materials related to energy consumption. I would imagine we'll go in every which direction for some years to come. Ultimately, like it of not, coal will continue to be a big part of our future, especially in developing countries. But it will be fun to see the flood of new technology -- it already is.
And the people of China are dying at a fast rate from the coal pollution. Not only do they burn so much, it's some of the dirtiest, most deadly coal on the planet, laced with much heavy metals, radioactive materials at rate far worse than our plants, coal which is bad enough to stop.
The good thing is they have only 30 yrs at present use. Of course just like our '100' yrs of NG, both of which will increase so likely china has 20 yrs worth of coal and we 50 yrs of NG as our future FF of choice. Luckily biomass/BTL, GTL, CTL, NG and electricity will do transport after then.
In vehicles the eff engine of choice by a very long ways is E drive as in the car gets 20-65% of the fuel's energy to the road VS 35% eff ICE's that only get 7% of their fuel to the road because they almost never run at eff levels, wasting most of their energy. This is why I get 250-600mpg equivalent in my EV's vs 40-50mpg in similat ICE's.
Where we really need an eff engine is in home, building heating burning the heating fuel to make electricity using the waste heat for the heating. The hard thing is it needs to run slowly at about 2-4hp for a home. Best is likely using A/C tech to make low temp Rankine motors, really just an A/C in reverse, to do this. Since it burns externally the emission are low in NOx and even wood pellets, solar, etc could power it.
With the electric sales paying for the fuel you'd get heating for almost free!! Yet where are these? Tech has been around for 75+ yrs.
Gotta love your enthusiasm, but you need to do more research before spewing wildly incorrect specs. The statement "In vehicles the eff engine of choice by a very long ways is E drive as in the car gets 20-65% of the fuel's energy to the road VS 35% eff ICE's that only get 7% of their fuel to the road because they almost never run at eff levels, wasting most of their energy. This is why I get 250-600mpg equivalent in my EV's vs 40-50mpg in similat ICE's." is nonsense.
The best ICE's are ~38% efficient (Prius, etc.) and in hybrid cars the engine is kept near the efficiency sweet-spot most of the time. EV's "MPGe" comparison is complicated and there is much mis-information out there. The average coal power-plant is approx. 32% efficient, and loses 7% for transmission loss, and then the EV has losses with battery charging / discharging / motor control and electric motor. Net-net, an EV actually uses MORE energy (from the power plant) than an efficient fuel-burning car burns as chemical energy (as oil). 100% fact.
Now, to be fair - the grid is powered by various sources, varying by location and only ~50% Coal overall, 20% Natural Gas. The higher percentage the grid is powered by renewables, the more the "green" benefits of EV's. However, with today's grid there is basically ZERO energy benefit (actually negative benefit) on average, except that we shift from burning oil to mainly burning Coal + Natural Gas.
The MPGe of EV's, if calculated scientifically and honestly would be about 1/3 of the EPA sticker value. In other words, the LEAF's 99 MPGe would actually be ~33 if related to how much fossil fuel it uses. Your 250-600 MPGe figures are pure fantasy...
Regarding Superbatteries - I agree with some other posters that the best focus (near-term) would be buffering wind and solar power to the grid, NOT automobiles. Autos are one of the most challenging applications imaginable, but a fixed power grid buffering installation could be large, heavy, have high initial cost and the utilities would be willing to amortize costs over decades.
For autos, the best short-term solution is efficient conventional ICE's and hybrids, medium-term would be to create a renewable synthesized fuel that can take gasoline's place. For urban cars, plug-in hybrids might make sense, but for most people the extra battery capacity is just a waste of money vs. conventional hybrids. In other words - the VOLT would be more practical if it had a battery of half the capacity and lower cost and weight, and a MORE efficient gas engine - more like the Prius.
I stand by my numbers and EPA agrees with them as do most honest others. where are you wrong? Let's count the ways.
Sorry but Prii's are no where near 38% eff, about 10% in real life. And it almost never runs in it's eff range even as a hybrid.
I was talking about power to the road. Real eff for ICE is very bad because just idling either at a light, coasting, braking all the while an ICE uses 5-10hp just to turn the engine over. I can go 70mph on that much power in my 2 seat sportwagom EV. Next the transmission weight, 5% loss. Since an ICE is only eff at 75% plus power, it rarely hits that. Most of the time running it's making none to 15hp which is only 10% or less eff. If you can't understand that you have problems.
Coal plants are dropping like flies with about 100 annouced closures over the last few months because simply they kill people with 30k/yr deaths in the US from them. Presently we use about 43% coal and dropping fast. By 5 yrs when any number of EV's are out there, only the most ef, c;lean coal will be left and that under 25% of US grid.
Personally I'm about to produce a 2kw windgen that can power an eff 1000sq' home and a light EV or 2. This installed will be about $5k and give power for 50 yrs. PV panels are now only $1.5k/kwhr or less retail, sunelec.com, so for about $1k I can charge my EV's for 25 yrs.
And it's being replaced by cogen NG units, 55-60% eff and RE, 100% eff most people consider. Most EV'ers use RE either making their own or buying it.
So I drive to town for $.15 and you can keep wasting your money if you want but stop spreading such bad misinformation. Just google would have turned up your grid numbers being so wrong.
This isn't about my qualifications, but since you asked: I've built my share of performance engines and designed a lot of systems with electric motors too. I'm both a degreed ME and EE and am deeply interested and knowledgable about alternative energy. Don't get me wrong - I am 100% for getting us off of fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy. In fact, that is WHY I have researched these issues quite extensively, and found that reality is quite different than what the popular media and EV zealots would like it to be.
So...to clarify my position - I am NOT anti-EV, but I am pro-truth and pro-reality. Every factoid in my prior statements is completely true and verifiable, whether you are open-minded enough to learn about it or not. You are being very loose and fast with the spec's you are mentioning - please see if you feel the same way after ANALYSING the facts.
Here's a smattering of some info that might get you started down the road to understanding these issues more completely. Hopefully you can see that I'm not distorting anything, just pointing out reality. I make no apology if reality does not align with preconceived notions.
One thing we probably all can agree on is that we will eventually need to get off of fossil fuels, and it would be better to start earlier rather than later. However, I believe EV's are a "head fake" and have little to do with this, since ~70% of power generation today in the USA (higher in most other countries except for France) comes from burning fossil fuels.
I think it is more practical to put our efforts and dollars into efficiency and converting the power grid to renewable sources and creating a renewable fuel to replace gasoline. Once the grid is mainly renewable based, EV's make more sense (how many decades for that to happen?) and if the renewable car fuel is created - there would then be no NEED for EV's with all of the cost / range issues, etc. that they have, and no additional burden on the grid.
You should sue your schools as they didn't teach you basic reasoning skils.
Since you built performance engines what was their SFC in lbs/hphr at 2000rpm outputing 10hp as a car at 55mph is likely to do? What about while idling? Notice anything? You can only use an engine eff at acceleration which normally is only a % or 2 of engine running time. No? Most driving is using under 10hp to the road and if using 10hp just to turn over the engine from friction, etc, what is the SFC/road hp?
You can provide links to mpg sites all you want and I agree with what they say on eff in a constant run engine at peak eff. Sadly you seem to be incapable of understanding part throttle eff in real life which is FAR different and as you say you want, reality.
