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EVcast #203: Panel Discussion on EV Issues

Tuesday, March 24th 2009 @ 2:46 PM (2 ratings)    post viewed 6417 times

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Topics: Battery technologies: pipe dreams or reality?  What do you think about VW CEO's statement about mainstream EV's being 35 years away? Who do you see as a winner in the future EV market? Where do you see us a year from now in terms of a) infrastructure b) cars c) attitude d) policies e) technology.  Guest host, Darell Dickey


Don't just listen to the EVcast -- experience and be a part of it!  Join us at 1:00pm Eastern, M-F, in our live video broadcast and chat along with us!


a guest said on Tuesday, March 24th 2009 @ 3:12 PM:

the largest industrial user of electricity is the oil refineries. less refined oil leaves more juice for plugin autos. not necessarily that simple but their could be a shift in demand of electricity .

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Rick Covert
Free Access
RickCovert said on Tuesday, March 24th 2009 @ 3:51 PM:


Natural gas is the primary feedstock used in distillation, thermal cracking, catalytic cracking and most of the other highly energy intensive operations in a refinery. Natural gas is cheaper than using electricity to run these process by far. So, other than operating pumps, lights, etc, exactly how is it that refineries are the largest industrial user of electricity when, say, an aluminum smelting plant uses very high voltage electricity in an electrolytic process to separate aluminum from bauxite ore? Aluminum, btw, has a melting point of 660.37 °C/1220.666 °F. All of the oil refining process take place below 537.778 °C/ 1000 °F.

Rick, from the Oil Capitol of the World, Houston, TX. Smile

PS: Darrel,

 I  promise when I get the time I will get with you and hear your pov on this.

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Bill Dale
EVcast Individual Supporter
billdale said on Tuesday, March 24th 2009 @ 5:25 PM:

You constantly get excited about the EEstor's product, when they don't even have anything to show anyone-- yet you totally ignore the Phoenix Motorcar and their Altair batteries which, although expensive, the batteries are not made of expensive, dangerous, toxic or scarce materials, which means that when economies of scale kick in, the Altair NanoSafe battery should be able to be very cheap.

I have been driving the Phoenix Motorcars for more than a year now, whenever they are at an event-- they are powerful, practical (four passenger plus half-ton of payload), have a very sensible range between charges, take less than 10 minutes to recharge (verified by Aerovironment for the California Resources Board), and even with such fast recharges can be expected to last for decades.

The NanoSafe battery was tested on a constant routine of 10 minute charges followed by a two hour discharge to simulate constant real-world use as being driven commercially such as a taxi or delivery vehicle.  After 30,000 charge cycles, they finally stopped-- the batteries had dropped 15% in storage capacity after the first 1,500 charges, and thereafter lost no charge capacity and did not deteriorate in any other way.

They can be baked at 400 degrees without exploding or catching fire... they can be crushed, have nails driven through them, be grossly overcharged or completely drained of charge, without being damaged.

Recently, the Army tested them, fully expecting that they would explode if shot with firearms.  They set up one of the batteries and cleared a large perimeter for safety... they fired a 50 caliber machine gun at it, at which time someone yelled, "you missed!"

But they had not missed-- the bullet scored a direct hit, but simply did not blow up as they expected.

The Navy has been buying huge batteries from Altair for use in submarines and other large ships.  Each ship has to have two large generators going at all times to provide electrical power just in case one of the generators fail, because it could be a severe breach of security if there were a total loss of power, leaving them vulnerable to attack.  By replacing one generator with a huge battery, they save 1. 5 million dollars a year just in fuel-- and since the batteries do not need oxygen to run and provide electricity silently, their submarines can operate much more stealthily and do not produce as much carbon dioxide while underwater, allowing them to travel farther without surfacing.  Their ships also produce far less carbon emissions responsible for global warming.

The biggest utility companies in the world have been testing the Altair batteries with excellent results, and will be using them to store energy generated by windmills that tend to produce more energy at night when demand is low, which allows them to avoid blackouts on hot summer days when lots of people want to run their air conditioners.

