GAO: Electric cars won’t reduce carbon emissions

posted at 9:22 pm on July 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The push for conversion to plug-in electric cars will do nothing to stop carbon emissions, a report by the GAO warns, throwing cold water on a push by Democrats to get more plug-ins on the road.  In fact, the problem could be made worse as demand goes up at coal-fired electrical plants.  Plus, the need for batteries may just have the US changing the dictators to which we’re chained, as IBD reports:

It’s a beautiful theory — highways full of electric cars emitting no greenhouse gases or pollutants after being plugged into an outlet in our garages overnight. The problem, according to a new Government Accountability Office report, is that the effort may only shift the problem somewhere else.

“If you are using coal-fired power plants, and half the country’s electricity comes from coal-powered plants, are you just trading one greenhouse gas emitter for another?” asks Mark Gaffigan, co-author of the GAO report. The report itself notes: “Reductions in CO2 emissions depend on generating electricity used to charge the vehicles from lower-emission sources of energy.”

The GAO report says a plug-in compact car, if recharged at an outlet drawing its power from coal, provides a carbon dioxide savings of only 4% to 5%. If the feeling of saving the environment from driving an electric car causes people to drive more, that small amount of savings vanishes entirely.

This misses another point as well, one I mentioned during the campaign.  Obama wants the US to decrease its electrical demand over the next several years as a means of conservation as we switch away from coal and other fossil fuels as a source for power.  Transferring cars from gasoline to electricity would vastly increase demand for power at the outlet, which would conflict with the decrease Obama wants to mandate.  The result would be prices skyrocketing even higher, and people unable to use their vehicles from a lack of ability to pay for recharging them.

Of course, we have a source for electricity in abundance: nuclear power.  IBD suggests that a program to rapidly expand our nuclear-power generation could fill the gap while generating zero carbon emissions.  The Obama administration and the Democrats don’t want that, though.  They shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility, which would have recycled used fuel rods into material for more nuclear power, giving us an almost-completely renewing resource for decades into the future.

The GAO also points out that electric cars would have the US trading one set of dictators for another in order to power our cars.  The batteries for electric vehicles are lithium-ion, and for the experimental production levels in the US at this moment, we have enough lithium resources to keep pace.  However, once we start building electric cars in mass numbers, we will quickly run through our proven stores of lithium.  We would most likely have to do business with Hugo Chavez lackey Evo Morales of Bolivia, where half of the world’s proven stores of lithium reside.  Even if we didn’t buy directly from the leftist leader, Morales has the ability to set the global price — just as Saudi Arabia and OPEC do with oil.

Plug-in electrics just trade one carbon source for another, one dictator for another, and deliver a lower-standard vehicle.  It’s about as lose-lose as it gets, at least without nuclear power to fuel it.


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So, did I proove my assertion about CO2?

Romeo13 on July 10, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Not even close, but it’s Friday and I’d rather write a few more lines of code and cook dinner with a beautiful lady than argue something more fit for two scientists to discuss.

Hey, you either knew what efficiency was or you had enough sense to go out and look it up. Either way it proved to me that you were not the run of the mill empty headed greenie. Although you and I will probably never agree on electric cars at least we can talk about it. That crack about no physics education aside. All that said I still haven’t made up my mind whether or not you’re an extraordinary empty headed greenie :-)

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 3:50 PM

I have always enjoyed physics and while I went towards the computer science side of things, physical science remains something of a muse.

Anyways, back to said work!

jonknee on July 10, 2009 at 4:03 PM

Doesn’t matter. Next time the subject comes up, he’ll claim that you didn’t.

MarkTheGreat on July 10, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Cut the guy some slack Mark. At least he didn’t cut and run and he kept it civil for the most part. While you may not agree with him at least he articulated his position fairly well and he did provide some reference. I don’t agree with him either but the he didn’t agree with me…or something like that.

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Look,

The solution to the gasoline vs. electric powered car is simple, and I’m surprised no one has hit on it yet.

(why is it always me who has to solve every tiny little upset in the world….)

We don’t need batteries to have electric cars. Nor do we need hydrogen tanks, fuel cells, or sled dogs to get around.

