/ Electric cars - are they better for the environment?

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Bjartur i Sumarhus on 05 Jul 2017
Just reading about Volvo going full electric/hybrid in a couple of years
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/05/volvo-cars-electric-hybrid-2019

All seems quite positive in stepping away from burning fossil fuels, but what will be the impact from battery production? Considering our penchant for changing cars every few years on finance, the production of batteries to power the future electric cars will be huge I would imagine. Recycling batteries is not easy (although car batteries may well be different to more conventional batteries?) so are we just robbing Peter to pay Paul from a green perspective? Lots of toxic chemicals in batteries, approx 80 million new cars sold a year....what will the environmental impact be? Better than carbon emissions from old cars?

Can anyone point towards a good study on this?
thomasadixon - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Depends where you're looking at - it'd solve the problem of high pollution in town centres to a great extent.
John2 - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

You're right about this - there is a substantial environmental impact from both electricity generation and lithium mining. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/438642/electric-cars-environmental-impact-worse-advertised

Moreover, as the UK government receives less money from taxing petrol (58p a litre, plus VAT on top) it will have to find other ways to extract money from us.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to thomasadixon: True, still issues though.... how many people have off street parking who live in town/city centers? How will you charge your car overnight if you park on the street outside your house ? Will there be charging points on all roads at regular car length intervals? Obviously not insurmountable but can't see it happening quickly
gethin_allen on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to John2:
"...> Moreover, as the UK government receives less money from taxing petrol (58p a litre, plus VAT on top) it will have to find other ways to extract money from us..."

This is the issue with feed in rates for solar and strike prices for onshore wind, it used to be significant but as more people jumped on the wagon the gov realised that it was getting expensive and dropped the rates.

This is one of the issues I see with the larger scale renewable projects like the swansea bay barrage. I'd love to see the barrage built as not only would it sort out some of the issues with future energy supply but it would also regenerate a currently pretty rough part of town and hopefully make some jobs for the locals, but saying all this the gov are offering/builders asking for crazy high strike prices guaranteed for decades.

fred99 - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to John2:

It seems that many people from the major conurbations believe that electricity can be produced out of thin air.
If we massively increase our requirement for electricity, we need to massively increase our production of it.
This means a major increase in the number and size of electricity producing units.
However rosy-tinted your glasses, there is no way that a constant, reliable supply will be available if we rely on wind farms and solar panels - not unless we cover the entire country in them.
But anyone who suggests building a nuclear or fossil fuel power station is vilified.

We cannot have it all.
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nathan79 - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I do wonder about the battery issue long term, I have to assume they make them as reusable/recyclable as possible.

I wonder about the second hand hybrid market, with the battery aspect being so crucial how forward thinking are they in terms of future compatability? The cost of a new hybrid makes them a no-no for me.
Clint86 - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I would say that most people realise we need to drive a lot less to live within the resources of the one planet we live on, even if they are all electric. I feel the benefit of letting go the impulse to always want to be somewhere other than where I am. A lot of the work of a car is actually moving the metal etc around that it is made of.
1
John2 - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to fred99:

Of course, the main solution proposed for evening out the supply of solar and wind generated electricity is banks of batteries. They are still currently too expensive, but if they do become affordable then they will result in more lithium mining.

Actually, an electric car connected to solar panels (something many people are already in a position to supply) would be a pretty eco friendly way to store solar-generated power.
jkarran - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to fred99:

> It seems that many people from the major conurbations believe that electricity can be produced out of thin air.

Erm? It can and increasingly is.

> However rosy-tinted your glasses, there is no way that a constant, reliable supply will be available if we rely on wind farms and solar panels - not unless we cover the entire country in them.
> We cannot have it all.

We really can. Electric vehicles and renewable energy are the perfect synergy, by consuming intelligently the 'efficiency' of renewables can be increased massively, a little storage goes a long way . Consumption is at point of charging, not point of use and since car activity/inactivity duty cycle is typically very low that can be highly reactive to supply availability and there exists the potential for feeding back in to the grid at times of high demand (for electricity rather than the vehicle). That said, we will have to build a lot more generating capacity if we're to displace IC cars completely but I have no problem with that. Batteries (and all vehicle construction materials) will be recycled, economic pressure will see to that even if our governments don't.
jk
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wintertree - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to fred99:

> [...] and solar panels - not unless we cover the entire country in them

I generally agree with your post. However I also agree with this option you don't consider workable. We can get an awfully long way by making all roofs solar electric. With the way the cost of rooftop integrated solar panels are going and the rise in variety of "solar slate" products, it is not such a daft idea.

Electric cars could provide a large part of the storage solution such a solar heavy system would need. Most people most of the time could reserve some fraction of battery capacity for charging when the carbon intensity of the grid is low.

Mid winter would still pose problems, but getting us fully off fossils for more than half the year would be a major step.

> But anyone who suggests building a nuclear or fossil fuel power station is vilified.

Agreed. The "green" party and movement are one of the biggest agitators against a green solution with their strong opposition to future fission power.
Post edited at 14:39
wintertree - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to Clint86:

Physics pedant alert

> A lot of the work of a car is actually moving the metal etc around that it is made of.

Unless you are driving uphill it really isn't. It's in moving air out of the way of all the intermediate positions the car goes through, and in friction with the road.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to jkarran: "Batteries (and all vehicle construction materials) will be recycled,"

This is what i am most interested in, is there an easy way to recycle a knackered battery into a new one using the main elements again (lithium/cadmium/nickel etc)?

Any chemists out there who can explain how a battery loses it's ability to hold a charge? What fails or is spent?

jkarran - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:
> Unless you are driving uphill it really isn't. It's in moving air out of the way of all the intermediate positions the car goes through, and in friction with the road.

It does depend to some extent on the exact usage. 0-30mph in a typical 1.4T car costs ~125kJ which is roughly equivalent to 40seconds of cruising at 30mph which requires ~3kW (assuming conversion efficiency in cruise and under high load is comparable). In fairly heavy stop start conditions the mass dominates the drag.

In general optimising cars for low aerodynamic drag is where the biggest efficiency gains come from but we've gotten very used to them being big and rectangular.
jk
Post edited at 16:13
Clint86 - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

I'm no expert, but I find a lighter bike much quicker, and I also find I'm going uphill quite a lot of the time.....I don't live in Holland. In the town surely the weight of a car is a factor if you are starting and stopping a lot.......but its not detail I need to go into!
wintertree - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> I'm no expert, but I find a lighter bike much quicker, and I also find I'm going uphill quite a lot of the time.....I don't live in Holland. In the town surely the weight of a car is a factor if you are starting and stopping a lot.......but its not detail I need to go into!

Sorry I could have been clearer.

Actually moving something from one place to another doesn't need work (except eg uphill or to more equatorial latitudes) - but factors encountered during the journey like wind resistance, friction with the road and internal friction in moving parts require work.

None of the work that is lost is done "moving the metal", but on loss encountered once the metal is moving. As jkaran notes, work must be done to set a vehicle in motion, but in abstract theory it is "free" work as an ideal vehicle can recover it when the vehicle stops.

Sorry I'm being an unhelpful pedant I know!
wintertree - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

> Any chemists out there who can explain how a battery loses it's ability to hold a charge? What fails or is spent?