I just wish Altair were selling some of their batteries for other purposes-- vehicles, cell phones, laptops, power tools and other applications.  They are starting to make 500 of their EVs for use on Maui... I don't recall the details exactly, but I think they are being used by the island's government motor pools.  Unlike other states, Hawaii has no oil wells, and gets all of its petroleum from foreign countries.

If you doubt Phoenix has the ability to produce vehicles, I can send you pictures I took at their Ontario, California facilities.  Their assembly building is modern, well-organized, and resembles an aircraft hangar for jumbo jets.

I do not hear you mention lithium iron phosphate batteries, either.  They are far safer than lithium ion, and are the battery of choice for those of us converting our gasoline cars to EVs-- some of us are below the radar, and finding ways to drive electric despite what Detroit says is possible.

I do wish you would spend a little more time checking out the technoloy that is already in use, such as the innovative, light, powerful motors produced by entrepreneurs such as "Electric Louie" of Long Beach, California, or Greg "Gadget" Abbott, of Los Angeles. who has been doing EV conversions for several years now, including vehicles that have appeared on the Discovery Channel.  THere are hundreds of such EVs on the roads of southern California now.

So get excited about the EEstor if you want, but it's the Altair NanoSafe battery that deserves the real praise.

Thank you for your otherwise thoughtful, informative coverage.

Bill Dale


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John Briggs
Free Access
JohnBriggs said on Tuesday, March 24th 2009 @ 5:26 PM:

I couldn't find a breakdown by type of industry, but here is the relative usage of industrial vs commercial vs residential from EIA.  The consumer WINS!!!



Sales to Ultimate Customers (thousand megawatthours)

Residential 1,392,241

Commercial 1,336,315

Industrial 1,027,832

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a guest said on Tuesday, March 24th 2009 @ 6:12 PM:

Well, guy's selling gasoline engines, and for foreseeable future, that is the way it is going to be, so of course, he will say 35 years. While I totally understand our need to perk up our own stuff, it is starting to annoy me when we look at the big picture, and we know it does not look good, yet some people just can't give up. It is beyond me. The truth is, we could, right now, switch over to electric cars. Yes it would be huge pain, I know, but if you look at the upside, I think it would be well worth it.

good luck!

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Gavin Shoebridge
Free Access
KiwiEV said on Tuesday, March 24th 2009 @ 9:19 PM:

Did I hear someone say, "I like turtles" right before the end? 

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Darell Dickey
Free Access
Darelldd said on Wednesday, March 25th 2009 @ 12:49 AM:

A couple of things:

1. At the beginning of the 'Cast, I spoke in w-h per pound of battery. I meant per kilo.

2. How did we get back on electricity to make gasoline? Rick - one confusion here is that when I originally said what I did (and I still stand by it) I said that the oil industry uses more electricity than any other industry in the world. That's the entire industry, and for all uses. Not just for distilling. For drilling/pumping/transporting/distilling/dispensing. And not only are they the biggest electricity user, they also of course use gobs of NG. NG that could be better used for other things if I had my way!

Anyway... The bottom of my energy page has links and all kinds of facts and figures on electricity used by the oil industry. If you can find somebody who disputes that the oil industry is the biggest consumer of electricity (and realize that I'm not just talking about purchased from the utilities either!) then I'll have Ryan eat my hat.

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Ryan Gibbs
EVcast Individual Supporter
RyanGibbs1 said on Wednesday, March 25th 2009 @ 12:52 AM:

With regard to the effects plugging all these EVs into the electricity supply. The demand on electricity distribution drops to almost 0 at night. Therefore even if the grid was stretched during the day for normal load it would easily handle EVs charging at night.

If anything having an increased load on the electricity network would decrease prices. This is due to a more even load on the system distributed accross the whole day. Therefore there is better utilisation of assets for the electricity company which increases the return over the assets lifetime. Also reducing the overall demand spikes will decrease the average price of electricity therefore reducing the cost of the normal electricity.

At least thats the way i can see it working out being a former apprentice at an Electricity Distribution company.

