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« Hydra Fuel Cell Corporation | Main | Altair Announces High Performance Li-ion Battery »

January 23, 2006

Comments

Frank Rugieri

Plug-in hybrids make sense. Transferring the transportation energy demand from fossil fuel to electricity, preferably from nuclear power plants or renewables, decreases the pressure on refineries.

If your flow batteries actually work as you claim, then wind and solar energy can begin contributing to utility power schemes right away, or as soon as the flow battery load leveling systems go on line.

C. Scott Miller

I particularly like to hear that the plug-in hybrids are flex-fuel configured. Every additional gallon of ethanol per tankfull represents about 5% more "miles per fossil fuel gallon". And it will help regions of the country justify the building of their ethanol infrastructure.

Engineer-Poet

No it isn't.  A BTU of ethanol takes about 3/4 BTU of fossil fuel to make, so the savings are closer to 1%.  Even cellulosic ethanol can't fix this, because there isn't enough cellulose to do the job at the ~48% conversion efficiency to ethanol followed by 16% vehicle efficiencies.

If biomass can be burned at ~40% in special powerplants (no need to scrub mercury or SOx!) and used to charge the GO-HEV batteries, you can get 30+% throughput or about 4x as good.  You can do even better if you further alter the details of the biomass cycle.

Jim from The Energy Blog

I don't dispute the Engineer-Poet's comments, but my position is that we need a source of alternate liquid fuels until hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids and all electric vehicles become a dominate part of out vehicle fleet. It takes 15 years for a new generation of vehicle technology to become dominate. Battery technology is not yet good enough for practial plug-ins or all electrics, although there are several technologies, including the one in this post that are extremely promising. The growth rate of vehicles world wide will overcome any conservation efforts for quite some time. China now has the second largest fleet after the U.S. and it is growing rapidly.

Engineer-Poet

Battery technology not good enough?  Check out Saphion (iron lithium phosphate) or the Altair lithium titanate cells.  The charge and discharge rates have rocketed, thermal runaway is no longer a problem, and eliminating cobalt means the raw-materials costs fall a lot, too.

AC Propulsion repowered a tzero with old-tech Li-ion batteries and got ~300 miles range out of it.  Performance was still stellar.  Put something like the A123 Systems' cells in it, and the batteries would provide enough surge power to out-run a Bugatti Veyron.

Batteries have come a long way in just 2 years.  The problems are more of acceptance than technology.

Jim from The Energy Blog

These technologies are either too expensive, too heavy at the present time or are not in production yet. A123 is the closest to being readily available. Their has been a lot of progress in the last two years. There hasn't been time to get the production capacity up and users cannot design vehicles around something they can't get. I expect we will see some of these batteries in modest use within a year or two, but it will take several years to get to the point that they are readily available. I was talking to someone today who said he hadn't found a lightweight, cost effective battery for his application.

Engineer-Poet

The hybrid manufacturers are about to switch from NiMH to Li-ion.  The hybrid market is big enough to be attractive, and is poised to grow rapidly (batteries are already a limit for Toyota); I don't see revenues being a problem for a manufacturer who can deliver.

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Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles