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I was interested and excited to hear about this development published by researchers at MIT that could allow lithium iron phosphate batteries to recharge in seconds rather than minutes, and provide extremely useful charge/discharge cycles for vehicle applications.

Lithium-based batteries are in common usage for electronic devices, because they can hold a large charge for their weight (and size). However they are usually expected to provide a steady power rather than high surges of power, and recharging, which has improved considerably, is still typically half an hour or more.

This was not what what suggested by modelling that Professor Gerbrand Ceder undertook at MIT:

About five years ago, however, Ceder and colleagues made a surprising discovery. Computer calculations of a well-known battery material, lithium iron phosphate, predicted that the material's lithium ions should actually be moving extremely quickly.

"If transport of the lithium ions was so fast, something else had to be the problem," Ceder said.

Further calculations showed that lithium ions can indeed move very quickly into the material but only through tunnels accessed from the surface. If a lithium ion at the surface is directly in front of a tunnel entrance, there's no problem: it proceeds efficiently into the tunnel. But if the ion isn't directly in front, it is prevented from reaching the tunnel entrance because it cannot move to access that entrance.

Professor Ceder teamed up with his graduate student, Byoungwoo Kang, to find a way around this effect.

Ceder and Kang theorized that the lithium ions were having trouble finding their way to the crystal structure's express tunnels. The authors helped the ions by coating the surface of the cathode with a thin layer of lithium phosphate glass, which is known to be an excellent lithium conductor. Testing their newly-coated cathode, they found that they could charge and discharge it in as little as 9 seconds.

9 seconds! That's a lot of juice to dump or pick up, a hell of a surge. It's exactly what you need for vehicle acceleration and regenerative braking! And imagine if you will, a city with charging lanes so that electric vehicles could charge in ten seconds and keep going. Now there's a scheme to conjure with.

What else could we use this for? Think immediate future, because lithium iron phosphate, which these guys were using in place of lithium-cobalt, is already a well-established manufacturing material and these fast charge/discharge batteries could start rolling out in two or three years!

----------------

UPDATE: This little diary generated an unexpected amount of interest, and my first visit to the Rec list. It is a very cool piece of research, of course, and it's good to see so many people interested in it. Thanks folks!

Originally posted to Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:34 PM PDT.

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    by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:34:21 PM PDT

      •  Well, you still have to generate (27+ / 0-)

        the electricity and I think Exxon must be on to that, right?

        Ambition is when you follow your dreams. Insanity is when they follow you.

        by Batfish on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:57:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Didn't they squelch (24+ / 0-)

          the battery for the electric car? I believed the movie,   "Who killed the electric car?" In it one of the big oil companies bought the technology of that specific car and buried it.
            I'm not convinced Exxon is to psyched about electric cars that could draw energy off of a wind grid.
            The hydrogen cars that they keep talking about would keep them in business as they require specialized, expensive, replaceable cells.

          Paranoia is knowing all the facts.

          by lh114 on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:43:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The problem with hydrogen cell cars (15+ / 0-)

            is that it still takes a giant powerplant to provide enough hydrogen in usable form. As of now I believe that in most cases it would still have to be coal or oil fired.

            "I teach Sunday School Mutherf&@#er!"-S.Colbert

            by Independant Man on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:02:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ... Or A Huge Desert With Sun Every Day (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chi, Poom, Terra Mystica, kyril, lh114, Egalitare

              Like Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, etc.

              The king is dead, long live the king.  If these guys have any smarts (which they do), and money (tankers full), they would be planning on being the number one world supplier of hydrogen and oxygen.

              •  There was a 60 Minutes story (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Poom, kyril, HKPhooey, Egalitare

                on Saudi oil that touched on solar development.

                Remember when companies used to fear 60 Minutes?

                You know you're going to have a bad day when Mike Wallace shows up at your door.

                Now we have Lesley Stahl correctly described as "gushing" over Saudi technology. And clearly not understanding the implications of the increasingly elaborate efforts needed to get oil from the richest source in the world.

                No more nonsense, please.

                by ohiolibrarian on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:30:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Why not have a hydrogen cell plant (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MeToo, Terra Mystica, kyril

              next to a large solar array somewhere like Arizona or other very, very sunny location? The problem with desert solar arrays, as I understand it, is that too much electricity is lost in transmission over electric lines. If there was a hydrogen plant nearby, and hydrogen is a good storage medium for energy, then it seems like a good idea to use solar to generate hydrogen. Of course lack of readily available water might be a problem. OTOH, if we had a smarter electric grid, might that improve the efficiency of electricity transmission?

              No more nonsense, please.

              by ohiolibrarian on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:42:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hydrogen production is not that efficient (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, Poom, cocinero

                And that is the big problem.  Half the energy is lost in the conversion to and from hydrogen.  There is no point creating hydrogen and then transporting it, because by the time you've made the hydrogen you've already lost more power than you would from line losses from sending it over hundreds of miles.  Plus transporting it by truck would also take a lot of energy.  Creating hydrogen instead of shipping electricity would actually be a terrible idea.  

                Now, if you want a solar plant that makes excess power and stores it, the fact is hydrogen would still be a poor medium, because you lose a great deal of power in conversion.  Batteries are actually more efficient fr storing power, so even then you'd be better off with batteries.  

                I suspect we never will see hydrogen fuel cells.  The fact of the matter is, if battery technology advances to the point where they can be recharged quickly then hydrogen fuel cells are instantly rendered obsolete.  

                Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                by Asak on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:59:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Nor is PV solar. (0+ / 0-)

                  Each has a place in the mix, but niether is ever likely to find a place in generating for baseload.

                  Both will find a wider use in off-grid and the distributed generation fabric.

                  I suspect we never will see hydrogen fuel cells.

                  If you keep your eyes closed, perhaps not. Hydrogen fuel cells are already in commerical production and small cells recently gained FAA and ITTA certification for aircraft carry on use, comming to Radio Shack soon. Honda is producing hydrogen fuel cell cars in Japan and I believe they have a pilot program for introduction to the USA.

                  Also, the prospects to improve the effciency for hydrogen generation are much better than PV although, as I mention, both have merits and a place in the world.

                  Ultimately, fusion is likely to be the dominant generation technology for grids with wind and hydro technologies contributing a significant fraction in areas where they work - wind is presently in the lead and I would expect it to build-out to significant capacity much faster than solar.

                  Battery technology is very importiant to solar PV and wind generation, much more so than it is to transportation.  Please see my remarks elsewhere.

                  Think NegaWhatt. Build Fewer cars and more rail. Immediate benifits using proven technology.

                  Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                  by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:04:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Hydrogen would need refueling stations (7+ / 0-)

            The oil companies would just switch from marketing oil to marketing hydrogen through their network of stations. Battery-electric cars could be recharged at home.

          •  Intellectual Property Rights (16+ / 0-)

            once conceived of as a goad to scientific and technological development have become a fetter and need to be abolished. Most researchers are motivated by intellectual curiosity more than personal financial reward. At the very least publically funded R&D (which accounts for an enormous amount of new privately held patents in many sectors) should be public property, a commons.

            •  BIG Issue With Solar! (7+ / 0-)

              Coal, nuclear, gas, and oil fired power generation all require inputs and waste disposal.  Solar and hydro-electric require only maintenance.

              Who actually owns the sun or the water flowing down a river?  If Exxon or any other corporate parasite gets a combination of government subsidies and private investment to build large scale solar power plants, are they entitled to fleece the public in perpetuity long after the initial investment is paid off and all the nests are feathered in gold?

              •  Current PV Technolgy (0+ / 0-)

                Isn't terrible efficient and takes years to generate more power than to fabricate and deploy (changing with print on demand, but not quite proven). This situation is improving, but unsubsidized PV is still not viable and manufacturing capacity is a very small - it will take years for the world to accumulate significant capacity.

                Don't waste time on conspircy theories about Solar, the model of deployment is distributed generation and PV cell production is already a competative business rooted in the electronics industry, which operates on a virtual model that no company has ever been able to dominate.

                If you have the cash and want to build a solar cell factory, I'm sure you can license technology and get a turn-key plant to start your very own not-monopoly business.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:19:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  PV a No-Start for Efficiency (0+ / 0-)

                  I was referring to concentration type thermal project like Seville Spain 11MW project:  Solar Power Tower  PV is a waste of time and effort at current efficiencies.

                  As the R&D gets better (a large portion paid for by taxpayers) and design/construction are refined, the initial cost will decrease.  My question was:  After the projects are paid off, will the price of electricity decrease accordingly to where a fixed amount of profit is allowed above and beyond maintenance cost?  (simlar to the model of bonds for public water supply, highways, etc.)  Or will the public be perpetually fleeced at the same price level as if the initial capital was still being paid off?

            •  I do not agree (6+ / 0-)

              and most people would not. In some cases, it is a problem, but I would suggest that it actually stimulates invention when people have to go around someone's blocking patent. But investors will not invest in start-ups if there is no protection for the invention during development. You are in fact supporting the power of big corporations over small inventors who would just be raped by big Corporations.

              Ambition is when you follow your dreams. Insanity is when they follow you.

              by Batfish on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:56:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Most drug "discoveries" (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                yuriwho, kyril

                are experiments that occurred after years of research at our (mostly) public universities, only to be bought up by the private sector after all the hard work and real research has been done.

                Those researchers by and large are not working long hours to get rich down the road if they "hit the big one." They do it because of simple intellectual curiousity. Public domain holding of intellectual property only keeps a small number of investors from getting rich on the backs of thousands of undercompensated graduate assistants.

                Single Payer...NOW!!!

                by Egalitare on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:24:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That just isn't the case (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joffan

                  Most research is actually military research. But that to one side, most commercial products come either from companies themselves or from licensing from Universities that actually make billions in royalties, which would vanish without an intellectual property system. Can the system be abused? Sure, like anything. But is it on the whole a tremendous public good? You bet.  

                  Ambition is when you follow your dreams. Insanity is when they follow you.

                  by Batfish on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:36:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Almost any researcher at a university (0+ / 0-)

              turns over the rights to ANY invention they may make in the future when they join the university.

              Can't get a lab without the university. Can't keep the rights to your own invention with a university.
              The situation needs to be changed.

              Paranoia is knowing all the facts.

              by lh114 on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:09:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  And oil to chrge them and produce the H (0+ / 0-)

            Their new ad promises an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases. That means instead of 30 miles a gallon we would get 58. Big phuh.

            We are in a time where it is risky NOT to change. Barack Obama 7-30-08

            by samddobermann on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 01:48:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Electric cars won't solve shit (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko, gatorcog, JohnnySacks, dmh44

          Replacing gasoline engines with batteries that are charged by coal burning electric plants doesn't solve anything. There is NO solution to global warming where everyone is looking. We better start listening to inventors who have ideas that scientists say are impossible. Because the stuff scientists say is possible ain't going to do it, and there is much more to learn scientifically in the universe than is covered in our current scientific theory. Everyone, not just scientists, needs to truly become more open minded to new concepts. I doubt it will happen, at least not soon.

            •  Or wind? Or geothermal? (20+ / 0-)

              To name two off the top of my head.

              Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

              by Phoenix Woman on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:24:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right. There are alternative ways to charge them. (6+ / 0-)

                With existing technology even.

                Rub raw the sores of discontent - Saul Alinsky

                by JayGR on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:36:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Elect is more efficient (9+ / 0-)

                  Electric cars are inherently more efficient as they can regenerate electricity from breaking.

                  However, elect cars only get a range of 40 miles.  That's where this advance is important.  One can just pull into a charge station and recharge for 9 seconds, instead of overnight.

                  Jan 20, 2009 -- I got my country back.

                  by jpeskoff on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:07:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  braking (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kyril

                    Jan 20, 2009 -- I got my country back.

                    by jpeskoff on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:08:09 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Braking still isn't 100% effecient (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kyril

                      At a certain point the batteries HAVE to be recharged because the car is bleeding off some of that energy in the form of heat (at least, I'm sure there are more ways than just that).  

                      So your point is well taken, but recharge stations would still be necessary.  Certainly not as often as gas stations though if I'm understanding the technology (which I admit, this stuff is not my field).

                      "If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people." -Tony Benn (-6.38,-6.36)

                      by The Rational Hatter on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 01:10:29 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I know what you meant, but I'm going to call you (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Egalitare

                        out anyway.  The 2nd (number might be wrong) law of thermodynamics states that no process can ever be 100% efficient, sorry.

                        Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed {-9.12, -7.54}

                        by dmet on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 01:23:20 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Even if this doesn't pan out you could pull into (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rick, urbazewski, jpeskoff, kyril, Egalitare

                    battery stations and swap your battery for a charged one.

                    Rub raw the sores of discontent - Saul Alinsky

                    by JayGR on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:08:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  The Tesla... (13+ / 0-)

                    Has a range of about 240 miles.

                    Yes, it is expensive.  But we're talking about a low production vehicle, economies of scale do not apply.  

                    (My first computer wasn't as smart as a cell phone and cost $28,000.)

                    15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                    by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:46:07 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What, you couldn't buy a Vic-20? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      itsjim, kyril
                    •  Using what power source? (0+ / 0-)

                      In other words, what is the carbon footprint of this vehicle?

                      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                      by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:28:56 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Laptop batteries... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        koNko, Mr Horrible

                        They wired a bunch of lithium batteries up and powered the second fastest production car in existence.

                        The only production car with a lower 0-60 time is a $1.5 million Bugatti.

                        Oh, the carbon footprint?

                        Well, it's charged from the grid.  Which means that it's a combination of all sorts of sources, some dirty and some clean.

                        Over time the grid will become cleaner and cleaner.  We're now developing green cars for the clean grid.

                        Ain't it great?

                        15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                        by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:41:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Correct. (0+ / 0-)

                          Just as any other form of electric vehicle.

                          But some don't carry the dead weight of batteries and achieve economy of operation (energy/$$$) cars do not, eg, mass-transit systems.

                          The best solution is some of each with the mix tailored to local/regional conditions & needs.

                          The notion that electric cars alone are an effective solution is mistaken, hence my annoying promotion of mass transit on this thread.

                          Glad you understand the big picture.

                          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                          by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:25:20 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Agreed... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            koNko

                            We need lots more and lots better public transportation.

                            Right now I'm in Bangkok and the public transportation system is much better than is San Francisco, for example.  In a crowded city I would much rather leave my car behind and let someone else deal with the driving/parking.

                            I'd love to see some high speed rail connections between major US destinations.  Flying is really a PITA.

                            But I also realize that we just can't get everywhere we want to go with public transportation.  

                            Build the public transportation and those of us who want/need something more will pay for green personal transportation.

                            Especially since it will cost less than what we now use.

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:07:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You have to start somewhere (0+ / 0-)

                            Actually, in the begining, mass-transit is a very hard sell anywhere because it a big public investment and the pain level is very high until it starts operation and reaches critical mass.

                            For example, the system in Bangkok was a major nightmare to complete, brought down 2 governments in the process, but 10 years (approximately) on it's working.

                            I lived in the US for several years and really understand the situation and built-in resistance. Very few people have experienced using a well run modern system so have zero or negative experiences. The support here is mainly from people in cities with operating systems, NYC, SF, Seattle, etc.  

                            Actually, I occasionaly visit the Bay Area, was there 2 weeks ago, rode Bart 5 times in a week including to/from SFO. Love it.

                            Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                            by koNko on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 02:01:20 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  A large part of Bangkok's mass transport problems (0+ / 0-)

                            Came from the mid '90s financial meltdown.

                            But your point is well taken.

                            SkyTrain = Bart in the Air.  

                            And Hong Kong has a piece too.

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 02:07:47 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Hong Kong (0+ / 0-)

                            Has one of the best mass transit systems in the world! It is what makes the city work. You can go from nearly any area to another in less than one hour, downtown to the Airport in 30 mins. Love it.

                            Have you ever visited?

                            I often do since we have a regional office there and have two stored value cards in my wallet, one for Shanghai, the other for Hong Kong.

                            Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                            by koNko on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 05:46:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Missed this one... (0+ / 0-)

                            Back in '86 I rode Hong Kong's "Bart" on my way to the Mainland.

                            Very strange riding the exact system as SF with the sign in Chinese characters.

                            Got to get back to China before long.  I doubt that I'll recognize the place.

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 09:18:59 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Odysseus, highacidity, empathy, kyril, HKPhooey

                    Electric cars are inherently more efficient as they can regenerate electricity from breaking.

                    Not just from breaking...they don't have to sit at stoplights idling, for instance...you get a LOT closer to 100% efficiency than you ever possibly could with anything gas-powered.

                    -5.88, -6.00 When the ELGIs are defeated, the GWOT is over. -- Richard Clarke

                    by Porfiry on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:10:47 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  This is true of hybrid too (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kyril

                      Strictly speaking hybrids aren't electric cars, but still have the advantage of regen breaking and no fuel consumption when stopped. Even cars with stop-start systems (also called Mild hybrids) can do the latter.

                      But yes, Electric cars are more efficient and at least have the capability of being truely carbon neutral.

                      •  electric motors are more efficient than diesel (0+ / 0-)

                        at least, that is what is implied when one vehicle (forget if its a semi, a train, or a construction vehicle) has a diesel engine that runs a generator that then runs an electric motor, instead of going directly.  I think it might have been a backhoe or something like that.

                        The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

                        by Demosthenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:26:13 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Only if it rides on rails (0+ / 0-)

                      And is shared by lots of happy people.

                      The best EVs are trains & trolleys. For short distance firde to the station, EV Taxis & busses suffice.

                      Long distance travel by car, regardless of the powerplant, is inherently inefficient.

                      It will be a very long time, if ever, that storage technolgy overcomes the weight penalty involved.

                      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                      by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:32:56 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  40 miles is not a typical EV range. (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    SeanF, snakelass, Terra Mystica, kyril

                    That's a typical PHEV range.  Low-end BEVs are more like 100 miles, and high end ones over 200 miles.

                  •  They do not have a range of just 40 miles (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dconrad, kyril

                    Some of them have a range of over 100 miles. I don't know where you got the 40 mile range from.

                    All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.- Bokonon

                    by ryan81 on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 12:19:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  That's not true: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    koNko

                    However, elect cars only get a range of 40 miles.

                    There's different ranges available. The Tesla gets between 200 and 250 miles on a range, theres EVs that get a 100 miles range and plenty in the 60 mile range area.

                    You are thinking of a coupople iof speedlimited EVs that get low range cos the marketing guys figure its just for pottering around the block

                    Cooling our planet a house at a time in the Bay Area.

                    by dotcommodity on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:55:02 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Quite mistaken, (0+ / 0-)

                    Mass transit is efficient, and they make better use of praking power than any auto ever will.

                    BTW, braking regenerates just a fraction of power, that is why the range of EVs is short.

                    When you re-charge, what will be the power source?

                    Numbers, please.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:28:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Or even if we fail to get off coal (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril, cocinero

                (and I hope we don't fail) electric motors are simply more efficient than ICEs.  So even with what we're using now electric cars are a huge benefit.

                Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed {-9.12, -7.54}

                by dmet on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 01:21:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  amusing supportive anecdote (0+ / 0-)

                  I remember hearing one time of a design for something which had a diesel engine running a generator for an electric motor.

                  The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

                  by Demosthenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:28:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  how do you transport geothermal... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril

                ...

                Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

                by kalihikane on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:02:23 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  geothermal (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kyril

                  to electrolyze hydrogen from water.

                  use the energy—geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, wave—for conversion to any easily transportable fuel source.

                  Love is the source, substance and future of all being. --St. Francis

                  by ksingh on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:57:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Electricity is the most easily transportable (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    cocinero

                    Converting to another fuel source loses a great deal of the energy, then you have to ship by ground transport on top of it.  If we install high voltage transport lines, we can just ship the electricity via them.  Yes, some energy will be lost, but some energy is lost no matter what.  

                    Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                    by Asak on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:07:51 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I don't know, maybe power lines? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  koNko, cocinero

                  You see them running throughout the whole country.  

                  Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                  by Asak on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:06:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  all electricity once it is generated (0+ / 0-)

                  transporterd along transmission wires.

                  Coal is transported to power stations in railroad cars. Then its shoveled in a fire to boil water to make steam. Steam turns the turbines to make electricitiy.

                  Geothermal power stations can be right where the geo is because the steam is already produced by mother nature. No railroads needed.

                  Then, just like coal, the electricity the turbines make goes out on the transmission wires.

                  Cooling our planet a house at a time in the Bay Area.

                  by dotcommodity on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:59:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  coal isn't shoveled into a fire (0+ / 0-)

                    in modern coal-fired power plants.  Its usually ground up into a consistency somewhere between flour and sand.

                    And boiling water isn't the only thing the heat in a coal plant does, since if you simply boil water you get wet steam, which will eat your generators.  You boil water, then add heat to the steam in various places based on engineering work.

                    The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

                    by Demosthenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:32:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  well, yeah (0+ / 0-)

                      of course you can do nice negineering on it later, I was correcting someone who did not seem to have a basic grasp of how power stations work: so keeping it simple.

                      My point is steam is the thing that geo produces without having gone on a long railroad journey first.

                      Cooling our planet a house at a time in the Bay Area.

                      by dotcommodity on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 02:51:59 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  You generate electricity (0+ / 0-)

                  By running turbine generators.  Very simple.

                  Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                  by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:36:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  buy/lease existing infastructure or build (0+ / 0-)

                    ...completely new distribution infrastructure? But wait we're talkig about new method of generating power not delivery.

                    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

                    by kalihikane on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:55:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Infrastructure is addaptable (0+ / 0-)

                      when you add a new source, you only need to build-out connections to the grid.

                      Grids are networks that share resources and addaptable for changes of input/output.

                      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                      by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:29:33 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Because you could only drive for a mile a week (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, BoxNDox

              It depends on where you live, but don't fall pray to cartoon science. The car with solar panels on the roof will not propel itself for anything like normal usage. On a perfectly clear mid-day in the Australian desert, a car covered completely with research-grade solar cells (about 3 times more efficient than what you can buy) can generate enough power to run a hairdryer.