It's not a chemical reaction but a degradation of the physical form of the electrodes. Typically the formation of filemantous fingers of material shorting regions of electrodes together.

I believe nearly closed loop recycling of lithium cells is thought to be feasible but I've not read much in to it. Batteries degraded to much for cars are also being reused for stationary batteries, Nissan for example recently formed an agreement with someone to do just this.
Clint86 - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Ok, thanks. Yes, that does have interest.
Greasy Prusiks on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to fred99:

Nuclear power is brilliant stuff.

It seems ironic that in campaigning against it the green movement is pushing us towards using more fossil fuels.
1
Philip on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

That's entirely dependent on how you view the risk. Post Chernobyl no country had a nuclear disaster for a long time, no repeats in a country either.
Then Fukushima happened. It's a numbers game, if you care only about the chances it affects you in your life it seems pretty good. If you look at the impact of nuclear on the country over the next 1000 years it becomes less rosy.

Nuclear and fossil might be cheaper to build but it's because there are big names in the engineering world to build them. What's the biggest battery company you can think (the key challenge for renewable). If you look at what the battery side of Tesla (solar city) are doing for home and commercial power storage, and how quickly they're bringing down the cost with scale.
summo on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Philip:

> Then Fukushima happened. It's a numbers game, if you care only about the chances it affects you in your life it seems pretty good. If you look at the impact of nuclear on the country over the next 1000 years it becomes less rosy.

A few high profile deaths from nuclear, versus thousands unseen deaths due to pollution from fossil fuels?

Nuclear is one of the safest (statistically) but has been labelled as wrong by the cnd / ban the bomb brigade.


> Nuclear and fossil might be cheaper to build but it's because there are big names in the engineering world to build them. What's the biggest battery company you can think (the key challenge for renewable). If you look at what the battery side of Tesla (solar city) are doing for home and commercial power storage, and how quickly they're bringing down the cost with scale.

I Agree, but the world needs both.
jkarran - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to summo:

The problem with nuclear is less the occasional accident/incident, those with responsible engineering, maintenance and lifetiming can be kept to an absolute minimum if never prevented entirely. It's that we don't live in a world conducive to that, we live in a changing world with a selfish short-termist outlook among the public and the ruling class which are key to resourcing that essential work. We also refuse and have refused for so long that we become politically incapable of dealing responsibly with the waste from nuclear power (all power actually). Another generation of nuclear may be necessary for the UK (though year by year that looks less likely) but we shouldn't be deciding that now as our existing plants are reaching the end of life and new ones are on 10+ years lead times.

But yeah, apart from that it's all Corbyn's fault ;-)
jk
Post edited at 09:07
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johncook - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Not if you plug them in to charge them! You are only moving the pollution elsewhere.
The only gain on hybrids is the small amount of energy gained when you brake (check out F1) when the engine is charging the batteries more fuel is used to provide it.
You don't get anything for nothing!
And we won't get into the carbon footprint of this technology! Or the toxic waste created by it and the batteries!
3
summo on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to jkarran:

Never said it was anyones fault. People are swayed by propaganda and headlines, not fact led statistics.
jkarran - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to johncook:
> Not if you plug them in to charge them! You are only moving the pollution elsewhere.

Which is massively beneficial, it's also not the only gain you get: grid scale generation to road via battery-electric conversion efficiency exceeds in car IC, you can charge from renewables, electric drive offers high performance/acceleration in real world (low duty) use, you can implement smart consumption and distributed bidirectional storage which is good for the grid and good for boosting the value of renewables.

> The only gain on hybrids is the small amount of energy gained when you brake (check out F1) when the engine is charging the batteries more fuel is used to provide it.
> You don't get anything for nothing!

For nothing no but for a small addition, weak hybridisation, you can dramatically cut deadly air pollution from stop-start traffic in urban environments for very little energy cost in freer flowing traffic. It's not the best solution long term but it's a good stop-gap approach to develop the technology and drive costs down.

> And we won't get into the carbon footprint of this technology! Or the toxic waste created by it and the batteries!

Please do.

Your certainty is impressive if I suspect rather misplaced. I suspect in 20 or so years we'll look back on the era of IC engines (and to some extent cars full stop) in our cities like we now view the idea of smoking in workplaces, pubs and restaurants, with complete disbelief that we didn't grasp the problem and the solution sooner.
jk
Post edited at 09:59
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wintertree - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to johncook:

> Not if you plug them in to charge them! You are only moving the pollution elsewhere.

One of the most often trotted out and most easily dismissed falsehoods.

Central external combustion is much less polluting and more efficient than distributed external combustion. Grid electricity is much less carbon and pollution intensive than internal combustion engines due to the presence of nuclear, wind, hydro and solar power. All electrically powered cars will become less polluting over time as the grid decarbonises further.
2
John Workman - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to John2:

Yeah

You could park your car outside your house with its PV panels and recharge it overnight. Oh.......... wait a minute...
nufkin - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

> Considering our penchant for changing cars every few years on finance, the production of batteries to power the future electric cars will be huge I would imagine. Recycling batteries is not easy (although car batteries may well be different to more conventional batteries?) so are we just robbing Peter to pay Paul from a green perspective? Lots of toxic chemicals in batteries, approx 80 million new cars sold a year....what will the environmental impact be? Better than carbon emissions from old cars?

I'm slightly baffled as to why there doesn't seem to be more of a push towards hydrogen cars. I gather they'd give better range than electric ones, and there'd be less production of batteries needed in comparison, not to mention the electricity. I don't really know much about the specifics of it, however - maybe there's something massively flawed in the hydrogen concept
fred99 - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

>We can get an awfully long way by making all roofs solar electric. With the way the cost of rooftop integrated solar panels are going and the rise in variety of "solar slate" products, it is not such a daft idea.

I would like to have solar panels on my roof, and totally agree that it is the way forward.
However first of all the direction my roof faces means that it's not the best, and with terraced housing this is the case for an awful lot of houses.
Secondly flats - many domiciles, but only 1 roof.
Then the price - my entire fuel (gas and electric) is £500 to £600 a year - I'm single, well insulated terraced house, and I wear warm clothes in the winter. To put panels on my roof would cost 10-15 years of my fuel bill.

The government could start by making it compulsory for all new builds to have solar panels on their roofs.
petellis - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to nufkin:

> I'm slightly baffled as to why there doesn't seem to be more of a push towards hydrogen cars. I gather they'd give better range than electric ones, and there'd be less production of batteries needed in comparison, not to mention the electricity. I don't really know much about the specifics of it, however - maybe there's something massively flawed in the hydrogen concept

Hydrogen cars are ready to go, but they need infrastructure (somewhere to fill up, e.g California just got its 200th H2 filling station). My understanding is that mass electrification will also need infrastructure in the longer term but in the short term the limited uptake means we don't have to spend any money yet so we are choosing the short term cheap path of least resistance for now.

