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Plug-in Hybrids

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Comments

  • goodcrdgoodcrd Member Posts: 253
    The point was having the Hydrogen fuel infustructure and being cost effective. So what if the cars can be made, as long as the fuel is not readily available and cost effective what good is it for the common man.
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Well, since we live in a Free Enterprise world, shouldn't we assume if the big car manufacturers have announced plans to make them, they have enough confidence in the ability to fuel them?

    Are you suggesting they will make them, invest all that money, with no hope of a large market demand for them? :surprise:
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    I believe there are too many technical barriers for hydrogen fuel cells to ever become a widely used propulsion system in the foreseeable future. Hybrids, especially plug-ins, are a much better system in practice.

    The molecular hydrogen would have to be made using another energy source--fossil or nuclear. The same sources could make electricity which we already have a distribution system for.

    Hydrogen as a motor vehicle fuel (either for a fuel cell or a combustion powerplant) is a perfectionist idea which simply cannot compete in practice with hydrocarbon fuels. The perfectionism is based on the fact that hydrogen releases no CO2 on combustion, but the fact is that automobiles contribute only a small fraction of the total anthropogenic CO2. If it really turns out to be necessary to capture and sequester most anthropogenic CO2, then we can do it at the fossil fuel electric power plants.

    I think it is possible that the energy companies and auto companies know that hydrogen is not, and will not ever be, a practical fuel, and they are touting it to delay the economic pain involved in transitioning to a whole fleet of more efficient vehicles which use hydrocarbon fuel and electricity. Right now the industry does not think the consuming public will buy more efficient vehicles in the numbers that they now buy fuel guzzlers.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    All you people who have expressed concern about "the grid" being affected by PHEVs can rest easy:

    Grid could handle millions of PHEVs

    The U.S. Department of Energy says the country's power infrastructure won't get whacked if millions of people start to buy plug-in hybrids.

    A new study, conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and sponsored by the federal agency, predicts that off-peak electricity production is adequate for keeping 185 million plug-in hybrids on the road. The study stated that there are 220 million vehicles in the U.S. and, if all were converted to plug-in hybrids, the current electrical grid could keep 84 percent of them charged.

    Plug-in hybrids have electrical and gas motors. The batteries for running the electric motor in plug-ins, however, are charged by plugging them into wall sockets or chargers. Plug-ins can drive for longer distances than standard electric cars because they have a gas motor, but get far better mileage--100 miles per gallon in some cases--than standard hybrids because the electric motor does a larger proportion of the work.

    Plug-ins also result in lower tailpipe emissions than standard hybrids and, in most cases, fewer overall emissions as well.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Are you suggesting they will make them, invest all that money, with no hope of a large market demand for them?

    Quite simply it is your tax dollars being used for corporate welfare. Last decade we dumped a couple billion into EV development. This is the decade for hydrogen and ethanol pork to pay off.
  • goodcrdgoodcrd Member Posts: 253
    Tell that to all the New Yorkers the next time they get a brown out. The grid is at its limits in California and parts of the southwest with all the expansion of the cities. I guess we just don't drive in the peak summer months. The grid in the Northeast and uppermidwest are in need of upgrading because they are so old and outdated. Get real. Remember the black out that shut down New York. What caused it?
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    You are missing a very important point I believe.

    These plug-in hybrids will be charging AT NIGHT when demand is lowest, nationwide.

    There are not going to be millions of PHEVs drawing power during peak hours.

    All major electric utility companies that I know about are moving to cleaner fuels and expanding their solar power systems and wind power systems. The grid is fine and will be fine, especially at night during low demand times.
  • michael2003michael2003 Member Posts: 144
    I think it's also important to note that people will need to be the ones that have to take the precaution of not recharging except during evening hours, unless the provided charging equipment can be programmed such that it won't allow charging except during a specified time period. Even then, it's still people that have to make the choice to do this.

    Of course, if the initial plug-in hybrids don't have sufficient range to allow a person to do their regular daily chores (such as working) it's likely that there will be people that will likely plug in during peak hours for recharging. For myself, I'm very interested in purchasing a serial plug-in hybrid, but I would require at least a 60 mile electric only range in order to make the most reduction in gasoline use without having to plug-in during the day.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    Getting people to re-charge during off peak hours won't be much of a problem for the utility companies. They will simply reduce their rates during off peak, increase during peak, to achieve the desired balance. To expect people to do this voluntarily with no financial incentive is wishful thinking.

