# Electric cars are a pipe dream

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Syzygys, May 20, 2010.

1. ### Edward M. GrantRegistered Member

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Indeed. Our ancestors tried electric cars and they switched to ICE cars as soon as that became viable because the ICE solved most of the problems that plagued electric cars.

We've just taken a century to forget how bad they were. They're certainly viable for some uses, but the idea that they'll replace a large fraction of ICE cars in the forseeable future is silly; you'd need a massive improvement in battery technology to replace our Civic.

3. ### KilljoyKlownWhateverValued Senior Member

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I'd like to own a Chevy Volt. It's a rechargeable hybrid that get about 35 miles on the battery before it needs to switch over to gas. For me, who very rarely ever drives more than 35 miles in a day. I might have to add some gas maybe twice a year.

5. ### spidergoatLiddle' Dick TaterValued Senior Member

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I disagree, they can be made to be great cars and I think there is a possibility of them replacing a significant percentage of ICE cars, it just depends on how hard peak oil will hit us financially. The problem is they still have most of the problems of ICE cars, they still require asphalt roads that need constant maintenance, they create a physical landscape that is detrimental to human happiness, they require raw materials from around the world, they kill people, and they still after all of that require fossil fuels to generate electricity.

7. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline and the storage technology has much better chance of giving same range as gasoline than "battery refinements" do.

For example, already demonstrated by university and road tested is surface adsorbed NG. I.e. fuel tank is filled with cheap chopped up corn cobs than that have been baked (in vacuum I think). Then the NG is a liquid adsorbed on the enormous surface area of the porous corn cobs. How much is held is function of pressure (and temperature) - I.e. a dynamic equilibrium is established. The number of CH4 molecule coming to a unit of surface per second increases directly with the gas pressure, but number leaving unit of surface area is function mainly of the temperature. At modest pressure of 500psi a slightly a larger than typical gas tank volume gives about the same range as gasoline as the stored NG is also a liquid.

No significant improvement over the Li ion battery´s range will ever be achieved.

8. ### KilljoyKlownWhateverValued Senior Member

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Lithium–air batteries

I take it you don't believe lithium–air batteries will ever be developed to a workable solution?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gold-lithium-air-battery

9. ### Aqueous Idflat Earth skepticValued Senior Member

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I can think of two kinds of improvement. This first is the remote possibility of a breakthrough in energy density. Here I'm thinking of how, for many decades it was considered impossible to build a 1 Farad capacitor. However, a breakthough occurred and they are amazingly small.

The second thing that comes to mind is that an agreement is reached on a standard for battery footprint and location on the chassis such that a vehicle can pull up to a station, enter a service bay, and in a few minutes a machine has swapped out your battery with a fresh one. Obviously this is a huge undertaking, and it would require inordinate cooperation between EV mfrs and the battery service company. The obstacle is, that the world is market driven so until there is a tangible demand for this, it's hard to see it coming together.

But I think it would work. If the only adaptation for drivers to make in switching to an EV is that you stop every so many hours on a road trip to change the battery cartridge, then I think folks would get comfortable with that. Once that fear is overcome (running out of juice) most likely the market would mushroom. That, and coming out of the recession (although auto sales have been doing well.)

10. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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>No significant improvement over the Li ion battery´s range will ever be achieved.

That's pretty funny!

I first worked with li-ions back in 1998. An 18650 was 1300mah. Nowadays you can get 2800mah batteries in the same form factor and the same chemistry - more than a factor of 2 improvement. With those batteries you can get a 300+ mile range, more than many gas powered cars.

Silicon anode batteries get that number up to 3200mah, another very significant improvement. That would get you around 350 miles, from a battery that's available today.

It is in general a mistake to hope that technology stops.

11. ### spidergoatLiddle' Dick TaterValued Senior Member

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These breakthroughs in battery energy density have already happened, but scaling and commercializing them is another story.

12. ### PromoRegistered Senior Member

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237
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...ange-finally-match-petrol-power-distance.html

Green, they may be. But electric cars have struggled to overcome one of the main shortfalls that put buyers off - an inferior range to their petrol-powered rivals.
That may be about to change after a new electric car was unveiled that promises to go 500 miles (800km) before the battery needs recharging.
This would be far more than one of the current leaders in the field, the battery/ gasoline Chevrolet Volt, which can do around 375 miles (600km) on one charge-up.

Still a concept but, progress is being made towards long distance cars.