              Covering your entire garage with solar panels would do more, but solar is by far not our most practical source of clean electricity. Hydro, nuclear and wind are.

              •  How about the solar paint?Does that change it?nt (0+ / 0-)
                •  No, solar PV is not that efficient (0+ / 0-)

                  If your whole roof was filled with solar panels, that probably could meet your transportation needs, and probably would cover most of your other energy use as well (depending on your location).  But just a solar panel on a car simply isn't going to cut it, even if the whole surface area is PV it's not going to be enough.  

                  Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                  by Asak on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:10:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  How much PV cap do you need (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mr Horrible

              To run your EV, for how far?

              Build rail, ride to the station in an EV taxi.

              Share or face extinction. No?

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:25:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Battery-electric produces less CO2 (16+ / 0-)

            According to a study I read, even if the electricity is generated by coal, a battery-electric car produces less CO2 than a gasoline-powered car. The basic inefficiency of the internal combustion engine is the main reason, plus it's more efficient to distribute energy in the form of electricity than as gasoline.

          •  Sure it does (13+ / 0-)

            We're not going to be burning coal forever, and it's much easier to mitigate the impact of one coal plant's emissions versus the thousands of individual tailpipes of cars on the road.

            And ultimately we replace the coal plant.

            One step at a time.  Most of those inventors that have ideas that scientists say are impossible . . . well . . . they are.  Anyone who makes claims of unlimited free energy (i.e. perpetual motion) is fooling themselves or flat out lying.

            •  This is why (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mr Horrible

              Mass-transit makes so much sense. The system is the grid, the resources are shared and the traffic is naught.

              The power source is changable, the power delivery system fixed and not carried as non-productibe load.

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:40:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sorry my bad english. (0+ / 0-)

                That should be

                The power source is changable, the power delivery system fixed and not carried as non-productive load.

                Caught between channels.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:32:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Love the cynacism. (9+ / 0-)

            However, the issue with electric cars hasn't been "how are we going to generate it" but "how are we going to efficiently store it and recharge quickly enough to make it practical".  The higher-efficiency PV cells these days make incidental charging a lot more efficient -- keep a solar panel on the roof of your car -- and solar power stations at work and home can re-charge a fast-charging battery without resort to the coal/nuke grid.  This is a major step towards decentralized power generation, and that will reduce the demand for dirty power significantly.

            •  furthermore (5+ / 0-)

              Global warming isn't the ONLY problem that ICE produce. There's that whole "Where is the oil and how do we get it?" aspect.

            •  Protect yourself from 'cartoon science' (6+ / 0-)

              Seriously, do some calculations. A square meter of solar panel will generate about 300W of power in the desert over the course of the day, so long as you don't drive through any shade. (1000W peak)

              Suppose you need a 100 horsepower engine. Converted to less feudal units, that's 74,570 Watts. You don't need all 100 hp to propel your car forward at highway speed, so for cruising, let's say you only need a third of that. That's still 24,857W. This means that you could cruise for 0.012 of the day in a solar car that at all resembles the cars we use today in terms of mass and equipment.

              That means about a quarter hour's worth of cruising  per day, provided that your car is in full desert summer sunlight as you drive, and for the entire rest of the day, and you have 100% efficient batteries  (all very unrealistic).

              This is why you won't be seeing anyone selling a car propelled by solar panels ... ever. Sure, it makes for a cute novelty in something like the Great Solar Challenge, and I love that sort of stuff. But don't let that cloud your mind. All the data for my present calculation came from a few minutes of googling. I suggest you try it.

              •  solar panels for fans (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dotcommodity

                I just read that the new toyota Prius will have solar panels to run little fans to keep your car from getting too hot while it is parked.   So, if you are parked in a baking sun, the little fans will be powered to cool the car down while it is parked so you don't fry upon entering.  I thought that was a cool idea.

                •  That's pretty neat (0+ / 0-)

                  I mean, it's a bit of a gimmick, and the extra mass of the panels will probably cost us lots of fuel in aggregate, plus they're pretty dirty to manufacture, but still it might be worth it. It's better than cranking the AC as soon as you get into your hot car.

                  I'd much prefer that it would trickle-charge your batteries, though the energy would be pretty negligible (see parent).

                  •  extra mass costs much less (0+ / 0-)

                    when you have regenerative breaking, since you pay 1/2 mv^2 to accelerate, then get it back from breaking, subject to losses.  So you only have to pay 1 - acceleration efficiency * breaking efficiency.

                    The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

                    by Demosthenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:38:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  I also ran the numbers (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, lump1

                See my comment above - I started with the average amount of solar power per day and worked it from there. My very optimistic estimate was 11 square meters of panel needed just to meet the needs of a single "average" driver. No way that fits on a car, and I don't have enough roof for the panels my family would require.

            •  Show me your numbers. (0+ / 0-)

              I think you are a bit optimistic about the practicality of PV cells to generate enough power to run EVs. Very.

              It would take a great number of PV panels storage cells to recharge one car and the industrial capacity and materials to make enough cells to deploy this on a mass scale simply do not exist.

              Seriously, charging EV with solar cells is a long, long way from practical reialization if ever.

              Given enough storage cells, wind generation is a far more likely scenario in most cases, provided there are enough cheap storage cells to go around.

              Decentralized power generation is not quite a independant or efficient as you suggest once yu get above X load.

              Power grids exist because they work.  Future power grids will be more diverse in generation technology and source distribution, but they will still be grids.

              Off grid distribution is, inherently, limited in capacity or very inefficient economically and technically.

              How many kw does that EV car require per km?

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:43:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  So, we should invest in (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dewtx, PsychicToaster, dconrad, kyril

            perpetual motion machines and guys that have engines that run on water?

            Uh ... I'm thinking experts are experts in this area for a reason.

          •  Right. What we need to be doing is finding ways (6+ / 0-)

            around the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. Any fool could tell you that. (/snark)

            •  Down with the Law of Conservation of Energy! (7+ / 0-)

              If we don't like an inconvenient law, we should just be able to change it. I think these so-called scientists just aren't working hard enough to find a way to have water flow uphill as easily as it flows downhill--then we could have two-way hydroelectric generation and double our hydroelectric capacity overnight and reduce our dependence on oil and end global warming and all would be perfect. Or else certain scientists have already made this discovery after reading the secret scientific writings of Atlantis and Exxon-Mobil has purchased those results and are keeping them under lock and key to protect their oil profits and prevent the development of the personal hydroelectric engine. (/SNARK)

              "The problem of defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without." -- Dwight Eisenhower

              by dewtx on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:05:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Reminds me of... (8+ / 0-)

                the people who laughed at and sneered at the horseless carriage, or; who commented about the future success of radio, "what kind of idiots are going to sit around and listen to a box talk?"

                Jan 20, 2009 -- I got my country back.

                by jpeskoff on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:23:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You couldn't be more correct & There is a reason (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  HKPhooey

                  There absolutely ARE ways of getting energy "from nowhere". The quantum vacuum of "empty" space all around us is full of free energy.

                  There absolutely ARE devices that are able to tap into this energetic ether and extract energy.

                  Zero-point energy is not known about in the mainstream, and I can already feel ridicule and scorn of this community for expressing different ideas, but it IS a reality.

                  There is a reason that car is called Tesla. Nikola Tesla filed 111 patents, almost all of which were bought (just as his research was funded) by J.P. Morgan and George Westinghouse.

                  Among the patents are many, MANY inventions involving electricity that have been shelved for a hundred years because General Electric and J.P. (accurately) considered them a threat to profit margins. You can't make money from free energy, and any invention providing such was squelched.

                  •  Let me throw some (very cold) water on this (6+ / 0-)

                    First off, "zero-point energy" has been a well known and accepted physical consequence of quantum systems for decades. But you run into a problem trying to get useful work from it short of violating the law of conservation of energy. In order to extract net useful work (energy) out of a "change in state" (that is, any physical process) you must lower the energy of the system. Since at the "zero-point" the system is already at its lowest possible energy — by definition — it can't go any lower. The articles in that link you provide are the usual collection of perpetual motion canards. Don't put your money on any of these schemes.
                    Not to say that corporations haven't conspired to suppress development of alternative energy approaches, but let's not accuse them of trickery in preventing the laws of thermodynamics from being violated.
                    Is this a "reality-based" community, or what? Sometimes I wonder.

                    •  Thermodynamics & Conservation of Energy (0+ / 0-)

                      applies to closed systems.

                      Subspace is NOT a closed system, and that's where this energy comes from.

                      It's hard to imagine you were able to digest the bulk of material in the link I provided in under 50 minutes.

                      The fact is they are studying this stuff in China, Russia, Japan, and India--while you point your finger and laugh at me.

                      Open your eyes here. There absolutely HAVE been visitations from outside our system. These craft absolutely have traveled FTL (faster than light) and outside of what we would call "normal" physics. The link above is a documentary made from testimony of over 400 ex-military personnel, commercial pilots and FAA operators, and alphabet agency whistle-blowers. Click here for the National Press Club event.

                      These technologies absolutely DO exist. The problem with using this stuff in today's world is that our society is based on consumption and expansion. With genuine "free energy" in today's society, humans would only overpopulate and destroy this planet even faster.

                      Of course, you are free to zero-rate me and hide this comment, but that will only prove you're unwilling to participate in an honest discussion, and you would rather ignore me than challenge your community to grow intellectually.

                      •  The ultimate free lunch (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        cocinero

                        Good luck with that.

                        •  Food = Human right, Socialist (0+ / 0-)

                          Just like health care.

                          You didn't bother to watch the videos I cited. Maybe you didn't realize they're both rated 5 stars by hundreds of thousands of people.

                          Anyway, free lunches aren't possible while there's almost 7 billion of us hungry bellies here.

                          This planet could be paradise with 1 or 2 billion of us, but we need to stop reproducing and start thinking long-term sustainability instead of short-term financial (ego-centric) gain.

                          I observe this be happening. What happens in Detroit is a big factor; if we start building cars that actually last, instead of just consume resources and break down, it will be a meaningful step forward toward a much larger world.

                      •  And we are working too! (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        elijah311

                        However, I put more stock in making fusion reactors work in the near term.

                        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                        by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:42:54 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Fusion supplies most of our energy (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          koNko

                          We have a big fusion reactor 93 million miles away (a relatively safe distance). We use the energy it currently produces and delivers plus stored fusion energy in the form of coal and gas.

                          Call me Master of the Obvious.

                        •  So we are (0+ / 0-)

                          somewhere in that 40-80 billion dollars spent every year on black ops projects.

                          Thanks for this.

                          The problems between now and then (when we might actually be able to use this technology) argue in your favor, toward fusion or some other such expensive alternative.

                          However, I can see a path toward sustainability with wind and solar and conscious population control.

                          At the rate we're reproducing, sustainability begins and ends with fewer of us here on Earth--

                          •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            elijah311

                            Not just the number of people, but the percapita consumption of resources.

                            For example, the US and China have approximately the same CO2 emissions, but the US ranks near the top in percapita emissions while China is below the world average (but rising).

                            Both are a problem. Both countries need to speed-up the change.

                            It's interesting that China's one child policy, formulated to solve problems with unsustainable population growth, have historically been criticized in the West as regressive. How times change.

                            Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                            by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:56:51 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The Change We Need (0+ / 0-)

                            is (hopefully) going to be a long journey.

                            This will be a big factor. When Obama speaks to the world about the economy, expect there to be subtle global themes through-out the speech.

                            Resources-based, conscious, sustainable, controlled economies are the path "from here to there" (as noted in my comment above) when we can use "zero-point" or "over-unity" devices for everyday production of energy.

                            Limiting the need for energy should be priority one, at least, in my vision of the way forward. Priority two might be education. At some point in the near future, we need to educate our children about the true history of space, their place in a world without constant struggle to survive, and our collective place within the galactic community.

                  •  I'll believe it (8+ / 0-)

                    when I see a Nobel Prize. Heck, there will be a whole new prize named after the person that finds a way around Newton. We're talking Douglas Adams stuff here ("when someone discovers what the universe is for and why it is here, it will be replaced with something far more complex" - paraphrase).

                    This stuff is just as kooky to physics as creationist crap is to biology. Show us the science. If it works, it should be unambiguous. As there have been no trumpet fanfares announcing the end of physics as we know it, I'll take it that "free energy" remains a steaming pile of dung.

                •  I'm no longer laughing (0+ / 0-)

                  The horseless carriage has made a big mess of things, hasn't it?

                  Inventing new technology and discussing/solving the problems involved are not mutually exclusive.  (;~)

                  Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                  by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:46:42 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Obama should issue a signing statement (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wonmug, dewtx, koNko, Joffan, kyril

                Saying that Nature was well intentioned when it created thermodynamics, but the needs of a post Bank Failure World demand swift and decisive action, and we don't have time to petition the pre-universe singularity/God/the spaghetti monster to change the laws now, and that we can go back to following them once the threat of energy extinction is over.

          •  Which is why... (10+ / 0-)
            ...you power the electric vehicles with electricity generated by solar, wind, and nuclear.

            Yes, this is expensive. It's also, very much unlike perpetual motion machines and other silly and stupid proposals, feasible.

            "Do What Thou Wilt" isn't in the platform of either party; it's just The Law.
            Finding God in a Dog

            by maxomai on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:01:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wind... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, cocinero

              Wind is the least expensive way to produce new electricity capacity.  

              Solar has now reached about the level of new nuclear and new coal.  And solar, unlike the other two, is expected to become cheaper and cheaper in the near future.

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:48:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Regional approach (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, snakelass, kyril

                Solar makes tons of sense. In Arizona and California and West Texas. It doesn't make ANY sense in Michigan.

                Nukes are probably the best bet for places like the SE. Wind and tidal would work in the NE. Wind makes sense on the plains, of course.

                Power isn't the problem. Storage and availability and portability are the problem.

                •  bulk energy storage is fairly straightforward (0+ / 0-)

                  pump water up a dam.  IIRC the hoover dam does this as day/night power price arbitrage - buy power, pump water up during the night, sell power by draining it through the dam during the day.  The only reason I remember this was that I heard that it measurably effects the Earth's rotation.

                  The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

                  by Demosthenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:42:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I've lived in Michigan... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cocinero

                  Solar makes plenty of sense in Michigan during those long, hot, sunny afternoons when the AC is cranked up and your refer is sucking power.

                  And solar really cranks out the power on cold sunny days when the light is bouncing off the snow.

                  Solar is approaching $1 per watt and should fall well below that.  As solar falls below $1 and starts to hit the market bonded to metal roofing it's going to make a lot of sense to install a solar roof when you build/replace your roof.

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:44:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

                    Solar fits best into the building power scenario than some other aplications discused here, since the surface area is a vaialble and not moving, demand is more easy to level (from both generation/consuption sides) and there is a symbitoc relationship between lots of sun and lots of consumption most of the year.

                    However, the production capacity and materials for solar and supporting storage are a BIG issue, getting beyond a certain level of global production may not be economically feasible and face some absolute constraints.

                    Wind is far more practical and starting to gain market share against solar.

                    Ideally, you have both, balancing the advantages/disadvantages and matching each to application.

                    Transparent PV/LED panels that generate by day and illuminate by night, for example.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:07:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  We'll likely end up with a complex system... (0+ / 0-)

                      Imagine the point where solar gets really cheap.  (Probably not many years away.)

                      We can plug in our BEVs/PHEVs at work and suck up cheap solar.

                      Then we drive home and sell that power back to the grid for post-sun peak hours.

                      Then we refill our batteries using cheap off-peak wind energy.

                      The profit we make by "renting out" our batteries could make our driving very, very inexpensive.

                      There will be lots of nice tricks such as this to make the overall system work.  

                      Already large buildings (and I think some residences) are using cheap late night power to freeze ice and then using that stored "cool" to cut down on the peak/expensive power needed to run their AC during the day.

                      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                      by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:15:17 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Public Mass Transit (7+ / 0-)

            New technologies are groovy, but the underlying problem is a model of personal individual transport which is inherently inefficient and wasteful of energy and the materials vehicles are made from. We need high speed freight and commuter rail for inter-city travel, extensive light rail for cities, and buses everywhere else. And all need to be subsidized in the same way that we have subsidized car culture for the past century. At the same time car culture needs to be killed with heavy taxes on individual vehicles and fuel.

            •  Don't forget taxis (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snakelass, koNko, kafkananda, HKPhooey

              Busses and trains are all well and good, but they won't take you directly door-to-door on your own schedule.

              I would love to see fleets of PHEV taxis to pick folks up at their homes and drop them off at the train/bus station, and then take them from another train/bus station to the office.

              I hate the car culture because its so wasteful and inefficient, but I love it because of the freedom and flexibility it offers. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

              Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

              by drewfromct on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:40:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The majic formula is (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                melo, drewfromct, cocinero

                In declining order of distance teaveled:

                High Speed ICE
                Metro & Light Rail (including trams)
                Bus/Taxi local transit & feeder routes
                Bicycles (best rolling transit ever invented)
                Walking
                Crawling out of bed

                All available now.

                Share or face extinction. That's the fundamental choice.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:47:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Bikes are terrific (0+ / 0-)

                  in pleasant weather, on flat terrain, for able-bodied people who aren't carrying big loads. for an elderly person carrying groceries up a steep hill at night in the rain, not so much.

                  The reason we Americans love our cars so much is not because they waste gas. It's because they liberate us to go where we want, when we want, and take what and whom we choose with us. If you ever had to wait outside in the rain for a late bus and then got on it only to be forced to sit or stand next to people you'd rather not be so close to, then you know exactly what I mean.

                  I, too, would love to see everyone get out of their cars and onto buses and trains, but it won't be easy. In fact, killing the car culture will probably prove so difficult that in the end it may prove easier for inventors to come up with a better battery/hybrid technology that will free us from our oil addiction and let us keep driving alone--wherever and whenever we like, with passengers of our own choosing.

                  Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

                  by drewfromct on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:38:56 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    drewfromct

                    I have lived in the US before and occasionally visit.

                    The point is to use mass trasit where it will work, provide attractive options that will be utilized, otherwise it makes no sense.

                    Some US cities certianly have adequate density to support metros/light rails at least along high density corridors and several cities have sucessfully developed systems or have them in master plans pending funding.

                    Certianly ICEs (inter city express, not internal combustion engines)should be built or expanded along several high desity corridors, eg, Seattle to SF to LA to San Deigo, if tracks were laid, could support mixed long range and local high speed trans. This model is very sucessful in other parts of the world including some with similar desity mix as the USA.

                    There is also much opportunity to use existing or no longer used rail to increase or expand services. when trains rund twice a day, they never get to critical mass on ridership; once/twice an hour between cities depending on demand gets people out of cars.

                    I recall reading that last summer the lines from NYC to DC were running at capacity and there was much discussion questioning why not add cars? Absolutely correct. Then the price of oil drops and people go back to sleep.

                    Longer term thinking suggests it would be advantagous economically and environmentally to build out mass transit (which would crate a lot of jobs including many permanent positions in the service sector). The scenario that oil will continue to be cheap is the least reliable one to follow.

                    Opponents of mass transit (predictably) argue from a polarized viewpoint that they are being forced out of their cars and choices are being subtracted, but exactly the revese is true; in most areas of the US personal trasportation is the only practical choice.

                    Why have so many countries decided to reinvest in mass transit?  Because it makes economic sense.

                    Will the US miss the boat?  Very possibly yes.  I believe the next 2-5 years will be decisive since much public funding in infrastructure will me made and what gets built will dictate the future of transportation in the country for many years to come since it will take at least 20-50 years to pay-down the investments.

                    Are people today makeing decisions for the future based on the assuptions of the past?

                    I think so. I think this is foolish. Hence, I raise the issue for consideration. Your tax dollars at work. Your childrens future cost/benfift ratio to live with.

                    Considering more than one option might be a good idea, no?

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 08:14:26 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Mass transit is great (0+ / 0-)

                      in densely populated areas. For the suburbs and rural routes, maybe not so much. Lower usership will necessarily mean less choice in routes and schedules.As long as people have the option to pick and choose when, where, and how they go as well as whom they go with, they'll choose personal over mass transit.

                      IMO, the key to making mas transit work here is to build a flexible system that can offer people door-to-door service on demand. I would do that by changing the laws that regulate taxis in order to encourage, perhaps even subsidize, individual operators of multi-passenger PHEVs.

                      I'm definitely in favor of giving people more than one option of letting us have more than one option, and like you, I hope that we can be able to make those other options superior to, or, at the very least, competitive with the car culture. That means making it cheap, easy to use, and extremely flexible. I'm not saying that it shouldn't or even can't be done, but I'm not naive about the difficulties in doing it, or the opposition it faces, nor the arguments of the opposition, some of which I understand and perhaps even sympathize which. I also believe that understanding these arguments can be key to overcoming them.

                      Thanks for taking some time to discuss this.

                      Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

                      by drewfromct on Mon Mar 16, 2009 at 04:08:56 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  i think progress means that you get more. (0+ / 0-)

              Individual transportation should perhaps be a luxury and used less, but to say that it needs to be killed is like saying we should only watch lo-res black n white tv cuz of it's lower footprint.

              I'd say we should keep pleasure driving and kill the commute. Make morning commutes more than 5 miles illegal or something.

              the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

              by SeanF on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:52:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Who's is saying kill it? (0+ / 0-)

                I'm saying improve the mix and maximize shared resources.

                Only opponents of mass-transit use absolute, strawman arguments. Most knowlegeable proponents I know (including me) advocate an intellegently planned mix.