Ryan Gibbs

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Rick Covert
Free Access
RickCovert said on Wednesday, March 25th 2009 @ 11:58 AM:


I was commenting on the subject of electricity usage in oil refineries because the first commenter named 'guest' was trying to make the case and not because anything you said in the evcast. I found the commenter, 'guest's', point unconvincing.

Of course your argument may have more merit if you include the vast oil pipelines used to pump oil around the country, the drilling and of course the pump jacks I see on I-10 when I leave Houston for San Antonio. Also out in West Texas if you view it from an airliner there are oil wells with pump jacks on them stretching out to the horizon. They all have to use electric pumps which, as you rightly infer, are powered from the grid. However in the distilling process it is natural gas that is the primary energy source for that process. The cost of electricity is 19 cents a kilowatt hour here in Houston and though the oil companies probably get a discount on their electricity rates they could also get competitive rates from the natural gas utility providers too. Again there's simply nothing better than natural gas in the refining process. Nevertheless Darrel you make a compelling case for your point that the oil industry (not refineries alone) is the largest "industrial user" of electricity. I will have to check out the links at the bottom of your energy page and weigh the evidence for myself.

BTW, I've been in both oil refineries and aluminum smelting plants and you know you're using alot of electricity when your truck is parked under one of those high voltage bus conduits used in the electrolytic aluminum smelting process and your spade shovel magnetically clings to the truck bumper with the handle facing up.


Rick, from the Oil Capitol of the World, Houston, TX.  Smile

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John Briggs
Free Access
JohnBriggs said on Wednesday, March 25th 2009 @ 12:53 PM:

Darell's iMIEV video


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Graham McNally
Free Access
GrahamMc said on Wednesday, March 25th 2009 @ 3:23 PM:

That was a good show.  I think Bo has a very good take on Eestor.  Yeah, we would all love to have that solution for energy storage in our EV's.  I do not doubt that one day we will approach or even exceed that power density.  But to keep hope alive for Eestor to come out with it any day after 5 years of broken promises is foolish.  I will be first in line to buy one if they solve all the issues.  (Like, have you ever really even built ONE that performs to specs?)  I will also be extremely shocked to be in that line.  I would even post apologies to any Eestor afficionados I have insulted.  I do not expect to ever get an apology from Ian Clifford if Eestor never gets it right, just a promise of 'sometime this year I will apologize, we are making great progress on it and are EXTREMELY close to apologizing.'

Anyway, they promised something by March, and have a press conference tonight, so we will know in the morning whether or not to buy Zenn stock or be glad we didn't.

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a guest said on Thursday, April 2nd 2009 @ 1:18 PM:

Everyone on the panel missed what I think is the most common and most important infrastructure improvement.


You guys mentioned charging spots for retailers and such, but I don't see that ever being a major factor. Let's face it. Most shopping trips are very short and close to home. The charging is nice to have at various store fronts, but hardly mandatory most of the time.

Charging points for employees can be lifestyle altering. Instead of just charging for a few minutes or an hour... most employees can get large electron injection over 8 or 9 hours. That empoloyer charging point is often the difference maker about whether or not an EV is practical as an every day car.

The thing is... employer charging points aren't as sexy. They don't get written up in newspapers. They are most commonly created when an employee and an employer come up with a private agreement. Sometimes it's as simple as getting permission to run an extension cord out a back door or window of a small business. Sometimes a nice GFI exterior outlet gets installed.

As EV's become more common, more employers will get asked to provide charging. It will usually be one or two at a time, and gradually build. No fanfare. No parades. No ribbon cutting ceremonies with politicians posing for cameras. Just smart decisions between a couple of people, usually sealed with a handshake.

Being able to charge at work and at home changes everything. Besides... most of us don't make lots of seperate shopping trips, we stop off at stores on the way to work, or on the way home from work. The amount of time parked while running into the store is insignificant compared to a full work day.

Of course... my point only makes sense if anyone still has a job next year, and that is increasingly open to question.

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a guest said on Friday, July 31st 2009 @ 3:55 AM:

I think EVs isn't a fad because nowadays people should be more practical with this kind of crisis, and buying an EV is really worth because it shows lower depreciation rates compare to any normal gas cars and its parts were more cheap like its headlight and the like.

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