See, the answer has already been designed, manufactured, and distributed, and I’m willing to bet better than 99.9% of the US population (above the age of say, 10) has already used the technology.

Ever hear of bumper cars? That’s right…those noisy, clattering ram-your-friend-head-on rides at the carnival. They’re electric, and they don’t have batteries.

Hmmmmmm……what was that sound? Was that Duracells’ stock price crashing…?

BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 4:15 PM

BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Man we already tried that crap and you know who killed it? Some guy named Ford and his girl friend Lizzy. She was such a flivver don’chaknow.

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 4:20 PM

jonknee on July 10, 2009 at 4:03 PM

LOL… so you can’t disproove the assertion, or the realllllyyyy basic science… you’ll leave it up to the Scientists… wow… where did I hear that before??? oh yeah… a couple of my posts ago…

So, yes, go cook dinner…

Romeo13 on July 10, 2009 at 4:42 PM

Man we already tried that crap and you know who killed it? Some guy named Ford and his girl friend Lizzy. She was such a flivver don’chaknow.

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Naysayer.

Seriously though, I’m waiting for the next generation of Star Trek geeks to invent a transporter. I’ll be the first one to purchase it, no matter the cost. I already know where my first “energize” command will take me:

Straight to Sandra Bullocks’ watercloset, where I will say this: “Hi Sandra, can I hand you a towel?”

hubba hubba

BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 4:45 PM

So, yes, go cook dinner…

Romeo13 on July 10, 2009 at 4:42 PM

I know that you did not expect to persuade him now did you? It was fun though, wasn’t it?

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Straight to Sandra Bullocks’ watercloset, where I will say this: “Hi Sandra, can I hand you a towel?”

hubba hubba

BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Oooohhh man! While that mental image is wonderful to contemplate reality, as usual,is a little more harsh. You do realize that she is married to this guy and that’d he’d probably rip your head off after pulling your lungs out through you nose. Now if those same geeks could provide you with a phaser that could be set to stun….

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Yep… reason I started that long thing with: Your right, probably cannot proove it to you… but to anyone with a bit of physics backgroud?

But its in a Doc on my desktop, so I thought I’d post it for him anyway… LOL..

Romeo13 on July 10, 2009 at 5:05 PM

This follows California’s CARB’s report that estimated ethanol use produces twice as much CO2 as straight gasoline.

tarpon on July 10, 2009 at 6:58 PM

This little fact was presented several years ago. It didn’t stop algore from spewing his worthless crap then, it won’t stop the fascist in chief from spewing his garbage now.

I do expect that the head fascist will continue on the proud tradition of government for the last 20 years in refusing to allow automakers to produce hydrogen burning vehicles though.

Can’t deny the government, especially the dumbocraps, their graft and corruption when it comes to the automobiles power source.

Spiritk9 on July 10, 2009 at 7:36 PM

A few years ago, my kid in high school was an offensive lineman. A few of us parents did the “green” thing and car pooled aftyer practice. 5 linemen RT 305 RG 318 C 340 LG 310 LT 330 plus me. Will this little crap box haul us?

Jeff from WI on July 10, 2009 at 7:44 PM

kerncon on July 10, 2009 at 8:38 AM

See my post at 11:21 re: a Nissan electric sedan built in Smyrna TN, available not too far from now for $27,000.
The prices will be coming down.

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 8:07 PM

Or even vastly cheaper middle east oil, cuz demand slackens and they’re desperate…

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 7:45 AM

Go sit in the corner…

doriangrey on July 10, 2009 at 8:39 AM

Oil crashed hard in the 80s following the price shocks of the 70s… is it really so far fetched?

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 8:09 PM

Electric cars will always be a loser: you still have to build the real power source (nuclear, coal, etc), and then you lose a significant portion of the energy in power line loss to the point of use. Then there is the conversion inefficiency of the charge/recharge cycle of the battery.

The best way to power a mobil vehicle is still chemically-stored power which is converted to energy IN THE VEHICLE (hence minimal transmission and storage loss). This is how almost all successful forms of transportation work: from motorcycles to space vehicles.

