Electric Cars versus the ICE

Someone asked today at The Oil Drum about the primary reasons one would favor electric cars over the internal combustion engine (ICE). I responded

Yes. To me there are two big incentives. One is that electric motors are much more efficient than the ICE. Second is that electricity can come from such a large diversity of sources. Yes, it’s coal now. It can increasingly be solar, biomass gasification, nuclear, wind, geothermal, etc. There just aren’t too many liquid options, and different liquid fuels may require different engines.

But I decided to double-check the efficiency numbers, and came across the following link:

Debunking the Myth of EVs and Smokestacks

Now you know a love a good debunking, so I had a read. It’s a bit dated, but the information was still worthwhile. I ran across Table 4, shown below, which I thought was quite interesting:

EVs & Power Plants ICE & Fuel Refining
Processing 39% (Electricity Generation) 92% (Refining)
Transmission Lines 95%
Charging 88%
Vehicle Efficiency 88% 15%
Overall Efficiency 28% 14%

Table 4. Operating Efficiency Comparison Between EVs and ICE Vehicles

The bottom line is more or less what I expected, but the vehicle efficiency at 88% is higher than I would have guessed. Anyone with experience in that area? If the efficiency is correct (also note Tables 3 and 5), that provides a compelling argument for electric transport. Now we just need to get those darn batteries sorted. (The plug-in Prius is only going to be able to go 7 miles on battery power).

47 thoughts on “Electric Cars versus the ICE”

  1. If the efficiency is correct (also note Tables 3 and 5), that provides a compelling argument for electric transport.

    Maybe, maybe not. Efficiency can be defined in many different ways. A man with a diesel-fueled backhoe can dig many more feet of trench in a day than a man with a shovel. The man with the backhoe is much more efficient in terms of trench/man-hour, much less efficient in terms of trench/gallons of diesel.

    The relevant efficiency number is the one that applies to the total system, not just miles travelled per unit of transportation fuel. That means including the energy invested in manufacturing & recycling electric cars compared to the same for ICE vehicles.

  2. Another point to note.

    I’ve seen quotes indicating that EV’s will probably average about 250Wh per mile energy consumption.

    My car does about 10miles per litre. A litre of petrol has about 9.7kWh energy, so my car’s raw fuel consumption is 970Wh/mile.

    If as quoted a gasoline engine is 15% efficient, then,
    970*.15 = 146Wh/mile actual energy used at the wheels.

    Compare that to the EV and it looks quite impressive.

    My point is, that I believe my car’s engine efficiency to be closer to 24% so,
    970*0.24 = 233Wh/mile energy used at wheels.

    Remember that EV’s operate quite efficiently across their entire engine output so the max power output of an EV is largely irrelevant to its overall average energy consuption.


  3. I agree with kinuachdrach(!) that the interplay between time and energy efficiency is huge. Way back when I did my calc based on the fuel equivalence of soybean oil (we can eat it for energy or burn it in our diesels) and came up with 684 MPG for a man on a bicycle.

    That’s one of the most fuel efficient options out there, but who has the time to bicycle everywhere?

    With current tech it’s pretty much one efficiency or the other. Not both.

  4. I think the table’s numbers need to be scrubbed, but the result will not be all that different. For example, some studies show transmission losses in the US are 7.2% (7.4% in Britain). The chart shows 5%.


    I think the automobile efficiency number are similarly pessimistic. I googled a bit, decided I didn’t want to pay for a paper, but I think the plain-jane otto cycle gasoline engine is quite a bit better than 15%, maybe 20%. Atkinson cycle even better, diesel even better, and constant rpm on any of those much better.

    Anyway, a couple percent here and a few percent there really adds up on this table. And since the source was a proponent of plugging in, I don’t trust it to show internal combustion in its best light.

    And then there’s the sizable capital (and energy) cost of building the generation and transmission infrastructure…and dismantling the gasoline infrastructure. Sure, it is “one-time,” but it counts.

