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June 04, 2007



This is an interesting article. I think CalCars is misguided in thinking that GM's options and incentives are the same as their own. Silicon Valley is not a good representation of the world at large. PHEVs just don't meet the needs of most people, practical as they may seem. While I know that CalCars' opinion is meant in good faith (and it is well taken), this issue highlights a narrow perspective that silicon valley tends to have in trying to solve the world's problems. The world is a very diverse place containing people with many different sets of values. That can't be ignored. Give GM some credit - they're trying to get it right. They're the world's automaker - not a Prius retrofit shop. They *have* to get it right for it to succeed. Support them.


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Sorry Doug,

That's niave.

They have huge investments in ice's, radiators, alternators, hoses, etc. They WILL NOT write those down until they absolutely are forced to by the market. In fact, they may realize that they are too intrenched to dig themselves out within 5-7 years and that this process will doom them. They are probably doomed by legacy costs anyway. I say, let's make them do what Phoenix and Altair are demonstrating is possible TODAY.


Why not?
Because they actually work.

BioFuels and Hydrogen are the only things that get attention because they keep the public running around in circles chasing after technologies that don't work.

Kind of like dogs chasing after a mechanical rabbit that they can never actually reach.

kent beuchert

The notion that if the automakers "build
a plug-in and sell a bunch" will in any
way aid in the design of a hybrid is absurd. The only part that must improve is the battery. There is no doubt about the rest of the car, since a modern car is virtually all electric anyway these days. We've used electric power steering, etc.
for years. So what exactly do you plan on learning that will somehow help them build better plug-ins sooner? Daimler Chrysler right now has a bunch of plug-ins being tested by the public, for what reason I can't imagine. But those plug-ins are just gerry-rigged current gas models. All the automakers are in the stage of waiting for the battery developers to come up with a practical battery, not too expensive for a plug-in, with a lifespan over 10 years
and safe and not too heavy. GM is furthest along in designing a plug-in, per se,thee car will be ready for production in 2010, regardless of whether there is a battery as good as they'd like ready by then or not. If not, the VOLT will debut later. No one is sure at what stage Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford , etc are in, but any who already have a fuel cell car, more or less have a serial plug-in hybrid. Most of these companies have announced tieups with battery devlopement companies. Toyota I believe has an agreement with Mitsubishi, etc. to develop batteries. It's a race to
develop the best and cheapest battery and get an edge. Nobody really knows exactly how they all stand, but GM, who had been
paying A123 Systems to develop their plug-in battery pack, today announced that they are now paying an LG subsidiary to do the same thing. No automaker is going to put out the junk that these aftermarket plug-in fly-by-night companiesa are doing - nailing
gullibles to pay $12,000 to get 20 miles of all-electric driving for their Prius, with a battery that won't last five years.


Thats a catch 22.

The performance is obviously there,

But the batteries aren't going to get any cheaper if noone is buying them.


To back up Rick's comment.

Toyota for a while was looking to upgrade their Prius's battery to Lithium Ion.

This gave some speculation about 94mpg and potential for plugin capability.

Well, they canceled that.



Altairnano is already there: "a lifespan over 10 years" - Check! "and safe" - Check! "and not too heavy" - Check! And it charges in minutes.

Now it's only the actual cost and availability of the battery that is stalling introduction of EVs and Hybrids. And the cost won't come down until sufficient capital is employed to achieve economy of scale.

And that won't happen until automakers are ready to eat some of the initial cost of rolling out major numbers of hybrids - as Toyota did with the first edition of the Prius.

Or until the government decides to help us quit sending our energy dollars overseas to finance Islamofascism and instead mounts a Manhattan project to ramp up the technology.

Because (wake up, people) the technological problem has been solved.


"Economies of scale" is one of those near-mystical terms that is tossed around in renewable/alternative/green product discussions with reckless abandon. Every great idea is just around the corner, once there is enough capital and market demand that will create the needed "efficiencies" in production.

Unfortunately, some things are just expensive, period. Scale economies may drive some elements of the supply chain to be more efficient, but not necessarily substantially, if for example the underlying resource is relatively uncommon, or difficult to extract, or if the required manufacturing process is complex and prone to failure.

Finally, in many industries it takes decades to achieve scale economies that change consumer price points in substantive ways (e.g., the way silicon-based micro-processors went from elite scientific devices in the 60s, to consumer disposables in the 90s).

The problem with plug-in hybrids is relative cost to current gasoline-based vehicles. The need to replace the expensive batteries every 5 years is nothing more than a cost calculation (you change tires more often than that anyway, but they don't cost $10,000 to $14,000). Automakers are betting, correctly, is my guess, that most consumers won't pay that much more for a vehicle over the course of a ten year life (i.e., the higher purchase cost, plus the cost of replacing batteries half-way through). As a result, they are waiting - either for a cheaper battery in absolute terms, or one that is relatively cheaper because it will not need to be replaced - since noone has given them any other option.

The fastest and short-term most effective way to change the relative price is to do so directly: either subsidize the cost of hybrids, or tax the cost of gasoline vehicles to the level that will make the current plug-in hybrids attractive. Unfortunately, subsidies come from existing government revenue bases (i.e., taxes, which noone wants to pay), and new taxes on vehicles (or any other consumer good, for that matter) get governments unelected.

(Incidentally, much of the price differential comes from the fact that externalities are not priced into either gasoline or gasoline-powered cars: greenhouse gas emissions and their accumulating impact, foreign oil dependency and the resulting pressures on the economy, military costs of maintaining access to global oil reserves and the pressure on government budgets, etc.)