What surprises me is that the petrol/diesel suppliers are not investing in hydrogen, if we go fully electrified then their forecourts are going to disappear, making hydrogen easy would surely be in their interests... but I suspect the picture is more complicated than that.
elsewhere on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to nufkin:
Have a look a at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle

Sounds like engineering for hydrogen production, compression and high pressure storage/distribution is expensive and carbon intensive as the hydrogen comes from methane.
Post edited at 12:06
jkarran - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to nufkin:

> I'm slightly baffled as to why there doesn't seem to be more of a push towards hydrogen cars. I gather they'd give better range than electric ones, and there'd be less production of batteries needed in comparison, not to mention the electricity. I don't really know much about the specifics of it, however - maybe there's something massively flawed in the hydrogen concept

Hydrogen might win out over batteries in the long run but at the moment the downsides are: generally fossil fuel derived (from natural gas), basically no infrastructure in place, extremely hazardous, difficult/heavy to safely store onboard a vehicle, fuel cell power density is limited so some battery/capacitor hybridisation is generally required anyway for decent performance, mass produced car-scale fuel cells aren't widely and cheaply available.

Modern batteries lack some to most of those drawbacks so they're winning for now.
jk
Post edited at 12:14
jkarran - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to fred99:

> I would like to have solar panels on my roof, and totally agree that it is the way forward.
> However first of all the direction my roof faces means that it's not the best, and with terraced housing this is the case for an awful lot of houses.

East and West facing installs may well end up subsidised to broaden the generation peak into the morning and evening, it's a relatively cheap substitute for storage with costs what they are at the moment.

> Secondly flats - many domiciles, but only 1 roof.

So? Less good but still good. Flats have walls too.

> The government could start by making it compulsory for all new builds to have solar panels on their roofs.

Solar thermal and PV on newbuilds should certainly be very strongly incentivised one way or another.
jk
Post edited at 12:15
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wintertree - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to fred99:

Thanks for your reply.

> However first of all the direction my roof faces means that it's not the best, and with terraced housing this is the case for an awful lot of houses.

Still worthwhile doing for the energy (but not personal financial gain as you note below). Less ideal roof directions make less difference on a cloudy day where sunlight arrives from clouds in all directions. Which is often in the UK.

Edit: Sometimes the "wrong" direction is even better than a sun-facing one. For example a horizontal panel sees more sky than one pointing right at a high summer sun, so will do better on a cloudy day where light is almost non directional, and will collect more indirect scattered light on a sunny day. Direction isn't as critical as a simple "where's the sun" cosine model would predict.

> Secondly flats - many domiciles, but only 1 roof.

Yes - no good for individual flat dwellers but in terms of national generating potential it's easy-to-wire-up roof area going to waste.

> Then the price - my entire fuel (gas and electric) is £500 to £600 a year - I'm single, well insulated terraced house, and I wear warm clothes in the winter. To put panels on my roof would cost 10-15 years of my fuel bill.

Mind you fuel bills are likely to rise.

I'm getting ready to do a lot of rooftop area and don't expect to turn a proffit, but it means I can vote directly with my wallet on the supply of solar energy. I hope to also displace ~7 months of household petrol and diesel consumption with the solar via a plug in hybrid so more savings there depending on how silly a hybrid I buy.

> The government could start by making it compulsory for all new builds to have solar panels on their roofs.

Totally agree. It seems insane not to. Sounds like large housebuilders may be actively hostile to it as it messes with their construction "ethos" (for want of a more derogatory word...)
Post edited at 12:43
galpinos on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to John Workman:

> Yeah

> You could park your car outside your house with its PV panels and recharge it overnight. Oh.......... wait a minute...

What's the "wait a minute"? Your PV panels have charged the house battery during the day which in turn can be used to charge your car overnight. What's the issue?
fred99 - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

If the government were to provide and fit solar panels for free I'd have them.

But with the low relative savings per year it's just not sensible for me to lay out that much dosh - I could get a new roof, kitchen and motorbike for that money.

Added to this my roof is in two parts, the front roof is slate, the back is fibre-board. The cost of fitting to these would probably be even more expensive (and difficult to do) than they would be for the more modern tiling roofs.
summo on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

In reply to one roof.... I've seen panels here fitted to the vertical sides where an angle iron frame is bolted to the side of the building and the whole of the south side of a 6 or 7 storey building has 1 metre panels between the windows. It's obviously extra cost in installation. But even in a few decades if the panels were replaced, the frame is likely to be sound still.
Martin W on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to fred99:

> If the government were to provide and fit solar panels for free I'd have them.

> But with the low relative savings per year it's just not sensible for me to lay out that much dosh - I could get a new roof, kitchen and motorbike for that money.

And get no return at all on them. Your grasp of RoI seems a little flawed...

Wanting "the government" to do everything that's required to reduce the environmental impact that each of us has smells strongly a paper-thin flawed argument created in an attempt to disguise the fact that they basically don't give sh!t.
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Greasy Prusiks on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Philip:

The thing is pollution and climate change are killing people and damaging health even if we carry on as we are. Compared to that nuclear power is going to reduce deaths.

I also think that nuclear power has and is only going to get safer. During the 60s the margin of safety was much lower and technology, especially control systems was less advanced. Compound this with the fact that nuclear power was also an emergent technology and I think we could create a new nuclear age that is much safer than our current fossil fuel era.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I just enquired about an electric motorcycle from Daytona Motorcycles in London. Quite interesting....

A Zero SR ( http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/eu/zero-s-sr ) has a range of 120 miles, can be charged over night (8hrs from flat to fully charged) with a kettle lead and comes in at £16990. You can buy a fast charger (3-4hrs) for an additional £2.5k should you need one.

The government will give you a £1500 grant/rebate to buy one as well!

So far so good.

He then tells me to check my insurance before bothering to test ride one because nearly all of the prospective buyers they have had have found the insurance far too high and had to walk away. Anyone know if this is a common problem with electric vehicles at the moment? This bike sounds ideal for my commute (60 miles a day)
hang_about - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Why don't we have a standardised removable battery? (or several types for different powers).
Turn up at the petrol station (now battery station). Old ones popped out for recharging (or recycling if knackered), new charged ones popped in. Pay your money - off you go.
Spare battery at home charged from solar panels.
Tesla had a demo of this. Changing the battery took seconds. Standardisation reduces costs.
We have A, AA, AAA batteries - so scale them up.
summo on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to hang_about:
> Why don't we have a standardised removable battery? (or several types for different powers).

> Turn up at the petrol station (now battery station). Old ones popped out for recharging (or recycling if knackered), new charged ones popped in. Pay your money - off you go.

Works for propane gas bottles. Just the weight factor, it would need a little hoist and some straps. Some special universal power coupling method. Job done.
Post edited at 17:43
wintertree - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to hang_about:

> Why don't we have a standardised removable battery? (or several types for different powers).

Tesla tried this with a pilot fast robotic changer in the LA area. It turns out that people didn't really use it. It helps that Tesla offer free recharging all over that area in 25 minutes and have a 6 hour range; I'd take that long a break after 6 hours driving anyway...

There's a bias though because your average Model-S owner will have private off street parking for charging, and is quite different to terrace dwelling Brits. Even so the average person's daily mileage is low enough that a medium range EV would normally only need charging once a week.

I think the UKC membership tend to be significantly higher mileage than the average car owner.

The few people who would use a battery swap can just stick with ICE vehicles for another half decade - progress is happening with battery capacity and charging rates.
Lion Bakes on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to thomasadixon:

> Depends where you're looking at - it'd solve the problem of high pollution in town centres to a great extent.

Surely it'd be better to reduce car usage to tackle that? Plus electric cars make no contribution to making roads as safe as they used to be before the current obsession with driving everywhere. Too many vehicles on the roads, we need to reduce to improve quality of life and also pollution.
1
wintertree - on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

> Compared to that nuclear power is going to reduce deaths.

Compared to renewables nuclear power reduces deaths - even including Chernobyl which was practically an intentional nuclear bomb and not representitve of modern civil reactors.

Solar for example is estimated to kill 5x as many people per unit energy. Roof top working is dangerous.

One hydro dam killed over 170,000 people but the Green Party don't come out in fission style hysterics over it.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/#4109ba2b7...
Greasy Prusiks on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Exactly.

There's this assumption that current energy production is completely safe and it's just not true.
Fraser on 06 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:
> One hydro dam killed over 170,000 people but the Green Party don't come out in fission style hysterics over it.


That's presumably extrapolated from something rather than "...one hydro dam actually killing 170k people", yes? Incidentally, any idea which dam it is/was?

Edit: just found it I think - Banqiao in China, 1976.

Wiki casualty summary: "According to the Hydrology Department of Henan Province, approximately 26,000 people died at the province[14] from flooding and another 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine. In addition, about 5,960,000 buildings collapsed, and 11 million residents were affected. Unofficial estimates of the number of people killed by the disaster have run as high as 230,000 people."
Post edited at 22:00
Jamie Wakeham - on 07 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:


> He then tells me to check my insurance before bothering to test ride one because nearly all of the prospective buyers they have had have found the insurance far too high and had to walk away. Anyone know if this is a common problem with electric vehicles at the moment? This bike sounds ideal for my commute (60 miles a day)

Doesn't seem to a be much of a problem with cars. My premium went up from £250 to £370 when I swapped my six-year-old Yeti for a brand new Outlander PHEV; given the new car was worth at least three times as much that seemed fair.

Electric cars seem an absolute no-brainer to me. Large numbers of batteries all plugged in at low demand times, if managed sensibly, will be a boon to the electricity network, not a drag. It's going to take smarter charging (ie disabling car chargers during the 6pm domestic consumption spike, and getting many more workplace chargers to take advantage of the solar output during the day) but it's all eminently achievable. And don't forget it takes quite a lot of electricity to refine petrol; not enough to cancel it out completely, but (depending on who you believe as there ar a lot of figures flying about on this) a significant displacement.

Battery degradation is far less concerning than the petrolhead press would have you believe. Look at all the ten-year-old Prius taxis -they're all still fine and taxi drivers are not exactly gentle users. There's a lot of work going into reusing degraded batteries in a domestic context, and capacities & longevities are getting better at an astonishing rate.

I'm delighted to have jumped on the bandwagon; whilst the PHEV is far from my perfect car, it's a huge step in the right direction and I bought in partly to support the industry. I get that I am unusually well suited to it - I work from home during the day, with the car charging from my solar panels, topped up by Ecotricity as my supplier, and my afternoon round of commuting is less than the battery range so I basically never have to fire the ICE. I get that scaling that up to everyone, with less advantageous charging possibilities and longer commutes, is going to be challenging. But I think we'll manage it, and hopefully soon.

L bearman68 - on 07 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I find it difficult to see the attraction, or environmental credentials of electric cars. Too many rare and exotic materials used in the batteries, too much demand placed on a creaking electrical supply infrastructure, and simply not practical enough / good enough for the majority of users. Even in the event of personal transport becoming electric, the diesel engine still takes the brunt of the work of lorries, ships, tractors and other heavy duty load. This is a load I cannot see being effectively replaced with a battery.
If there is an alternative it has to be hydrogen. I could see many of the heavy duty power sources being replaced by fuel cells, or even in the short term, burning H2. Even though we must currently use fossil fuels to make hydrogen, its ability not not generated Co2 must be a huge advantage.
In the longer term hydrogen should be able to be produced by using water. Imagine if we were to use solar and sea water to generate large scale hydrogen in sub Saharan Africa. It would stop the flow of economic migrants, and provide a useful supply of green fuel. Nice. I also see some theoretical opportunity to industrialise the chemical reaction that takes atmospheric Co2 and converts it into simple sugars in plants. Imagine if we could use artificial chlorophyll to reverse the planets atmospheric Co2, and pump that back into useable carbon. It would be a fantastic method of storing energy (probably solar, maybe hydro in some form) from sunny parts of the world to colder, darker places. Think of that as an idea, and then tell me the future is in batteries.
3
wbo - on 07 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68: because for most uses and journeys electric are a practical technology that can be used now. Ignoring the disadvantages listed earlier, you can go to the shops, buy an electric car tomorrow and for most people it will work now. Hydrogen requires a mass more infrastructure than electric, and for most people it doesn't exist. It is also more expensive. Locally you can buy hydrogen as the buses run on it, but noones kidding themselves the future of cars isn't electric.

I know lots of people with electric cars and pretty well everyone is delighted despite the plethora of weird and wonderful excuses on this thread. And as well as being cheapest they are better for the enviroment than petrol or diesel cars

1
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L bearman68 - on 07 Jul 2017
In reply to wbo:

Batteries are a poor substitute for a petrol engine in most cases, and at best, batteries I think will be used as a part solution to the problem of local pollution.
Batteries are for example unlikely to ever be the prime source of power in aircraft. The reason is that batteries have very poor energy to weight (or volume) ratios That makes them technically sub optimal in transport applications.
So you have to think a little further than the immediate and obvious answer. Yes it will take infrastructure and huge cost. Yes it will take years, and maybe decades, but ultimately we need to develop a high calorie method of storing energy. That ain't a battery, no matter how much it might be wished for.
And this isn't anti environment, it's just chemistry and engineering. And I don't care how many thumbs down I get, it doesn't change the maths.
1
thomasadixon - on 07 Jul 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

You've got to be realistic. I cycle to work, but for many things (climbing in wales, shopping trips, moving heavy stuff like chairs, tables, bricks, etc, etc) you need motorised transport. Electric vehicles in towns and cities would have a big effect here in Bristol where the centre is seriously polluted - far fewer lorries carrying petrol for starters, and and of course fewer petrol engines sat sending out fumes in traffic. Safety's another issue.
thomasadixon - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

If it takes off it'll balloon though. I wouldn't ban petrol or similar, electric cars still don't do long journeys and as you say many don't have drives but the more that do it the cheaper it'll get and the more likely others will and so on. I don't have an electric car now, but in the future (when cheap second hand hybrids start being available!)... If enough do it the others don't have to, and one problem's solved.

Does it help the environment overall? It seems to, balancing the load on the grid makes sense, and most cars will be charging at night, most of the time.
Big Ger - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Electric cars may lead to a new wave of Cornish mining investment, and be a boom for the county's economy.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/19/cornwall-mining-firm-extract-lithium
wintertree - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> So you have to think a little further than the immediate and obvious answer. Yes it will take infrastructure and huge cost. Yes it will take years, and maybe decades, but ultimately we need to develop a high calorie method of storing energy. That ain't a battery, no matter how much it might be wished for.

Can you provide some credible references to back up your position?

My understanding is that there are various battery chemistries with theoretical maximum specific energies within a factor 0.2 to 0.4x that of petrochemicals (assuming unlimited access to atmospheric oxygen for the later.). If/when this is realised it will give a unusable specific energy similar to that petrochemicals for aircraft or cars where thermodynamics limits the efficiency of a petrochemical heat engine but not a motor.

