One Small Step For Electric Cars

Battery technology must improve before electrics can compete with gas-guzzlers

One Small Step For Electric Cars
An electric Tesla Roadster [Credit: Niall Kennedy, flickr.com]
By | Posted December 8, 2009
Posted in: Physical Science Blog
Tags: , ,

In October, a Tesla Roadster competing in Australia’s Global Green Challenge broke the world record by traveling 313 miles on a single charge.  But while the news may temporarily relieve some cases of “range anxiety,” it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Even though the Obama Administration has already bet $11 billion on battery-electric vehicles, and promised to have a million electric cars on the road by 2015, substantial obstacles must be overcome before electric cars can compete with much cheaper gasoline-powered cars for market share. First and foremost, the cost of batteries energetic enough to power a car for long distances must be reduced.

Yes, the Roadster’s performance in Australia is reason to hope, but the record-breaking car only averaged 35 miles per hour.  And let’s not forget that it currently retails at a hefty $109,000 — much of which is the cost of its 1/2-ton lithium-ion battery.  By comparison, the Chevrolet Volt, set to be released in November 2010 and priced around $40,000 after tax credits (one component of Obama’s bet), can only go about 40 miles on a charge before its gas engine has to kick in.

Scientists, many funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), are exploring different options for improving the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, which are currently the most popular type of battery used in electric cars.  This was the topic of a November seminar held at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Other researchers are investigating more energy-dense and potentially cheaper alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.  Researchers in Japan have developed a nickel-lithium battery, which they claim could one day hold enough power for a range of up to 700 miles.  And an Arizona-based start-up called Fluidic Energy just received a $5.13 million grant from the DOE to develop a “metal-air” battery that they claim has up to 11 times the energy density of the top lithium-ion technologies at less than one-third the cost.

Still, these technologies remain years from practical application, and until batteries get more efficient—and thus more affordable—gas guzzlers will continue to rule the roadways, whether we like it or not.

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  1. Will the cost of the battery decrease with economies of scale? I.e. is the cost of the half-ton battery simply not something that could be practical in all cars? Also, how important is simple capacity? If charges were quick and cheap, would people mind stopping at electrical charging stations twice as often?

    Finally, as hybrids have shown, it’s not simply an either/or question between gas and electric. I hear they are doing some wonderful things with hydrogen these days as well.

    Ben, December 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm
  2. A random ‘Smog Check’ inspection & repair ‘secret shopper’ audit, ethanol cap and elimination of dual fuel CAFE credit can cut California car impact over 50% in 2010.(Prevent Over 2000 tons per day of sulfur, PM, HC, O3, NOx, CO & CO2.) Improved performance of AB32 at reduced cost. (support H.R. 1207)

    Charlie Peters, December 9, 2009 at 12:13 pm
  3. California Smog Check providers have been questioned about a Sierra Research ‘Forty Nine Percent Refail Report’ Reporting a possible 50% fraud rate, Smog Check providers fail millions of cars but Tom Cackette officer of CARB and Tom Austin (Sierra Research) use the information to justify public policy but refuse to release the tax dollar funded report.

    http://www.imreview.ca.gov/correspondence/governor_49percent_report_8.25.09.pdf

    Charlie Peters, December 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm
  4. Schwarzenegger’s nominee to fight global warming has a checkered past

    http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=353445

    Charlie Peters, December 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm
  5. California Air Resources board chair owns stocks in 13 energy firms

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/08/18/MNGBRKMAO.DTL

    Charlie Peters, December 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm
  6. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) will dominate the market within the decade. I’ve been driving one for 7 years now and charging it from a small 3 kW PV system. There has been virtually no need for maintenance, and certainly no oil changes or tune ups. And since I generate most of my energy from sunlight, my electric bill averages about $100 per year for both the house and the car.

    Charging is very easy. I pull into the garage and it takes about 3 seconds of my time to plug in, then it charges while I sleep on cheap off-peak energy. There are public chargers all over SoCal where I live, so when I go out for dinner or a movie, my car is charging, when I get coffee or a haircut, my car is charging. BTW, all that public charging is free!

    All of the world’s carmakers are racing to get plug-in cars to market. The leaders for now are Nissan (Leaf) and GM )Chevy Volt). Charging stations by the thousands will be installed starting next spring (know any electricians in need of work?) all over the west coast. By 2012, all markets will be served by the automakers.

    The BEVs will mostly have a 24-30kWh battery pack which gives a range of 100-150 miles. That’s enough to cover over 95% of daily driving. For longer distances, a PHEV is in order. The Chevy Volt has an all-electric range of 40 miles, but has a small internal combustion engine fixed to a generator that provides power to go an additional 300 miles on a tank of gas.

    For more info on this breaking technology, and the fight to get them to market, see http://www.pluginamerica.org.

    Paul Scott, December 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm
  7. Yeah I agree about the batteries. Lithium seems to have made some big strides in the last year so I think 200 miles per charge(all electric) is not far in the future.

