Shocker: dirty electric cars

From the University of Tennessee at Knoxville  comes this surprising bit of research. Taken in entirety, and electric vehicle has a greater impact on pollution than a comparable gasoline vehicle. Full disclosure – I own an electric car myself. I’m actually on my third one, shown below, made in China:

UT researchers find China’s pollution related to E-cars may be more harmful than gasoline cars

Electric cars have been heralded as environmentally friendly, but findings from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers show that electric cars in China have an overall impact on pollution that could be more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles.

Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Shuguang Ji, analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, focusing on dangerous fine particles. What Cherry and his team found defies conventional logic: electric cars cause much more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars.

“An implicit assumption has been that air quality and health impacts are lower for electric vehicles than for conventional vehicles,” Cherry said. “Our findings challenge that by comparing what is emitted by vehicle use to what people are actually exposed to. Prior studies have only examined environmental impacts by comparing emission factors or greenhouse gas emissions.”

Particulate matter includes acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. It is also generated through the combustion of fossil fuels.

For electric vehicles, combustion emissions occur where electricity is generated rather than where the vehicle is used. In China, 85 percent of electricity production is from fossil fuels, about 90 percent of that is from coal. The authors discovered that the power generated in China to operate electric vehicles emit fine particles at a much higher rate than gasoline vehicles. However, because the emissions related to the electric vehicles often come from power plants located away from population centers, people breathe in the emissions a lower rate than they do emissions from conventional vehicles.

Still, the rate isn’t low enough to level the playing field between the vehicles. In terms of air pollution impacts, electric cars are more harmful to public health per kilometer traveled in China than conventional vehicles.

“The study emphasizes that electric vehicles are attractive if they are powered by a clean energy source,” Cherry said.”In China and elsewhere, it is important to focus on deploying electric vehicles in cities with cleaner electricity generation and focusing on improving emissions controls in higher polluting power sectors.”

The researchers estimated health impacts in China using overall emission data and emission rates from literature for five vehicle types—gasoline and diesel cars, diesel buses, e-bikes and e-cars—and then calculated the proportion of emissions inhaled by the population.

E-cars’ impact was lower than diesel cars but equal to diesel buses. E-bikes yielded the lowest environmental health impacts per passenger per kilometer.

“Our calculations show that an increase in electric bike usage improves air quality and environmental health by displacing the use of other more polluting modes of transportation,” Cherry said. “E-bikes, which are battery-powered, continue to be an environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transportation.”

The findings also highlight the importance of considering exposures and the proximity of emissions to people when evaluating environmental health impacts for electric vehicles. They also illuminate the distributional impact of moving pollution out of cities. For electric vehicles, about half of the urban emissions are inhaled by rural populations, who generally have lower incomes.

The findings are published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Cherry worked with Matthew Bechle and Julian Marshall from the University of Minnesota and Ye Wu from Tsinghua University in Beijing. The scientists conducted their study in China because of the popularity of e-bikes and e-cars and the country’s rapid growth. Electric vehicles in China outnumber conventional vehicles 2:1. E-bikes in China are the single largest adoption of alternative fuel vehicles in history, with over 100 million vehicles purchased in the past decade, more than all other countries combined.

###

This study is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. The prestigious CAREER award supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Cherry received his award in 2011.

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155 Responses to Shocker: dirty electric cars

  1. wobble says:

    Electric cars have never been about the environment for me. Only the idiots believe that any environmental benefit ever existed for electric cars.

    I like electric cars because it’s what this country needs in order to reduce its dependency on foreign oil. I also like the idea of a small, natural gas engine for recharging when extended range is needed as well as a small solar cell on the roof for recharging when the car is parked for long hours outside (as many people do while they are at work).

  2. Bruce says:

    The EPA is working hard to fund research to blaming coal for all the evil in the world. They are focusing on PM2.5. The trouble is dust from coal power plants is actually a very small percentage of particulate matter in Beijing.

    http://mzheng.eas.gatech.edu/ZBJ05.pdf

  3. John says:

    Its the green lie again (sorry, could not resist.)

  4. Stephen A. says:

    Enightening. Important to remember that the study mainly is concerned with China. Their standards in plant construction and pollution controls have long been known to be “suspect,” to say the least. The fact that these electric cars are powered (i.e. recharged) with coal-fired plants here in the US is just now beginning to become widely known. Still, I bet our plants run a lot cleaner. I wonder if the use of nuclear power (perhaps relying more on smaller, newer plants that are more efficient and produce less waste) would level that playing field and make electric cars here in the US a lot cleaner than they are now – and surely cleaner than in China. Anyway, nice article. It will get people thinking.

  5. jaypan says:

    So green lifestyle has brought to us:
    - more overall pollution by e-cars
    - less and more expensive food (biofuel)
    - less rainforests
    - poisoned living areas by energy-saving lightbulbs
    - damaged landscape by wind turbines …
    - a giant misallocation of capital
    - increasing energy prices
    - less energy safety and reliability
    - waste of intellectual capital
    - damaged science
    … and a lot more BS.
    Any advantages? Yes, but only for a bunch of promoters. Paid by all of us.

    Impressive.

  6. Bob Diaz says:

    First: I want to point out that NOT all Smart Cars are electric. Smart does make an electric, but the majority of Smart Cars on the road use gas, just like regular cars. A lot of people think the Smart is electric because of its small size.

    Second: Like the article pointed out, electric cars do need electricity to charge the batteries. In the USA, the majority of our electricity comes from burning of fossil fuels. I always get a laugh from those who say that the electric car is a zero emissions car.

  7. trbixler says:

    Safer bike routes and showers available at work. Very low pollution and good for your heart.

  8. D Marshall says:

    Talk about a misleading title. It should be “Dirty electric power“, which should hardly be a surprise to anyone who knows anything about China.

  9. Wellington says:

    I don’t mind the provocative headline but I assume it is not really a huge shocker for you, Anthony.

  10. Carmen D'oxide says:

    As the great economist Milton Friedman said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Perhaps at best and if you’re really careful and smart, you can get a discount.

  11. Matthew W says:

    “In China, 85 percent of electricity production is from fossil fuels, about 90 percent of that is from coal.”
    I know we kind of kid about electric cars being “coal cars”, but it’s true !!!

  12. Jakehig says:

    These “well-to-wheel” analyses have shown up similar results before, although the ones I have seen have only looked at total emissions rather than allowing for distance from source for the power plant case. They make a mockery of promoting electric vehicles for the UK.
    One key point which is often overlooked is that any new demand – such as an electric vehicle – will inevitably be met by the least-efficient, dirtiest generating plant. It is that level of pollution which should be used for comparison, not the industry average.
    The same arguments apply even more emphatically to Hydrogen power, of course.

  13. tommoriarty says:

    On average, when using power from the grid in the United States, the expensive Chevy Volt will put more CO2 into the atmosphere per mile than an inexpensive Honda Civic HF made nearly a quarter of a century ago. Now that’s progress.

    I pointed this out back in August of 2009 and I was criticized by the spokesman for Chevy, Rob Peterson, in my comments. I addressed his comments directly in the next post. You can see the calculations here…

    “BS from GM”
    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/bs-from-gm/

    “More Eye Opening Facts About the Chevy Volt” with Peterson’s comment
    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/more-eye-opening-facts-about-the-chevy-volt/

    “I Was (Partially) Wrong” where I addressed Peterson’s comments
    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/i-was-partially-wrong/

    I am all for efficient vehicles. I have been driving small gas efficient cars for more than two decades. It seems that now the government promotes its vision, which does not match demand. I am confident that when the price of gasoline (in constant dollars) goes high enough, then we will see less expensive gas efficient cars on the market, and people will adjust their habit accordingly. But this will only happen if the government doesn’t screw things up first.

  14. Mark says:

    Not really that much of a surprise – read a similar report a few years ago which highlighted “all of the above”, plus some significant issues around:
    - Extraction and processing of exotic materials in the battery (plus subsequent disposal)
    - Significantly shorter life-expectancy from an electric vehicle with commensurate increased impact of scrappage, disposal and recycling of materials

    Beyond this, as all viewers of the world’s greatest TV show “Top Gear” know, the real-world issues around living with an electric car can be great. Power, range, where to “top up”, how long “top up” actually takes and, above all, the question of where all the “top up” is going to come from when the entire green movement is actively trying to shut down all electricity generating capability or transfer it to unreliable or non-existent technology.

  15. DOuglas2 says:

    Yes, but the key line is ““The study emphasizes that electric vehicles are attractive if they are powered by a clean energy source”. Use of the car in the USA, especially if charged at off-peak times, would be much cleaner, because even your obsolete coal plants have less particulate output than the worlds average electrical generating plant.
    But it raises a good point. The CO2 mandates in the UK have had the effect of encouraging use of diesel vehicles (or mandating them, in the case of London Taxis). All but a few of these diesel vehicles would never meet USA air-quality standards. In order to save the world, we are already making decisions that have a clear negative effect on public health.
    Now, if European environmental air-quality and anti-pollution laws were not so weak compared to those of the USA, this might not be the case, but “we go to war with the army we have”.

  16. Tom E. says:

    wobble,

    So we are going from foreign oil to foreign Lithium? We actually have more than enough fossil fuels in North America, we just need to be allowed to access them.

    Honestly, IMNSHO we are going at this ass backwards. North America used to be leaders in Nuclear technology, and that is now gone, China and India seem to be the leaders in Gen IV. This has been said a lot, but seemingly not enough. I agree, we need to pull back on coal for electricity, I would much rather see it converted to diesel for vehicles. Big lithium based batteries just seem like a mess in the making to me.

    Liquid Hydrocarbon based fuels will always be my pick for random transportation. Electric makes sense for some applications, but one some. Simply put diesel engines are reliable, and diesel has a high energy density. Part of the efficiency of vehicles is transportation of the energy source.

