New battery technology will be great – if it is viable

redox_batteryWe’ve seen so many press releases for a new battery technology that seems almost to good to be true over the years. A lot of them were and never made it past the press release. Here’s to hoping this one isn’t one of those.

From the University of Southern California

USC scientists create new battery that’s cheap, clean, rechargeable… and organic 

Scientists at USC have developed a water-based organic battery that is long lasting, built from cheap, eco-friendly components.

The new battery – which uses no metals or toxic materials – is intended for use in power plants, where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed.

“The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year lifespan,” said Sri Narayan, professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and corresponding author of a paper describing the new batteries that was published online by the Journal of the Electrochemical Society on June 20. “Lithium ion batteries degrade after around 1,000 cycles, and cost 10 times more to manufacture.”

Narayan collaborated with Surya Prakash, Prakash, professor of chemistry and director of the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute, as well as USC’s Bo Yang, Lena Hoober-Burkhardt, and Fang Wang.

“Such organic flow batteries will be game-changers for grid electrical energy storage in terms of simplicity, cost, reliability and sustainability,” said Prakash.

The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation’s energy generation. Solar panels can only generate power when the sun’s shining, and wind turbines can only generate power when the wind blows. That inherent unreliability makes it difficult for power companies to rely on them to meet customer demand.

With batteries to store surplus energy and then dole it out as needed, that sporadic unreliability could cease to be such an issue.

“‘Mega-scale’ energy storage is a critical problem in the future of the renewable energy, requiring inexpensive and eco-friendly solutions,” Narayan said.

The new battery is based on a redox flow design – similar in design to a fuel cell, with two tanks of electroactive materials dissolved in water. The solutions are pumped into a cell containing a membrane between the two fluids with electrodes on either side, releasing energy.

The design has the advantage of decoupling power from energy. The tanks of electroactive materials can be made as large as needed – increasing total amount of energy the system can store – or the central cell can be tweaked to release that energy faster or slower, altering the amount of power (energy released over time) that the system can generate.

The team’s breakthrough centered around the electroactive materials. While previous battery designs have used metals or toxic chemicals, Narayan and Prakash wanted to find an organic compound that could be dissolved in water. Such a system would create a minimal impact on the environment, and would likely be cheap, they figured.

Through a combination of molecule design and trial-and-error, they found that certain naturally occurring quinones – oxidized organic compounds – fit the bill. Quinones are found in plants, fungi, bacteria, and some animals, and are involved in photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

“These are the types of molecules that nature uses for energy transfer,” Narayan said.

Currently, the quinones needed for the batteries are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons. In the future, the potential exists to derive them from carbon dioxide, Narayan said.

The team has filed several patents in regards to design of the battery, and next plans to build a larger scale version.

###

 

This research was funded by the ARPA-E Open-FOA program (DE-AR0000337), the University of Southern California, and the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute.

==============================================================

Here is the paper, which is open access.

An Inexpensive Aqueous Flow Battery for Large-Scale Electrical Energy Storage Based on Water-Soluble Organic Redox Couples

Abstract

We introduce a novel Organic Redox Flow Battery (ORBAT), for meeting the demanding requirements of cost, eco-friendliness, and durability for large-scale energy storage. ORBAT employs two different water-soluble organic redox couples on the positive and negative side of a flow battery. Redox couples such as quinones are particularly attractive for this application. No precious metal catalyst is needed because of the fast proton-coupled electron transfer processes. Furthermore, in acid media, the quinones exhibit good chemical stability. These properties render quinone-based redox couples very attractive for high-efficiency metal-free rechargeable batteries. We demonstrate the rechargeability of ORBAT with anthraquinone-2-sulfonic acid or anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonic acid on the negative side, and 1,2-dihydrobenzoquinone- 3,5-disulfonic acid on the positive side. The ORBAT cell uses a membrane-electrode assembly configuration similar to that used in polymer electrolyte fuel cells. Such a battery can be charged and discharged multiple times at high faradaic efficiency without any noticeable degradation of performance. We show that solubility and mass transport properties of the reactants and products are paramount to achieving high current densities and high efficiency. The ORBAT configuration presents a unique opportunity for developing an inexpensive and sustainable metal-free rechargeable battery for large-scale electrical energy storage.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (CC BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse of the work in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Full text: http://jes.ecsdl.org/content/161/9/A1371.full.pdf

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155 thoughts on “New battery technology will be great – if it is viable

  1. Altair Nano is working on some Lithium Titanate batteries over in Reno. Not as green as this one, but it’s already in production.

  2. Keywords: “Mega storage”, If you can’t store enough to never require a fossil plant to be in backup, what have you done except tear up more land and chop/fry more birds? On a more practical note, can it fit in my car?

  3. Some engineering issues that these may have (good thing there are lots of talented engineers in the world).

    I may be reading the graphic wrong, but it appears that this produces electricity at a voltage of less than one volt. Better have very short wires to the inverter or a number of these in series to produce a decent voltage. I may be recalling incorrectly, but a lead acid battery produces about 2 volts per cell, so this is not a big issue.

    Are those pumps I see? I assume these are needed for charge and discharge. What powers the pumps? Is the electricity generated by the reaction greater than the power necessary to operate the pumps? This might be a tech killer.

    Though symbolically “bad”, lead is highly recyclable at very low cost. I vaguely recall that more than half the lead used for new things comes from recycled lead. Lead is also a dense storage. How does this compare to lead in terms of cost. Also mass and volume required for equivalent storage capacity? This may make the tech noncompetitive with lead acid. Other battery types are much less environmentally benign than lead acid which is why most “home” solar still uses lead acid.

  4. As the owner of an electric car, I’m very focused on the energy density, cost per kWh, longevity, and performance of batteries. The technology of batteries is phenomenally primitive, so you’d think there’d be low-hanging fruit out there. However, I am even more aware of the flood of press releases that, in the end, serve as little more than grantsmanship.

    I’ll delve into this study, mainly because of the credibility that WUWT has achieved with me. But I’ll do so with low expectations and high skepticism. That said, cheap, effective , high-performance energy storage would definitely be a game-changer of historic importance, be it grid-level or portable.

  5. Meh. A year ago I read about super-cheap solar cells made from carbon that were going to revolutionize the industry. Since then, zilch.

    Wake me when it’s actually something I can buy at Walmart.

  6. The first thing to point out is that these batteries have a very low energy density, although actual figures are not provided, and are not suitable for automobiles. The second problem is that
    batteries can displace energy from one part of the day to another, but that doesn’t solve the unreliability characteristics of solar or wind energy. These power sources can die off for days or weeks, far beyond the storage capacity of any battery system, and even if there existed a large capacity, exactly how are you going to replenish it and at the same time provide power from the solar/wind source? While in a desert solar power be pretty much guaranteed, but it only takes a couple of cloudy days to require backup power generation capacity. In general, if a renewable source is interrupted, that means your system is not providing enough energy. Batteries don’t solve that problem, since they cannot generate electricity by themselves. I would say that , at most, storage systems prevent the grid operator from having to throw away power or power
    controllable sources up and down, but a lot depends upon the percentage that comes from renewable sources – the greater the percentage, the bigger the problems.
    Now for some REALLY exciting battery news – here we’re talking Ryden dual carbon (eventually organic) cotton batteries from Japan Power Plus and a Japanese university after 7 years of development.

    http://powerjapanplus.com/

    These batteries , which have an energy density equal to current li ion batteries used in Tesla cars, are the answer to every prayer (except perhaps cost, which will not exceed current batteries
    but is otherwise unknown). These batteries can be recharged 3000 times before they even begin
    to detriorate (if in a auto with a 300 mile pack, would last over 900,000 miles before beginning to deteriorate), can be recharged 20 TIMES FASTER THAN lithium batteries (in a couple of minutes) , can be discharged completely without damaging the cell (which destroys a Tesla battery pack) ,
    allowing greater actual capacity, are impossible to catch fire or explode (don’t require heavy metal container) , do not vary thermally when charged or discharged (don’t need a cooling system, as Tesla uses and can accept 100% of electricity fed to them , unlike the 85% that actually gets into a Tesla battery ). Team TAISAN of Japan, which has won LeMans races
    and worked with electric cars, is now about to test the batteries in a go-kart in August, followed by
    testing in one of their race cars. It won’t be long before the world will know whether we have a
    perfect battery or not with the Ryden. Price may be,as usual, the killer, but if the battery pack can be quickly recharged, then you can get by with a lot smaller battery pack. The Tesla Model S
    battery pack , for example (cost – around $38,000) holds 85 kWhrs and can do 250 miles around town, but on the highway roughly 210 miles and requires over an hour at a super charger station to recharge. It has actually too much capacity for around town driving but not so much for an extended trip. A fast recharging battery would allow the owner to get by with a smaller battery
    pack. And since the Ryden can be fully discharged without harm, a Ryden battery with the same nominal capacity as a Tesla battery actually has 10% more usuable capacity and 10% greater
    driving range. Here’s hoping it works as advertised and is not too expensive. If cheap enough,
    that’s the end of gas powered vehicles, by and large.

  7. I was looking at UK power generation grid statistics today and noticed the massive swings in wind generation statistics between Summer and Winter. So my question about these batteries is how big would they actually be to smooth out the flow from wind generation. Of course you would have to store the power for several months!! Does this really make sense?

  8. With pumps to feed and losses in the inverter and rectifier (from wind?) the losses must be large, solar and wind are rubbish for the grid stop putting lipstick on a pig!

  9. I am not sure how they intend to recharge these batteries? We had an electric powered tourist bus in Armidale, that kept breaking down, and the only place it could be charged up was at the TAFE college. They found that this was too expensive. So they switched to a diesel or petrol bus.
    It is the same with electric cars run on batteries. They need electricity to re charge. From a coal powered system?

  10. Currently, the quinones needed for the batteries are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons.”
    There are non ” naturally occurring hydrocarbons”?

  11. Col Mosby says:
    June 25, 2014 at 6:52 pm
    “If cheap enough,
that’s the end of gas powered vehicles, by and large.”

    Although I confess I didn’t read the article in detail, I didn’t see any discussion of vehicle range vs temperature which restricts range in cold climates. I also assume all specified ranges are without the use of auxiliary equipment such as air conditioning which can also significantly restrict range. Niche markets already exist for electric vehicles and will in all probability expand. Unless I missed something in these discussions, IMO nothing here gives reason to believe electric vehicles will significantly expand beyond niche markets in the foreseeable future.

  12. The redox chemistry is reasonable but as col mosby points out, the energy density is low: not ever going to be seeing them in portable electronics or cars. And what would be the cost and land area taken up to store a few weeks worth of energy equivalent to the output from a power station? We’ll see… or not.

    They’re also a bit sketchy about the details of the electrodes. At least one of them is still using lead. Hmmm…

  13. The first thing to point out is that these batteries have a very low energy density, although actual figures are not provided, and are not suitable for automobiles.

    I didn’t see any mention of cars, so it doesn’t surprise me.

    batteries can displace energy from one part of the day to another, but that doesn’t solve the unreliability characteristics of solar or wind energy. These power sources can die off for days or weeks, far beyond the storage capacity of any battery system

    Perhaps true, but depending on the specifics on this kind of battery, it could still (at least theoeretically) have a big impact on the dispatchability issue, if not, say, an extended period of calm winds.

    even if there existed a large capacity, exactly how are you going to replenish it and at the same time provide power from the solar/wind source?

    If I understand the question correctly, the battery gets replenished during times of high production (i.e. at night with wind) and discharged during times of high demand. Wouldn’t the purpose be to level out short-term production fluctuations? Yes, I realize that longer-term fluctuations are a different issue, but “dispatchability” has a major short-term component, no?

  14. Do we detect a cultural component to the innovative thinking that led to this design? So much non-PC thinking. Can’t possibly have any truth to it.

  15. And what would be the cost and land area taken up to store a few weeks worth of energy equivalent to the output from a power station?

    Hard to imagine this being a big issue given the application to renewables. Surely there’s enough room within most windmill farms for them.

  16. And what would be the cost and land area taken up to store a few weeks worth of energy equivalent to the output from a power station?

    And who’d need a few weeks worth of storage? I’d think a few days — maybe less — would do the trick for the short-term component of dispatchability.

  17. Price may be,as usual, the killer, but if the battery pack can be quickly recharged, then you can get by with a lot smaller battery pack. The Tesla Model S battery pack , for example (cost – around $38,000) holds 85 kWhrs and can do 250 miles around town, but on the highway roughly 210 miles and requires over an hour at a super charger station to recharge. It has actually too much capacity for around town driving but not so much for an extended trip. A fast recharging battery would allow the owner to get by with a smaller battery pack.

    Sorry, but this is an issue that I am quite deeply familiar with.