    German Car Parts, January 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm
  8. Clean Air Performance Professionals

    Friday, January 29, 2010
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    State Capitol Building
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: 916-445-2841
    Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )
    C/o Lisa

    RE: Sierra Research Report SR 2007-04-01

    Dear Mr. Governor

    California Air Resources Board (CARB) and The Department of Consumer Affairs/ Bureau of Automotive Repair DCA/BAR have contracted with Sierra Research for a Report of Smog Check performance.

    Sierra has informed me the report was final in March 2009 and released to CARB.

    CARB, BAR, IMRC, and the California Legislature are using the Report for public policy but refusing to release the publicly funded Report.

    Mr. Governor, I’m confused, can you refer me to someone who might help?

    Cc to interested parties

    From: Charlie Peters
    Clean Air Performance Professionals
    cappcharlie@earthlink.net
    (510) 537-1796 – fax: (510) 537-9675

    CAPP contact: Charlie Peters (510) 537-1796 cappcharlie@earthlink.net

    Charlie Peters, January 30, 2010 at 12:51 am
  9. # Charlie Peters Says:
    January 31st, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Clean Air Performance Professionals

    Friday, January 29, 2010

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    State Capitol Building
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: 916-445-2841
    Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

    C/o Lisa

    RE: Sierra Research Report SR 2007-04-01

    Dear Mr. Governor

    California Air Resources Board (CARB) and The Department of Consumer Affairs/ Bureau of Automotive Repair DCA/BAR have contracted with Sierra Research for a Report of Smog Check performance.

    Sierra has informed me the report was final in March 2009 and released to CARB.

    CARB, BAR, IMRC, and the California Legislature are using the Report for public policy but refusing to release the publicly funded Report.

    Mr. Governor, I’m confused, can you refer me to someone who might help?

    Cc to interested parties

    From: Charlie Peters

    Clean Air Performance Professionals

    cappcharlie@earthlink.net

    (510) 537-1796 – fax: (510) 537-9675

    Charlie Peters, February 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm
  10. Money available to clean air and improve smog program

    Charlie Peters, The Daily Review / MY WORD, August 14, 2002

    The smog check issue has been under continuous legislative debate since 1993. AB 2637 by Dennis Cardoza is an opportunity to improve program performance and public support.

    We at the Clean Air Performance Professionals propose “reasonably available control measures” to improve California Smog Check performance. Consider a Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) quality audit (secret shopper) to improve smog check performance.

    We propose using the CAP cars and funds to provide random quality audit of smog check providers. Audits that result in the car’s not being in compliance should be handled similarly to the former Consumer Repair and Education Workforce program. The Bureau of Automotive Repair program did not fine the licensees nor did it involve coercion. But when the question of “what would you like to do?” was asked, the shop took care of business and usually elected to fix the car.

    The average smog check failure repair is about $ 150.00 statewide. The motorist pays about the same at the average repair station and the CAP station The average CAP repair is about $350.00. Many cars are not brought into compliance.

    To level the smog check failure repair playing field so more cars meet standards after repair, the whole smog check market should be subject to a CAP (secret shopper) random audit.

    Around 1985, BAR started a “missing part” audit. In 1991 that program was stopped,

    The difference was a 300 percent change in result in finding the missing part.

    When BAR ran fewer than on audit per station per year, the result was a change in behavior that started at more than an 80 percent rate, but moved to less than 20 percent rate of noncompliance.

    The difference was a 300 percent change in result in finding the missing part. If the CAP audit was addressing the issue of repair compliance rather than just finding a missing part, the results may be the same or a 300 percent improvement in compliance.

    With the missing part program, a follow-up audit with increasing demands lift the stations no options but to find the missing part or be removed from the game.

    There are huge inconsistencies from smog check station to station and with BAR representatives. For BAR to decide a car is not in compliance, rules of smog check must be clarified. Money is available for the CAP program. It can be used for contracted scrap and repairs, or some of the funds can be used to evaluate and support improved
    Performance of licensed small business. The cars and funds are the same, but the results may be credit for 2,000 tons per day in pollution prevention credit in the State Implementation Plan, rather than our current credit of fewer than 100 tons per day.

    The governor and state Legislature would get the credit for improved performance. Performance improvements would be accomplished at a cost of less than $500.00 per ton. And program illusions would be reduced in 1 year.

    Charlie Peters is president of Clean Air Performance Professionals. 510.537.1796

    (retyped from original)

    Charlie Peters, March 18, 2010 at 10:48 pm
  11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl-Nrep74qg

    Charlie Peters, April 12, 2010 at 2:00 am
  12. Compare Green Car Types
    Electric Cars & Hybrid Cars Vs. GPSc – MTM

    To do this correctly we need to make a list of what is out there in the market or trying to get into the action. We are going to forget combustion engines that are fueled by gas, diesel, soy, flex fuel, etc. These energy sources will never produce what is known as a Green Car. Next, Energy Projects such as hydrogen, solar, etc. are such a long way off from production so really they do not exist, so we will just drop them from contention. That leaves three alternatives Electric Cars, Hybrid Cars and the GPSc MTM. Lets take a look.