                If you search diaries on this site using key works such as rail, mass transit, etc. you will find some ecellent diarys with examples of working systems fromaround the world and lots of thoughtful discussion of how-to.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:14:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Christopher Day (upstream) (0+ / 0-)

                  said that the car culture needs to be killed. That's what I'm disputing. I think I'm agreeing with you that the mix needs to be improved so that we aren't frittering away our resources so stupidly.

                  the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

                  by SeanF on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 10:44:31 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I didn't say (0+ / 0-)

                    kill individual transport. Sometimes it is obviously neccesary. What I said is "kill car culture" whivh refers to the distinctly American relationship with the car fostered by low gas taxes and massively subsidized roadbuilding, not to mention lots of Hollywood "road" movies.

                  •  I guess he already replied. (0+ / 0-)

                    And I agree with him. The point is to provide more choices not fewer, to share resources whenever possible, improving overall efficiency and providing affordable transit for a large part of the public who chose to use it (and when systems are good they do).

                    If you read my posts here carefully I don't think you will reach any other conclusion. Everything in it's place.

                    It's interesting that oppoenets of mass transit always polarize the issue and drag out the all-or-nothing strawman arguements.

                    What is so threatening about progress?

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 05:52:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Bad move. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dconrad

              And impossible.  Our civilization was not designed for mass transit, our nation is not well-suited to it, and short of massive social restructuring and major shifts in population, it ain't gonna happen.  Because people live other places than cities, and few of them actually want to live in a squalid urban hell-hole, no matter how well the busses run.

              •  No reason why mass transit can't work (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, koNko, kyril, cocinero

                There's no need to live in a squalid urban hell-hole or any other kind of hell-hole, urban or not.

                Most people work in cities. Mass Transit can get people from where they live to the place they work. Clearly it's not suited for people who live 2hrs outside and commute in but that's a small section of the population. Even then, they can drive to the edge of the city and use the MT system.

              •  Typical Americxan reaction (0+ / 0-)

                Hate to put in those terms, but that is what we outsiders see.

                Absolute stubborness and denial of the facts that shared transportation is a necessity, the best investment, and possible to build anytime.

                If you dig deeper, I think you will find the US spends an increasing amount to repair a crumbling infrastructure with zero growth in capacity and continiously declining average transit speed.

                That's an excellent model for declining efficiency and edeclining economic return.

                But then, the USA is an exceptional country where anything is possible except shared mass transit.

                Think. Debate. Invest wisely.

                Do we have an accountiant in the house?

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:53:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Not all cities are "squalid urban hell-holes." (0+ / 0-)

                Part of the solution may be to make cities better places to live.

              •  Oh, there you go again (0+ / 0-)

                Bad move

                And impossible

                Because people live other places than cities, and few of them actually want to live in a squalid urban hell-hole, no matter how well the busses run.

                Actually, more people live in urban areas than not, we don't think cities are hell holes, we propose to make them better and we are tried of stubborn selfish people that don't live in them standing in the way of progress.

                You are out-numbered Dude/Dudette.  You lose.  So there.

                Just curious, did you vote for the "Yes We Can" party or the "No. No. No. Mine. Mine. Mine." one?

                What is your problem improving the trasportation infrastructure of non-rural areas?

                If you don't like cities and or trains, sit in your cave and be happy.

                Gesh!

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:24:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Solar panels on my roof to charge my car (6+ / 0-)

            That's what I want. My home in Southern California could generate enough for my household needs as well as charge up a car as well as send out extra to the grid. With no CO2 emissions, What's wrong with that?

            Only power used to empower is everlasting. Prof. Scott Bartchy www.nurseconscience.blogspot.com

            by ludlow on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:29:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What is wrong? (0+ / 0-)

              Your car roof (including hood and trunk lid) aren't large enough.

              Perhaps if we get concentrating lenses perfected.

              In the meantime, think garage/carport/covered parking space with panels on top.

              Or sell the power to the grid when demand is high on sunny afternoons and buy back less expensive power during off peak hours.

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:50:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The Contractor Schlebs Who Install It (0+ / 0-)

              De-centralized production allows a parasitic storm of shoddy contractors to swoop in, steal all your money, then disappear.

              With centralized, at least the public gets contract administration and attorney generals to deal a heavy blow to the schlebs.  Not perfect, but infinitely better than dealing with them homeowner by homeowner.

            •  Unicorns in hamsterwheels are more promising. (0+ / 0-)

              It's sad how many people suffer from this misperception, so I'll repost something I said earlier.

              (omitted calculations)

              That means about a quarter hour's worth of cruising per day, provided that your car is in full desert summer sunlight as you drive, and for the entire rest of the day, and you have 100% efficient batteries  (all very unrealistic).

              This is why you won't be seeing anyone selling a car propelled by solar panels ... ever.

              •  Reading comprehension? (0+ / 0-)

                He was talking about the roof of his HOUSE. You're the second person I've had to point that out to.

                "Our Founding Fathers...drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man.... Those ideals still light the world...." -- President Barack Obama

                by dconrad on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:50:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, but the point is different.... (8+ / 0-)

            Replacing gasoline engines with batteries has many beneficial effects.  It centralizes emissions so that once a solution is found to the centralized emissions (concurrent research) problem, huge gains can be made at one time.  Also, active research and new-found great interest on this one piece of a complex puzzle can lead to excellent knock-on effects:  No one really cares about building a better AAA battery, so the research is not there.  However, with solutions and research like this going on, a rechargeable in 9 seconds AAA battery can result is TONS of disposable batteries not winding up in landfills and/or incinerated at too-low temperatures to break down the toxic byproducts released thru burning.  

            I say applaud and fund the research.  

            And I do not believe there is no solution to global warming where everyone is looking.  In fact, I believe there are tons of people looking absolutely everywhere for solutions.  This diary is a simple snapshot of one idea that may be able to help.

            Really, WWFSMD?

            by sp0t on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:36:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Aside from the above (4+ / 0-)

            Converting our grid to non-fossil/nuclear fuels only requires the use of those fuels until the scale is tipped. Once wind, solar, geothermal, ocean wave conversion and similar technologies go mainline, they will become self-sustaining. There is nothing intrinsically necessary about coal/nuclear, they just happened to be the first reliable sources of electricity at the time when the grid was expanding exponentially. The dream of the nuclear era was that nuclear was a source of limitless power. But there's 6.5 billion more people than there were then. We needed more plants, and rod reprocessing is more expensive than just making new ones, so the resource can and will be depleted eventually, just like coal and oil.

            The world is finally waking up to the hard truth that the sun is the only source of energy that can sustain us for the foreseeable future; the sun being the source for solar, wind, wave, and roughly 2/3 of geothermal(i think, i forget how much is still core heat of formation remaining).

            •  i had thought all of geothermal (0+ / 0-)

              came from core heat - how's the sun involved?

              "I am Don Fong" --don fong

              by don fong on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:22:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The sun warms the surface.. (0+ / 0-)

                The warmed surface transmits that heat below ground and acts as a heat sink.  That's why, almost everywhere in the world, if you dig down to a certain depth, the temperature is a remarkably stable 50-55 degrees F.  That stability can be used to generate power, so long as there's a big enough difference between atmospheric temperature and underground temperature.  There's also a lot of heat generated from the breakdown of radioactive material.

                From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. -Immanuel Kant

                by Nellebracht on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 01:02:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I think you're right (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus

                Geothermal means heat from the earth. I believe what PsychicToaster is calling geothermal is the energy that powers ground-source heat pumps. AIUI the "core heat" mentioned is true geothermal energy which gives volcano's and hot springs (yellowstone/ iceland) their heat.

          •  Electric cars are 4+ times more efficient (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dconrad, kyril, cocinero

            in propulsive energy usage.  75% reduction in across the board energy consumption.  So it's better to use electric cars, especially if the base power comes from polluting means of production.

            "Peace be the journey. Cool Runnings!"

            by Terra Mystica on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:05:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That is not true (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            koNko

            Changing everything over to electricity will not immediately solve the problem, but it disconnects the production source from the propulsion system.  Once you have an electric car base, you can then change the power mix to be more green without having to replace all of the cars.  

            I find your faith in inventors whose ideas apparently are not backed up by science (?) is rather misplaced as well.  

            Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

            by Asak on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:04:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  nothing immediately solves the problem (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cocinero

              its going to wind up being a bunch of incremental improvements with each resulting in a "better" solution.

              The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

              by Demosthenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:48:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Big oil outfits are in the process... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko

          of making themselves into "energy companies".  Now, it could be just window dressing, to try to dress up their image, but Exxon and BP both are touting their commitment to pursuing "alternative energy" sources and the technology needed to implement them.  

          •  Think they're dumb? (5+ / 0-)

            They've got access to the very best data as to how much oil we've got left.

            They know that we are going to move away from petroleum over time and it's in the best interest of their companies to find new products.

            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

            by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:53:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But it is not in OUR interests for new forms of (4+ / 0-)

              energy production to be dominated by massive multinational corporations.  

              Our research, government policies, etc., should be favoring the development of distributed energy generation as much as each technology reasonably allows.

              •  Yes and no... (0+ / 0-)

                We need large scale integration for green power sources to work.  We need to tie together wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, etc. from all parts of the continent together in order to minimize the amount of storage and/or fossil fuel backup required to make the system work.

                Think a continental HVDC grid that connected solar from the Mexican deserts and hydro from Canada with all the stuff in between.

                We need to make sure that utilities aren't dominated by only a handful of corporations.  Hopefully we've learned a lesson about too little regulation.  And we won't forget that lesson until after the new utility system is designed.

                We benefit by creating local solutions.  It's more efficient to generate close to point of use rather than ship power.

                (I guess I answered that No and yes....)

                15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:53:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Oh, I agree we need a sophisticated (0+ / 0-)

                  large-scale grid to integrate it all.  The grid should be, I would assume, a public creation that many different owners as well as consumers can connect to.  It should be like the internet -- something that has no center, making it hard to bring down either by sabotage or by accident. But a rancher with half a dozen turbines on his land should be able to feed into that grid, as well as T.Boone Pickins.

                  I think we're probably on the same page, or close. And I don't think I know enough about power generation and grids to be too definite in my opinions, so I'm fairly agreeable. :)  I just know I don't want a new Exxon owning the wind or the sun.

                  •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

                    We need a fair price for selling our surplus energy to the grid.

                    That would allow individuals or small businesses to compete on a level playing field with the big boys.

                    I'm not sure that "fair price" would mean "same price".  There might be reasons of reliability or volume which could make large scale power more valuable to the grid.  

                    The scale of what we need, to replace the approximately 50% of our electricity provided by coal is most likely going to mean that no one, or even no small group, of companies could monopolize the grid.

                    We've already got hundreds, if not thousands, of small companies feeding the grid.  Given that we don't get another "Cheney" administration those people aren't going to get pushed out.  And if they are connected, others can hook up.

                    15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                    by BobTrips on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 12:10:25 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  They're being responsible (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snakelass, koNko, kyril, Wings Like Eagles

            They're exercising their fiduciary responsibility as publicly held companies to remain profitable for the benefit of their investors. They know oil is dying, and the quicker they come up with something better, the more able they are to capitalize on it.

            I don't believe for one second that they pillage the natural resources of the world for the sake of doing so, it's simply more profitable right now. (the manner in which they do so now is reprehensible, and I don't condone it for a second, but it is the unfortunate truth)

            But at the moment, they're 19th century wainwrights that know how long they have until the automobile is in mass production. It's not greenwashing for PR, it's smart business.

      •  Charge $1 Trillion (12+ / 0-)

        The people who came up with this are pretty smart.  They know what they've got, and how valuable it could be.  If XOM wants to buy the patent, they should charge a fair price for it.  That fair price could well be more than the whole company is worth.

      •  I been ducking Exxxon successfully so far (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewtx, kyril, cocinero

        and still using plain old distilled water to fuel my vehicle..And youse thought it was just a rumor..

        "Better a little late, than a little never"..Julian Winston

        by Johnny Rapture on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:18:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Bah! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cocinero

        People will still drive their electric cars well under the speed limit, as they drive their hybrids well under the limit....even though they perform as well as gasoline cars!

        </snark>

        Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass. - Barry Goldwater, 1981

        by Doug in SF on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:44:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just because you buy the patent... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        Does not necessarily mean that you can squash it. If here is any government money involved in this project, it's gonna be hard to squash the work at all.

    •  I hope no one tries to call this a "Galt battery" (18+ / 0-)

      "Seeing our planet as a whole, enables one to see our planet as a whole" - Tad Daley

      by Bill White on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:31:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for updating. (25+ / 0-)

      Actually, quite a few diaries have been tracking this reserch but a fresh update is always welcome.

      Americans need to get past the fiction that personal vehicles as a basic mode of trasportation will continue to be viable, and invest in developing mass-transit. Virtually al major developed and developing countries save the US and Canada have come to this conclusion or never abandoned mass-transit to begin with, unless the US gets with the program it will be left behind, economically.

      Think about the total energy required per payload unit; 1.15 driver per car simply doesn't work no matter how you store the power or where it came from

      I'm not saying EV is bad, just that the dominant fraction of total trasportation personal vehicles occupy in the USA is unsustainable and is not going to change in relative economic or environmental cost.

      Whatever basic technological improvement is applied to personal transportation is multiplied when applied to mass-transit due to efficiency of operation and total life cycle.

      Short Version : Ride More/Drive Less.

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:34:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did a quick tag check (15+ / 0-)

        on "battery" but didn't see anything - still I know there are several Kosacks who do good work keeping up with all this.

        And I absolutely agree that the mode of thinking about transportation has to change; this is hopefully something that will help the process and provide some early relief/options.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:45:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Try other tags (14+ / 0-)

          Such as "Green", "Environment", "Solar" or ???

          I think if you go to the FAQ it contains a list of "approved" tags that will give you greater returns.

          You may also tap into some diarists such as the famous A Siegel and his Energize America site, the guy is a tireless blogger on the environment and energy issues, he's a great source of information.

          Quite a few Kossicks Diary environmental, energy and technology issues, there are also some interest groups (usually on Yahoo) that are listed in the FAQ.

          In any case, it's impossible to make too many diaries on this subject so yours is quite welcome.

          BTW, I hope you take my normally critical remarks in a positive light, I try to be a "positive irritant" as much as possible to get people to think deeper and debate more, I'm not as mean as I seem to be.

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:03:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Zoning would have to change first... (11+ / 0-)

          The reason you can't get people out of cars in the US is that we haven't designed our living/working spaces around mass transit.  We have sprawled ourselves out across vast areas, and unless you can figure a way to reconfigure the population and squish them all back into smaller areas, public transit is probably ALWAYS going to take longer and be more of a hassel than personal vehicals.

          I live near Philadelphia, which has a relatively good system of public transit, but let me tell you, it is still a PAIN IN THE ASS to use.  For one thing, it is built around an older model of commuting patterns (it brings everyone into Philadelphia from the suburbs in the morning, and brings everyone out of Philadelphia to the suburbs in the evening, basically).  It hasn't adapted well to job centers being located in the suburbs.  So if you want to move from one suburb of Philadelphia to another, you have to take a train or bus all the way into the city and switch to another train or bus to go out of the city to the suburb you want, instead of being able to move around the outside edge of the city.  It's like using spokes on a wheel to travel, when what you'd want would be to go along the outside edge of the wheel.  This can take, seriously, two hours or more.  Also, some of the higher-class employment centers have no service to them (since high-class employees usually have cars), but the net effect is that poor people without cars are cut off from having access to better jobs.

          In conclusion, I don't think we can restructure our country to eliminate personal vehicals, unless we want to bulldoze the suburbs and exurbs and move everyone back into densly-packed cities.  The amount of time added to everyone's commutes would be prohibative.  I can drive to work in 5 minutes or ride to work in a half an hour.  An extra 40 minutes of time wasted commuting, five days a week, 52 weeks a year?  Nobody wants to throw that much of their lives down the toilet if they can avoid it.  We do need to come up with better energy solutions (solar power, etc.)  But we have to be realistic about the way our country has already been built, otherwise the changes we want to make won't stick.

          •  One benefit to having a major war (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril

            fought on your territory is that you get to think before you start rebuilding.

            As I understand it, the entirety of the UK is essentially "zoned" - all the land is under control of regional councils, and every five years they produce a land-use plan in which they apportion however much they think they need to development.

            It's a community effort - developers have a seat at the table - but other stakeholders are there as well, and when they build they build so as to retain an integrated mass transit system.

            •  Having an overall zoning authority... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              ...might be a good improvement.

              Local zoning boards seem to be pretty focused on keeping necessary, but undesirable projects out of their own backyards.  The neverending cries of "Not-In-My-Back-Yard!" keep such great innovations as "affordable housing" from becoming available-- nobody wants the poor people to move in, so they make rules that say lots have to be a certain size, no apt. buildings allowed, etc. etc. etc...

            •  I'm not sure about that (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not even entirely sure what "zoning" is! I'm pretty sure it's not something we have here. Usually anything that needs to get built has to be approved by the local authority (councils). I believe the main concern is whether the new building (or renovation) is suited to the surrounding area.

              So while there might not be a residential "zone" or an industrial zone, it'd be surprising for a council to give planning permission for a factory in a residential area. Local residents are usually informed about near-by developments and have opportunities to have their say in the matter.

              I have heard complaints that there is too much red tape in our system and impedes development.

          •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

            Zoning is a critical issue. A basic, national policy on TOD would be a good start, and ensure resources are intellegently used.

            The problem I usually find with the arguements Americans make against mass transit is it's impossible because "another system exists" and "I live in XX, Idaho, Population 23".

            This reflects an "all or nothing" mentality that simply make no sense.

            Mass transit consists of many elements, is highly addaptable to different transportation needs and takes years/decades to build out.  No country with good mass transit got there in a day but it's a sound practice and a marjority of industrialized and developing countries are building more, not less.

            The degree to which it is used is the degree to which resources are shared and efficiency improves, and time/energy wasted in traffic jams is reduced.

            It's a public resource. There is no instant gratification involved until it's running in your area and you get on board.

            Build more highways maintianing the status quo or invest in change for the public good, that's the choice.

            "Yes we can't!" ?

            Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

            by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:29:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  A common problem? (0+ / 0-)

            I think the spoke model is a common problem. The London Underground was built at the start of the 20th century and various companies built lines, with the aim of getting people into the city. The suburbs were only just starting to spring up, and my neighbourhood and the stations that serve it were constructed in the 1930's.

            Recent development has been focus on car users. The main suburban road has been upgraded in several places over the last 20 years but still journeys can be 1.5-2 hrs in rush hour (for a 15-20mile journey!). I had to drive it daily and I believe it's the slowest journey in the world (literally). Sadly, making the same trip on the underground was just as long, even though I lived near a station and worked near the other.

            This isn't an insurmoutable problem. New lines can be built for cross suburban routes so there's no need to force everyone into the urban centres. The problem here is the government seems more interested in spending more and more money on roads not rail.

            I appreciate that people won't want to spend too much time on a train if they can drive somewhere faster, however the time doesn't have to be "wasted". You can't read a book, magazine or newspaper while driving. You can't eat or drink. Talking on the phone isn't even ideal. You could make the argument that driving somewhere is wasting time simply because you can't multi-task

      •  Please explain... (11+ / 0-)

        Think about the total energy required per payload unit; 1.15 driver per car simply doesn't work no matter how you store the power or where it came from.

        Why not?

        Electric cars use 0.35 kWh or less per mile.  That's a couple of pennies per mile in terms of wind-generated electricity.

        (Compare that with 30mpg cars and $3 per gallon gas.)

        And we can use nighttime/off peak energy to do most of the charging.

        We can make our cars from close to 100% recyclable material.  Crunching an old car and reusing the materials for a new car would require only energy and labor.

        Both of those are sustainable.

        15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

        by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:24:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and there are plenty (8+ / 0-)

          that are made already and can be converted to be local useful transportation. Many of today's cars are acceptable 'rollers' and while not optimized, there are some standard 'kits'  available for many models, and shops that specialize in them.
           The cost of the batteries and electronics should fall, and the economics will make better sense, especially once we can stop evaluating whether to junk a car based on it's ICE value. "It would cost more to fix it than it's worth in the Blue Book".

          A world without imperfections is a world with nothing to say. : Pohangina Pete McGregor

          by KenBee on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:22:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd rather not have a car (14+ / 0-)

            If mass transit were good enough, it would be a better alternative for many. The elderly, the young, those with medical conditions, they would benefit.

            Not to mention the decreased cost.

            WereBear
            Pootie fan? Me too! Check out my cat advice blog.
            The Way of Cats

            by WereBear on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:29:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The catch with no cars (23+ / 0-)

              In the United States our development patterns are too sparse.  Even if we adopt proper land-use planning now, there's still the question of what has already been built, and there are large areas that just aren't economic to serve with public transit and won't be without years of serious make-over (e.g. lot-splitting, densification etc.)

              And this is where electric vehicles come in.  The crucial thing about the MIT discovery is that it makes recharging your car as convenient as buying gas.

              Compare with Canada.  Canada strictly applies land use planning despite being less densely populated even than the United States.  Even Calgary, which was accused of being the "LA of Canada" is tidier in this regard than the fussiest Oregon or New England hamlet.  And the result is that their mass transit use on a per capita basis is MORE THAN DOUBLE what it is in the United States -- in fact, comparable to the United Kingdom.  A city like Halifax, Nova Scotia, metro population 350,000, has more than FOUR TIMES the transit usage of Des Moines, fast closing in on 500,000 metro.  Halifax also has a truly international airport double Des Moines airport's size, so it's not as though people are flocking to the bus out of economic need.  They use it because they have a compact city that can sustain frequent and convenient service.  It will take us two generations of redevelopment for many of our lower density cities to get there.

              •  More than one personal vehicle solution (9+ / 0-)

                You have cut straight to the heart of the problem in the U.S.: we're not developed or patterned in a way that favors the exclusive or almost-exclusive use of mass transit for people or goods.  The goods problem is actually easier to fix, as we've changed our shipping systems repeatedly over the decades and can again, but people are a different story.

