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Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, entreprenuer
Interests: diesel and gasoline engines, cars, aircraft, railroads, electric drives
Recent Activity
Trying to grow too fast is a sure way to go bankrupt. I am an engineer and minority owner of a 5 year old startup that builds a specialized high tech ag machine that is best described as part tractor and part electric robot. 18,000 lbs of steel that we mostly cut, bend and weld in-house. 3 years ago, we delivered 8 machines, last year 22 machines, and this year we are hoping to delivery about 50. It hurt a bit to lose sales because we could not build production fast enough but it is better than growing so fast that you fail. It is hard to add and train quality people fast enough and then you must find vendors that can supply parts on schedule, etc. I have always advocated a more careful ramp-up of production. I have a lot of respect for Elon Musk and Tesla and it is great that they have that much interest but there are limits to how fast you can grow no matter how much money you have. Every new person you hire needs some training which takes time away form the existing personnel. Even adding machines takes time for debugging, etc.
@solarsurfer If you combine CO2 with water, the only thing you get is soda water.
I think that this is overly simplistic. If you have an accident at a higher speed, the consequences can be worse as the energy involved goes as the square of the speed. However, the cars have become better at handling higher speeds and the overall safety systems have become better. I live in one of those states with an 80 mph rural interstate speed limit (and 70 mph urban interstate speed limit) and our overall fatality rate has gone down and is even lower if you consider it in terms of fatalities per mile instead of just fatalities per year.
I think that the Tesla 3 may look better than the Chevy Bolt (and a lot better than the Leaf) but the Bolt may be a bit more practical. However, in my opinion, the real advantage that the Bolt has is that it is made by a profitable dividend paying company. I give Tesla (and Elon Musk) a lot of credit for making it this far and I really hope that they make it but this is not an easy place for a start-up. I know that there are a lot of die hard Tesla fans out there and probably more than a few GM haters left that will disagree with me but it will be even harder for Tesla to make a profit manufacturing a car with a lower price point. (I would also add that one disadvantage the Bolt has is the name -- who came up with that? But that is also just a personal opinion)
I am sorry because I wish it was not so but I do not see any easy path for an H2 source other than reforming natural gas. OK, there are a few places on earth where there is an excess of hydro power, Iceland and maybe Northeast Canada but it is still better to do something else with the power such as aluminum (aluminium?) production. Otherwise just put the power in the grid and burn less coal, etc. Maybe someday we will have an excess of nuclear power -- fission or fusion and we can have high temperature disassociation of water to generate H2. Even then, H2 is not an easy substance to transport or store. I just do not get the enthusiasm for H2 fuel cells.
Now if Obama would only approve the proposed solar pipeline, we would have an infinite supply of low cost hydrogen.
This is the hybrid I want one for my morning commute. Much more exciting than some dull Prius.
Better but still less than half the range of the Volt.
Yup, This is mind boggling stupid. They are planning to use low grade coal to make H2 which is more expensive than LNG??? For what purpose? Also, to liquefy hydrogen, you need to reduce the temperature to -253C which is non-trivial
What they are not telling you is the efficiency. OK, the catalyst is more effective or there is less platinum required and it is research that may lead to worthwhile future results. However, you will still be putting in considerably more electric energy than the energy that the hydrogen contains. This is a fools game to believe that this is going to somehow make a greener world. Just put the electric power in the grid and burn less coal or gas or peat (which has to be the worst fuel available but some groups consider it a renewable energy source).
SJC Just going by what is stated. They quoted 55% efficiency converting HYDROGEN to electricity. A SOFC may convert methane to H2 and CO internally but it does not do it without consuming energy.
From Davemart's ref The fuel cell by the British company, Ceres Power, called a “Steel Cell”, has achieved a world record 55% efficiency at converting hydrogen to electricity. And just as a amazingly, a 90% efficiency when combined with heat output. Various Korean & Chinese OEMs have already been licensed to develop power systems using the unique Steel Cell technology. I would not get very excited about this. The large combined cycle natural gas turbines are getting close to 60% thermal to electric efficiency and do not have the loses associated with converting natural gas to hydrogen. Also, my furnace runs at about 95% efficiency. WTF
mahonj Don't wreck everyone's dreams by doing some fancy math and pointing out the facts:) And SJC, you are correct. Small turbines are not very efficient but they are lighter weight. I suspect that this was more an exercise in styling and engineering than a practical vehicle.
I think that this project could best be described as green wash.
OK, it will do 310 km or 193 miles if you hyper-mile it under the bogus EU driving cycle but what will it do in normal driving. I have occasion to drive to Ely, Nevada and just outside of Wendover, Nevada is a caution sign that warns that the next available service (gas or otherwise) is 130 miles and the speed limit is 70 mph. To make it even more sporting, a large section is open range (no fencing for the cattle, sheep or wild horses). If you next destination was Tonapa, it is something like 167 miles and of course the speed limit is still 70 miles and hour. I doubt that you would make it.