I noticed you didn't put any links to FF grid % as you probably know by now I'm right on it. I get daily updates on all grid, oil, coal, NG, EV, Auto, etc news, info from industry sources You need to be up to date as it's changing very fast for the grid.
As for using coal powered EV's in 1 yr the dirty, ineff coal plants will be gone or converted to biomass of NG, even with power from them EV's make less pollution and CO2 than similar ICE's by a good amount. From RE or NG it's many times better EPA, website. And as I said before, most EV buyers also make or buy RE.
EPA also shows eff and well to road total energy for each fuel of all types both car and grid. But basic eff knowledge allows one to do ones own math.
Your misinformation on EV mpge is just plain wrong as is the way EPA counts it in their mileage rates.
I'm more into eff than EV's. Just EV's is by far the most eff way to transport people.
And if my EV isn't eff then why does it only cost me $.005/mile for fuel? How much does your example Prius use? Why? Things you need to reseach before you spout such misinfo. Someone who was not anti-ev would.
I joined this list because I wanted to learn more from expert designers, engineers yet I find far more ignorance by supposed EE's-ME's and others. It seems I have to teach others just basic physics which with my 8th grade education shouldn't be!!
2. One of the big benefits of hybrids is that they can use the electric motor to keep the gas engine running near peak efficiency most of the time. This is in addition to regenerative braking and start/stop capability for the engine too. Your technobabble is way off in the weeds.
3. "in 1 yr the dirty, ineff coal plants will be gone or converted to biomass of NG". Yeah...and we will have a 13,000 person moon colony by Newt Gingrich's 2nd term as president !
4. Basically (in 8th grader's math): The EPA's MPGe equates 34 KWh of power out of the plug to 1 gallon of gas. While this is indeed equal to the chemical energy of this amount of gas, it took about 3 times that much fuel energy (at the power plant) to create that much electricity. If we could "mine" electrons directly, this might be a valid method...but not in this world.
5. I agree - Electricity is relatively cheap, mainly because of subsidies and the fact that Coal and Natural Gas is cheaper than Oil. If we all changed to EV's, electricity prices would go up (supply-and-demand) and also it is only a matter of time until those fossil fuels get more scarce too. Even with the relatively low cost of electricity, it takes at least 10-15 years to "break even" financially with an EV vs. efficient ICE car. For example, the ~$20K price premium for a Volt would buy over 5000 gallons of gas. At 40 MPG for the gas car, this is 200,000 miles to break even with the Volt, even with ZERO cost electricity! You could also spend an additional $30K for a rooftop photovoltaic system to charge you EV - and have "free" electricity...but you'll probably never recoup that investment before the EV is worn out.
Anyway, it's clear that this conversation is not going anywhere with you. The article's point (and I must say - Charles Murray's articles are always great!) was about Super Batteries. Any my point was - don't bother with putting these into EV's....let's put this technology into helping the grid become more "green" by buffering Solar and Wind generation.
Just because EPA rates something their way doesn't effect real facts. You say 34kwhr in a gal of gas which is true.
But 34kwhr of RE also has it and can be directly used in an EV. And as I said, most EV people use RE as I do.
Let's actually calculate the numbers even you might be able to understand. The beauty of doing it right is it can be done different ways. So let's say generation averages about 40% now including losses. So 40% of 34kwhr is about 14kwhr. Now my EV's use 50 and 100wthrs/mile so that is about 280 and 140 mpge from the grid and 680 and 340 mpge from 100% eff RE. No?
Going cost wise grid 14kwhrs is about $1.40 which is also the US average. So I get 340 miles from that is $.0041/mile. A Prius gets $.07/mile for gasoline. Now how much more eff is that? 17x's cost wise!! Energy wise about 3-6x's depending on electric source as I said in the first place.
Nor did I mention the 3kwhrs needed just to refine the gal of gas which runs my EV 30-60 miles!!
I have extremely light, eff 2 seat EV's I admit, a Harley size trike and an all composite body/chassis 2 seat spotswagon stronger than a steel one. Though both a Karman Ghia EV and the EV-1 EV 2000lb Impact prototype got 100wthrs/mile too. The 3000lb production EV1 got 175wthrs/mile on lead batteries so not that out of line.
So be a person that gets screwed every time they fill up with gas and support oil dictaors and terrorists if you want. I'll be laughing all the way to the bank as my EV's sell out as fast as I build them.
If you do the calculations, you'll see that the financial "break even" point for a LEAF vs. PRIUS (using the reasonable assumptions in the article) is over 170,000 miles. For a VOLT (in EV mode) vs. a PRIUS, it's over 350,000 miles!
4. Your WH/mi figure are not credible, at least not at highway speeds.
5. Using your own data (online) for the FREEDOM EV with twelve 6V, 225 AH lead-acid batteries and supposedly 90 miles range @ 60 MPH (questionable) this is 180 WH/mi. Do you really think it is more sophisticated than a LEAF or VOLT or EV1 ? Like I said - gotta love your enthusiasm http://www.evalbum.com/168 .
Math is math. You just don't understand part throttle eff do you. Look it up. Did you look at the EPA website?
Note I said the EV-1 lead version, not the NiMh version which wasted much power charging from bad battery design.
Nor did I say producion EVs available are the solution as lightweight commuter. town car is best until battery prices drop. I said my solution the GM UltraLite.
And not complicated with a $1200 battery pack in a 550lb before battery aero vehicle has 25% of the drag a steel car would. Such a easy 100 mile range EV could be mass produced for $15k or less. EV's have used this well for 100 yrs in forklift tech.
So you found my first EV from 16 yrs ago. Good for you. What you see is after it was rear ended at 25 mph and totaled the compact car hitting me. It cost me only $40 to repair mine. While it wasn't great looking, it worked well, the women loved it and cost about 2 tanks of gas/yr to drive. How much does your car cost to own?
I'll be selling FreedomEV's and some custom ones. I have customers waiting as I finish, test them before I sell any.
The EPA cycle is not well set up to rate EV's and hybrids or gas, diesel either most experts agree. My numbers show that.
That's it for me. I'll remember you as I pass gas stations and you can thiink of me as you pour your money down your tank.
i just found this article http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/March/11030903.asp. i just wonder if buses will be also get green. http://techcrunch.com/2009/06/10/new-super-battery-to-charge-buses-and-street-cars-in-10-seconds/ and i think even the auto repair shops needs to be green.
And for commuting short distances it makes sense, about 2 cents per mile to re-charge.
But the day you need a new battery pack (I did at 12,000 miles and 6 years) all the money you have saved even at $4.00 per gallon (today price) instantly evaporates.
I calculate the break even at about $6.00 per gallon that is if the power costs remains constant at about 10 cents per kw/h, but that too has strange way to creep up and so does the cost of lead-acid batteries which in 2003 were $90 each (8 are needed) and today are $225 each !!!
So if price of more than 50 year old technology of sealed Pb batteries more than doubled, why does anyone think the price of any current battery technolgy will ever go down much ? I never heard that there is world wide Pd shortage, so why the price increase ? I am told it is the increased demand for Pb batteries for all the new cars that are now made in China annually (not sure if that is really the cause ?)
Look at platinum an inexpensive metal in the 1960's that is now more than gold, since 63 million cars produced annually have catalytic converters on them.