                As you say, we're too thin on the ground in many places to make mass transit effective (much of the south and west are this way).  Even where we are in sufficient density (like the northeast, where I now live) it's still not possible at present nor anytime in the near future to fill in the gaps in the transit systems so that some personal vehicle isn't needed by most people.  But the question then becomes, what's needed?

                The way I see it, the conversion to EVs gives us a chance to not only hook in a better (okay, much better) public transit system but also to redefine personal transport to something less materials and size intensive.  The obvious solution to large vehicles with one occupant is to look to smaller vehicles, one or two passenger electric car-lets, electric scooters (see any Italian city for an example of scooters as effective urban/suburban vehicles), and even small human/electric hybrids like these.  Small vehicles like this can help us knit together a system that doesn't discard the mobility Americans are going to be reluctant to give up while not demanding an undue portion of resources or power production.  

                Conservito delenda est pro is deleo orbis terrarum!

                by Stwriley on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:56:51 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Bullshit. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  koNko

                  Everything East of the Mississippi River is dense enough that real mass transit can be useful.  Everything west of the Rockies is dense enough too.

                  -7.75 -4.67

                  "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

                  There are no Christians in foxholes.

                  by Odysseus on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:28:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Try explaining that to suburban NJ, CT (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Stwriley

                    Transit use is great in New York City but the moment you're out in the burbs it falls off a cliff.  And there's a reason for that -- even in metro New York, things are very spread out once you're more than 10 to 15 miles away from Manhattan.

                    By your argument, rural England ought to have great bus and rail service too, seeing as it has population density commensurate with what you pulled off Wikipedia.  But guess what, it doesn't.

                    You've completely missed the point I was making, in fact.  Why does Canada have much better transit than the United States when it is overall much more THINLY populated?  Because its CITIES are much more COMPACT.

                    •  Excellent! (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Odysseus, cocinero

                      You state the problem to be solved in clear terms.

                      BTW, it's not necessary to have high population density to have mass-transit, much of europe and even parts of Japan & Chins disprove that.

                      Properly planned, mass transit becomes a magnet for use/development that solves some of the stated problems over time.

                      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                      by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:33:04 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  wrong (0+ / 0-)

                    eastern Washington (between the Cascades and the Rockies) is mostly desert and rural farms.  I've driven through it multiple times, mass transit simply makes zero sense except perhaps Spokane and Pullman.

                    The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

                    by Demosthenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:12:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  TOD is animportiant factor (0+ / 0-)

                But, are you suggesting, there is no opportunity to get started and no hope to change development patterns?

                I believe most of the US is not so different than some other countries that have a fairly good mix of mass transit.

                Given the time to build-out infrastructure and the process of doing it, there is opportunity for postive change.

                Consider the economic benifits of builing the infrastucture and long term returns.

                Better or worse than reparing roads that need more repairs?

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:30:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  No way -- there's every opportunity (0+ / 0-)

                  The key word is densification.  Let me give you an example.

                  Not long ago, on the North Side of Chicago, there was a K-Mart, at about 2100 W Peterson.  Typical unattractive 1970s box store, 70K square feet or so, huge parking lot in front, not much business.  And when bankruptcy reorganization and the Sears Holdings merger went down, so did this store.

                  The lot was vacant for a few years, and then Target came along.  But the city wasn't just looking for another big box.  They wanted Target to do something interesting.  So they attached conditions.

                  The new store covers probably 80 percent of the lot instead of a quarter of it.  It's 180,000 square feet.  It stands on stilts, a fact fairly well hidden from the streeet, with a single level of parking underneath.  It's red brick, instead of concrete and stucco, and has some windows street-side instead of all walls, so it's more attractive.  The front entrance faces out on to the street, rather than into the parking lot, with a bus stop directly outside.  Pedestrians and transit users don't have to cross any parking at all to get into the store; the front door is right there.  On top, there's a green roof, helping to dramatically improve energy efficiency and prevent runoff.  The building is LEED-certified.

                  So let's recap.  Three times the retail space.  Better access for pedestrians and transit users.  Less energy usage.  Less runoff.  Less heat generated by parking asphalt which is now concealed under that store with its green roof.

                  This is a very good example of densification, and not incidentally, it has helped patronage on the #84 bus route that serves the store.  A large chunk of the north side of Chicago -- West Rogers Park, Forest Glen, Sauganash -- that has traditionally seen itself as pretty transit poor now has convenient transit access to shopping that they formerly did out in the nearby suburbs.  The #84 basically did little but connect Metra's Milwaukee North line with the CTA Red Line for commuters.  Now there's a major retail destination along the route.

                  More generally, existing sites can be redeveloped with, shall we say, less stringent parking requirements, a greater proportion of the site used for jobs and services, and proximity to a transit route or station being a major criterion for how many square feet the developer is allowed to jam into the site.

                  •  We agree. (0+ / 0-)

                    That is the general result when TOD is used.

                    For eaxample, a common TOD strategy is to give the system the land rights above/around stations where mixed commerical/residential is built, typicall in higher density than what came before and providing the system real estate income that subsidizes operation. Hong Kong, Japan, China and various EU systems take this approach.

                    Japan is an excellent model of how to approach TOD in high, mid and low density use.

                    This is an importiant point when planning systems where they do not exist because it's an evolutionary process.

                    Well planned density is best but it's not a one size fits all solution.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 05:58:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  It's great if you can do it (10+ / 0-)

              Most of my friends who live in NYC don't have cars and do quite well. Another, who lives and works in Minneapolis, carpools or uses public transport and doesn't even have a driver's license.

              But it's not practical for all of us. If there's one thing I've come to feel strongly, it's that no one solution will be a panacea.

              "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You've got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight." --Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous

              by AustinCynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:51:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  NYC is hardly typical U.S. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Fro, kyril, Amber6541

                very high population density, higher than any other U.S, city I believe.  It takes densities like that to make mass transit the main method of getting around.

                Changes in density aren't going to happen quickly, so individual transportation will remain very important for decades.

                •  Changes in density... (2+ / 0-)

                  ...are also not recommended from a public health standpoint anyway.

                  The more you crowd people together, the worse your problems are going to be with infectious diseases.  These things count on people living in close quarters in order to thrive and spread.  
                  Also, environmental disasters that might have only made a small dent in a less-dense population suddenly make big dents if they happen in a populated area (think of the earthquakes in populous areas of China).

                  Density comes with a whole host of its own risks, social and environmental ills.  It's something to consider.  It may be "better" for the planet in terms of energy efficiency and carbon emissions, but there's no doubt that there are lots of ways in which it would be worse for the people.

                  •  Don't Quite Agree (0+ / 0-)

                    Acutally, well planned high density cities are far more safe and sustainable than low density ones, and this is the future of many urban areas.

                    Obviously, geology is a consideration but for the record, a majority of the devistation in our recent earthquake was in low density, rural areas where traditional unreinforced brick buildings or poorly built modern buildings collapsed under the force of a very severe earthquake. (See my past diaries)

                    Japan has many high desnity cities and frequent earthquakes, but relatively low casuatly rates ddo to stringent building codes. In the Kobe quake, most of the distruction was in woodfame houses or due to the collapse of an elevated highway. To my knowledge, no high rise buildings collapsed or suffered significant damage.

                    What tends to be a higher risk are poorly constructed mid-rise buildings (4-12 storys) as can be seen in numerous earthquakes including those is Los Angeles.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:44:43 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  I know one middle class person (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cotterperson, lump1, kyril, cocinero

                who lives in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area without a car. He's single, lives a few blocks from his work, in an area that is full of shops and grocery stores and has a lot of friends with cars.

                "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

                by Orinoco on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:16:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah, mass transit is great... (5+ / 0-)

                for long, busy routes.  But it's poor with the "last mile problem", and the less dense the population, the worse that gets.

                You'll find that most of the radically pro-mass-transit for all our solutions people tend to be from population dense areas.  Not all, but most.  They just aren't used to what it's like for the rest of us.

                •  The "last mile" is walkable (5+ / 0-)

                  It's the last 5 miles that's the problem.

                  •  it seems there is now a market (4+ / 0-)

                    for the collapsible brief-case scooter. Supply... meet demand.

                    :-)

                    •  Like a Zappy or something (5+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Odysseus, koNko, KenBee, kyril, cocinero

                      There are numerous ways to attack the problem. Some of Austin's buses have bike racks on them (Capital Metro occasionally gets one right), so that's one possibility; Austin also has, or used to have, a "Yellow Bike" program: yellow bikes (refurbished bikes people had donated) were left over town for anyone to use. You use one, then leave it for someone else. Similar programs might help individuals reach places not directly served by a bus route, but are relatively close--five miles or less, say. That's not too bad to ride in a bike.

                      Again, echoing what many others have said on this thread, there is no one panacea, but this--like plug-in electrics, EV conversions, hybrids (plug-in and gas-electric) and biofuels--is an important piece of the puzzle.

                      "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You've got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight." --Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous

                      by AustinCynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:52:09 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  A market, yes, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kyril

                      but not a complete one.

                      I would love to be able to get by with just ascooter or similar, but ... try carrying a trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, tuba, mute bacg, music stand, and music bag on a scooter for a gig 12 miles away.  Not practical.

                      Those who do not study history should not be permitted to make it.

                      by trumpeter on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 12:02:40 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  That's why "Feeder Routes" were invented (0+ / 0-)

                  In well planned/operated mass transit systems, feeder routs to stations make the sustems work.

                  I als have to agree, this is a last five miles problem, not last mile.  People who live in areas with mass-transit tend to walk or bike a bit more, but the excercise isn't all that bad.

                  I'm not suggesting one transportation solution fits every situation; rather, you have to get the mix right and using it where you can is economically and environentally sustainable.

                  You'll find that most of the radically pro-mass-transit for all our solutions people tend to be from population dense areas.  Not all, but most.  They just aren't used to what it's like for the rest of us.

                  It's interesting you chose to polarize the issue and characterize mass transit advocates as self-centered radicals that don't understand the problems others face.

                  What advocates such as myself are promoting is workable solutions to fit various local conditions so people can share resources/benifits and there is more equitiable distribution of public respources than the present system that strongly favors autos to the exclusion of other alternatives.

                  Call me a selfish radical for persistently arguing for the greatest good and a bit of flexibility if you wish, but I'd be intersted in the statistics of "us" if you have them handy.

                  I will admidit your arguement is convenniently self-sustaining; if no mass transit is built, no one can use it. Touché.

                  Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                  by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:00:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Beacuse you don't have the resources. (0+ / 0-)

                But if you did, then it would be practical, right?

                Problem - Solution.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:34:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Won't work. (0+ / 0-)

              Maybe in a limited way in the NE corridor, but in the rest of the US population densities are such that mass-transit just doesn't make practical sense for the vast majority.

              •  Mass transit benefits everyone (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, Fiona West, kyril

                For those who must drive in urban areas, mass transit reduces traffic congestion. For those of us in the boondocks, mass transit reduces the demand for petroleum.

                •  Um, from the "boondocks" . . . (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Phoenix Woman, KenBee

                  . . . it won't work.  Why?  Most people in rural areas need to drive repeatedly throughout the day for work-related stuff.  My brother, for instance, repairs AC units.  How is he going to get his kit, tools, and parts, etc. to the residential units he services by mass transit?  Suburban and rural life is dependent upon individual transit, so until we are all herded into urban areas at the point of the gun, mass transit is for you city folk and that's about all.

                  •  As a boondocks dweller, (4+ / 0-)

                    I benefit, and so does your brother, when city people use mass transit to reduce their consumption of oil. Lower demand equals lower prices for those of us who must use our gasoline-powered vehicles.

                  •  that's a bizarre example. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Odysseus, HKPhooey

                    there's a huge difference between work-related driving and ordinary domestic transportation.

                    but it won't be the point of a gun that herds the rural and suburbanites into higher densities, it will be economic necessity.

                    I don't know what to say.

                    by UntimelyRippd on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:51:33 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, I can see it now . . . (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      KenBee, Nada Lemming

                      "Leave behind your serenely squalid rural homestead for the benefits of Civilization!  Less room!  Less Trees!  More pollution!  Abandon the trade you've mastered for the privelege of low-wage urban jobs in retail, law-enforcement, or mind-numbing bueracracy!  Your kids will love their sprawling schools and high crime rate!  And our "no pets" policy will save you thousands in food and vet bills!  Tired of scenic country driving?  Enjoy the wonders of mass transit, where you not only get to meet new and interesting people you'll never see again, you'll be able to absorb their bodily aromas!  City life was never so good!"

                      Sign me up.

                      •  You don't get it. (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Odysseus, chemicalresult, HKPhooey

                        People aren't going to have an economic choice. The trade they mastered will not pay enough money to keep them in their rural idyll. It fascinates me, the sheer denial of it. The lifestyle you treasure is founded on an economically unsustainable model: cheap energy, asian slave labor, and walmart.

                        In the not so distant future, living in the country will entail for most people what it entailed 80 years ago: substantial isolation, with trips to town being a weekly rather than daily event, and trips to the bigger towns/cities being something that happens every month or two.

                        Those who are happy to live that way will happily live that way, and more power to them.

                        But those who expect to live the way they do now -- all of the benefits of country life, plus convenient, inexpensive access to the benefits of living in higher densities (arts, sports, youth activities, restaurants, libraries, universities, shopping) are just going to be out of luck. No more dashing back and forth 10 miles each way in the V8 4x4 to take daughter to soccer practice, then back again an hour later to take son to boy scouts, then again because it's bowling night, because dashing back and forth 10 miles each way in the V8 4x4 is going to cost $6 ($8? $10?) in fuel and $5 in wear and tear.

                        We already saw this way of life start to implode last year, when gas hit $4 a gallon. Sure, there'll still be some people who can afford it -- but not the working-class folks who earn $10 or $12 bucks an hour at the plant 25 miles away.

                        I'm not criticizing you for wanting to live the way you live. I don't disagree with the values you espouse. I also like trees and open space and less pollution and low crime and smaller schools. I'm not trying to "sell" you the excitement of the city.

                        But I'm puzzled by your steadfast refusal to distinguish between what people want, and what people are going to have. It's a very Republican attitude. "The American way of life is non-negotiable." Huh.

                        I don't know what to say.

                        by UntimelyRippd on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 12:04:19 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I stand by it. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          KenBee

                          Because of our desire for this way of life will compel us not to urbanize, as you would have it, but to merely adopt a cheaper method of using our existing transportation infrastructure i.e. electric vehicles with off-grid decentralized generation.  Give me an electric car and a couple of solar panels so that I can run all of those errands without paying $2-$4 for gas, and I will.  Indeed, I'll pursue that adamantly.  

                          What I WON'T pursue is an economy where the suburban and rural populations are forced by economic default to crowd into urban areas already affected by blight, neglect, bad schools, high crime, pollution and poor design.  I don't accept that our ingenious American society is going to humbly abandon the system we evolved just because oil got scarce and expensive, not when we can do a quick re-tool with better technology and keep our subdivisions.  That desire will be far more impetus to the conversion to EV than any government subsidies.  

                          •  Fine. (0+ / 0-)

                            Don't accept any tax revenue from urban areas.

                            Grow your own food, school your own kids and leave us alone, totally alone.

                            I actually do respect people that do that, but they are few and far between.

                            The rest are connected by highways built with Federal Funds.

                            Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                            by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:13:21 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  No rights for urban dwellers? (0+ / 0-)

                        Better rethink that since most tax revenue comes from urban/suburban dwellers and to a great extent, subsidizes rural areas particularly highway infrastructure.

                        Look at percapita tax expenditures vs revenue in low density states and come back with a more convincing arguement.

                        The problem with you hicks is you just can't stand to see city folks build bridges to somewhere.

                        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                        by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:10:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  and so it has always been and must always be (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HKPhooey

                because it is written in stone by those who have written how it must have been and must will be and so it is for now and then and always never to change because after all we've lived this way for almost the length of one single human life time.

                what amuses me about the "won't work" crowd is that you think we have a choice.

                I don't know what to say.

                by UntimelyRippd on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:49:35 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  We do. (0+ / 0-)

                  The choice is to adapt the trillion dollar highway infrastructure to a new power plant, which is relatively cheap, easy, and doable, or to abandon it in favor of a massive social and cultural restructuring, which is not doable.  It's not written in stone, it's written in accounting books.  

                  Indeed, with the production of de-centralized power and informatino systems, the more likely scenario revolves around a further diffusion of population away from high-density urban areas.  

                  •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

                    While I advocate and argue the merits of a more divese power network including independant nodes and make a comparrison to ubequitious networking (see my post on this tread form yesterday), your suggestion this will encourage lower density rather than higher is, um, very mistaken.

                    In fact, the more diverse and decentalized power and communication networks become, the more dependant of proximity to other nodes in the system they are and such systems fail at the point the next node is beyond reach.

                    Only independant, stand alone systems fit your hypothesis and they are either inherently limited or inherently inefficient.

                    An urban network of distributed generation is far more pratical and efficient than a rural one, that needs either a longer wire to connect to a grid or complete grid independance (see perceeding paragraph).

                    The global trend is toward denser urbanization and it's a practical necessity.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:24:42 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  SNARC, right? (0+ / 0-)

                Heh.

                Won't work

                Elegant arguement.

                Yes we can, not?

                Love it.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:04:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  On days when something breaks (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              believe me, I'd rather not either. Transmission leak, broken spring, flat tire, what a pain and inconvenience.

              It'd be much nicer if our society were constructed in such a way that we wouldn't need one, except for the occasional joyride, of course.

              You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.
              - Jessica Mitford

              by Swampfoot on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:24:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I've researched this a lot (5+ / 0-)

            I hope to do it, and hope to do it with an old Studebaker. A Lark or Champion would be ideal, given their relatively light weights, but even a Hawk is comparable in weight, a little lighter even, than light pickup conversions I've seen online.

            I have contacted an Austin business who do custom electric conversions (Revolt Custom Electric) to sound them out about cost. I haven't heard back yet, but a do-it-yourselfer I've corresponded with by email said generally $8000-10,000 is a good assumption, a cost that includes a flooded lead-acid battery pack with a 96-120V total (NiMH batters will cost more up front but last longer). I've seen kits in about the $4000-$6000 range for a conversion that would be freeway capable with a 30-50 mile range. Any of these options will charge off a standard household outlet.

            Yet another option I've heard of, if you can't convert a car yourself, is to sponsor a local high school or community college auto shop class to do it for you. You provide the car and kit, they provide the labor for free for the learning experience.

            "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You've got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight." --Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous

            by AustinCynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:49:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Mass transit has better numbers (12+ / 0-)

          Mass transit still has better numbers. I forget the number for commuter rail, but, IIRC, diesel-electric gets 400 mpg per ton of freight. A 50 mpg car carrying 200 pounds of passenger is getting 5 mpg per ton. Commuter rail isn't as efficient as freight, but I think you get the picture. Those numbers are never going to get close.

          Also, regenerative braking is being developed for electric rail (google).

          Finally, mass transit allows better development density: no huge parking lots. I'd love to be able to walk places from work, but everything is miles away due to enormous parking lots and 4+ lane roads. The only thing in walking distance is a small deli, and that's a third of a mile in the next office complex over. Using single-passenger transit has effects that ripple through everything we build and everything we use, and a lot of those effects are unpleasant.

          Member, The Angry Left.

          by nosleep4u on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:52:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Mass transit and bicycles are too (0+ / 0-)

          And far more efficient.

          I totally agree and have persistenly stated here that the engery source is one fundamental, so if your auto power comes from a clean source and is adequate and afforable for your needs, that's great.  Work out the carbon footprint & economics for the life cycle and if it's the best fit for your living situation, do it.

          What I'm talking about is the basic inefficiecy of automobiles and the general use of them (ie, the fraction of trasportation they fulfill) in any given region or country.

          Generally, the higher the fraction of mass transit, the lower the percapita energy consumption and cost for transportation.

          Compare percapita energy use for transportation of different nations and you will see why an increasing number are chosing to increase investment in mass transit and tax private, non-shared autos more.

          The general situation is many developed socities use a disproportionate amount of energy on transportation (US ranks near the top percapita) and that is lowered by mass transit.

          Mass transit is not a one solution fits all proposal as opponents tend to argue (typical strawman used by oil industry lobbyists); rather, it's the mix of transit infratructure that is the critical element and that includes cars, busses, mixed rail, etc.

          Another importiant dimension of this is social, the matter of public resources in the form of Taxation and public land use. The current model favors the affluent and penalizes the disadvantaged.

          The US system is totally skewed toward car ownership to the extent that it creates a transportation underclass in many areas (most, actually). Those unable to afford or use an EV and wind generator or any other personal auto are locked out of the system.  This is reality for an increasing number of people. Perhaps some non-car owners here that struggle with inadequate mass transit can comment.

          The inherent disadvantages are obvious to outsiders who live in countries with reliable mass transit(such as myself). We have a much different lifestyle and a significant differeance is less time and money spent of trasportation. On the face of it it would seem counterintuitive since you have to trave to a station, but rail runs on track not streets so it's fundamentally faster & cheaper.

          What I'm suggesting here is Americans reconsider their situation and shared interests as a society and what could be a better way.  

          Right now you are at a turning point and about to commit huge public spending for infrastructure.  What will you get in return?  Or should I ask, what will your children get since they are more likely to foot the bill?

          Perhaps an EV and a Solar or Wind generator in every pot is a good solution, but I rather doubt that is a practical and cost-effective solution for most people.

          But I could be mistaken and it's not my decision to make. I live in a city and country investing more in mass transit and my personal concern is if we are doing enough and the right mix, I'd personally like to see more because it works.

          If the US continues on the current track and bets the farm on EV, it will be very interesting to see if it results in a more efficient system than the global model of balanced rail/highway infrastructure. So far, the energy efficiency of the US suggests not.

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:25:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  we rural folk (19+ / 0-)

        are still "Americans", last I heard, and it will be many a decade, if ever, before public transpo replaces individual transpo  over the sparse distances we have to travel.