    The fact is that the utility companies strongly support PHEVs. I think they have a better idea as to the state and capability of our grid than some of the posters here. The PNNL report that larsb referenced actually stated the electricity costs could go down for everyone because the utility companies would now be selling more without having to build more powerplants.

    The next step is a V2G (vehicle to grid) system. This is where PHEVs and BEVs are plugged into special charging stations that allow for two-way flow of electricity so that the utility could tap into the collective stored energy of all these batteries during spikes in usage. The utilities would actually pay you for allowing them to do this. Your car's system could be programmed so as to prevent it from being depleted past a certain level.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    we should be revamping the power grid regardless. If I remember estimates were something like 10 or 20 billion dollars. Not much in the big picture.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    GM unveiled a plug-in hybrid at the Detroit autoshow this past weekend. Its a concept car called the Chevy Volt. 40 mile all electric range that has a one liter turbocharged ICE that acts purely as a generator for recharging the batteries when needed. So its a series hybrid that is only driven by the electric motors as opposed to the parallel hybrid found in the Prius.

    GM states that if/when they produce this vehicle will depend on the pace of breakthroughs in battery technology. That's the part I don't quite understand. GM, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford all produced pure EVs 6 years ago that had ~100 mile range. How is it possible that the technology doesn't now exist to provide 40 miles of electric range? Phoenix Motorcars is producing all electric SUTs (sport utility trucks) with 130 mile range. This isn't a concept vehicle, production has begun. Take this vehicle and reduce its battery pack by 2/3 and add a small ICE generator. That's essentially what GM is suggesting here. It doesn't sound like this modification represents rocket science.

    Who cares if its expensive. All that means is they won't sell in high volume initially. The Corvette's expensive and not all that practical but they still produce it and people buy it.

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2007-01-07-volt_x.htm
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    From your link:

    ""The decision on whether to produce a car like Volt largely depends on whether an affordable lithium-ion battery can be developed.

    "It's dependent on an improvement in battery technology that may occur next year or may occur in 20 years," says Bradley Berman, editor of Hybridcars.com. "To pin your hopes on a technology that may not pan out doesn't help our immediate problems concerning fuel efficiency, oil dependency and the environment.""
    ***


    Price it seems is the holdup. I guess I can see it. Unless you want to appeal to Tesla type buyers. A 1 liter engine can't possibly provide a high performance car...can it? But on the other hand...it shouldn't be THAT expensive. For a lot of folks it would mean considerable savings in gas and maintenance. Also if a 1 liter can support normal performance on its own...serial would seem to be the future of hybrids..plug in or not.

    Surprised that Berman was so down on it. What does he want..more Prius'? 20 years away? I think not. Well, if Toyota can make a plug in hybrid..may the better car win.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    A 1 liter engine can't possibly provide a high performance car...can it?

    I don't think that you completely understand how this system works. While it's true that a 1 liter engine can't provide all that much power it doesn't have to since it is not providing the propulsion, the electric motor is. The ICE just needs to provide more power than the vehicle uses on average. Even a high performance sportscar probably isn't using more than 50 hp on average. So if you have this size engine that can store excess energy in a battery then you have the potential for short temporary bursts of much greater power, which is how hp is typically used in a high performance vehicle. The performance of the Chevy Volt won't be limited by this 1 liter engine.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    I guess I understand and don't. An ICE that is cruising doesn't use all its power. Some high tech engines even will shut down some cylanders at times. You need a bigger battery than a normal hybrid so you can have enough in reserve to make it up longer climbs. At any rate, I will stop questioning and take it on faith that the math pencils out. Sounds like GM could have made a serial hybrid some time back and outdone Toyota. I guess it isn't a real surprise that they didn't.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    From what I've read this 1 liter turbo-charged engine can generate 53 kW of energy. A vehicle the size of the Chevy Volt will probably get 4 miles per kWh, which means at 60 miles an hour it would only need a 15 kW generator to keep the batteries charged. There seems to be a lot of excess re-charge capability for someone that wants to drive more aggresively.

    This concept vehicle has generated so much buzz in one day hopefully GM feels they are now compelled to follow through.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    I think auto makers realize that things are going to change..somehow...they each need to try to be on the leading edge.

    Efficency drops rapidly as speed goes up from 60. Looks like it could cruise at speeds sufficent for most any leadfoots in america.