The current gas/electric hybrids are doomed because the batteries are a terribly inefficient way to store power, are expensive to build, and tie us to another foreign dictator for supply. A better hybrid would be a diesel/hydraulic or gas/hydraulic (like bulldozers, power shovels, etc): proven technology, all parts field-proven and readily available NOW. Tanks to store the compressed air/fluid energy are a mature technology and do not produce toxic waste when you replace them. A demonstration model has already been built on a full-size Humvee chassis, and it gets 45 MPG. The hydraulic drive can deliver short bursts of power far in excess of the gasoline/diesel engine which runs the compressor: up to 600 HP from the 140 HP in the demonstration model. So you can build a high-mileage car with muscle-car performance and SUV safety with existing technology!!! Why don’t we do it? POLITICS AND IGNORANCE!!!

Windmills and Solar Cells don’t help the electricity problem: they make it worse because you have to build a conventional power plant at the same site so that you can have electricity 100% of the time instead of 20% of the time. And you still have the transmission and storage loss problems.

Energy storage lesson: Converting potential energy to kinetic (like a hydroelectric dam does), converting energy to pressure and back, and converting chemical energy (gasoline, diesel, nuclear, rocket fuels) are all relatively efficient. Electrical energy storage using batteries is very inefficient (and hence polluting or wasteful or both) at all levels.

landlines on July 10, 2009 at 8:13 PM

There isn’t enough of either. Not by a long shot.

MarkTheGreat on July 10, 2009 at 9:05 AM

I’m guessing that in your world, equipment never needs maintenance.

MarkTheGreat on July 10, 2009 at 9:07 AM

I’m just deferring to what the industries involved are saying.
In my world, I’m linking to the DOE report of 06, American Electric’s CEO speech to the Detroit Economic Club, GM itself, battery research.
What have you got in your world?

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 8:16 PM

Those cars will definitely be big energy savers. Most people would rather walk than to drive in that ugly death trap.

bayview on July 10, 2009 at 8:49 PM

They should power a car that runs on the paper that Congressional bills are written on. They don’t read em anyway.

CWforFreedom on July 10, 2009 at 9:08 PM

Uhhhhbama told us he wuz going to run the country on “sunshine and breezes”. Why can’t you people just accept him at his word?

/sarc

darwin-t on July 10, 2009 at 9:08 PM

The best way to power a mobil vehicle is still chemically-stored power which is converted to energy IN THE VEHICLE (hence minimal transmission and storage loss). This is how almost all successful forms of transportation work: from motorcycles to space vehicles.

Energy storage lesson: Converting potential energy to kinetic (like a hydroelectric dam does), converting energy to pressure and back, and converting chemical energy (gasoline, diesel, nuclear, rocket fuels) are all relatively efficient. Electrical energy storage using batteries is very inefficient (and hence polluting or wasteful or both) at all levels.

landlines on July 10, 2009 at 8:13 PM

If all that is true, then why do railroads use, almost exclusively, hybrid electric diesels for their locomotives?
No batteries, yes, but the motors are electric and the diesel runs a generator.

Which is essentially how the Volt is run, except there’s a battery between the generator and the motor.
A battery which can capture off-peak electricity and dent our national consumption of imported oil.

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 9:43 PM

GAO: Electric cars won’t reduce carbon emissions

I put 2+2 together on that statement in 4th grade.

landlines on July 10, 2009 at 8:13 PM

I agree with your statement. We shouldn’t write off a technology just because it’s so-called ‘strange’ or ignored.

Your comments on Hydraulic powered cars come to mind (that’s new to me… I’m doing research BTW. Thanks for the lead in, but you’ll owe me 6 hours of my life :-) )

I for one think there are plenty of technologies we’ve already developed but aren’t looking at, or haven’t developed enough to realize it’s potential. The Tesla Turbine comes to mind (BTW: it’s his birthday today!).

Heck, I’m experimenting with a hybrid that combines the Tesla Turbine with electrical power (yes… it’s a gas-electric hybrid, but the Internal Combustion Engine gets replaced with something far lighter and more efficient… if my calculations are right).

Chaz706 on July 10, 2009 at 9:45 PM

If all that is true, then why do railroads use, almost exclusively, hybrid electric diesels for their locomotives?