        Or should we all join the lemmings and move into urban concentrations?

        don't always believe what you think...

        by claude on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:53:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's more than just adding mass transit (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoenix Woman, kyril, HKPhooey

        We need to de-suburbanize our residential areas before a big mass transit buildout will truly pay off.

      •  The US and Canada... (3+ / 0-)

        Virtually all major developed and developing countries save the US and Canada have come to this conclusion or never abandoned mass-transit to begin with, unless the US gets with the program it will be left behind, economically.

        ...have huge distances (and small populations proportionally, in the case of Canada and much of the Western US) to cover which make public transportation ineffective in many areas.  High speed trains, should we decide to go that way, will solve some of the problem but this mode will simply replace a lot of air travel between major hubs (not good news for the airlines which have already been hard pressed by deregulation and high energy costs).  But it does replace fossil-fuel burning transportation with electric transportation (high speed trains will use electricity) and it is to be hoped that we will be pursuing ways to generate electricity that do not use polluting energy sources.  We do have a huge amount of energy available in the "wind corridor" that runs in a wide swath up the center of the country.  However, transferring that energy the huge distances that it would have to go to power our large eastern and far-western cities is a bit of a technical challenge.  If these problems that confront us were easy to solve, I suspect that many of them would have been solved already.

    •  aren't we experiencing a shortage of lithium? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541

      if we're running out of oil, going to another rare material isn't exactly the best idea.

      Is my information incorrect?

    •  Cool beans! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage

      Seems to me a car equipped with a very small internal combustion engine (law mower size perhaps?) could keep an already charged set of batteries topped off, or could be used in an emergency if you run out of juice.

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

      by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:05:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Too small. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        You need an ~10kW generator for your average car.

        I'm personally fond of the self-steering genset trailer concept.  Haul it around when you need it, leave it behind when you don't.  The fact that you can share the trailer among a large group of EV owners is just icing on the cake.

        •  Are you talking real-time electricity production? (0+ / 0-)

          I was thinking along the lines of a small engine charging your batteries over time.. say when you are at work or at a rest stop with no outlet available.

          It could also run as you are moving under battery power, somewhat extending your range.

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

          by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:15:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Charging rates (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, kyril

            Actually, I just that my genset numbers were off.  Way too low.  200Wh/mi (Volt-like) times 70mph = 14 kW average draw.  And you need to size bigger than the average for when people are driving in adverse conditions -- say, going 80mph with a net increase in altitude of a couple thousand feet per hour.

            I was thinking along the lines of a small engine charging your batteries over time.. say when you are at work or at a rest stop with no outlet available.

            Wait, you only want it to come on when you stop?  Then it needs to be even more powerful.

            Your typical portable generator is 1.5 to 2kW.  A volt-like vehicle uses about 200Wh/mi.  So that'd be charging at under ten miles of range per hour of charging.  That's not nearly fast enough except for an emergency.

    •  Tipped and rec'd... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      means are the ends, linkage, Joffan, kyril

      ...for cool science (from my alma mater!)

    •  Okay ... (3+ / 0-)

      This is NOT you, but yet again a press release from MIT about something in the laboratory skyrockets up the recommended list.  There are 100s (1000s) of great things / ideas / projects in laboratories, but these are not 'today's solutions' even if they are potential options for tomorrow.  

      Sad that so many (again, not your fault) latch upon laboratory Silver Bullets rather than focusing on the Silver BBs in front of us all.

    •  let's not try to invent perpetual motion. (0+ / 0-)

      can't make that much out of braking regeneration.

      fouls, excesses and immoderate behavior are scored ZERO at Over the Line, Smokey!

      by seesdifferent on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 12:09:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for this, Joffan (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan, kyril

      Since you wrote it, I know it's accurate.

      Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

      by Plan9 on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:06:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I needed some good news (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan, kyril

      Thanks for this, even if it turns out to be a propaganda plot of some kind.  At least you got my mind off the other news!  

      "You're going to love my nuts!" -Norm Coleman in that Slap Chopper commercial.

      by Nada Lemming on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:24:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Congrats on your rec list hit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan

      Now you are on the hook, don't dissapoint us.

      #;~o>

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:46:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  LiFePO4 batteries are gonna save this country (9+ / 0-)

    troll rated for football!!!

    by superHappyInDC on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:40:14 PM PDT

  •  Not to mention... (19+ / 0-)

    Recharging plug-in hybrids in a time that might be comparable to gassing up a conventional car.  I'm trying to decide whether to buy a new hybrid next year or nurse my old one along another couple of years.  This kind of development could entice me to wait a while.

    Thanks for bringing us this interesting development.

    Dear Republicans: You can't repeat a lie enough to make it true.

    by Dallasdoc on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:41:52 PM PDT

  •  Yeah, sure, what kind of nut job (21+ / 0-)

    pseudo-science website did you stumble across ... oh, Nature.  Never mind!

    Really, this is way cool.

    "Justice is indivisible." - MLK

    by Bob Love on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:42:12 PM PDT

  •  It's interesting..... (10+ / 0-)

    ....but energy density is still going to be an issue.

    Batteries have long since become inadequate.  We need a fundamental advance in energy storage.

    •  Lithium has been s..l..o..w.. (11+ / 0-)

      this will make it fast, but keep the energy density pretty high. So, as I sat above, it won't solve eerything - nothing will- but I'll take it as a breakthrough anyway.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:46:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't get me wrong.... it's better than nothing.. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca, koNko, SherriG, Joffan, HKPhooey

        ...but constantly having to recharge the things is a pain regardless of how fast you can do it.  To get any decent battery life you have to cart around a whole lot of weight.  This doesn't change that.

        Personally I'm hoping that the Polywell reactor works and can be scaled way down.... better to carry a few ounces of reactor and boron for a few hundred watts of power than to carry a few pounds for the same output.

        •  Atomicar? n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Corwin Weber, Joffan

          Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

          by JeffW on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:50:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Atomic car? SWEET! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          means are the ends

          Paint a big-ass atomic symbol on the back and watch your problems with tailgaters DISAPPEAR! What's your "safe following distance" now, assholes? Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

          AND a big atomic symbol on the front, to clear people out of your lane ahead. "I never have problems with traffic when I'm driving my Chevy Nukemobile(TM)!"

          Better yet, put a big glowing model of an atom on a stalk on the roof for maximum visibility day or night. Aerodynamics? Who cares?! Everyone knows nuclear electricity is "too cheap to meter" - the U.S. government said so.

          •  You realize..... (0+ / 0-)

            ...that like a tokamak reactor, the polywell design shuts down in the event of a critical failure, right?

            The reaction is physically impossible without containment.  Break the containment, no more reaction.  No more radiation.  (In a tokamak you have to worry about the shielding a bit, but radioactive lithium just isn't very dangerous.  Nothing like uranium.  You have stronger radioactive materials in your house right now.)

        •  given that the Polywell doesn't work yet with D-D (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          limulus, means are the ends

          fusion (a total of  9 neutrons produced is the data used as evidence of fusion reaction) and there are good theory based questions regarding B-p fusion ever going over unity in a Polywell, I think you're a bit optimistic.

          From what I've read on Polywell, the thing that will make it work is scaling it up, power losses are way too high for the small demos - Bussard's own math models show this.  A "backpack Polywell" would be a big and somewhat dangerous (from the magnetic fields) energy sink.

          •  Don't care about D-D fusion. (0+ / 0-)

            Boron fusion is aneutronic.  Easier to shield.  That's an important consideration in a consumer product.  For a more large scale reactor, using hydrogen would be nice, sure.  It's even more plentiful than boron is.  But in something like a car?  Go with the 'easier to shield' option.

            •  But B-p is harder to do (0+ / 0-)

              takes a larger reactor to keep leakage down.  That's assuming it can be made to work in a Polywell, several people say the radiative losses are too high.

              A megatesla field can drop bremsstrahlung losses, but we can't make one yet and it certainly isn't going to be small.  

              BTW - at least 0.1% of the reactions in B-p fusion are neutron releasing, with a peak at around 2.8 MeV.  There's also gammas with energies of 12, 8, and 4 MeV, and a hard xray continuum from the bremsstrahlung.  Boron-10 and H-2 in the fuel will also contribute to neutron production, getting the boron isotopically pure enough will consume energy.

              •  We don't know if it will work yet.... (0+ / 0-)

                ....not for sure anyway, but the Navy at least seems to think it's worth pursuing.  When it comes to atomic power?  I tend to figure they know what they're doing.  There's at least enough there for us to be hopeful.  

    •  We do? (8+ / 0-)

      BYD (major Chinese battery/automobile company is bringing an affordable electric to market which has a ~200 mile range.

      For most people who would like to make a long trip that would mean driving ~4 hours and stopping for a refill.

      These batteries offer a very fast refill.

      I could live with that.  I need to stop every few hours and pee anyway....

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:30:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Now carry that.... (0+ / 0-)

        ....in a laptop.  Or a cell phone.  Scale it up to a house.

        Battery tech is just about reaching the limits of what we can actually do with it.  You run up against the laws of physics eventually.  We're going to need to figure out alternatives.

  •  Sounds really interesting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Joffan, HKPhooey

    and perhaps an important development but what bothers me is that no one understands why having the glass coating on the cathode makes it works better. I'd need to read the full article to comment further and I do not have access from home.

    "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

    by yuriwho on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:44:11 PM PDT

  •  What a great diary! (11+ / 0-)

    Thank you -- for more reasons than basic education.  MIT is one of the universities that should be a recipient of mega dollars from the stimulus package.  I knew about their breakthrough with solar panels -- using a black dye to retain more heat, thus energy -- but hadn't heard of the battery research.  Marvelous!  Tipped and rec'd.

    You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

    by gchaucer2 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:45:45 PM PDT

  •  I don't understand why we can't do charging lanes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    means are the ends, Joffan

    even with existing technology. I mean, you have plug-in hybrids. Why not hang wires over our freeways, so that when you travel longer distances, you run on electric power directly, and recharge as you drive? If you change lanes, you lower your upright contact as you do.

    It seems very simple, and very straightforward. Why not?

    You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

    by Opakapaka on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:47:14 PM PDT

    •  Big infrastructure overhead (groan) (11+ / 0-)

      no seriously that's a lot of wires.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:48:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In big cities, they already have them (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoenix Woman, G2geek, Joffan, elwior

        all over the place for buses. There's already transmission wires draped all over the road from the existing power grid. A wire to every house in the country. And we're only talking about having two lanes of these on the interstates. I think this is nothing, compared to the cost of the oil consumed.

        You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

        by Opakapaka on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:52:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Couple of issues that I see are (7+ / 0-)
          1. extensive live contacts open to weather and general usage/abusage, not just in well-defined lanes within the city
          1. every car now has to carry a contacting mechanism (and some kind of metering device I gues)
          1. electrical load is going to jump all over the place on these lines so they'll need to be significantly overbuilt.

          Not to say it won't work; just some things to think about.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:57:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the cars would handle like crap. (8+ / 0-)

            a bus doesn't notice the weight of a pantograph,
            but, a car? it could seriously make the vehicle wallow.

            if you can do rapid charging who cares?

            This is way faster then pumping gas.

            Plus, if you put in this infrastructure it's hard to charge for usage.

            George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

            by nathguy on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:40:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Junk the car. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, BYw, Rick in Oz

              Trolleys are a better, proven solution.

              And the riders get lot's of time to blog while they wiz past the gridlock.

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:10:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you've been all over this thread advocating (9+ / 0-)

                this, and yet fail to realize the number of people who live in suburbs and exurbs.  Population density in America is much, much lower than in Europe and Japan.

                •  Suburbs and Exurbs (5+ / 0-)

                  And reducing the number of people in suburbs and exurbs is a critical step in getting this country's energy consumption under control.

                  It's not going to happen quickly, but it needs to happen.

                  •  Ain't. Gonna. Happen. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    CalGal47

                    I love suburban living.  I'll fight rather than get herded into a high-density urban rat-trap.  Most of my neighbors will agree.  And citing "energy consumption" as a valid reason for abandoning our way of life will not work.

                    •  I suspect (3+ / 0-)

                      I suspect that many of your neighbors will change their tune after suburban life stops being so heavily subsidized and starts reflecting its true costs to the resident, the environment and the broader community.

                      There will always be die-hard fans, though, and that's fine.  Suburbs don't need to disappear, just get smaller.

                      •  Still won't happen. (0+ / 0-)

                        Indeed, with the advent of both de-centralized information systems ("teh internets") and a de-centralized power system such as the proposed solar/hydrogen/battery above, the trend will be more likely towards less-dense suburban development, not intense urban development.  A suburb can get by on a decentralized grid, whereas a large urban population needs large, single-point power producers.  Quality of life is another big issue, and more Americans prefer to pay a little more to live in a nicer environment with less people per square inch.  Indeed, they'll be a lot more inclined to switch to battery power in order to keep their suburban/rural lifestyle.

                    •  well, the problem is that way of life (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      figleef, chemicalresult

                      has been heavily subsidized by the insane amount of money spent on subsidizing the oil required to make your commute work, and the roads to allow you to get there, and the services to extend that far out--including, in the West, water resources that are at a severe shortage.

                      Suburban living might not look so great if those in the suburbs were made to pay the true cost of their lifestyle, which is not only environmentally but ultimately economically unsustainable in the broadest sense.

                      •  What about the subsidies urbanites enjoy? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        askew, thereisnospoon

                        Including the real costs of pumping power and water from rural areas to them?  Could LA honestly survive without massive subsidies?  Vegas certainly couldn't.  Plus the subsidies to maintain the complex web of social welfare and bueracratic infrastruction needed to keep cities functioning properly.  I'd say that the drag on the environment is far more profound for the urban dweller than the countryfolk.  Not to mention the carbon footprint.

                        •  sure, but not talking about countryfolk (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          figleef, chemicalresult

                          talking here strictly about suburbs which are, from a policy perspective, kind of the worst of both worlds.

                          Keep in mind also that it is the cities that generate economic development, which is why blue states with big cities give more to the federal government than they get back, and most rural red states are on welfare.

                          Also consider that suburbs are not independent of cities, but exist because of their proximity to cities.  No city, no suburb (etymologically, suburb = "below the city").

                          So when you live in a suburb, you use far more water (think big lawns and big houses) than your densified counterpart, far more gas than your counterpart, and require much more expense in terms of the laying down of pipes and all other services, the building of fire stations and schools and all manner of other services, and the water gets pumped from the rural areas to you all the same.  And you still depend on the economics of the city.

                          Ultimately, mass population in suburbia is an unsustainable model.  That doesn't mean all the suburbanites will flock into the main city they're around, but rather that the suburban communities themselves will be forced to densify into their own mini-cities.

                          And in the West, the concept of the lawn has to go bye-bye altogether.

                          •  I still don't see it happening. (0+ / 0-)

                            Particularly when de-centralized power technology, along with decentralized information technology, makes urban living kind of pointless.  Urbanization works for industrial societies, but post-industrial societies?  What sense is there, economically, to living there?  What can you get in the ciy that you can't get in the suburbs?  The suburbs make better economic and quality-of-life sense for most people, and the attraction is growing as expenses in cities rise.  

                            Sure, kill the lawn -- I planted trees and hate mowing anyway.  But I think the trend will be away from high-density, crowded and ungreen urban spaces and towards suburban and rural communities.

                          •  densification = green (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            figleef

                            just because it doesn't look green on the outside, doesn't mean it isn't green in terms of overall usage.  One ugly apartment complex is WAY more "green" than a beautiful suburban neighborhood with lots of trees.

                            That said, if everyone can work from home, and all the cars can run on cheap, renewable fuel, then sure, you're right.

                            But realistically everyone can't work from home, nor will they. Realistically all those big houses spread away from each other will continue to consume far more economic and environmental resources.  And realistically, even if we go to lithium batteries, driving cars is more expensive and harmful to the environment than any alternative, especially when you build in the cost of roads.

                            Until we're all flying in fusion cars and meeting via 3d televideoconference, suburbs are going to be a lose/lose situation, and those who live there are going to have to be forced to pay their real cost at some point.

                            And yes, cities should pay top dollar for the water they pull from rural areas.  But in a sense, they already do: tax dollars are pulled out of urban areas, and gifted to rural areas all over this country.

                  •  agreed, but it'll be a very slow process (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    figleef

                    and people will still live there.

          •  One reason... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joffan

            ...streetcars and even trolley buses have gone by the wayside.

            Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

            by JeffW on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:40:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Big Cities (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wondering if

          In big cities, they already have [electric wiring over roads] all over the place for buses

          New York City doesn't.  The vast majority of its electrical grid is even underground, there isn't a single overhead wire going to most buildings.

          I'm pretty sure Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles don't either.

          I've heard that Phoenix has such buses, but only in the Scottsdale area.

          So, of the five biggest cities in the US, one of them (the fifth largest) has overhead bus wiring in a limited part of the metropolitan area.

          The only US cities where I've seen such wiring are San Francisco and Philadelphia, and SF doesn't even cross the million person mark.  I hear that Boston is starting to use it too in limited parts of their smaller than San Francisco city.

          •  Seattle has electrics (0+ / 0-)

            one of the higher population density cities, although no where near that of NYC. It also has hills, some steep enough that conventional IC buses have troubles starting up on them, thus electrics with high torque at low speeds.  Those same hills make rail-based mass transit very expensive as you have to tunnel through them or (if the neighborhood is mostly filled with brown skinned people) run them through/over the business districts that grew up around the old low incline roads.

      •  Emotional Argument (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        Mine: Lot's of rubber tires with greater power loss through rolling resistance.

        Your turn: ________________

        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

        by koNko on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:08:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and/both (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Floja Roja

          We need improved public transport and more efficient private vehicles.

          The solution to recharging isn't to put the cars on pantographs, it's to use MIT's implementation of the Tesla system in parking spaces and so on (see below).  

          Though, certain types of trucks could use pantographs: urban delivery, sanitation, and so on.  There is an article about this online somewhere.  Apparently it was common in the USSR for a fairly wide range of urban delivery applications, and worked well because everything could be scheduled and roads were not crowded.  

    •  I read of a start-up (9+ / 0-)

      company which has a contract in Japan to set up charging/changing stations.  Their idea is to have folks buy cars but lease/rent the batteries.  Drive, stop at the station, change out the battery for a fresh one and the old one gets charged for another driver.  Sounds like a great idea to me.

      You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

      by gchaucer2 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:49:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I never understood why this wasn't done (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        limulus, G2geek, gchaucer2

        it seems the obvious way to handle electric top-ups - given that prior to this development, (safe) battery charging has been a slow business.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:52:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, are those 10 or 20 lb batteries? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joffan

          that would be a bit awkward to change. Most people would need help.

          You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

          by Opakapaka on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:54:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Smaller batteries (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dougymi, Joffan

            I'm guessing 10 lbs.  The change time was estimated as 15 minutes.

            You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

            by gchaucer2 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:57:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  battery pack 100-400 lbs. plus. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cixelsyd, BYw

              and not typically small 'normal' lead acid batteries like you have in your car, and the cells are wired up in a box and carefully so.  I think battery swaps is a great 'gee whiz' idea, but is not practical, and with the battery costs going down, the venture capital Agasiz's sucking up would have been better spent on basic research and battery mfg startup.

               And the charging lanes mentioned elsewhere could/would use induction charging, where there are no exposed high 400-600v contacts, but a really strong coil under a cover material, and inside your car somewhere in contact with it is a similiar coil, this generates a current and voltage to your batteries. I think there are bigger losses than using a direct contact Big Extension Cord..on a wet car, in a rain storm.
                  Those prototype units have been tried out as well, but there are real safety issues with users being relatively untrained and in a hurry. Any battery swap  attendant will be harassed and cheaply paid and overworked...it's tricky, but fast charging will work out. I just think actual battery swap in the least practical and likely, but keep that venture capital coming.

              A world without imperfections is a world with nothing to say. : Pohangina Pete McGregor

              by KenBee on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:38:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Fifteen minutes (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              limulus

              ...for something that many commuters would need to do multiple times a day?  Yikes!  And that's not even considering rush hour lines

              Free Muntadhar al-Zeidi, Hero of Iraq!

              by Subversive on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:53:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  There are engineering solutions for that. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, Joffan, damned if you do

            you put the battery pack on rollers or have some kind of lift assist, either hydraulic or something else. It's not that hard to do. At the worst, maybe the filling station attendant can make a comeback.

            A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

            by dougymi on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:58:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The changing would have to be semi-automatic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            I'd think. No fumbling around under the hood.

            This is not a sig-line.

            by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:58:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  pretty much the way you do it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Joffan

          in automatic guided vehicle systems in factories. You have some charging stations in-line to get you through the shift, but to do a complete job you have to pull the vehicle and either swap battery packs or do a deep equalizing charge with an off-line charger.

          A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

          by dougymi on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:55:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm, I thought (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joffan, IreGyre, damned if you do

          I had bookmarked the article but will look around again for it.  I thought the idea was brilliant.  They were referring to a smaller lithium-ion battery, methinks.  It got good mileage on a charge but the plan is to have a 15 minute change-out for long trips.  They even thought ahead about having a coffee shop connected with the change station.  Damn, I wish I were a genius.

          You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

          by gchaucer2 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:56:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ok, I misremembered (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joffan

          the country -- d'oh. Not Japan -- Israel.  Here's the article on the subject.  It appears there are con discussions on the concept but I haven't read them yet.

          You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

          by gchaucer2 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:01:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Problem... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wondering if

          you'd need every battery to be standardized... from small commuter cars to trucks.  The swap idea doesn't work if everyone isn't using the same 2 or 3 batteries, like we do with grades of gas now.

          Matt

          In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

          by Cixelsyd on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:31:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Don't know about Japan (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        offgrid, Joffan, BYw, Losty

        Project Better Place has contracts in Israel, Denmark, Portugal, ISTR some cities in the US. EDF (French electricity company) is setting up in France and I think London, though those might just be fast charge stations. Might be others out there.