The result is really this: either start a movement to convince legislators to fix the price differential, or just wait for the technology. The car companies are not the bad guys. They would like nothing better than to go down in history as having delivered the automotive version of the iPod, but they just can't make it happen.


You can't just require the government to adjust prices of limit resources. If you start treating lithium and copper and palladium, etc. as though they are abundant, you immediately run into serious economic problems. Tech minerals have not been able to meet demands for years, now. If demand dramatic increases, it doesn't matter, the minerals are not being produced at fast enough rates already. Forget if the batteries have to be replaced ever so often, we might not even have enough materials to make 1 battery for everyone in the US.


Lithium is abundant though.

And Pallidium/Platinum for catalytic converters isn't neccisary.

It is needed for fuel cells though.
But then again, fuel cells are dumb.


This is all absurd. We shouldn't even be arguing about how to best go about implementing hybrid, hydrogen, bio-fuel or electric car options into the market.
I have full scematics of how to build an engine that seperates the hydrogen from the oxygen and I cannot believe how many people don't event want to look at it.
If bio-fuels become a way of life, our food costs are going to go up like mad. If hydrogen becomes George Bush's way of the future, then the price for hydrogen 'fuel' will be much greater then today's petrol prices.
I'm sick of the oil and car companies ignoring such technology.

Somebody please explain to me the negative effects of clean water-based energy solutions? I would love rip them apart.


For the ammount of electricity you'd need to electrocute the water, you'd be better off just using the raw electricity to drive the wheels.

i.e. An electric car.


It doesn't require much energy because its based on firing photon's directly into the H2O.
The energy produced also recharges the battery like in a normal car.

The Anonymous Poster

>>Somebody please explain to me the negative effects of clean water-based energy solutions? I would love rip them apart.

Given your description, yes there is. It's called the second law of thermodynamics.

Paul Dietz

It doesn't require much energy because its based on firing photon's directly into the H2O.

And the photons come from... where? The photon fairy?


"Given your description, yes there is. It's called the second law of thermodynamics"

Well, thats typical

The 2nd Law of thermodynamics is wrong.
All you have been taught is based on a wrong Law.

I don't need to prove myself. You need to find the truth for yourself.

Find out who Stanley A Meyer is.
And ask yourself, why has he received the patents that he has? perhaps his theories were correct?

Free energy is possible.
The fact that nobody knows about it is not only a shame but should act as an eye opener to you all, in regards to how the world is run.

The Anonymous Poster

Carl Sagan once said "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Free energy? Second Law is wrong? OK. Prove it.

The Anonymous Poster

BTW, you can get a patent on anything. The idea doesn't have to actually work. It just has to be unique.


Oh, I gotta give up on these forums. Whenever it seems like we are having a productive conversation, up pops a nutjob to draw us off topic. "Tyrannophobia" indeed!

Keypad tyranny of the 911truther-grassyknoll-perpetualmotion-livingelvis whackos, is more like it.


Altairnano Titanium Li Ion battery:
15,000 cycles (6 min) with 85% capacity remaining
One charge cycle a day for over 41 years.

A123 32-Series Nanophosphate Li Ion battery:
3,700 cycles to 87% capacity
One charge cycle a day for over 10 years.

Lithium Technology Corp LiFePO4 battery:
3,000 cycles to 80% capacity
One charge cycle a day for over 8 years.

Advanced Battery Technology Li Polymer battery:
4,000 cycles to ? capacity
One charge cycle a day for over 10 years.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Li Manganese Oxide battery:
3,500 cycles to ? capacity
One charge cycle a day for over 9 years.

There's a few options out there. Worried about effect of shallow cycles on battery life for regenerative braking? Put super-capacitors on front end. ALTI battery should last a good long time like that. Others will also do well. Economies of scale and competition from different companies using different approaches and different chemistries will drive costs down. That's not a religious belief. Think about it. Lead is expensive compared to Lithium. The energy density of these Li batteries is higher. Chinese labor costs, automated manufacturing, multiple battery designs and multiple Li chemistries. Of course the cost per Whr will come down.

Toyota's decision is all about making money, not saving the world. Why should Toyota take a risk to upstage their own product? They dominate the current Hybrid market. Who will compete with them next year? If they wait an extra year to introduce Li Ion battery to Prius, then they just sell more cars now and again later.

Your ability to split water without using energy means you have an eternal motion machine. If you can build one and let me test it, all of it including photon fairy, then I'd be interested in going into business with you. Assuming you can actually do as you say. An office mate of mine made a similar claim and I made the same offer. You know he hasn't even started to build a prototype yet. Watch out for those big oil conspiracy implementers. USA companies and investors like to blindly perpetuate the status quo. They don't like to compete or make money on new things. You need to make this more entertaining for us. ;-)

Dan Browne

Looks like Toyota has bought the calcars argument (and correctly too I might add) and is now planning to test plug-in priuses for the Japanese market. Their current version will get only 8 miles in all electric mode, but that's still 8 times better than we have now and is a *significant* buffer against oil price shocks. This will allow enough time to get even better batteries out there through competition in the market.
Not to mention that if Toyota are actually going to DO IT then GM may have to so they can save face instead of just letting the hype about the Volt die down and be forgotten.
Way to go Toyota.

Eco Eagles

I am apart of Embry Riddle's Eco Eagles club. We are Embry Riddle's branch of the EcoCar challenge. We work to design, build and integrate solutions into an existing production vehicle. Solutions such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell drive train technologies will be explored. For further information visit www.ecoeagles.org

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