Skip to comments.Promises of Electric Vehicles?
Posted on 12/11/2010 3:38:13 PM PST by editor-surveyor
Synergy Research Institute, P.O.Box 561, San Ramon, California 94583
The promotion of General Motors Chevy Volt by three mayors (Contra Costa Times, November 6, 1010) merits some mundane evaluation from the energy standpoint. Electric vehicles with an internal combustion engine assist are compared to a typical car using 13 cents of $3.00/gallon gasoline per mile, that is one that makes 23 miles per gallon. (13/300 = 0.0433 gallon/mile)
In a conventional car 25 percent of 37 kWh from a gallon of gasoline gets into traction (because of losses in the engine and drive train). Conventional car thus uses 0.4 kWh/mile and so does any comparable car.
Reader Coughlan (CCT, November 13, 2010) correctly pointed out that at residential electric rates of 40 cents/kWh the energy cost is about 10 cents/mile rather than 3 cents/mile (above calculation shows 16 cents/mile). Moreover, Chevy Volt has a 435-pound battery costing $8,000 which wears out after 100,000 miles. That adds 8 cents to the energy associated operating cost of the electric car.
PG&E also has an experimental tariff designed for users of electric cars through which all of us are subsidizing electric vehicle owners.
Electric power plants supplying energy require from 3.5 to 4 kWh of thermal energy to generate 1 kWh or electrical energy. Thus the 0.4 kWh used by the electric car requires 1.6 kWh to generate. Energy wise we are at the same place as with an internal combustion engine.
About 70 % of electric power generating plants America use coal. At heating value of 3 kWh/lb, 1.3 pounds of coal is needed to generate 1 kWh. As coal is 80% carbon 3 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted in generating 1 kWh of electric energy. In other words, electric vehicles cause production of 1.25 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile. On the other hand, an equivalent conventional car using 0.0433 gallon/mile emits 0.78 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile. Electric cars thus cannot reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to which climate changes are wrongly attributed.
The mayors say 500,000 electric vehicles in the Bay area would reduce costs and emissions dramatically. As shown no cost reduction can happen. Moreover, if 500,000 electric vehicles using 500 gallon/year producing 4 tons of carbon dioxide each were eliminated, there would be 2 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions less. This would be only 0.4 percent of the annual fluctuation (48,000 megaton) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which totals about 3 million megatons, an insignificant amount.
Particularly unreasonable is the hint that electric vehicles while parked in employee parking lots could be running their gasoline engines to feed energy it back to the network. Efficiency of any electrical generator is proportional to the fourth power of its dimensions, hence a number of small power generating stations would waste more energy than a normally sized electric power plant.
925 683 9254
Dr Bevc is an Electrical Engineer living in Damville, California. Email: email@example.com
Electric cars are an energy hoax!
In conclusion, the proponents of electric vehicles clearly think that electricity comes from magical holes in the wall.
Because a good percentage of these short-distance vehicles will be used to commute, half the recharge will happen in the employers’ parking lot getting ready for the return trip. First off there’s the cost of building that infrastructure and then the cost since the electricity used will be billed to the employer at commercial rates.
Exposing the deception WRT electric cars.
The batteries last 100,000 miles at cost 8K according to the article. My 02 Chevy SUV has 112K on it and has had to have some parts related to the drive train replaced.
If you want to dive the Volt past 100K you need to replace all the batteries. Has anyone calculated the impact of that on the environment verses a few parts on a traditional car, besides the much lower cost.
Spreading the wealth:
PG&E also has an experimental tariff designed for users of electric cars through which all of us are subsidizing electric vehicle owners.
“Has anyone calculated the impact of that on the environment verses a few parts on a traditional car, besides the much lower cost”
Never heard of exhaust?
A friend of mine is the head of the physics dept. at the
local college. He openly states that the Prius is the most
environmentally harmful car made.
But how are corporate subsidies any different? I would note that the Constitution talks about tariffs, but does not seem to drop any hints that taxpayers' money should be used to benefit certain businesses over other businesses.
I'm not 100% opposed to taiffs. I think they have their place. But I am opposed to subsidies.
Electric vehicles would find no welcome in the marketplace if the government did not heavily subsidize them. It's just a bad business.
For example, there is no mention of such items as "comfort" costs. Will the Chevvy Volt be air-conditioned? If so, how will that affect the energy cost per mile traveled? How many kilowatt hours will be required to cool a vehicle to, say 75 degrees, in sunny California where the external temperature is, say 90?
Other things, like heaters in colder weather, which must be electric because there is no heat generated automatically by the engine as in a gas-fueled vehicle. Anyone with electric heat in a home knows the cost of this. How would electric heating affect the Volt's mileage?
