Friday, February 8, 2008

Future Drive Nugget

This post starts a new series where I will
capture "nuggets" of information from books
that we can also use for our references
or to back up our arguments.

In Future Drive by Daniel Sperling
Copyright 1995 by Island Press, Washington DC
on pages 53, 54...

Professor Sperling of UC Davis,
advanced automotive transportation expert states,
"The most advanced batteries of the future will probably
never exceed 4 percent of the energy density of gasoline.
This does not mean that electric vehicles are inherently inferior, though."
"First, the 4 percent figure overstates the difference,
because electric vehicles are likely to be at least
four times as energy efficient as comparable ICE vehicles.
Thus future batteries will be closer to 16 percent
of the energy density of gasoline."

Dr. Sperling makes an excellent point in that
comparing technologies should be done holistically.
After all, a battery is more comparable to a gas tank,
and gasoline is more comparable to let's say the type
of battery, such as Lithium or Nickel.

So to compare apples to apples, we have to consider
at least tank to wheel, which measure energy loss
from filling up to turning the wheels.

From that perspective, Dr. Sperling's future prediction
just got outdated by Stanford's Dr. Cui's work on Lithium
at the nano-level. By looking at tiny fibers of Lithium
many times smaller than a human hair, Dr. Cui found that
as we charge and use our Lithium batteries, the Lithium
fiber starts cracking. Imagine your head of hair getting
more brittle by the day and finally unable to hold a charge.

So if Dr. Cui's work is the beginning of a quantum leap forward
in Lithium energy density, Dr. Sperling's prediction drastically
underestimated the energy density potential of batteries.

But his point in incorporating the efficiency of the electric motor
to the apples to apples comparison is VERY important. One cannot
compare gasoline to batteries or even the chemistry without considering
that a typical gasoline four-stroke engine can only produce power
with one stroke for a theoretical maximum of 25%. Electric motors
are far superior, and I interviewed the VP at Tesla who firmly
answered that his motor was at or near 90%.

So I absolutely support Dr. Sperling's metric above of "four times."
From a tank to wheel analysis, if the electric motor is four times
more efficient as the internal combustion engine, then to compare
apples to apples in terms of fuel, the electric fuel only needs
to be 1/4 as powerful as gasoline for the same performance.

Of course we are ignoring things like electric cars can be lighter
with high voltage safety equipment like repelling bumpers,
and that the current electric grid is terribly inefficient,
if we add Dr. Cui's work of 10x on the Lithium side
to the four times in Dr. Sperling's Future Drive,
we come up with 40% times four which is a SUPERIOR TECHNOLOGY!

In other words, from an apples to apples comparison,
only looking at two similar cars, one Nano-Lithium electric
and the other high-octane gasoline,
the electric actually has more energy.

This result goes against almost any article,
comment, analysis or comments you'll see
anywhere in media, on the internet and from the mouth.

If Dr. Cui's nano-Lithium is brought to market,
there is theoretically more muscle in his electric car
than almost any of the muscle cars built over all time!

Thank you again Dr. Cui and Dr. Sperling
for your world-changing work, after all,
I believe that owning and driving our
cars and trucks is the most expensive,
dangerous and dirtiest choice we make

John Acheson

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