Electric vs Gasoline cars (from Wii is Sh*t thread)

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by darkwing, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. darkwing macrumors 65816

    Jan 6, 2004
    This is true, except that you're forgetting all the losses... and not just transmission line, but all the power transformers and every time you step it up/down and of course there's always faulty lines and other components. You can't guarantee it's cleaner in all parts of the world (or even the USA.)

    Thanks. :)

    And yes, nuclear is the way to go. Heck, it works for France right? Most people think of meltdown as an h-bomb going off, and that's bs. Americans know how to build nuclear plants right. Nobody was killed at Three Mile Island, and even after the accidents there were only trace amounts of radiation.

    The article in the Wii is Sh*t thread is about a dev complaining the Wii is too wimpy to handle today's games. I would call this a measure of "power." Most cars are said to be "powerful" if they can come up to speed quickly, and that was the basis of my point.

    Yes a small wimpy car like a Honda S2000 can be a blast to drive, too. Just like the Wii can be fun to play.
  2. AmbitiousLemon Moderator emeritus


    Nov 28, 2001
    down in Fraggle Rock
    Actually I am taking losses into account. The calculations that were done by Tesla involved the efficiency of the US power grid, not of individual power plants. If you assume coal only, its only marginally better than the top hybrid, but still better. So it will be cleaner even in the dirtiest parts of the United States.

    I think engineers are drawn to nuclear power because of the engineering challenge of it. When you look at the economics and risks involved relative to competing technologies, it fails. Currently nuclear power is highly subsidized by the government, but even with all that extra help it is too expensive. It is more expensive now than even solar and wind power. Take away those subsidies (or apply equal subsidies to solar and wind) and nuclear is economically unfeasible.

    This isn't to mention the losses from the decades needed to bring a new plant online, the losses of all the downtime of the plant due to problems, and decommissioning of the plant when it is at end of life. These are issues Europe is beginning to face now. Plants in england and france are offline more often than they are online. Major safety violations are now so common place they don't even get reported anymore. Europe is facing major problems in how to deal with these old nuclear plants.

    You also have to compare the relative risks of the technology. Nuclear when it has a problem kills many (perhaps even millions if placed in a populated area - where they are most efficient). Not to mention the land then becomes unusable for hundreds of years (or decades if you don't mind a mild dose of radiation) A problem with a coal plant will only kill a few workers at the worst, and no long term hazards. Solar and wind power plants can not result in these sorts of disasters at all.

    And lastly, there is still no way of dealing with the waste generated by these plants. Are we going to keep shipping it to Africa and other third world nations? There will never be an acceptable way of dealing with fission waste.

    Why bother with expensive and dangerous technology when we have safe and cheap alternative right now that only promise to get better if given the same investment as the nukes have gotten for decades?

    Nuclear has its uses, but as a general solution for producing electricity for the masses it is just blame dumb.

    A solar/wind/geothermal power grid coupled with more efficient use of electricity and electric cars and trains solves the problem of both global warming and pollution and doesn't involve any new technologies - just using what we have right now.
  3. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    The sad thing is, the US govt. won't put the money into the infrastructure or will waste money on other options...Besides the Nuclear/electric car scenario you described, I can find big faults with all the other alternative fuels...E-85/Biofuels are tied to the food supply, Hydrogen is an energy storage device and requires too much energy to produce and store to be a viable alternative, wind/solar/geothermal etc. aren't capable of producing the amount of energy that carbon based fuels do. I'm not saying that all of these can't be used at once but most of them really aren't feasible for replacing oil.

    People say that Nuclear's downside is disposing of the waste, but I see this as a very small problem compared to others...

    I have to go but I will check back in a few hours to see what people think...
  4. darkwing thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 6, 2004
    I don't dispute this, but it'd be helpful to get a source from you so I can refer to it in future discussions.

    That is a good point. I honestly forgot about the subsidies. However, nuclear power is profitable once it pays off the initial capital. The fuel costs are very low, and eventually these savings pay for the construction (and energy needed to construct!) the plant. The thing people need to think about is that the amount of oil we've used on this planet (which is a drop in the bucket, the whole "oh no we're running out of oil!" is pure BS it's only the "cheap and easy" to drill oil we're running out of.) is a drop in a bucket to the amount of plutonium on the planet, and the amount of plutonium on the planet is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of strontium (the original fuel used in fission reactors) on the planet.