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 9:43 PM

You bring up a point.

Hard to disrespect a system that moves a ton of freight 436 miles on gallon of diesel. Then again, that might just be due to an efficiency of scale.

I wish we used the same system in cars, but California hates small diesel engines.

Chaz706 on July 10, 2009 at 9:48 PM

Democrats and liberals should be required by law to drive clown cars. The rest of us should be allowed to shoot at these cars on sight.

BottomLine5 on July 10, 2009 at 10:24 PM

Democrats and liberals should be required by law to drive clown cars. The rest of us should be allowed to shoot at these cars on sight.

BottomLine5 on July 10, 2009 at 10:24 PM

A good substitute for term limit laws.

Chaz706 on July 10, 2009 at 10:27 PM

No surprise here.

I doubt they will even save 4% if you count the ambulance and other emerengcy vehicles, funerals and hospitals.

allrsn on July 10, 2009 at 10:34 PM

If all that is true, then why do railroads use, almost exclusively, hybrid electric diesels for their locomotives?

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 9:43 PM

Yep, and why can’t we use that technology, with batteries for Trucks?

But the base of that system is STILL burning diesel fuel… its just a more efficient use of the energy gained fron the Diesel engine.

They do NOT run off of electricity generate from a plant hundreds of miles away.

Romeo13 on July 10, 2009 at 10:43 PM

Romeo13 on July 10, 2009 at 10:43 PM

If you’re interested in why you can find the answer here. I was a little surprised until I thought about it, and my dad worked for the Illinois Central RR. I grew up around the damn things. Go to the section labeled traction.

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 11:07 PM

Oldnuke on July 10, 2009 at 11:07 PM

Interesting stuff… and thanks… I’m one of those who keep looking, and don’t get so caught up in the idea that I’m right, that I don’t look…

but Metal on metal if I remember, the place where it slips over into non traction is much lower than Rubber on asphalt…

I’d have to punch up some numbers… but it still seems that you could build a diesel / Electric with battery hybrid truch that could carry the load… especialy as you could put electric motors into the Rear wheels in the trailor (fairly light weight wise) which could, with modern computer control effectivly make it so the trailer produces the propulsion for at least part of its own load…

And also, I realllllllyyyy hate getting behind a truck going over the great divide on I-70 with 3 trailers… LOL

Romeo13 on July 10, 2009 at 11:19 PM

Democrats and liberals should be required by law to drive clown cars. The rest of us should be allowed to shoot at these cars on sight.

BottomLine5 on July 10, 2009 at 10:24 PM

LOL..a very wise proposal

Jeff from WI on July 10, 2009 at 11:31 PM

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 8:16 PM Do you ever give up?

Remember the monorail?

How about the Hindenburg?

We had electrics in..oh about 1908.

Dr. Diesel died 10 Million Marks in debt.

And GM? You rely on them? Nice with evolutionary vehicles but lousy with innovative products.

GM had to take the invention of Dr. Diesel (Diesel v8′s) out of its cars and replace them with gas engines.

How about the aluminum block in the Chevy Vega?

And I could go on. And on.

The above were small advances, and yet you are sure about the electric car (golf cart) concept. The real answer is that it will work when the market moves in its direction. And not until then. The One isn’t even stupid enough to push this stuff too hard.

P.S. I meant that Congress passed Cap and Destroy, but I make a lot of mistakes. So do you.

IlikedAUH2O on July 11, 2009 at 12:16 AM

If all that is true, then why do railroads use, almost exclusively, hybrid electric diesels for their locomotives?

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 9:43 PM

Diesel Locomotives are NOT “hybrids.” They use electricity only as a means for the transmission of power: something electricity is good at.

All of the power needed for Diesel Locomotives comes from diesel oil!!!

landlines on July 11, 2009 at 12:24 AM

Your comments on Hydraulic powered cars come to mind (that’s new to me… I’m doing research BTW. Thanks for the lead in, but you’ll owe me 6 hours of my life :-) )

Chaz706 on July 10, 2009 at 9:45 PM

Here’s a link on the hydraulic hybrid which may help you get started spending a few of those research hours.

And here’s another.

And here is a picture of the SUV I was talking about on the web site of a company actively working to develop this technology.