You also have to factor in the other weight savings associated with an electric car - even though the energy source is less dense, an electric motor weighs a small fraction of a combustion engine with comparable output; savings that can be used for more energy storage. Then there's the energy recovery possible with an EV or hybrid that isn't with a pure petrochemical vehicle.

I generally think hydrogen is a dead end, with the exception of hypersonic flight where it's ability to be pre chilled and then soak up heat is going to be as important as it's energy storage, both in SABRE style engines and in scramjets.
Post edited at 00:30
summo on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

Do we actually need to fly? It's only for selfish reasons, face to face meetings instead of virtual online. Holidays to see places. Obtain goods quicker etc... the world could operate without planes, although once you remove the human carrying ability, flight endurance with drones/uav could be quite good.

Car sharing, pooling would solve the parking / charging problem overnight.
L bearman68 - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Well to be fair, you have just highlighted the point. Battery specific energy is currently about 7% of petrol for the best case scenario.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density
Motor efficiency does not cover the difference.
Currently electric cars in the UK emit about 189 g Co2 per KM. Probably a little more than most ICE driven cars.

You're right to point out the problems with hydrogen - spending a little more time thinking about it does show that there are considerable issues with energy density of hydrogen.
So it's back to the industrialisation of the chloroform process. That gives good energy density, about 80% of pertol, and reduces atmospheric Co2. I wonder if we could do it?
elsewhere on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:
chloroform - is that typo for chlorophyll?


L bearman68 - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to elsewhere:

Whoops, yes. Auto correct + assumption = cock up.
wbo - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:
> Well to be fair, you have just highlighted the point. Battery specific energy is currently about 7% of petrol for the best case scenario.


I haven't looked at this , but how is the efficiency of petrol for its second use? You can use a battery many times, petrol once.

> Motor efficiency does not cover the difference.

> Currently electric cars in the UK emit about 189 g Co2 per KM. Probably a little more than most ICE driven cars.

But go to renewables and then whats the number ? The current use in the UK value makes no sense at all as a forward predictive number - it's just wrong to use it
Post edited at 12:23
MonkeyPuzzle - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to jkarran:

> Electric vehicles and renewable energy are the perfect synergy, by consuming intelligently the 'efficiency' of renewables can be increased massively, a little storage goes a long way . Consumption is at point of charging, not point of use and since car activity/inactivity duty cycle is typically very low that can be highly reactive to supply availability and there exists the potential for feeding back in to the grid at times of high demand (for electricity rather than the vehicle). That said, we will have to build a lot more generating capacity if we're to displace IC cars completely but I have no problem with that. Batteries (and all vehicle construction materials) will be recycled, economic pressure will see to that even if our governments don't.

> jk

10/10 - model answer. This won't be limited to batteries either. Any energy store will be fair game when we have Virtual Energy Storage Systems within Smart grids. During any spike in demand, VESS networks will switch industrial and domestic fridges and freezers off for a limited time to smooth the hump and then switch them back on before the temperature has had a chance to go up too much. Loads of applications.
Richard J - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

I think what's mainly driving the surprisingly rapid shift to electric vehicles isn't reduction of CO2 emissions, but the problem of urban air pollution - especially the very small particulates (PM2.5) that internal combustion engines produce. This is a gigantic problem in China and India where PM2.5 levels in cities are very high, and a major cause of premature deaths. We should worry about it more in the UK too. There's a huge investment in new battery factories going on in China now - quite a lot bigger in total than the Tesla gigafactory - so I'd anticipate a big drop in the price of batteries as all this new capacity comes on line in the next few years. So it's no surprise that Volvo (now a Chinese owned firm) is signalling an early transition away from pure ICEs.

The energy density issue is an important one, though, and it's difficult to see an alternative to liquid fuels for aviation at least. I think there's a lot to be said for the "methanol economy" idea, making methanol from CO2 and hydrogen produced either electrolytically from renewable energy or from process heat from high temperature fission reactors.
L bearman68 - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to Richard J:

You may be correct about the drive to battery power for personal transport. No doubt about it, it's cleaner at the point of use. I suspect the price of batteries will be much more related to the price of raw materials than production capacity, at least in the longer term, but if Volvo and other businesses wish to switch to batteries, that's fine by me. I don't have an issue with that. It seems a bit gimicy, but he ho, as you wish.
Do I think batteries can lift the heavy loads of industrial useage, and heavy transport - no I don't.
Do I think batteries will power aviation - no I don't
Do I think batteries will be used in marine applications - no I don't.

Maybe methanol is a good option. Energy density is reasonable, and reversing Co2 fromt he atmosphere is helpful, and clean combustion is great. Methanol IC engine linked with hybrid. Possibly a good way forward.

But it all falls into disarray unless you can achieve a renewable source of power. That is the really critical question. How are we going to make electric in the future?

But electric cars here and now - no, they are just to make activists feel better about their decisions.
4
Jamie Wakeham - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> But electric cars here and now - no, they are just to make activists feel better about their decisions.

I think you're absolutely wrong in that. In a few cases, perhaps - someone selling a small and very efficient ICE and replacing with a large EV that they charge from a supplier with a lot of fossil fuels in their mix might manage to emit more CO2/km than they used to. Even then, it'll be close.

In the majority of cases there'll be a large reduction in CO2/km (yes, I know it's only one metric but it's a pretty good one to use as proxy for 'good'). EVs charged from solar PV or 100% green suppliers will repay their embedded CO2 in, usually, their second year of use.

And even if EVs aren't as good as they are going to be, we need to be buying them now to drive innovation.
syv_k - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Urban pollution is a huge problem. If you have a severe asthmatic amongst your friends or family, take a walk with them towards a busy road, bus station or taxi rank and watch them start coughing, wheezing and feeling unwell as they move inside the invisible cloud. Diesel vehicles are by far the worst, but all combustion engines are bad. I understand that the pollution shortens lives for non-asthmatics as well, so all of us, but the asthmatics are the 'canaries' who make it obvious, rather than just having their stroke a few years earlier than they otherwise would.
garycrocker - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to elsewhere:

Couldn't the hydrogen be manufactured by using the renewable electricity which is currently lostdue to an inability to store it? I made some to show my daughter with a glass of salt water and a 9v battery. They just need to dump a huge battery in the sea.
L bearman68 - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I think you are misunderstanding the figures. EV on average = 189g Co2 / km

Renault megane 1.6 for example = 151g /km.

Therefore the megane 1.6 = better (your metric).

If the UK generation mix changed to renewables it would drop to something like 70 - 100, which is about the lowest emissions of the current crop of petrol and diesel engines.

So currently you are better off from a Co2 pnt of view driving a small diesel (o maybe petrol) than an EV. No two ways about it.
So yes, it's all about making people feel better about Co2 emissions.
3
L bearman68 - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to syv_k:

Hell, even my 2.0 turbo charged fire breathing Saab is only 194 gCo2 /km, v 189 for a EV.
1
Lion Bakes on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

It still doesn't eliminate all the micro pollutants caused by car tyres and brake dust as they drive down the road. You only have to wipe your hand down any car wheel to see what you are breathing.
summo on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:
The problem isn't electric cars, the problem is with the UKs energy sources.