    The ultimate answer to all these concerns of course, is a fusion reactor. My friend and I are experimenting (slowly, but surely) with a hydrogen/deuterium fusion reactor concept. The problem with fusion is the high heat required inside the reactor, plus the corrosive effect caused by stray neutrons (non-radioactive!) firing off during the reaction. An idea being explored by a joint venture by the United States and Japanese governments is a HUGE reactor, because as the volume increase by the cube, the surface area (main cause of concern for cooling effects) only increases by the square.

    Once we have fusion power, not only will there be no radioactive waste, but we can then put that energy to use refining hydrogen for fuel cell cars. A big problem with electric cars is the batteries being a huge mess to dispose of!

    Blow them up with a de-commissioned nuclear bomb? :)

    I am watching Europe's progress with these matters, but I feel that there's no reason plants can't be maintained and kept running. Isn't it only the reactors that need to be decommissioned?

    Yes but so can cars. (Look at the number of accidents every day!) There are safety features of course, but it all boils down to the human factor.

    [QUOTE[And lastly, there is still no way of dealing with the waste generated by these plants. Are we going to keep shipping it to Africa and other third world nations? There will never be an acceptable way of dealing with fission waste.[/QUOTE]

    Well if you stick carbon in it, and fuse it into glass, then it won't leak.. so just bury it underground where it can be as warm as it wants. (And make sure nothing gets near any ground water! :p) This is part of the plan for the Yucca Mountain waste disposal facility planned in Nevada.

    You, unlike most people who are anti-nuclear power, make solid arguments. I believe the best approach is for both proponents and opponents to put their resources towards fusion power.

    I disagree, if even for the reason you mention above about current technologies getting better as time goes on.. so will nuclear, and its disposal issues.

    The best use for nuclear waste:


    I don't actually believe in global warming. :) But let's not carry on this argument in this thread. It will go on forever. :p

    I read an interesting article about solar/wind/geothermal power a few years ago. It theorized that you could blanket much of the Nevada desert with solar panels, and it could power the entire west coast. You'd also suck so much solar energy out of the environment there, you'd turn it into a winter wonderland and drastically alter the environment. If you are concerned about greenhouse gasses the environment isn't capable of handling, then it makes sense that taking energy out of the environment that it isn't capable of handling will cause other issues. It's really a trade-off, isn't it?
  5. darkwing thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 6, 2004
    I'm a huge proponent of diesel engines. Most of the fuel is soot, which isn't too bad for anybody as the wind kicks that up on its own anyway. Diesels can also burn mostly anything. Ever read up on biodiesel? You can make it from all kinds of things that are normally tossed out.

    The most fuel efficient system human beings have for freight and transportation, as far as I can tell with my own reading, is diesel-electric (trains) and I feel that this technology can be easily adapted to cars. You can google around for some great success stories! Sadly, this technology is a bit expensive to implement but after reading many stories about hybrids getting half their advertised mileage when you have a heavy foot, it might make sense!
  6. AmbitiousLemon Moderator emeritus


    Nov 28, 2001
    down in Fraggle Rock
    I've been reading up on the Tesla for so long I can't recall exactly where I got that, but the wikipedia article on it has a lot of references that might include that. Also the Tesla webpage has links to whitepapers and thing like that. There are also a number of popular mechanics, ny times, and other popular media articles about it.

    I recall a bar graph (prepared by Tesla) but I haven't been able to track it down. It was part of a powerpoint presentation that was posted online at some point. There are similar graphs in one of the white papers.

    There are a lot of great facts to support Nuclear's financial failures (I actually think this is the biggest problem with nukes). But I think I'll quote a recent statement by President Gorbachev:

    Fusion will be great when we get it working. But lets not forget that its still a future tech. We have technology right now that can replace dirty fuels.

    I suspect that by the time fusion or hydrogen are ready battery tech will be so good we won't need the hydrogen. Hydrogen is just a red herring that gets thrown around to avoid doing anything right now, and to give handouts to corporate supporters.

    The current battery technology is nontoxic and recycleable/reusable. In fact if your battery ever dies or your car is wrecked (batteries last longer than the car well over 200k miles) Toyota will pay you well to return the batteries to them.

    This is from a new york times article citing research by the union of concerned scientists:
    and a quote from Patrick Doherty:

    Well I don't think we would have cars as we know them in an ideal world. If we invested in public transit and proper city planning we wouldn't need them. But thats not feasible at this point. But if we are evaluating energy sources why bother with nuclear when we have cheaper, cleaner, and safer alternatives?

    Glass is still a liquid, so it will leak. The Yucca Mt. plan has been scrapped because of the myriad of problems associated with it. There simply isn't a disposal solution for radioactive waste.