  17. James Sexton says:

    But, but, but, China is the green machine!! They’re putting up solar and wind and ….. all sorts of alternate “clean” electricity plants!! How can this be?

  18. Bryan Hunt says:

    Its not really a green lie or green washing, its just trying to fix stuff at the consumer instead of supplier end (which politics and environmentalists always seem to do). But its a move in the right direction. From an efficiency standpoint electric cars make sense (right now the energy density doesn’t allow cargo to utilize them). If you notice the research was done in china where they have absolutely zero pollution controls on their coal generation. If done in the united states the results would have been much less exciting. Clean coal and electric vehicles are a win/win for the US from an overall systems perspective. (Full disclosure: I drive a Suburban)

  19. ObserverNumber12 says:

    Time to watch the greens march on UT with pitchforks and torches. I’m starting the popcorn right now.

  20. Resourceguy says:

    With the plunge in solar panel costs, there is a grand intelligence test underway to see when people will figure out that plug-and-play solar, off-grid chargers work after all. I’m still waiting for the auto companies to pass this test and get some crossover SUV plug-in hybrids on the market. The plug-in Prius will get this ball rolling this year, but we still need a lot more people to connect the dots. It will work and make sense in this combination. It just requires cutting through a lot of solar and hybrid missteps leading up to this point.

  21. jonathan frodsham says:

    There is a watermelon car here: http://www.motifake.com/tags/watermelon

  22. Bob the swiss says:

    This is known !!!

    A Toyota Prius is worst than a Hummer when you have recycled all the high pollutant elements to store and produce electrical power.

    I’m a little bit astonished that this is not better known in USA !?!

  23. David S says:

    Something the government wants us to do turns out to be a bad idea. This is a shocker?

  24. vboring says:

    Is it cheaper to control particulate emissions from a few hundred coal plants or several million cars? China pretends to do one and completely ignores the other, so it should be no surprise that their emissions profile is a bit odd.

    In the US, electric vehicles have slightly higher SO2 emissions than gas powered cars in the Midwest. In the rest of the country, EVs reduce all emissions – and move them away from population centers. The EV advantage will be even greater if the EPA’s new SO2 rules go into effect.

  25. perlcat says:

    Few years ago, when I was in SF, I noted that the electric buses had signs on them saying that they were 0% emission. The guy next to me nearly went into a fit when I said “Where the heck do they get off, claiming 0% emissions? Those buses emit radioactive waste.”

    Sorry to say, people that salve their conscience by buying a newer vehicle are leaping from one enormouse pyramid of consumption used to create, operate, maintain, and dispose of a car onto another. If they *really* wanted to reduce emissions, they’d leave it in the garage and carpool, bike, or walk to work. That’s not the American Way, though. Far better to scream at the drivers of SUV’s for the optimal “smug buzz”.

    A 1980 Chevy Subarban, with a whopping 8MPG emits less waste than an electric car if you don’t drive it.

  26. PaulH says:

    It stands to reason – you will need a “clean” source of electricity to recharge an electric car. A “dirty” source of electricity won’t gain you any “clean”.

  27. TANSTAAFL says:

    For a long time now I have refused to calll them electric cars, but call them what they really are: Coal powered cars.

  28. polistra says:

    Hardly a new idea. Back in the ’70s, before Carbon became the all-consuming theory, there were lots of articles about the difference between end-pollution and source-pollution. It’s always been a case-by-case thing, depending on all sorts of specific and temporary factors.

    One of those articles, in fact, broke me out of environmental idiocy and started me down the path toward reality. It was about electric shavers vs disposable razors. Intuitively you’d think the plastic razors are ‘cleaner’ because you don’t plug them in. But when you consider that the electric shaver lasts 10 years, you then have to compare it with all the energy use and materials and mining and shipping involved in making and selling 3650 disposables….. And it’s obvious. The electric is cleaner.

    I was discussing this with another greenie friend, and he simply couldn’t see the argument. The plastic razor doesn’t use any power, so it must be cleaner. Besides that, the author of the article had poor Green credentials.

    That’s when I began to realize the enviro movement is all about authority and illusion, not facts.

  29. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ tommoriarty says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:19 am

    But this will only happen if the government doesn’t screw things up first.
    ========================================================
    Well, I reckon it ain’t ever gonna happen then.

  30. Paul Murphy says:

    This study examines a very narrow issue under conditions of limited generality. Its conclusions should not, therefore, be considered more than indicative for the general problem of whether electric vehicles increase or decrease pollution.

    There is a general rule of thumb that can be applied to electric vehicles: the less diffuse an energy source is per unit of work generated, the less waste (economic, environmental, human) it produces. That rule predicts that full consideration of everything from component manufacturing through product use and disposal would show the electric vehicle to be significantly worse with respect to human, environmental, and economic measures than its gasoline driven competitor.

  31. Robertvdl says:

    There you go with your golf cart

  32. higley7 says:

    OK, there’s no mention of the cost of the e-cars, the battery life, the battery cost for replacement, the pathetic range.

    Also, it’s no surprise the e-bike is so good as these are people only moving themselves. This rules out grocery-shopping or buying anything economical, which means, usually, in bulk. If they simply bought what they need each day, the economics gets worse, not better.

  33. Robertvdl says:

    jonathan frodsham says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:33 am
    There is a watermelon car here

    don’t play with watermelons it’s dangerous.

  34. Dr Bob says:

    It is easy to figure out the GHG emissions from electric vehicles. Use the California Low Carbon Fuel standard data on emissions from different fuels and technologies to get a relative impact of electric vehicles on GHG emissions. This is about a 30% reduction in GHG emissions from conventional gasoline vehicles. Then look at the GHG emissions for power production in various parts of the country. In CA, it is 0.75 lbs CO2e/kW-h. In many other states it is twice that or higher. Therefore, and EV in other states will have 2x the CO2 emissions that they do in CA. Therefore, about 50% higher GHG emisions than conventional vehicles. Diesel vehicles, which get 20-40% more miles per gal rival EV’s in GHG emissions in CA, and better them in other states.

  35. Mark.R says:

    How meny miles/km per KW do you get out of an electric car?.
    Power prices are going up here in N.Z in April by 7-10% making the cost of a KW .23C kw/h.

  36. Grimwig says:

    I agree with just about all that’s been said. I don’t have an electric car yet (just a very efficient Honda CR-V Diesel) but I am looking for one for a second car.
    I do have an electric ride on Lawn Tractor which will be solar charged.
    I don’t subscribe to electric vehicles because of AGW, pollution or PC but because I was around in the early seventies when the fur flew in the middle east and we were threatened with rationing. I bought a tiny Citroen 2CV then to make the Range Rover ration go further!. Don’t really like to be reliant on anything we can’t make or grow in the UK if possible.

  37. Wellington says:

    Thomas Friedman, call your office. Some reasonably enlightened CPC Politburo member is on the line.

  38. Jim G says:

    To repeat what I put in a previous post last week, in the US approx. 53% of electricity is produced by coal fired generators. This study goes along with my thoughts that electric cars do nothing to improve the quality of our environment. Perhaps modern clean coal methods would get you to a break even with gasoline but not worth the incovenience and cost of the vehicle, required infrastucture for charging them and time lost fooling with them. This, in addition to the fact that the effect upon climate is a spurious argument, tells me to forget about electric cars unless and until we have better technology regarding the cars themselves and cleaner electical generation facilities..

  39. Steve from Rockwood says:

    Not sure if this was mentioned but it is easier to reduce the pollution effects of a coal fired generating plant than to go after the equivalent number of automobiles. Also you can control where the emissions are released in a generating plant. Not so with so many cars (I’m thinking about a crowded downtown). So in theory electric cars are still better. I’m still waiting for the “real-life” experience from people who own these vehicles and whether the batteries last.

  40. R Barker says:

    If you can only afford to own one car, It is hard to beat a gasoline powered vehicle but there are always exceptions..

  41. Frank K. says:

    So now all we need is zero-emi$$ion climate research (heh).

    (I wonder if we can get the EPA to classify climate science press releases as a pollutant…)

  42. Justa Joe says:

    Firstly I don’t even accept the premise that a guy like Chris Cherry can centrally plan my transportation options from his seat in academe. Secondly he’s full of it. His so-called e-bike revolution is garbaage. If up until recently I only had a conventional bicycle as transportation an e-bike might look like a viable mode of transportation or even an upgrade. If I’m already driving a car an e-bike is a non-starter.

    Where does he get e-bikes as an efficient means of transportation. They’re only efficient within a very narrowly defined set of circumstances. I drove to work today 35 miles through a mountainous area through alternately driving rain and sleet. An e-bike would have proven less than adequate for the task.

    It seems like many are accepting the idea that authorities should dictate people’s vehicle “privileges” rather than let market forces work themselves out. You can have my e-bike.

  43. higley7 says in part:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

    >Also, it’s no surprise the e-bike is so good as these are people only moving themselves. This
    >rules out grocery-shopping or buying anything economical, which means, usually, in bulk. If they >simply bought what they need each day, the economics gets worse, not better.

    I can haul 100 pounds of groceries using a bike without a motor. I can haul 35 pounds of groceries using my main commuting bike, which is designed primarily for speed, light weight and reliability – without a motor. So why can’t e-bikes be used for grocery shopping?

  44. DOuglas2 says:

    Don’t forget the concept of using electric-cars for grid storage/peak balancing — If utilities could reduce the crest factor (the peak-to-base load ratio) then more of the generation could be done on existing efficient gas plans and some coal plants could be shut down. Distributing supply capacity across the grid for peak times could also help with transmission issues…

  45. commieBob says:

    It depends on where your are. Where I live, the car would be charged over night on nuclear generated electricity. No pollution.

    I seriously thought about converting an old pickup truck to electric. People have done it successfully and the parts are available. It’s not even horribly expensive. Then I found out about shale gas. If gasoline were to become sufficiently expensive, I would convert one of my cars to natural gas. The conversions are available at a ‘reasonable’ enough price that it makes electric pointless.