    There are 168,000 gas stations in America. There are 100 Tesla “superchargers,” most located along interstate freeways. The car’s range to prudent refill is anywhere from 160 miles to 220 miles depending on weather. And a lot less if the temperature is below zero.

    Yes, Tesla’s $100,000 car has a great range for around town. More than adequate in most cases. But when it comes to road trips, it’s a very different story, the promotional excursions by enthusiasts notwithstanding.

    EVs currently occupy a very small niche of enthusiasts, early adopters, and status-symbol display. To become viable city commuter vehicles, they need much bigger batteries than today’s 24 kWh battery in the Nissan LEAF, the largest selling EV. In my view, a minimum of 60 kWh is needed — and at a far lower cost per kWh than today’s models.

    The publicity and niche enthusiasm for EVs has greatly outstripped the practical realities. As the owner of an EV and a standard gas-powered vehicle, I am aware of the differences and similarities in great detail. Electric power is about three times as efficient as gasoline power, because not nearly as much energy is coverted to heat and sent out through the engine, tailpipe, and radiator. However, the cost of batteries is sky-high, and the energy density is very low.

    This includes Tesla’s halo car, whose basic difference with a Nissan LEAF is a much bigger battery and therefore a far higher sticker price. EVs are a game of battery energy density and cost, period. We’re not there yet, as far as the mainstream car market is concerned.

  18. I was looking at UK power generation grid statistics today and noticed the massive swings in wind generation statistics between Summer and Winter. So my question about these batteries is how big would they actually be to smooth out the flow from wind generation. Of course you would have to store the power for several months!! Does this really make sense?

    I believe that most pressing issue is short-term fluctuations. If summer-to-winter imbalances were disabling, there wouldn’t be many hydroelectric dams. Part of the problem in this discussion is all-or-nothing thinking. We already have a diverse energy generation mix. No one source does it all, and no one source will do it all.

    But if a cheap and practical means of smoothing out shorter-term fluctuations is developed, I think it’ll be a very big deal indeed. Not the holy grail, which is a myth anyway. But a big advance.

  19. “The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year lifespan,” “Lithium ion batteries degrade after around 1,000 cycles, and cost 10 times more to manufacture.”

    In terms of watt-hour/$, lead acid is a fraction of the cost of lithium ion. In other words, they start out by comparing themselves to the most expensive (in terms of energy stored for a given amount of money) instead of the least expensive, to create the impression of a quantum leap when none exists. Not to mention that if they actually had something as viable as they claim, they’d be quietly patenting their $1 Trillion dollar idea, not publishing papers about it. My expectation is that this is press release to secure more funding by creating the impression of a quantum leap where none exists.

    This is right up there with the MIT under water spheres. Lotsa hype but when you look at the actual numbers, nothing but an academic exercise with zero practical value. I’d LOVE to be wrong about this. I just don’t think I am.

  20. There was a super capacitor battery start up that stayed alive for about 10 years touting their technology. Never went beyond theory even though they showed production lines ready to make the product. Electric car companies went out of business giving them money and waiting for a product that never materialized. They continually sold themselves with a modeled theory that never materialized. I bet they are still in business. From what I’ve read this battery has been proven in theory but not practical application and cost is the biggest concern.

  21. I did not read the article, but so far in the comments there are very few numbers. If this really works, the cost will probably drop considerably, and the efficiency will increase somewhat. But for right now, what is the capacity in kilowatt hours per kilogram? Yes, include the fluids and the hardware.

  22. It’s a pumped electrolyte battery, been around for decades. They are the cheapest stationary battery around. High capacity but not fast discharge like Li+.

    Why are they making a big deal about no metals and non-toxic. Lead-acid batteries are neither, but they are not destroying the environment. The high cost of lead insures most are recycled.

  23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rechargeable_battery

    Here is a decent starting point. Note that in terms of energy stored per kilogram, Lithium Ion beats lead acid hands down. But in terms of energy stored per dollar, lead acid is 2.5:1 or better than Lithium. Bulk storage for wind farms is NOT about energy/kilogram, it is about energy/dollar. So why didn’t they compare themselves to the lowest energy/dollar technology?

    One can conclude that they are either too incompetent to understand which economics are important for this application, are that they are being deliberately misleading. I allow that there may be other options, I just can’t think of one.

  24. Jake J wrote;

    “The technology of batteries is phenomenally primitive, so you’d think there’d be low-hanging fruit out there. ”

    Har de har har….. A fellow by the name of Ford (Henry to be exact) hired another fellow by the name of Edison (that light bulb fellow) back about one hundred years ago to “improve” the “phenomenally primitive” technology of batteries for an electric car. After a year or so Mr. Ford complained that Mr. Edison had not improved battery technology much, Mr. Edison replied; “Not true, I have found about one hundred things THAT DO NOT WORK” (paraphrased slightly). That would be your imagined “low hanging fruit”.

    So, Jake, I suggest you use your wisdom to make the technology of batteries “phenomenally UNPRIMITIVE”. Have you ever even built a battery from scratch, you know specify/buy some materials (hint, there is basically one column in the table of elements that contains good materials for batteries, perhaps you could expand the table by discovering “Light Lithium”), process them, assemble them, charge them up, do some life testing ???? I suspect NOT.

    The overarching problem with “organic” materials is the purity, which leads to degradation and lifetime issues. Folks have been trying to make “organic” LEDS (OLEDS) for about thirty years. They appear inexpensive to produce, but the impurities that come along with the inexpensive production technology ALWAYS limit the life time. Who really wants a smart phone with a display you can not see after 6 months (well, maybe Apple ™ they would have a ready excuse for you to upgrade) ???

    So, Jake, please use your phenomenal wisdom to enlighten us all about how much better battery’s should be by making a phenomenally better one. You will be rewarded financially beyond your wildest dreams I assure you.

    Disclaimer, I do not now and never have designed a battery, I have designed systems that use batteries, and I believe the battery designers when they tell me I cannot pack the power output of a modern electrical power plant into my pocket in a AA battery. But, those guys are so “primitive”, HECK ONLY THE WHOLE WORLD (well those of us fortunate enough to have a modern electrical system) HAVE BEEN RELYING ON THEIR ELECTRICITY FOR A CENTURY OR SO…..

  25. davidmhofer: The article asserts that they have filed patents. Doesn’t make anything else you said wrong. Lead acid is cheap and environmentally benign compared to other battery systems.

  26. speaking of batteries, this one was promo-ed on abc radio’s “what the papers say” as – if u don’t have subsidised panels+feed-in tariff solar (can’t afford it/living in a rental whatever) you will pay astronomical electricity bills while we solar people will be laughing at you. when i read the actual article, it didn’t seem ready for the big laugh time, yet:

    22 June: Austn Financial Review: Batteries rev up solar tensions
    by Ben Potter and Angela Macdonald-Smith
    Out of the garage, the red and black Zero SR motorcycle purring contentedly below Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge is a beast that produces 60 horsepower and has won a “Holy s##t!” road-test rating from Gizmag.
    At home, it doubles as a 14kWh ­storage battery that the bike’s owner can plug into a solar roof-top system to power the house and avoid peak grid charges.
    It’s part of a new wave of battery technology that – if embraced by the 1.3 million Australian households with roof-top solar panels – threatens to tighten the screws on an electricity industry already battling falling demand.
    New generation batteries like those in the Zero motorcycle or in stationary storage systems are a quantum leap forwards for households that make their own electricity…
    Adam Dalby, owner of Solar Australia in Newcastle, has installed 16 lithium-ion storage systems costing $7500 to $14,000 for a fridge-sized 8kWh system, which can make a household self-sufficient 70-80 per cent of the time.
    Bigger systems could just about take them “off the grid”. Dalby says houses in NSW can save 52¢ /kWh at peak times by storing solar power for later rather than having to sell it into the grid at the reduced 6¢ feed-in-tariff…
    Electric industry’s death spiral
    Experts warn that this could accelerate the electricity industry’s “death spiral”, pushing up costs for anyone reliant on the grid. As industry shutdowns and energy efficiencies cut electricity demand, network charges – more than half of retail prices – rise. The more people cut their use, the more prices rise…
    James Deutsher, who imports Zeros from California and has sold 10 from his Collingwood warehouse, says 40 per cent of inquiries are from “green-oriented” people; the rest want “the next curve in motorcycle evolution”…
    At $19,000-$25,000, the Zero SR isn’t cheap and none is yet connected to a solar system…
    Soaring retail energy prices and the slashing of feed-in tariffs from 60¢ or more, to 6-8¢ encouraged Bosch Australia to bring in the high-end BPT-S 5 Hybrid, which provides 4.4-13.2 kWh. It sells for about $25,000-$30,000 retail…
    MacGill (Iain MacGill, associate professor of electrical engineering at UNSW) cautions safety is an issue – stored energy can escape as fire…
    “I am now inclined to say, ‘stuff the utilities, stuff the government’, put on more panels and go off the grid,” said Peter Campbell of Templestowe, a Collins Street IT consultant.

    http://www.afr.com/p/national/batteries_rev_up_solar_tensions_XeJwOp1rNDyLMSt75pFncN

  27. davidmhoffer reckons it’s a “press release to secure more funding“.

    I have to agree, when they say : “In the future, the potential exists to derive them [quinones] from carbon dioxide“.

  28. Currently, the quinones needed for the batteries are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons.

    That would be oil/coal/gas.

    When I see these attempts at deliberate deception, I assume the rest isn’t any better.

  29. I designed several batteries for high current military applications in the 1990s.

    I came up with a single use seawater activated battery for emergency power that produced sea salt as a byproduct. Worked well. Maybe someone would like it.

    Later I studied the problem of recharge-ability and came to the conclusion that “precharged” fuel cells packs were better that recharging on the fly. I migrated to hydrogen fuel cells like Ballard System’s cell. Replace the packs when they are “empty”.

    No battery can compete with energy density stored in hydrocarbons. Ie run gasoline through the cell, stripping the H2 to run through the cell. H2 is dangerous.

    Eventually I realized that you can’t beat wood for sustainability, recycle ability, and total energy storage. Face it, trees convert CO2 and sunlight to stored chemical energy that can be released on demand. Wood is awesome. Then came the green movement and their cartload of crazy.

    .. the rest is a long sad story…

  30. The good news is that research on improving battery storage is increasing. I’ve heard about other organic storage mechanisms in the past, so this doesn’t surprise me.

    This startup company is in the same university incubator that I have space in, they have a very good platform:

    http://sinodesystems.com/technology/

  31. If you read the conclusions in the paper, they use words like “This opens up the door for research…” and ” We have demonstrated the feasibility…”.
    Having read so many promises of energy breakthroughs, I share the skepticism expressed by Anthony and others. It sounds like the research is not anywhere finished and more $$$ are needed. DUH
    For those who believe that these batteries connected with electricity from an intermittent wind turbine will replace gasoline powered cars, the grid is already under stress with the shutdown of reliable high density electricity coal powered and nuclear plants just to meet current demand. Also as indicated , private companies have developed over a number of years an extensive refueling grid for the gas and diesel powered auto/truck to travel all over the country. Are you willing to invest a Huge amount of tax dollars to replace a system that is working quite well?

    Finally having gone through 1 week or more power outage, 2 times in the last 3 years, I think I’ll stick to a gasoline engine for my main vehicle. Does anyone report the miles in an electric vehicle in a cold climate when the heater is blasting, the wipers and lights are on driving home from work in a snowstorm which might take 3 hrs to make a 30 minute trip?

  32. Anthony: This has already been done! CellCube sold by American Vanadium Corp. and already in production. Proven technology, German engineering via Guildemeister. 20 year lifespan and unlimited charge cycles. Scaleable to whatever size you want. Just add another Cube.

  33. So what’s the bet these people that call the quinones “eco-friendly” also call carbon dioxide a pollutant?

  34. During December and January In the valleys of southeastern Washington state we can go weeks with no wind and heavy fog from temperature inversions. To tide us over, batteries accompanying our wind farms would match the size of large water tanks.

  35. So, Jake, I suggest you use your wisdom to make the technology of batteries “phenomenally UNPRIMITIVE”. Have you ever even built a battery from scratch, you know specify/buy some materials (hint, there is basically one column in the table of elements that contains good materials for batteries, perhaps you could expand the table by discovering “Light Lithium”), process them, assemble them, charge them up, do some life testing ???? I suspect NOT.

    No need to “suspect” anything. I never claimed I could do it. I’m just carping from the sidelines, like any good American.

