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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Future cars

That show on Discovery channel was crap.

First off in it they are talking about hydrogen powered cars like they was the shit. Okay, true they could prove to be useful...but electric will be better with the right innovations.

They were also way off when they said that Electric has to charge over night, current electric vehicle need about 2-3 hours to charge, not 8+ hours (okay, so 3 hours is still a decently long time). Work is being conducted on batteries that have a couple of times or more the energy density of LiIon batteries and should also have better recharge times.

Hydrogen requires a much larger amount of energy to fuel a vehicle then electric does, as on a good day batteries + electric motors + transmision of power is maybe 70% efficient, where as electrolysis of water to get H2, fuel cells and electric motors are maybe on the order of 30-40% efficient...so it takes about twice as much energy, or more for hydrogen cars to travel a mile then it does current electric vehicles.

I personally think if they can get energy densities to twice what they currently are and reduce recharge time to an hour or less pure electric vehicles are quite viable. I think short term until that can occur vehicles like the Chevy Volt are the way to go with a small gas powered generator and electric batteries.

Also when talking about hydrogen they mention how incredibly safe it is. Sure, not really THAT much less safe then gas...but gas isn't not super, super combustable (and diesel is even less combustable). Gas also isn't stored under huge pressures where if a tank is ruptured it isn't likely to burst voilently (even if the hydrogen doesn't ignite, ever seen a scuba tank holed at full pressure...it doesn't end well, ususally involves the tank shooting around at high speed or massively rupturing).

Also they state that the Hindenburg didn't ignite or burn because of hydrogen...it was because of the iron oxide and aluminum paint. NEWS FLASH IDIOTS, that is not a widely held belife...and Mythbusters actually showed that the paint MAY have contributed to the burn time...but it was just about as hard to ignite as straight cotton...and the introduction of hydrogen caused the rapid burn at the very least (with no hydrogen it would have taken much, much longer to burn, and if it had been helium it would have possibly failed to consume the zeplin as that much helium would have created an oxygen poor environment around the skin of the zeplin when it burned causing it to burn weaker).

Also the last vehicle, the air powered one is all nice and fun. But they go on to talk about how they have also developed a generator that runs on compressed air. So they speculate that you could mount a generator on the car powered off the vehicles compressed air to run the altenator on the car that powers a pump to compress air.

INSTANT PREPETUAL MOTION! YAY!

Oh wait you fucking tool box, there is no such thing and none of those systems are even remotely close to 100% efficiency. I hate idiots and I hate even more shows that try to make something sound like science or worse yet don't know what science is if it bit them on the ass.

I think I am going to write a lengthy email to Discovery about how crack pot their show was.
-Matt
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 11:24 AM
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Re: Future cars

Umm... not that I read all of this... but how many other resources are used to create all that electricity? Just to play devil's advocate


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Future cars

If you are talking about for electric vehicles...just as many as are used to generate the electricity to perform electrolysis on the water to get hydrogen.

Oh and most hydrogen is produced by splitting the hydrogen off of methane...and the carbon is released as CO2 into the atmosphere.

With an electric vehicle you can simply have a solar power installation at your home provide low cost/free electicity to charge your vehicle (and for your home) when you don't drive it and on the road you can setup power stations to charge them and slowly move some of our current electrical generation to renewable resources.

A 1kw solar installation would be able to charge up an electric vehicle every day with enough energy to travel about 30 miles or so. Not a huge amount, but most people's commutes aren't all that long every day. On longer drives or prolonged periods away from your house you use a power station to top off the batteries or for a full recharge (just like a gas station). A 1kw solar installation might run $5-6k total...and if you figure you are getting 30 miles of driving (call it the equivelent to 1 gallon of gas) out of it every day...at current gas prices you would be saving about $1,100 a year in fuel expenses. Up it to say a 2kw installation just for your vehicle and you are now talking about a $10k installation (expanding it is a little less expensive because there are some fixed costs like storage batteries for the system, power regulator, etc) and saving $2000+ a year (supposed you have a long commute).

That isn't instant pay back...but it pays for itself in 5 years, and gas prices are only likely to keep going up. Heck in the Chevy Volt situation where it is a sort of plug in hybrid almost you could likely run it off electricity most of the time and just use gas on the occasions where you out run the battery pack and still use conventional gas stations for longer trips. Not perfectly eco friendly...but it goes a huge way to reducing emissions and use of non-renewable resources.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 01:12 PM
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Re: Future cars

Tru dat.

Solar ftw, if we could just mass produce it, and perfect it like we have for classic gasoline


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 01:27 PM
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Re: Future cars

Because of where we get our electricity from in the first place it seems very redundant to have electric and/or fuel cell cars. Unless we got all of our electricity from solar and wind than what the hell is the point? Hell we may as well just make cars with solar panels all over them and put a big fucking sail on the top and cut out the middleman.

