Discuss: Electric Vehicles

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November 11, 2011 at 08:13:02
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Hi all,

This week's poll question is about news that an electric car from 1896 is showing up the Chevy Volt. Discuss here if you think more progress needs to be made on electric vehicles before they can go mainstream, and, if you like, the poll results themselves.

Thanks!
Justin


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#1
November 11, 2011 at 09:11:58
Discuss here if you think more progress needs to be made on electric vehicles before they can go mainstream
Yes. Next question.

The demands on modern cars are different from their 1890's counterparts. Today's cars have to get you there at freeway speeds, in relative comfort and safety. The 1890's equivalents had to not eat grain.

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#2
November 11, 2011 at 14:57:02
Electric cars are too slow to advance quickly.

Of men who have a sense of honor, more come through alive than are slain, but from those who flee comes neither glory nor any help.

Homer


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#3
November 11, 2011 at 17:59:05
I think a satisfactory electric car is a long way off - may never make it, apart maybe for
in-town use. Development has been very slow largely due to battery capacity limitations and fuelling time. Battery technology is improving but has always been relatively slow.

Nice one for the environment but I think a dual fuel car (part electric) has more chance.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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Related Solutions

#4
November 11, 2011 at 22:51:38
Dual power is the only viable technology at the moment but even that has a performance hit because of the sheer weight of the batteries. If they can do the same for car batteries as they did for laptop batteries it might be a goer in about ten years time.

The most promising technology that I can see is hydrogen engines. Extracting hydrogen from water but that needs a lot more development before it can go mainstream.

Stuart


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#5
November 12, 2011 at 02:35:03
Lots of people seem to believe that the electricity to those vehicles will come from nowhere, and it will be for free. Unfortunately it will be produced on the margin, which normally means the most dirty and/or expensive way. Wonder what the environmentalists will think when they realize that.

Nigel

Mobo: Asus P7P55D LE
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional OEM
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#6
November 12, 2011 at 05:15:47

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#7
November 12, 2011 at 05:40:27
I can't see any way that the technology will allow batteries to be charged in a minute or so (not with current technology anyway). Also, although performance is not an issue, range is. Hydrogen fuel-cells are the future as far as I am concerned. The elctricity to produce the hydrogen will come from renewable sources.

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#8
November 12, 2011 at 07:09:15
Nigel Spike #5

Oh, I assumed the charging would be from normal mains, therefore subject to the same environmental strategy as everything else.

Excuse my ignorance but could you explain what you mean by "it will be produced on the margin"?

I doubt anyone would really think the electricity would be free, any more than for any other product. Further, there must be some daft folk about if they expect electricity from "nowhere".


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#9
November 12, 2011 at 08:35:38
Power for general consumption is today mainly produced by "clean" methods like water (,wind) and nuklear sources. Since you can't store electrical power, it has to be produced as it is being used. Power sources are expensive, and "clean" ones are the most expensive, so in general you don't have more of them than you need. When more power is needed, it will have to be produced by plants that aren't used every day, like shut down "dirty" plants such as coal plants. With a rising demand for power, when electrical vehicles become more common, "dirty" plants will be needed.

Nigel

Mobo: Asus P7P55D LE
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional OEM
CPU: Core i5 750 @ 2.67 GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator DHX+ DDR3 1600MH 4GB
GPU: Sapphire 4870 D


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#10
November 12, 2011 at 09:06:39
It might be different in the states but in the UK charging power is being made available at petrol stations, almost certainly powered from the normal mains which is relatively clean in terms of power station processes.


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#11
November 12, 2011 at 09:28:40
Nigel Spike: Power for general consumption is today mainly produced by "clean" methods . . . nuklear sources
Yes, because nothing is cleaner than producing waste that's deadly for 100,000 years. As far as cleanliness, 45% of the electricity in the US is provided by coal, so electric cars are great if you think the atmosphere needs more mercury and/or acid rain.

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#12
November 12, 2011 at 09:34:56
Also unless you only drive at night you will need intermediate storage if you use photo voltaic cells for charging.. Present efficiencies allow a solar panel garage to generate about 60 percent of the power needed for the car, so you still have to draw from the grid.

Solar electricity may reduce the amount of fuel needed to generate electricity but the size of the power plants have to larger to generate the peak demands. Overall efficiency will decrease unless they develop a perfect battery.


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#13
November 12, 2011 at 11:25:23
As far as polution and environmental factors are concerned perhaps it is electric versus other fuels that is the point. Petrol cars are relatively inefficient so produce even more waste. Electricity is better but, so far, it seems to be a long way off from giving the required/expected performance that we currently get from a car.


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#14
November 13, 2011 at 03:36:13
Actually I'm not writing from a US point of view but a Scandinavian, (which may narrow my horizon,) with Germany closing down their nuclear powerplants, thereby becoming more dependent of their coal driven power plants even without the enhanced need for power when (if) electrical vehicles become a big user group.

Whether the electricity is distributed via petrol stations or elsewhere doesn't affect the amount of pollution from the power plants.

Mentioning nuclear power procution as "clean" was of course a short term view, since the environmental effects are distant in time. Seeing todays air pollution as a more immediate problem, I made a deliberate choice of wording, hoping that the long term problems with nuklear waste may be solved, if mankind deal with the more immediate threats first ;)

Anyway, my point was that electrical vehicles may not neccessarily be the most efficient way to resolve environmental problems, even if I don't have an alternative to present.

Nigel

Mobo: Asus P7P55D LE
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional OEM
CPU: Core i5 750 @ 2.67 GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator DHX+ DDR3 1600MH 4GB
GPU: Sapphire 4870 D


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#15
November 13, 2011 at 06:55:48
Electric cars aren't slow to advance, i think there's little effort done so far.

