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Ep I know about neutrons being neutral and have done so since I was 10 years old or so. Neutrons however is not the only reason the inner wall are damaged. All charged particles can be controlled by magnetic field and we are not done on controlling these field so they do zero damage. Moreover, the production of neutrons is a function of how much hydrogen we burn so making a bigger reactor room relative to how much hydrogen we burn will create a more durable wall as more surface will share the beating. However a bigger reactor require stronger magnets. So magnetic fields and neutron decay is related. Don't be a jerk.
We don’t need better batteries for long-haul heavy duty trucking to work. It would help but it is not needed. However, we do need trucks to be fully self-driving and self-charging so that short battery range does not matter. Tesla is working on it. They have hired many people from Benz truck division to make it happen and it will revolutionize trucking before 2020 with its first fully self-driving BEV truck (the semi Musk talked about in Tesla’s master plan). Every penny spend today developing ICE for trucks is a complete waste. All such tech will be worthless by 2025 as sale of new vehicles with ICE will be in rapid and terminal decline worldwide.
EP we are not there yet so the quickly decaying inner walls of the current fusion reactor designs is one of the big problems that still needs to be solved. We will figure out how to control the burning plasma and its radiation by using increasingly strong magnetic fields or perhaps new materials that can handle the radiation for longer before it decays. We may also make the reactor volume larger and the quantity of burning hydrogen over time smaller to create more durable inner walls. We definitely have not found an optimal design yet but I am convinced that faster computers and power electronics is key to finding a design that works for practical applications like electricity and heat production. In space the radiation problem is less of an issue. We could ejecting it into the sun or deep space or create a junk moon with all the stuff we need to be far away from our self. Space X’s work on reusable rockets may fairly soon lead to so low cost for moving stuff into space that we could get permanently rid of the most problematic radioactive waste that way. Off cause some rockets will blow up at or during launch and there should be a system in place that could protect the cargo from leaking even in such cases so it can be rescued and send up and away on another rocket. I am rather optimistic about making technical solutions for nearly any conceivable problem. We just need to work harder and be more creative. Until the nuclear industry comes up with better ways to deal with radioactive waste I think the least risky alternative is to expand solar and wind power.
A Tesla Model 3 will be practical in your case also when it is fully self-driving. When you sleep it can be set to drive away to the nearest Tesla charger and come back with full battery so you have it where you need it when you need it. All that is possible by 2020 and it will be legal as well. I know you are a Canadian and I am sure Tesla will have Canada covered with chargers by 2020.
It has less range than the Tesla's Model S100P at 315 miles range and 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 sec and a quarter mile in 10.6 sec. Mira may do 0 to 60 in 10 sec. Are you getting a Mirai soon Harvey?
I am very encouraged by the progress lawmakers are doing about autonomous vehicles. They are really working fast this time and nearly all parties want it to happen. There are no bipartisan battles on this one and that is really good. It makes it so much easier and I am confident the legislation will be ready now before the driverless tech is commercially ready by 2020. A year ago I imagined the tech would be ready by 2020 but the legislation would not allow it until it was made by 2022 or 2023. Now it seems the picture is reversed. This is fantastic. Sometimes the politicians and the bureaucrats actually do know how to get things done super fast.
Harvey if Tesla can make the 3rd generation Autopilot by summer 2019 they will produce at least 500,000 cars with that system before dec 2020 where software updates have made all of them fully autonomous. So it is going to be a massive rollout of fully driverless cars from 2020. Millions not just a few test vehicles. And they will start to drive 100,000 miles per year not just 15,000 miles per year because they can serve many people every day not just one owner and his family. You believe all kind of nonsense about how fast FCV and batteries for BEVs will evolve but you do not believe in driverless tech being real by 2020. We see the world very differently for sure. I can assure you that driverless tech is evolving much faster than FCV and battery tech. We will have driverless vehicles several years before we will get to 450wh/kg or 1100wh/l affordable batteries at the cell level.
EP I know the inner walls of a fusion reactor will be highly radiated and therefore become radioactive itself. However, for what I have read this is not a big problem as the quantity of radioactive material is only a tiny fraction of what it is for fission reactors and it is not as highly radioactive either as some of the stuff that is produced in a fission reactor. We can live with that i.e. dealing with small amounts of low radioactive materials. Also I am getting more confident that fusion energy is not so far away now. We need super fast computers and power electronics that can control the required magnetic fields in the fusion reactor and the laser beams used for starting the fusion and the other machines that eject new hydrogen fuel into the reactor. We did not have that hitherto but now we are getting it enabling much more powerful magnetic fields and laser ignition systems. I will be surprised if we do not have a working fusion reactor by 2035 that produces a large positive amount of net energy and that can be switched on and off like a light ball and only require maintenance once in a few months or even years. I have dreamed about such a machine since I was a 14 years old kid and I will live to see it made.