    Looks like GM might have a winner...unless it gets held back by insisting on using a battery that has inferior technology via that chevron subsidiary. If serial is a better concept, I am sure others will follow rather quickly.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    If serial is a better concept, I am sure others will follow rather quickly.

    It's certainly a simpler concept and cheaper to implement. From what I understand it's not quite as efficient as the parallel system but the difference isn't great. If hybrids are merely a stepping stone towards pure EVs then I think that this serial approach makes more sense. With the parallel system the two drives are linked in a way that its not simply a matter of pulling out the ICE. And they also aren't as easily configurable to run on different fuels.

    While GM has gone on record in regards to awarding battery contracts to Johnson Controls and ECD-Ovonics/Cobasys they have also stated that they are investigating the technology of unnamed companies. I've got to believe one of those would be Altairnano, which already has produced battery packs that would be suitable for this type of vehicle, albeit expensive, but worth throwing in a prototype.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    Throwing in the batteries makes things harder to compare. Prius has a 1.5L engine and can top with battery and ICE at 105 mph. The Volt will reportedly do 120 with a 1L. Of course Volt will have a bigger battery than the current Prius. Not that many drive over 90 mph here for long stretches. Prius does 0-60 in ten seconds as I understand. The Volt probably quicker. At least it should be or they have the wrong body style for the car.

    If the Volt performs and has unlimited range (via gas fullups), it would seem they could sell a goodly amount at $40 or $50k.

    Still part of me would like a simple EV.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    What will make the Volt considerably quicker than the Prius is that in addition to bigger batteries it will have a much more powerful electric motor. Afterall, that will be the only thing powering the wheels. In that regard it is the same as a pure EV.

    While GM won't give a date or even if they will actually make this car I've read that part of their objective is to have it be affordable. Something more in the range of $20-25k. That's where the batteries will present the biggest obstacle.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    If they can pull off $20-25 that would be unstoppable...provided the battery at least approaches the greater life cycles of Altair's...and all else is reliable and passable.

    I dunno, that package would still be attractive at $25-35. That is how the car looks to me. You can't get much of a car for $20-25 these days. I think the Prius' start at 22 something..with most people paying closer to $30k. This would blow it away.

    Someone is going to get a leg up and change the auto industry.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    If they can pull off $20-25 that would be unstoppable...provided the battery at least approaches the greater life cycles of Altair's...and all else is reliable and passable.

    There was a press release issued just yesterday that announced Altairnano and Phoenix Motorcars have entered into an exclusive 3 year purchase agreement for Altair's battery packs. It is estimated to be worth between $16 and $42 million for just 2007. Part of the deal is that Altair now owns 16.6% of Phoenix Motorcars. I think this is great news. These companies seem to be consolidating their specific skills for a common goal (Boshart Engineering recently came onboard). The one concern I had was the exclusive part of this arrangement. Would that preclude another manufacturer like GM from at least trying Altair's batteries in their vehicles? Fortunately that isn't the case. Phoenix only has exclusive use of Altair's batteries for pure EVs (BEV). Plug-in EVs (PHEV) and hybrid EVs (HEV) are not included. The high power density of Altair's batteries make them especially suitable for PHEVs because they can provide a lot of instantaneous power in a size smaller than what would be found in a BEV. In other words, no need to sacrifice performance.

    The bottom line is that there will be fleet vehicles this year driving around with these batteries and accumulating real world results as to their capabilities. So in a relatively short period of time we will have definitive answers as to the limitations imposed by current battery technology. When the big auto manufacturers claim that the technology doesn't currently exist they will be either proven right or forced to come up with another excuse.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    We'll see about phoenix. I would rather see the majors putting more emphasis on BEV. Poenix formed in 2001, and will produce 500 of their suv models in 2007..how can you compete with established car companies? Did they design there from the ground up? I guess if they or others come up with a better mouse trap, the bigger players will either buy or copy it.

    As of now, it looks like plug-in hybrid will be the next big thing.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    As of now, it looks like plug-in hybrid will be the next big thing.

    I agree, but if these plug-ins have 40-50 mile all electric range they will essentially be pure EVs 80-90% of the time. That's hardly a baby step towards electric vehicles.