    I agree we should continue investing in fusion research, but it is a long way off from a solution. We need to invest in deploying existing technologies (solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave, etc) while continuing to fund research into new. We shouldn't forestall current solutions just because we are researching better things. We need cleaner power now.

    Alternatives are already better despite a lack of government support. Nuclear has a had decades and trillions of dollars of research dollars and has yet to beat cleaner safer technologies that have not seen such support. I'd never support cutting off funding of research, but I think a re-prioritization of research funds is in order.

    Space is definitely one of the places where nuclear has its place. The Prometheus designed for JIMO is another good example.

    I'd actually like to have that conversation so start another thread if you like.
    1. When people talk about solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave, etc power the reason they list them all is that they truly imagine a mixed system. Diversity is better for the economy. So a mixed system would be deployed (not all solar everywhere).
    2. The next answer is that while in the short term large solar or wind farms are a good idea, ideally we will see distributed electrical production. Every house will have a variety of solar and wind units. Building tops will have solar, wind or green roofs. We waste so much space currently that could be producing electricity on a small scale. Imagine micro-production all over the place.
    3. And lastly the biggest answer (that gets ignored often) is improved efficiency. We already have technology to keep living our current standard of living using less power. Better light bulbs, better electrical meters on homes, power outlets that don't leak electricity into unused things plugged in, more efficient appliances, more efficient insulation, more efficient windows, etc. Its a two pronged attack: better efficiency and better production.
  7. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I might like to point out that Hydrogen is not a goo choice of power. Lets assume we get fusion reactors on line but their will be a massive issue of cooling them and prevent them from over heating and guess what we like to use for cooling it is water.

    Plus we make hydrogen from water.

    I am making a huge point about water is water is becoming out limiting recourse on making power planets. Yes even the US is face huge water problems all over the nation. even in areas that seem water rich are some of the areas having the largest issues with us just running out of water. Ground water is becoming hard and harder to get and pumps just are not pumping as much as they used to because there just is not water there.

    Permits for new power planets are already getting denied because there is not enough water in those regains to supply them with their cooling needs. (from energy conviction here at my school. Several companies where talking about those issues and whys they are working to solve the problems but we still have water issues).
    Now lets put in we are going to be getting hydrogen from water and now we all of a sudden have a huge water problem and we just do not have enough fresh water to supply our needs.
    And before some one says desalination I might like to point out those take a lot of energy to run which in turns means we need more power plants which means more water is needed for cooling. Also the brin left from desalination is classified as toxic waste and has to be handled as such.

    Wind power while it is great biggest problem is has ZERO reserve capacity so when power demands increase at a time they can not increase their production. It is use it or loose it so what they do is take strain off out current power plants so we do not need to keep building more. Solar faces the same issue of having very very limited reserve capacity in power generation.
  8. AmbitiousLemon Moderator emeritus


    Nov 28, 2001
    down in Fraggle Rock
    A couple of those Tesla Roadster graphs I alluded to earlier:

    Attached Files:

  9. Mantat macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2003
    Montréal (Canada)
    Ehh... Hybrid accelerate faster than fuel car my friend.. at least from 0 to something like 60km/h.

    Look at the Honda Civic Hybrid, it has better performance than the standard model. Its because the electric engine has way more torque. But once you are over 60, gaz is generaly better.
  10. gloss macrumors 601


    May 9, 2006
    Hybrid cars have the potential to accelerate faster than gasoline-powered cars, but they rarely do. It burns out the batteries. In fact, most hybrids accelerate quite placidly. Something like 10-11 seconds to 60mph in a Toyota Prius. That's hardly performance car territory.
  11. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    What about the possibility of a non-rocket based shuttle or space elevator. Obviously, they don’t exist yet but neither do mass produced EV cars…

    Government built and run nuclear power plants provide opportunities for engineers and jobs for people to guard, run, and manage them. The subsidies are an investment into our economy and more efficient than investing in foreign oil sources which don’t provide these benefits.

    I haven’t done a ton of research about diesel but my girlfriend drives a lime green diesel VW Beetle so I am aware of their efficiency. Although, I do think it would be best to hedge our bets against global warming (just in case it is a reality).

    I used to be a doubter of global warming but the mounting evidence (I have read quite a few scientific journals and a ton of news reports about the subject recently) is starting to make me think it might be true. I am unsure if the claims of people like Al Gore and the US aren’t actually exaggerated for political concerns though.

