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Nick Lyons
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n markets with very low-carbon electricity, such as Norway or France, electric vehicles produce less than a third of the life-cycle emissions of an average combustion-engine vehicle. Norway = hydro electricity France = nuclear electricity This is key: massive, energy-dense, low-carbon electricity generators.
JMartin: Heat engines (including thermal power plants) generate heat, yes. However, the amount of heat added to the environment directly is trivial compared to the constant, increased solar heating enabled by the greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels. This increased solar heating continues indefinitely once the fuel is burned and the GHGs are emitted.
Looks like a winner to me: low NOx, so simpler emissions control; great part-load efficiency, which is where cars spend almost all their running time. It should make for a very economical highway cruiser (my personal use case).
Chevy Bolt looks like an urban runabout, but has 238 miles of range. Honda Clarity electric looks like a road-trip cruiser and has an 89 mile range. Who is the customer for this Honda?
Nuclear power may not be 'renewable', in that it uses uranium (and thorium, potentially) fuel. However, supplies of these fuels are so vast that it hardly matters. We can economically extract uranium from seawater, for instance, by raising the kWhr cost of electricity by a fraction of a cent. Supplies become essentially infinite, on human time scales. Thorium is even more abundant. Nuclear fission is the cheap, green solution. This was understood 50 years ago. Why has the nuclear power industry languished? Ask yourself, who wins and who loses?
Replace the solar panels with an SMR nuclear plant to provide a much higher capacity and compact source of heat and electricity, then you've got something
@HarveyD: Terrestrial Energy is an Ontario-based startup developing the IMSR (Integral Molten Salt Reactor), which scales down well into SMR size. I would expect them to be very interested in submitting an application.
Sounds promising. I will be interested to hear about durability testing, and (probably more important) cost and scalability of manufacture. Can these things be made easily/cheaply, potentially?
Based on my experience driving on icy roads in Alaska, I would want an override function to lock in AWD when needed. I will willingly trade that 4% fuel economy bump for those critical 300ms when I hit the black ice.
Level 3 autonomy (driver must take over at any moment) is a total non-starter, IMHO. Level 4 (complete autonomy on designated routes) is doable, since the driven environment is known and controlled. That's the one I expect we will see implemented over the next decade.
Well, $1,300 CA is about $970 US, so no quite so expensive on this side of the border...
What sd said. Aside from meteor strike, there is no credible way to cause these units to melt down. One of the big benefits of SMRs is that they promise to reduce the financial risk of building a nuclear plant. Less $$ to finance, shorter construction times, incremental plant ramp up, factory mass production, less risk all around. The benefits really kick in with the nth-of-a-kind project, when everything has become cookbook and efficient mass production has kicked in.
Great news. NuScale is the real deal. Small modular reactors will finally get a real-world proof point.
Diablo Canyon NPP is one of the lowest cost electricity producers in CA--operating costs are 3-4 cents/kWhr. Wind and solar are *much* higher, and only competitive because of Renewable Portfolio Standards which require the electric utilities to have increasing percentages of 'renewable' (but not low-carbon) power. Wind and solar are very heavily subsidized on a per-kW basis, unlike nuclear. Closing Diablo Canyon is beyond stupid. The loss of generation will be made up with increased gas generation, as it did with the closure of San Onofre.
So why are we closing Diablo Canyon, which is by far the largest (and most reliable) zero-carbon electricity producer in California?
From the Gevo website: Isobutanol has an octane level of 102, which enables blenders to produce finished fuels with very high octane ratings. That's the most specific reference I could find.
...If you could get most vehicles up to electric stop/start/crawl, you could save a lot of pollution in cities. Bingo.
I drive a 125-mile stretch of US highway 101 (CA) 2x/week. Speed limit for trucks/autos with trailers: 55mph. Observed speed of the many semis that use this route: 65-70mph. I think this is a good idea.
Better to use existing waste streams (municipal, industrial) than convert food crops to fuel crops.
I drove a GM rental with start/stop and it worked fine--hardly noticed it except for the indicator in the dash.
Besides the infrastructure expense of having tractor-swapping stations spread all over the interstates, the Pony Express model requires you to purchase many more tractors for the same amount of hauling than currently required. If the tractors can recharge in 2 hours to be ready for the next truck needing to swap, and the next truck always arrives just in time, then you need at least 2X the number of tractors. Load balancing, slower charging and dead-ending issues would undoubtedly require a higher multiple. I don't see how you avoid big infrastructure/capital expenses with this model.
Harvey: check out Terresttrial Energy in Ontario. They are on track to have modular MSR built much sooner than that.
Believe it when you see it. Raising expectations so aggressively seems totally unnecessary. Why not under-promise and over-deliver? And if they somehow come close to meeting these production goals, is it likely their build quality problems decline as production expands exponentially? This whole thing defies common sense.
Tesla said that the root causes of the parts shortages were its self-described “hubris” in adding “far too much new technology” to the Model X in version 1... Amen to that. I hope they are following the KISS principle for the Model 3, although the panoramic glass roof makes me wonder. A simple analog speedometer in front of the driver would be nice, too.