There is also a huge “sustainability” issue: the rare earth elements used in the manufacture of the batteries!
How much Lithium do we have, and at what cost will it be extracted?
But at least they can feel good driving it, which is the only purpose for that car to exist.
> “Never heard of exhaust?”
Water, CO2, small amount of hydrocarbons. - big deal.
In their blind hatred of oil, they will only see less gas used at the pump, and call it green. They don’t and will not think about where the rest of the car came from.
You’ll be regulated and cronyized out of business in a flash!
I've heard claims that, "by that time we'll have technology to make batteries more effecient and cheaper."
When asked for the premise behind this claim they respond with the "thousand yard stare."
More from Dr. Bevc:
TESLA ELECTRIC CAR AND WHAT IT PROMISES
Vladislav Bevc, Synergy Institute, P.O.Box 561, San Ramon, California 94526
Following is a simple analysis of the effect of the electric cars on the environment, energy management and the specter of global warming supposedly caused by carbon dioxide.
Consider first the environment that is to be saved. The mass of Earths atmosphere is about 5.3 billion megatons. The measured amount of carbon dioxide (by number of molecules) is 381 parts per million, that is approximately 3 million megaton. This amount of carbon dioxide varies throughout the year by 6 parts per million, that is by 48,000 megaton. Compared with these numbers all the figures of emissions attributed to human activities are of very little significance.
There are 160 million automobiles in the United States (and about 500 million in the entire world). On the average every car in the United States uses about 500 gallons per year. Burning one gallon of gasoline produces 18 pounds of carbon dioxide. All the cars in the United States, accordingly, emit 640 megaton of carbon dioxide annually. Compared to the 3 million megaton of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere this amounts to a mere 1.3 percent of the natural annual variation. Thus removing all the automobiles would have very little effect on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
However, the internal combustion engine powered automobiles are to be replaced with electric cars. These, too, require energy. The same amount as the conventional cars, to be sure. The energy in one gallon of gasoline is about 37 kWh. Because the efficiency of the internal combustion engine powered cars is about 25% we can readily estimate that the energy required for propulsion of electric cars in the United States is about 800 billion kWh. In the year 2005 the annual generation of electrical energy in the United States was 4,038 billion kWh. Accordingly, electric energy generation would have to be increased by at least 20 percent. (More, in fact, as there are losses in charging the batteries, transmitting electrical energy and even in the more efficient electric motors.). Stewards of the Planet, however, always oppose construction of any new electric power plant. To generate annually 800 billion kWh 45 nuclear power plants with capacity of 2,000 Megawatt would be needed. But Protectors of the Environment oppose nuclear power plants. About 72% of electrical energy is produced in electric power plants using the so much maligned fossil fuels, the greater part of which is coal. Allocating this amount of fuel to the electrical energy needed for electric cars consider that 576 billion kWh is produced by coal fired power plants. On the average fossil fuel fired power generating plants require 4 kWh of energy to generate one kWh. Accordingly fuel with total 2,300 billion kWh of heating content is needed. The heating value of coal is about 4 kWh per pound. Hence 256 megaton of coal is needed. At combustion that amount of coal produces 940 megaton of carbon dioxide.
We see that in the present economic system and todays technology replacement of 160 million internal combustion engine powered automobiles in the United States with electric cars would increase carbon dioxide production by almost 50%. It would not matter to the environment, really as pointed out above, but one adopts for the moment the view of the Guardians of the Environment, the situation would thus be made even worse as far as carbon dioxide generation is concerned.
Theoretically it is true that carbon dioxide could be more easily sequestered at the power generating plants than in the individual automobiles but sequestration is not used to any great extent at present. Promoters of electric cars also say that the needed electrical energy will be provided by photovoltaic solar electric power generating plants. In 2005 solar electric power generating plants produced a total of 500 million kWh (as compared with the total electric power generation of 4038 billion kWh). All other options, such as the renewable energy including hydroelectric power generated a total 457.3 billion kWh.
Finally it should be examined if the world resources of lithium are adequate to supply enough of lithium for the storage batteries required by 500 million cars in the world. While the known deposits of lithium might suffice for batteries of 600 automobiles the production of batteries would require energy and petroleum products, too. For a car battery containing 35 pounds of lithium each an annual production of 60 million new automobiles would require 1.08 million ton of lithium which is 50 times more than the current production which amounts to 20,000 tons. Required production levels might be attained in about ten years but the costs of such undertaking cannot at present be predicted.
Is that what coal burning electical generating plants emit?
> “Is that what coal burning electical generating plants emit?”
Never open a liberal’s eyes!