    1. Electric Vehicle: There are three major components that have to work together. First there is the Electric Car Motor that is no different than a basic electric motor. Though it is specialized to power an Electric Car there are problems. (A) Even with all the hype of how efficient the motor is, its not any better than the inefficient motor in your washing machine. The electric motor has some of the problems that the combustion engine has. Even though it does not emit pollution it cannot be made to be any more efficient, just like the combustion engine. (B) Another downturn is the high voltage/high amperage batteries needed that are extremely expensive and have disastrous disposal problems. (C) Being a Electric Plug Car, the charge runs out after a very short time, you better be home or you will be calling a wrecker. This would require a charge- up station on every street corner to service even a small number of plug vehicles. Next, the Motor Controller is an effective and reliable electronic device at a reasonable cost. Lastly, the batteries needed are expensive, extremely heavy, requires large amount of storage space, has explosive fumes, strong acids, problematic disposal, and highly polluting.

    2. Hybrids :( electric motors + motor controller + batteries + combustion engine +complicated computer systems) make up the second category. This set up is also known as Hybrid Electric Cars, Hybrid Plug Car, Hybrid Motors, and the Electric Hybrid. They have all the problems of the electric cars plus combing with the problems of the combustion engine with it. In my opinion all this has done is to interweave two different polluting systems that have already reached their maximum efficiency.This combination of polluters has created a whole new set of problems. Over the long run they might be lucky to save a couple of miles to a gallon at a very great cost to the consumer. Remember “media hype” will never add one more mile per gallon. Think about it – it just does not make any sense at all.

    3. MTM: This design was developed because of the current power sources efficiency ratings are dismal and permanently stagnated. The MTM motor uses minimal voltage/low amperage battery that is kept charged by a belt driven alternator. The main purpose of the battery is to power an automotive type starter and motor controller. No fuel tank – no large, dangerous, expensive battery pack – no plug in charging system. Therefore, air, water, and land pollution is eliminated. There is just one light, ultra efficient, compact rotational power source.

    History of GPSc MTM Motor

    I must say that I can tell you 101 different ways how not to do it. From the time that I first visualized a different way of producing rotational power in a much more efficient way than current power sources, it has become an ongoing learning experience. I could see how several different forces reacting to each other when meshing together at precise times could produce a great amount of energy.

    The problem from the start was how to bring these forces together in a controlled fashion. Experimenting with the problem of bringing those forces together incorporating our present common power supplies such gas, coal, steam, solar etc… they just wouldn’t work. These powering systems would not even come close to do what was needed due to their inherent inefficiency.

    It became obvious that something completely different would have to be used. Once I realized this and got rid of the current power sources I figured out a mathematical equation to produce the needed energy plus how to power and control those forces. At that time it became clear that it was possible. Research & Development can be an elusive, frustrating, and expensive endeavor.

    The next problem was to find a mechanical way to transform the mathematical interpolation of controlling the forces to become mechanical rotational energy. By using linear testing devices the mechanics were perfected giving the correct data that matched the perceived results. I was then able to convert the linear motion into rotational power. I was able to confirm that the calculated forces were consistent with the actual end product forces I was looking for. That data showed efficiency that rivals anything that we have now.

    Thomas Hutson, April 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm
  13. Federal ethanol policy increases Government motors oil use and Big oil profit.

    It is reported that today California is using Brazil sugar cane ethanol at $0.16 per gal increase over using GMO corn fuel ethanol. In this game the cars and trucks get to pay and Big oil profits are the result that may be ready for change.

    We do NOT support AB 523 or SB 1396 unless the ethanol mandate is changed to voluntary ethanol in our gas.

    Folks that pay more at the pump for less from Cars, trucks, food, water & air need better, it is time.

    The car tax of AB 118 Nunez is just a simple Big oil welfare program, AAA questioned the policy and some folks still agree.

    AB 523 & SB 1326 are just a short put (waiver) from better results.

    Charlie Peters, April 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm
  14. Bill Clinton, Al Gore & Senator Obama supported the California 2006 Prop. 87, a GMO corn ethanol welfare program.

    Bill, Al, have changed opinion on the ethanol mandate, I wonder if Obama will make this the time for CHANGE?

    I support a waiver of the ethanol mandate, voluntary use of ethanol in my gas.

    Federal ethanol policy increases Government motors oil use and Big oil profit.

    It is reported that today California is using Brazil sugar cane ethanol at $0.16 per gal increase over using GMO corn fuel ethanol. In this game the cars and trucks get to pay and Big oil profits are the result that may be ready for change.

    We do NOT support AB 523 or SB 1396 unless the ethanol mandate is changed to voluntary ethanol in our gas.

    Folks that pay more at the pump for less from Cars, trucks, food, water & air need better, it is time.

    The car tax of AB 118 Nunez is just a simple Big oil welfare program, AAA questioned the policy and some folks still agree.

    AB 523 & SB 1326 are just a short put (waiver) from better results.

    GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796

    Charlie Peters, May 8, 2012 at 2:34 am
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