    I'm very excited about the momentum this movement is taking on. I don't even think that cheap gas prices could derail it this time.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    Definitely! I just long for the simplest vehicle possible. But, if they make what they are thinking they can, for the first time in my life I will put my name on a waiting list to pay MSRP for a vehicle that will more than likely be in high demand.

    If batteries keep improving, getting cheaper and charging becomes faster...somewhere around the 300 mile range the ICE will no longer be needed.

    Hey, where did all the nay-sayers go? :)
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    Wow, a topic I wanted to discuss.....Looks like I have some catching up to do !!! :surprise:

    Rocky
  • jdkahlerjdkahler Member Posts: 50
    Toyota's Winter Hybrid newsletter has a discussion on plugin hybrids and Toyota's thinking:

    http://www.toyota.com/html/hybridsynergyview/2007/winter/plugin.html

    Check out the concept hybrid sports car in the same issue...
  • jdkahlerjdkahler Member Posts: 50
    Toyota's Winter Hybrid newsletter has a discussion on plugin hybrids and Toyota's thinking:

    http://www.toyota.com/html/hybridsynergyview/2007/winter/plugin.html

    Check out the concept hybrid sports car in the same issue...
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Rocky, they are not going to build a 500 HP plug-in hybrid Denali or Escalade. That leaves you out my friend.
  • lightminerlightminer Member Posts: 14
    FWIW, I worked in the industry for a while when the RAV4EV was thriving and was privy to some somewhat-confidential information regarding performance of it compared to the others that existed at the time, and it was indeed, by a hair, judged by most insiders to be the best of the bunch. It did indeed get 100+ miles per charge in actual use (not just EPA tests), we had over a year of test data from data-loggers on many many vehicles, as well as on competitive vehicles from the other companies.

    The problem with it and with the similar vehicles from the other car companies was that each EV they sold at the time was a 15 - 30k loss (depending on company and batteyr chemistry) to the car company for the expensive battery packs. They were selling them to satisfy legal requirements which were eventually lifted. Remember that these are companies - why would any company sell a product for a loss equal to the selling price? Is there a historical example where any company has ever done that en mass?

    Right now I think the only active RAV4EVs still around are the fleet ones, varius government agencies bought many of them and used them. Very very few private sales, although there were a few. I don't have any actual info from the last few years of if they are still in use, but as of 2001 or so they were doing great - and that was already several years into it!

    In general the idea is that there is no oil-conspiracy (as much as that might be fun or interesting), it really does come down to 'the batteries cost too much'. And in the late 90's, there was the concept that the batteries would have to be replaced at 40-50k miles if they were being used in a deep-discharge pattern regularly in order to hit a 100k lifespan for the vehicle. So ---- the idea amongst environmentalists within the industry was to create more of a market for EV batteries through Hybrid's which were more immediatedly deliverable, get some economies of scale going, and create more reasonable prices on the batteries, then come back to the EVs in 5, 10, or 15 years BOTH when a) the costs came down through use in Hybrids and b) the techonologies improved. I still stay in some contact with the people I worked with and the progress is extremely slow. The batteries still really aren't that fundamentally different than in 1920... And nothing major, as far as I know, took place in the last 5-10 years in terms of pure research. The growth and expansions of high-performance batteries as a commodity has been awesome in terms of Hybrids creating a market. The sad fact is that with regular deep discharge of any current battery they just don't last for 100k miles...

    To one other comment, a PHEV with some decent range (20 miles?) and then the hybrid engine as well is definitely more utilitarian than EVs. EVs should still have a place assuming we can get decent batteries into them - even based on a coal plant they are much more efficient than an ICE. I think one calculation our company did put emissions at 99.995% less if recharged in a state with a 50% coal/non coal gen mix. You can't compare generating power at the 80 - 300 hp level to the efficiencies you can get at 100 - 600,000 kW! Any comparison is really just laughable when you get all the facts on that one. Including power transmission losses, etc. And it is easier for a state to upgrade power plants and all of a sudden all cars are 'updated' to new greener standards when/if that happens versus entire metropolitan areas having everyone buy a new car. Putting new/better scrubbers on coal plants really ins't as expensive as people think compared to the emissions reduction!