    Disclaimer, I do not now and never have designed a battery, I have designed systems that use batteries, and I believe the battery designers when they tell me I cannot pack the power output of a modern electrical power plant into my pocket in a AA battery. But, those guys are so “primitive”, HECK ONLY THE WHOLE WORLD (well those of us fortunate enough to have a modern electrical system) HAVE BEEN RELYING ON THEIR ELECTRICITY FOR A CENTURY OR SO

    You seem vehement. And condescending. Do you live in London?

  36. In the valleys of southeastern Washington state we can go weeks with no wind and heavy fog from temperature inversions. To tide us over, batteries accompanying our wind farms would match the size of large water tanks.

    Call me wrong — please — but last time I looked, they were weren’t sticking the windmills in valleys. But if I’m wrong and they are doing that, what’s wrong with “the size of large water tanks” once you’ve ruined the landscape?

  37. Finally having gone through 1 week or more power outage, 2 times in the last 3 years, I think I’ll stick to a gasoline engine for my main vehicle. Does anyone report the miles in an electric vehicle in a cold climate when the heater is blasting, the wipers and lights are on driving home from work in a snowstorm which might take 3 hrs to make a 30 minute trip?

    At this point, I wouldn’t rely solely on an EV for more reasons than one. Mine wouldn’t go for 3:30 even at the height of summer. In any case, the answer to your question is — between 1.5 and 2 miles per kWh.

    I like my EV, but I would never, ever portray it as anything more than an in-town runabout. That much said, as an in-town runabout in Seattle, it really does do the trick. Trust me, this is not to try and order anyone to get one. The long story is longer, and waaaaaaay too boring, so I’ll end here. Bottom line: I ain’t smug about it at all.

  38. Rule Number 1

    If it sounds too good to be true, then it is almost always too good to be true.

  39. Jake J.

    Easter Washington has hills and valleys. The inversions cover all the hills and valleys. So, no solar, no wind, nothing. On top of that, Eastern Washington gets quite cold.
    But all of that is irrelevant. Washington state gets 95%+ of all its energy from Hydro. Those windmills are an absolute waste and environmental eyesore.

  40. Catcracking says: June 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm
    … It sounds like the research is not anywhere finished and more $$$ are needed. DUH

    Well, yeah.

    If we’d spent a tenth of the past decades’ windmill and solar panel subsidies on storage research, green power might not be the white elephant it is today.

    Even if storage can’t span the entire windless or overcast periods that shut down ‘eco-friendly’ power, it can cover the instantaneous drops that really tax the backup equipment. Coal and nuke take a while to crank up and shut down, which leaves gas turbines and diesel. Those two can jump in quickly, but even they are designed for continuous running. Starting and stopping are big wear producers, shortening the equipments’ useful life. A battery (or alternative) can fill in and let the machinery warm up to operating temperature in the safest manner.

    Energy density may be a consideration for motorbikes and ev’s, but it isn’t for a power plant or wind farm. A couple big storage tanks at the bottom of a wind turbine tower would hardly be noticeable, especially if you painted a couple trees or a WWF logo on them.

    Wind turbines are absolutely as advanced as they are ever going to get, and solar panels will get better on their own as they steal ideas from the research labs. Storage is the tough problem, the place where new ideas and out of the box thinking will get us the most bang for our taxpayer bucks.

  41. There doesn’t seem to be anything on turnaround efficiency (what you get out for what you put in).

    As a pretty safe rule, the turnaround efficiency of large scale power storage is less than 75%. That is because 25% of energy input is lost in things like mechanical losses, pumps, heating in chemical processes and the like.

    This is for a cycle which delivers around 88% efficiency “each way” in its cycle.

    Some technologies claim higher turnaround efficiency, but they operate with some ongoing fixed energy consumption (eg maintaining high temperature) and this brings the claims back into line.

    If we lose 25% of the energy in turnaround, this means 25% increase in the primary generation capacity which needs to go through storage. More wind turbines just to cover energy loss. Not good.

    As a rule (and worldwide experience confirms) it is cheaper to hold generating capacity in reserve than to store power in devices which lose 25% of the power put into them.

    And another poster makes a good point- storage is no good for seasonal variation which would involve holding stored power for weeks or months. We need the reserve primary power generating capacity for seasonal variation in any case, and storage capacity is largely redundant for most of the year. The only argument is avoided marginal cost of production once the capacity is built. But the full cost of extra wind turbines and solar panels is not cheap and this can be avoided now if we never build them.

    Unless this technology delivers a remarkable improvement I turnaround efficiency, I wouldn’t get too excited about it.

  42. The ORBAT configuration presents a unique opportunity for developing an inexpensive and sustainable metal-free rechargeable battery for large-scale electrical energy storage.

    Good. However, there is no need to refer to climate change, renewable power sources and such. A large market segment exists for cheap &. reliable storage in data centers called UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). If the technology is so good as they claim, they can get rich fast with no taxpayers’ money involved whatsoever. That’s how it is supposed to work.

    Once they shall have built up a large enough manufacturing capacity, presumably in China, where else? they can start looking for other applications. Or, if all else fails, our Chinese comrades can.

    Even if the technology turns out to be inferior, all they have to do is to convince banks to lend them a large sum, grab the money and run as it is proper in a post normal economy.

  43. I’m not buying it. Never met a rechargeable battery that didn’t wear out in a few years (or less) using them every other day for 2 hours – 2 hours and 30 min. on a full charge. Wouldn’t trust an electric vehicle any farther than I could walk (with any purchases I’d make). The question for large scale storage is, “would you have surgery with this kind of power running the facility you were going to have it in?” Not me.

  44. The technology has existed for over 100 years. It’s called the Nickel-Iron battery. It uses Nickel cathode and Iron anode with potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte. They have almost infinite cycles and will last up to 100 years. They use the cheapest and most abundant elements on earth, and they don’t pollute one bit. Their only downside is the power density, which is much lower than a lead-acid battery – but everything else about this is positive.

  45. @John Eggert:

    >but it appears that this produces electricity at a voltage of less than one volt.
    >Better have very short wires to the inverter or a number of these in series to produce a decent voltage

    There may be other technical problems with these batteries, but of all of them, the voltage is pretty irrelevant. ‘Batteries’ (like anti-aircraft batteries) are so called because they are stacked cells connected in series to provide a useful total (i.e. 12.6V from the six 2.1V cells in a lead-acid car battery.)

  46. I’m not any kind of authority on battery tech. However, it seems to me that there is a commonly overlooked hazard to these type things. I.e., how do you ensure that massive amounts of stored energy do not get released suddenly, with catastrophic effect?

    I mean, if we’re talking about hours, days, or even months of storage for every power consuming household and business in a given region, we are talking about some major equivalent tons of TNT. How stable are these devices? Does anyone know? Does that stability scale to the massive size which would be required? Those are things I would like to know.

  47. National Power in the UK tried to commission an industrial sized flow battery system about 15 years ago. That was based on a bromide electrolyte I think. The product was called Regenysys and was sold off to venture capitalists if memory serves.

    This technology or something equivalent is essential in my opinion in making renewables worthwhile. Because whilst we can’t store electricity in meaningful amounts and require conventional back up they’re an expensive irrelevance.

  48. All nice and dandy, but when you run climatecontrol in full summer or deepwinter not even the best battery is going to keep up the pace and will eventually be much less longerlived then rated lifespan.
    Batteries aren’t a viable solution for anything else then the subtropics. In eastern europe people actually drive around with oilfueled heaters in their electric cars….
    Just another pipedream, wasted effort, wasted money, wasted time, wasted talent. Such a shame humankind is so shortsighted

  49. I think DavidMHoffer hit the nail on the head.
    If this worked, it would be simple to build a scaled version and of course patent the technology.
    Why haven’t they done that?
    I’m just waiting for the day when someone patents a CO2 energy capture device, because let’s face it…if CO2 at 400ppm can trap enough energy to heat the atmosphere of the entire earth, then CO2 at 100% purity in solar arrays, should trap and amplify enough heat to drive power stations…shouldn’t it?

  50. Scientists at USC have developed a water-based organic battery that is long lasting, built from cheap, eco-friendly components.
    ______________________________________

    yeah, yeah, yeah.

    With a headline-grabbing, eco-grant begging, bandwagon jumping, fiscally incontenent sentence like that, you know this project is doomed to failure. These are not scientists, they are scio-snake oil salesmen, the white-coated hucksters of the 21st century.

    I would give them 0.0001% chance of sucess. After three grant allocations have kept them afloat for two years, the auditors will be in looking at where all our money had gone, and find yet another Green-Black hole.

    Ralph

  51. 1,2-dihydrobenzoquinone- 3,5-disulfonic acid

    Hmmmm. Sounds organic. Can I put it on my fairtrade cornflakes?

  52. And, yes, I understand it may have been originally used in the context of “organic chemistry”, but the context in the article here was that these compounds are “eco-friendly”. Clearly, they’re not.

  53. Dr. Punnett says:
    June 25, 2014 at 10:10 pm
    “Anthony: This has already been done! CellCube sold by American Vanadium Corp. and already in production. Proven technology, German engineering via Guildemeister. 20 year lifespan and unlimited charge cycles. Scaleable to whatever size you want. Just add another Cube.”

    Interesting. Vanadium based flow battery. company page:

    http://energy.gildemeister.com/en/store/cellcube-fb-200

    I don’t know anything about Quinones; but compared to anorganic stuff, my question would be: How stable are they at operating temperature. A battery is no use when the charge carriers decide to undergo chemical reactions over time.

  54. Jake J June 25, 2014 at 11:00 pm
    “You seem vehement. And condescending. Do you live in London?”

    Those of us on this side of the pond, vehement and condescending though we always are (it’s a point of principle, actually), never use the word “heck” in that way. You need to look closer to home.

  55. Bart says:
    June 26, 2014 at 1:01 am

    I’m not any kind of authority on battery tech. However, it seems to me that there is a commonly overlooked hazard to these type things. I.e., how do you ensure that massive amounts of stored energy do not get released suddenly, with catastrophic effect?

    That can be a serious consideration with batteries and capacitors, once they start to store seriously useful energy densities. Ask Boeing.

    Such self-discharge cannot readily occur with the type described here because it is of the flow-cell type which requires an active movement of reacting chemicals which can be stored well apart: A sealed tank of fuel cannot burn without oxygen [hydrocarbons are a marvellous high-density way of storing energy for as long as required].

    In this case there is also a large amount of water already present. That which makes it less useful and less ‘interesting’ also makes it safe from a fire/explosion point of view.

  56. Maybe Anthony can have an power transmission design engineer write a post on how the grid would/could be engineered for batteries. Use a real life city, like Houston or Phoenix or Los Angeles where the power service of the “grid” is measured in the mega and giga watts. I’d mostly interested in how sudden drops and spikes, aka “power bumps”, are avoided.

    I suspect the use of batteries is more complex than most realize. Would they work like some gigantic uninterruptable power supply (UPS)? Something like the ones you use in your home to keep your PC gear running during power bumps and transients. They’re about $300-500+/- and last a few years, depending. For us non-electrical engineers, using something like a typical 12v car battery as a baseline and presume 2 12v batteries per cubic foot. One answer would be 12v battry equivalents in terms of space and number. Estimating a cost would be a bonus.

    And why have “the utilities” pay for this add-on. Make the consumer foot the bill for the upfront cost and maintenance. Just mandate each consumer location install a UPS system which will be able to run long enough to cover all the power bumps from switching. Better, have the power utilities install UPS systems at each location and charge the consumer for the “upgrade” to renewable energy. One can even have government provide loans, similar to the student loan program, and even have the utlility tack that onto the monthly power bill – just like all those other taxes you find on utility bills. Maybe the engineer could estimate the cost for the at-home solution. Who knows, maybe each consumer would find it cheaper to simple install their own ethanol burning electric generator. Or maybe 10 houses can create a home-power generation co-op and use one of those yet-to-be-built save micro nuke generators. Maybe we can just dismantle the grid and save all those birds slaughtered in the windmills?

  57. More ‘lipstick’ for the renewables ‘pig’…. I have not yet seen pumped storage mentioned on WUWT as an energy storage option . Cape Town’s Palmiet and ESKOM’s Drakensberg pumped storage schemes use off-peak generating capacity to pump up to a storage reservoir for generating hydropower during peak demand.

  58. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    The actual paper is dense, nothing apparent in a 60-second scan. Perhaps it will be informative when I can dig into it. Regardless, it sounds too good to be true.
    There are good comments here to get one started in delving into the possibilities.
    One practical factor is simply size. If these things are enormous, which is the sense I have from the press release, then they are probably not practical, even for the stated purpose, certainly not for portable storage, such as in an automobile.