  46. D. J. Hawkins says:

    Carmen D’oxide says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:09 am
    As the great economist Milton Friedman said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Perhaps at best and if you’re really careful and smart, you can get a discount.

    Credit where it’s due: Roberta A. Heinlein in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” uses the phrase “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” and the famous acronym ten years before Friedman.

  47. Resourceguy says:

    Anthony,
    Why don’t you invest in a solar charging unit for the car and show everyone the results? You do everything else as it is, another educational effort would be great.
    See the plug-in solar offerings from the recent CES show in Vegas for starters and do step around the overpriced solar options in the process. Thanks in advance.

  48. John Wright says:

    Steam cars are the way to go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJq2Hc_mXFI; http://www.cyclonepower.com/
    They’ll burn just about anything combustible.

  49. Justa Joe says:

    Some guys are rightfully pointing out that the USA has vastly superior emission controls on our coal power plants than the PRC has in order to bolster the EV argument. It also needs to be pointed out that the USA has stringent emission controls on gasoline fueled passenger cars as well. Every country that I’ve been to with the exception of perhaps the UK and Holland have lesser or NO emissions equipment on cars. An urban passenger car in the USA is less ‘polluting’ than an urban vehicle in the PRC.

  50. Jason says:

    This will be as big a shock to most people, as finding out bio-diesels “pollute” more than gas, oil, or even coal.

  51. Beesaman says:

    These cars should be termed pollution relocation cars…..

    Bio-fuel cars should be known as food re-allocation cars…..

    IMHO

  52. Brian Johnson uk says:

    An electric car was available in the USA in 1896 and had the same range as a modern day Chevvy Volt. There’s progress for you!

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/14/114-year-old-electric-car-gets-same-40-miles-to-the-charge-as-chevy-volt/

  53. Jim G says:

    commieBob says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:57 am
    “It depends on where your are. Where I live, the car would be charged over night on nuclear generated electricity. No pollution.

    I seriously thought about converting an old pickup truck to electric. People have done it successfully and the parts are available. It’s not even horribly expensive. Then I found out about shale gas. If gasoline were to become sufficiently expensive, I would convert one of my cars to natural gas. The conversions are available at a ‘reasonable’ enough price that it makes electric pointless.”

    Electric is already pointless. And I believe natural gass produces more water vapor than gasoline. So, if you believe in AGW, natural gas produces more GHG than gasoline as water vapor is a stronger GHG component.

  54. Jim G says:

    Grimwig says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:24 am
    “I agree with just about all that’s been said. I don’t have an electric car yet (just a very efficient Honda CR-V Diesel) but I am looking for one for a second car.
    I do have an electric ride on Lawn Tractor which will be solar charged.
    I don’t subscribe to electric vehicles because of AGW, pollution or PC but because I was around in the early seventies when the fur flew in the middle east and we were threatened with rationing. I bought a tiny Citroen 2CV then to make the Range Rover ration go further!. Don’t really like to be reliant on anything we can’t make or grow in the UK if possible.”

    Now this IS a good reason to have a non-gasoline powered vehicle! Electric, I’m not so sure.

  55. Coach Springer says:

    People concede a lot of things for argument’s sake. That’s a good way to come up with a lot of bad conclusions and mix them in with beliefs. What is clean? Why is it better and is that purpose the most important consideration? Is it necessary that I comply (support with my taxes and governmental support) with someone else’s conclusion that an electric car is “better” generally? Why isn’t it frequently better to carry more power with you in the form of liquid energy? What is the time value of charging a battery during a trip? Does it really make enough comparative sense to generate power remotely with waste, transmit it with waste, store it with waste, and then use it with waste?

    Chicago air, e.g., is a whole lot “cleaner” than it was in 1973. Reducing industrial particulates and emissions even further yields an ever decreasing and more nebulous benefit. Rural Illinois air was never a threat of any significance. There is no urgency. There isn’t even any reason for my suburb to build another extra wide street with bike lanes in the hope that people will use them. They don’t. We’ve proved that. Can we at least stop wasting money and move on.

    In the meantime, my neighbors will keep driving their SUV because it works best for what they want and I will drive mine because it is just big enough to safely tow my boat and it makes no economic sense to buy a second car. And, besides that, because I like it better than any car I have ever driven. If someone can get an electric to work as well for every purpose, that I like as well and for less total (inclusive of subsidies and replacements ….) money, then maybe I should buy one. No need for any pressure but market pressure. Maybe someone’s values make trying an electric car worth the money to them. Just don’t transfer that to a value that I need to support rather than accept. There’s a difference both financially and qualitatively.

  56. Kasuha says:

    Still, with an electric car I at least make the pollution the so called “someone else’s problem”. And I believe it would be much cleaner if they did the calculation for France rather than for China.

  57. On this story, I needed to break-out my micrometer and re-calibrate to Angstroms to measure my level of surprise.

    Yes, there are efficiency economies of scale in power generation… but distribution losses are huge. Then add in the losses of charging and discharging a battery.

    Tough to efficiently burn coal or use hydro generation in a vehicle, but 100 cubic feet of natural gas to fuel a vehicle engine will take it FAR further than the electricity created by that same 100 cubic feet of natural gas created by a generation plant.

  58. Kitefreak says:

    trbixler says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Safer bike routes and showers available at work. Very low pollution and good for your heart.
    —————————-
    Agree totally, I have an electric bike and used to cycle to work (on cycle paths, largely) until I moved house and my place of work moved, so my route to work is now to a cyclist as a wind farm is to a raptor, i.e. sooner or later you’re gonna get minced. So I drive, unfortunately.

    Thorium reactors seem like a fairly clean way of generating the leccy for the bikes and cars, but they’d need to be widely distributed geographically, to avoid the grid problems when everyone plugs in to charge up overnight.

    So much could be achieved economically and environmentally if the people in charge were really and truly working in the best interests of the people they supposedly represent. Sad really.

  59. AnonyMoose says:

    Can you pay extra to buy only the cleaner, cheaper, electricity from nuclear plants?

  60. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ Coach Springer says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Obviously you haven’t accepted the new paradigm of “Central Control” . Off to the re-education camp with you, comrade. ;)

  61. Matthew W says:

    Justa Joe says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:03 am
    Some guys are rightfully pointing out that the USA has vastly superior emission controls on our coal power plants than the PRC has in order to bolster the EV argument. It also needs to be pointed out that the USA has stringent emission controls on gasoline fueled passenger cars as well. Every country that I’ve been to with the exception of perhaps the UK and Holland have lesser or NO emissions equipment on cars. An urban passenger car in the USA is less ‘polluting’ than an urban vehicle in the PRC.
    =====================================================================
    That is correct.
    BUT !!!!
    The greenies cannot admit as to how clean energy production is in America, because that would take away an issue for the greenies to continue to demagogue about.

  62. More Soylent Green! says:

    Electric cars aren’t as clean as the green mafia hypes them to be? Manufacturing in China pollutes more than in the USA? Chinese power plants are dirtier than those in the West?

    I find this no more shocking than I find the plunging sales figures of the Chevy Volt shocking.

  63. Justa Joe says:

    I looked up Chris Cherry. Whadaya know? Ol’ Chris is a huge e-bike fanboy.
    http://www.utk.edu/tntoday/2011/09/06/nations-first-automated-ebike-system/

    I knew something was a tad off. Having been to Shanghai many time during the last 10 years I’ve noticed the huge increase in the use of private cars, but I’ve never even noticed e-bikes. Cherry is basically the Margaret Mead of the e-bike.

  64. Mac the Knife says:

    trbixler says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:02 am
    “Safer bike routes and showers available at work. Very low pollution and good for your heart.”

    All true, but not the whole story. In the Seattle area, as with many areas around the US, bicyclists routinely run through red lights, weave through stopped traffic, and generally behave both arrogantly and ignorantly in their reckless cycling behaviors. When they have a self-induced ‘close encounter of the nearly tragic kind’, they act as if they are blameless. Or is it just clueless? Or shameless?!

    If bicyclists want to ‘share the road’ or have their own bike lanes on the roads or separate from the roads, when will they start paying their full share of building and sustaining these bike lanes and highways? A hefty licensing fee and mandatory insurance would be ‘fair’ and a good start to redressing the inequities of your ‘share the road but not the expenses’ philosophies! Or is it just the ‘free ride’ that makes it worthwhile?

  65. Kforestcat says:

    It always good to see a university producing solid research rather than the politically correct non-sense coming out of “left” coast universities.

    One of the nice things about living in the Southeastern United States is that the state colleges provide superior educations at affordable prices. The students graduate with a solid professional background as well as the common sense skills necessary to enter the workforce.

    I’m involved in hiring decisions and think twice about hiring graduates from one of the coastal universities…. and tend to select accordingly. As an employer, I’m interested in evidence of competence, productivity, a solid work ethic, common sense, honesty, and courage to tell me what a need to hear (as opposed to what I want to hear).

    I visited UT Knoxville while taking my son on college tours over the summer. It is an impressive institution. Indeed, it took my son all of an hour to be sold. He’s entering UT in the Fall.

    My daughter’s graduating from UAH this semester with a degree in electrical engineering.

    It looks like they both made wise choices.

    Regards,
    Kforestcat

  66. Justa Joe says:

    What Chris Cherry is calling an e-bike in China is what we would call an electric scooter. Electric scooters and gasoline powered scooters are, of course, gaining poularity in China. Every type of motorized vehicle is gaining popularity. These scooters should not be confused with one of those electrical assist bikes, which also use pedal power.

    “He [C. C.] did his dissertation research on e-bikes in China where, over the past decade, their use grew from practically nothing to more than 100 million. “They are ubiquitous in every city on every street,” he said.

    The same thing, he thinks, could happen here, where the proliferation of lightweight, long-lasting lithium-ion batteries are making e-bikes an appealing alternative to the car.”