Any spike in battery technology will instantly increase the cost of the required chemicals that are not overly abundant.
actually i have read this one, "It could be recharged many, many times perhaps hundreds of thousands of times, and ... it could be recharged very quickly, just in a matter of seconds rather than a matter of hours," he says. maybe next time they will create the triumph parts and other car parts using solar cells. well that's good.
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
I clearly remember the zinc-air battery that came out in the late '60s (maybe 1970). These served ONLY as 'emergency back-up" (e.g. very long shelf life, moderate-low energy density, NON-RECHARGEABLE). They had a seal tab that you tore off to activate by allowing oxygen (the other half of the couple) to enter the cell. They were a good alternative to the other "back-up energy source" of the time, the sea-water activated cell that was used for emergency beacons and lanterns for ocean disasters. They were only around for a couple of years because of the special applications were a very limited market. Definitely NOT a usable mechanism for the EV!
The article is discussing a means of energy storage. A more efficient means is absolutely necessary, one with higher energy density, but paired with that problem is that of the energy SOURCE. Fossil fuels burn once, non-renewable (well, not renewable in this epoch).
I'd like to see more nuclear plants, but I find myself in the minority, I think. What other energy sources are there?
Direct solar? Why are there not huge solar farms in the areas of this country that receive the most sunlight? The southwestern states SHOULD be exporting what falls for free on lots and lots of empty land. It makes no sense to put solar in the northern states, they don't get enough sun to matter in the winter.
Wind power? It's already been stated in this discussion that the turbine farms are not welcome (not in my back yard). Higher charges for fossil fuels in those areas might convince the landowners that wind turbines are not such an eyesore.
Tidal? The coastal areas that can benefit should, and agressively. But even in Seattle, it's taking too bloody long.
There is not going to be a single solution that ends our need for fossil fuels; it will take all of them, applied appropriately regionally.
Oh, there's one other reason why we should consider AVOIDING wind turbine farms:
Listing selected values of Energy Storage per kilogram for this discussion:
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
Diesel: 46 MJ/kg
Lithium: 43 MJ/kg
JetA/Kerosene: 43 MJ/kg
Coal: 33 MJ/kg
Hydrazine: 19.5 MJ/kg
Li/Air Battery: 9.0 MJ/kg
Zinc/Air Battery: 1.59 MJ/kg
Water at 100m dam height: 0.001 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. However, we need to consider systematic values of abundance, cost, safety, regulations, health, pollution, geo-political availability, etc. for all of these materials.
From a purely scientific argument, our Fossil-Fuel economy did pretty well when it comes to energy storage. As we plow funds into Batteries and praise the success of the TVA, the proponents will need to do a great job of emphasizing the non-scientific reasons for the switch -- and that is very valid. But I ask the proponents of alternative fuels to limit the pointing to conspiracy, war-machines, and crony-capitalism as the reasons for our current fossil fuel economy. It may have devolved into our present situation, but the engineers and scientists had perfectly sound reasons for using carbon oxidation in the first place.
@williamlweaver: Actually, hydrogen only looks good from the standpoint of specific energy (energy per unit mass). From the standpoint of energy density (energy per unit volume), it doesn't come close to hydrocarbons unless it is very highly compressed. This only reinforces your point about hydrocarbons being a good energy storage medium in terms of concentrating a lot of energy in a small space. However, as you point out, this is far from the only important consideration. In fact, in some cases it's not even meaningful. For example, does it make any sense to compare a gallon of water going over a dam to a gallon of gasoline being burned in an internal combustion engine? For one thing, a gallon of water in a river doesn't cost $4.
Elegantly stated, Dave. There are so many factors that go into turning each of these sources into a viable solution. The difficulty is that these factors are often best considered in the free market --- where each of the systematic factors can be explored. My personal difficulty is with blue-ribbon panel of scientists that are assembled to "calculate" decided science and the Federal Government then selectively funds those efforts and creates crippling regulations, reviews and licences for the others.
We've lived through this many times before: Lunar-based Navigation, Langley's powered flight program, The Human Genome Project... each of these benefited from collaborative efforts from the free market. An antagonistic approach only benefits those in power.
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.
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.
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.
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...
Hydrogen storage has some interesting possibilities: some metal/ceramic compounds can be saturated with hydrogen at densities larger than liquid hydrogen--very counterintuitive, but true. They are inherently safe, too---the extraction rate is slow enough so that there is no 'gigantic fireball' if the tank is compromised.
Amen, William!!... I could not agree more with your general assessment.
LIke it or not, there is NO viable substitute (actually, what is generally advocated is really replacement) for fossil fuels and the ICE. We should of course be focusing research on improving all technologies, but with a sense of logic and reason (not this emotional cry of "kiss BP and OPEC goodbye"). I just read another article on truly major and significant advances in engine design and operational technologies (variable valve timing, turbocharging, etc.), all of whcih contribute to the overall goal of greater efficiency; sadly these are not the kind of efforts that get sufficient attention, or garner big headliines. It is really maddening how the entire subject has been corrupted by political and idealogical forces.
Benj rides again! Great to see your byline here at DN. Thanks for the clear, concise summary of the state of battery technology and the more human side of the politico-social environment that forms a backdrop to developments in this area.
Rob, I'm with you on getting free from oil, but I can't support alternative--or any--internal combustion engine designs. To me, the key word is "combustion," as in, burning.
A hundred years from now, someone might find this article and say, "Gee, this guy was right. Air cathode batteries were the solution all along." What's more, I agree with the author that we need to support battery research. That said, I think a few words of caution are in order here. Discovery is still needed (badly) in the area of air cathode batteries. Tossing lots of money at it might be the answer; then again it might not. This isn't the Interstate system and it's not even the Space Race. It's probaly closer to Richard Nixon's War on Cancer (does anyone even remember that?), which made in-roads, but never reached the vision that Nixon had for it. Discovery (science) is different than engineering, and Nixon's advisors couldn't see that. Scientific breakthroughs are unpredictable and can't be scheduled. Elton Cairns, a ChemE professor at the University of California who designed fuel cells and batteries for the Gemini Space Program and headed up GM's EV battery research effort in the 1970s, has said that bringing a battery from lab to commercial product can be a 40-year proposition (this was the case for lithium-ion, he says). Cairns believes lithium-sulfur batteries are still a decade away, and lithium-air could still be one to two decades behind lithium-sulfur. Throwing more money at it might help. But a decade ago, the US Advanced Battery Consortium pumped more than $260 million into lithium batteries, then asked for an additional $60 million a year or two later, with incremental results. The point is, I'm not ready to label this the next great triumph of engineering. We've got to do the science first. As Cairns has said: "People see all the potential advantages of these technologies, but they don't see the potential pitfalls."
Personally, I think the whole battery discussion is starting from the back end of the problem. Square 1 is that any conversion process loses energy. So the first step in a comprehensive overhaul of energy has to start with the basic generation. To me, having electric cars means nothing if we have to create more oil/coal/gas buring power plants to charge them. This would make electric cars a 2nd tier of energy conversion and since conversion processes lose energy, would cause more usuage rather than less.
Battery research is now popular and sexy, but until we get a reliable, low-polluting, high efficiency source of electricity to charge all those electric cars, we will pollute more, rather than less.