EP you are right about what I mean. I know battery backup can at most handle day to day intermittency from renewables. For seasonal and weekly and monthly intermittencies we need a combination of alternative solutions like 1) renewable hydrogen storage, 2) giant high temp heat sinks, 3) synthetic fuel production in bioreactors using renewable energy, 4) more long-distance transmission lines and 5) smart meters that adjust demand and supply by changing prices minute by minute. I am all for nuclear power when we can master fusion energy without any radioactive waste. We will get there eventually and we should pour more money into developing that technology than we do today. If we want to expand civilization beyond our solar system (and we should IMO) then fusion power becomes a necessity. Musk expect electricity to be used to power everything including vehicles and heating so batteries will be needed at countless of electric substations like hundreds of thousands of places in the US in order not to trigger a super costly expansion of the current grid.
I read elsewhere that GMs initial production capacity is limited to 30,000 per year. So this is probably what they will sell in 2017. They should sell out their production in that year as GM really does not have any competition in that price segment for BEVs. I think only some markets in the US will get it like California. By 2018 the real game begins as Tesla and possibly Nissan and BMW and others will start to sell 200+ miles BEVs for 35k USD. That year should witness serious growth in the sales of BEVs. Hopefully Tesla will be able to get to an annual production rate of 500,000 units at the end of 2018. We will see. I am mostly looking forward to see the 2nd generation Autopilot for Tesla in terms of hardware. I think it will come in about summer 2017 first on Model S and X and then on Model 3 at launch at the end of 2017. I expect that Autopilot to be nearly fully self-driving once they roll out the software updates in 2018 and 2019. By 2019 I expect Tesla to launch a 3rd generation Autopilot with build in redundancy and that version has all the sensors and redundancy and computing power to become fully autonomous with subsequent software updates after which it will not require a driver license to own or drive in. It could be sold without a steering wheel and pedals to people that does not have a driver license and to taxi services in order to prevent people from taking control manually. I think the legislation will be ready to allow it by 2020. I think Tesla will be first with a fully autonomous taxi service. However, GM and Ford will follow shortly thereafter and Toyota and FiatChrysler may bankrupt by 2025 because they were too late with fully autonomous taxi services that will be the only thing that matters for automaker survival by 2025.
@Dave When you don’t buy and own the car but just hail one with your smartphone every time you need to go somewhere the taxi fee per mile is what matters. This is what I calculated the taxi fee per mile. There is no total-cost-of-ownership from a consumer’s perspective because most will not own the car. They just see the taxi fee per mile which is very transparent even for the average “Beavis and Butthead”. Regarding your second commend the advantage for BEVs are limited to driverless cars because they are the only one you can actually put 1,000,000 miles on in 10 years as it is used by many people every day not just one that otherwise would only be able to do 150,000 miles in 10 years. A vehicle owner will need 67 years before he can drive 1,000,000 doing only 15,000 miles per year. Also battery life is restricted by calendar life and 10 years is it for most batteries regardless of how long its cycle life is.
Just to make it clear. 80MWh is 80,000 kwh or the same as 800 Tesla Model S P100D. So this is a seriously large battery bank. Tesla will sell many more of these to utilities. Musk say he see growth in this segment to be higher than for batteries for BEVs. It is far less complicated to sell 80MWh battery bank to one utility than 800 different Tesla owners from all over the world with different regulation. The point is that Tesla’s global distribution and services system for battery banks will be far less complex than it is for vehicle sales. Also with regard to service and distribution of battery banks Tesla can use 3rd party local operators to speed up things. This is not possible for vehicles.
@mahonj But BEVs and fully autonomous cars are totally linked because they complement each to achieve much lower cost per mile than possible by fully autonomous gassers. Also fully autonomous BEV taxis does not have range or charge time issues as do non-autonomous BEVs. Take my cost estimates from above and see what happens when we do it for a fully autonomous gasser. Fuel cost is now 12 cents per mile not 4 cents. Base vehicle cost is now 17.5 cents (=35,000/200,000) not the 3.5 cents as it is for a gasser. Maintenance cost of 4 cents per mile is the same in this situation because although gassers have more maintenance with oil and mechanical parts and brakes that needs to be replaced the BEV will be used for 1,000,000 miles and therefore also have maintenance cost refurbishing the cabin every 200,000 miles that gasser that are scrapped every 200,000 miles does not have. Insurance and profits will be the same as for self-driving BEVs. So in conclusion Total cost per mile for self-driving BEV taxi 20 cent per mile. Total cost per mile for self-driving ICE taxi 43 cent per mile (=0.175+0.12+0.04+0.04+0.055).