    Gimme a break.

    Chris lacks credibility. Here he is on an e-bike.
    http://www.nsf.gov/news/mmg/media/images/electric_bike_1_f1.jpg

  67. Dave Wendt says:

    While the environmental C/B ratios for various green initiatives are always arguable, one aspect of them is not

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2012/01/when-being-green-means-subsidies-rich-harm-poor/162514
    When ‘being green’ means subsidies for rich, harm for the poor

    A recent survey suggests that the average household income for purchasers of electric vehicles, and thus collectors of all those lucrative government subsidies, is $170,000. Meanwhile the share of personal income devoted to gasoline purchases is growing, particularly for those with lower incomes

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gfTGdsP_0EM/Tyf_VYTgiII/AAAAAAAAQyU/h56TX6ChORY/s1600/gas.jpg

    If, as now predicted gas prices move to over $4/gal, the negative effect will be felt most by the bottom quintile of income earners, which is just further proof of the leftists “dirty little secret” i.e. “They Hate Poor People”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/they-hate-poor-people_617428.html

  68. DMarshall says:

    @Mark Sorenson It is my understanding that distribution losses in North Am are under 8%.
    Even if you were burning fossil fuels exclusively for electricity generation, you have fewer, larger capture points for your waste products, greater efficiency since you won’t have tens of millions of small engines continually stopping/starting/idling (although some new cars address this last issue), which ramps up the emissions significantly.

    The reduction or elimination of ground-level ozone and particulate matter in highly populated areas carries huge benefits for public health

  69. Robert Sykes says:

    Regarding overall efficiency, in the 1990s the Department of Energy devised a way of comparing all electric car fuel efficiency to gasoline cars. To summarize, electric cars get about 30 to 35 mpg(equivalent), which compares well to hybrids and high-efficiency diesel and gasoline cars. The EPA number of around 95 to 100 mpg(equiv) only refers to the electrical energy drawn from the battery and does not represent the system fuel efficiency from the generating plant. (All costs and losses for gasoline itself are included in the estimate.)

    A more detailed summary and links are given by Warren Meyer in “Forbes” Nov. 24, 2010.

    Electric cars have advantages only if the electrical source is hydroelectric or nuclear. Solar and wind require back-up natural gas power plants to cover the intermittency problem. In the case of wind, the so-called back-up actually provides around 90% of the total power, and for solar the back-up would have to provide at least 60% of the total power.

    Wind and solar also have substantial negative environmental effects themselves (land cost, bird kills, etc), and the dispersed and dilute nature of the energy sources requires very large transmission systems.

    TANSTAAFL (Heinlein)

  70. Smokey says:

    Mac the Knife says:

    “If bicyclists want to ‘share the road’ or have their own bike lanes on the roads or separate from the roads, when will they start paying their full share of building and sustaining these bike lanes and highways?”

    I wholeheartedly agree. There is no credible reason that bicycles should not have to pay their share to build and maintain streets and roads. I think one-quarter of the average annual car license fee would be fair.

    In San Francisco bicyclists have gotten completely out of control. And it’s not just S.F., it’s happening in most big cities. They call it “Critical Mass”. It is the “Occupy” movement on bicycles.

  71. Matthew W says:

    AnonyMoose says:
    February 13, 2012 at 11:04 am
    Can you pay extra to buy only the cleaner, cheaper, electricity from nuclear plants?
    ============================================================
    Not really, but you can pretend like you did:
    http://bacontime.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/eco-nonsense-and-silliness/

  72. This is a non-story, given that they’re studying Chinese power-plants, not European or American.

    A more appropriate headline would have been “New Study Shows China uses ‘dirty’ power plants.” Shocka. Next up: new study showing Chernobyl-style power plants demonstrate how dangerous nuclear power is.

    What’s amusing here is that most commenters are using this (flawed) study to confirm their pre-existing bias; ironic that this is a skeptical site.

  73. Dave Wendt says:

    DMarshall says:
    February 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm
    @Mark Sorenson It is my understanding that distribution losses in North Am are under 8%.

    8% just about equals the contribution to electrical generation from all “renewable” sources, although most of it comes from hydro, which the “Greens” don’t really consider as renewable, lest someone might actually suggest wacking up a few more dams. If, instead of spending billions subsidizing worthless bird shredding wind turbines and PV installations, we deployed high efficiency natural gas generators, which because of their relatively small footprints and low local impacts can be placed directly into high population areas, we could significantly reduce those losses, at least those attributable to line losses. And since the shale gas revolution has made the power they produce cheaper than even coal, we could also enjoy the numerous benefits that always devolve from making energy cheaper and more widely and consistently available.

  74. Solar energy plus CO2 plus water are plant foods that made petroleum oil during million of years.
    I drive an oxygen plus gasoline powered crossover car big enough for two telescopes and two astronomers, or family and groceries even on a rainy or cold day.
    I think it would make no sense trading my $25K transportation for a $40K alternative contraption that will last less and/or get us killed even in a small crash.

  75. wobble says:

    Tom E. says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:22 am

    So we are going from foreign oil to foreign Lithium?

    Lithium exporters are more friendly than oil exporters. Besides, we can also use NiMH.

    We actually have more than enough fossil fuels in North America, we just need to be allowed to access them.

    What fossil fuels aren’t we allowed to use for automobiles?

  76. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @Bruce

    The analysis of PM2.5 in Beijing article: the profile has changed quite a bit since then. There is a simlar study for Ulaanbaatar which has much higher PM numbers, showing the attribution to source varies a lot across the city.

    http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTMONGOLIA/Resources/Air_pollution_final_report.pdf

    See especially the work of Prof Lodoysamba on PM measurement, real time analysis and source attribution.

    One district in UB is 600 micrograms per cubic as the annual average (!) and there is basically none in summer so you can imagine what winter is like.

    The change in Beijing since 2000 was I think attributable to a large scale switch to propane in the city. The urban coal combustion in China is done in poorly designed stoves/devices so the combustion efficiency is not good. As with UB, domestic fuel is much worse than power stations. In Ulaanbaatar there are three coal-fired power plants but they contribute nearly nothing to the PM2.5 number as they are correctly vented. Well, the big station is, above the inversion layer.

    Electric vehicles would in the case of Mongolia help urban exposure to PM2.5 because it would replace smoky 1983-88 Hyundai taxis that are kept going forever. Vehicles and fugitive dust are major PM2.5 sources downtown.

  77. Rosco says:

    Whatever happened to the steam powered car a British inventor developed in the 70s ?

    He put a steam engine powered by kerosene into a sports car – a Triumph I think.

    It got phenomenal mileage, had performance that was more than a match for contemporary moderate gasoline engines and only required a short “warm up” time, and of course emissions from a complete burn are far less than from internal combustion.

    Saw it once on a TV show – The Inventors in Aus. I think – never heard of it again.

    Also saw an invention of a self cooling beer can – compressed air in a layer between the can outer and inner layer is released when the ring pull is lifted cooling the beer (or whatever liquid).

    Brilliant idea – I presume one of the refrigeration companies bought the patent and shelved it – who would need ice or fridges for beer if that one caught on ?

  78. wobble says:

    Tom E. says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Liquid Hydrocarbon based fuels will always be my pick for random transportation. Electric makes sense for some applications, but one some.

    I agree. I think electric vehicles only makes sense to replace the second family car for commuting at first. If they are successful than they could probably replace enough vehicles to reduce oil consumption by 25% or so. I think that would be huge.

  79. Bruce says:

    vboring: “Is it cheaper to control particulate emissions from a few hundred coal plants or several million cars?”

    93% of particulate emissions in Beijing are NOT from coal.

    Most of the coal particulate emissions are from coal burned in the HOME, not power plants,

    “The major sources of PM2.5 mass in Beijing averaged over five sites on an annual basis were determined as dust (20%), secondary sulfate (17%), secondary nitrate (10%), coal combustion (7%), diesel and gasoline exhaust (7%), secondary ammonium (6%), biomass aerosol
    (6%), cigarette smoke (1%), and vegetative detritus (1%)”

    “The coal profile was obtained from the analysis of direct emissions from the burning of Datong coal in a small cooking oven in a house in Yungang, China, which were collected by placing the inlet of the sampler into the diluted smoke plume.”

    http://mzheng.eas.gatech.edu/ZBJ05.pdf

    Go ahead. Tell China to squander billions for no damn good reason. Better to pretend to do good and feel smug than to do actual good.

  80. Bruce says:

    @Crispin.

    Thanks. I’ll bookmark.

    “A large share of the PM10 concentrations
    come from these wintertime peaks that may
    correspond to the cold start ignition and reloading
    phases for heating stoves combined with
    the poor meteorological dispersion conditions at
    those hours. There is an indication that, as a
    short-term measure, significant reductions in
    emissions can be achieved from changing the
    way raw coal is lighted for heating.”

    “The main sources of the high ground level
    PM concentrations in UB are the approximate
    130,000 Ger household (2007) heating systems
    (stoves, heating walls and coal water heaters) that
    use raw coal and wood for heating and cooking,
    the about 250 HOBs in the city using raw coal,
    and the suspension of dry dust from paved and
    unpaved roads and other surfaces.”

  81. Dave Wendt says:

    wobble says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    “I agree. I think electric vehicles only makes sense to replace the second family car for commuting at first. If they are successful than they could probably replace enough vehicles to reduce oil consumption by 25% or so. I think that would be huge.”

    Transportation fuels are less than half of oil consumption nationally, about 41% last time I checked, but that was several years ago. Even in the unlikely prospect that EVs could replace 25% of transportation usage, it would only be about 10% of the total.

  82. Ralph says:

    It takes about 6mWh of electricity to refine 1 gallon of gasoline. That will power an electric car about 20 miles. Just another case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  83. On an EROEI basis electric cars are worse than gasoline powered cars.