  5. The other commenters had good points. I want to see the following test done.

    A Plug-in capable Prius with a full battery. Go drive 100 miles on a set route with traffic. How many gallons did you use? Repeat with 100 miles highway, etc. Take into accout battery charge when test complete. All trips must be done with the same speeds and accelerations.

    Now redo the test without starting the gasoline motor. How many kw-hrs for each?

    Until I see a test moving the same chunk of metal through the same combinations of start/stop, and that chunk of metal having the same regenerative braking, etc…..I don’t believe the numbers.

  6. Here is some research I did previously:

    DoE says that the average gasoline engine produces about 3/8 of the energy in the gasoline as mechanical energy. It also says a big chunk of that (17.2% of the gasoline base) is lost at idle, something that hybrids reduce dramatically. The rest goes to accessories (2.2%), drive line losses (5.6%), friction (6.8%) and inertia (5.8%). [Inertia=Braking, but regenerative braking can reduce that loss].

    Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA) is conducted jointly by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The data on the INL web site is generated by the testing activities of the INL. For more information about AVTA, go to the Department of Energy’s Freedom CAR & Vehicle Technologies Program web site.

    I found this report: 2002-01-1916, Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Testing by James E. Francfort and Lee A. Slezak. [PDF]

    I thought that the following was interesting and relevant to the above discussion:

    “As measured in km driven per kWh, the least efficient energy use occurred during fleet testing with the four vehicles averaging 2.7 km per kWh (Table 3). The average energy use for the four vehicles during the drive-cycle dynamometer testing (SAE J1634) was 5.4 km per kWh. The average EVAmerica charging efficiency results for the three vehicles was 3.5 km per kWh. The average fleet energy use results were 50% lower than the average drive cycle efficiency results and 23% lower than the EVAmerica charging efficiency results.”

    The four vehicles tested included Ford and Chevy small pick-ups converted to BEV, a Nissan medium-size station wagon, and the Toyota RAV4 EV. The RAV4 was the most efficient of the lot with 3.5km/kWh in fleet testing, 6.6km/kWh in dynamometer testing, and 3.7km/kWh in charging efficiency.

    To convert km/kWh into MJ/100km, divide the number into 1 to make it kWh/km, multiply by 3.6 MJ/kWh and by 100.

    I get 103MJ/100km fleet, 55MJ/100km dyno, 99MJ/100km charging for the RAV4.

    The figure I suggested above for an 850kg size small car was about 47MJ/100km. and about 2X that for a medium size vehicle. Roy above suggested 90 or 92MJ/100km.

    Note that we can convert these figures to gasoline consumption by dividing by 30MJ/l. By that standard the RAV4 EV gets 3.4l/100km or 56mpg. So there is a real efficiency gain in going electric, my calculations are completely screwed up, or there is the illusion of a benefit because the heat engine is back at the electric company.

  7. Missing from the efficiency estimate, understandably for simplicity, is the ‘back end’ cost of the liquid fuels infrastructure (either petrofuels or GTL/CTL/BTL) and the benefits of using the electric grid ie surplus electricity, overnight charging, load following/balancing, swing cycles, economy of scale in central powerplants etc.

  8. I beleive that the key is in creating the electricity we use for our electric vehicles be clean. In my attempts to create electricity from nothing more than gravity I have also developed a way to create electric generators for the automobile industry that are self feed and are 100% clean. With this technology could we not vary the size of the electric engine to be efficient in either the backhoe or the sub-compact car or the tractor trailer? The world is not ready for this type of technology as of yet (too much money still being made by keeping things the way that they are) but before long the money will not mean much and then we can move ahead.

  9. As I mentioned before, I translate technical literature on battery development. It is just a matter of time before much better batteries are available. And I agree on the superiority of electricity.

    But again, the discussion considers only the energy needed to propel the car fleet. In the future, will road construction and maintenance machinery also be electric? Are the energy requirements for building roads, bridges, and other traffic infrastructure being taken into consideration? And now that it’s winter, what about the energy for plowing and salting roads?