    As far as oil goes, we may or may not be running out of easily obtainable sources (it really depends on who you ask and everyone has an agenda) but there are plenty of economic reasons for trying to obtain a more efficient model.

    Good point about using waste…I really was thinking more of E-85 and other biofuels that use grains etc. as fuel…If we use grains (as E-85 does) it could dramatically raise the cost of foods etc.

    I also read that electric motors (at least DC) have something like a 500,000 mile lifespan and when your batteries finally die 8-10 years down the road they will most likely be less expensive and better than they originally were.

    I agree but I don’t see that ever happening here in the South where I live. Sure there are a few cities that have it (Dallas, Atlanta, etc.) but it isn’t wide spread at all. There is no public transit to speak of and people aren’t willing to wait for trains, busses, etc.

    I disagree, I think it is usually more efficient to produce power at a centralized location and distribute it through a power grid. Even accounting for losses during delivery, we should be able control efficiency much better centrally.
  12. dops7107 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 19, 2005
    Perth, Oztrailya
    Don't get me wrong, I am very keen on improving efficiency of electrical appliances, cars, heating systems etc. I think you're right, it is of paramount importance to solving our energy and climate problems. But I just want to raise an issue that always seems to be ignored when we talk about efficiency.

    I don't have the data to hand, but let's take cars for an example. The efficiency of the combustion engine, in terms of power per unit fuel burnt, has increased steadily since its invention. Engines get better and better. This in turn should mean engines can squeeze more kinetic energy out of a given amount of fuel. But what actually happens? Average mpg is not improving. We *use* all this extra efficiency to power heavier cars, basically. Any saving is lost.

    What about the home? Energy-saving light bulbs? All counter-acted by more electronic gizmos and power adapters. Plasma screens use more power than CRT equivalents. We are getting more efficient, but this is cancelled out by increasing consumption.

    The point is, we need to decrease our per capita energy usage. This is not happening, and won't if we simply make things more efficient. To use an analogy, if you save money on one purchase, it's all too easy to spend it on something else rather than not spend it at all.

    Ah, found it. I am alluding to Jevon's Paradox.
  13. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    I could knitpick but overall you are completely right. Too bad Americans mostly don't care or think about who they hurt to get what they want...We are the worst contributors to the problem but everyone want to put their heads in the sand.
  14. j26 macrumors 65832


    Mar 30, 2005
    I was looking at one of these as a commuter, the bike has a 4 year warranty, but the batteries have 10 years, so batteries should never be a problem, and will probably outlast the bike.

    I'm still undecided though, the fuel cell version they're planning sounds better. This is part of the problem. Most of these technologies are pretty new, so we can expect significant improvements in the next few years. Buying in now on something as significant as a car or bike does expose you to a potentially large depreciation loss as your investment gets bypassed, but on the other hand, the tech won't advance unless people buy in.
  15. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
    The truth is thats all thats needed, people dont need 300 hp to drive down the road but the market wants them to so they can make big $$$ . I still think 40 mpg cars can be built easily. Just look at the Toyota Yaris. 34-40 mpg and under 10 seconds to 60. sign me up.
  16. AmbitiousLemon Moderator emeritus


    Nov 28, 2001
    down in Fraggle Rock
    Actually massed produced EV cars do exist. As do solar panels, wind power, geothermal power, etc. Thats sort of the point. Why keep waiting for pie in the sky tech while continuing to use old polluting tech when we have good stuff to use now?

    I'm not arguing about subsidies. I like large public works programs. But why use that money to run something that is dirty, expensive, and dangerous. Lets spend that money on better technologies, lets fund solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave, etc.
  17. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

    Mar 21, 2006
  18. darkwing thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 6, 2004
    Hey, if Mr. Burns can make money on nuclear power... :)

    Another thing on electric cars... I saw your graph, and that's quite informative. That's rather high efficiency for an electric car so I'm inclined to ask:

    How long does it take to get to freeway speed? If it's longer than about 12 seconds the car isn't safe. The faster they accelerate the faster the batteries drain.

    Do they take into consideration other losses? The batteries have internal resistance (which gets worse over time) and heat up when you charge them. Batteries are DC, so there's a rectifier of some sort and that's going to get pretty warm. Etc etc. You're wasting a lot of energy by the time it even gets into the batteries.

    That's pretty cool. Thanks for that information. :)

    Many of these "concerned scientists" are the same people who push global warming, which I don't believe in. :p Anyhow, there is a business model to look at when considering nuclear energy. Suppose global warming does indeed exist, and we need to stop as much output as we can. Well, nuclear power can come at an increased premium to pay for the cleaner air. Of course, that doesn't help the economy. Cheap energy is essential to economic growth.