    So, who knows - we might see the RAV4EV come back when batteries get better. If it takes too long then they might just jump to fuel cells, but in the industry fuel cells is really just a catchphrase that means 'we don't want to do anyting now, and if we talk about fuel cells but don't do anyting we think you will leave us alone'. Its a copout. I'm not saying that they aren't eventually viable, just not practical in as small an application as a car anytime soon at all. Watch for busses to start using them, and it will still be maybe 5 years before cars - especially Prius size cars, to use them. Their implementation will be: small scale energy generation (i.e, on-site generation for manufacturing or maybe municipally for 10 square city block type applications, etc.) then in the largest of vehicles like mass transit busses, and then eventually and lastly into 2000 - 3000 lb cars... And that doesn't mean you can't make concept cars that use fuel cells, and companies will continue to do that to avoid doing anyting additional, but ask them how much those cost, and when we might see them at a dealership :)...
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    Very interesting. Do the fuel cells (that industry is using as a screen to hide inaction) use molecular hydrogen (H2) or some other fuel, e.g. methanol CH3OH? I understand that the goal is to have zero carbon emissions from the tailpipes so H2 is the talked about fuel, but the problems of widescale distribution of H2 are huge, not to mention the energy losses and wastes created in the production of H2 from other fuels.

    The main present touting point of fuel cells is cleaner emissions, but in the past it was pointed out that since fuel cells are not "heat engines" their efficiency is not reduced by the thermodynamic efficiency factor for heat engines. So fuel cells which use a carbon containing fuel and which released CO2 might nevertheless release much less CO2 than an ICE and would not release any NOx or other pollutants which air breathing combustion engines produce.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    The batteries still really aren't that fundamentally different than in 1920

    I don't know about that. In the 1920's I suspect that the only batteries available were lead acid. I'm sure this technology has improved some in the last 80 years. Li-ion batteries have energy densities over 4x that of today's lead acid. And have been improving in this aspect by about 8% per year. I'd call that a fundamental difference. I agree with you on the cost issue. Li-ion battery packs need to get down to around $300/kWh with a lifespan of 2,000 cycles/10 years before they really have broad appeal. If you believe the public statements this cost figure is attainable at a large enough scale. Whether or not the lifespan of Li-ion can be significantly improved is still up in the air.
  • lightminerlightminer Member Posts: 14
    Actually most of the battery formulas were available back then! Lithium itself goes back to 1912 (Gilbert Lewis)! (I don't think it was in widespread use, but it was there.) Even batteries as advanced as Zinc-Air were actually used (railroad switching, etc.) back in the 20's.

    Oh - "If you believe the public statements" - the battery companies have to make dramatic claims about what is attainable in 1 - 2 years in order to get research dollars, because their competitors will do this. Its a vicious cycle that even they don't want to be in. They were claiming the same peformance levels in the mid 90's that they are still trying to hit and were (and still are) giving them 1-2 year time horizons! So be careful with statements about what is right around the corner... Not to say it won't all happen - it will, just mentioning some aspects to the process.
  • lightminerlightminer Member Posts: 14
    Yes - reforming (particularly on-board reforming) can be messy emissions-wise if not done well. The answer to your question is both!
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    A comment on EV-1 comes later.

    This in answer to

    " You can't compare generating power at the 80 - 300 hp level to the efficiencies you can get at 100 - 600,000 kW! Any comparison is really just laughable when you get all the facts on that one. "

    Sure you can, a thermal plant at the level of 500MW depending on equipment runs 31-33% efficiency. My source is somewhat dated from the Yorkshire Electricity Generating Board. But it also relects night time running at 5% load when the magnetising current of the distribution system has to be maintained. Most of the auxiliaries like boiler feedwater pumps and furnace blowers have consumption that is load independent.

    An Otto cycle engine gets close to 36% at full load and a diesel 44%. That's two years of study in thermodynamics.

    The power companies have a vested interest in a captive load of vunerable consumers which is very lucrative. What residential consumers should be doing is to burn natural gas in a reciprocating engine about 10HP should do it rather than in a gas furnace. This will yield 15kw of waste heat which can be used for space heating. Ever wonder why power stations are built by lakes rivers oceans ? That's right, to dissipate the 70% of thermal energy they have no use for. Cheaper than cooling towers.

    Of course steam turbines can be scaled up to 500mw LEVELS MORE easily than positive displacement reciprocators but to the small user at the wrong end of a monopoly this is of small consequence.

    GM should have retained the EV-1, battery boxes could have been insulated for sales to those of us in the north. Also a knowledge of hi-power electronics is key to the evolution of the automobile is another reason. Toyota is probably the largest manufacturer of electronic servo drives purely by producing the Prius. I am expecting Toyota to use its expertise in this area to challenge pricepoints established by suppliers to the industrial market one of these days.