Do u guys remember what happened to GM EV1?

You know the real meaning of peace only if you have been through the war.


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#16
November 13, 2011 at 06:56:42
IMO electric vehicles are feel good technology. As pointed out by Nigel, the electricity comes off the grid. In the USA that electricity is primarily generated using coal. I believe the number is actually 70%.

The best short term solution would be to power cars using natural gas in internal combustion engines like the gasoline versions. The technology has been proven and the fuel is abundant and cleaner than coal. The only thing holding us back is a distribution system.

There are a handful of folks that are making the decisions on which way to go with alternatives. They have chosen foolishly, IMO.

If one understands the basic laws of physics one knows that whenever you convert energy forms there are losses. Burning fossil fuel to generate electricity to then charge a heavy bank of batteries to propel a car is very inefficient.

The whole concept of somehow removing the Carbon gasses formed when burning fossil fuels is rant with this same bad physics. It will take additional energy to capture the Carbon. There are no free lunches.

As Stuart mentioned, one promising field is to use Hydrogen as a fuel. If, somehow we could extract the Hydrogen efficiently we will still be forming water vapor which will be released into the atmosphere. Some claim the water vapor is also a greenhouse component. The combustion process also still captures Oxygen molecules from the atmosphere.

If the industrialized world were serious about global warming we would be encouraging retention and expansion of the worlds forests. We should also discourage frivolous uses of our petroleum. There are so many products that should not be using petroleum. Plastic water bottles comes to mind.

I personally believe there are methods to power civilization that are NOT being exploited. Geothermal is a proven technology that could be more widely used. Venturi on rotating arms mounted to towers could generate electricity. This process appears to be a perpetual motion machine but isn't really because the energy is derived by extracting heat from the atmosphere to propel the rotating venturi. This would actually counter global warming.

Windmills should be pumping water to higher locations so the energy in the elevated water could be used to generate electricity when actually needed. This is low tech, but have you ever heard it mentioned?

Research into low or no resistance circuits at ambient temperatures should be placed on a higher priority.

Boy, this topic has just gotten me warmed up.


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#17
November 13, 2011 at 09:26:02
I'm sure many of the ideas put forward are valid. However what actually matters is
end-to-end "scale". I am not qualified to provide that information so can only hazard a guess that even modern individual gasoline and diesel cars are still likely to be less efficient than electrically powered vehicles because of the effort put into making centralized power stations as efficient as possible. Obviously I could be wrong on this and there are clearly exceptions.

There is an important aside too. Power stations are usually located in less densly populated areas. Cars tend to concentrate pollution in cities where more people are likely to suffer from ingesting polution.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#18
November 16, 2011 at 18:08:24
"IMO electric vehicles are feel good technology."

"We should also discourage frivolous uses of our petroleum. There are so many products that should not be using petroleum. Plastic water bottles comes to mind."

OtH---couldn't have said it better myself.

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."


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#19
November 19, 2011 at 10:48:30
I think we should explore matter - anti matter technology and build mini warp cores for our vehicles. Nacelles may be the way to go. <-----(Geek Sarcasm)

I was involved, as a mechanic, in the 80's with some work done on the idea of electric cars. At the time what I saw I thought was very promising. We built three cars all powered entirely by electricity. In our tests we were able to go over two hundred miles on a charge. The vehicles all had solar panels to assist with charging but were mainly charged by simple one hundred and ten volt home current. On the average we saw an increase in our power bills of $16.36 per month. I understand this is still burning fossil fuels to make the car go but I am thinking it's burning less.

Keeping in mind I am just an uneducated mechanic in the U.S. and I have no clue what so ever of how the power grids in other countries are configured I think this is viable. I know there are draw backs but I think many can be overcome. Looking around I just don't see many trying to overcome them. No I don't think that the electric car is going to solve all our problems. Yes I am sure there are better ways to go. I just don't think all that can be done with this idea has even been explored.

Would I want to attempt a trip across country in one of these cars? I bet that would suck. No I would not. I wouldn't want to in a Geo Metro either but they are just fine for the three hundred miles a week I drive back and forth to work. Right now that fuel costs me close to $250 a month. I think the electricity would be less than half that but I may be wrong.

I understand the idea that electric cars would cause a heavier load on our power grids. Therefore more pollution. I just don't agree with that Idea. This may be true if we had been building these cars for the past fifty years and suddenly we all had no choice but to drive them but that just isn't so. I know in the long run we would see the same effect but with other technology moving forward in time I think by the time everyone is driving electric cars the pollution output would have been decreased.

Again just an uneducated fool here. I like the ideas of hydrogen and natural gas. The draw backs to them that I see no one ever mentions. I live in a country full of "keeping up with the Jones'” types. I see many that cannot afford to, buying $20,000 to $40,000 vehicles. When these vehicles out lived their warranties they end up owned by those of us that cannot afford to take them to a mechanic every time there is a small issue with them. Personally this is an area where I do have a leg up but not everyone does. I can work on them in my back yard to keep myself getting to and from work. Many wouldn’t know where to start.

In the end the fuel of the future in my opinion will be the same as it has been the past hundred years. Greed!! Make it worthwhile for the manufacturers to get wealthier from whatever idea you think will solve our problems and you’ll get it.


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#20
November 19, 2011 at 12:24:02
As an aside, local electricity losses are greater at lower voltage so cables have to be larger. I can see snags with say doubling the final voltage (in particuar the environmental costs of changing many products). The other thing is safety, although here in the UK I don't think we get more deaths on a percentage poulation basis than countries with lower voltages.

Regarding the "increase in our power bills of $16.36 per month" as per #19. Of course this has to be offset against burning fuel in individual gasolene or diesel cars. I don't know for certain how this shakes out but suspect electricity still has the environmental edge - not so the practical edge, as yet.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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