Sorry about the sleep deprivation. But I know you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

landlines on July 11, 2009 at 12:39 AM

A potentially simple answer. Instead of a lithium battery replace it with a composite flywheel battery instead.

http://www.testdevices.com/white_papers_pdf/flywheel_art_TD1w.pdf

Kokonut on July 11, 2009 at 4:54 AM

SAE 2009: Torotrak mechanical flywheel KERS, likely coming to next Jaguar XJ

Kokonut on July 11, 2009 at 6:17 AM

http://tinyurl.com/lhrk9j

Kokonut on July 11, 2009 at 6:18 AM

http://www.afstrinity.com/ – a company that make flywheels for cars.

Kokonut on July 11, 2009 at 6:41 AM

Any energy tax law that passes should include a section that requires Obama, and everyone who voted for him to drive clown cars, only. The presidential limo should be a clown car. Limos of all the department secretaries, undersecretaries, democrat congressmen, should be clown cars. All other liberal VIPs should be required to drive clown cars. Let them set the example for their fellow clowns.

BottomLine5 on July 11, 2009 at 7:16 AM

The car pictured on this thread has the exact same wheels as my Radio Fryer red coaster wagon as a kid.

Jeff from WI on July 11, 2009 at 8:52 AM

ER…LOL..I meant F L Y E R,not fryer…it wasn’t a chicken

Jeff from WI on July 11, 2009 at 8:53 AM

Landlines,
Read the link I posted at How Stuff Works.

silverfox on July 11, 2009 at 10:35 AM

IlikedAUH2O,

In the early 80s, my family had an olive green, battle axe station wagon that looked somewhat like the ” vista cruiser ” in the Vacation movie.
I remember the GM logo on the steering wheel and seat belts.
I don’t judge the GM of today by that vehicle but I realize many do harbor the bad memories.
The proof will be in the pudding to come.

silverfox on July 11, 2009 at 11:25 AM

If all that is true, then why do railroads use, almost exclusively, hybrid electric diesels for their locomotives?
No batteries, yes, but the motors are electric and the diesel runs a generator.

Which is essentially how the Volt is run, except there’s a battery between the generator and the motor.
A battery which can capture off-peak electricity and dent our national consumption of imported oil.

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 9:43 PM

This is OT and a red herring. Diesel locomotives use electric drives for low end torque to start heavy loads at very low rpm; this is not a hybrid but an electric vehicle with NO battery drive, just an onboard power source. Without an electric drive the number of cars the train could pull would be greatly reduced.
I have been in a few conversations about exploring this technology for autos and trucks; it is feasible but probablycostly in terms of development.

mad scientist on July 11, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Electric motors provide the same torque from zero velocity to max velocity.
In EREVs like the Chevy Volt and the Fisker Karma,and also in the hybrid electric diesels railroads use, the internal combustion engine is merely an electric generator and does not provide motive force to the wheels. This is what separates the Volt from the Prius.

It was costly to develop for a car. GM has developed
it. They made concept prototypes a couple of years ago. They made dozens of Malibu mule vehicles to experiment with the system and test it in different conditions and climates. Last month they hand built the first integration vehicles in preparation for mass production. It’s like the locomotive except the ICE is gas, not diesel, and it has a battery that can capture both regenerative braking energy and off peak night time electricity. It’s an EREV, extended range electric vehicle. It’s a game changer, and it’s called the Volt.

The picture above is a battery electric vehicle or BEV. Some look funny now but soon there will be some that look like normal cars, like the Nissan sedan that will be built in Smyrna, TN. I think BEVs will have their role to play, too.

The best argument against the Volt is cost. The new battery tech that made it possible is still expensive, but expertise and economies of scale are coming along. This biggest problem is what GM and LG Chem engineers have been focused on for the last 2 years, and they’re winning, I think.
My hat’s off to them.

silverfox on July 11, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Closing off the nuclear energy option was just plain dumb.

Setting political ideology aside, anyone that ignores the importance of nuclear energy in the clean energy debate is ignorant.

FireBlogger on July 11, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Democrats and liberals should be required by law to drive clown cars. The rest of us should be allowed to shoot at these cars on sight.

