I will say it again: I do believe that electric-powered vehicles will substitute internal combustion vehicles and they will be more fun to drive. But the Battery-Powered Electric Vehicles that we have now simply will not cut it and never will. The idea has always been not only to have a cleaner environment, but to surpass the old petrol engines in efficiency and power and batteries are simply not it and engineers have known this since the first electric vehicle rolled out in 1890.

An electric vehicle that can generate its own power and run cheaper and as long as a gas powered car is initial goal we should be fighting for. The expensive version of Barbie’s Dream Camper simply does not cut it.

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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

14 thoughts on “Oops! Your 100% Electric Vehicle runs on Coal-Powered electricity.”
  1. E-car zealots are so seriously fixated on zero emissions to such degree that any emissions are ignored regardless of type or source. It is rare to encounter such severe and intense issue myopia outside the institutionalized mental health arena.

    Were they to embrace just a small part of reality – an impossibility, for their mission is religious, not reality-based – some headway might be made.

    Pending a miraculous chemistry discovery, batteries just won’t do it; they might, however, constitute a partial solution. Using the Prius as example, a true hybrid has possibilities. Ignoring the battery replacement issue for the moment, a small, highly efficient single-speed turbo diesel IC powerplant driving an alternator coupled to a drive motor(s) and batteries might be worthwhile; the batteries, limited in capacity, would offer power for those instances where the limited-output diesel powered alternator needed assistance. Some math indicates that, depending on vehicle size and weight, 30+ MPG city / 60-70 MPG highway might be attainable with little to no sacrifice in drivability or convenience.

    The technology is not new: submarines and railroad locomotives have employed quite successfully it for nearly a century, and the Prius, launched a quarter century ago, provides additional proof of concept success, even in its very limited form. IC engines are, basically, air pumps, and it’s well known in engineering circles that accommodating “drivability” requires compromise in efficiency; such would not be the case for an engine designed around operation at a single, most efficient, RPM.

    Diesel, despite being the highest BTU/gallon of readily available fuels, is, unfortunately, the “Crucifix to vampires” equivalent with the deeply devoted Greenie Brigade. Perhaps when, or if, survivors restore Civilization after the Cataclysm we can take another look at transportation efficiency unrestrained by religious fervor.

  2. Both battery and photovoltaic solar panel design haven’t changed substantially in 50+ years. Maybe there will be a technological breakthrough, but maybe not. Without both, simultaneously, the dream won’t be realized.

    For instance, what made cell phone viable was the change to digital, which draws much less power than an analog phone, not due to any significant improvements in battery technology.

    If the climate cultists weren’t so stupid then they’d embrace modern nuclear power plants and residential natural gas-fired fuel cells.

    1. Batteries have changes significantly over the last 50 years. Yes, when all is said and done, they are just metals and chemicals working to move electrons, but the metals/chemicals have been improved and refined to the point your smart phone is now a viable device. The improvements in microelectronics is a contributor, but the battery is what pushed the tech.
      The display alone draws so much power that if your iPhone were powered by a NiCd it would not realistically fit into your hand. Unless you wanted a smart phone that worked for minutes before requiring a recharge.
      Sorry, but the improvements in batteries IS what created the mobile device market. Tesla exists as a car company because Musk asked why electric cars are being built using lead acid batteries instead of LiOn, like he had in his laptop.

      1. No. 30 years ago the two AA-battery incandescent Maglight flashlight was very popular, but modern handheld flashlights have 100x the output, not due to any significant changes in battery design, but because of the development of LED bulbs and electronic controls to prevent overheating.

        Battery technology has changed only marginally since the 1970s. For electric cars to be viable will require 10x improvement in energy density, not 5% here and there.

        1. Sorry, but the difference in energy density between the old NiCd batteries and various Li batteries is more than a few percent here and there. It’s not 10x, but 3-4x depending on specific chemistry used. Just between 1995 and 2005, energy density doubled.

  3. It’s already true that battery-electric vehicles (at least the well designed ones) are a lot of fun to drive. Instant power is very nice, and something no IC car gives you. Also, I think they are more efficient because utility power plants have better efficiency than IC engines, and that carries over even after transmission losses.
    In any event, yes, a car with an on-board electric generator would be the ideal answer. The trouble is that such a thing is entirely science fiction, with no known technology path that leads there. It’s possible something will appear out of nowhere next year to do it, or it may not happen for a century, or not ever.

    1. I’m not so sure about the efficiency. The thing is that for IC engines you’re basically going chemical potential energy -> thermal energy -> kinetic energy and then using that kinetic energy to move the car

      For the electric vehicle/utility model you’re going chemical potential energy -> thermal energy -> kinetic energy -> electricity -> kinetic energy.

      the kinetic energy -> electricity step is a little more than 30% efficient. That’s also not including line losses from transporting the electricity from the power plant to the EV. It’s true that you’d be getting less efficiency if you were using the IC engine primarily* to charge a battery and then using that battery for motive power, but that’s not what’s going on.

      Unless your future-car is generating its electricity by a process that doesn’t have kinetic energy as an intermediate step (like photovoltaic, although that has its own issues in this application), you’re almost certainly better off directly using that kinetic energy to move the car, rather than converting it into electricity and then back again, at least from an efficiency standpoint.