  59. As an engineer, batteries are for DC backup systems & emergency lighting. OK, maybe a forklift or a golf cart too….

  60. Col Mosby says:
    June 25, 2014 at 6:52 pm
    —–
    One of the big problems with renewables is the speed with which they can cut out. They can go from full power to now power in a matter of minutes, and you never know when it will happen.
    This requires that your back up power be kept running at nearly full power so that it can take over at a moments notice. If you had enough battery backup to last for a few hours to a few days, you can then keep your backup power source at standby, there will be enough time to bring it up to full power before the batteries run dry.
    You don’t save the cost of building all that backup, but you don’t have the cost of running that back up at near full power when it isn’t needed anymore.

  61. Jake J says:
    June 25, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Hard to imagine this being a big issue given the application to renewables. Surely there’s enough room within most windmill farms for them.
    —-
    I thought we were supposed to use the area between the windmills for farming and ranching?

  62. Sam Hall says:
    June 25, 2014 at 7:31 pm
    Currently, the quinones needed for the batteries are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons.”
    There are non ” naturally occurring hydrocarbons”?

    Actually there are non-naturally occurring hydrocarbons. Several research efforts have used electric power, CO2 and H2O to produce hydrocarbon chains. The problem of course is you have to put more electric power in than the energy capacity of the produced hydrocarbons, but that’s thermodynamics for you. Most of the research is into what catalysts can be found to optimize the hydrocarbons produced per watt. It actually would be a great way to store energy from an intermittent power source, There are also fewer loses in transporting methane than electrons.
    If we were ever to reach an end to “fossil” hydrocarbons, a nuclear plant and CO2 sequestration product could produce all the methane we would want.

  63. Just wait, they’ll be found to cause cancer in one-eyed newts in southern british columbia, and thus will be permanently banned from production.

  64. Yes, the final piece of the 3 piece puzzle falls into place.

    First you build the wind farms to harvest the energy when the wind is blowing. Second, you install these super batteries covering thousands of acres around turbines – this will allow energy to be discharged for a few days when the wind doesn’t blow. This becomes stage 1 backup.

    Third, you build a gas fired generator to cut in during those longer periods of nil wind during which the stage 1 backup becomes ineffective. That is the stage 2 backup.

    With a triage system of such robustness, how can it possibly fail? What’s not to like?

  65. Here is another “feel good” battery story: 1.100 miles range between charges and 1/3 of the weight of the Tesla Battery. The Aluminum Air Battery developed by Alcoa and an Israeli Company called Phinergy is advertised as a “game changer” but….there are a few problems to be solved.

    http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/06/17/israels-phinergy-tests-1100-mile-range-electric-car-aluminum-air-battery-system-video/

    In the mean time I am still waiting for the 2.000 USD fridge sized battery able to run the entire household for 48 hours without charging.

    The advertised date of market entry was set for 2010 but but their web site was no longer available.

    What I do remember is the millions of State, Doe Credits and subsidies that were made available.

    Free money for feel good nonsense projects often pushed by Wired.

    Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

    When will they ever learn.

  66. Battery producing microAmps current at 0.1 V volatage and discharging in 2500 seconds… “Great” result that one would expect from a gov. funded research. Just another example of over hyped research that will never deliver what was promised. We really are in some sort of crisis of science and engineering. How to fix it?

  67. the tech itself may be useful but their reasons for development (store wind/solar) are stupid.
    would like to see how these would work as household backups used to supply during generator startup. I don’t have whole house generator myself (backfeed with portable) but was thinking these could be useful there.

    and as far as cars….don’t see many electrics here in Maine. the need to heat vehicle in -20F weather and deal with ice/snow is pretty huge draw on battery. do see hybrids…usually as I am passing them even with 2k lb + on trailer on back of crown vic…

  68. Spell check failure alert:

    We’ve seen so many press releases for a new battery technology that seems almost to good to be true over the years.

    Peter Miller says:
    June 25, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Rule Number 1

    If it sounds too good to be true, then it is almost always too good to be true.

    Another contender for Rule #1:

    Be careful what you wish for.

    All the hot air about emerging battery technology helps keep the wind turbines spinning, and provides plausible justification to keep this green scam going.

    With our enormous reserves of coal and other fossil fuels, and with the CAGW conjecture in tatters, there is absolutely no valid reason to cast our fate with the whirligigs, irrespective of battery technology.

    Simple solutions are always better than complicated ones.

    Nothing can improve a bad idea.

  69. Jake J says:
    June 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm
    “Sorry, but this is an issue that I am quite deeply familiar with. ”
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    Perhaps you can address something that has always puzzled me and seems to get no attention. If electric cars become the norm, where will the energy come from to recharge so many vehicles daily (or nightly)? What will the energy requirement be to recharge, let’s say, 100 million vehicles at least once per day?

  70. In my experience performance estimates for novel technology (‘5000 cycles’, 15-year lifespan) are invariably optimistic, especially when produced by the marketing department. As I rule of thumb for cost-benefit analyses of products still in the prototype stage, (and all major capital projects still in the proposal stage, for that matter), I find costs are usually underestimated by half, and benefits are usually overestimated by double.
    In the words of Randy Glasbergen, “I can complete the project under budget and ahead of schedule, but you will have to allocate additional time and money for that.”

  71. Redox flow batteries are not a new idea. Only suitable for grid storage. There are several inorganic chemistries. Organic quinones are a newer idea, first published by Harvard some months ago.
    There are no grid stabilizing flow batteries in operation without massive federal subsidies as experiments. They are quite expensive (cost more than convention [peak] load [gas] turbine) and the numerous pilot scale facilities have suffered from severe reliability problems.
    There will be a chapter on this in the forthcoming book, based on the California grid storage mandate (1.2 Gw installed by 2020) for which no commercial technologies yet exist. And the way the mandate was written, the Eagle Crest pumped storage proposal is excluded, despite using abandoned mines (utter waste land) and being less than 10 miles from an existing transmission line corridor (no additional land use impact). Chapter is titled California Dreaming.

  72. there was a time when inventors toiled in their workshops and garages and only “announced” their discoveries to the world when they wanted to actually sell a product … these clowns will never create something useful … ever … oh, they may stumble across something once in a while but someone else will figure out how to make it work and get it to market …

  73. Brian S says: June 26, 2014 at 4:47 am
    I have not yet seen pumped storage mentioned on WUWT as an energy storage option .
    _________________________________

    Been mentioned several times.

    Pumped storage is efficient and simple. Dinorwig is the UKs largest, and it cost a fortune to build. It gives 5 gwh on discharge. The trouble is, we would need 5,000 Dinorwigs, to power the UK for a couple of weeks.

    Several problems with that.
    a. One Dinorwig nearly bankrupted the energy corporation, let alone 5,000 of them.
    b. The greens forced Dinorwig to be built inside a mountain, quintupling its cost.
    c. Everywhere you want to build a Dinorwig, the Greens will find an endangered species.
    d. There are simply not enough mountains in the UK – especially if Scotland votes for independence.
    e. The greens support Scottish independence.
    f. The biggest hurdle for creating pumped storage systems, is the Greens.

    .

    Someone also mentioned the power generation requirements for going to electric transport. As a general rule of thumb, you need to double your electrical generation capacity, to run all your surface transport by electrical power.

    But do remember that neither electricity not hydrogen is a power source. So all electric vehicles are currently oil, nuclear, coal or gas powered (with 2% renewables). And since the generation of electricity from fossils is hardly efficient, most european turbo-diesel powered cars are MORE efficient than any electric vehicle. My turbo diesel saloon car, is about 10% more efficient than any electrical vehicle – especially when the ambient temperature goes below zero and you try using the heating systems (my diesel car’s heating is via waste energy, so does not reduce propulsionary efficiency).

    And please also do note that the efficiency analysis of electric vehicles by Professor David MacKay (the UK government’s energy advisor) is a compendium of lies and disinformation. Prof MacKay says that electric vehicles are 5 times as efficient as fossil fuelled vehicles. But the deliberately deceitful professor has negated to take power station and transmission inefficiencies into account. he has been notified of his error, and admitted his (deliberate) error many years ago, but has declined to rectify and update his briefing paper to UK politicians.

    Let me say it here. Professor David macKay is a charlatan and a fraud, who is seeking to deliberately mislead British politicians. Please note – this statement is nothing to do with Mr Anthony Watts nor with WUWT. It is my statement and my accusation. I have said it before, and been threatened with court action by Prof MacKay, but no action has ever been taken. So where is your action, Prof MacKay? You are a charlatan and a fraud, and I am happy to see you in court.

    Sincerely,
    Ralph Ellis

  74. I see a very nontrivial practical problem: in order to get to a practical voltage for grid storage, you would need hundreds, maybe 1000, cells in series. In order to prevent shorting, each set of pumps and tanks would have to be electrically isolated. This would mean maybe 2000 plastic tanks and 2000 plastic pumps. Not impossible, but an extremely serious cost.

  75. For mobile applications I think Mr Wright at wrightspeed.com has the “right” idea (I know, groan, but I couldn’t resist). Electric motors have some nice features like max torque at the low end (to get moving) but range has always been a problem. Put in a diesel generator and you have unlimited range. Use the sun and wind to generate diesel which will store for a considerable time. I know you would lose more energy in the extra conversion step but it beats trying to store electricity.

    For stationary applications where size can be huge why not use the nickle-iron that is mentioned above?

  76. The technology, if it scales up, would be useable not just for renewable energy. It would also be useable to smooth out the daily ups and downs in demand of all electrical supply systems regardless of power source. Electric utilities commonly have an excess of generation capacity at night. That surplus from whatever source could charge the battery.

    The storage in an electrical grid would be located near the demand, not near the source of power. It would not be situated in or near a wind farm, it would be situated near a demand the wind farm is supplying. Since demand is less at night, line losses would be less then as well.

    For a utility sized system the size of the tanks involved would not be a large barrier. Two tanks, each one million gallons, would easily fit on a one acre lot.

    Because of the equipment and operational requirements, I don’t think this would be appropriate for smaller than industrial sized applications.

    There is a lot of development before the technology is useable on a commercial scale or if it proves to be economic, if it ever will be, but the concept would be useful.

  77. Harold says: “I see a very nontrivial practical problem” [voltage].

    Not so. You would need a step-down transformer to convert from 275kV (grid voltage) to the level required for the storage device. The same transformer would be used for step-up when sending the power back to the grid. The step-down and step-up would involve losses of about 0.5% each way. It would have to be included in the turnaround efficiency mentioned in my earlier post.

    Brian S says: “I have not yet seen pumped storage mentioned on WUWT as an energy storage option.”

    There is a limited role for pumped storage in the short-term (daily) and is very expensive to build. It has the same 25% turnaround loss I mentioned earlier. For pumped storage to break even on any day, daily peak power price needs to be 25% more than daily minimum power price. For pumped storage to make a decent investment case, the power market price needs to be consistently spiky with enough peak-trough price differential to fund the capital. A very spiky power price probably means there is a shortage of peak power. Governments, the electorate and business don’t like power shortage, so the more practical option is to build firm generating capacity.

  78. Washington state gets 95%+ of all its energy from Hydro.

    Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest utility, generates a third of its electricity with a coal plant in Montana. You are also ignoring the use of energy for heating — lots of natural gas and oil — and for transportation.

  79. I thought we were supposed to use the area between the windmills for farming and ranching?

    Ever been to a windmill field?

  80. We introduce a novel Organic Redox Flow Battery (ORBAT), for meeting the demanding requirements of cost, eco-friendliness, and durability for large-scale energy storage.
    The demanding requirements of ‘eco-friendliness’? Ugh. The most flagrant of non sequiturs….. Literal goobledygook.

    And yet, we might update an old joke to reflect a novel use of the ‘eco-friendliness’ catch phrase.
    ” Is that a redox coupled quinone battery in your pocket…. or are you just glad to see me?

    Josh???

  81. Currently, the quinones needed for the batteries are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons.

    naturally ocurring hydrocarbons

    What a wonderful piece of newspeak!

  82. If electric cars become the norm, where will the energy come from to recharge so many vehicles daily (or nightly)? What will the energy requirement be to recharge, let’s say, 100 million vehicles at least once per day?

    I will answer this. But before I do it, I want to make it clear that I’m not some cultist about EVs. I regularly do battle with the “EVangelists” elsewhere. I’m very realistic about them. To me, the main selling point, long-term, is their energy efficiency, and their simplicity. But they’ll need a leap in battery technology to be viable.

    Okay, with that out of the way, I will do two scenarios. Scenario A is 100 million “commuter cars” used in and near cities, i.e., the batteries aren’t very big. Commuter cars average about 8,000 miles a year, or 22 miles a day, 365 days a year. Scenario B is that batteries make the big breakthrough in cost and performance, and become truly versatile enough for long-distance travel. In that case, the average car goes 13,000 miles a year, or 36 miles a day.