BottomLine5 on July 10, 2009 at 10:24 PM

Love it!!!

ccbokc on July 11, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Please Lord, take me away from these woosie times, just let me die remembering the better times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMc2RdFuOxI&feature=fvw

Jeff from WI on July 11, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Silverfox, again.

Didn’t GM have a hydrogen emphasis? Or is that what you are talking about? I doubt it since a GM show I watched intimated that it needed nuclear power to produce the abundant electricity it needed. They did a tour with various SUVs on the east coast and had a refill station in Georgetown (here in Washington, DC). The film featured a Cadillac like mine that they claimed had identical perofrmance in all areas. WOW.

The whole program seemed to have died when The One got the votes for Pennsylvania Avenue. I don’t know.

BTW I own 3 GM cars. I do not hate them. I just have a theory about their limits. And wait till the feds and union start rolling. This ain’t Europe or Japan where it seems to work.

IlikedAUH2O on July 11, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Not even the french would drive this piece of excrement!

LarryG on July 11, 2009 at 7:42 PM

…and it has a battery that can capture both regenerative braking energy and off peak night time electricity. It’s an

silverfox on July 11, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Still don’t get it, do you Foxy? Even if the battery could efficiently store power, all it does “for the planet” is to move the CO2 generation from the car to the power plant. And because the power plant has to generate MORE power than any on-board engine (because of substantial transmission and conversion losses), the net result for the planet is A LOT MORE CO2!!!!

And batteries are HORRIBLY INEFFICIENT at energy storage compared to chemical fuel, pressure, and phase change energy storage schemes. For energy transmission: electricity good! For energy storage: electricity bad!!

Electric cars (that is, those which attempt to operate from stored electricity) are a complete waste of time, energy, and natural resources. They are extremely costly, dangerous to humans, and are terrible polluters because of their short and inefficient life. They are a technological dead end, and need to be pushed aside in favor of one of the alternatives which can actually improve our lives. Ultimately they will be pushed aside by the marketplace.

landlines on July 12, 2009 at 1:47 AM

Why is that just about every electric car made is about the size of a pregnant roller skate?

MarkTheGreat on July 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

If all that is true, then why do railroads use, almost exclusively, hybrid electric diesels for their locomotives?

silverfox on July 10, 2009 at 9:43 PM

Because they don’t need transmissions.
Period.

MarkTheGreat on July 12, 2009 at 2:23 PM

A potentially simple answer. Instead of a lithium battery replace it with a composite flywheel battery instead.

Kokonut on July 11, 2009 at 4:54 AM

The only problem with flywheels, is that when they fail, they will vaporize everyone in the car and quite probably anyone within 20 feet.

MarkTheGreat on July 12, 2009 at 2:26 PM

I take it the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the boat/camper building industry can stop right now.

Jeff from WI on July 12, 2009 at 10:26 PM

An awful lot of discussion about something that has been known (and repeatedly pointed out to the watermelons) for decades.

As such, I didn’t read all 5 pages of posts. However:

>>onlineanalyst on July 9, 2009 at 9:37 PM
>The production of batteries for many of these vehicle solutions is dirty and environmentally destructive. The >drain/demands on electricity to charge them will be ineffecient and bankrupt the owners in utility coast.

This story brought the same thing to my mind. The nickel used in nickel-metal hydride batteries for Hybrid cars. If you’ve got Google-Earth, take a look at Sudbury, Ontario the site of the most productive nickel mine on the planet. It used to be worse. You could see the REAL environmental devastation (as opposed to the kind “environmentalists” typically concern themselves with) from space.

>>TBinSTL on July 9, 2009 at 10:31 PM
>The same applies to hydrogen. Since there is no free hydrogen on earth, to speak of, all will have to be >separated(most likely from Oxygen in water) and that takes energy. Hydrogen is just a storage medium and the >energy to generate the usable hydrogen will have to come from mundane sources just like the electricity to charge >electric vehicles.