Almost every effort has been focused on changing the vehicles in the system - but no one looks at the system itself. The technology exists today to make all of the traffic signals "smart" such that they leave the main road green unless someone is waiting at the side street. This could be done optically. This change would work for every user (read vehicle) in the system. The multiplier effect would be huge fuel savings nationally.
It takes a huge quantity of energy to re-accelerate a vehicle compared to the traveling the same distance at the speed they had been going. If our country is serious about reducing fuel consumption, then we need to look at the entire system - not just part of it. I am not saying we should not work on more efficient batteries, but guess is that the investment in this idea would have a better return than the investment in electric vehicles.
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"?
D, Sherman wrote "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."
I don't think this is a reasonable conclusion. For instance, steam power machines date back to Heron of Alexandria, but the precision machining required for a working steam engine wasn't available until 1750's. James Burke's Connections shows very well how most of engineering is interdependent and requires specific accomplishments in seemingly unrelated areas.
Specifically, fusion power is an area where progress has been disappointingly slow, but I think they are getting there: c.f. recent news about new method to stabilize plasma on a large scale.
Continuous research funding is crucial to progress---in fact I challenge you to name a non-trivial number of technological advances that can NOT be traced to society's rational choice to fund scientific research.
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.
Diesel fuel has larger energy content, and is slightly more expensive---the $/J is approximately the same. In Europe, diesel is subsidized (or, rather, the regular gas is taxed even more per Joule) so the prices are similar, I think.
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 !!!
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.
The article talks about batteries as if they are a power source and a cheap high capacity battery will eliminate all the evils of internal combustion. It completely ignores that most electricity is generated by combustion and an electric car merely moves the emissions from the tailpipe to the smokestack.
A battery is not a power source it is an energy storage device. The losses involved in transmission, charging, and discharging mean that it can take more energy to drive an electric car than a hybrid or an optimally efficient gasoline or diesel powered car.
A superbattery will be a great advance and benefit but it is more likely to pormote the function of a hybrid than an all electric vehicle unless there are government regulations that artificially tip the balance.
This article reminded me of GMs initial claims about the Volt... Since the author stated that he only read about the Volt less than 2 years ago... he should look at this, and realize that sometimes hype is just that.
And yes I am concerned about the soon to be hyper-debt that America is heading into. I don't run my house hold as if there is no limit to how much I should borrow, and I definitely stop spending on wishful thinking when I am having trouble making good on my current batch of IOUs...
But I do understand that for some people it is easy to spend other people's money... on Solyndra type 'investments'. Where did the $800,000,000,000 stim go? How much was wasted or stolen? The super-battery is a good concept, but then so is cold fusion...
Perhaps a reality check is in order before each 'that sounds like a good idea' check...
The problems of the present world or even simplier problems of transportation are un-likely to be solved with any single technologcal solution. (some got a Star Trek power source and replicator?)
The perfect battery? .. as pointed out, isn't going to "cut it".
I see many good observations on the subject of energy storage and related subject of energy creation... but they all have limitations in creation of any real solution to a world of 7 billion with their energy and transportation problems.
I don't expect to see complete solutions being proposed in Design News.
Why? because any complete solution involves much more than technology.
If it was that simple.. we would have agreed to live in Acrosonti's vision a long time ago (see: http://www.arcosanti.org/) ... limited need for cars/public transport/reduction in energy requirements for everything (heating / cooling structures, etc..)
Looks great on paper.. but, I don't see this happening...
I remain optimistic for the future, but I don't think examples of past successes will show us how the future will play out.
Many of the examples of success (with significant leaps in advancement) in the past.. had no previous examples to indicate just how successful they would be.
I was thrilled to read about the air cathode battery that if it worked could go 350 miles. With a safe convenient 15 minute recharge, it would take over. One question is how many times will it have to violate the first and second laws of thermodynamics to make that technology work? I sure hope the answer is zero. How many serious technological advancements, as opposed to great application and designs, need to be made to make it work, and what will those take? Putting those two questions aside, what engineer wouldn't want to work on these challenges? What a hoot to work on a 350 mile battery!
In another energy area, does it seem that there is a serious economic/marketing/political/oil company/ whatever barrier to using natural gas for transportation for the next say 20- 40 years? Wouldn't it be more efficient to burn natural gas in a car than to burn natural gas to make electricity and charge the battery in an electric car to run an electric motor? It is less expensive per unit energy compared to refined crude gasoline, but somewhat less energy dense. I see the larger delivery trucks making a small attempt to use it, but not very widespread. How would the US economy change if we didn't have to import oil from places that don't like us, and we produced all of our own energy resources? We are exporting refined gasoline now, we will be able to export more! Why should we have to drill for oil in areas like a mile under salt water, when natural gas seems to be available via solid ground, where it is much easier to harvest? There should be enough money with natural gas to eliminate the unfriendly imports, save Americans on transportation costs by fueling our cars with natural gas, create a few if not a bunch of American jobs to harvest and deliver the natural gas, and be able to extract the natural gas with safety for the workers and the neighbors. Why is this route not being looked at more seriously?
If the emissions, given equal efficiency from fuel to smoke and mileage was the same, I would prefer to use the smokestack over the tailpipe. Concentrated emmisions should be easier to reform, or process for sequestration than distributed.
We would still be driving horses that run on easily obtained solid biofuels if it wasn't for the development of a widespread and convenient way to move, store and transport bottled solar energy in the form of hydrocarbons.
Somehow finding a way to move, store and transport bottled solar energy in the form of electrochemical energy is going to change anything?
When I was a kid I had to clean house. One thing my mom frowned on was sweeping the dirt under the carpet (didn't have wall to wall in those days so you could do this). EVs and battery technology are the sweeping under the carpet of the "dirt" involved in producing useable stored energy. It doesn't really clean anything. And batteries, windmills and solar haven't had their day in court like hydrocarbons (coal and petroleum) and hydro power have.
Sinde th 60's I have been toying with ways to get from point A to point B using less energy without giving up the convenience and adaptability of the automobile. In that grand experiment I have found:
99-06 Honda Insight 60-70 mpg Making a car lightweight and efficient gets the best fuel economy while retaining excellent creature comforts and while giving up the ability to beat an empty semi in a stoplight drag race, but can pass the horse. And this really didn't matter on road trips.
97-present Toyota Prius 45-55 mpg Hyping a car as energy efficient gets the best sales
83-92 Volkwagen Golf Mk2 1.6L Diesel 45-55 mpg with the acceleration of the aforementioned Insight and the creature space of the Prius and a slightly larger engine.
99-present Toyota Yaris 38 mpg using conventional hydrocarbon energy storage
2010-present Chevy Volt 35 mpg using a complex system of electrochemical energy storage and conventional hydrocarbon energy storage and at a price only the well off can afford while taking money from others. Can pass the Yaris, Prius, Insight and semi from the end of the line at a stoplight drag race and make it to the next light before it turns red. Cannot work without two highly developed forms of energy storage and transport.
58 Volkwagen Beetle 28-35 mpg with more headroom and legroom than most of the aforementioned vehicles using 30's engine technology. Weight about the same as the Insight and displacement slightly more than the Insight. Could pass the first three in a drag race and can go anywhere anytime most people would care to go in an SUV or 4wd vehicle.
So apparently efficiency is more important that energy storage in actually reducing the amount of energy used between A and B. Simplicity is more important than complexity in driving down cost of ownership. And driving style trumps them all.