    T2
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    What residential consumers should be doing is to burn natural gas in a reciprocating engine about 10HP should do it rather than in a gas furnace. This will yield 15kw of waste heat which can be used for space heating.

    Wouldn't this entail using a battery storage system so the generator doesn't have to run constantly? AFter all refrigerators click on and off. Also what about the months when excess heat is not needed? Is all this practical? Both in terms of expemse and how a mechanical failure would leave you out in the cold, so to speak.

    Seems to me some good old yankee ingenuity could capture a lot of this energy at the power plant source.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    Seems to me some good old yankee ingenuity could capture a lot of this energy at the power plant source.

    I agree completely and that is exactly what's going on. The newer coal powerplants operate at close to 40% efficiency and that is going up. These gains are being achieved by recapturing the lost heat and figuring out how to use it.

    Also, efficiency is only one variable in the equation. Even if a diesel engine can operate at 44% efficiency that doesn't make it better if diesel fuel costs twice as much as coal.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    "Wouldn't this entail using a battery storage system so the generator doesn't have to run constantly? "

    Yes, but not at the 21kw level of the HV battery in the Prius. I would envisage a system similar to that adopted by the photovoltaic panel industry with an intermediary 24 volt lead acid accumulator. In practice the variable output voltage from a variable speed alternator genset would feed into a controller which would maintain a float charge on that battery storage. A crystal locked oscillator - needed to support those consumer appliances with line frequency derived digital clocks - would then feed a single phase inverter of around 7kw capacity. Then "good old yankee ingenuity", as you like to put it, could determine a control strategy to minimise generator startups.

    You get one chance to use the exergy of natural gas and if you are going to consume it, an engine is a better solution than an open flame. Natural gas distribution to the home is already in place so it has a higher exergy than diesel or home heating oil which would need to be delivered. My suggestion is that we should build on that legacy infrastructure.

    "what about the months when excess heat is not needed? "

    You have a good point, this scheme doesn't have quite the efficacy in summer, but that is no reason to discount the "free" home heating that is available in winter if we so choose to 'roll our own' electricity at that time. Our engine would also need the ability to run on propane, to keep the gas company in check, after all with governments that continually roll over on the pricing of staple commodities we have to remember that we live in a capitalistic society that loves monopolies.

    As for possible mechanical failures we have tens of thousands of homes without power for a day or two already this winter because our distribution system is proving to be extremely vulnerable to storms, more so than I can ever remember as this particular infrastructure continues to age. Underground gas piping has the advantage of avoiding large transient swings in temperature and the debilitating effects of solar exposure suffered by the overhead installations of the electrical system. This winter I personally have experienced a two hour electrical outage but with gas I have to go back about ten years and that service interruption was pre- announced with a flyer !

    Maybe in future the power plant could recapture more energy but in the meantime I like "free".

    The relevance to the thread is that in winter the waste heat from your residential generator being used at night to recharge your PHEV, would be heating your house.

    It's as if all that heat blown to the elements from a normal car radiator could be utilised in your home instead.

    T2
  • lightminerlightminer Member Posts: 14
    Efficiency compared to the theoretical energy contained in the source materials to kinetic energy released in vehicle propulsion is a different question than 'what are the net emissions of a grid-powered EV compared to an ICE' - you are right - I did use the word efficiency which can imply the first - but I was thinking in my head more about emissions per mile on the one system compared to the other - a different kind of efficiency.

    To discuss 'efficiency' we'd have to be in the same room - I also have around 2 yrs thermo behind me in college and most of the discussion would be symantics - once those are all worked out we could make statements and we would probably agree. (Some examples are do we include transportation costs for the fuels, do you compare natural gas in a plant generating electricity for an EV to natural gas in a vehicle and which goes farther as one question as which has higher emissions as a second question - that would really be the only way to compare efficiency, can't put coal in a car :) - so comparing the theoretical energy (enthalpy? Gibbs free energy? we don't even know which energy...) of a brick of coal compared to what gets done with gas, etc. - it goes on forever about what exactly are we talking about and I wouldn't be interested in that online) - For those reading and interested in practical aspects of the subject I would send them to:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_power_plant

    this is a great overview of the situation with current generation, efficiencies, etc.