Dave I agree that by 2020 the BEVs and their infrastructure is so mature and affordable that growth from 2020 to 2025 will have BEVs go from niche to mainstream. I don’t think we need 25,000 USD long-range BEVs for this to happen. 35,000 USD will do if they are self-driving and operated as taxis doing 100,000 miles per year for ten years and then recycled. That is 1 million miles service life possible with BEVs but not with gassers that get 200,000 miles service life. The vehicle cost per mile for such a 35,000 USD BEV is only 3.5 cents per mile (=35000/1000000). The savings from using a 25,000 USD vehicle instead would only be 1 cent per mile (=(35000-25000)/1000000). There are other costs like electricity for 4 cents per mile, insurance for 4 cents per mile, maintenance for another 4 cents per mile and operated as a taxi service we need some profits say 5.5 cents per mile. So we get about 20 cents per mile or about half the cost per mile of owing a 15,000 USD gasser. My point is if the total cost savings per mile between a 35,000 USD car and a 25,000 is only 1 cents per mile people will gladly pay it for the comforts that come with a 35,000 USD car rater than a 25,000 USD car. For all this to happen we need fully autonomous tech (no human drivers needed at all) and I think with every car maker and many giant tech companies working on it feverously we will get there by 2020. After 2020 it will not take long until all vehicles made are fully autonomous BEVs. The autonomous tech can be replicated as easy as cell phones and every car sold will have it by 2025 at the latest. It will take a little longer before every vehicle sold is a BEV because you need to build all those giga battery factories and also really large factories for electric motors and power electronics. They are like a 100 times larger than the factories making sensors and chips for autonomous cars so they take longer to build.
Musk said the new Autopilot could potentially reduce the probability of accidents when Autopilot is active with 66% so this is a very big deal. The subsequent data will show. Musk also credited Bosh for making new and better drivers for their radar that enabled Tesla to make it the Autopilots primary driving sensor. Radar is the future primary visual sensor for driverless cars because it can create better 3D mappings of the cars environment by seeing through stuff (like heavy snow and rain and even other cars and buildings) that lidar and cameras cannot. Cameras may still function as primary visual sensor at low speed for identifying humans, animals, traffic signals, etc when driving through intersections in cities. I have noticed that I and others use a lot of body language to communicate intention and awareness in low speed city traffic. We need cameras to identify such language and possible some new sorts of signal system on driverless cars that make up for missing body language and eye contact between driverless cars and cars with human drivers.
This is over twice the range of the 37,000 USD Leaf with a 107 mile range. I can’t see how Nissan will be able to sell any BEVs in a year if they do not increase range to over 200 miles and keep its current price. When Model 3 arrives in late 2017 the BEV market will be turned upside down once more. I think the Bolt will get a price cut to 30,000 USD to compete with Model 3 in 2018. All other BEV makers will perish or step it up in a big way from their current offerings.
Now I am convinced for the first time that solid state LIDAR can be made super affordable like camera sensors are. We need 50 USD a piece and this one in mass production (millions) can do that I am sure. Google is still using a 60,000 USD rotating LIDAR in their test cars. They need to show the world that they are more than a farfetched research project with utterly unattractive slow speed and short-range BEVs. They are not a leader anymore IMO. They say their LIDAR works in rain and snow but this is only half true. It does not work in heavy rain and snow that prevent the laser from scanning the area. Radar is the only sensor that works in heavy snow and rain because it uses electromagnetic waves and not light waves like the LIDAR or camera sensors. Radar can also see through dense vegetation, humans, and thin brick walls while still seeing what it is seeing through. I think Tesla/Musk has chosen to use radar because he wants a self-driving car that can still drive when other self-driving cars with LIDAR cannot because of really bad weather. When you have really bad weather is actually the situation where you wish you had a self-driving car with radar the most. All new luxury cars will be fully self-driving by 2020 but Tesla’s cars will be the only ones that are all weather capable.
Harvey ultracaps can do the job but also introduces wait time until you can fire again. Takes time to charge an ultracap. With a 500kwh, 2500k watt battery you can fire non-stop until that battery is used up. No wait time. That advantage may determine the outcome of a battle. However, we still need to develop those power weapons for BEV tanks to take over. A 2500k watt laser on a tank would be a dream weapon that could stop incoming misseles and grenades and shoot down planes and drones and blow up other vehicles or kill enemy combatants. When a 2500k watt laser hit an object it will evaporate so fast it creates an explosion. Not a big one but enough to kill a person or take down a rocket. And it can be fired continuously if needed to blast holes in walls etc.
I do not know where you pull the 16 hours charging time from. A Tesla can charge a 100kwh battery in 40 min. When cost is not a high priority as in military equipment you can install the needed cooling and power electronics to charge in 15 min no matter how large the battery pack is. 15 min is not a serious limitation for a combat vehicle. A tank will need a 500kwh battery. Tesla can pull 500,000 watt from a 100kwh battery so a BEV tank would have 2,500,000 watt for rail guns and lasers. Try and get that from a FC. It would be the size of a bus and its air pumps would be as noisy as a diesel tank at full speed. It is so easy to dismiss FCV that anyone still supporting it looks like a person without a healthy judgment.