        About this news announcement -- promising, but there have been so many in recent years which are still trying to get to the real world. Still and all, a good thing.

      •  how do you know how to charge (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sacrelicious, DocGonzo, Joffan

        for battery abuse?

        George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:41:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In-battery "health" monitors (0+ / 0-)

          I'd guess.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:48:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hackable / Not-Tamper-Resistant (0+ / 0-)

            You need have the validation system owned by someone with more skin in the game, ie, the recharging station owner (or govt, if it's socialized).

            That way, there are less opportunities for abuse of said validation mechanism, and the penalties for abuse are more easily enforced.

            This assumes the validation mechanism is relatively accurate and quick if it's not built into the battery. Who knows how that would work.

            --
            Make sure everyone's vote counts: Verified Voting

            by sacrelicious on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:40:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Initial costs (8+ / 0-)

      Have you any idea what it costs to hang a single mile of high voltage, high amperage electrical cables to run trams/trolley buses? Over $300K/mile. And that's inside a city where you don't have to erect steel towers to carry the cables.

      On a highway you'd have to make the towers no less than 16' high to allow for a 13'8" minimum transfer cable height for semis to get past. You'd also have to protect the hell out of every single tower; much more so than for most bridge columns since a direct hit from a fully loaded 40', 80-ton semi would take down miles of the system and leave high voltage cables snapping around on the road.

      Then there's the extremely non-aerodynamic, unwieldy structure you'd have to attach to a car which would need to be able to withstand the drag caused by speed when fully extended 9 feet above the roof of the car so that it could actually tap the power supply.

      Then there's the amount of steel which would have to be produced to build all of this, and my back-of-an-envelope calculation tells me that the US doesn't have the capacity to produce enough to even electrify the inside lanes of only one large, highly-traveled highway like I-95 inside two years.

      •  I don't buy it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DocGonzo

        I've seen these all over the place in big cities. So you already have hundreds of miles of such wires, serving a bus every ten minutes or so. And you're saying it doesn't make sense economically to have the same setup with most cars using it?

        How much does it cost per mile to build an interstate? How large is this $300k per mile in comparison?

        For cars, I was thinking you could have the overhead wires lower than nine feet (say at six feet). The lanes on the freeway would be dedicated to cars--no semis. But then there might be safety issues with such low wires.

        You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

        by Opakapaka on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:16:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not gonna happen... (6+ / 0-)

          ...they tore down Chicago's trolley wires in the late 1960's. You may not buy it, but building an Interstate trolley system isn't practical. You'd have better success electrifying the nation's railroads.

          Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

          by JeffW on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:46:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Answers (6+ / 0-)

          Big cities have concentrated traffic. Hung electrical wires for trams are only found on the most concentrated of these sections and for the most part use existing infrastructure (buildings, telehone poles) to hang the wires from.

          New highway construction costs an average (depends on state/region as well as rural/mountain/plain/urban) of around $3M per lane. This cost has nothing to do with the costs of trying to turn highways into tramways.

          You can NOT have the wires lower than 9 ft. You probably shouldn't have them any lower than 15 feet for that matter. People have already been stupid and thanks to cost-cutting, ignored the reason that there was a 13'8" minimum clearance requirement for at least one full-width lane at any point anywhere on the US highway system: that's the maximum height of a tank (and later the standardised max standard truck height). Toll booths and some modern bridges already violate these minima.

          And if you block off the inside lanes to trucks, what do you do when there's an accident or repair on the outside and traffic is forced to the inside? This is fundamental transportation engineering that most people never give a second thought to.

          You also ignore the matter of coming up with a not-quite-as-non-aerodynamic-as-a-brick mechanicals which would have to be developed so that a 5-foot high car can securely extend a pole to a high-voltage line three times higher off the ground than the top of said vehicle. Don't forget the entire suspension mechanisms which would be necessary so that the vehicle wouldn't lose contact or damage the wire if the car hits some road debris or another car just behind latches on and has a bad suspension or one of a bajillion other reasons why this idea is totally unworkable.

          •  There are definitely a lot of issues with this. (0+ / 0-)

            But that's what engineering is for.

            By your numbers, the cost to electrify interstate lanes is 10% of the cost of constructing the lane itself. That's pretty cheap. How much gas would be saved? What's the economic savings from using cheaper electricity vs. more expensive gas? My bet is, it would pay for itself.

            It definitely wouldn't make sense if wires were more than seven feet or so off the ground. I think you could have dedicated lanes, like separate toll lanes now. Non-electric cars could use them (if there were a need to close lanes). But trucks could not. I don't think this is a major issue.

            The car would have a battery, and a gas engine. It would be a hybrid-electric. It wouldn't matter if it lost contact with the wire temporarily (or for a while for that matter); if it did it would just switch to battery/gas.

            Obviously it is much better to have battery-powered cars, or biofuel-powered cars, or some other way of powering cars that didn't require all of this extra equipment. But my point is, if none of that is cost effective or environmnentally responsible on a large scale (I hear lithium batteries are pretty nasty to build), then the point is that this is a reasonable, cost effective alternative that works on existing technology. It would suck, but it works. And it would definitely reduce our petroleum consumption significantly.

            You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

            by Opakapaka on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:14:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Big picture (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              limulus, blindcynic, wondering if, BYw

              You're considering the cost as a factor of some 10% of the cost of construction of new roadways rather than considering the cost of trying to electrify existing roadway which would take out a revolving 1-2 lanes on each side of an already overcrowded existing roadway.

              It definitely wouldn't make sense if wires were more than seven feet or so off the ground
              And this opinion is based on what exactly? I've already explained why a minimum clearance exists and why it's necessary to maintain. You don't just get to dismiss it out of hand. Just because you don't see the sense doesn't mean that there isn't any. Are you really so ignorant as to believe that 7' off the ground is an aceptable height for ultra-high-powered lines when vehicles twice that height are traveling 60mph+ only inches away from them? Fer realz??

              But trucks could not. I don't think this is a major issue.
              I challenge you to find three tangible items in your home which were not carried by a truck somewhere between the points of manufacture and purchase.

              It wouldn't matter if it lost contact with the wire temporarily... if it did it would just switch to battery/gas
              So you don't understand engines and motors either. There is no such thing as instant switch-over between power sources.

              Let's try this again: where the hell is all the steel going to come from? And what will be used to power the foundries to make that steel? And how will you equip cars with the necessary hardware to connect in such a way that the cars will continue to function and not tip over?

              •  You don't know what you're talking about. (0+ / 0-)

                There's more steel rebar in the existing road bed than would be required in any power superstructure.

                You have separated express lanes and toll lanes on many freeways. This is not a problem.

                You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

                by Opakapaka on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:53:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (5+ / 0-)

                  You seem to think that A) the roadbed doesn't already exist; that B) most 8-12-lane highways were originally built at that width; and that C) the US still has the steel production capacity it did 60 years ago right after a massive war.

                  You also clearly don't understand that for every mile of electric transfer cable some 5-7 miles of support cable is required. Nor do you understand that if steel trellises aren't used for support then 15' concrete towers filled with rebar must be (there simply aren't enough trees to try and do it with creosote-soaked telephone poles, nor are they resilient enough to stand up to the punishment which would be dished out.

                  I'm not "anti-electrically driven cars", I'm pro-understanding all facets of an engineering and logistics problem. I'm still waiting for an explanation on how to get the electricity from the overhead wire to the line of cars trying to tap it, never mind that we've never actually tried to do something like that because as was earlier pointed out on the thread, trams come once every five or ten minutes, not bumper-to-bumper for miles.

                  •  OK. (0+ / 0-)

                    China and South Korea produce steel these days. We import it from them. Not that difficult.

                    I'm sure that if the electrical requirements of so many cars couldn't be supported by a single wire, you could break the wire into discrete segments arranged in a continuous line (so that the cars would slip from segment to segment), so that each segment would only support a few cars.

                    My point is, the problems you identify are all solvable. I don't know the best solution. Someone needs to do lifecycle cost/benefit analyses for the available options, and choose the best one. My point is, I think this is a valid option.

                    You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

                    by Opakapaka on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:05:42 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Its easy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joffan

            Sailing on a sea of angry words and insults is no fun at all .

            by indycam on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:07:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Heh. Also, impose a maximum driving age (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wondering if, shenderson

              of about 20.

              This is not a sig-line.

              by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:20:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If we all had bumper cars (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joffan

                I wouldn't have wrecked my car yesterday, I would've just bounced off the other car.

                It would certainly be more fun. And I wouldn't be car shopping right now either (although I might actually come out ahead. With my car insurance and then gap insurance taking care of my loan, I might be able to get the same car with a lower monthly payment since dealers are practically giving away cars now)

      •  Returns (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DocGonzo, Joffan

        Only Americans make the arguements you do.  Only Americans but them.

        Enjoy the gridlock, it's super-efficient.

        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

        by koNko on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:17:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  have you ever lived here? (11+ / 0-)

          and if so, have you ever been outside a major urban center?

          while we definitely could use more rail solutions, Americans are simply NOT going to abandon cars as a general rule due to our much lower population density per square mile.  And hanging wires over the nation's massive interstates?  Gimme a break.

          Keep in mind that Texas alone is bigger than all of France.  Have you any idea how much it would cost the French to hang wires over all their highways from Montpellier to Bretagne?

          What you're suggesting is simply economically unfeasible, even if it were technologically feasible.

          •  I.e. "The American way of life (0+ / 0-)

            is not negotiable."

            If the environmental or resource costs of manufacturing all of these lithium batteries are prohibitive (quite likely IMO), and if biofuels can't coexist with food crops, what are our alternatives?

            You have mass transit, you have finding some other undiscovered way to store power, and you have direct transmission. So you only have two real options. Pick one.

            In the end, we just might be forced to live more like the rest of the world, and to not consume twice as many resources per person as everyone else. I'd be willing to bet this happens sooner, rather than later.

            You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

            by Opakapaka on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:35:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  well, obviously--but geography isn't negotiable (0+ / 0-)

              ultimately, what you need a long-distance alt transit solutions.  That means green cars.  The "car" isn't going to go away, so that means if we want to have a functional society over the long term, we need to have green cars.

              Trains and trolleys are important for certain areas, but only a part of the solution America needs.  We need green cars.

            •  Not negotiable but declining. (0+ / 0-)

              Enough to question if it's still a valid and sustainable model, or if it is time to accept some change before time and options run out.

              Change we can believe in.
              Yes we can.

              Right?

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 09:46:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  No Problem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      offgrid, Joffan, BYw

      Electric trains & Trams are existing technology and make immediate gains in efficenty inposssible with cars.

      Don't let the "infrastructure" arguement put you off, the US pours billions into a crumbling highway system with diminishingeconomic returns and zero growth is capacity, there is virtually nothing to lose by changing course.

      And how, might I ask, will all the stimulus package funds for infrastructure be spent, and with what economic and environmental benifits?

      More status quo?

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:06:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tesla system, 18 inch range, MIT. (19+ / 0-)

      (This is not kook-stuff.)

      There was an item last year about folks at MIT experimenting with Tesla's broadcast power technology and developing a version that will work at up to an 18 inch distance.  Apparently this was published in a legit peer-reviewed journal and had proper support, so it passes the sniff test.

      The application they had in mind was: you pull into a parking space and the recharger under your car is above the power transmitter mounted in the pavement.  You pay for your parking space, pay extra for recharging.  

      This could be embedded in rest stops or refueling stations along freeways, and with fast-charge batteries, you charge up more quickly than getting a tank of gas.

      The problem with a continuous recharge technology embedded in freeway lanes, is extremely high cost to make it work efficiently (switch on only with cars and trucks passing above it).  And for vehicles on an uncrowded road, it has to follow each vehicle's progress, which in reality means switching on entire strips of these things to anticipate the vehicle's speed.  Otherwise it's just dumping power into the air needlessly.  

      IMHO better to install them at gas stations and rest stops.  And when drivers of gasoline cars see the electrics recharging in seconds & getting back on the road while they're still filling up, they will want electric vehicles too.  

    •  Magnetic Charging (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Floja Roja, Joffan, wondering if

      It's probably better to use some kind of magnetic or inductive charging, which works across an air gap, rather than any direct connection. Pave it into the highway, and put the pickups either into a device that drops a little closer if necessary, or maybe even into the tires (like "steel belted radials" hooked to the charger).

      The disadvantage is installing charger equipment into the car, making it heavier, carrying it everywhere while it's not being used, instead of driving up to one with a lighter car. The cost:benefit analysis of either is an engineering problem that's complex, but doable, and essential in planning. If Detroit were competent, they'd already have done it correctly. Maybe they're just the kind of incompetent that has solved the problem, but ignored the solution.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:22:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  trolleys ride on rails at slow speeds (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mftalbot

      if a car with an 8' tall pole sticking out of it were to attempt to contact, or maintain contact, with an overhead cable at 75 mph while the driver was drinking coffee and swerving around slower cars...the whole infrastructure could shred in seconds, along with the cars and people in the vicinity.

  •  The "XO computer" also known as (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, Hannibal, Joffan

    OLPC ("one laptop per child") uses such a battery.

    http://www.olpcnews.com/...

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:58:10 PM PDT

  •  Will Jindal support such newfangled technology (9+ / 0-)

    if it's banned in magnetic levitation trains and volcano monitoring?

  •  I'm still waiting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sacrelicious, PBnJ, Joffan

    For the Arc reactor.

    So now that we've won, when does the apocalypse begin?

    by Hannibal on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:03:15 PM PDT

  •  This is likely the near-term goal: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DocGonzo, Joffan, Losty, HKPhooey

    http://www.technologyreview.com/...

    Carbon nanotube are difficult to manufacture still, but once that is overcome, they will be incredibly cheap and environmentally sound - and the replacement cost (which is still high for LiFePO4) will be very low.

    Investing in this technology, when it is at the point that it needs a jumpstart (soon, but not quite yet), would be very wise for America.

    Leave it to Republicans to set the house on fire and then rant that the fire department is socialist.

    by johnsonwax on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:25:36 PM PDT

  •  For commuters? Recharge at the parking garages (11+ / 0-)

    Recharge at parking meters

    Recharge at interstate rest stops

    With plug in hybrids there is no need to allow an insistence on "perfect" electric cars to trump better hybrid electric cars. Keep the hybrids until the infrastructure is built out, over time.

    Now, we need electricity. Lots and lots of electricity.

    "Seeing our planet as a whole, enables one to see our planet as a whole" - Tad Daley

    by Bill White on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:29:38 PM PDT

    •  With what DC isnow charging for Parking Meters... (0+ / 0-)

      ...I should be able to recharge at the Mayor's mansion.

      "We were keeping the homeland safe." ...If you'd stop calling our country the "homeland", then I'd stop comparing you to 1930s Germans.-LiberalThinking

      by malharden on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:02:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The real value of this technology (7+ / 0-)

    Is not to facillitate EVs or Hybrid Autos (it does) but to improve the efficiency and lower the cost of decentralized generation by Wind, Solar & Hyro.

    Why?

    Because based on current storage technology, the efficiency and reserve capacity of these clean generation technologies is not adequate to cover baselod, making fossil fuel and/or nuclear a practical necessity.

    In a generation application, the battery is stationary and contributes zero burden beyond that required to manufacture, distribute/install and recyle at end of life. Then the capacity is efficiently used to level generation/demand.

    In a trasportation application, it becomes non-productive payload reducing the effetive efficiency.  While regenerative braking will provide some productive fraction of re-generation, the total needs for that in many forms of transportation is relatively low while other technologies such as linear motors, low-loss transmission etc cover the larger fraction.

    In other words, the benifits on the fixed generatio side will be greater than in transportation systems which, inherently, consume more than they (re)generate.

    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

    by koNko on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:53:00 PM PDT

    •  I'm not sure that scale is sufficient (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy

      because in coping with power generation applications you're dealing with far higher energy storage requirements, if you want to displace serious MW in time.

      But I'd have to go and do some figuring to know one way of the other.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:58:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not storing MW (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, Betty Pinson

        Improving charge efficiency at low current and recovery speed of localized storage.

        In other words, increasing the charge efficiency and capacity of distributed generation systems to make them less grid dependant, or even to make the subsystems independant.

        Practical example: Solar Generation/Lighting panels that charge in the Day and Glow in the Night (or as required).

        Improve enough and you make them independant. Improve more, you may have enough retined capacity (depending on usage) to feed back into the grid.

        Subtract the load of lighting from grid base load multiplied by enough panels and the average/peak demands are reduced.

        How much power do we use for lighting? Lots.

        PV makes sense in this case because you already have lots of surface area out there and the LED lamps like low voltage and don't suck-up much capacity. With better generation/storage capacity, some of the power can be shared.

        That's one example of how distributed generation can work better than a lot of people expect. Skepics (including myself) tend to argue about Trains, Factories, peak Load, etc. but lots of consumption is managable and adds-up.

        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

        by koNko on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 12:15:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe so, but home use could be possible. (0+ / 0-)

        Certainly a device in your basement could store power from roof-top solar panels for running your home electrical needs.  More rural folks could do the same with a wind turbine.  You could also program it to grab electricty from the grid for recharge during lower cost off-peak hours.

        Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

        by bigtimecynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:25:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Still Good to Go (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw

      While you're correct about the relative efficiency gain of stationary vs mobile applications, it's not necessarily true that a mobile battery costs more in energy to move around than it saves in efficiency. A battery can store a lot more energy than it consumes in being moved, dis/charges at 99% efficiency, powering 90%+ efficient electric motors. That battery is a net improvement on what it replaces.

      And it's replacing something. In electric cars, it's probably replacing lead batteries, which are cheap and powerful, but very heavy. Lithium based batteries are much lighter per power stored. So once they can compete with total storage and fast dis/charge, they're more efficient than the lead ones, earning their keep. When competing with gasoline/diesel cars, they replace a gas tank with gas, the rest of the fuel/exhaust system. And replace the drivetrain with much lighter (and smaller, making more aerodynamic and efficient overall car shapes) and more efficient electric motors, along with the extra efficiency of regenerative braking closer to 99% recovery every time throughout the trip.

      While stationary apps are more efficient than mobile, we have more storage options in stationary, too. For cars, efficient, cheap, and relatively nontoxic storage that dis/charges comparable to gasoline is a major bottleneck. These batteries might break through in a major way.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:18:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually lithium batteries are already slated for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DocGonzo

        use in the upcoming 2010 Chevy Volt electric/hybrid.  The battery has already been developed as a joint venture between GM and LG.  Toyota and Honda both use NiMH batteries for their hybrids.  Nobody uses lead batteries anymore for hybrid or electric applications.  So in this regard, this advance is more evolutionary than revolutionary (but a significant evolution to be sure!)

        Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

        by bigtimecynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:28:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I hate to throw cold water on the idea... (12+ / 0-)

    ..of "quick charge" electric vehicles, but there are basic physics problems with any new system that must be considered.

    In simple terms:  There is no such thing as an energy "free lunch".  We also need to consider the total energy required over the time that energy is used.

    Let us imagine a very efficient, lightweight electric auto that requires a motor producing an average of 25 horsepower.  When it is accelerating it will use more, when it is cruising a city street at 30 MPH it will use less, when it is breaking it could be designed to actually return energy to the battery system.  So, for the sake of discussion, we will use the figure of 25 HP, AVERAGE.

    Converting horsepower to electrical power units, we need to know that each horsepower equals 1,000 watts of electricity.  (This is an approximate number that allows for the unavoidable losses due to friction and lost heat that result from the conversion of electrical energy to mechanical force.)  This is the "no such thing as a free lunch" part.

    Therefore each HOUR of operation of our hypothetical electric car, will require 25 Kilowatt-Hours (25,000 Watts for 1 hour)of electrical energy.  This is the energy over time part.

    The problem is: 25 KWH is about the amount of electricity an average American home uses over a TWENTY-FOUR HOUR day.  Any roadside charging system capable of charging our example car in a short time (say five to ten minutes) would have to deliver power at a rate HUNDREDS of times faster than power is now delivered to your home.  This means wires, transformers, switches, circuit breakers, etc. hundreds of times stronger and larger than the equipment now feeding power to our homes and small businesses.

    While it is certainly theoretically possible to design and build power system to deliver power this quickly, such systems do not currently exist.  Advances in battery systems will continue to bring practical electric cars closer to reality.  The developments in lithium/iron-phosphate batteries are very promising.  However practical use will require further development and large long term investments in the electrical power system needed to charge these new batteries.

    •  Good perspective, thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy

      I don't object to looking at the reality of how these system might or might not work.

      I wonder what kind of energy delivery would be feasible as things stand? Say 30 seconds to deliver 5kWh, thats a power supply of 600kW... pretty beefy...

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:12:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thinking about it ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, New Sweden, Joffan

        ...maybe these rapid charge batteries will be most useful for efficiently recovering braking energy and smaller apps like laptop computers.  

        The most practical idea I've seen is overnight charging at home, and parking lot charging where people work.  One very interesting idea is millions of parked, plugged-in to their chargers electric cars forming a huge, diffuse, nationwide storage system that an interconnected "smart" power grid could actually draw power from to meet peak requirements.  One can imagine rooftop solar, wind, cogeneration and all those electrics just humming along.

    •  a battery on the side of the road (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sacrelicious, Joffan

      A couple of points:

      1. Many (most) houses have a 100 Amp main breaker and 220V service for things like dryers, ovens, and stoves.  So, in fact, the electrical system in a common house can easily deliver tens of kilowatts of power, or hundreds of kilowatt-hours per day (i.e. ten times higher than the average household consumption).
      1. The energy doesn't need to be transferred from the electrical company at the same time the car is charging--store it in a battery in the charger.  (I'd bet that if such quick-chargers were actually installed, they would spend a lot of time idle either because no car was present or because the present car had been charged.)  If the charger is fed by a common industrial 480V 3-phase circuit, and assuming a charging-the-car duty cycle under 50%, achieving charging powers on the order of one hundred kilowatts or a megawatt would be entirely reasonable.  In fact, the hardest part would probably be designing the bits that go between the charger and the car, not the charger and the power station.