      *yes, an IC vehicle does charge a battery as well, but that battery is used to power auxiliary systems. It doesn’t provide the power for propulsion which is where the vast majority of energy is expended

      1. Baron, you’re exactly right about the heat engine aspect. The point here is that heat engine efficiency depends on the temperature differences. In the case of power plant steam turbines, you’re running at temperatures way above those used in car engines. So while both are heat engines, the ones in power plants are substantially more efficient.
        I just did some searching: an AIChE article says fossil fuel power plants are about 50% efficient, electric motors about 90%, gasoline engines 25-30%. So, not counting transmission losses, you’re well ahead. With transmission losses, perhaps still somewhat.
        They also point out that electric cars don’t do idling, so in stop & go traffic you’re way ahead. (Not so much on the highway, of course). And maintenance costs are way less, basically just tires. That matches my experience, though I did have to get a broken horn replaced the other day. But that’s it for 50k miles. No oil changes, no brake pads, none of that stuff.

  4. Sadly for them, physics is a thing, and it doesn’t always align with their goals. When I was in chemistry class in high school I learned that you are mererly moving things around. As my teacher said – “You don’t get something for nothing, except maybe in a nuclear reaction”

    You know, back in the day I had a ’77 Honda Civic. It was a small car, but not anywhere near as small and useless as a Smart Car. I paid $250 for it, ran it for a year (on three cylinders, turns out), and rebuilt the motor for >$200. It got 45-55 MPG. I think I had to gas it up once a month, it seemed.

    Have we really progressed? Those numbers are higher than a Toyota Pious.

    I’m with Eric Peters here. I think a lot of this is to supress Diesels. Time was you could buy a decent turbo diesel sedan that clicked in 50-60 MPG. I had a ’85 silverado diesel, and bad as that motor was, I got about 20mpg in a 1/2 ton truck.

    These cars are available all over the world, except here.

  5. My father once told me, “Green cars aren’t clean, you’re just shifting the position of the exhaust pipe.”

  6. After I saw that the presidents of both Toyota and Tesla were honest enough to say that the grid isn’t big enough to support 100% electric cars, I did some digging into it. Got as many hard numbers as I can find and made assumptions that seemed reasonable. I concluded we’d need to double to triple the generation and distribution of electricity. Then I found some professionals that had come to the same conclusion.
    That “distribution” part is big.
    Most people don’t realize this, so for their sake, the voltage across the power grid gets stepped up and down many times before it gets to your outlets. The last step, down to 240/120 VAC in the US, has one transformer for every three or four houses. That transformer can’t supply three or four times the power that one house needs, because on the average, all of those houses won’t be needing it at the same time. But that doesn’t necessarily hold if more than one of those houses is recharging an electric car.
    That cascades into Every Single Transformer and the Wires Connecting Them in the power grid needs to be changed.
    So tell me: have you heard anyone anywhere saying we need to double or triple the entire power grid system for the entire western world? All of Europe and North America?

    1. 2x or 3x is not accurate, not as an overall number. I did a pretty detailed analysis of Sandy Cortez’s “green new deal” hallucination. One aspect is “make all cars electric”. Assuming that means both cars and trucks, given the total miles driven and plausible energy use, I get about 20% additional electricity used for the USA. Now admittedly that isn’t going to be uniform across the country so some spots will see a larger hit, but 2x even in CA seems a bit of a stretch. Of course, CA is in such trouble that 20% more load is likely to destroy its electric grid. (I haven’t looked at other countries; they may be more problematic. My US homes have typically had 200 amp service, sometimes 100 but not less. My childhood home in Holland had, I think, something like 20 amp service though that was 380 volt 3-phase. Most other houses had less; we had three phase to feed the electric stove, most neighbors had gas. So electric cars in Europe may well make for a larger hit.
      The real issue with having a large fraction of cars be battery-electric is that the world’s lithium mining capacity is nowhere near large enough; it’s enough to support, perhaps, 10% of all cars being electric.
      Re one transformer for 3 or 4 houses, that depends on where you live. Here in the country (NH) it’s often one transformer for one house.
      All recharging at the same time, yes, that could be interesting. It wouldn’t be hard for electric cars, which after all typically have internet connectivity, to talk to nearby other cars and stagger the charging. Tesla already supports scheduled charging, to benefit from time of day dependent electric rates.

  7. My physicist friend is fond of saying that electric cars aren’t zero-emissions vehicles, they’re “emissions-elsewhere” vehicles. Here’s a TEDx talk from a guy who (mostly) gets it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1E8SQde5rk

    My favorite wise-ass remark to make on sighting an electric vehicle is to say, “Oh, look… a coal-powered car.” It’s less true than it used to be–not that many years ago, almost half of our stationery electric power generation was fueled by coal. Fracking made natural gas cheap, so a lot of coal generating stations were converted to gas, so coal is now down to thirty-something percent of our generation.

    The reason electric cars have been the next big thing since the 1890s has always been the batteries. Wide application will also run up against the resultant need for additional generating capacity, and the availability of some of the materials necessary for modern motors and batteries, much of which now come from China, or mines in the Congo that are now owned by China.

    Once again, our politicians are proving Einstein correct: there are only two things we know are infinite: the universe, and human stupidity, and we’re not sure about the first.

    (I may not have an engineering doctorate, like a couple of people around here, but I did major in EE at MIT, and worked for several years designing instrumentation used by the power utilities….)

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