Funny how you changed subjects. How do the emissions associated with a battery powered vehicle relate to the fuel efficiency of a gas powered vehicle? If you are referring to the 30 mpg figure of the Chevy Volt's backup engine, so what? It is a backup engine, the whole idea is to use it as little as possible. That its backup engine gets only average mpg is irrelevant if you rarely use it.
I've said it before and will probably have to say it again. EVs eliminates one of two major consumers of fossil fuels. The other one is power generation. The fact that EVs increase the fossil fuel use of power generation is a temporary problem. When we solve the power generation matter, both major fossil fuel consumers disappear.
So, EVs are a step in the right direction. Let's stop complaining about the temporary issues that they create and solve the power generation issue. That is a problem whether EVs are in the mix or not, and solving it solves the temporary problems with the EVs as well. Then we have the whole ball of wax.
Right now here today there is no clean source of electricity except nuclear, hydro and to some extent wind. So when you plug in the Volt or any other plugin vehicle you are more than likely burning coal, gas or oil with the concommtent emmisions.
As I mentioned, we don't know what the real impacts of wind farming will be on the weather just like we didn't know the impacts of hydro when we built big dams.
My whole point was that a super battery is not the solution. Being more efficient is the solution. I guess I am a bit of a Luddite too.
There are things we can do today, and there are things we wish we had tomorrow. Let's do the things we can do today, or knew how to do yesterday while figuring out what to do tomorrow.
I didn't miss your point. Efficiency is a good thing, but it is only delaying the inevitable. And I guarantee that we won't acheive a doubling. No matter what approach we take, we must solve the carbon free energy problem, and the sooner the better. If we have to solve that problem, it is useless to fuss about problems that will be solved by that solution. The indirect pollution caused by EVs will be non-existant when the electricity is carbon free. End of problem.
Incidently, I don't think wind power is the solution. It is not well matched to our energy usage patterns, and it will require over 2 million windmills to meet our current needs.
Electric or hybrid vehicles do reduce vehicle emmissions and that is a real benefit. Unfortunately there is an efficiency problem in that generating power, charging batteries, discharging batteries, and driving motors, are all not 100% efficient. So we lose power all along the way.
The problem with cars in general is that our government has kept demanding so very many things that don't add to the good mileage at all. Safety is a primary thing: you can drive a current model car into a solid barrier at 40 MPH and walk away, even if you were unbelted. I have seen the barrier crashes and that is how it is. Of course, that adds a bit to the vehicle in both size and weight. OTher systems add some weight and a lot of complexity. Check out some of the cars in some other countries that have less comprehensive safety rules and see how much lighter they are.
The reality is that it takes a given amount of energy to move the mass of car and driver from one place to another, and there is presently no getting around that. Perhaps the development should be more in the direction of "transporters" , similar to "Star Trek" always had available.
Of course the other thing that many don't like about our cars is the amount of personal freedom that they provide us with. WE can drive wherever we want, whenever we feel like it, and the only restriction is the price of gas. That is a freedom not held by a whole lot of folks.
It may be argued that Formula One Grand Prix racing is becoming full of contrived means to better the "show," i.e., more passing and closer finishes, etc., but teams have developed effective systems to capture energy when braking and release it during acceleration. These sysems work best when there is a lot of acceleration and deceleration as found in road racing, regular stop-and-go traffic, or route traffic such as mail delivery and refuse pickup.
Long steady driving is sure to discharge the on-board battery, necessitating an engine-powered charging system. Ultimately, the energy used must still be supplied by a tankful of hydrocarbon fuel.
The author makes his case compellingly and I agree with the premise that we need to fund this research. That said, there's been far too much hyperbole about batteries over the past 25 years, and I think we need to show respect for, and understanding of, the task at hand. The solution is not tantalizingly close and we are not in the home stretch, unfortunately. This will be a long haul, as it always is with batteries.
I agree. Advances in batteries are a technological imperative. I would just say that, as with other technologies, if we pay for the research, we are investing in our economic future. Thus, we should not let the results so easily get transferred to China.
Regarding the referenced accomplishments of Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy, their projects were each based on proven science which is what engineers employ in their work. Advancements in battery technology are dependent of new science as yet unproven. None of the presidential projects would have been as easily accomplished if the engineering had to wait on further science.
On another subject: Here is a new patent for energy conservation primarily for motorvehicles.
January 3, 2012
Reference: US Patent 7,931,107 B2
VEHICLE KINETIC ENERGY UTILIZATION TRANSMISSION SYSTEM.
This recent patent enables the reduction of fuel consumption in motor vehicles by the storage of kinetic energy for reuse. This technology incorporates an infinitely variable transmission (IVT) in the form of an eddy current induction device (called a Modulator) coupled to a gear system to conquer the torque flow management problem caused by infinitely varying bi-directional energy flow between a moving vehicle mass and an associated rotating flywheel mass created by the fact that the respective mass velocities move in an inverse acceleration relationship.
To illustrate this phenomenon, observe that as kinetic energy passes from the moving vehicle to, and is captured by, the flywheel it is caused to accelerate, however the vehicle is consequently caused to slow; but to function efficiently, the flywheel requires an ever increasing input-speed factor from a source which is ever slowing. This always changing speed dichotomy can only be effectively managed by an infinitely variable transmission, and, other than that offered by the above patent, none have been successful for the subject purpose.
The technology reflected in this patent involves very few parts, and is therefore economical to manufacture. It is in addition, long lived, requires little maintenance, and is very durable. Importantly, this system is suitable not only for passenger car use, but also for delivery vans, trucks, and buses.
The conservation of kinetic energy through the use of battery energy-storage technology is exceedingly inefficient while such a mechanical approach is well known to be very high in efficiency. As may be realized, existing battery hybrid technology was developed because it was a way around this, now solved, torque-management problem. As these complicated and costly battery-related electric energy arrangements only avoid, and do not solve this problem, the penalty for this has been the great loss of efficiency as compared to a mechanical storage system such as that proposed by the subject patent.
Soessex: I agree. The Space Race and Interstate system were great achievements, but even in the case of the moon landing, the required science advancements were much less than that of the air cathode battery.
soessex; The flywheel is a very interesting concept. Although I don't know how practical it would be. The momentum of a flywheel is in the spinning mass. So to capture the momentum of a 2,000 lb vehicle, you either need a heavy, fast spinning toroid, or a medium-heavy, really-fast spinning toroid. And a 500 lb toroid / gyroscope spinning at 5,000 rpm will affect the handing of the vehicle. The energy capture / re-use would be good while driving, but after parking for several hours the captured energy would be lost to bearing friction. Then the flywheel is 'dead weight' that adds to the mass that needs to be accelerated. I guess an option would be a 'plug-in flywheel' that has a small electric motor to counter bearing friction to keep the flywheel spinning. I think batteries may be better than a flywheel for overnight energy storage, but the flywheel concept still is an interesting option.
Much of what ypou have posted is not accurate so gere is some additional information which gives details of a hypothetical test application. In this hypothetical the flywheel speed is exceedingly modest yet the energy stored is potentially substantial. Keep in mind the section which notes that the KE is a function of the square of the speed. I trust you will find this of interest.