“Particularly unreasonable is the hint that electric vehicles while parked in employee parking lots could be running their gasoline engines to feed energy it back to the network.”
Who (what idiot) thinks employees are gonna run their engines, using their gas, to feed energy back into the system? Furthermore, leaving you car engine running all day is rarely a good idea, except in maybe really cold climates.
Even the idea of employees recharging their batteries at work is not gonna please the employer. His higher utility bills will ultimately force him to charge for a charging.
“I’m not 100% opposed to taiffs. I think they have their place. But I am opposed to subsidies.”
Tariffs are best used as a temporary measure to help an ailing industry. As an example, the Voluntary Import Restraint Act was passed in 1981 on imports of Japanese cars. In addition, a 25% tariff was put on all imported trucks and a 3% tariff on imported cars. By 1985, the American auto industry was healthy again, the VIR was no longer needed, and it was thus repealed.
However, the above-mentioned tariffs still exist. Thus, Japanese SUVs like the Toyota Land Cruiser never sold well due to being substantially more expensive than their American competition.
To put all this in perspective if you are planning a commute in your electric car of 30 miles with temperatures around freezing with slushy snow requiring the use of wipers, heater and defroster I would not be listening to the stereo and would have cab fare ready.
I know where you are going and don’t disagree. My arguement(if I were to play both sides of the fence) is what is the ratio of dangerous emission from coal power plants vs emissions from all of the vehicles.. I’m not sure... I worked at Florida Power at a coal powered power plant. It was nasty stuff. The emissions into the Gulf were nasty. Makes for good fishing(warmer water) but the ash and dust was a bugger.
> “His higher utility bills will ultimately force him to charge for a charging.”
Many are planning to do exactly that, at a profit too!
What these blindly stupid people overlook is that they also hate coal. As the article states 70% of this nations electricity is generated by coal. They also hate Nuclear Power. About 23% of our electricity is generated by Nuclear.
So these electric cars are 93% evil just on there electric power consumption. Unless some fool has a wind turbine in his back yard to charge his electric car he better surrender his Green Peace membership card. And if he does have that wind turbine he better be ready to commit seppuku when that turbine purées its first bird.
These idiots want to drive these cars to feel holier than thou and yet every thing about these cars is actually more harmful to the environment than the most gas guzzling SUV on the market.
If we could build a couple of hundred nuclear power plants that would make electric cars practical.
One thing I didn’t mention earlier is the loss of electricity while traveling over the lines. As a former power plant worker, you ought to know more about that then me. If someone really wants an “electric car,” the best bet would be a hybrid that generates its own electricity.
Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find one that will tow a 35’ 5th Wheel Toy Hauler.
True...but not likely.
It will be a wonderful world when the Libs are done with it.
> “ My arguement(if I were to play both sides of the fence) is what is the ratio of dangerous emission from coal power plants vs emissions from all of the vehicles”
Vehicular emissions have been no problem, except for urban canyons and basins like LA where they are trapped, and become concentrated.
The biggest problem is the catalytic converter that emits sulphuric acid.
> “Unfortunately, Ive yet to find one that will tow a 35 5th Wheel Toy Hauler.”
A one ton rated 300 HP, 6500 lb truck? As a hybrid? Heh, heh...
We do need to build the Nukes but it would take quite a bit more than that.
We would also need to make huge upgrades to the nations electric grid.
Most people would be plugging in their cars at home and charging the battery over night.
The cars I have read about would need a 220 volt hook up to charge the battery overnight. Most houses do not have a 220 V outlet available in their garage (possible exception of cloths dryer).
If more than a few homes in a given neighborhood started charging their cars at night it might become necessary to add additional transformers and higher voltage power lines to their neighborhood.
Considering that the California power grid is already over taxed and under powered it can hardly afford to be pushing electric cars at this time.
i bet there were electric “car” prototypes before the internal combustion ones. the unfettered free market therefore has already told us that electric cars couldn’t be as efficient, but it’s nice to see it proven analyically here. thanks to the author and for this post. this is why it’s great to be an engineer.
> “There is a significant amount of energy recovered when an electric motor operates as a generator to slow down and stop the vehicle.”
Yes, but it is limited. You will get back about 30% of what it took to accelerate to the point that you began to decelerate, except that the process ends, and the friction brakes engage at about 8 MPH in mild braking, but at a much higher speed on panic braking.
Also, he was discussing the Volt, which doesn’t work that way.
As a means of providing energy from an on-board source to the wheels or any of a number of non-propulsion amenities on a moving vehicle, the use of electricity is hard to beat. It is the SOURCE of the energy that is the problem.
Generation of power from fuel cells, by the conversion of hydrogen into electrical energy, runs into a couple of problems right away, where is the hydrogen coming from, and how do we carry a sufficient supply on board for a reasonable radius of travel distances?