    However, the pollution study in question is probably scewed, because the emissions controls on American coal fired power plants are much superior to those in China.

    So, if another study was made comparing electric cars using American coal fired power plants as a generation source, perhaps the electrics would come out on top of gasoline powered cars on a pollution basis.

  84. RACookPE1978 says:

    Ralph says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    It takes about 6mWh of electricity to refine 1 gallon of gasoline. That will power an electric car about 20 miles. Just another case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Justify that claim.

    With real numbers.

  85. Justa Joe says:

    Ralph says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm
    It takes about 6mWh of electricity to refine 1 gallon of gasoline. That will power an electric car about 20 miles. Just another case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    ———————–

    How about a source for this. Anyway 6 milli-watt isn’t a lot of electricity. and 6 milli-watt hour is a measurement of capacity.

  86. _Jim says:

    Mark Sorensen says February 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

    On this story, I needed to break-out my micrometer and re-calibrate to Angstroms to measure my level of surprise.

    Yes, there are efficiency economies of scale in power generation… but distribution losses are huge. …

    Really!!?? Shirley you gest … How hugh?

    ‘Under load’ losses or static losses?

    Got any ‘numbers’?

    Do you understand the history and theory of transmission and distribution?

    .

  87. Ralph says:

    mWh=megawatt Hour.

  88. _Jim says:

    Ralph says on February 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    It takes about 6mWh of electricity to refine 1 gallon of gasoline. …

    Six milli-Watt Hours? Approximately 20.4 Btu?

    Are you a little low in your guestimate?

  89. Garry says:

    tommoriarty February 13, 2012 at 8:19 am: “when the price of gasoline (in constant dollars) goes high enough, then we will see less expensive gas efficient cars on the market”

    In 1983, my VW Rabbit Diesel got 44 MPG. Isn’t that about the same as the “revolutionary” Toyota Prius?

    It was a great car until someone hit it.

  90. Matt says:

    Where are the Mercedes lawyers when you them? Your car is a blatant Smart rip-off :)

  91. Justa Joe says:

    Ralph,
    Environmental Protection Agency claims Nissan Leaf EV will utilize 34 kWh/100 miles. Therefore 6.8 kWh of capacity is utilized for 20 miles. (6.8KWh = 6800000 mWh – BTW).

    The EV forums are bandieing about the figure that 1 gallon of gas requires 6 KWh of electricity to refine. The typical retail cost of electricity is $.15/KWh so I’m a tad skeptical of this figure. I’m going to see if I can find some figures from the refiners.

    Anyway an EV owner that charges a car battery with 6 KWh worth of capacity has utilized more than 6 KWh worth of energy because of the conversion and line loss.

  92. Jimbo says:

    Shocker: dirty electric cars

    Yaaaaawwwn. I have always asked myself where the heck electric vehicles mostly get their electricity from???

    Furthermore, wind turbine production creates a toxic lake in China. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. ;O)

    Live has uncovered the distinctly dirty truth about the process used to extract neodymium: it has an appalling environmental impact that raises serious questions over the credibility of so-called green technology.

    The reality is that, as Britain flaunts its environmental credentials by speckling its coastlines and unspoiled moors and mountains with thousands of wind turbines, it is contributing to a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China. This is the deadly and sinister side of the massively profitable rare-earths industry that the ‘green’ companies profiting from the demand for wind turbines would prefer you knew nothing about.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

    Will there be more green lakes like this. And yes I mean GREEN. ;>(

  93. Dan in California says:

    Here’s my favorite electric vehicle: http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s/specs.php
    US EPA claims 114 mile range on its 9 KWh battery, but that’s puttering around town. In real-world freeway driving it’s more like 60 miles range on approx $1 of electricity. Top speed is only 88 mph, but that’s because the electric motor redlines and it has a 1-speed transmission. It’s kinda pricey at $13,500 but you don’t pay road tax on electricity. [Insert rant here about electric vehicles not paying for road maintenance] In comparison, my Honda 599 gets 42 mpg, which is about 8 times the fuel cost of the electric.

  94. D. J. Hawkins says:

    Justa Joe says:
    February 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm
    Ralph,
    Environmental Protection Agency claims Nissan Leaf EV will utilize 34 kWh/100 miles. Therefore 6.8 kWh of capacity is utilized for 20 miles. (6.8KWh = 6800000 mWh – BTW).

    The EV forums are bandieing about the figure that 1 gallon of gas requires 6 KWh of electricity to refine. The typical retail cost of electricity is $.15/KWh so I’m a tad skeptical of this figure. I’m going to see if I can find some figures from the refiners.

    Anyway an EV owner that charges a car battery with 6 KWh worth of capacity has utilized more than 6 KWh worth of energy because of the conversion and line loss.

    When I studied chemical engineering in the late 70′s, the usual figure was that approximately 25-30% of the fuel value of a barrel of oil was consumed in its refining. That’s ballpark, and a lot depends on the source of the crude and your product breakdown. And refineries have boosted efficiencies by 30-40% since then. The rest is left as an exercise for the student ;-).

  95. oregonfarmer says:

    So let’s try one more approach. We install solar panels on our place and power our house and car batteries from the sun. The panels have a lifetime but no one is sure what it is yet. The batteries have a lifetime but that depends directly on which type of battery we choose to charge. No particulates as a result of this approach but some reuse and recycle challenges.

    Is anything perfect? No.

  96. Barbara Skolaut says:

    Cute little baby car, Anthony – where do you insert the wind-up key? ;-p

  97. Chris Edwards says:

    Has anyone honest worked out the raw fuel to miles covered efficiency of pure electric vehicles? I doubt it is that high, you have the generating loss of efficiency, the transmission losses, the transforming losses to home voltage and then the losses in the charging device, then the losses in the vehicle itself, I expect that the first loss will be less than a gas powered car but when the others are compounded it will be very poor.
    Try costing heating your home with electricity and then natural gas, I did long ago, sure the storage heaters are 100% efficient but the rest of the system is way off that and the 90% efficient gas system was less than half the running cost and the home was warm at 10PM!

  98. KevinK says:

    Old news….. It has been known for quite a while that adding inefficiencies into any type of power train (i.e. AC transmission losses, heating of batteries while charging, charger inefficiencies (~95%), etc) only causes more “fossil” fueled energy to be WASTED ! And this of course creates more nasty by-products that come along with the burning of “fossil” fuels (i.e. soot, oxides, etc.)

    There are two very good engineering (i.e. pratical) reasons that the petroleum distillate internal combustion engine won the whole “electric car” versus “ICE car” debate about a century ago;

    1) The ICE is more efficient because there are fewer process steps between the combustion and propulsion actions. The inefficiency of each additional step multiplies. So, even if you can make all the steps 99% efficient (unlikely in the real world) you pretty quickly get 99% * 99% * 99% * 99% = 96% (plus some change) total efficiency. In the real world where an efficiency of 95% has been “state of the art” for decades this becomes 95% * 95% * 95% * 95%= 81% (plus a little change). It’s simple really, ADDED STEPS ALWAYS EQUALS LOWER TOTAL EFFICIENCY.

    2) The ”fueling infrastructure” problem is unlikely to be solved no matter how much money we throw at it. The electrical transmission system here in the US started between Buffalo NY and Niagara Falls NY a little over 100 years ago. So, if it took us over a century to light most homes and provide heat, refrigeration, AC, etc. how long would it take to build enough power lines to recharge everybody’s car? With an ICE car you can always take enough fuel along (assuming a big enough tank(s)) to get to your destination sans infrastructure. It worked for General Patton while driving through France and Germany back in 45.

    The “electric car” is a solution desperately in search of a “problem” to solve.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  99. jae says:

    Anthony: The fact that you buy into this crap (electric cars) suggests to me that you are more political than scientific. Sad.

    REPLY: The fact that you don’t know me or my specific motivation suggests you are more judgmental than studious. If you apologize, I’ll tell you. – Anthony

  100. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ KevinK says:
    February 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    The “greens” usually promote their ideas as “progress”. However, progress is often defined as simply replacing a historical or current problem with a more complex and harder to solve new problem. Many examples exist. The internet is one such, in many previously unforeseen ways, as we are discovering every day. EV’s and other such efforts to ‘improve’ things will no doubt meet the same fate, as we are currently discovering every day.

  101. KevinK says:

    Oregonfarmer wrote;

    ”So let’s try one more approach. We install solar panels on our place and power our house and car batteries from the sun.”

    I don’t know about you, BUT I REFUSE to wait for SUNNY days so I can drive into town to get food, medicine, and all those other things we consider modern. I could do better with a mule that will at least cooperate somewhat and take me into town on a cloudy day, although it may take some persuading with a 2 by 4.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  102. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @Bruce

    “There is an indication that, as a short-term measure, significant reductions in emissions can be achieved from changing the way raw coal is lighted for heating.”

    That has been a focus for about one and a half years: the traditional ignition method does not work as well with coal as with wood. We found an 80% reduction in PM 2.5 was possible with a $1.00 change to the stove and a different lighting technique.

    What has been a shock to everyone is that the coal, a wet lignite, does not have high inherent emissions at all. It is an extremely clean burning fuel. Power stations produce a lot of PM10 because they have fans lifting ash, not because of bad combustion. Domestic stoves with no fans produce virtually no PM1.0-PM2.5 let alone something as large as 10 microns. It is all sub-PM1.0.

    Electric vehicles would clean up the downtown a bit but there is no excess generating capacity. Any new station will be lumbered with all sorts of very expensive emissions controls – even talk about a gasification plant. Big Money for contractors.

  103. DocRock says:

    Smokey and Mac the Knife..