    I don't know who that is.

    I'd rather have the freedom to get myself around when I want at my own pace rather than wait for a train. I found public transit in Osaka, Japan to be very good, but I still missed driving!

    Incorrect. It won't leak. By the time it begins to break down, the half-life will have long expired. Solid glass is rather tough, you know. Much of the waste from reactors was disposed of this way. Fused into glass and buried.

    I don't disagree with you there. I'm all for research into all kinds of energy, but I tend to trust the direction private industry throws money over government. I should look into where private industry has put their research money.

    No thanks. You have the same arguments I've already heard, and I have the same arguments you've already heard. We won't change each other's minds. We'll just wind up pissed at each other.

    I don't mind the thought of having solar on every house. I also don't mind increasing efficiency. I do feel, however, that mankind should be able to come up with a holy grail of energy production that's clean and cheap for all concerned. Hopefully someday we'll get a single fusion reaction before it melts itself. :p
  19. darkwing thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 6, 2004
    Yeah it just wasn't worth responding to that guy. :rolleyes:

    I have a 2006 Pontiac GTO with an STS turbo kit on it. I get like 15 mpg around town, but 25+ on the freeway. Over 600 horsepower! :cool:
  20. darkwing thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 6, 2004
    Excellent point!

    Hah my girlfriend drives a dark gray VW Beetle. The turbo diesel. Fun little car but ugly and so cheap/plasticy inside.

    Gore's an idiot. He cares so much about the environment but burned up something like 500,000 gallons of fuel flying around the world promoting his movie. Plus, don't forget his house that uses over 20,000 kw/h per month. :p My last energy bill showed me at 5.19kw/h per day. However, I sit around in the dark all the time.

    Agreed, but I think Ambitious' point was to supplement the grids with renewable energy. Like solar panels on your house, or a thermocouple in the back of your trousers.
  21. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    That article was little more than a scare tactic and as you said, It was a few years old. A lot's changed since then and solar is more efficient. Some of the newest solar is radically different. Your "solar winter" fantasy is exactly that, a fantasy. It would be impossible to blanket much of the Nevada desert anyway.

    It seems as though you're simply finding a way to trash solar and promote nukes.
  22. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    Repeal the Price-Anderson Act and let's see how profitable nuclear power is. Fact is, the nuclear industry relys on that legislation to make nuclear power affordable.

    Without Price-Anderson solar, wind etc start to look a lot more attractive.
  23. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    That's a bunch of bs.

    Efficient use of energy is essential for economic growth not cheap energy. The introduction of the train to the US meant massive deforestation. Yes, it fueled growth but at the expense of air and water quality.

    You need to stop reading Ayn Rand.
  24. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    I know that EVs and Hybrids are mass produced but not on a level that will make a difference. Certainly their marketshare is miniscule. My opinion is that the automakers don't really want to change because it will cost them billions to retool and probably billions in lost revenue in replacement parts sales. Electric motors have far less moving parts and don't require all the parasitic mechanical components (fuel pump, water pump etc.) so they won't require fixing as much...

    I know that geothermal, wind, tidal etc. have low EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) ratings which isn't an exact science but I'm still skeptical as to whether these energy sources can completely provide all the energy needs for the world in the future and replace oil an coal. Also, their mechanical nature sounds like it would be very ineffiecient if put to use on a mass scale. Distributed power systems seem like they could be a good idea but also seem hard to manage. If they are hard to manage it will be hard to increase efficiency of the overall system. I haven't designed or built any of these systems yet so I am just speculating though...

    While I do agree that I would like to see more leadership by example by policy makers like Gore I can't completely discount what he says because he has alot of scientific backing. I'm sure that he would say that all his plane trips are serving a greater good...which is debatable...

    Its hard for me to sort through all of the scientific journals and white papers to find the truth because these problems are so complex. Like you, I am at least trained as an Engineer. The average person doesn't have the scientific background or the will to find out what is really going on so they must rely on news outlets and politicians. Unfortunately, we all know how reliable these sources are...
  25. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    You need to read this thread then:


    Or the others. Pretty much disputes everything you said. Besides the offices, amounts of people who live and work there, extra security, etc. he spends more money using green energy, purchases offsets, and pretty much does everything else he preaches. Not to mention the validity of the original partisan site that posted the info, and how they go it.

    But let's not start that again. ;)

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