      Using the battery-in-the-charger solution, the main limitation to quickly charging an electric car becomes the rate at which the traction battery can accept energy.  The charger's battery, because it is fixed, can use almost any battery chemistry capable of high power, and doesn't need to use expensive Li batteries

      •  Yes, I envisaged an accumulator - (0+ / 0-)

        it would need very fast discharge rates but it doesn't need to match the energy density of the mobile unit. Safely handling the rapid energy transfer would definitely be the challenge in my eyes.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:32:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  How about beamed power? (0+ / 0-)

      It has been demonstrated that you can power objects WITHOUT a physical connection -- that might work in a travel lane.

      (Not sure the efficiency, though.)

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:10:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We'll need a lot more power plants (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, Joffan, JeffW

    and that means coal or nuclear. Which do you want?

    •  Since you ask, nuclear (7+ / 0-)

      preferably liquid-flouride thorium reactors.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:17:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  switch to DC grid - regain losses (7+ / 0-)

      and it's like getting a huge jump in generation capacity and then be able to connect up all generation sources on a continental scale... wind, hydro solar, tidal as well as nukes and fossil... and some even think it can eventually remove the need for fossil (Coal & Gas) or even nukes...

      Some engineers are thinking big. Their calculations suggest that continent-wide HVDC "supergrids" could help smooth out the variable levels of power created by many far-flung renewable generators to make a fully dependable supply. Supporters say this will eventually mean that coal, gas and nuclear power could be ditched, with renewables replacing them within a couple of decades.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

      by IreGyre on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:16:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No we don't... not for a while anyway. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Snarcalita

      What many people don't realize is that coal and nuclear plants churn along at a fairly steady pace; they are difficult to ramp up or ramp down. So they provide "baseline power", and often have excess capacity during low use hours (middle of the night).  So if many Americans begin using electric cars, then they will likely recharge in their garage at night. Therefore they are simply putting this excess capacity to good use.

      When more power plants finally are needed, the answer is more nuclear and natural gas. Recent discoveries in the Marcellus Shale formation of upper Appalachia are estimated to have a anough gas to supply the US for at least 30 years.  This is more than enough time to perfect green energy sources, and produces far less CO2 per BTU than coal (not mention is cleaner in many other ways).

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:17:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wind (4+ / 0-)

      We already have 1/5 the wind capacity that we have in nukes. And that's despite the 50 years deploying nukes, and the very few years recently deploying significant wind (which really hasn't started to seriously scale). For the costs (true costs, including mining/disposing fuel, building/decomissioning/recycling dirty plants, security, etc), we can build a lot more wind, distributed nearer demand, and get faster initial deployments rather than waiting years to start generating. With better battery tech, wind capacity is more completely used to generate and evens supply across the demand cycle.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:35:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Either is better than (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, HKPhooey

      each car running its own portable gasoline power plant. That's much less efficient and you can't really do much about the waste products.

    •  Neither. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Snarcalita, Inventor

      Bad assumption that it has to be coal or nuclear.

      Omaha must now be referred to as Omama

      by GenXWho on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:17:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No it doesn't. (0+ / 0-)

      In fact, neither coal nor nuclear is long-term sustainable; just like you will eventually run out of coal, you'll eventually run out of uranium.

      Nuclear power is a stopgap to be used while we convert to real sustainable energy- wind, tidal, solar, hydro.

    •  We get 52% of our electricity from nuclear... (0+ / 0-)

      ...here is Illinois, from aging plants running an open fuel cycle, 2% from wind, and 42% from coal. I'd like to see the wind amount increase and the coal amount decrease.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:52:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good news! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, BYw

    Looking forward to replacing my wretched and totally pathetic laptop battery someday....

    Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

    by mofembot on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 12:52:03 AM PDT

  •  The next new billionaire invention will be (10+ / 0-)

    energy storage.

    This was the engineering round table discussion at, of all places, Intel, and no it wasn't last year - this was circa 1994.

    We prized next-generation battery technology over dozens of microprocessor innovations.  Intel even spent countless millions engineering a solution to the problem of battery life in notebooks by circumventing the battery - their smaller microprocessor "wires" (like 45nm technology) resulted in cooler, much more highly efficient electronics which extended battery life in a common notebook by hours.

    I tell my technology students that if they can revolutionize the storage battery, they will not only be making one of more important societal impacts conceivable, but that they will be rewarded beyond measure for doing so.

    Plastics are yesterday's news.

    We are living the Republicans' vision. Do you like what you see?

    by thenekkidtruth on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:24:06 AM PDT

    •  not necessarily. So much "nano" research is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thenekkidtruth

      focused on printing circuits and ultra short wires on plastics. Why? because its still cheap, flexibale, and (sigh) disposable.

      •  I'd be beyond excited by a nano solution (0+ / 0-)

        to energy storage . .  might not be beyond the realm of possibility.

        We are living the Republicans' vision. Do you like what you see?

        by thenekkidtruth on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:50:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  One problem is the term "nano" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wondering if

          it is a highly abused term that researchers use to tout just about anything because it conjures up high tech and futuristic imagery. The same kind of colloidal gold and silver particles that have been used for centuries to make color in stained glass are now referred to as nano-particles. That's not to say the science isn't interesting, just needs better descriptors.  

    •  Yes, storage is the key to solar/wind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thenekkidtruth, BYw

      becoming dominant in the grid. The main limitations to these technologies is that they cannot reliably produce baseline power for the grid since they don't produce when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing.  Energy storage systems at each solar/wind farm would solve that problem (or at the end use location; people's homes).

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:20:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  These are pretty interesting results. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Joffan

    I work in an academic research lab that currently has a project focused on improving the performance of LiFePO4 as a cathode for batteries. There is still a long way to go in figuring all the ways to control the structure and morphology of this simple material

  •  The Trouble with Lithium (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, BYw, mkor7, Losty

    For about a century, the US has made it unofficial foreign policy to use and abuse its Latin American neighbors, treating them like colonies, forcing them to borrow huge amounts of money for incompetent and unnecessary projects, and negotiating contracts that raped their natural resources at bargain-basement prices.

    Low and behold, LA's first indigenous president Evo Morales runs for office on the platform of standing up for the right of his people to control their own wealth...

    And surprise, surprise...Bolivia happens to have most of the world's lithium, which they don't plan to share with the US any time soon. (PS They are SOCIALIST!)

    •  They don't need to share with the US. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sacrelicious, Joffan, BYw, Losty

      Lithium, like oil or any other material, is a commodity that finds its way onto the world market, and then into the hands of any willing buyer. For example, Bolivia is in talks with Korean giant LG for a huge lithium contract.  And who will one of LG's more high profile customers be? General Motors, who has given LG the battery contract for their upcoming Volt electric car (if they survive that long). Also, LiIon batteries are used in "American" computers like Apple, but often are sourced from Japanese suppliers.  It would be nice if the US could get in on the advanced battery manufacturing sector, but in the absence of that we will still have unfettered access to the product.

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:06:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read John Perkins (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        Our machinations in Latin America have been so criminal that absent a huge push by Obama they will sell for less to another block rather than let us get an edge. For decades we've pushed them into debts that they could only repay by opening up rainforests to exploitation--all the while telling our children to send pennies to "save the rainforest."

        Unfettered access? Paying Korea or Japan to make a battery we could make here? That's stupid economically, but I do believe you are correct in your predictions.

        Our best bet would be to become the best at lithium recycling, because there's already a lot here that's finding its way into dumps rather than into new batteries.

  •  How fabulous this would be in cities (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Joffan

    where we park on the street since we have no driveways or garages where we can charge our batteries at home overnight, and where we drive the shorter distances that make electric cars especially efficient.

    Great news!

  •  This is a 100-fold (2X factor) increase over (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, Joffan, BYw

    existing technology. GM has already developed some fairly advanced LiIon battery technology that will allow the full recharge of their upcoming Chevy Volt battery in 3 hrs on a 230V household circuit.  This would be reduced to about 5 minutes with this new MIT technology. But because most homes are limited to 230V 200A service, the house circuit would limit the recharge time (when at home) to about 30 minutes.

    Also, a 10 second recharge as stated by the author is unrealistic in terms of both battery capabilities (especially for large car batteries) and the amperage required to achieve it (quite dangerous). A more realistic application would be pulling into a recharge station similar to a gas station, and spending 5 minutes recharging. If you think about it, it usually takes nearly that long to top off your gas tank now.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:11:20 AM PDT

  •  Charging rate isn't the main problem for EVs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan, wondering if, squarewheel, iBlue

    This is a good advance, but it doesn't make the batteries significantly more attractive for vehicles. The lithium phosphate batteries they're improving already charge and discharge fast enough for electric vehicle use.  The batteries have been used in DeWalt 36V power tools for a few years now, and they're about to be used in the Chevy Volt.  They can discharge fast enough that last year they set a record for electric motorcyle drag racing.  Whether the batteries can fully discharge in seconds or minutes doesn't really help their usefulness in propelling a car, if you want to drive somewhere 2 hours away.  It may make the charging a little more attractive, but again, the charging rate for most people will be limited by the charger capacity and their home's power capacity.  Where the Lithium phosphate batteries really need the help are in cost and to a lesser extent, energy density (Whrs/Kg) so that more energy can be stored for longer range.

  •  Let's not get too rah-rah about this just yet. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan, wondering if

    Even assuming you could charge a car-sized lithium ion battery in 10 seconds.  Let's look at the math.

    The Volt uses a 16kWh battery.  That mean 16000W for one HOUR.

    There are 360 ten second units in an hour.

    So it would require a power source capable of delivering 5,760,000 W (5.76 MW) for 10 seconds to charge it.  The only way to do that would be to have an identical set of quick-discharge batteries on site that would slowly charge at normal household rates (A dryer-sized outlet only uses 6000W, which means it would take a little less than 3 hours to fully recharge your on-site battery.)

    Please note that I'm just using a Chevy Volt as an example... and it only gets 40 miles on a charge.  If you want a realistic estimate for an electric car, you need something that goes at least 400 miles on a charge.  Even assuming it takes 5 minutes to deliver a 400 mile charge, you're looking at a system that needs to deliver 1.92 MW for that 5 minutes.  This is far, far beyond what any direct-transmission system could hope to achieve, not to mention the physical limitations.

    To summarize, yes, being able to charge batteries quickly is a huge technical hurdle to have overcome.  Unfortunately, it's not the ONLY one.  Now, if only someone could come up with a room-temperature superconductor that could allow 2MW of current...

    •  Really I offer the floor to you (0+ / 0-)

      While this advance doesn't solve everything, and I didn't want to imply that it does, it does change to scope of what is possible with these lightweight batteries - so what improvements do you see might open up from this?

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:35:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Current technology is what is relevant for energy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan, wondering if

    Lots of stuff on the drawing boards and in R&D but it clouds the issue of what to do NOW to fix US energy problem which is an economic, national security and environmental crisis for US.

    US is 50% less energy efficient than Europe/Japan based on CURRENT technology.  We don't need to wait for new technology to prove itself. We have all the technology tools we need right now to cut US energy use by 50%.

    •  Also important (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      In her own Voice

      although enough of the inefficiency is "built-in" that that is unfortunately not a quick process either.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:47:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  US could increase energy efficiency 50% in 8 yrs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Losty

        Most of it is very easy and could be done very quickly with a huge boost for US economy in jobs while paying for itself by cutting oil imports and pollution.

        For example, adding simple solar hot water heaters to homes cuts hot water energy use by 30% average over US (more in South, less in the North but works everywhere). 10% overall reduction in US energy.

        Increased insulation and other weather proofing for all buildings...again very cheap, fast and effective...another 20% reduction in US energy usage.

        Increased fuel efficiency requirements on cars, tax on gas guzzlers (less than 30 mpg gallon). Tax credit on fuel efficient cars, over 30 mpg.  Over eight years, big switch to more fuel efficient cars...another 10-20% hit on energy use.

  •  Technology saves the Planet, Again! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Joffan

    Why is this so shocking? ;)

    Hasn't technology always saved us from doom and the Cassandras who predict the end of the world as we know it?

    Apparently, the "Peak Oil" theory is now irrelevant.

  •  Not a magic bullet (0+ / 0-)

    Charging an EV battery in 9 seconds is such a huge surge it creates problems of its own.

    It all comes down to energy.  Yes, there's the issue of where it comes from, but also how you move that much energy in 9 seconds.

    Voltage is fixed in EV.  To my knowledge, it's around 400VDC.  That's high voltage, but the amount of energy needed to move a car is HUGE.  So with the volts fixed, there's only one way to move electricity quickly.  And that's to drive up the amps.  Which resulted in heat loss on the wires.  Which is less efficient and more dangerous.  In 9 seconds, I'd imagine the amps running through the wire at 400VDC would be well into the hundreds.

    Big Oil might also shoot this down citing very legitimate safety concerns.  We're talking tens of thousands of watts running through a line handled by  amateurs.  At the very least, they'll complain that they can't afford to have trained electricians at every fuel station in the country, and again, it's a rather legit point for a cop-out.

    Finally, to keep the wire from overheating, you need to make it thicker.  And what are wires made of?  Copper.  And guess what metal we ARE experiencing a chronic shortage of?

    It ain't lithium.

    We're in this together you idiot. No wonder this country hasn't improved; it's filled with idiots who wave around "Dem" and "GOP" like they're baseball teams.

    by Dragonchild on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:29:44 AM PDT

  •  Electric Powered Cars Are the Only Way to Go (4+ / 0-)

    Right now we have a mish-mash of solutions on how to power cars: eletricity, biofuel. hydrogen, etc.

    But the real question is how to distribute the power. If you have a dozen different "fuels" going into cars at the "pump", you have a dozen different sources and that ain't going to work. No one's going to create a network of fueling stations that must offer, all at the same time, treated cooking oil, fuel made from corn,switchgrass or cardboard, hydrogen, etc.

    But make the standard vehicle fuel electricity, and you can use any method you want to create that electricity, especially non-polluting, renewal methods: solar, wind, geothermal. And you can put a "fuel pump" anywhere you've got enough room for a plug and a card scanner....

    •  The problem as stated above is storage (0+ / 0-)

      It's hard to deliver dozens of KWh in a more efficient or quicker package than pumping fuel.

      Unless we solve that energy storage problem (whether it's a battery fuel-cell swap/refill station solution or super energetic charging stations), we aren't going to be able to replace gas stations or for that matter, hyrdocarbon fuels.

      I think Hybrids, Plug-ins, etc are the way forward to transition to pure electric vehicles.

      --
      Make sure everyone's vote counts: Verified Voting

      by sacrelicious on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:50:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Battery tech is the only thing... (5+ / 0-)

    That is currently keeping electric cars out of the mainstream.

    And don't think the car companies can keep burying new tech either.  The electronics industry wants this tech out there...a battle royal between Exxon and the likes of Sony/Panasonic/Apple/Mitsubishi/GE/Phillips/Samsung/etc...all combined.

    One of the most underrated parts of the stimulus was the inclusion of a ton of money (can't remember the figure right now, I want to say hundreds of millions) dedicated to battery research.  Projects such as this will get a much needed boost in funding to make sure they can follow through.

    Our electric grid needs to be upgraded - because a true electric car revolution is just over the horizon.

  •  This is an exciting development (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Joffan

    I posted a diary a little while back about my desire to convert a gas car into a plug-in electric vehicle. This sort of advance--especially if the battery packs and chargers could be made affordable--would be a huge boon for plug-in EV's and hybrids of all kinds (production or conversion).

    With a charging time of less than a minute, maybe we could see something like the spark hydrants displayed in the Watchmen comic; people can fill up on current as well as gas and range considerations would be effectively eliminated.

    Now the challenge will be getting this to consumers. Naturally. Tipped and recc'd.

    "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You've got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight." --Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous

    by AustinCynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:38:22 AM PDT

    •  Regenerative braking is essential IMO (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson

      I don't think you can make a straight conversion of any regular gas car to battery effectively. You need the energy recovery from braking to make the range and battery weight trade-off work.

      The outlook for getting to consumers is fairly bright, according to the sources - two to three years roll-out. Infrastructure that is dependent on these capabilities would be much slower, of course.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:54:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joffan

        Most commercially available kits get you between 30-50 miles on a charge, depending of course on the weight of the car and how much power you're using. And that's with existing tech, and no regenerative breaking.

        Even if it didn't extend your range a great deal, having a smaller battery pack that charged up more quickly would be wonderful. A couple of minutes vs. 6-8 hours? A humongous improvement. Like everything else, EV conversion isn't a cure-all solution, but given that the average driver drives under 50 miles per day a 30-50 mile range is sufficient. Most of the time.

        I've been keeping a mileage log to see how far I drive--the most I've driven in a day is about 39 miles; most days I'm at 30 or less.

        "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You've got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight." --Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous

        by AustinCynic on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:05:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

          That's better range from simple electric drive than I realized. Thanks.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:18:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Check out this link (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joffan

            Go to the EV Album and you will be amazed at the ingenuity of people across the country and the world even. Many people have taken compact cars from the '90s and '00s, some classics. There's a gentleman who converted a tractor built in the 1940s for use on his farm, another dropped an electric motor in a Triumph TR-10 to use as a short-range runabout car.

            Lots of great vehicles on that site, it's great to check out if you have a spare hour  or so.

            "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You've got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight." --Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous

            by AustinCynic on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:28:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  my EV conversion didn't need reg. braking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joffan

        It depends largely on your driving habits, and the weight of your car and wind resistance of the car. But my bug doesn't need it, driving on largely flat surfaces at mostly 30 mph. Those are my driving patterns (I'm lucky) but you can design a EV system for longer range - i know a guy with a 63 ghia that has about a 80 mile range per charge and can get up to 75 mph. No regenerative braking.

        It's the sort of thing that sounds good in theory, and I looked into it for my system, (many EV controllers are available with this feature) but it would've dragged the car during coasting on flat surfaces. But it's great for going down hills a lot.

        Anyhow, my conversion is pretty effective for my needs.

        •  That's pretty good then (0+ / 0-)

          what sort of batteries are they, and how many?

          I'm surprised there's any effect when you're not braking. I though te regen brakes had no effect until you use them, apart from carrying the additional weight of mechanism of course.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:21:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Apple is claiming an 8 hr battery life (5+ / 0-)

    from their new 17" Macbook Pro. I'm not sure what the deal is on the battery but I have a 15" MBP and I'm doing well to get 2 hrs out of its battery. So if they are correct they're getting ~ 4X the battery life out of a larger notebook PC than mine, which I bought new, about a year ago.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:51:15 AM PDT

  •  The Register deflates MIT's claims (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan, wondering if, iBlue

    Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. --Gautama Buddha

    by Junkyard Dem on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 06:58:17 AM PDT

  •  As a single woman, any time I read a diary (12+ / 0-)

    about "battery advance," I'm honor-bound to recommend and tip.

    Great diary.  Isn't it terrific to be able to imagine and discuss advances again and know they're just a little less likely to be quashed by some GOP quizling in a governmental agency?

  •  Combine that with solar cells and you'll have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson

    something for steady power as well.

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:42:54 AM PDT

  •  This is a great advance.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bryce in Seattle

    but I think that super capacitors will be the end-all be-all....

    Batteries can still only use 30-40% of their total charge, any more than that and they won't re-charge fully.  Capacitors can do a complete cycle with no charge memory.  Look for researchers to continue to increase capacitor capacity  (punny, no?) in decreasing size and then we could have a viable electric vehicle!

    (-8.50, -7.54) Only the educated are free. -Epictetus

    by Tin hat mafia on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:42:58 AM PDT

  •  What? MIT couldn't find Americans?? /snark nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lump1, iBlue

    Rub raw the sores of discontent - Saul Alinsky

    by JayGR on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:09:47 AM PDT

  •  Bring on the "Volt, GM nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, elwior

    My pissant life is better than most people on the planet. It's all about perspective.

    by SecondComing on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:13:42 AM PDT

  •  What about... (0+ / 0-)

    Some kind of metal strip in the road that has a charge in it?

    Kind of like aerial refueling a car could have a metal conductor that can connect to it and charge without stopping.

    It would need some kind of safety device that only allows the recharging probe to contact the charge in the road.

    News and views about the Obama Administration and the 2010 and 2012 elections at DemConWatch

    by Oreo on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:22:36 AM PDT

    •  Solar is easier and cheaper. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oreo, Losty

      Put a cell on the roof and hood and charge en route, put them up in company parking lots and on your home roof to charge at night.

      •  Solar panel on the roof (0+ / 0-)

        ...of the next Prius, but it's just to power the airconditioning.

        •  Not exactly (0+ / 0-)

          The A/C takes a LOT of power, way more than a solar panel on the roof can provide.

          What the roof panel does is run a fan, which keeps the inside of the car at the ambient temperate instead of getting much hotter. (The panel may also prevent some of the heating, but I don't know the significance of that effect.)

          And BTW, this was an announced feature of the Aptera long before Toyota announced the 2010 Prius.

          (#102 on the Aptera waiting here, FWIW.)

      •  But not really practical (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk, wonmug
        Let's run some numbers...

        According to this chart, here in Los Angeles we get 5.62 kilowatt-hours per square meter per day. Assuming a panel efficiency of 20%, you're going to produce around 1.1 kilowatt-hours per day per square meter of panel you put up.

        So how much electrical energy does a car need? The Aptera reportedly has a 10 kilowatt-hour battery pack and 120 mile range.

        Assuming you can get the energy from the panels to the car at 70% efficiency, this means that one sqare meter of panel will give you 9.2 miles of driving per day.