How it works: This system utilizes a flywheel, an induction mechanism and an overdrive transmission, among other things. The induction device is based on well developed existing eddy current technology and is envisioned as two independent co-axial, shaft mounted, bearing supported, shaded male and female rotating mechanical sections separated by an air gap, encompassed within a coil, operating on the principles of induction resulting from a controllable electric current across the coil. As noted later herein, a friction device could be substituted but with less efficiency. The electric current to the coil is varied in proportion to demand which instantly governs the strength of the flux density across the air gap between the rotating sections. The higher the current voltage to the coil the higher the flux density becomes and the greater the attraction across the air gap between the shaded parts. And, thusly, the throughput of torque is instantly set to any level from zero to full unit rating with no friction losses or the need for other parts. The great advantage to this is that this feature meters the throughput of the torque by enabling the two halves of the induction device to rotate at their own speed while transmitting torque between them as a direct function of controlled magnetic flux density (read voltage).
While in an operating range in the power-from-the-vehicle flow direction, the input torque to the induction device is always greater than or equal to the output torque. The induction device in concert with the gear system provides controllable torque variation without waste between this energy source, which is at a higher level, to that of the load, the flywheel, which is at a lower energy level. By varying the flux density (voltage) the level of transmitted torque can be instantly managed and controlled in real time.
When the energy flow is reversed, that is, from the flywheel to the vehicle, the issue is that of speed inasmuch as the over-drive gearing now acts as a speed reducer and a torque multiplier. As noted, the charged flywheel operating range is fast as compared to the vehicle operating range which is slow. Therefore, in order to accelerate the car, high torque is needed not high speed. The coupling of the induction device to the gear system performs perfectly to transform the high speed of the flywheel into the torque needed to accelerate the "heavy" car and therefore must be operated on a speed priority basis. Again, the induction device, through control of the flux density via voltage supervision, provides for this requirement. It should be recalled what the basic problem is the fact that the source energy in either power flow direction has its speed retarded while the receiving mass has its speed advanced. The key is that by increasing the voltage across the coil of the induction device we can change the overall effective gear ratio. Therefore, as the source slows the induction device via increasing flux density seamlessly changes the gear ratio the system sees.
Functioned off the vehicle's brake and throttle systems, the device conducts fully managed torque levels in each direction. As triggered and controlled, the induction traction feature of the device provides for variable and controlled power to and from the energy storage flywheel; and provides for, in effect, an infinitely variable transmission of power, first in the direction of the flywheel system (as a load) to store energy and subsequently, reversing the process, back from the flywheel system to the drive wheels of the vehicle (as a load).
Let's look further into the overall "gear ratio" of this system. The largest ratio available from the ground to the flywheel would be in a lock-up condition between the car wheels and the flywheel. Assuming the induction device is locked up; this would be axle rpm times differential ratio (1 to 3.5) times the overdrive gear ratio (1 to 6) which is 21 to 1. Say the induction device voltage is adjusted in stepless increments so that a series of output speeds, as a percent of input, are realized through the induction device. We first have: (given) 21 to 1 at 100%, and at 90% we have 18.9 to 1, at 80% we have 16.8 to 1, at 70% we have 14.7 to 1, at 60% we have 12.6 to 1, at 50% we have 10.5 to one, at 40% we have 8.4 to 1, at 30% we have 6.3 to 1, at 20% we have 4.2 to 1, at 10% we have 2.1 to 1, and so on.
Now, if we take a similar look at only the overdrive gear ratios combined with the induction device we have: 6 to 1, at 100%, 5.4 at 90%, 4.8 to 1 at 80%, 4.2 at 70%, 3.6 at 60%, 3 to1 at 50%, 2.4 to 1 at 40%, 1.8 to 1 at 30%, 1.2 to 1 at 20%, and 0.6 to 1 at 10%, and so on. In practice, being that the induction device acts as a traction machine, the actual ratios realized will be a function of many factors, but the effective result will be the same, seamless uninterrupted energy flow.
To visualize the system in action let us look at what takes place:
Car is traveling at some speed.
The flywheel is idle.
The speed differential between the car interface element and the flywheel are at a maximum.
The driver intends to significantly slow or stop the car and applies the brakes.
(The system works to slow the car as though the brakes were actually applied. Panic braking overrides the system.)
The system energized the induction device in proportion to the magnitude of the brake signal or call.
The induction device or modulator throughputs a torque in proportion to the call which rises from zero on a sine wave curve form.
Eventually, a peak ratio begins to descend across the modulator, say from hypothetically 50 to 1, which engenders a high torque because of this high slip angle, a condition well known in the field.
The car begins to slow and the flywheel begins to accelerate.
As a result, the speed differential is caused to lessen across the modulator, closing the ratio and decreasing the transmitted torque
If desired, the driver compensate by increasing the brake signal (call).
The voltage at the coil is thus raised by the system controls.
The flux density is raised across the modulator.
An increased torque is reestablished which again spreads the speed ratio across the modulator which raises output speed to keep it progressively ahead of the flywheel speed. Within limits, these last few steps are automatically repeated over and over by the system so long as transferable energy is available and a call is maintained across the modulator. The more aggressive the call the more aggressive the energy transfer, speeding the flywheel and slowing the car. A similar process is applied to recover the energy from the flywheel. However be reminded that the gear ratios become somewhat reversed while the objective is the same. Now from this it may become visible just how the system changes the effective gear ratio. It can also be seen that the combination of the induction device and the overdrive gearing form an infinitely variable transmission able to smoothly manage output power under all conditions.
Some analytical calculations follow, and this analysis will include only certain aspects of the filed patent application in order to reduce the need to explain each element of a fully functional installed system. These omitted aspects while conducive to a workable system do not add to a clear understanding of the energy-transformation mechanism.
For this analysis we present a hypothetical automobile, supported flywheel, gear system and induction device as a framework for discussion. The car has the following characteristics: weight, 3200 pounds, mass 99.38 slugs (see calculations); tires, 24 inches in outside diameter and circumference of 6.28 feet (see calculations); rear wheel drive w/driveshaft; rear differential gear ratio, 3.5 to 1; approximate drive shaft RPM at 15 and 30 MPH respectively: 736 and 1471 (see calculations); trial flywheel weight, 100 pounds (rimmed) neglect spokes, radius of gyration 0.5 feet, mass, 3.1 slugs (see calculations); trial gear box ratio 1 to 6; induction device, stationary coil eddy current clutch with DC excitation.
Assumptions and stipulations: such controls as required are provided; the system is appointed, installed, connected and arranged with all aspects that may be required in an actual working system; on demand, power flow is conducted from the car drive shaft (as a hypothetical point of system connection for the purposes of this trial analysis) into the induction modulator and from there through the overdrive gearing to the flywheel which is therebyaccelerated as needed; the flywheel stored energy is similarlyreturned in the reverse path to reaccelerate the car. The induction device, as controlled, throughputs from zero to full torque rating; as noted, to facilitate calculation of energy transfer, car speed set points are arbitrarily established at 15 and 30 MPH with flywheel charging beginning at (44ft/sec) 30 MPH (car) and ending at (22 ft/sec) 15 MPH (car);
Formulae and calculations:
For the car traveling in a strait line, Kinetic Energy, (KE) = ½ M V^2,
Where,(M) = Mass = W/g = weight in pounds / gravitational constant of 32.2 feet/second^2;
where,(V) = strait-line speed in feet/second
Car @30, KE = ½ (99.38) (44) ^2 = 96200 Ft-Lbs.