    I will also assume modest improvement in fuel efficiency, counterbalanced by a wider geographical dispersion to places that are less hospitable to EVs. I’m referring to the well-known phenomenon of much lower winter performance, owing to the need to run the heating and air conditioning off the battery. If there were 100 million EVs, you’d see them in more extreme climate zones. You’d also see bigger ones,.

    The latest version of the Nissan LEAF gets 115 mpg-e (miles per gallon equivalent) as tested by the EPA, which translates to 3.3 miles per kWh or 300 watt hours per mile. To answer your question, I’m going to assume that, by the time there are 100 million EVs, the fleet average is 115 mpg-e. This would entail performance improvement given the conditions I mentioned, but I don’t think outlandish improvement. There are lots of opportunities to improve EV efficiency.

    Finally, I will assume U.S. non-EV electricity generation of 4 trillion kWh a year by the time there are 100 million EVs. This would the basically the same as now — population and economic growth has been offset by efficiency improvements for the past decade or so, and I will assume this continues. To that 4 trillion kWh a year, I’ll add EV requirements to yield a percentage.

    Scenario A: 100 million EVs driven 8,000 miles a year = 0.8 trillion EV miles (x) 0.3 kWh/mile = 0.24 trillion kWh/year, or a 6% increase in electricity demand from 4 trillion kWh a year.

    Scenario B: 100 million EVs driven 13,000 miles a year = 1.3 trillion EV miles (x) 0.3 kWh/mile = 0.39 trillion kWh/year = a 9.75% increase in electricity demand from 4 trillion kWh a year.

    Some additional comments.

    1. If there’s a battery breakthrough that enables 100 million EVs, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that there’d also be a similar breakthrough in grid-scale storage. This would lead to greater adoption of renewables. I’m not an “EVangelist” for the cars, nor am I a renewables fundamentalist, but I do think that cheap grid-scale storage would be a game-changer for renewables, and would spur major growth in that sector.

    Today, the U.S. gets just under 7% of its power from hydro, just over 4% of its power from wind, and 0.2% from solar. Assume grid scale storage, and by the time we have 100 million EVs running around, I think we’d have 20% of the electrons coming from wind and solar. Therefore, I think the increase in juice needed for the EVs would be more than made up by the increase from renewables.

    2. I am a climate change skeptic, and increasing a climate change cynic. I favor renewables today only on a small scale because of the cost issues mainly associated with the storage problem. But if that’s solved, then my objection to renewables mainly becomes a matter of the visual blight of windmills, which I regard as a significant issue. Given the cheap cost of windmills, however, I think they’d be deployed in large numbers anyway.

    3. Climate change aside, I think there are enough other negative environmental effects from hydrocarbon production and use to want to shift away from them if it makes sense in terms of cost and performance.

    4. On the EV side, while not an “EVangelist,” there are plenty of reasons to regard electric vehicles as a leap forward if the battery issues were solved. They perform better; they are quieter; they mechanically simpler. The gating factor is entirely the energy density and cost of batteries. If that nut is cracked, EVs will be the future. That much said, however, the auto replacement cycle would make the change-over a multi-decade process even under the best of circumstances.

  83. I meant to add one more thing. There are 250 million passenger vehicles in the United States. Full conversion — implying the 13,000-mile annual mileage scenario — would thus entail an electric power demand increase of about 25%. I might also point out, however, that it would also entail a reduction of 60% in the use of oil, the 60% being the share of U.S. oil converted into gasoline. I don’t have the number for diesel.

    On the diesel front, I’d expect long-haul trucks to continue to burn diesel. But that, of course, would depend on the specifics of battery development. Again, this is all assuming a battery breakthrough. Frankly, I don’t see one coming of the sort that would crack the market wide open. Lots of press releases, but not a lot of new products out there.

  84. So all electric vehicles are currently oil, nuclear, coal or gas powered (with 2% renewables). And since the generation of electricity from fossils is hardly efficient, most european turbo-diesel powered cars are MORE efficient than any electric vehicle. My turbo diesel saloon car, is about 10% more efficient than any electrical vehicle – especially when the ambient temperature goes below zero and you try using the heating systems (my diesel car’s heating is via waste energy, so does not reduce propulsionary efficiency).

    I can only respond in U.S. terms, because I don’t have the European numbers. But I do have them for the U.S., and there are: 39% coal, 28% natural gas, 19% nuclear, 1% petroleum = 87% mined energy sources. The rest is 7% hydro, 4% wind, 2% geothermal, “biomass” (wood, municipal waste), solar.

    It’s an interesting question about the efficiency of electricity generation from fossil fuels. I have to admit that I’ve never thought about it, i.e., how much heat is wasted. The only number I’ve tracked is that 6-7% of electricity is lost in transport, but I’ve always assumed that this roughly matches the energy cost of getting refined fuels from refineries to gas stations.

    Your diesel saloon wastes about two-thirds of the energy in the fuel. It goes out the tailpipe, engine compartment, and radiator, mainly as heat and secondarily as noise and vibration. Electric cars waste 20-25% of the electrons in heat, mainly in the conversion of AC power to DC for use by the motor.

    Electric motive power is much more efficient. As of a couple years ago, the average U.S. electric car got about 100 miles per gallon, using an equation that renders the energy contained in gasoline in kWh terms. The average small car got 28.5 mpg. Since then, the newer EVs have improved their fuel economy by about 10%.

  85. A few additions about the numbers in my last post.

    1. They come from the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department. EPA fuel economy numbers were originally somewhat inaccurate but have gotten much better in recent years. Energy Department forecasts tend to stink, but their production data is highly reliable.

    2. The fuel economy numbers are best understood as year-’round averages, taking into account the use of on-board climate control. Obviously, this will vary in a country as vast and climactically diverse as the United States, which is to say that the results for Los Angeles would be very different than those for Minneapolis. Here in Seattle, my “dead of winter” EV fuel economy is just under 70 miles per gallon equivalent, versus top of spring/summer fuel economy of just under 140 miles per gallon equivalent.

    3. When I compare hydrocarbon to electric propulsion, I omit the energy costs prior to refining, and within the refinery — with one exception that I get to in a moment. I do this because the data isn’t available, and because it would have to be applied on both sides of the equation anyway. The exception is the amount of electricity used to refine gasoline. This has been hotly debated in EV circles, so I nailed it down by examining production figures in detail. A gallon of gasoline turns out to “contain” 0.78 kWh of electricity from sources external to a refinery — either purchased electricity or fuels turned into electricity in turbines located at the refinery. It winds up being a trivial factory, but since I did the research I do include it in “mpg-e” numbers.

    The idea that a diesel (or gasoline) vehicle is “more efficient” than an electric one because electricity is generated by fossil fuels is interesting. True, we can expect that electric power plants convert coal, gas, and uranium-plutonium to electrons at less than full efficiency, but we can also expect that refineries lose a great deal of energy in the distillation process. If you have sources that compare one to the other, I’d love to see them.

  86. @Eric Worrall at 6:27 pm
    Quinones are horribly toxic highly reactive organic chemicals, currently used (with care!) in the dye and photographic industry. Part of the toxicity of benzene is caused by the body converting absorbed benzene into toxic quinone metabolites.

    Thank you, Eric. I suggest your comment and observation be added as an Update directly under the head post. I don’t know whether it is true or not, but there is no reason to assume an organic compound is non-toxic and safe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1,4-Benzoquinone (Toxic)
    It strikes me that the more water soluble they make the variant, to increase power and energy density, the more toxic and dangerous the compound becomes.

    The problems of MTBE in groundwater come to mind.

  87. Jake J says:
    June 26, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    The idea that a diesel (or gasoline) vehicle is “more efficient” than an electric one because electricity is generated by fossil fuels is interesting. True, we can expect that electric power plants convert coal, gas, and uranium-plutonium to electrons at less than full efficiency, but we can also expect that refineries lose a great deal of energy in the distillation process. If you have sources that compare one to the other, I’d love to see them.

    False: The electricity used at a EV is “at-delivered” efficiencies for the current received at the plug,AND after-stored-and-converted rates are needed to get that electric power into and back out of the blasted battery!

    Thermal power to transformer voltage and finally wall current: 35% (nuclear) to 45% ( average coal and single-cycle peaker Gas Turbine) to 58% (new GT driving a heat-recovery-steam-generator).
    Then, wall current = 0.90-0.93 x generator efficiency (transmission losses) Much more if wind is used!
    Then battery-in DC current = 90% plug-in AC current (convertor losses to DC)
    Then battery-out DC current from battery-in DC current (chemical storage and conversion losses) = 60-70%
    Then battery-out DC current to DC motor rotation energy = 85% (maybe!)
    Then DC motor rotation to wheel energy (friction losses, rubber flex losses, oil and gear losses). Somewhat compensated by regenerative braking gains!) = 95%

    But, refinery energy (except pump losses) are almost straight thermal energy direct to the reactors and catalytic convertors. What thermal losses do occur are from the thermal insulation losses at each pumping and refining step as the heated heavy oils condense (cool down) from step to step. And thermal losses are minimized as much as possible because those are lost dollars. Very, very little energy is “lost” at the refineries that is not absolutely minimized, or used to reheat a future product. At the generating plants, EVERY effort is used to improve efficiencies, but thermal rejection is required by the states and EPA to (often) higher than optimum. (Water, for example, is rejected not at the most efficient temperature, but at less efficient temperatures because of fish or river total temperature change minimums.

    Actually, a concrete production plant or steel mill melting the ore directly by burning coal or natural gas is one of the highest efficiencies possible: The hot gas effluent AND radiated energy is used immediately and directly into the product being heated with almost no transmission or parasitic losses!

  88. I didn’t see one word about energy density, in Wh / kg or Wh /m^3.

    Ho hum, nothing to see here.

    I saw another “news release” on a solar cell that is more than twice as efficient as today’s best cells; over 60 %. But that is “theoretically”. Nobody has one in their hand that is that efficient, or even works.
    Oh I forgot; it ONLY works at one wavelength.

    What the hell are they talking about; a laser driven solar cell ? Totally nuts.

    Another bum steer.

    BUT ! solar cells do run on virgin hay, from the sun; not the cheap stuff that has been once through the horse; like wind turbines use.

    Wake me when they have a functioning 100 MW peak power plant , that gets say 300 W peak power electricity, per square metre of total land used area.

  89. Thermal power to transformer voltage and finally wall current: 35% (nuclear) to 45% ( average coal and single-cycle peaker Gas Turbine) to 58% (new GT driving a heat-recovery-steam-generator).

    Please provide sources for this. This is not a rhetorical game or dilatory exercise on my part. I’m genuinely interested. I think you might be onto something here. Thanks.

    Then, wall current = 0.90-0.93 x generator efficiency (transmission losses) Much more if wind is used!

    Transmission loss is 6%

    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=105&t=3

    Why would transmission loss be greater for one generation source than another?

    Then battery-in DC current = 90% plug-in AC current (convertor losses to DC)
    Then battery-out DC current from battery-in DC current (chemical storage and conversion losses) = 60-70%
    Then battery-out DC current to DC motor rotation energy = 85% (maybe!)
    Then DC motor rotation to wheel energy (friction losses, rubber flex losses, oil and gear losses). Somewhat compensated by regenerative braking gains!) = 95%

    Again, please give sources. And if there’s so much loss in electric, why does a Nissan LEAF get more than triple the fuel economy of a Nissan Versa (same car, different power systems) when stated in equivalent terms?

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=33581&id=34699

  90. I didn’t see one word about energy density, in Wh / kg or Wh /m^3.

    Energy density is discussed throughout the study.

  91. Transmission losses are dependent on the location of the actual generator compared to the location of the “plug”. Wind generators average on 18-23% yearly nameplate ratings. (Often entire regions (the entire southeast US, or the entire US NE region) has NO effective wind power being generated. Thus, the “wind power” being assumed the generated source for the EV, may come from not the 6% transmission loss assumed at 300-500 mile distance, but from a 40 or 50% greater loss at 1200 – 1500 mile distance.

  92. Someone mentioned low-hanging fruit in terms of batteries. Ahem, those are the ones we are using today. Point to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics oxidation-reduction voltage potentials. That’s just your starting point.

    Someone mentioned EVs as breakthroughs provided ‘batteries’ or fuel-cells see an efficiency breakthrough. History suggests otherwise. One hundred years ago, ICE/ECE vs electrics were a draw technically and economically. Guess which moved forward economically and which didn’t.

  93. @Jake J says: at 1:34 pm
    Energy density is discussed throughout the study
    No, Jake. Current density is discussed throughout. Power density once.
    Energy density is not discussed at all.