Actually, it’s worse than that. You can’t get hydrogen for fuel cells from electrolysis of water. Well, o.k., you can — IF you’re interested in using more energy (in the form of electricity from, you guessed it, coal-fired power plants) to separate the hydrogen than you get from recombining the hydrogen in a fuel cell. In other words, it’s a net LOSS of energy. Electric cars would be far more efficient by comparison. No, the only real source of H for fuel cells is to be found in natural gas. Unfortunately, the byproduct left over when you remove the H from the CH4 (using current methods) is carbon monoxide. If you think the watermelons have a problem with CO2, imagine the outrage over CO, which, aside from being poisonous, has a GWP 3 times that of CO2. And CO from a fossil fuel to boot. Fuel Cells are even more dead in the water than electric cars.

And, though it may not solve any environmental or energy problems, the best idea I’ve heard in years comes from BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 4:15 PM.

>Ever hear of bumper cars?

I want one. This whole discussion has been beside the point. What we should be discussing is how we can make this happen. A bumper car in every garage.

Eyas on July 13, 2009 at 12:27 AM

The only problem with flywheels, is that when they fail, they will vaporize everyone in the car and quite probably anyone within 20 feet.

MarkTheGreat on July 12, 2009 at 2:26 PM

Apparently you haven’t read anything about composite flywheels. They’re made up of wound polymer filament and have done high rpm tests where failure usually means that the composite flywheel fail (e.g. exposed to air in a vacuum chamber) turns into fluff like cotton candy with small shrapnels that “explode” within a harden container .

http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/MoreCategories/Batteries/

Kokonut on July 13, 2009 at 2:57 AM

BUMPER CARS: Don’t they require powered overheads? This means we would have to bring back the trolley wires which made streetcars work.

ADVANTAGE: Every town could be like San Francisco.

DISADVANTAGE: Every town could be like San Francisco.

landlines on July 13, 2009 at 11:40 AM

Why is that just about every electric car made is about the size of a pregnant roller skate?

MarkTheGreat on July 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

It has already been said that batteries are terribly efficient; a big part of the weight loading for an electric vehicle is hauling around it’s own batteries. Keeping the weight of the vehicle as low as possible makes sense in terms of not exposing how horribly inefficient the vehicle really is (we won’t be seeing any electric 18-wheelers). In all fairness, the new LiIon batteries are lighter in weight than either NiCad or the lead-acid batteries that are still used in golf carts.

mad scientist on July 13, 2009 at 1:17 PM

The new Chevy Volt has an estimated price somewhere above $40K which puts it out of the reach of most Americans. Personally I would have much more attractive choices in that price range(BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti).

mad scientist on July 13, 2009 at 1:20 PM

OOPs, inefficient, not efficient. My error.

mad scientist on July 13, 2009 at 1:20 PM

The efficiency of any vehicle is reduced by the use of auxuliary systems, particularly air conditioning. In an electric vehicle or a hybrid which has much less power to begin with the drain can be much more significant. The drop in mpg in a Prius with the a/c on has been a source of arguement; I have seen estimates from 20% to 33%. I do not know of a reliable source for a representative number.

mad scientist on July 13, 2009 at 1:26 PM

I have not seen a post talking about the recycling of batteries; the lithium battery is LESS toxic than Nickel, Cadmium, or Lead but is by no means non-toxic. How much toxic material are we concentrating in this country in these batteries?
It would be ironic if the pollution that kills us as a species is from the environmentalists driving electrics and hybrids. Go Green (in the face).

mad scientist on July 13, 2009 at 1:32 PM

The only graph one needs to see to understand the last 65m years of climate change…

65m years of climate change

Wolftech on July 13, 2009 at 5:12 PM

The only graph one needs to see to understand the last 65m years of climate change…

65m years of climate change

Wolftech on July 13, 2009 at 5:12 PM

65 millions years…ROFL…and these idiots are trying to sell us climate change.

Jeff from WI on July 14, 2009 at 9:11 AM

The new Chevy Volt has an estimated price somewhere above $40K which puts it out of the reach of most Americans. Personally I would have much more attractive choices in that price range(BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti).

mad scientist on July 13, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Chryslers answer is much better,they’re using the body dies from a ’72 Gremlin, (they bought AMC), and a 5hp Briggs & Stratton

Jeff from WI on July 14, 2009 at 10:06 AM

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