Realistically until we have cold fusion power all of this is not really getting us anywhere.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 01:37 PM
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Re: Future cars

That show was crap. "Run out of oil / gas by 2035?"

Yeah.....right.

Even if that was the case, probably won't be in my lifetime at this rate, so I don't really care.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Future cars

I'd say just regular fusion would be nice...but I don't see that happening to soon. The international fusion reactor I don't think is scheduled to be operational for another 15 years or so and a commercial fusion reactor is looking at something like 2040 or 2050 for operation.

In the meantime (and in case fusion never becomes viable) a switch to solar, wind and tidal/wave power can cover our bases on energy needs. Maybe not tomorrow, but if there was some real investment in it, it could cover our growing power needs and even start to take over some of the old power plants.

Estimated power use is 10.7 billion KW hours per day in the US for 2007. The cost to convert that to all solar would stand at between 1-5 trillion dollars if we converted over EVERY single power generator to solar. If we just convert the coal and natural gas power plants and leave the hydro and nuke plants for now we would be looking at maybe $600 billion to 2 trillion. Also since you would be talking a HUGE economy of scale to produce the solar cells or other solar energy systems such as solar evaporative generation (use mirrors to turn water to steam and turn a turbine) it might well cost less.

So what I am really saying is that the total cost could MAYBE be the total cost of a little foreign excursion our country has been dallying in for the last few years. So total electrical independence from oil, coal and natural gas for that cost instead.

I will grant you it could cost more, because if everything was solar you would also have to invest money in battery arrays to store the electricity at night and so on, but I bet you could convert the fossil fuel over to just solar or a mix of solar and wind/tidal for less then $2 trillion. A huge expense by anyones concept of it, but it does pay for itself over time.

Coal costs around 2-3 cents per killowatt hour for power plants and about 4-6 cents for natural gas. Combine that with lower maitenance on power plants since solar would require much less then coal/oil/natural gas installations and lets call it 5 cents a killowatt hour power companies would save. That works out to $300 million a day that power companies would save if they converted all coal, oil and gas power plants to solar (about 60% of our electricity generation). Sure it takes awhile to add up to $2 trillion, but eventually it does about 20-25 years down the road the power companies will have broken even and be making money off the conversion. Through in incentives like the gov't providing some tax breaks for conversion, allow power companies to charge more for green electricity (most do) and they could easily hit the break even much, much sooner.

I doubt we have the solar cell production capacity to suddenly convert everything tomorrow, but I bet we could handle the new capacity we would need every year (around 2% growth a year) shortly and start taking up some of the old use within a few years...especially if there is big investment it could probably start being converted now to some degree and have all fossil fuel plants off line and solar/wind/tidal online to replace it within 20 years.

In the process it would bring solar volatic cell prices down from the greater mass production, and maybe even some innovations in efficiency if there are any, along the way and residential solar systems will likely become more attractive.

On my next house I plan on doing a solar installation, with all do-it-myself work at current prices it would run me around $16k for a 3kw system, which depending on the size of the home and how efficient I can make the home should cover my electricity needs completely, and during the summer when production is higher (more sunny days and longer days) I could sell some of it back to the power companies. An average of 300 sunny or hazy days a year and an average of 7 hours of sun on each of those days nets 6300kw/hrs a year, or a savings of about $800 a year on my electricity bill...about 20 years to pay itself back, assuming no tax breaks on the system. Since this whole thing is a few years down the road (5-8) prices are almost deffinitely going to be lower and I bet I could hit a pay back of 12 years by then. Heck throw in if there are plenty of plug in hybrids or full electric vehicles by then and I would be saving a heck of a lot more per year. As I mentioned before, a 1kw system should save around $1000 per year in gas costs, and since there would be an existing solar electric system expanding it for an extra 1kw of capacity gets about an extra $4000 in cost today...or a pay back of 4 years for the portion to charge the vehicle. Even if I am being optimistic and you would need 2kw to charge the vehicle for a 30 mile trip you get a pay back in 8 years for the car (call it 13 years TODAY for the payback to charge an electric/plug in hybrid and power your house, and after the pay back it would be like having an extra $1800 a year in my pocket, and feeling better about myself).

Anyway, my 2 cents.
-Matt
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 06:42 PM
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Re: Future cars

So 2 trillion to convert everything to alternate energy sources just in the US, but what happens to the economy on a global scale, how many jobs will be lost, etc.


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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 06:50 PM
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Re: Future cars

What I want to know is why every post azazel1024 makes is 2 trillion char. long lol


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 07:15 PM
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Re: Future cars

I commend Azazel because he's very informative.

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