Regardless of how dangerous gasoline is as a fuel, at least the technology for its distribution and dispensing have been worked out over the past century or so, to the point of relatively few instances where it causes uncontrolled flame spread. So we shall have some version of the internal combustion engine as a compact and relatively lightweight power source for some time to come. The fuel may change, but the pronciples remain much the same. There may be fuels with higher energy densities than gasoline, such as Diesel fuel, requiring a more compact on-board storage tank, but most of the alternatives offered, like compressed natural gas, propane, or ethyl alcohol, have a much lower energy density than gasoline or Diesel fuel per pound, or volume, or any other measure.
Battery technology, despite a couple of hundred years of trying to find a means to pack higher energy densities into smaller and smaller space, has not yielded the reliability and means of quick refueling that liquid fuels have provided. Seems like the materials used just do not respond well to some of the thermodynamics that come into play. Rapid transfer of electrical energy almost always results in steep increases of heat output, resulting in a molten puddle of whatever materials the batteries were constructed of.
Now, if we just had superconductors that would transmit a stream of electrons at ambient temperatures, perhaps we could find a way around this bottleneck. But alas, like the promise of nuclear fusion, this always seems to be some 30 years in the future.
Except we have had several “30 yearses” in succession already, and seem no closer to the resolution of the problems.
Meanwhile, this constant tinkering with batteries as a storage medium of energy does not seem to be moving the problem. As an alternative, could one suggest the development of a compressed gas over a hydraulic fluid medium. The power plant builds up pressure in the system by compressing the gas over the hydraulic fluid, and the hydraulic fluid is piped to the propulsion wheels, which are turned by a slave hydrostatic pump. By reversing the valving, the hydrostatic motor could be turned into a pump to provide vehicle braking, building the pressure back up, which is stored in a reservoir. No mechanical drive line in involved, no gears, universal joints, or shafts anywhere.
Very large mine trucks already use a similar driveline, and it has had a number of applications in relatively low-speed, heavy-duty off-road machinery. This could be refined into a much higher-speed application, suitable for conventional road travel, with relatively few tweaks.
Is it more or less expensive than this really weird engineering that is now being put into various hybrid or full-electric vehicles? Can it be done on a practical scale?
would you rather have this, or some electric car?
This is what the PG&E SmartMeter program is about. Having the necessary amperage for charging the batteries on the cars and reducing the amount used for homes.
We need to get out of the UN as fast as possible.
Promises are best bought cheap.
The early episodes of this strip were adapted pretty faithfully in the first Buster Crabbe-starring serial, with its spark-sputtering spaceships and with Flash condemned to shoveling uranium into an atomic furnace (I always loved that part).
Like the author, I always loved that scene, too.
several years ago the army built several Hybrid Humvees. they had a turbo 3.0 Diesel instead of 6.5 and higher performance and claimed 35% increase in fuel economy. They would also go 20 mi on battery alone.
I tried to get more specs on them as to motors and batteries with out success. As far as I know no production models were ever built. Mercedes builds Hybrid farm tractors and
electric Motors are used on implements instead of PTO
Powerline losses aside, just look at the drops in both battery & electric motor power output/draw due mainly to increased resistances in cold conditions.
We’ll even ignore the large driving-capacity power losses involved in using a heater, headlights, and wipers...
With the various increased loads & losses from cold weather, what happens to range/milage, or whatever measure they use, when the thing sits in a sub-zero parking lot for 8+ hours, then must be driven home in the snowy, sleety dark?
First of all, most businesses will not allow freeloaders to charge their cars in the parking lot. Not only employees can do it, but also any member of the public. And businesses pay pretty penny for electricity.
But there is another interesting aspect. If a business provides some free (or nearly free) service to the employee then IRS will want to know more about it, since it's an unreported, untaxed compensation. No business will be willing to put its neck under the IRS's axe just to please a few employees.
So in the end there will be chargers with meters, and you need to swipe your access card to get it started, and the cost of the energy will be deducted from your paycheck.
As more and more EVs show up on the roads, energy companies will be able to take control of the situation and raise the prices to the market levels. This means that many owners of those cars will not be able to afford charging of their vehicles! The market price is not the price which everyone can afford; it's the price that results in maximum profit.
Today PG&E indeed has a rate schedule for EVs. It is time-dependent, and it can change at any time. We can't be sure that the price of gas will always be $3.20 or whatever it is today, but similarly we have no reason to believe that electric energy will be always sold for $0.10/kWh at the lowest tier.
Thanks for the ping.
I love when sane folks deconstruct the myths.
Had electric heat years back. Cost an arm and a leg!
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