Car @15, KE = ½ (99.38) (22) ^2 = 24050 Ft-Lbs.
For the Flywheel, traveling in its circular motion, KE = ½ (Moment of Inertia) x (omega) ^2
where, Moment of Inertia = Mr^2 = Mass times radius of gyration (r) squared, and
where, in this case,r = mean radius for the rim of the flywheel = 0.5 feet
M = mass =W/g, (same as above), and
omega (w) = angular speed in radians/second = 2pi x revolutions/second, and
where, pi = 3.14159 ...
substituting: Flywheel KE = ½(m) (r^2) (w^2)
= ½(3.1) (.5) ^2(w) ^2, where omega (w), is yet to be determined.
Calculate mass for car and flywheel:
Car mass = W/g = 3200/32.2 = 99.38 slugs
FW mass = 100/32.2 = 3.1 slugs
Calculate circumference (c) of the car tire:
C = (pi) (D) = 3.14159(2 Ft.) = 6.28 Ft
Determine speed of drive shaft @ 30 & 15 MPH:
30MPH = 44 Ft/sec and 15 MPH = 22 Ft/sec over the ground and
44 x 60 = 2640 feet/ minute @ 30 MPH,
and 22 x 60 = 1320 feet/minute @ 15 MPH
Now, find car drive wheel RPM:
If we take the FPM rates above and divide by tire circumference (6.28 Ft) we get axel RPMs:
2640/6.28 = 420.38 @ 30, and 209.92 @ 15
Convert this to driveshaft RPMs:
Recall that the differential gear ratio is 3.5 to 1 therefore:
420.38 x 3.5 = 1471.33, and 734.72 RPMs respectively at the drive shaft.
Converting to revolutions per second we have:
1471.33/60 = 24.52 RPS @ 30 MPH
and734.72/60 = 12.25 RPS @ 15 MPH
Now, for flywheel KE (above), we need (w), omega, in radians/sec,
Recall that the energy of motion in the car at 30 MPH was a maximum of 96,200 Ft-Lbs and 24,050 Ft-Lbs @15 MPH. It is important to note that the system can store no more energy than that which is available from the source. In the subject example, we have presented a trial scenario which could if available store between82,580.7 and331,110 Ft-Lbs of energy.In these trial calculations we arbitrarily selected a 100 pound flywheel and a 1 to 6 overdrive gear ratio. Either or both can be altered (lessened) in which case we would have less weight in the flywheel and/or less speed in the flywheel. Each of these present a favorabledesign outlook. In conclusion, the subject system as assumed has far more capacity than needed under the assumptions offered. Massaging the numbers for a more perfect design is left here to others.
In this trial examination, the mass of the car was about 33 times the mass of the selected flywheel and what this flywheel mechanism does is manage energy transfer over time between these two masses.
A further review of how this system works helps one visualize precisely what is taking place when the system is in operation. Lets say while approaching a red traffic signal, the initial conditions would be the car traveling at some level of speed and the energy storage system in a dormant state. In preparation to stop the car the driver initiates normal braking action and the instrumentation of the storage system energizes the induction modulator coil in a direct relationship to driver input and the modulator outputs a proportional torque which turns the overdrive gearing and begins to accelerate the flywheel transferring energy from the car to the flywheel and thus slowing the car.
With certain exceptions, as long as the input shaft speed (source) to the energized modulator is greater than its output speed the flywheel will continue to be accelerated thereby storing more and more energy, and continuing to slow the car. Integrated system controls hold the friction braking process out of initiation unless or until prescribed parameters dictate their initiation. System components and controls isolate the flywheel from the remainder of the system when no further input torque is available in the cycle. That is to say, when the flywheel speed and the input shaft speed to the flywheel begin to approach the same rate as happens at the end of the charging process. Without completely stating the process the energy transfer back to the car is similar.
The function of the induction device is analogous to the friction brakes of an ordinary car or truck. With such friction brakes one aspect rotates while the other is fixed. When in operation a friction system attempts to lock the moving part to the stationary part which causes considerable disagreement between them turning the energy in the rotating part into the heat of friction. As with auto brakes, the subject induction device when energized causes an infinitely variable attraction across an air gap between its two halves but instead of one being free and one being fixed, both are free to turn although this turning is alternately resisted by the inertia of the masses attached to opposite ends of the system, one being the car the other the flywheel. In operation, the rate of transfer of energy in each direction is directly proportional to the level of excitation of the induction coil which is controlled by ordinary driver actions while monitored and supervised by system controls. While the calculations noted herein were based on 15 and 30 MPH earmarks, the actual usable operating range will be more encompassing. Importantly, as noted, flywheel speeds are low within the system as described.
Let us consider what happens during a flywheel charging cycle using this system:
Let the cycle time be 3 seconds
First, we must recognize that the induction device is analogous to a variable torque slip clutch but without friction losses. For such equipment, the torque range is from zero to full name plate rating for continuous service but as much as 2 - ½ times name plate rating for intermittent service. The subject system is in the latter class. Regarding this induction modulator, it should be kept in mind that a friction device could be substituted for the induction unit.
So, to further explore this machine, let us select some reasonable level of torque within the range available to the machine. Arbitrarily, we pick 75 Ft-Lbs. This tells us that this is the amount of force coming through the induction device so long as the torque supplied to the device is greater than 75 Ft-Lbs. We don't know how much torque it takes to overcome the power flow disadvantage presented by the hypothetical 1 to 6 overdrive gearing so we need to make an estimate. Let us say 10 Ft-Lbs. (recall that no such losses are incurred when the power flow is reversed as the gearing becomes a 6 to 1 reduction drive,)
That leaves a net force to accelerate the flywheel of 65 Ft-Lbs. The cycle time is 3 seconds, the period to charge the flywheel and to slow the car before the friction brakes come into play.
Find the speed to which the flywheel is accelerated by this torque (L = 65 Ft=Lbs.)
First determine moment of inertia (I) for the flywheel:
Where m = mass, and r = radius of gyration
I = 1/2 (m) (r)^2
m = 3.1, and r = .5 Ft
I = ½ (3.1) (.5)^2 = 0.3875 slug-ft^2
Now find acceleration for the flywheel:
Let (L) represent torque, (a) represent angular acceleration, and (I) represent moment of inertia
Where L = (I) (a), and a = L/I = 65/.3875 = 167.7 rad/sec^2
Now find the angular distance traveled (s) in the time (t) of 3 seconds:
(s) = wt + ½ (a) (t)^2,when w = 0 rad/sec, s = ½ (a) (t)^2 = (.5) (167.7) (3)^2 =
Now find the final angular speed (V) of the flywheel:
The change in speed V, (omega2 – omega1) = angular acceleration (a) time (t)
with a in rad/sec^2, t in seconds, and V in rad/sec
V = (167.7) x (3) = 503.1 rad/sec
Then, flywheel KE = ½(I) (V)^2
Where: I = 0.3875 slug-ft^2
Then, KE = ½ (0.3875) (503.1)^2 = 49040 Ft-Lbs
Find flywheel RPS and RPM:
Where Rev/second = radians/sec / 2pi, and rev/min = rev/sec x 60
503.1/2 pi = 80.1 rev/Sec, or 4804.2 RPM)
Now let us attempt to visualize what result we get when we return this energy to the car. We will assume that the system components are arranged in the most advantageous configuration.