    I think most bicyclists would gladly pay the proportionate fee of what their bike vs car wear and tear on the road would be, if motor vehicles gave bikes “equal rights” of the road. I don’t defend jerks who break the law, but there are those of us who ride on the road who do follow the law. In Illinois we just got a law changed that allows motorcycles and bicycles to go through a red light after waiting for 2 minutes since they are not heavy enough to trigger many interchanges. I can’t tell you how many times I have waited at lights for several minutes for a car to trigger the light…

    Back to the proportionate fee, going under road design criteria, pavement damage caused by a particular load is roughly related to the load by about the power of 4. So a car being roughly 20 times heavier than a bike ( with rider ) to the power of 4 would mean a car does 160,000 times the damage to the pavement than a bike. So if you can specify exactly what fees you are paying to use the road that is being shared, I would gladly pay 1/160,000th. Oh and Toll Roads don’t count since we generally can’t use them.

    I am also a strong supporter of user fees. So, if I am not using gas, shouldn’t need to pay gas taxes, but I would be willing to pay the proportionate amount that I use the road, which I already do since most road building monies other than fuel taxes come from general revenue…

  104. _Jim says:

    Ralph says on February 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    mWh=megawatt Hour.

    Not quite and no. You have an internationally-recognized Metric system prefix incorrectly chosen for the desired multiplication factor*.

    Or is it Ralph’s day to get to set the ‘standards’ (an offshoot of ‘opposite day’)?

    *See and note the “Prefix” and “Symbol” relationships: http://www.chemteam.info/Metric/Metric-Prefixes.html Become educated, persuade more ppl to your POV using the correct terms and terminology, at least.

    .

  105. mikef317 says:

    “…harmful particulate matter pollution…”

    The post and most comments seem to accept adverse health effects as a proven fact. That, however, is debatable.

    William M. Briggs has several excellent blog posts about dust (fine particulate matter) as it relates to alleged deaths caused by air pollution.

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?s=Fine+Particulate There are multiple posts with the most recent on top; anyone interested should start with the 9/13/11 item and work upward.

  106. Jim G says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

    > And I believe natural gass produces more water vapor than gasoline. So, if you
    > believe in AGW, natural gas produces more GHG than gasoline as water vapor
    > is a stronger GHG component.

    Although water vapor causes more GHG effect than CO2 does, that is because
    there is so much more water vapor vapor than CO2. Change in GHG effect
    (in W/m^2) per change of PPM in the atmosphere change is greater with CO2 than
    with water vapor.

  107. _Jim says:

    Donald L. Klipstein says on February 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Although water vapor causes more GHG effect than CO2 does, that is because
    there is so much more water vapor vapor than CO2. Change in GHG effect
    (in W/m^2) per change of PPM in the atmosphere change is greater with CO2 than
    with water vapor.

    Does this bear out using any of the the on-line MODTRAN calculators?

    .

  108. Smokey says:

    DocRock,

    Nice try. But at least in the Peoples’ Soviet Socialist Republic of California, a 48 foot wide road has eight feet on each side reserved for bicycles. I’m sure it is not much different in gangsta Illinois. Since you are in favor of porportional use, you should agree that a 25% bicycle user fee is extremely generous.

    All roads were originally paid for entirely by carbon belching automobiles, trucks, and buses. They still do their patriotic duty by emitting harmless, beneficial CO2 into the biosphere, where it greens the planet. So start paying your fair share for the portion of the roads now reserved for your personal use, and we’ll all be happy campers.

    If you think I’m kidding about any of this, I’m not.

  109. Goldie says:

    Seriously? Whilst I don’t like electric cars, I wonder if these people really did the Math.
    Electric Cars – sources of PM = Excavators, Loaders,
    Hall Trucks, Crushers, generators to drive conveyors, emissions from power plant (assuming coal fired power plant is next door to mine – if not then train, ships, whatever?
    Motor Vehicles – sources of PM = genset for drill rigs, steel for pipeline, pumping for pipeline, shipping, refinery emissions, possibly more shipping, trucks for distribution, power generation to maintain and operate gas station.

    The list is potentially endless and I wonder if this was done properly or just used estimates from AP-42.

  110. _Jim says:

    Matt says on February 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Where are the Mercedes lawyers when you them? Your car is a blatant Smart rip-off :)

    You just might be surprised who the partners have been in the Smart car endeavor …

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_3B2_engine

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_Fortwo#Second_generation_.28since_2007.29

    .

  111. Jeff Alberts says:

    Donald L. Klipstein says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I can haul 100 pounds of groceries using a bike without a motor. I can haul 35 pounds of groceries using my main commuting bike, which is designed primarily for speed, light weight and reliability – without a motor. So why can’t e-bikes be used for grocery shopping?

    Because not everyone is you. How far can you haul all that without wasting most of your day?

  112. Jeff Alberts says:

    In Illinois we just got a law changed that allows motorcycles and bicycles to go through a red light after waiting for 2 minutes since they are not heavy enough to trigger many interchanges.

    To my knowledge, most traffic lights which detect vehicles do so by an inductive loop embedded into the asphalt. There may be a few which are done via pressure, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across one. In cities they’re most likely just timer controlled.

  113. Smokey says:

    Jeff Alberts:

    Touché!

  114. a jones says:

    Jeff Alberts says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Correct sir, nowadays, altho’ even now an inductive loop can be insensitive to small vehicles, especially if they have little or no metal in their construction.

    The previous technology of seventy years ago used a pneumatic trip across the road, which was weight sensitive, to detect demand and sometimes at very busy or fast junctions dual trips one well in advance of the other to vary the time delay were used to provide adequate warning of the lights turning red by extending the amber light duration to the fast traffic on the main road.

    Temporary lights as used to protect road works and the like have used microwave radar instead of a temporary pneumatic trip for at least fifty years. In the UK anyway.

    Kindest Regards.

  115. Dave Wendt says:

    In regard to this comment of mine

    Dave Wendt says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    wobble says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    “I agree. I think electric vehicles only makes sense to replace the second family car for commuting at first. If they are successful than they could probably replace enough vehicles to reduce oil consumption by 25% or so. I think that would be huge.”

    Transportation fuels are less than half of oil consumption nationally, about 41% last time I checked, but that was several years ago. Even in the unlikely prospect that EVs could replace 25% of transportation usage, it would only be about 10% of the total.

    I had a brain fart on that one, based i think on misremembering this graph

    http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/analysis_publications/oil_market_basics/dem_image_us_cons_sector.htm

    The actual percentage of oil consumption by the transportation sector is more like 2/3rds, although there are recent indications of a serious decline in gasoline usage. Refinery deliveries for Nov ’11 were down 40+% from July ’08. At any rate, I apologize for my error.

  116. Dave Wendt says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    wobble says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    > “I agree. I think electric vehicles only makes sense to replace the second
    > family car for commuting at first. If they are successful than they could
    > probably replace enough vehicles to reduce oil consumption by 25% or so.
    > I think that would be huge.”

    > Transportation fuels are less than half of oil consumption nationally, about
    > 41% last time I checked, but that was several years ago. Even in the unlikely
    > prospect that EVs could replace 25% of transportation usage, it would only be
    > about 10% of the total.

    10% is a major savings. This would reduce global oil demand by at least 1.5%,
    and that will move oil prices downward. I think 7% is more realistic – and still very
    significant.

    USA energy consumption, even specifically oil consumption and electricity
    consumption, breaks down into so many different ways that changing one
    item will only reduce total consumption by a few percent or less. In order to
    cut USA consumption of energy or a specific fossil fuel by so much as 1/3,
    a multi-front assault must be applied to a wide range of areas where
    consumption can be reduced.

    Electric heat is a energy consumption factor that can be reduced by using
    heat pumps (with any necessary supplemental heat) where they work well, or
    by using oil/gas heat where the electricity is mostly from oil/gas. (Generation
    efficiency for oil and gas electricity is mostly ~45%, and there are transmission
    and distribution losses.) Doing this can reduce national electricity consumption
    a few percent and fossil fuel consumption a couple maybe a few percent.

    Electricity consumption can be reduced a couple more percent if people were
    aggressive about having lower power consumption refrigerators, and a couple
    percent lower still if home lighting used the most energy-efficient lamp types that
    are appropriate and economical.
    If car automatic transmissions were manual ones operated by robots, gasoline
    consumption would decrease a few percent and petroleum consumption would
    decrease at least a couple percent. If people wore sweaters or other warm
    clothes so that they can turn their thermostats down to 60-62 F in daytime
    during heating season, that can reduce national energy consumption another
    couple percent. If Amercans could dress like most American Samoans in
    summertime, that would reduce air conditioning needs by several percent and
    national total energy consumption by a couple percent.

    Lots of little things add up!

  117. Garry says:
    February 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    > In 1983, my VW Rabbit Diesel got 44 MPG. Isn’t that about the same as the
    > “revolutionary” Toyota Prius?

    > It was a great car until someone hit it.

    And why can’t an American buy a new non-hybrid car with 44 MPG?

    Also, in recent years, car ads mentioning MPG are mentioning the “highway
    MPG”, and even for that nowadays in America ~40 is about the limit. Back in
    the ’90′s and “80′s and late ’70′s, car ads mentioning MPG had to mention a
    city/highway combined MPG or city and highway separately, depending on
    regulations at that time, although they were permitted to mention the
    highway MPG. Lately, it appears to me thay they are allowed to mention only
    the highway MPG.

    I even heard of some USA-available gasoline-powered cars around 1980 and
    in the early 1980′s achieving 40 MPG highway, with essentially no improvement
    from that in about 30 years. What’s up with that?

  118. Brian H says:

    The only actual take-away from the article is that coal plants in China, especially old ones, generate lots of particulate matter.

    Yawn.

  119. Electron says:

    I built my own electric vehicle, driven it for 3 years, and my utility allows me to buy all renewable energy for my electricity. Shocker: there are no emissions. My lead acid batteries are 97% recyclable.

  120. I say, have China’s government or its rare earth elements mining industry
    subsidize nearby homeowners and farmers to move elsewhere. Put the cost
    of that into the cost of producing rare earth elements and their products.