        And all of these estimates are EXTREMELY optimistic. Most people live in places that get much less sunlight than Los Angeles does. Speaking from years of personal experience, you're not going to get anything like 20% efficiency out of most solar setups. 10% is closer to the mark. 70% is very optimistic for most battery charging. And the Aptera is hardly a typical car and you're not going to be able to get comparable efficiency in a typical car.

        And all this ignores a really big problem: You say "use solar panels and charge your car at night". Bzzt on that: The sun doesn't shine at night. So if you're doing this off-grid you'll need to store and retrieve that energy, which is probably going to cost you 50% right there. Alternately, you can use a grid-tie setup and use your panels to offset daytime use and suck baseload power at night to charge your car, but again there are going to be losses associated with doing that.

        Put all this together and you probably need to divide by at least 3. So you're probably down to at most 3 miles per day per square meter of panel. And that's still very optimistic.

        According to WikiAnswers, the average American drives 33.4 miles per day. So that translates to 11 square meters of panels per person. My solar panel setup is pretty large, but it sure as hell isn't the 33 square meters we'd need, assuming average use by our three person household.

        And none of this provides any spare capacity for that long trip or series of cloudy days, etc. etc. Add enough headroom to make this realistic and you're talking more square footage of panel than I have at home and on my car. And if there were panels on my building at work, I have to think they'd be used to offset the huge electic bill there and not be provided to me to charge my car.

        Like it or not, at the present time solar panels are at most capable of providing a limited offset of other forms of energy. Large scale practical solar power is going to come from solar furnaces out in the desert.

      •  You'd need a hell of big panel: (0+ / 0-)

        certainly can be used to assist in charging, but PV solar is only about 30% efficient for the very best cells.

        1.4 kW/m2 - a sq meter of PV under optimal conditions might get you 400 watts, roughly half a horsepower. If you are willing to put out tens of sq meters of panels, it might work. It would also cost many tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to power a typical car.

  •  I love diaries like this! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    I remember reading about this development and then could never find again where I saw it posted. Thanks so much for sharing this!  

    I survived Lufkin, Texas.

    by lincoln925 on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:28:14 AM PDT

  •  And that's why you fund science. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, sabredance, elwior, cocinero

    Especially at a place like MIT.  

    President Barack Obama

    by jfarelli on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:30:16 AM PDT

  •  charging while moving and using the engine (0+ / 0-)

    would be interesting but very dangerous.

    Still it's good to see physics in action.

  •  I HOPE THIS IS REALLY GOOD NEWS (0+ / 0-)

    I've heard about Lithium and its importance for the future of electric cars.

    One bad part about lithium is the majority of this element is find in Bolivia which is not too friendly to the U.S

    There's not a large supply of lithium in the world , so this could be a problem if the electric car were to take off.

    •  Bolivia is not militarily aggressive, not (4+ / 0-)

      harboring terrorists, not any threat to the US or the peace of its neighbors, except to foreign corporations who want to continue to dominate the economy there and continue to leave the county in severe poverty. If the US government stops being the tool of US corporations, we'll get along okay with Bolivia.

      I'm sorry to hear lithium is in short supply, though. No battery or other energy solution that depends on a very limited resource is likely to be a good solution in the long run.  THat's very pertinent when we think about how to shift cars away from oil.

  •  Bolivia the next Saudi Arabia? (6+ / 0-)

    With almost half of the world's lithium supply, is Bolivia gonna be the next Saudi Arabia?

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:47:57 AM PDT

  •  Ever heard of battery swapping? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sabredance, Losty, The Jester

    Shai Agassi at Better Place has a plan that has been given serious consideration by some venture capitalists here in the US since I read this article in Business Week (January 24, 2008).

    It's an interesting concept, too.

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 08:53:08 AM PDT

    •  Problems there too (0+ / 0-)

      A significant fraction of the cost of the vehicle will be battery.  So the owner of the filling station will have to, at any given time, have a significant inventory at his disposal.  That's a huge financial strain.  And what if you know the battery in your vehicle is dying- if you get it replaced with a new one, who eats that loss?

      •  fast charging stations also an option (0+ / 0-)

        Some other, more current links
        on Agassi's plan...

        Better Place--Canada Joins...

        The truth is, no one knows if the Better Place model will work -- including Renault-Nissan. The French automaker has made moves without the start-up, signing deals to bring its electric vehicles to Portugal, the State of Tennessee, the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan and France. Meanwhile, Chinese automaker BYD is bringing its own plug-in hybrid and a competing infrastructure to Israel in 2010 to go head-to-head with Better Place. Several other electric car firms have been pushing alternatives to Better Place's system of battery replacement stations, preferring fast-charging stations instead.

        Find your own voice--the personal is political.

        by In her own Voice on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:29:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who "pays" for the excess batteries? (0+ / 0-)

          This has always been what I've seen as the major thorn in this.  

          For argument's sake, you'll need at least 10% more batteries on the shelf than total numbers of vehicles.  And if people travel to certain vacation travel destinations which have a small permanent population but a large temporary one, you'll have to bring batteries in on season, out at the end.  That will cost a lot of money.  Who pays for this, the company that builds the car, or the "gas" station owners?  

          You know they'll already be paying huge bucks for the charging infrastructure, and they'll have to totally retrain their staff.  Do you think they'll want to go so deeply into the hole for this?

          Wish I had more time to go into details, work calls...  This is a subject near and dear to me, both as a gearhead and an electronic engineer who deals with energy management.  I've had a diary on electricity on hold for a month now, waiting for the time to support it.

          •  don't know, D--I'm not in your position--I'm only (0+ / 0-)

            curious and interested in bright ideas.  It's folks like you who figure out the details and the feasibility.  I do know our own A Siegel has written about Better Place.  Perhaps he has some of the info you are asking for...

            Find your own voice--the personal is political.

            by In her own Voice on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:52:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, the FLEET applications could use this NOW... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, sabredance, In her own Voice

      ... in NYC, the entire taxi fleet needs to be converted to electric, and they could very easily implement battery swapping as the quick fix for recharging in a hurry.

      Ditto the BUS system in NYC, and the air quality benefits would be well worth it. Think about how much polution we breath in from tens of thousands of taxi's idling and zipping around the city... cough... everyday.

  •  Oh no, not another reason to wait... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero

    for the latest technology!! I hope they get this soon cuz I want a Plug-in soon...

  •  Lithium batteries will lead to energy Nirvana! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    An Affirming Flame

    Nevermind ;)

    Russ Feingold: cooler than Batman.

    by yojimbo on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:09:52 AM PDT

  •  Major Problem (4+ / 0-)

    Heard this in the morning and my first thoughts were, I'm going to have to give a physics lesson to people sometime today.

    In order to recharge a battery that fast, you'll need wires as thick as your wrist.  And you'll need a way to convert the usual high-voltage low current source which is how we transmit power to a low-voltage, high current supply.

    Even the best high-power conversion techniques are never more than 90% efficient.  10% of all the power will go down the drain, turned into heat.

    So this is great for cell phones, cameras and gadgets, not bad for laptops, and almost useless for anything else.

    You'll NEVER radically improve automotive battery charging times, without a massive change in infrastructure that will negate the gains.

    •  Yes, rapid charging will tke juice... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sabredance, Losty

      Figure 4 phase, 220VAC per phase connection, delivering 50 amps per phase. That's 44,000 watts, with wiring similar to the mains connection of your typical home. Your typical gas station already has huge high current/voltage electrical supply to them, for running the pumps and the donut shot and coffee machines ;-)

      Housed in a connector/cable that makes it safe to be manipulated by your typical consumer at the selfserve gas station. No juice enabled through the connection until a positive lock connection is achieved, so noone gets zapped to jupiter by accident.

      After all, we let them handle a hose dumping 200+ GPH of gasoline into a thin walled aluminum tank ;-)

      •  4 phase? (0+ / 0-)

        Not very common, in fact almost unused.  

        First of all, have you ever seen a multi-phase connector?  They cost two arms and a leg, and aren't really designed for many cycles simply because the wires are thick, the leads entering the terminals are inflexible, and most of them are "twist-lock".  Having wired my share of L8 sockets, and the really nasty L16's, it takes a lot of torque to connect.  

        You see just about the worst thing on earth that can happen to a multi-phase motor is to lose a phase.  You can run on one or two, but you'll burn it out in minutes.  So the connectors are really, REALLY tough.

        But with a battery, multiphase is positively dead wrong.  You'll have to rectify each phase separately, and combine them before going to the regulator circuit.  That means each diode will waste roughly a watt per amp, so in your hypothetical charger even before regulation you'll lose 200 watts of energy, generating 200 watts of heat which will have to be removed.  What's the gain in this?

        Like I said, physics lessons.

  •  I can put them in my 62 bug (3+ / 0-)

    I just converted a 62 bug to electric power. It takes 4-6 hours to get a full charge on my very heavy deep cycle lead acid batteries. Even still, it only costs .25 a day, and my local power company credits that back to us for having an electric car. There's a surplus of electricity on the grid at night, and if I wanted to set up a solar panel and battery pack to collect energy to charge the car, it would be completely off of the grid. The impact on the environment is fairly minimal (for those insisting we're stuck with burning coal, no matter what we put in our cars). When the battery pack is dead (about 5 years) I can recycle the batteries.

    Getting a full charge in 9 seconds, combined with the light weight nature of lithium iron phosphate cells, would yield an extremely efficient use of energy. It's kinda hard to comprehend if it's true. But rather than crushing old cars and recycling those materials for new cars, I'd be in favor of reusing the old cars, and simply updating them with new motors and battery packs. That's the business Texaco (or Al Gore, or someone) should get into. Neil Young did a great electric conversion of his old Lincoln - linkvolt.com i think.

  •  Battery improvement will make hydrogen irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

    Refueling speed is certainly an important consideration for electric cars - just imagine if you're driving from LA to San Francisco and have to wait for 4 hours at the charging station before you can keep going...

    However, battery energy density is at least as big a concern - strides have been made but far more R&D money needs to be spent on what (I believe) is one of the biggest potential advancement areas for the auto industry.  

    I personally believe electric cars are the future of the auto industry, with plug-in hybrids as a bridge we can use to get us to that point - fuel cell cars are merely vaporware the auto industry gives lip service to so they can push needed emissions reductions into the future by a couple decades.

    Hydrogen is a greenhouse gas - it is the smallest molecule and escapes readily from almost any container.  Imagine if we switch to a hydrogen auto infrastructure and have millions of cars and fueling stations, each leaking a little hydrogen into the atmosphere every day - unintended consequences could be severe.  Not to mention the many remaining hurdles such as the amount of catalyst rare metals needed (platinum, rubidium) that exceed the total amount on the planet, energy density concerns, flammability, etc.

    Finally - electric engines are simple and have few if any moving parts - even today it would be possible to design an electric car that lasts more or less forever except for the battery.  Planned obsolescence could become a thing of the bad old days if we fix the battery lifespan issue - which is of course why car companies hate the idea so much.

    An interesting aside on the fast charge / discharge thing - anyone thought of the concept of what this would do for Taser technology?  Don't Tase me bro!

    Ignorance makes the world go flat

    by sleipner on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 09:22:56 AM PDT

  •  Silicon nanofibers? (0+ / 0-)

    What ever happened to that development a while back?  That was supposed to revolutionize battery technology too.

    If these two technologies could be merged, Exxon Mobil is dead meat.  Fast charging, high capacity batteries.  Wouldn't that be the bee's knees?

  •  Reality check... the power required for realistic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lump1, Losty

    ... electric car, in practical terms, to achieve the performance/behavior we have all come to expect is:

    200 KWH

    That is what is required for a 3,400Lb vehicle to travel around your typical 400 miles of mixed highway/city driving.

    Until batteries can achieve that level of energy storage, and allow charging in a time frame close to the time it takes to fill your tank at the gas station, electric cars will be saddled with compromises limiting thier acceptance.

    The magic numbers are: 200 KWH of energy storage, and 5-10 minute recharging time.

    This Diary's breakthrough shows how continued and increased research into materials science may get us to these goals. If research into these issues isn't paid for and invested in, it will NEVER be achieved.

    Scientists have to eat too, and will work on funded projects, if we as a society want progress into areas where we need breakthroughs in, then we need to make the commitment to fund those efforts.

    On an aside, I have invented something that may provide this solution, and am patenting it currently. But the funding available for innovation has dried up, just as it has for many other purposes in the current economy, which is why it is so important for the administration to get the economy back into gear and the credit markets functioning again.

    Innovation and progress are greatly slowed in this depression level economy, and the things we ned to help us dig out can't happen until the wheels of innovation and manufacturing the innovation are greased with CASH MONEY ;-)

  •  How bout 10x lifespan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lump1

    Found this article while bopping around looking for related stuff:

    http://www.ecogeek.org/...

    Basically they found a way to use flexible silicon wires to house the lithium, so that when it expands/contracts with charging/discharging it doesn't stress and deform the surrounding structure.

    Drives home the point about more research needed - batteries will be the oil of the 21st century, only without the pollution.

    Ignorance makes the world go flat

    by sleipner on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:05:46 AM PDT

    •  Lets not get carried away (0+ / 0-)

      A lot of the mining for rare metals used in todays batteries is very filthy.  This is another issue that will need to be addressed.

      Mountaintop Removal Mining: trading our purple mountain majesties for central air.

      by demotarian on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:16:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yaaay!!! (0+ / 0-)

    I have been heavily investing in Sociedad Quimica y Minera ... otherwise known as SQM. SQM is the largest lithium producer in the world. SQM sits on, currently, the largest deposit of lithium in the world. It will get surpassed by the find in Bolivia though. It really depends on what the Bolivian government wants to do.

    No more gooper LITE!

    by krwada on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:39:59 AM PDT

  •  Glenn... (0+ / 0-)

    ...Beck's take:

    Lithium-based batteries are in common usage for electronic devices evil devices powered by demons.  

    After Obama finishes cloning liberal babies via his stem cell research, he is then going to call on his voodoo and conjure demons into these Lithium-based batteries.  More about this tonight on the Factor, when Bill O'Reilly will discuss this new evil with Dennis Miller and Tammy Bruce.

    Glenn Beck, c. 3/12/09

    "The stimulus package, which I don't support, had better work."-Stephen Colbert

    by wyvern on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:46:31 AM PDT

  •  We need people-powered treadmills that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lump1

    recharge packs of batteries in useful configurations.  

    I know there's been some success setting up children's seesaws near water supplies such that the kids playing served to pump water.

    I'd love an exercise device, whether treadmill or otherwise, that recharged a handful of AA and AAA batteries, or what not.

    •  Yeah, it should be a recumbent bike with a dynamo (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      martini

      More expensive recumbent bikes already have magnetic resistance for smooth operation, so why not use that to generate electricity that you can return to the grid. You'd plug the bike in, but it would give power instead of taking it.

      It's not very clean energy, because you're still burning (expensive) biomass and pumping out CO2, but that's life.

  •  Don't worry, this will be all moot, anyway (0+ / 0-)

    DARPA is already messing with autonomous cars.
    That is, cars that drive themselves.
    They had two competitions recently where fully autonomous, computer-driven vehicles were to drive by themselves across country a few hundred kilometers.
    In the first competition, they all stalled after a few kilometers.
    The second try, a couple of years later, 5 teams succeeded.
    Last year, IIRC, they did it in simulated city traffic!
    Now of course it'll be several years till a 10 year old will get into a car and say "Home, James", but I doubt it'll be much more than a decade.

    I read someplace (couldn't find it dagnabbit! I'll look tomorrow) a 5 part article that worked out in detail the coming transition to a fully automated electric (of course!) system. Not easy, but feasible.

    There are a number of interesting implications:

    Parking: no on-street parking. In fact, no visible parking anywhere. "Your" car will let you off, and go someplace technical and recharge.
    Recharging time becomes almost irrelevant.
    When you need it again, it'll come back, or, and this is where it gets interesting, any other will do. (Sorta like taxis) You don't need to actually own a whole car to get the convenience and efficiency of an individual vehicle, Just pay for when you need it. (The article explored various timesharing and ownership schemes).

    A "Just-in-time"-like "public" transportation system
    emerges which could be far more efficient than  things like buses (how much does it cost in energy and upkeep to run scheduled, half empty buses?)

    No more streetlights, signs, lanes, verges etc. Everything would work in software. Autonomous vehicles would use the asphalt far more efficiently, moving at 120 mph almost bumper to bumper, and half a meter between "lanes". Imagine intersections: everybody whizzing through in all directions, hair raising to us, yes, but our grandkids won't notice.
    The only real problem I see is ... pedestrians.
    Too unpredictable.

  •  No so fast! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan

    If you read the original article in Nature, the authors don't claim anything for the charging rate. The work is primarily focused on discharge rates, which indeed are extremely fast, and is maintained over hundreds of charge-discharge cycles.

    There is some discussion on the charging aspect. For small total energy storage as in cell phone and other mobile devices, only 360W is needed to charge it in 10 seconds. For plug-in hybrids which uses much larger batteries, 180kW will be needed to charge in 5 minutes.

    This still is a very important discovery.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    by Suvro on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:33:18 AM PDT

    •  Caution is fine, but (0+ / 0-)

      in a response to the Nature news article, someone with access to the full paper did add that the authors took their test piece through charge and discharge cycles at similar rates.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:07:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to be argumentative, but just to clarify... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joffan

        this is incorrect. Let me explain.

        Perhaps you are referring to this comment at the end of the Nature news article?

        It is true that discharge rates are the standard for measuring battery speed, but the team also measured some full charge-discharge cycles that were just as fast. For those who are subscribers, it can be found in figure four of the paper.
        Posted by: Geoffrey Brumfiel 12 Mar, 2009

        If this is the quote, then you will have noticed that Brumfiel is the original author of the news article. Surprisingly, he is wrong! I am a scientist at Caltech, and have looked at the Figure 4 of the article. It does NOT show the charging rate. What it depicts is the discharge rate for the 1st, 50th, and 100th cycles. Yes, it shows that they took the material through several charge-discharge cycles, but does it show the charge rate to be as fast as Brumfiel infers? Absolutely NOT!

        And by the way, this caution that I mentioned about trying to charge large batteries quickly, is directly from the paper by the authors.

        As I said, it is a significant discovery, BUT it is not what you made it out to be.

        Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

        by Suvro on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:24:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't this unsafe? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan

    Faster charging times seem like they're dancing awfully close to explosiveness.

    •  No gases involved (0+ / 0-)

      so I doubt there's any explosion risk.

      Incidentally, there's no explosion risk from cell phones at gas stations either, although it's not a great idea to focus on anything else except the filling process anyway.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:05:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gases don't have to be involved. (0+ / 0-)

        Take flywheels for instance, they can store massive amounts of energy too. But, in doing so, they can act like bombs when they fail catastrophically, even though gases aren't involved.

        Any time massive amounts of energy are shunted from one place to another, the potential for something that looks like explosion is there, even if it isn't in the most technical sense.

  •  I hope we will see more diaries on Green Tech (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    after a year of nothing but political spam, it is refreshing to see the return of important matters.

  •  Abraxas' Law (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonmug

    "The rate of battery advancement press releases doubles every eighteen months"

    -- me

  •  Take this diary down at on once. (0+ / 0-)

    Before the oil companies find out it and kill it.

    We shall overcome, someday. Yes we can.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:59:25 PM PDT

  •  Wow. This is interesting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan

    I look forward to reading more and hope the Obama administration took notice.  There is considerable amount of funding in the stimulus bill for advanced batteries.

  •  That's pretty cool. (0+ / 0-)

    Build a skating surface for the lithium ions to slide on until the find the entrance to the tunnel.

    I'm Ron Shepston and I'm not done yet. There's much left to accomplish.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:37:53 PM PDT

  •  Do they overheat? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joffan

    Given the problems with LI batteries in the past, what about the overheating problem with this new technology? Charging in 9 seconds isn't so great if they get too hot and/or catch fire when doing so.

    •  LiFePO4 does not have as many problems as LiCo (0+ / 0-)

      (the normal lithium batteries) as far as overheating is concerned, at usual charge rates. I don't know how it holds up on fast charge/discharge.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:03:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Go, Modeling! /nt (0+ / 0-)

    That is all.

    The White Race can not survive without dairy products - Herbert Hoover (-8.75,-8.36)

    by alain2112 on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:06:23 PM PDT

  •  Implemented in hybrid or hybrad designs, this (0+ / 0-)

    type of ability to recharge quickly would make transition to those types of vehicles much more attractive.

    It's really only a question of time before hybrids or hybrads outnumber conventional IC vehicles.

    Pollution in urban areas would be greatly reduced as a result of less combustion by products. That alone would be worth something. The overall reduction in burning fossil fuels and attendant CO2 production, even better.

    But .. if the electricity to charge these batteries is still made by burning coal, I wonder what type value even this holds.

    Do Americans need to have cars that have hundreds of horsepower available? I drive a 12 year old Honda Civic, which is very peppy [if I want it to be] and get almost 40MPG if I take it easy on the accelerator.

    Why do people need to drive big heavy cars, anyway?

  •  So (0+ / 0-)

    how much lithium is there in the planetary crust and how much of it is available and how many batteries will that make?

    How long to peak lithium and the lithium wars?

    Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

    by Deep Dark on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 04:36:43 PM PDT

  •  A little bit of caution here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yuriwho

    If something charges up quickly, it usually exhibits a higher degree of leakage than average.  Leakage is essentially a drain on the battery when it is not operational, which means it won't last as long and essentially wastes a fraction of its stored energy.

    Higher leakage for faster charging is a very good rule of thumb for physical phenomena. If they have solved this problem, then swell.

  •  Make batteries last--Waste less save the world (0+ / 0-)

    Since battery function is based off of chemical reactions you can slow their decay by tossing them into the freezer when they're not in use.

    Also I guess that means you ought to store your electric car in the arctic or outside during the winter instead of in the garage or Haiti.

  •  What is this F-Zero on SNES??? (0+ / 0-)

    Charging stations lolol.

    But seriously, thats awesome.

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