    Oh - and at Stanford we do exactly what you mention above to some degree - there is a great cogeneration facility where the excess steam is pumped underground and does all the heating for the dorms. I agree completely! For a side project in a thermo class I actually modelled how efficient we could make a plant if we had 5 additional power plants using the temp differential of the effluent stream from the previous plants. It was fun! Of course only the first additional power plant would be even remotely cost efficient to build... But that fifth one did get power!
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    Someone who works in the power generation industry told me that this industry has an exceptionally high occupational injury and fatality rate. The facilities are inherently dangerous. For example, he cited a case where high pressure and temperature steam filled up a room with some workers in it. There was no chance for escape. He also claimed there is widespread bravado which leads to ignoring safety procedures.

    Large diameter pipes carrying steam at up to 1000 F pressurized to 3000 psi absolutely boggle my mind. Then I have read about transformers exploding without warning and spewing hot oil on workers.

    The facts in the Wikipedia entry make my head spin. I am resolved to reduce use. For residental water heating we replaced our tank with a gas fired, minimally sized, tankless water heater and use it sparingly. I should have put in a solar set-up with storage tank using a tankless as backup, but I wouldn't go for the upfront cost.

    We are actually nore intent on reducing our consumption of city water than our energy use which is already pretty low. The City of Dallas wants to dam-up the last remaining free flowing rivers to allow its citizens to water turfgrass lawns.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    That was the headline, Tues March 6th, on our community newspaper. Apparently 15 power line poles toppled in our neighbourhood during last Thursdays ice storm. There were pix of the activities of our electric utility coming to the rescue with a giant web of some of the tallest "cherrypickers" I've seen. Quite a demonstration. Even so 12 businesses didn't get power back until Sunday it says.The story goes on to quote the Mayor that the new civic admin building - currently under construction - will be equipped with backup generators.
    I guess he's right, you can't have government come to a halt just because the whole area might get destroyed.

    Hell no, there might be some rebellious cinders !

    Central distribution of electrical energy is an idea that should have come and gone. For those millions of homes that have a natural gas supply the the residential equipment needed for conversion into electricity is many times less complex than a laptop and only slightly more complex than a lawn tractor.

    Posters contributing here are contemplating connecting up thousands of grid fed PHEVs. On the first outage thousands of vehicles will be out looking to top up their tanks but how many gas stations have the necessary standby apparatus also ?

    That's why I think you have to go through to residential cogeneration if energy security is to be realized with PHEVs.

    T2
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Don't you think it would be cheaper to put in a backup generation system for your EV than to pay the higher cost for a PHEV.
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    Your wrote:

    The power companies have a vested interest in a captive load of vunerable consumers which is very lucrative. What residential consumers should be doing is to burn natural gas in a reciprocating engine about 10HP should do it rather than in a gas furnace. This will yield 15kw of waste heat which can be used for space heating.

    I assume you envision a liquid cooled, spark ignition engine driving a generator. Sounds expensive, but isn't everything? Would there be a noise problem if all the houses in a residential neighborhood of 10,000 sq ft lots had this set-up? Is anything like this currently available?
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Possibly a fuel cell operating on natural gas. I do not know where they are at price wise. I think quite expensive.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    I should have made myself clearer regarding the fuel source. Since power companies are eschewing coal in favor of oil and gas, particularly gas because you get so much of it anyway sitting above the oil aquifier, I assumed we were talking of natural gas.
    I remember in the late seventies when power companies switched from coal to natural gas no-one questioned or made mention in the press that the reason for central electricity generation in the first place i.e that impracticality to pipeline and combust solid fuel in a residential setting had been removed from the power companies also. The playing field was now level. Anyone can burn natural gas if that is to be the 'fuel du jour' At around the same time the recent availability of the microprocessor would tie up the loose ends in providing control of a micro-genset that would meet acceptable standards in frequency stability at low cost. For some reason residential power never happened so I was particularly sensitive to see you write that thermal power staions can only be efficient only in the mega scale, that is simply propaganda by the electric supply companies who of course have no objection to you wasting your time with barely profitable wind and solar applications. As long as you stay away from their cash cow.

    If you want a real argument, the home version doesn't have to be that efficient since you're competing against the gas furnace which is 0% efficent for power generation and we can find use for more waste heat than electricity most of the time anyways.