Personally, I like the idea of a carbon tax. However, my politically incorrect thought for the day is that maybe what we really need is procreation tax.
Davemart et al The easier way to think about this is that when you burn a hydrocarbon or react it with oxygen, you end up with H20 and CO2 along with energy. These guys are basically reversing the reaction. They adding sufficient energy to split the H20 and strip an O of the CO2 and then combining the CO with H2 with enough extra H2 to go to CnHn+2 + H20. They even refer to it as reverse combustion. It always takes more energy to reverse a reaction. There is no free lunch. You can not build a perpetual motion machine. Their only real claim is that they could use solar energy to drive the reverse reaction. My question to all of these different schemes is if you have the energy and especially if you have electric power why not send it to the grid and replace the coal or gas combustion and not generate the CO2 to start with. If we had excess base load nuclear power, then you could worry about all of these crazy schemes. Anyway, the good thing is that some grad students are probably using this as a research project to get degrees and hopefully will go on to do something useful.
Davemart: This process requires H2 and CO (Carbon monoxide). There are using energy to split H2O into H2 and O (237.3kJ/mol). A mol or mole is just a mass measurement where you take the molecular weight of a given substance and make it into grams. A mol of H2 weights 2 grams, a mol of H20 weights 18 grams, and a mol of heptane or C7H16 weights 7 x 12 grams for the carbon and 16 x 1 grams for the hydrogen or 100 grams. Then they use more energy and some of the hydrogen to strip an oxygen from the CO2 to get CO. Anyway, there is no free lunch. You use more energy to get the liquid hydrocarbon than there is in the liquid hydrocarbon. What I was saying is that if you have solar power, just put it in the grid and if you need liquid hydrocarbons, it is easier to make them from the natural gas you just saved. This was a nice research project -- end of story.
@Davemart The temperature and pressures are not the problem. The problem is in the required solar energy to drive the reactions H2O → H2+ ½O2 ΔG˚= 237.3kJ/mol WSR [1] CO2 + H2 ⇌ CO + H2O ΔG˚= 25.2kJ/mol RWGS [2] (2n +1)H2 + nCO → CnH(2n+2) + nH2O ΔG˚~ -99 n kJ/mol FTS [3] (n+1)H2O + nCO2 → CnH2n+2 + (3/2n + ½)O2 ΔG˚~ 665 n kJ/mol ARC [4] See those KJ/mol. What they do not tell you is the KJ/mol they have created but if I did the basic math and chemistry correct (It has been 50+ years since I had college chemistry), I think that heptane, C7H16 (molecular weight of 100) which is a major constituent of gasoline has 47 MJ/KG or 4.7 MJ/mol. The last conversion takes 665 n KJ/mol where n is 7 or 4.65 MJ/mol, about the same was the energy you put in plus you have 8 H2 at 237.3 + 25.2 KJ/mol or another 2.4 MJ/mol plus the heat and pressure and other assorted losses. Anyway, the academics could have done the math for us and given us an efficiency but I am fairly sure that this is not the break-thru that will save the planet.
More magic with chemistry. I am just about convinced you can make any chemical starting with any other chemical if the atomic constituents add up (right number of H, C, O atoms, etc -- still can not make gold from lead) if you have the right conditions and ADD ENOUGH ENERGY. That last phrase is generally the killer. This was probably a good academic project but now what? I think that if you have solar energy, the most effective thing is probably to add it to the grid and avoid using coal and/or natural gas to generate electric power and now you do not have the CO2 to worry about. Of course, I would still advocate using nuclear power for most of our base load electrical power generation.
If you were going to build something that uncouples one set of wheels, I think that it would be better to uncouple the front wheels as rear drive is generally better except under low traction conditions when you would be driving all wheels. There are several reasons why rear drive is better on a high friction surface but mostly it has to do with trying to both steer and drive with the same tires. On a very low friction surface, front drive is more stable as a rear drive vehicle has a greater tendency to want to swap ends. Of course the ultimate solution is to drive all wheels independently with 4 electric motors which gives you the ability to independently vector the drive forces.
Looking at their mechanism with the 2-pass gear reduction and the double clutches, it seems that it would be easier to just have 2 electric motors with their own gear reductions and get rid of the clutches. It should be easier to control the motor torques rather than to use clutches to control the axle torques.
My company is just starting to use the 160 V Maxwell multi-cell modules to recover regen power from the servo drives instead of wasting it as heat with a resistor bank. Maybe we should put a green leaf symbol on our machine.
@mahonj I really need to be capable of going 80 mph and would rather have a Volt. But I also need all wheel drive and serious off-road capability (Subarus and their ilk need not apply) What I really need is a Volt version of a 4WD pickup or maybe a more economical version of an Ariel Nomad. Have you ever driven where you needed to chain-up all four?