FCV are not quiet. They need a dehydration system in the form of a really powerful air pump. Like a 3000 watt air pump for a 100k watt FC. That is noisy. By comparison a BEV is completely noiseless at low speed. And unlike hydrogen electricity is available and easy to make even near combat zones. Also BEVs can deliver far more peek power than FCV that can be used for power weapons like lasers or magnetic rail guns that are the future for combat vehicles.
Another startup battery developer to keep an eye on is SolidEnergy System that is expected to launch the first practical lithium metal battery by November this year. I am normally very skeptical of battery inventions but when a company is saying they are only months away from a commercial launch I am paying more attention. Their battery is 400wh/kg or 1200wh/l. This is a world record for any rechargeable battery cell. MIT news has an informative piece on the company. On Jan. 29, 2016: SolidEnergy raised $12M in Series B financing led by a major US auto company, and syndicated by SAIC (so I guess GM is the major US auto company), Applied Ventures, and all existing investors who participated in Series A. They recently moved from a small office rented at A123 to their own pilot facility in Woburn that will also house initial production for an unspecified drone maker. The business plan is to license the tech to large battery makers for large scale production. Apparently the developed battery cell can be made with few modifications to existing large scale lithium battery factories. The key innovation is that SolidEnergy seemed to have solved the problem with dendrite development in rechargeable lithium metal batteries that short circuit the cells after a few recharges and make them useless and unsafe. They have done it by making a new hybrid electrolyte that is partly solid and partly liquid. I am not invested in this venture but I think everybody that is interested in batteries should pay attention to this startup and their tech. It could very well be the next breakthrough for battery tech that will see real world volume production by 2018.
There is no shortage of lithium and there will never be. End of story. One ton of lithium carbonate is enough to make 2000 kwh of lithium batteries that will cost at least 200,000 USD assuming a very low battery price of 100 USD per kwh. So a price of 7,000 USD for a ton of lithium carbonate is not going to make lithium batteries expensive. Lithium prices could easily double once more and still not be a problem for battery producers like Tesla. 1kwh of lithium battery contains about 0.5 kg of lithium carbonate that currently cost 3.5 USD. Musk said 1kwh of lithium battery contains about 80 USD worth of raw materials when bought at London Commodity Exchange. Musk aims to make his Giga factory so efficient it only needs 20 USD in costs to turn the needed 80 USD of raw materials into 1kwh of finished cells. Interview with Musk 24 min into video he say there is 80 USD worth of raw materials in 1kwh of lithium battery. It is a good thing that lithium has increased in price to 7000 USD per ton because that leads to more production and investment in new production capacity for lithium carbonate which is needed. Consider just one of the world’s easy to mine lithium reserves in Argentina. There are 128 million ton of minable lithium carbonate in Argentina so we could make the batteries needed for 2560 million cars with a 100kwh battery in each car (100kwh requires 50kg of lithium carbonate so 20 cars per ton of lithium carbonate and 20*128=2560 million cars). There are about 1,500 million vehicles globally so Argentina alone already has all the lithium the world needs for its current vehicle fleet. However, eventually resources like argentines lithium brine will be mined up and other sources of lithium will evolve. The most promising is to make lithium from salt from desalination facilities. Such production does not exist today but there are endless amounts of lithium in salt from seawater (like trillions of trillions of BEVs) so it is not a resource that will ever run out like oil will. And any country with access to seawater can make it. Moreover, lithium can be recycled so the same lithium can continue to power the same stock of vehicles forever. Not so with oil and gas.
Anyone still doubt we will see fully autonomous cars by 2020 everywhere?
It sucks compared to Model S P100D.
Perhaps an industry will emerge for retrofitting old non-autonomous cars with autonomous tech so that they become self-driving. That could make them more wanted and keep demand for oil up for a longer time. Another possibility is that some oil exporting countries collapses under Islamist extremist infighting and that this will keep oil prices higher. That would have happened long ago for several countries had it not been for repeated use of Russian and US military power to stabilize the existing Islamic regimes. It is impossible to predict what will happen politically in this regard. However, it is easy to predict that full autonomy tech will make new BEVs more economical than new gassers in terms of total cost per mile driven. BEVs last much longer than gassers and cost less to fuel and maintain than gassers. However, they cost more to make than gassers so full autonomy is needed for BEVs to take full advantage of their lower operating cost and drive them 100k miles per year for 10 years. Full autonomy is also needed for BEVs to solve their remaining range anxiety issues and charging issues.