    By the way as it stands now, the power company loses jurisdiction on enforcing the safety electrical code if you go off grid. I learned this fom their own electricians that some tram operators would be out of business if their early 20th century switchgear was ever subject to 21st century scrutiny.

    In the long run for (North) America to compete globally I feel we must lower the energy costs to run our whole society whichever way we can.

    T2
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    I am not an engineer, but it seems to me that if the gas powered generators you vision were practical, they would be in use today. After all, nat gas was dirt cheap for many many years. The axiom has always been that gas is more efficient for heating and cooking, but not electric generation...at least at the end user.

    Power lines can just as easilly be buried as gas lines. There are nat gas explosions and whole area evacuations because of leaks as well.

    My heat pump heats at an efficiency of 2-4 times that of using electricity directly. I don't know how to evaluate different energy sources against each other.

    Natural gas does emit green house gas. While I am not one proned to panic about this, we should think about alternatives..nuke and various renewables come to mind. Failing that, co2 racapture is probably only practical at a large facility.

    Electricity can be generated via several modes. Hydro, coal, nuke etc. Do we want to limit ourselves one raw material (gas) that is not renewable, and sufficent supply for the future questionable? Currently we import a small percent of our nat gas usage, do we want to increase that? We probably will anyway, but switching to gas for electricty gen, will highly exacerbate that trend. Trade deficit, national security concenrns. Have you seen the huge swings in nat gas prices lately?

    Remember a PHEV will be able to run on gas alone. A power outage is not the end of the world..or even the stop of the world. Electric vehicles of any mode will be a slow grower in terms of electric usage. We should modernize the grid in any case, and new power plants can be built, but I suspect the impact to be a lot less than computers have had on power consumption in the forseeable future. Most grids are perfectly capable of handling extra night time usage. In fact there are plans to encourage people to use power at night.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    "Don't you think it would be cheaper to put in a backup generation system for your EV than to pay the higher cost for a PHEV."

    This is more hypothetical than I can handle, perhaps someone else can pick this up ?
    Which EV ? and which PHEV ? Do we know for sure that Toyota will bring a PHEV to market ?

    You are probably aware of my views in that I am not in favor of any battery chemistry other than Pb-acid for automotive use.

    T2
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    I think you made the point that it would cripple all the EVs during a power outage. So that having a PHEV would be a better alternative. I think I would rather put in some type of backup generation and not have the complexity of a PHEV. I do not know of any practical EV or PHEV that is currently available to the consumer. My preference when they are available will be the EV.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    You are probably aware of my views in that I am not in favor of any battery chemistry other than Pb-acid for automotive use.

    Why is that?
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    " it would cripple all the EVs during a power outage. So that having a PHEV would be a better alternative. "

    gagrice it is hard to gauge whether you're coming from either range extension of an EV or energy immunity regarding transport. But I would suggest that the best alternative of the two proposals that you put forwards a standby (Honda) generator would be the easiest to incorporate onto a pure EV and involve the least surgery if it had to be done, particularly if externally mounted on a trailer.

    When considering possibilities to the disruption of service, the residential natural gas line seems to be the most robust of all the energy distribution channels now in place and even that could be backed up by a propane cylinder.

    Otherwise as Dennis Miller has said "a hybrid(PHEV)vehicle is a way to get kicked up the derriere by both Exon and Enron at the same time."

    T2
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    "You are probably aware of my views in that I am not in favor of any battery chemistry other than Pb-acid for automotive use." Why is that?

    Reason ONE - they have a propensity to self discharge when not in use significantly more than lead acid.

    Reason TWO - they are vulnerable to low temperatures.
    At 0 deg centigrade (celsius) the Honda Insight battery can manage just 5kw in and out.

    This from a govt study I saw on posted on Insightcentral. But that temperature is warm for most of winter I think you will agree, we typically see temperatures around -10 degrees during the night and that's the temperature the battery pack will be at be first thing in the morning. At that level what's the betting you will be lucky to see 2Kw of assist ? Hardly noticeable.

    A battery box containing 800Lbs of Pb-acid has a lot more thermal inertia than the smaller NiMH systems when away from sheltered indoor parking, and of course the box will have R20 insulation and electric heaters if it is built by backyard constructors. Something the genius's at Honda and Toyota have yet to learn.

    A marine quality 12v Pb-acid battery is also the force behind my 'virtual HV battery' concept that I am considering privately.

    T2
This discussion has been closed.