    Let’s assume the batteries are toxic. So what?
    1. They are not being honest when they say: “The new battery – which uses no metals or toxic materials
    2. It is one thing to say your battery uses “organic” materials instead of toxic metals. But it is quite another if you must handle the organic material as if it was curare. I’m not saying it is. But they are not saying it isn’t. They don’t discuss toxicity of the ORBAT materials.

    Wikipedia for Hydroquinone, the reduced state of the suggested battery material:
    EU classification Harmful (Xn)
    Carc. Cat. 3
    Muta. Cat. 3
    Dangerous for
    the environment (N)
    R-phrases R22 R40 R41 R43 R50 R68
    S-phrases (S2) S26 S36/37/39 S61

    R22 Harmful if swallowed
    R40 Limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect
    R41 Risk of serious damage to eyes
    R43 May cause sensitisation by skin contact
    R68 Possible risk of irreversible effects

    S36 Wear suitable protective clothing
    S37 Wear suitable gloves
    S39 Wear eye/face protection
    S61 Avoid release to the environment. Refer to special instructions/safety data sheet
    — so at first blush, it may be less hazardous than is octane.

    .

  94. I think fuel cells are a real joke. As for batteries being primitive, well, other than lithium-ion, we really haven’t had much by way of breakthroughs. Maybe we never will.

    As for transmission losses, most of the U.S. windmills are in three places: the Columbia River, California, and Texas. A fair amount of Columbia River hydro (not sure how much of its wind power) goes to Los Angeles. If the lines from the converter at The Dalles, for instance, lose 18%-23% on the way to L.A., I’d be interested in seeing something that would substantiate it, i.e. a link. I’d note that one-third of suburban Seattle’s electricity comes from a big coal plant 900 miles away in Montana, so I suppose we could assume similar transmission losses there.

    In any case, I am not a fan of windmills. I think they’re an ugly blight, and at the very least I want them sited in places with no scenic value. But I think conflating them with transmission losses is misleading, just as it would be bogus to argue against Puget Sound Energy’s coal plant because it’s so far away.

  95. Current density is discussed throughout. Power density once. Energy density is not discussed at all.

    You’re right. I stand corrected.

    They are not being honest when they say: “The new battery – which uses no metals or toxic materials

    Yes, that would be an issue, because if they lied about that, then it would undermine them in general. Apart from that, though, I don’t see that toxicity is an issue. All batteries are pretty toxic, aren’t they?

  96. Something else about wind and EVs.

    I don’t see any inherent connection at all. I look at the grid and its sources. I view EVs as another appliance that gets plugged in. If there were 100 million or 250 million of them, I think much of the charging would be done at night, and perhaps that could be more likely satisfied by wind, but once the electrons are in the system they’re not labeled.

    As I wrote earlier, we’re not going top have 100 million (or more EVs) without big advancements beyond lithium-ion, and I tend to think that if that happens, we’ll also see movement at the grid level. Which would mean little, if any differentiation between power sources depending on time of day. Grid-scale storage would enable “night-time solar” and “day-time wind,” regardless of when the energy was generated.

  97. This is better than any of the metal systems (except for sodum-sulfur) because all the known metal systems use fairly rare metals. Which would mean that their prices would skyrocket as soon as demand exceeded supply. Developing a mine is a 20 year obstacle course filled with alligators.

    With this it should be easy to make more battery active material since it can be synthesised on demand, and doesn’t have to be mined.

    The downside is the energy density will be at best a tenth of a tankful of liquid fuel, so it would make little sense for vehicles, since the tank would have to be ten times bigger than your gas tank is now. With lots of extra weight to carry around.

    It would probably be better to produce hydrogen from water using nuclear power, then convert it to methanol. A tankful of methanol would be nearly as energy dense as a tank of hydrocarbons, and therefore car designs would need little modification.

    BTW: sodium-sulfur batteries have an advantage that sodium and sulfur are common, so there isn’t much issue with supply/demand price shocks. Unfortunately its a molten system requiring a temperature around 200 C. Not practical for cars in a US winter.

  98. The downside is the energy density will be at best a tenth of a tankful of liquid fuel, so it would make little sense for vehicles, since the tank would have to be ten times bigger than your gas tank is now. With lots of extra weight to carry around.

    A couple things to remember.

    1. An electric vehicle gets 3 to 3-1/2 times the mileage as an equivalent gas car. So the “10 times” becomes 3 times.

    2. Acceptable commuter car range is half that of a full-service car, maybe even less. So now we’re down to a battery that’s maybe 50% bigger than a gas tank.

    If the performance characteristics were acceptable, i.e. rate of current flow, speed of recharging, then (at least in theory) this battery sounds like a potential quantum leap for EVs. Devil’s in the details, of course.

  99. Jake J says:
    June 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I view EVs as another appliance that gets plugged in. If there were 100 million or 250 million of them, I think much of the charging would be done at night, and perhaps that could be more likely satisfied by wind, but once the electrons are in the system they’re not labeled.

    However, most people will plug them in as soon as they get home from work, so they will begin charging in the evening when the residential electric demand is approaching it’s evening peak.

  100. However, most people will plug them in as soon as they get home from work, so they will begin charging in the evening when the residential electric demand is approaching it’s evening peak.

    I’ve owned an EV for 19 months. Please believe me when I say this is not some exercise in smugness. I’m a car nut and a curious sort, and got the thing in a bankruptcy close-out sale. Anyway, the earliest I can ever recall plugging it in is 5:30 p.m., but it’s much more common to plug it in at 10 or 11 p.m.

    If we get 100 million of them out there, I think the re-charging patterns will change. It would depend heavily on battery capacity and recharge rates. Today’s new EVs will charge off of an electric dryer circuit at a rate of about 6.5 kWh per hour, which will fill today’s Nissan LEAF from 20% to 100% of capacity just over 3 hours.

    I think the commuter car market will need a battery of at least 60 kwh — and much cheaper than today’s batteries — to go mainstream. If we had a cheap 60 kWh battery, an 80% charge would be a 7-1/4 hour charge, and would last for a year-’round average of 140 miles. Which means that a typical commuter would recharge it maybe three times every two weeks. Probably overnight, and probably from the electric dryer circuit (240v, 30 amp rated).

    Anything larger than that would need special wiring, or one of those Tesla “super chargers.” I don’t think widespread commuter car adoption, presuming 60 kWh batteries, would change current charging patterns much — 90%+ of charging is done at home, off of 240 volt wiring.

    What would change things would be general purpose EVs with larger batteries and therefore longer ranges. At that point, you’d see a spread of those Tesla-style “superchargers,” which today are few and far between and exist mostly for promotional purposes. Put people in EVs all over the place, and you’d see more high-power daytime charging. But that’s all theoretical, because I really don’t think we’re going to see EVs in the general purpose car market for quite a while.

    But I do think we’ll see then 60 kWh battery in the next five or six years, and at a lower price. I think commuter EVs will start becoming mainstream in the ’20s. If the battery we’re commenting on is real and could be adapted for EV use, it sounds like it’d be a pretty big deal.

  101. Finally got a chance to read the article. As usual, the Uni PR flack is not even in left field…he/she is somewhere around Mars.

    The article is a pretty a standard e-chem study with some interesting results. As others have commented, the concept is no different from other flow batteries that have been around for years.

    The twist is the organic component, which only means the redox agent is now susceptible to irreversible over-oxidation. I have no idea where the “5000 cycles” claim came from, since the only data I see shows 12 cycles, and even those never showed a plateau (i.e. degradation was evident in every cycle.) The other thing that caught my eye is they could only discharge the system to around 50% of its capacity. Severe over-potential and what not. And like lead acid and inorganic flow batteries, it operates at a pH of around zero. (The term “battery acid” has the connotation it has for a reason.) As far as “natural hydrocarbon” and the “potentially made from CO2″ nonsense, I suppose we could say nuclear power plants get fuel from “natural radioactivity” and that gold could be “potentially made from seawater” (all you need is plenty of energy).

    Conclusion—standard ECS-type publication, but if that PR release had been put out by a corporation, they’d have the SEC and FTC breathing down their necks.

  102. Jake J says:
    June 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    … And if there’s so much loss in electric, why does a Nissan LEAF get more than triple the fuel economy of a Nissan Versa (same car, different power systems) when stated in equivalent terms?

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=33581&id=34699

    Your “source” is a .gov website. They are NOT trustworthy with regard ANY information from this administration on ANY “factoid” promoting or promoted for/by/or from ANY of their energy management schemes.

  103. Conclusion—standard ECS-type publication, but if that PR release had been put out by a corporation, they’d have the SEC and FTC breathing down their necks.

    What’s an “ECS type publication?” The acronyms around here get confusing.

  104. Your “source” is a .gov website. They are NOT trustworthy with regard ANY information from this administration on ANY “factoid” promoting or promoted for/by/or from ANY of their energy management schemes.

    Oh please. I own an EV, remember? The EPA fuel economy numbers are solid. There are some variations, of course, given the large regional climactic variations. And the DOE production numbers are reliable. An anti-government screed is no more credible than, say, the b.s. we’ve seen from the climate alarmists.

    If you want to take issue with the EPA and DOE numbers I’ve been citing, I’m happy to listen, but you will have to come up with more than you cynicism about the Evil Gub’mint.

  105. p.s.: Are you challenging the energy equivalent formula used to translate the energy in gasoline to kWh? If so, I’m definitely all ears.

    Are you challenging the energy consumption numbers for EVs, i.e., miles per kWh? If so, you’re just wrong.

    Are you challenging the energy consumption numbers for gas-powered vehicles, i.e., miles per gallon? If so, you’re wrong there, too. The EPA numbers were too high for a while, but they changed their testing a while back and now they’re quite accurate.

    Or is this just some wingnut ranting about “anything government?”

  106. “What’s an “ECS type publication?” The acronyms around here get confusing.”

    The type of paper one sees published by the ECS. Not meant to be derogatory.

    Someone who read the paper might have noticed the name of the journal and the big honkin’ logo just to the left of the title.

  107. Jake wrote;

    “You seem vehement. And condescending. Do you live in London?”

    No. Jake I have never lived in London (fine city that it is, and hopefully always will be; “Our finest hour…” Winston somebody…).

    With all due respect, i find it very condescending that someone who has never even attempted to build a battery is quite sure that all the other folks that attempted said task only came up with “primitive” solutions. You admit that you have not and probably cannot build a battery, but you are quite smug asserting that those folks that attempted this “primate task” have FAILED.

    And you also assert that these folks are “dummies” since they are way too stupid to look for the “low hanging fruit”…..

    I suggest you try to build a battery first before you criticize those that actually do, The electric car is a STUPID idea as shown over a century ago by folks that tried it (Ford, Edison), and the periodic table of elements does not have very many more elements than back then when they tried it,

  108. “Mega storage” via batteries is a tricky business..

    Common types of rechargeable cells range from about 1.0 to maybe 3.0 open circuit Voltage.

    We are most familiar with the ordinary lead acid car battery. Basically you have two lead plates in a dilute sulfuric acid solution; H2SO4. Well actually one plate is lead , and the other is lead peroxide. I think that’s Pb3O4, a brown substance.

    We made a lead acid cell in high schools starting with two plane sheets of pure lead, Pb. First you have to “form” the plates. Passing a charge through it till the exposed surface of one plate is completely converted to brown lead peroxide. Then you reverse the polarity, and discharge the cell, and charge it in the opposite direction. The lead peroxide gets reduced to lead, and the other plate gets coated with the brown stuff. But the reduced lead surface of the first plat is now porous, so a greater surface area of lead is now contacting the electrolyte. Each time you reverse it, the porous surface area on both plates increases, and this is how you get a huge area and a large charge storage capacity.
    Well these days, they simply squeeze a lead peroxide paste into a lead grid on one plate and perhaps Pbo into the other plate. that stuff is not brown. On fully charging it, the Pbo is reduced to Pb , and the Pb3O4 remains on the other plate. I forget which one is which but you can find it all in the weblit.

    This reversibility of the lead acid cell, is one of its Achilles heels.

    With a 6 cell series 12 Volt battery, the normal cell Voltage on moderate discharge loads, is 2.0 Volts, and about 2.1 V open circuit.

    On discharge, one cell is going to run out of Pb3O4 before the others do, and is going to stop putting out any power. If the battery is still on load, it cannot put out more than 10 Volts, but it will try to supply current to the load anyway.

    So this ends up running current thr wrong way, through the discharged cell, and being symmetrical, it simply starts charging in the reverse direction, which will further lower the battery Voltage to 8 Volts.

    So now when you try to charge the battery, one cell is partially charged backwards, and it will have to completely discharge again, before it can start charging in the correct direction.. Eventually the other five cells will be fully charged, so their cell Voltage will now rise, as the process starts to electrolyze the water, and give off H2 and O2, and hence losing electrolyte. The charger will shut off, and that will leave the one errant cell, with a smaller Ampere hours of charge compared to the other five..