    This is only spoiling a couple hundred or a few hundred square km of semi-arid
    land in the “temporate zone” (where the weather has a temper). And, this rare
    earth industry supports wind turbines, magnets for hard drives, headphones and
    some loudspeakers, and the phosphors used in nearly all CFLs and 4-foot (1.2
    meter) T8 (25-26 mm diameter) fluorescent lamps, and many other things.

    Even if this industry spoils 500 or a thousand square km, out of the roughly
    130 million square km of land on our world, I think this is worthwhile. I propose
    merely to have the cost of products from this spoiled area to include the cost of
    moving affected homeowners and farmers to elsewhere. And, land in Mongolia
    is cheap.

  121. wobble says:

    Electron says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    my utility allows me to buy all renewable energy for my electricity.

    No, your utility charges you a premium simply because you allow them to. You get the same electricity as all of your neighbors. Sucker.

  122. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Resourceguy on February 13, 2012 at 10:01 am:

    Anthony,
    Why don’t you invest in a solar charging unit for the car and show everyone the results? You do everything else as it is, another educational effort would be great.

    He already has solar panels installed on his house. If he’s charging the car at his house, doesn’t that already qualify as using a “solar charging unit”?

  123. John Marshall says:

    On your third electric car? You must be mad. You should have learnt the lesson with the first. Is this wishful thinking over objectivity?

  124. wayne Job says:

    Once upon a time in a land far far away the energy required to build a an automobile was about the same as the three next years consumption of fuel. The energy required for all the extra widgets and gadgets in the modern automobile and the huge weight disadvantage ensure it is dead before you use the same amount of energy required to make it. This also applies to electric vehicles, only more so, as the life time is projected toward the less so and the recycling toward the more so.

    Electric vehicles and the PC gadgets and widgets are a green nightmare, I would ask the question, which county in which state will be the first to hold up their hands to bury these electric vehicles in their land fill. None I would imagine, will there be some government hand out to a green mob to try and recycle this stuff? It is tricky to handle and a bugger to try and recycle.

    Sixties and seventies cars crush and melt make new ones and repeat. Early on back when some wanted to make vehicles with a long life span, twenty to thirty years, this was frowned upon at the time as was the reuse of milk bottles and indeed coke bottles, which were good for fifty to one hundred cycles, no no no we can not have that it is not hygenic, make new ones every time.

    Once upon a time again I owned a 1960 vehicle, in a comfortable fashion it seated five people, it was so quite at any speed that conversation was like sitting in your lounge room. It had 4wheel radial tuned suspension with 4wheel fully floating disc brakes, at 60 MPH it got as a minimum 50 MPG. My question, what in the hell has gone wrong in the last fifty years that automobiles have gone backwards. The small car I have now is not a patch on what I drove in the sixties in comfort or MPG or handling or safety.!!!

  125. David says:

    I seem to remember some years ago – when California started its ‘anti-energy’ crusade, that there was this joke going round:
    What is a ‘zero emissions’ vehicle in California..?
    An electric car for which the electricity is generated in Nevada…

  126. Alan Watt says:

    John Wright says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Steam cars are the way to go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJq2Hc_mXFI; http://www.cyclonepower.com/
    They’ll burn just about anything combustible.

    Sorry — not true. We use internal combustion engines today because they have proven to be more efficient than steam. The “cyclonepower” referenced above is a steam piston heat engine, which is less efficient than using steam to drive a turbine. Steam turbines probably generate 90% of the world’s electricity, but they have disappeared from any role in marine propulsion (except for nuclear), which they used to dominate. They were replaced by diesel-electric. Why? efficiency and economy.

    William Lear (inventory of the car radio, the 8-track tape, and the Lear Jet) had a fling with steam car development after getting a $200 bill for automatic transmission service. He gave up in the face of the insurmountable efficiency gap between steam and internal combustion.

    Yes, external combustion heat engines have the advantage of fuel adaptability, but it’s still combustion and they will burn more fuel (and produce more CO2 if you care) than the same useful energy output from an internal combustion engine.

  127. Wellington says:

    It’s surprising that some readers are willing to pass a judgment on Anthony’s experiments with electric cars without having read or looking up now what he wrote about them previously (as suggested by the tone of the comments).

  128. PaulID says:

    Donald L. Klipstein says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:52 am
    tell ya what why don’t you come here and cart the groceries for my family of four for 2 weeks 25 miles one way to the top of the small (700′ above the valley floor) hill where I live? Then we will see how efficient a bike is. Oh by the way there is anywhere from 1-3 inches of snow on the ground right now.

  129. Resourceguy says:

    Kadaka,
    There are two issues with your comment/question. 1) Assuming the solar rooftop installation is less than 100 percent home energy need capacity level then charging the car from the roof system would take from the solar portion of the incomplete home charging unit. 2) Affordable solar is a very new concept in light of the current, ongoing plunge in panel prices globally and plug-in cars are also new. It would make for a better demonstration project for the other 99 percent of us with no overpriced roof mount solar system to see the benefits of DIY solar charging system at current costs and without 300 percent markups by installers mining tax credits. This should be a lot more obvious in a few years when there are many more plug-in vehicles and people connecting the dots.

  130. DocRock says:

    Jeff Alberts,

    Yes you are correct in most cases, however the detectors or induction loop sensors generally fail to detect small vehicles, especially bicycles. The sensors need a sufficient mass of metal to interact with the sensors magentic field triggering the light. Many bikes today have little to no metal, while even motorcycles may not have enough to set off the sensor.

  131. Justa Joe says:

    D. J. Hawkins says:

    When I studied chemical engineering in the late 70′s, the usual figure was that approximately 25-30% of the fuel value of a barrel of oil was consumed in its refining. That’s ballpark, and a lot depends on the source of the crude and your product breakdown. And refineries have boosted efficiencies by 30-40% since then. The rest is left as an exercise for the student ;-).
    ——————–

    Mr Hawkins, since the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline is 33.41 KWh your figures would put the refining energy into the 6KWh/gal neighborhood that the ‘greens’ are harping about, but I need to know if the refineries are literally using 6kWh/gallon of electricity from the electrical grid or are they just using the equivalent of 6KWh/gallon from burning their own fuel? Please advise.

  132. Donald L. Klipstein says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I even heard of some USA-available gasoline-powered cars around 1980 and
    in the early 1980′s achieving 40 MPG highway, with essentially no improvement
    from that in about 30 years. What’s up with that?

    The law of diminishing returns and reality!
    All (most) of the easy gains in fuel economy have already been made back in the 1970′s when there was a big push to cut fuel costs.

    It takes about 12-15 hp to move a typically sized passenger car at 60 mph steady road speed. Modern engines burn about .5 lbs of gasoline to produce one horsepower for one hour. Highly optimized engines such as light aircraft engines at light throttle cruise can get down to specific fuel consumptions of about .34 lbs of gasoline per horse power hour.

    In the first case that means at 60 mph a typical car would consume 6-7.5 lbs of gasoline per hour. Given gasoline weighs about 6.5 lbs/gallon that gives a theoretical top fuel mileage of 52-65 mpg at steady state highway cruise. These just happen to also be the very best fuel mileages claimed in real world cars today. A 1970′s vintage Morris cooper could get just short of 50 mpg if driven for maximum economy.

    Throw in the fact that in the real world the roads are not perfectly flat, you sometimes have a head wind, you occasionally have to slow down and speed up due to traffic, and even on occasion, shift down to climb a hill or accelerate to pass. Not to mention that human drivers have difficulty holding an absolutely uniform speed, have to stop for traffic lights (where you get 0 mpg) etc. means we are doing pretty good to get up to 40 mpg on a practically sized sedan or small utility vehicle.

    Unless folks are willing to drive a car with the aerodynamics of a tear drop, ride on rock hard tires to lower rolling resistance, and have a commuter car that will only carry 1-2 passengers, all the technology in the world will not get you real world fuel consumption much higher than 40-50 mpg.

    Even if you use a highly optimized engine like a modern light aircraft engine running at ideal lean mixtures at steady state rpm (no acceleration, deceleration) and can achieve .4 lbs of fuel per horsepower hour you still can only get to peak theoretical fuel consumptions near 80 mpg at highway cruise speeds of 60 mpg with current body styles and vehicle weights.

    The dominant forms of drag at highway speeds are mostly aerodynamic and some rolling resistance. Tire manufactures have already milked about as much out of low rolling resistance tires as they are likely to get in a wheel tire combination that also gives reasonable traction and ride characteristics. Except for a few most people do not want to ride to work in a car that looks like a torpedo on wheels for significant reduction in aerodynamic drag. They also want comfortable seating, a nice stereo, seating for 4 adults and even a bit of cargo area so they can haul the family to soccer practice or pickup a load of groceries on the way home from work.

    Larry

  133. DocRock says:

    Smokey,

    Nice try right back at ya. Here is “Gangsta Illinois” we do not have 8′ dedicated bike lanes. The only “dedicated” bike lanes I am aware of are in Chicago, and they are about 2′ wide and part of the parking lane so you have to watch out for jerks who fling open their car doors without looking. In the burbs where I ride it’s mostly a 2-3′ shoulder of which 12″ is rumble strips. I’m not asking for 8′ thats ridiculous.

    Also, your road building info is a bit off, at least for the Midwest, maybe California is different. We are not talking Interstates here ( bikes aren’t alowed ) and even then they were only paid for by approximately 70-75 fuel taxes. The rest are from general funds, bonds, property and other non-user taxes.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t appreciate jerk bicyclists just as I don’t appreciate jerk Taxis, Buses, cars, etc. I also drive my car more than probably most here ( 40k miles/year ), so I pay a hell of a lot of gas taxes, especially here in Chicago area.

  134. Smokey says:

    DocRock,

    Thanks for the correction. From what I’ve read about Critical Mass bicycle congestion in cities worldwide I assumed Chicago was similar to the Peoples’ Soviet Socialist Republic of California. Glad to hear your road engineers have more sense [they could hardly have less than here].