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14. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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That would be my bet. Infact I doubt any "porous electrode" batteries will prove to be long term practical. They have huge surface area so can be recharged more quickly, but porosity is hard to preserve and easily blocked near bulk surface. This one with cost of gold for electrode is DOE, I think. They sort of admit that here:

"... Thus far, the cathodes and electrolytes being tested for use in lithium–air batteries decompose and degrade to the point where there is little lithium peroxide formation or only partial formation and decomposition after only a few charge–discharge cycles ..."

If air were only N2 + O2, perhaps air metal batteries could be made to last, but especially in cities there is SO2 etc. in the air to poison the batter over time.

15. ### KilljoyKlownWhateverValued Senior Member

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I think battery technology still has room to get better. But even it it doesn't cut it, it seems that a hydrogen fuel cell could replace the battery without too much other alterations to the current electric car.

16. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Agreed. And more will happen.

When I first looked at solar PV in 1989, PV was $10/watt for cheap panels. ($20 in 2012 dollars.) Now it's sub $1 a watt. If batteries follow a similar path, a Leaf battery pack will end up costing around$900 to replace every six years or so.

17. ### GrumpyCurmudgeon of LucidityValued Senior Member

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One thing being overlooked is efficiencies. Internal combustion delivers only about 25-30% of the energy they burn into actual work. Electric motors can be as high as 90%+ efficient. Batteries deliver similar efficiencies. A co-generation plant can reach 80% so it is more efficient to burn fossil fuels in large co-generation plants and use the electricity to charge batteries in an electric car than it is to burn that fuel in a car. We have been using ICEs because they are more convenient, not because they cost less in fuel. We can no longer afford to do that. Lithium batteries are currently capable of delivering 300 miles range and recharge overnight for pennies, they are just too expensive. That will change.

By the way, don't be taken in by hucksters promoting the idea that Lithium supplies are limited and will become more expensive in the future. Lithium is the third most abundant element in the Universe, Hydrogen and Helium are one and two. Helium is rare on Earth because it is a noble gas, practically nonreactive and easily driven off by radiation. In fact, almost all the costs associated with Lithium are market driven, production requires little more than a loader and a dump truck.

Grumpy

18. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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But you are looking at the end products' efficiency (battery vs. gas). What if you also take into account the efficiency of making it? Let's say, how efficient is making as much product that can drive a car for 100 miles? (that is about 4-5 gallons of gas and I don't know how many batteries) It could easily be that gas is way more efficient than making batteries...

19. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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?? The equivalent there is making the electricity vs making the gas. (Or making the fuel tank + engine compared to making the battery + motor.)

To illustrate why this doesn't work, a battery pack will give you 50,000-100,000 miles of use. How much use will a gallon of gas give you?

20. ### X-Man2We're under no illusions.Registered Senior Member

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Imagine if alternatives to gasoline had been worked on all along,I imagine we would have already replaced gasoline.Sure electric vehicles came first but they wernt evolved so is it any wonder they are inferior at this time?

For now we are kinda going in all directions not knowing who if any will be on top.Europe is getting an interesting car,the Opel LPG Sedan.A bit from the article:

"The new Insignia LPG ecoFlex option gives the large family sedan a 140 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that has been strengthened to run on LPG, as well as gasoline. The 42-liter LPG tank can give the Insignia hatchback or sedan models a range of about 500 miles, and the gas tank adds up to another 556 miles, for a total range of 1,056 miles. That’s about a month or so of driving for the average American driver"

Gas2 Article: http://gas2.org/2012/07/23/gms-opel-brand-launches-lpg-sedan-with-1000-mile-range/

21. ### SyzygysAs a mother, I am telling youValued Senior Member

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Yes, we can look at it this way. So if making electricity is less efficient than making gas, that should be reflected somehow..

No it won't...

22. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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It's much _more_ efficient. Heck, it takes 5kwhr of electricity to produce 1 gallon of gasoline. With that 5kwhr you could go 15-20 miles in a Leaf - and that's before you factor in gas mileage.

In other words:

Leaf requires 5kwhr to go 15-20 miles
SUV requires 5kwhr PLUS 1 gallon of gasoline to go 15-20 miles

What data do you have to support that statement?

23. ### TrippyALEA IACTA ESTStaff Member

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The research Honda has been fitted with electric motors in each rear wheel and a large lithium-ion battery, which is mounted in the rear of the vehicle. As lithium-battery technology improves, Perry said, the battery size can be reduced in production models.

Switching on power to the two rear wheels’ electric motors made a huge difference by reducing the power required from the internal-combustion engine, he added.

“The whole point was to demonstrate the feasibility of adding the electrical motor to the rear wheel of the car without changing the brakes, bearings, suspension — anything mechanical,” Perry said.

:Sigh: One more idea I can't cash in on.

The research Honda, incidentaly, is a 1994 Honda Stationwagon.