The energy drained from the flywheel is fully controlled by the induction device; this modulation of the available flywheel energy gives full control of the available energy as to rate and duration and thereby quantity. This exceedingly high degree of control provides seamless recovered energy application to re-accelerate the car up until the car speed equals the equivalent proportional residual flywheel speed exhausting the transferable energy and completing the return cycle. During this return cycle, the passed energy goes through the 1 to 6 gearing which lowers its speed and raises its torque. This is of great importance as the ratio of the involved trial masses is about 33 to 1, as noted above. It is obvious that for the system to work this disparity in mass has to be accounted for and it is; when the receiving mass is low the system provides the speed needed; conversely when the receiving mass is high the system provides low speed and high torque required to motivate the greater mass of the car.
I have only skimmed through your (copious) calculations. The magnetic / induction coupling sounds like an excellent innovation. I did note at one point there was a 100 lb flywheel spinning at almost 9,000 rpm. I assume the flywheel is mounted horizontally so that the gyroscopic effect doesn't prevent the car from turning corners. This is only perception, but while I am not concernd about a motorcycle engine at 5,000 rpm, I do have reservations about a 100 lb flywheel at 9,000 rpm. I wonder if it is only me, or if others would also be leery of this.
To the other readers: Would you have any concerns, founded or unfounded, about a 100 lb flywheel spinning at 9,000 rpm under the hood of your car ?
It is ridiculous to compare the price of a barrel of oil (a fixed unit of energy) to a battery. The battery is analogous to the fuel tank - a container for energy. A one ounce 200 kWH battery would not solve the problem of how to generate the energy to charge it. Most of this misguided effort is driven by the hoax of man made global warming, in my humble opinion, and energized by a shameless amount of squandering of tax money on vote buying schemes.
@ Marshall, concerning global warming: Has anybody checked to see if the sun's output has risen justy a little? What change would a 0.01% increase in the solar energy hitting the earth do? Could anybody measure accurately enough to determine that it had increased?
The big benefit that would come from the superbattery would be in storing electrcal energy from solar and wind generating systems and releasing it to the grid when there was a need. Of course this would be a whole lot of energy, which is why any supercapacitor needs to be quite cheap, as well. The equivalent of a superbattery for a car has problems, since regenerative braking, which it is asserted will save great quantities of energy, is limited by both the battery maximum charge absorbtion rate and also the fact that generators output drops a whole lot before the speed reaches zero. These two areas are where the hydraulic system shines best.
Superbatteries could be most useful in storing energy locally from intermittent sources like wind and solar. I see no need to interconnect them with enormously expensive infrastructure. I understand the engineer's burning desire to help, but the improvements should not be rushed or dependent on government subsidies. Today's WSJ has an editorial (No Need to Panic About Global Warming) in which the following is stated: "A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls."
Marshall, thanks very much for The Wall Street Journal reference. I don't claim to know whether there is or isn't warming going on. But I'm bothered by the idea that anyone can be called out as a heretic for questioning the existence of AGW. That isn't the way science is supposed to work, for goodness sakes. It's interesting to note that The Wall Street Journal article was signed by 16 scientists from around the world, including a Nobel-prize-winning physicist, a Fellow from the American Physical Society, and numerous other names of distinction. Undoubtedly, their public declaration will lead other on-the-fence scientists to admit that they aren't sure about climate change, either.
One other point of note about that Wall Street Journal article. There are already 1159 comments to the article as I write this, and the number has climbed by 53 comments in the last 15 minutes. This is unleashing a lot of pent-up emotion on both sides of the issue.
I used to own a Solectria Sunrise that with 3 people on board went from Boston to NYC on I-95 with a Car and Driver reporter onboard on a single charge.
It later made a record of 377 miles/charge using EV-1 NiMH battery pack, GM was not happy, which clearly shows that one doesn't need a superbattery as NiMH only has 50% of the energy/lb of Lithium in the 1990's.
Nor will more than a tiny fraction of the grid ever use batteries, just for temp peak power, load, under 15 minutes worth. More is just a waste of money even if cheap. EV and home, building batteries can do this job with a smart grid. New gas turbines can be throttled down to 50% now with eff making this even less of a problem, need for grid batteries.
If they really needed them lead batteries are running $40/kw in grid sizes, 10% of lithiums.
Time for people to stop making excuses and make good, light, aero EV's before gas hits $10/gal in 5-6 yrs, throwing us into recession every 2-5 yrs and 5 of the last ones.
I would allow that EV's may find some applications off the golf course, but the following well-reasoned article: http://seekingalpha.com/article/323301-10-reasons-why-electric-drive-is-stranded-on-the-bleeding-edge-of-transportation-technology?source=yahoo puts the probable take up at 3%. This just as the brilliant politicians at the CA ARB lead by the lovely and gracious Mary Nichols have ruled that 14% of all cars sold must be EV or other "zero emissions vehicles" by 2025. Insane hubris. The other point is that as gas mileage goes up, the EV penalty (now $200 per barrel of oil saved over the ten year life of the vehicle)goes up. This could be offset by a doubling or tripling of gas prices, however.
The situation with the Electric Car bears more than a passing resemble to the Chicken and Egg Paradox. While this applies to charging stations, it also applies to the ways and means of charging the electric car. Right now, most electricity is generated from coal/oil. Which means that charging the battery requires the energy loss from two conversions. With gasoline, you put it into your car and it produces power, the is a single conversion. Now consider the electric car. First you create electricity by burning coal/oil and then you use that electricity to create the power in your car. With that sort of double conversion, has anybody really done the math to get the real cost per mile for the electric car? The general response I get from environmentalists is: 'Oh, we'll get the electricity from solar/wind.' O-kay, what about the infrastructure to create consistent electricity from solar/wind? You can have the greatest density batteries in the universe, but what does it cost to charge it?
They faced swathes of America in which there exist no power stations to plug in their Volt and recharge the juice in the vehicle's 288-cell, 16-kilowatt hour battery pack. Right now, 48 of 50 states, according to Car and Driver, have fewer than 10 such stations each.
I think the original Car and Driver article is long out of date.
True, there are great swaths of the country that lack charger support, but these are shrinking. See http://www.plugshare.com/ The Volt appears to use the same charging connector (J1772) and charging equipment as the Leaf. Both may use 120V outlets, and with modified portable EVSE, can also use 240V outlets.
If the public charging infrastructure is important to you, you are likely going to be living in an area with good support if you have a Volt.
I just noticed this statement: "When I heard about Brian's "Drive for Innovation" experiment, I found myself focusing not on the current Chevy Volt's limitations, but on the surprising speed of its development. When I first read about Volt prototypes less than two years ago, I understood that an operating, affordable consumer Volt was still far, far away."
As far as I'm concerned, $40,000 for a car in NOT affordable. So an affordable electric car is still far, far away.
Where did the figure of 30 MPG on gas come from? I own a Volt and from my real world experience, the gas-only MPG has been in a range from 35 to 40 MPG depending on my driving style. I can't imagine how I would have to drive to drop that to 30 -- cruise on the highway at 90 MPH and always floor it on acceleration in town maybe? And if you are going to make comparisons using that driving style, you can't turn around and compare it to best case for some other fuel efficient car.
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