    Guess which cell is going to go flat first on the next discharge under load cycle..

    That will happen even sooner, because that cell never got fully charged.

    This thing is worse than a pitcher plant. The weak cell, goes steadily downhill, with each charge/discharge cycle; it’s totally diabolical.

    So SERIES STRINGS of lead acid cells, are a problem, and the more in series, the worse the problem.

    The cognoscenti, who use 24 Volt or 36 Volt lead acid systems ( bass boats for example) have a sophisticated charger system, where each 12 Volt battery is isolated and charged by a separate circuit, dedicated to that battery to redcuce the cell reversal problem.

    So if you parallel up say four car batteries, and run them at 12 Volts and 4x amps, well once again, one battery is going to go flat first, and its Voltage will drop, so the remaining three good batteries, will start trying to charge the errant battery, instead of supplying all their juice to the load.

    Well the pestilence is different, but once again the effect is cumulative.

    So large arrays of cells, in either serial or parallel strings, are quite difficult to retain in equal charge status, without self destructing.

    So charging systems have to get more complex, and costly.

    Well of course Diesel electric subs, have dealt with this kind of problem.

    But even they don’t think of being “mega storage” systems.

    So good luck with your organic carbon based batteries.

  109. The type of paper one sees published by the ECS. Not meant to be derogatory.

    I absolutely, positively swear on a stack of ‘em that the following question is not meant in a snarky or dilatory way. In fact, it’s probably stupid and lazy, but it’s a quarter to 9 in Seattle and I’m both hungry and have had a Manhattan. (I only say this because so much Internet dialogue is exactly that.) What is “the ECS?” Thanks, and please take pity on me :-)

  110. I will believe this new battery if it can be commercially produced cheaper than lead acid battery. It’s really a cost game in the market. There are many wonderful technologies in laboratories. Only the economical ones make it to the market.

  111. “””””…..Jake J says:

    June 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I didn’t see one word about energy density, in Wh / kg or Wh /m^3.

    Energy density is discussed throughout the study……”””””

    Well Jake; maybe so.

    But imagine I am john q public, with a texting attention span.

    Listening to, or reading a press release or publicity announcement, I expect to hear those numbers, in just the first 30 seconds of the hype session.

    They don’t appear in this WUWT post. I’ve already lost interest, and am not going to search elsewhere to find the most important known facts about ANY new technology.

    Low cost is meaningless if it is also low performance.

    Solar cell cost is totally irrelevant. But air mass 1.5 solar conversion efficience, is the only important parameter.

    After all, the weak link in the renewable energy system, IS THE SUN.

    At 100 watt per square foot, that is all you have to work with. So if I can spray on solar cells from a garden hose onto plywood, at $0.01 per square foot, at 5% solar conversion efficiency, they are not even worth the trouble to put them on my roof., specially with 100 year storms happening every two or three years.

  112. With all due respect, i find it very condescending that someone who has never even attempted to build a battery is quite sure that all the other folks that attempted said task only came up with “primitive” solutions. You admit that you have not and probably cannot build a battery, but you are quite smug asserting that those folks that attempted this “primate task” have FAILED.

    And you also assert that these folks are “dummies” since they are way too stupid to look for the “low hanging fruit”

    I plead Guilty As Hell to not being able to build a battery, but Innocent As The Pure Driven Snow to calling anyone “dummies.” The “primitive” label was meant to be purely descriptive, and not in any way judgmental. I am very, very grateful for the fruits of honest science and engineering. Now: Have I bowed and scraped and walked backwards enough for you?

    I have never lived in London (fine city that it is, and hopefully always will be; “Our finest hour…” Winston somebody…)

    Let’s Make A Deal: You don’t throw Churchill westward, and I don’t throw “we saved your asses” eastward. :-)

  113. @ george e. smith, this has been a long thread. In my very first comment, I expressed strong skepticism about energy via press release. So please don’t think I’m somehow promoting this. I follow these announcement, or at least some of them, but — again, please believe me — I am very, very strictly in “(dis)trust but verify” mode. I hope this convinces you that I am not some eco-faking dreamer. I am anything but.

  114. Noaaprogrammer said:

    “During December and January In the valleys of southeastern Washington state we can go weeks with no wind and heavy fog from temperature inversions. To tide us over, batteries accompanying our wind farms would match the size of large water tanks.”

    Jake J said:

    Call me wrong — please — but last time I looked, they were weren’t sticking the windmills in valleys. But if I’m wrong and they are doing that, what’s wrong with “the size of large water tanks” once you’ve ruined the landscape?

    I’ll oblige: Jake, you are wrong. Valleys have rims over which wind may readily flow when present. River gorges through mountain ranges experience winds when the ranges momentarily separate significant pressure differentials. The Stateline Wind Farm which I see from my house in the Walla Walla Valley was one of the earliest (2001) large scale wind farms, and is destined to be the largest wind farm in the world with 365 turbines when completed. The farm is fed by winds from the Columbia Gorge.

    (I’ll concede your comment “what’s wrong with ‘the size of large water tanks’ once you’ve ruined the landscape?” as I left out the qualifying phrase: “further ruining the landscape.”)

  115. More data on electrical power plant and transmission efficiency from a UK site here:

    http://www.mpoweruk.com/energy_efficiency.htm

    A chart of various plant types is provided along with some ballpark transmission losses, but they boil down to:

    traditional coal 45% or so
    gas turbine about 35%

    Transmission loss 5-10% (7-8% average given for the U.S.)

    So a traditional coal plant would net about 40-35% efficiency from rail-car or pipeline to your outlet, while natural gas turbine might manage 30-25% from pipeline to outlet.

    In the U.S. these two provide the bulk of our electrical supply. While a gasoline powered car throws away 66% or so of the energy in its tank, the electrical generation/distribution system loses a similar amount before anything comes from your outlet. Looks to me like EV vs gasoline is a matter of taste and a virtual energy toss-up in today’s world.

  116. @SciGuy, very interesting! Thanks. If you have something “official,” I’d love to see it. This is not an to deflect or be dilatory. Rather, what you’ve provided is sufficiently important to want a second source. Thanks very much for the link.

    By the way, with “solar photovoltaic,” it looks like they combined thin-film and silicon. Ther silicon-based cells are somewhere near 25% from what I understand, with thin-film about half that.

  117. @noaaprogrammer, I’ll take your word on this. Yep, in the right configurations, valleys can be windy.

  118. If you can’t store enough to never require a fossil plant to be in backup, what have you done except tear up more land and chop/fry more birds?

    So you have a problem with frying birds?

  119. Jake J:

    At June 26, 2014 at 9:22 pm you say

    Let’s Make A Deal: You don’t throw Churchill westward, and I don’t throw “we saved your asses” eastward. :-)

    OK. So, in addition to proclaiming your ignorance of technology, you also proclaim your ignorance of history and you insult many warriors – including Americans – who gave their lives for THEIR countries.

    You get full marks for consistency.

    Richard

  120. uh? guys?

    two things:

    1 – pumped hydroelectric storage currently has a higher energy density and lower environmental cost than these things might have if they could be built at scale.

    2 – while better batteries would be a good thing, the electric car’s death warrant was signed by Governer Brown more than a year ago. California is moving to a per mile road tax to replace gsoline taxes – Canada already has an inter provincial agreement raising the price of diesel so users pay comparable to gasoline per mile road taxes. With taxes equalizing costs, there are no advantages to electric except low end torque – for high end sports cars.

  121. george e. smith says:
    June 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I didn’t see one word about energy density, in Wh / kg or Wh /m^3.

    Ho hum, nothing to see here.

    While energy density would be essential for a mobile power source to power a vehicle, it would not be essential for a stationary system to store industrial quantities of power. In an industrial system, if you need another acre, you can buy another acre. It affects the economics, but area would not be the expense that drives the economic analysis.

  122. Paul Murphy says:
    June 27, 2014 at 6:54 am

    1 – pumped hydroelectric storage currently has a higher energy density and lower environmental cost than these things might have if they could be built at scale.

    Sites for hydro are limited. Your opinion of the environmental cost probably differs greatly from most environmentalists. I would not want to be the one defending such a system.

  123. Jake J:

    At June 27, 2014 at 10:30 am you say

    @Richard, you must be a Londoner! :-)

    Nope. I think that when the Almighty created the cosmos He made it stratified.

    At the top He put Heaven with all the angels.
    Below Heaven He put the Earth with all its people.
    Below the Earth He put Hades with all the fallen angels.
    And at the bottom, to hold the whole thing up, He put Greater London.

    Richard

  124. When I was in the U.K. last year, I could always get a free pint by sighing and saying, “Yeah, I started this trip in London. Now there‘s a city with all four cheeks sucked in!”

  125. Sciguy54 says:

    “traditional coal 45% or so
    gas turbine about 35%”

    That would requre an extremely efficient coal plant and an fairly inefficient gas turbine. Few if any conventional steam turbine plants can top 40% irrespective of fuel, while a two-cycle gas turbine plant is well over 50 % and can reach 60 %.
    Incidentally diesel plants are about as effective as steam turbines – about 40%.

  126. “””””…..Jake J says:

    June 26, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    @ george e. smith, this has been a long thread. In my very first comment, I expressed strong skepticism about energy via press release. So please don’t think I’m somehow promoting this….”””

    Jake, none of my comments here are aimed at you, or any position you might take.

    My criticism is aimed squarely at the “press release hype.”

    We all know that a big issue with sun powered renewables is on demand availability, and hence energy storage.

    Hydro-electric, is a sun powered renewable, that works splendidly in most locations, where lake storage is available. Now there might be other eco-reasons why hydro has a bad name, but on demand availability is not one of them.

    For wind and solar PV, storage or alternative fueled backup is a big issue and hence battery storage is a subject of front page interest; so everyone is interested in new battery advances.

    Announcements of “new” technologies are worthless unless such technologies have a real chance of displacing existing methods.

    Cost, performance, and environmental issues, are always key to the reality of some new candidate.

    I annually attend significant conferences on alternative energy technologies. If DOE, is there, it is usually of serious enough quality, to justify my attendance.

    Without fail, we always have to sit through presentations, by some university group or other, pushing some penny dreadful solar cell technology, that is hyped as dirt cheap; and the accent is always on the dirt.

    Either you can roll it on with a paint roller, onto mild steel sheet, and clip a couple of alligator clips onto it, or my tongue in cheek, garden hose spray on.

    So it’s too cheap to even bother writing out a sales slip; BUT !! it has a sea level (commonly specified at air mass 1.5, or 2.0) of 3-5% near mid-day. The air mass number, just indicates an inclined path through a longer column of air, which modifies the ground level solar spectrum from the extra-terrestrial spectrum. the cell efficiency is critically dependent on the cell received solar spectrum.

    Any real installation, is expected to withstand severe weather, so the structure, even with no cells at all, needs to survive some severe weather limits.

    So the cells could cost zero, and there still will be a minimum structural cost per unit area. It costs real money to simply cover a large area with Saran Wrap, if you need it to survive a hundred year storm.

    The problem is, the sun realistically only supplies energy at about 1kW per square meter power level, so the only thing that really matters, is conversion efficiency.

    Single crystal silicon can reach into the 25-30% efficiency region from the best manufacturers.

    5% efficiency is useless, even at zero cost for the cells.

    Well a similar situation applies to the battery energy storage problem, Even at zero cell cost, there are installation costs, that vary directly, with energy density considerations.. These installations, have to be safe, and environmentally kosher, and able to withstand severe weather.

    So “efficiency” or energy density are always an important consideration, so they are the first thing one wants to know, about something new.

    Any top tier paper on alternative energy or battery technology, better quote the achieved efficiency, or energy density performance, right there in the paper’s published abstract; and be up front in any PR releases, or it will be simply ignored, as of no value.

  127. A much more promising technology for large energy storage is the vanadium redox system, which uses the same electroactive solution on both sides, just in different redox states. This makes it much more durable and tolerant of tiny leaks in the separator. Storage capacity is determined by tank size, power by fuel cell active area. systems up to 4 MW are already in service.

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

    http://www.vrb.unsw.edu.au/about-us/history-of-vanadium-redox-battery.html

    http://www.vrb.unsw.edu.au/technology-services/vanadium-redox-flow-batteries.html

  128. @george e smith, thanks for the followup. At this same time I’ve been posting here making a series of qualified positive statements about EVs and renewables, I post in an EV group with a high “Church of Climatology” contingent. So I do wind up with a little bit of battle fatigue. The discussion here is of a significantly higher quality, so I take some pains to point out that I’m not a member of any Church of Anything.

    Anyway, I hear you about the dreamers. They drive us all nuts, but every now and then one of them is real.