In Norway and Sweden electric car use is nearly doubling every year, mainly tesla and Mitsubishi, but electricity is pretty green compared to the UK, so it's win win. Sadly the UK cities are those that could really do with electric cars. Starting with all London taxis would be a good idea, as many are hot seated driven for 18hrs a day or more.
Post edited at 22:00
wbo - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68: where are you getting those numbers? What electricity generation source?You know there's an EU target of 90 on new cars by 2020?

http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/electric-car-emissions
elsewhere on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to garycrocker:

> Couldn't the hydrogen be manufactured by using the renewable electricity which is currently lostdue to an inability to store it? I made some to show my daughter with a glass of salt water and a 9v battery. They just need to dump a huge battery in the sea.

That makes perfect sense but I think it is an expensive way to store energy - economic for rocket fuel and powering spacecraft rather than more mundane stuff.
petegunn on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

It annoys me when you see loads of new houses going up without any solar panels. Surely this needs to come as standard now.
Also why can't chimneys on houses ( the plastic cosmetic ones) come with some kind of built-in wind turbine, even if it only produces enough to boil the kettle, electric lighting?
Jamie Wakeham - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> I think you are misunderstanding the figures. EV on average = 189g Co2 / km

I take it you took that figure from the www.shrinkthatfootprint.com link that wbo gives?

Four problems. One, it's 2013 data. The UK fuel mix is already substantially better now than it was then. It's difficult to quantify exactly how much better, but as an example, the NEF's figure for 'average UK grid electricity' goes from 0.49kg/kWh in 2014 to 0.41kg/kWh in 2016. That's 16% over two years, so conservatively that might suggest 30% or so over four years.

Secondly, it presupposes that EV users charge from the UK average fuel mix. I doubt that's the case - the type of person who buys an EV is typically also the type of person who pays the premium to buy their electricity from a 100% renewable supplier. If nothing else, Ecotricity give a hefty discount if you can prove you have an EV as well as free access to their motorway chargers, so a lot of EV users go with them for purely financial reasons.

Thirdly, much EV charging is done at night, a period when the UK mix is more nuclear-dominated and the CO2/kWh figure at its lowest. So most EV charging, even when drawn from the UK average mix, happens when the figure is below average.

And, finally - your Saab will be at 194gCO2/km forever. EVs only get better as the UK fuel mix shifts towards renewables.
wintertree - on 08 Jul 2017
In reply to petegunn:

> It annoys me when you see loads of new houses going up without any solar panels. Surely this needs to come as standard now.

Totally agree.

> Also why can't chimneys on houses ( the plastic cosmetic ones) come with some kind of built-in wind turbine, even if it only produces enough to boil the kettle, electric lighting?

I couldn't believe it the first time I saw a bunch of "cosmetic" chimneys on a building site. Developers can piss money away on fake chimneys and fake window tax windows and nasty porticos with fake lintels with a join in the middle of the span but not on rooftop Solar PV. Insanity.

However the wind turbine idea doesn't really work; most small turbines produce a lot of vibration that would damage a building over time; they're much better off on separate ground anchored poles.

Scale doesn't really matter with solar PV; lots of small installations on individual roof tops are great. I prefer them over dedicated solar farms as rooftop uses existing "wasted" area whereas a solar farm displaces an agricultural farm or forestry.

For wind however, bigger is most definitely better and the money is much better spent on dedicated giant turbines in windier locations.
Post edited at 00:19
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Jim C - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:


> I also think that nuclear power has and is only going to get safer. During the 60s the margin of safety was much lower and technology, especially control systems was less advanced. Compound this with the fact that nuclear power was also an emergent technology and I think we could create a new nuclear age that is much safer than our current fossil fuel era.

It might be safer, IF it can be built.

We are STILL waiting for the French to prove that they can build their EPR (that we have chosen for Hinkley.)
Pig in a poke comes to mind.

Jim C - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Forget it, Whisky powered cars is the future, the fuel could be delivered to pubs and they could pump it out of their cellars right into your car.
And if they get the driverless car sorted, you can fill yourself up with Whisky whilst you are at it;)

https://stv.tv/news/east-central/1393012-world-s-first-whisky-fuelled-car-test-driven-in-scotland/
wintertree - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to elsewhere:

> That makes perfect sense but I think it is an expensive way to store energy - economic for rocket fuel and powering spacecraft rather than more mundane stuff.

Even rockets are moving from hydrogen to methane these days... Cryogenic liquid hydrogen is just to hard to store in light weight tanks made of carbon fibre composites. Well, it's hard to store in anything really but especially high mass ratio rocket stages.
Post edited at 00:32
Richard J - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

The dust is ugly and I'm sure it's not great for one's health, but it's the stuff that you can't see that is the really serious problem. Particles less than a micron in size can penetrate very deeply into the lungs, where they can cause lung cancer, and they can cross from there into the blood, where they cause cardiovascular disease. Combustion - especially in diesel engines - is the major source of the most damaging kinds of ultra-fine particles.
Richard J - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Some serious attention also being given to ammonia as a chemical store of surplus energy generated in the peaks from renewable sources - it's easily liquified, burns without any CO2, and the chemical engineering of making it from hydrogen (Haber-Bosch process) is very well understood. You can run a diesel engine off it, too, though I'm not sure having tanks of the stuff being driven around would be a great idea.
L bearman68 - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Yes, I took the figures from that source. For the UK, as you say EV Co2 was 189 - I didn't actually realise this was 2013 figures, so thank you for that. Let's take your figures, and add a bit for optimism and the EV Co2 output comes down to 150 ish. Still not looking great is it?
In best case scenario, it only ever going to come down to 70 - 100 range. Still comparable with the best of the current crop of IC engines. and this is where almost all the UK electric is renewable. (As Greenland)
I'm not defending IC engines here, they are dirty, noisy, and not able to regenerate power, but if you are only worried about Co2 output, then EV don't really cut it, especially with the range problems, and the use of exotic materials. (Is Lithium easily obtainable?) And if they don't cut it in car, how are you going to manage with tractors? (Go back to horses?)
And the idea of scrapping a perfectly good car (Saab) to buy an EV based on Co2 grounds is even more counter intuitive.
1
summo on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> And if they don't cut it in car, how are you going to manage with tractors? (Go back to horses?)

Many tractors can be replaced by lighter weight robots (as is already the case), zero cab space and can work 24/7, with battery changes, charged by a combined solar and wind set up, or bio digester.

It is the big harvesters, forest and plant machines that require the real power which will 'currently' be hard to replace with electric. But compared to the number of IC engines idling on the m25 everyday, a few rural dirty diesels are a drop in the ocean.
L bearman68 - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Richard J:

How does that work? - Sounds interesting. Any links
wbo - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68: the problem you're looking at isn't one of the EV per Se., but rather the messiness of the U.K. Power generation system. As stated previously my power is 100% renewables so if I buy an EV I'll be on 70 g / km - that is rather better, and will still go down. At points in time in the last years Scotland, as well as Germany have both been entirely powered by emissions free renewables, and that trend will grow.

I work in the energy industry and I see clearly where we're going. Stuf about tractors and infrastructure are just strawman arguments

wintertree - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Richard J:

> Some serious attention also being given to ammonia as a chemical store of surplus energy generated

It'll be interesting to see which chemicals end up being used; I think methane has a massive edge as there is already a vast multi-month storage capacity in the national gas grid, and it can then be used for domestic heating as well as CCGT generation.