  135. Justa Joe says:

    There’s also another factor in regards to the apparent lack of high mpg cars. Basically nobody wants them. The priority that people place on mileage just is not the primary concern of people when they buy cars at least now with fuel at its present price point. People want utility and comfort. Stripped down sub-compacts just don’t cut it when it come to car sales. I say, power to the people. Buy what you want.

  136. Justa Joe says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/do-regular-cars-use-more-electricity-than-electric-cars/2011/10/17/gIQAiF67rL_blog.html

    According to this Argonne study — and this analysis by the Department of Energy’s Jacob Ward—[he's a govt. warmist] it takes about 6 kwh of energy to refine a gallon of gasoline, not 6 kwh of electricity, as I [author] originally stated. Now, some of the energy inputs that a refinery uses (such as natural gas) could be used to generate electricity instead if we shifted away from regular cars to electric cars. But even in that case you wouldn’t get a full 6 kwh of electricity — probably less than half that.

    This idea never made sense to me that a petroleum refinery, which has energy at it’s disposal, would need to use lots of electicity in the refining process. However, the myth that refineries use 6KWh of electricity/gal of gas refined is spread throughout the internet and probably with us to stay.

  137. D. J. Hawkins says:

    Justa Joe says:
    February 14, 2012 at 10:51 am
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/do-regular-cars-use-more-electricity-than-electric-cars/2011/10/17/gIQAiF67rL_blog.html

    According to this Argonne study — and this analysis by the Department of Energy’s Jacob Ward—[he's a govt. warmist] it takes about 6 kwh of energy to refine a gallon of gasoline, not 6 kwh of electricity, as I [author] originally stated. Now, some of the energy inputs that a refinery uses (such as natural gas) could be used to generate electricity instead if we shifted away from regular cars to electric cars. But even in that case you wouldn’t get a full 6 kwh of electricity — probably less than half that.

    This idea never made sense to me that a petroleum refinery, which has energy at it’s disposal, would need to use lots of electicity in the refining process. However, the myth that refineries use 6KWh of electricity/gal of gas refined is spread throughout the internet and probably with us to stay.

    I see you found your answer. Yes, the primary utility requirement for atmospheric distillation of oil to gasoline is heat. Usually provided by burning part of the feedstock. There is some electricity used to run compressors, pumps, instrumentation and what not.

    As for the comparison of kWh used in electric vehicles vs the stored energy of fossil fuels, don’t forget that basically 50% of all the electricity that is generated is lost in distribution due to I^2R losses in transmission.

  138. hotrod (larry L) says:

    This idea never made sense to me that a petroleum refinery, which has energy at it’s disposal, would need to use lots of electicity in the refining process. However, the myth that refineries use 6KWh of electricity/gal of gas refined is spread throughout the internet and probably with us to stay.

    Except that in some cases electrical power is more useful than the heating value of their primary commodity. If they can buy a million BTU of electrical energy for less than they can sell an equivalent energy quantity of petroleum in the form of gasoline or diesel or natural gas. It might be smarter to buy electrical power at a low cost per BTU and sell their petroleum chemicals for a higher cost per BTU as a refined product rather than burning it for energy.

    Pumps and other devices need electrical power anyway and the power company can probably generate it a lot cheaper than they can produce it locally (including physical equipment costs).

    Larry

  139. Tony Raccuglia says:

    Got so fed up with high gas prices, that I bought an e-bike last Sept. Had to put a for sale sign on it, because the battary did not give me enough juice to get me to town and back-it also took 8 hrs. to recharge it-my employer would not let me recharge the battary at work out of concern on running up his electic bill. E-bikes are good for running around town with short distances, but if a person has to travel more than 5 miles one-way, forget it-the battaries get less than half of what the advertisers claim. I found my gas moped to be a good choice as it will get me over 110 miles on a gallon of gas-it can get me four times farther on a gallon of gas than a car. But not many are willing to part with their cars-especially during th harsh winter months.

  140. Merovign says:

    If it wasn’t for people trying to force other people to “do it my way,” then it would be an efficiency or practicality issue.

    But people do want to force other people, so it’s a political issue, and it will be decided politically, and the outcome will be inefficient and corrupt and wasteful.

    And, of course, people will fight about it forever, rather than doing anything useful.

  141. TomB says:

    The exotic metals used in the batteries and motors and the threat of fire still keeps me from taking electric vehicles seriously. At ftp://ftp.nhtsa.dot.gov/NASS/Videos there’s a video of the Chevy Volt battery fire test. Test was run on Nov 11, the fire started on Nov 24. Firemen begin to fight the fire with the hose on full – with no effect. After a few minutes they gave up, obviously concluding that all they were accomplishing was making a lot of steam.

  142. E.M.Smith says:

    If you “do the math” of losses at each conversion step, it’s pretty clear that e-cars make more (and are not as efficient as ICE cars) ‘well to wheels’. “Why” is simple: more conversions.

    Crude, refine, transport, burn, motion

    Coal, transport and process, burn, electricity, transformer, transmission losses, transformers, charger losses, battery charging losses, battery parasitic standby losses (can be 1%/day in NiCd), battery DIScharge losses, power controller losses, motor losses, motion…

    The “pro-Electric” folks like to just look at the “battery to motion” vs “gasoline to motion” and ignore the rest of the cycle…

    With that said, I’d like to have an E-Car. Why? Lower COSTS, even if higher energy consumption total. (Coal is just Soooo cheap…) Also stops using imported oil and uses domestic coal instead. Oh, and my ‘driving profile’ makes a 100 mile range fine for 90%+ of all I do and we could use the old Diesel for long trips…

    But to say they are going to reduce pollution (or worse, reduce CO2) is just silly and ignores the math of reality…

    Oh, and I’d like one because they are so quiet too…

  143. DMarshall says:

    @E.M.Smith So what are your calculations as to the losses / relative efficiency of BEV vs ICE?
    And why are you bringing up NiCd batteries? Is some manufacturer considering them for EVs?

  144. Brian H says:

    D.Marchall;
    BEV is about 3X as efficient getting its stored power turned into forward motion; all the rest is details.

  145. Brian H says:

    typo:
    DMarshall.

  146. Eduardo Maal says:

    As always, the real objective is to give money to select groups who have friends in high places.

  147. plenarchist says:

    China (and India) are making serious investments in thorium molten-salt nuclear reactors. The US gov is too vested in the extremely dangerous and military-purposed LWR technology and fabricated “oil dependency”. As long as Haliburton, Raytheon and other petro/warfare industries continue to own the gov, thorium technology won’t be given consideration in the US. The US built the first experimental molten-salt reactor in the 60′s but the LWR won out because it’s easier to make nukes with it. We can thank the Fukushima’s of today and tomorrow for that fateful decision.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/china-thorium-power/

  148. aaron says:

    Hook that baby up to a solar array on your roof however and it is 100% clean and free power. Just takes a big capital investment to start with, thats the hard part.

  149. Engineer says:

    The reasons why smart people do not buy Electric or Hybrid cars are: Batteries are expensive, short lived, efficiency isn’t 100 % and the electricity is not free. Going electric you won’t decrease Air Pollution because, 50 % of the electricity is produced by burning COAL. By the way a Jetta Diesel, TDI for $23000 makes 40MPG. With a full tank of Chevy Volt, driving non-stop, you make 37MPG, plus $3 or more, the price of electricity you charged 16.0-kW-hr lithium-ion, the hefty $10000 of the 750-pound battery pack.
    Using Chevy Volt, in the Electric Mode Only, Charging and Discharging the battery pack every day, is going to cost you $1000 in electricity, plus $3000 in the battery amortization, with a TOTAL of $4000 per year. Because the battery life will be shorten 2.5 times, from 8 years in pure hybrid mode to 3.3 years in pure electric mode.

  150. DMarshall says:

    @Engineer Battery tech will keep on improving and I’m quite confident that we’ll see amazing improvements in capacity, weight and cost in the near future.
    Reducing the emissions from power plants will decrease air pollution without having to change the vehicle tech and with no impact to its performance.
    As I mentioned in a previous post, even if current EV emissions would be higher due to coal plants, which is arguable, those occur away from population centers and it’s probably easier to filter emissions from a few thousand plants than over 100 million tailpipes.

    You’re way off on the weight of the Volt’s battery pack – it’s slightly over 400 lbs. And even if it’s has to be replaced in 3-4 years, why should the buyer care when GM’s warranty is 8 years / 100,000 miles?

    And, by the time significant numbers of Volt’s will be needing battery replacements, the cost will be way down, probably around $2500.

    Some very recent findings about gasoline engines may worsen their pollution profile versus BEVs

    http://cen.acs.org/articles/90/web/2012/02/Black-Carbon-Belchers.html

    However, this has yet to be corroborated.

  151. Brian H says:

    Engineer;
    for an actual analysis of the TCO (total cost of ownership) of Tesla’s BEVs, have a look at TeslaRumors.com . And yes, it does take depreciation into account.

  152. Mark says:

    I guess you missed the fine print about “well to wheel” CO2 emissions in the report you quote. It takes 5 – 7kwh of energy (electricity, coal, and other hydro carbons) to take a gallon of gas from the well head to your tank. That means the GM volt can go further on that same 7 kwh than your average car can on the gallon of GAS!!

    So, even if you have a magical gas engine that emits no CO2 ( which is impossible) and is 100% efficient ( the best is currently 25%) there is no way you can beat even the worst case scenario for an electric drive vehicle in either efficiency or CO2 emissions.

    That said, if the gallon of gas is produced using a clean source of energy ( such as the purposed use of nuclear energy in the Alberta Tar sands) or is produced 500 miles away from any place you care about (like your home town) you might have an argument.. but not much of one. Better to focus on getting that same Clean energy directly to the wheel of your car instead of using it to produce gas.

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