    Efficiency sometimes isn’t as simple as it seems. The concept works very well for fossil fuels and nuclear, because you can do a straight-ahead heat calculation. For renewables, it gets a bit stickier. For solar, it’s a conversion of photons to electrons, or so I understand anyway. With wind, a calculation I don’t understand, but I’d expect to be the ratio of some calculation of the force of the wind hitting the blades vs. electrons coming out the wire?

    In those cases, and with hydro too, I’d be inclined to interpret “efficiency” as as much an economic variable as anything, i.e., is it worth the materials in light of what gets produced? That strikes me as siomewhat different than the calculation for coal, methane, and uranium. Yes, there is definitely the economic component, but in those cases “efficiency” has an engineering basis that’s tied to heat, whereas with renewables it’s not.

    (If my vocabulary lacks adequate precision, well, it’s because I’m a “curious amateur” and not an “energy scientist.” We do the best with what we have and who we were, integrity and basic intelligence being our primary resources when specific expertise is lacking.)

    Anyway, from the DOE numbers I linked above, my best guess — based on looking at their numbers and then tracking down the mix of types of natural gas plants in the U.S. — is that coal, petroleum power plants (a miniscule 1% of the mix) and nukes are about 35% efficient, and the weighted average for natural gas is 42%. I score hydro, wind, and solar (together, about 11.5%) at 100% efficiency, not because they convert 100% of the energy coming in to electrons, but because — this is hard to verbalize — “they are what they are.”

    This puts the efficiency of the U.S. generation mix somewhere just below 45%. The efficiency of a gas car is on the lower side of 25%, and the conversion efficiency of gasoline production is 85%, making gasoline burned in cars about 20% efficient. EVs are, from my best research (which might not be good enough) about 77% efficient in converting electricity at the plug to motive power. This would make EVs 33% “efficient” at the U.S. generation mix.

    I’m interested in your critique. You strike me as intelligent and fair minded, and to be someone who’s not confusing me for an EVangelist or member of the Church of Windmills and Solar Panels.

  129. p.s.: I don’t wish to imply a lack of discipline on renewables. I’m just not sure that conversion rates necessarily compare well the fossil fuels and uranium. I think they need to be looked at somewhat differently.

    Costs of inputs vs. value of output, i.e. “net present value,” is one parameter.

    Another would be “net energy budget” — do you invest more energy in building, placing, and using a solar panel, wind turbine, or dam than you derive from it?

    From what I understand, crude oil and uranium do very well on those parameters; wind does pretty well; solar positive, but less so. Conversion rates would obviously have a significant bearing on these calculations, but I still balk at the idea of, say, “scoring” a solar panel as 25% and a wind turbine at 35% and a dam at 90% for inclusion in an overall efficiency calculation for all electric generation. It seems like mixing apples and oranges.

  130. The concept of efficiency for EV vs Internal Combustion autos depends on what you are trying to conserve, and the precise details of your particular situation. Any generalization would be similar to announcing that the fuel efficiency of your car should be taken as the national auto fuel economy value.

    Are you primarily interested in reducing CO2? Are you primarily concerned with fossil fuel use? Want to preserve pristine nature? Are you worried about grid stability and optimum utilization?

    As has been discussed in this thread, there are several ways to supply the grid. What is the mix where you live? If additional demand is added to the grid, how is that marginal demand met? For instance, its possible that 80% of your local supply is hydroelectric, but all additional demand could be met with simple gas turbine topping packages, with fairly low energy efficiency but relatively low C02 output as compared to coal. In that case, how efficient is that EV if it represents new marginal demand supplied solely by nat gas topping packages?

    And as always, be aware that what is considered ideal by you may be less loved by someone else. For instance, hydroelectric is considered an abomination by some folks. And while an EV has zero tailpipe emissions, someone who lives near that gas turbine will not be as lucky.

  131. @SciGuy54, I’m interested in answering an efficiency question. Really, that’s all. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

    In this case — same as when I talk to “EVangelists” who regard EVs as a holy grail solution to whatever ails them — I use the U.S. energy mix. This is a vast country with lots of variation. I could completely skew the numbers by using, West Virginia (all coal) or Seattle (all hydro and wind). What I’m trying to do is look at the question as if EVs were to become “mainstream” — distributed all over the place — at the current generation mix.

    Yep, it’s theoretical, but I think it’s an o.k. question to ask. In doing so, I’m quite purposely avoiding any kind of value judgments about the fuels. Good God, that’s all everyone ever does here in Seattle. The question for virtue becomes nauseating. So for a brief, shining moment, I’ve decided to do my damndest to be clinically nerdy about it. :-)

  132. @JakeJ Ha! Its nice to hear that you are having some fun. The hardest thing about being retired is choosing the next shiny thing I always wanted to study but never had the time to do so…. good luck with your exercise!

  133. For the moment, the closest I think I’ve gotten is that EVs are 34% efficient and gas cars are 21% efficient, when the powerplant losses and refinery losses are accounted for. Diesel? Closest I can get is 31% efficient.

  134. “””””…..Jake J says:

    June 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    For the moment, the closest I think I’ve gotten is that EVs are 34% efficient…….”””””

    I’ll assume your numbers are correct.

    Presumably, an “EV” runs on electricity. So what is the source of that electricity ?

    What is the “output” for either the electric, or gas car ? Are we talking say passenger miles; and does time to achieve that, come into play ?

    I would assume that a fair measure of “efficiency” would demand an equal result for all options. Would that be; passenger miles per hour, or what would you suggest ?

    And I’m not talking top speeds. A lot of cars simply have much higher possible top speeds than is necessary.

    I encountered a beautiful European performance standards (as opposed to US) Mercedes Benz 5 passenger sedan with a 6.5 litre turbocharged Vee-12, 950 horse power engine, last Wednesday.

    Didn’t ask the owner what top speed was, but I imagine that the first four seconds from a standing start, would be quite a rush. After that, it is just a car, on a 70 mph top speed hiway.

    But what is your measure of practical car output performance, that efficiency is based on ??

    The Tesla Model S, also has a totally un-necessary max HP output. I don’t mind that, if that’s what sells. But when will there be a practical EV ?

  135. I should add, that I drive a standard 2 litre Subaru Impreza 5 seater hatchback.. Driving by myself, I easily get > 50 mpg, when driving SF Bay area hiways, unless unnecessarily inhibited by ever multiplying, and unnecessary mandated traffic stoppage nuisances.

    And for a 750 mile SFBA to LA round trip with three adults plus luggage, in a 2.5 litre Subaru Legacy, I get > 40 mpg, for the entire round trip via the hiway 5 route. ( at > 62 mph average) for the entire moving trip..

  136. Well Jake I see you already dealt with some of my queries. I wouldn’t worry much about your lingo; I don’t see any of the hair standing up variety.

    Talking about solar PV, and photons>electrons; the current demonstrated record for a real triple junction (triple band gap too) solar cell, is around 43.5% Energy (or power) conversion efficiency. I hope that is sea level solar, and not extra-terrestrial, but I would have to check up on that. That’s a DOE recognized result.

    Such cells are bloody expensive, BUT, they are almost invariably intended for multiple sun, high concentration optics systems, where the cell cost is irrelevant. Roland Winston, at UC Merced, likes playing with that stuff, he’s a master of it . Wrote the book on non-imaging optics. His concentration record is more than 50,000 suns; 56,000 as I recall.

    But NOT onto any solar cell; would melt the darn thing.

  137. @Col Mosby

    “The second problem is that batteries can displace energy from one part of the day to another, but that doesn’t solve the unreliability characteristics of solar or wind energy. ”

    One way to approach this issue is to consider the way wind powered water pumping systems are designed. After a few centuries of practice, it is pretty well known that in order to have a reliable water supply you need 4 days pumped volume in storage.

    On a farm the cattle need water everyday and to provide it, the wind regime is studied using a wind rose and all that. For any region, the reliability of supply can be determined using a statistical analysis of that wind rose (direction, speed and duration). This provides an answer that has a statistically determined reliability, or you can specify what reliability you want and the answer will be there in the form of a volume to store.

    The same things is done with the flow-demand/offtake calculations to create dams that will reliably supply water to a community. In many places the standard results is a 4 day supply without wind. Looking at the reliable output of a 2 MW windmill, that gives you an idea of how much to store to be wind and battery dependent.

  138. Presumably, an “EV” runs on electricity. So what is the source of that electricity ?

    The source is the wall plug. The wall plug gets it from the grid. The U.S. grid gets 39% from coal, 28% from natural gas (three-quarters of which is combined-cycle plants), 19% nuke, 1% petroleum, 7% hydro, 4% wind, 0.2% solar, and 1.8% a combo of municipal waste and geothermal.

    What is the “output” for either the electric, or gas car ? Are we talking say passenger miles; and does time to achieve that, come into play ? I would assume that a fair measure of “efficiency” would demand an equal result for all options. Would that be; passenger miles per hour, or what would you suggest ?

    The output would be “miles per gallon equivalent.” In other words, how far will the EV go on the amount of kWh contained in a gallon of gasoline? The equivalency formula comes from Dept of Energy data that I adjusted a smidgen to reflect the amount of purchased electricity and fuels used to make electricity used to refine gasoline. That number is 34.8 kWh = 1 gallon of gasoline.

    But what is your measure of practical car output performance, that efficiency is based on ??

    I wouldn’t be doing the exercise if EVs were golf carts. A Nissan LEAF’s performance is close enough to a Nissan Versa’s to be considered equivalent, in my view. A Tesla roadster was the equivalent of a Lotus Elise. A Tesla Model S = a Mercedes E class, I’d say. And so on. Not in range of course, but in other respects.

  139. @ george e smith … let me try it a different way.

    For EVs, I calculated the efficiency at the power plant level (44%), then multiplied it by the efficiency between the plug and wheels (77.5%) to get 34%.

    For gas cars, there’s the efficiency at the refinery level (86%), multiplied by the efficiency in converting gasoline’s energy to motion (24%) to get 21%.

    This assumes that a gas car is equivalent in performance (other than range) to an EV of similar size and weight.

  140. @ george e. smith, I keep thinking about “efficiency” as it applies to renewables vs. to fossil fuels. I am frustrated because I can’t find the wording to reflect my thought, which is unusual for me. I mean, there I weant, using the worst of the cliches, “it is what it is.” Ugh.

    Maybe it’s that, with hydrocarbons and uranium, we’re talking about thermal efficiency, i.e. a ratio of heat in to electrons out. But with renewables it’s not thermal efficiency. With them, it’s a conversion. Solar, from photons to electrons. Wind and hydro, kinetic energy to electrons.

    We render these ratios equivalent by calling them “efficiency,” but they really aren’t equivalent, interchangeable, or combinable. Therefore, the electrons coming from wind, solar, and hydro need to be “scored” at 100% efficiency, with an asterisk noting that they still must be evaluated for viability, but using other techniques.

    Maybe some engineer has come up with something more a succinct label to describe what I just conveyed. I sure hope so.

  141. One more thing. I re-checked, and refinery efficiency for gasoline production is 88%, not 86%. But I’ve been rounding to the nearest 1%, so the rounded numbers don’t change.

  142. I’d like to point out that the research itself did not make the “non-toxic” claim. The press release did. It is easy to imagine the following:

    1. The press release authors looked through the research — which is a difficult read for a non-specialist — and saw the mention of lower toxicitity; called the researchers; then overstated the case in the press release. It would appear, anyway, that while not being “non-toxic,” that this battery’s materials are a lot less toxic than other batteries.

    2. The researchers never saw the press release before it went out, or were too busy to read it carefully.

    In any case, I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to dismiss the research because of the overstated claim in the press release. I could change my opinion, of course, but that’s how it looks to me.

  143. California is moving to a per mile road tax to replace gsoline taxes – Canada already has an inter provincial agreement raising the price of diesel so users pay comparable to gasoline per mile road taxes. With taxes equalizing costs, there are no advantages to electric except low end torque – for high end sports cars.

    Three things.

    1. If the per-mile tax is the same for all cars, then it won’t make much difference. My EV’s untaxed fuel cost in Seattle is 3.6 cents a mile, vs. 11.2 cents a mile for an equivalent gas car before the state’s gas tax.

    2. Will CA offer a break for fuel economy, as current gas taxes do? In Washington State, EVs pay a $100 flat fee to make up for lost gas taxes, which is actually a big penalty relative to equivalent gas cars. If there’s a differential, and if EVs are evaluated on their mpg-e, they’ll do even better than if each mile driven pays the same tax.

    3 The real danger of per-mile taxation is that it opens the door to all kinds of mischief with regard to time-of-day tolling and penalties for people who drive “too much,” etc. There are a significant contingent of a car-hating urbanists who simply do not want people to drive at all.

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