Richard J - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

The Haber-Bosch process makes ammonia by catalytically combining hydrogen and nitrogen. This is done on a huge scale to make fertilisers, with the hydrogen being extracted from natural gas, but you could just as well use hydrogen made by electrolysis using renewable energy. Ammonia itself is a gas but you can liquify it using pressure alone so it's easy to store. It does burn, a bit reluctantly but it has an energy density not a lot less than hydrocarbons, and it produces no carbon dioxide. Siemens is exploring using it as a fuel for gas turbines to generate electricity when the wind's not blowing. Here's a nice presentation on the whole concept - http://www.energy.ox.ac.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Green-Ammonia-Hughes-8.3.16.pdf
Richard J - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Well, I guess you can run steam reforming backwards to make methane from hydrogen but I'm not sure how efficient that is. But you make a good point that somehow we're going to have to decarbonise the very large gas-powered domestic heating and industrial infrastructure we have.
wintertree - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Richard J:

> Well, I guess you can run steam reforming backwards to make methane from hydrogen but I'm not sure how efficient that is.

Yup, there are a few multi-megawatt plants on the continent using the sabatier reaction to do this. Round trip efficiency electricity to gas to electricity is about 40% or 50% if you count thermal co-generation. It's a few % worse than using hydrogen but has the massive advantage of plugging into gas grids and using existing CCGT plant.

Notably this is how SpaceX hope to eventually manufacture methane rocket fuel on Mars, using solar-PV or nuclear fission to run the sabatier reaction on atmospheric CO2 and water from the Martian soil.

If you get really carried away on earth, you can then conduct thermal pyrolysis on the methane, collect the carbon deposits and chuck them in hole somewhere, sequestering atmospheric CO2 into a simple solid, and reusing the hydrogen for more sabatier work. You might as well do something with renewables in times of excess...
Post edited at 16:04
Lion Bakes on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Richard J:

Absolutely motorised vehicles of any sort are bad for our health

1
L bearman68 - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

Gosh, are they really. Yes some negatives from dust and fumes. But some positives from emergency response, food transport, education and entertainment value. Would you really go back to a time of no personal vehicle transport?
Lion Bakes on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

How about we go forwards in time of no personal motorised transport? Firwards to a more enlightened era.

1
summo on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

> How about we go forwards in time of no personal motorised transport? Firwards to a more enlightened era.

With self drive and car pooling. You can book a car online and it will arrive by itself ready for use at your door at its allotted time.
L bearman68 - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to Lion Bakes:

Aye go on then. You go first,and I'll follow after, said everybody, rolling in laughter.
2
spenser - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:


> Do I think batteries can lift the heavy loads of industrial useage, and heavy transport - no I don't.

There is currently a battery train based on refurbished D78 stock in development, it fills a small niche in the rail industry for lines operating near capacity which can't make a convincing business case for electrification at 25 kV. Motors can be geared to deliver high torque or high speed, the rail industry uses plenty of motors which can shift huge loads.
> Do I think batteries will be used in marine applications - no I don't.

Are they suitable for every marine application? No. Are they suitable for some specific marine applications like short distance ferries? Probably, provided that they design the charging system in a sensible fashion and choose batteries with the right chemistry to take a high charge rate.

> Maybe methanol is a good option. Energy density is reasonable, and reversing Co2 fromt he atmosphere is helpful, and clean combustion is great. Methanol IC engine linked with hybrid. Possibly a good way forward.

So you are suggesting attempting to capture CO2 from the atmosphere to manufacture a fuel which you will then burn in an IC engine which will be subject to thermal efficiency limits, this is a complete waste of time, money and energy, you would be far better capturing CO2 at the output of power plants, much less energy intensive to capture it at high concentrations.


> But electric cars here and now - no, they are just to make activists feel better about their decisions.

Without a well considered energy policy battery vehicles of any stripe don't make sense on an environmental stand point, this doesn't mean they don't offer other benefits, I haven't sat down and done the maths and research to decide if the current energy mix in the UK provides a net benefit, I suspect they don't at present, however if the technology is not ready for mainstream use it will never be able to contribute to the discussion and push technology in any one direction.
wbo - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to spenser: it's not beyond the wit of man to use different energy sources, motors for different applications. Today I have seen cars powered by diesel, Petoro, batteries and hybrids, as well as local buses that use hydrogen cells built into the roof. All that will change is the mix. The hydrogen buses work well, but the fuel tank needs to be very large and refueling is a fraught process.

Battery cars are a no brainer - the technology is available, safe, and on a good power generation system, clean. You don't need to fade around synthesizing chemicals for the 90% of users who only make short hop journeys.

Meanwhile here's a battery powered ferry - I often use this on my way to the mountains. https://www.siemens.com/innovation/en/home/pictures-of-the-future/mobility-and-motors/electromobilit... As an aside you can charge your car for free while you're on the thing. It's a good boat and works very well
L bearman68 - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to spenser:

I think your right for many reasons. The biggest issue we face (as I see it) is the provision of large scale environment friendly energy. I'm not sure fission is that, due to some of the risks, but if we managed to find a magical source then all sorts of things become possible.
One thing for sure is that energy is likely to become more expensive.
You don't need to do all the research, someone has already done that, and found the answers. In 2013 in the UK, EV was about 189 g/km, prob a bit worse than an IC engine.
The trouble is with focusing on batteries it reduces the amount of attention that can be given to longer term power sources, ones that can power the really large power users - ships, lorries, etc etc.
1
summo on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

Lorries. The UK roads are jammed with trucks compared to main other countries where more freight goes by rail.

Shipping. You just need a motor on a similar scale to those used in power generation? You could get a lot of panels along the side of ship, combined with some on-board power storage method(yes I know it's a hugely simplified answer). Bunker oil fuel is about the worst of all fuels possible in pollution terms, so it probably worth trying to solve, but at least for now the pollution isn't in city centres.
jkarran - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:
> I find it difficult to see the attraction, or environmental credentials of electric cars. Too many rare and exotic materials used in the batteries, too much demand placed on a creaking electrical supply infrastructure, and simply not practical enough / good enough for the majority of users. Even in the event of personal transport becoming electric, the diesel engine still takes the brunt of the work of lorries, ships, tractors and other heavy duty load. This is a load I cannot see being effectively replaced with a battery.

'Rare exotic materials' are used in all sorts of everyday things, our mobile phones are causing new mining rushes around the world that will in time be recognised as harmful. Off the top of my head I can't think think what in modern Lithium batteries it is specifically you're concerned about, perhaps Cobalt which isn't so much rare as rather unfortunately all sourced from one war torn country.

As for the other big consumers of hydrocarbon fuel, I don't see their existence as a reason not to embrace battery electric power where it works, nor do I see them all as intrinsically incapable of being moved off fossil fuel.

Shipping is the hardest to clean up, the amount of energy consumed is high and the fuel carbon and sulpher rich (ironically that atmospheric sulpher may be keeping us cool) but we'd need short memories indeed to forget fossil fueled shipping is only ~150years old. Eliminating fossil fuel entirely from shipping probably requires a synthetic chemical fuel. I suspect the best we can hope for from shipping is improved hydrodynamics, cleverer routing, cleaner fossil fuel and hybridisation with sail and solar to cut consumption in the medium term. Maybe nuclear power for the biggest ships. At least the biggest ships have a short service life typically of 2-3 decades, new and newly affordable technology feeds in quickly.

Trucks are troublesome they are energy hungry but the aerodynamics are the obvious starting point, current designs are awful, streamline them then form them up into computer controlled convoys then use them to get freight onto rails. Gas-electric hybrids would be my short-medium term bet for 'clean' trucking, longer term I suspect they will go battery electric but it will require a new generation of energy dense fast-charging batteries or perhaps natural gas fuel cells.

Tractors and other agricultural machines have a very odd duty cycle, they generally do nothing for months then get flogged at full power 24-7 for few weeks a few times a year. Diesel makes sense, I don't see that changing except in time we may cut the fossil content of the diesel down in exchange for synthetic components. Soil depletion and dependence on synthetic fertiliser is the bigger problem to solve in agriculture.

> If there is an alternative it has to be hydrogen... Even though we must currently use fossil fuels to make hydrogen, its ability not not generated Co2 must be a huge advantage.

Fossil fuel derived Hydrogen does release CO2 but in its refining, not its use. H2 energy density is woeful, it's difficult to handle/store in cryogenic form, embrittles metal and is hazardous in storage/transport/use due to it's propensity to leak, very low ignition energy and the fact it will burn in just about any mixture ratio with oxygen.

> In the longer term hydrogen should be able to be produced by using water. Imagine if we were to use solar and sea water to generate large scale hydrogen in sub Saharan Africa...

GM (or carefully selected) organisms manufacturing our fuels, medicines and industrial chemicals from basic organic feedstock with minimal solar energy input may well be the future but it's a long way in the future for now.
jk
Post edited at 09:56
Jamie Wakeham - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> You don't need to do all the research, someone has already done that, and found the answers. In 2013 in the UK, EV was about 189 g/km, prob a bit worse than an IC engine.

Have you actually *read* the paper that you've plucked this number from?

spenser - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to wbo:

I certainly did not mean to imply that electric cars would never be a sensible choice for some people, my point about them not being ready for mainstream was that if they do not achieve the necessary market penetration to make them viable the infrastructure won't change to accommodate their use.
I hadn't checked if electric ferries were a thing, not particularly surprised to be told that they are.
I'd got the impression that hydrogen refuelling had come on a lot in the last couple of years, however I may be wrong on that front.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Arms Cliff - on 10 Jul 2017
Toerag - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to hang_about:

> Why don't we have a standardised removable battery? (or several types for different powers).

Latest promising thing is a refuellable battery i.e. drain and replace the electrolyte. Wouldn't take much longer than refuelling does at present.
jimtitt - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Arms Cliff:


British Rail (or whatever it was called back then) had loads of electric trucks when I was young.
L bearman68 - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Hell no, what would be the point in that?

Since I'm a voice in the wilderness here, I think I'm going to agree with you all, and say that batteries will definitely solve all the worlds energy issues for ever, without further problems.

Thank you for showing me the error of my ways

Anyway, i'm off to invest in Lithium mining - looks like we'll only have enough to last for the next 20 years or so. (And that's only cars converting to Li-on batteries), and not enough globally to support even the tesla increase in production.

1
wintertree - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> Since I'm a voice in the wilderness here, I think I'm going to agree with you all, and say that batteries will definitely solve all the worlds energy issues for ever, without further problems.

I think you're the only person on here saying that...

> Anyway, i'm off to invest in Lithium mining - looks like we'll only have enough to last for the next 20 years or so. (And that's only cars converting to Li-on batteries), and not enough globally to support even the tesla increase in production.

I assume you refer to "proven reserves/resources" of lithium - stuff that is umined but is known to exist. There's a lot more out there that nobody has looked for yet. The article below - although nominally about coal - is quite relevant.

I would be surprised if vehicle batteries are being made with lithium chemistry in 20 years as the problems with aluminium ion batteries will likely be overcome by then, and it offers 2.5x the theroetical max specific energy of lithium ion. There are plenty of other battery chemistries out there as well.

Although for all the R&D and infrastructure building to happen we need to start making and using EVs now - even if they're only marginally better than ICE vehicles. The future doesn't magically happen - we have to work towards it.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/22/energy_economics_coal/
Post edited at 20:09
L bearman68 - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Well it does appear that everyone is raving about batteries irrelevant of the data. But hey ho, I don't have an argument about having a Tesla instead of a Saab. Just don't tell me it's for the good of humanity - because that argument doesn't seem to stack up. (yet, if ever). And I'm not going to buy a Tesla until I can get one for a grand, but needing an MOT and tires.

I see lot's of positives in this thread, and I've picked up a good number of ideas and confidence that engineers have enough imaginative ideas to keep the lights on for many years yet, and indeed keep the planes flying, and transport systems running for decades into the future.
So feel free to carry on the discussion without me - it's about time I did some climbing.
elsewhere on 10 Jul 2017

Batteries are being installed by utilities to stablise the grid by storing renewables until it's needed.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/business/energy-environment/battery-storage-tesla-california.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-power-tesla-idUSKBN19S0EV

Lots of solar panel factories flooding the market so the price of solar is plummeting and starting to undercut fossil fuels.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/the-price-of-solar-is-declining-to-unprecedented-low...

Things are changing where you have sunshine (or hydro).
Post edited at 21:41
Jamie Wakeham - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> Hell no, what would be the point in that?
> Since I'm a voice in the wilderness here, I think I'm going to agree with you all, and say that batteries will definitely solve all the worlds energy issues for ever, without further problems.
> Thank you for showing me the error of my ways

I'm not trying to antagonise you, but there are some serious flaws in that four-year -old study - assumptions that are looking dated. For a start, I presume that (despite your protestations) you've seen that they put enormous error bars on their estimate of embedded CO2 in an EV.

They then average ICE embedded CO2 over 200,000km, but EV embedded CO2 over only 150,000km. This was due to fears over battery life, but four years down the line these fears seem unfounded (again, see those taxi priuses with 100,000 miles on the clock). If anything EV lifetime looks greater than ICE.

Fixing the lifetime estimate, and updating the UK grid mix, gives an average EV plugged into the UK grid a new figure of around 130g/km. Adopting their lower bound on EV embedded CO2, and plugging into renewable sources, and it's more like 40-50g/km.

But, really, it's not about what numeric value we can assign it now. It's about making the investment now so that we can get better batteries, based on new chemistries, that might well be able to power ships and planes. If we all sit back and keep buying VW diesels because we're holding out for a methane/hydrogen/whatever revolution, no-one will put money into new battery technology. If no-one had bought a Model T Ford (because they couldn't do 150mph) we'd still be riding horses...
aln - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> I would say that most people realise we need to drive a lot less to live within the resources

I would say that most people don't think about it at all
Clint86 - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to aln:

Yes. I know what you mean!
jkarran - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to petegunn:

> Also why can't chimneys on houses ( the plastic cosmetic ones) come with some kind of built-in wind turbine, even if it only produces enough to boil the kettle, electric lighting?

There is surprisingly little energy in surface wind, to extract meaningful amounts with acceptable losses (which occur mostly at the edges of swept areas) you need large swept areas, very small turbines just don't gather enough energy to be of any practical or economic value even before you factor in the maintenance and the noise/vibration.
jk

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