    Last year I translated a text describing how a public corporation maintains the expressways in one part of Japan. I am not at liberty to divulge specific information, but suffice it to say that a surprising amount of fuel is expended DAILY just to send vehicles on rounds inspecting the road surface, bridges, overpasses, embankments, and other infrastructure. When they find something that needs fixing, that’s still more fuel because then trucks and perhaps heavy equipment must be dispatched to the scene. And this is just expressways in one part of the country. Imagine how much energy must be expended daily for the whole country, including all other highways, byways, and city streets! Now multiply that several times for the US. Roads must also be resurfaced occasionally. Bridges must be rebuilt. Even if no new roads are built, just maintaining what we have requires a colossal energy expenditure.

    Last year Scientific American had an article considering what would happen to a big city like New York if suddenly people disappeared and no one was there to maintain the physical infrastructure. We can just as well imagine what would happen if the people were still there, but they lacked the energy for infrastructure maintenance. According to the article, without maintenance, New York would begin to deteriorate in just a matter of months!

    Accordingly, I don’t understand how we can consider how to keep passenger cars running while ignoring the energy requirements for the infrastructure that supports vehicle traffic.

    Or am I missing something?

  10. Ricefarmer wrote:
    Accordingly, I don’t understand how we can consider how to keep passenger cars running while ignoring the energy requirements for the infrastructure that supports vehicle traffic.

    You are not missing anything, Ricefarmer. The real measure is the energy used by the total system, not just transportation fuel.

    However, if we assume that it would take similar road network maintenance for an EV world and an ICE world, the same energy consumption would show up on both sides of the equation and not affect the comparison between them.

    The part about electric vehicles I wonder about is the impact of resource constraints on batteries (and therefore costs) if EVs were used univerally, and of the true costs of recycling those perpetually toxic batteries. It is not clear that cost estimates on either of those are reliable.

    This is not to suggest that electric vehicles are a bad idea — simply that there is a long & winding road ahead.

  11. You know, reading various energy blogs, there seems to be an emerging consensus that the PHEV is the way to go. The strength of the idea is chasing out lesser ideas. It is fascinating.
    Now, if only we geniuses who read the right blogs can rule the world! And, if only we can make sure the damned batteries will work well enough!
    By the way, a huge new infrastructure to produce electricity is not needed. We have it already, and it is largely undernused at night, when we can hope the PHEVs will be charging up.
    Moreover, it is easy to add power to the grid we have, and, yes, I believe it should be clean power. Build nukes, solar, geothermal, wind. Burn switchgrass to fire steam turbines. There is no shortage of ways to generate energy. I have always thought we should sentence prisoners to units of energy produced — they can produce electricty rising stationary bikes attached to generators. Plus, we would win the Olympics every four years, and the Tour de France (albeit, with a bunch of thugs, but so what). Just beating the crap out of the Frenchies every time will be worth it.
    The cost of migrating to PHEVs will be well offset by lesser oil imports, cleaner air, and reduced foreign policy costs. How much have we spent in Iraq? For what?
    PHEVs completely obliterate the doomster scenarios of the future. In fact, I think we are set to obtain a cleaner and more prosperous future. What is there not to like about PHEVs?

  12. DC electric motors are up to 92% efficient. Then there’s the motor controller and the wiring losses. 88% looks plausible to me.

  13. Please note that the RAV4 cited above was a first generation RAV4, and was about the size of a Mini. It was what is known as a B segment car (or sub-compact) less than 4 m in length and 1200 kg curb weight. The RAV4 currently in production is about 70 cm longer and 300 kg heavier.

    The 250 wh/mi. is equivalent to the 55 MJ/100km dyno figure for the RAV4 given above, but the real world test figure was half as good.

    I think that the key issue is weight. An ICE, transmission and drive line can run a couple hundred kg. Purely electric operation would obviate the need for that weight. But, electric motors are not that light and batteries can create the real weight issue.

    Right now there are no batteries that can hold 1 MJ/kg. The best current Li-ion batteries, which have not yet made it into vehicles seem to be about 0.3.

  14. This kind of discussion/debate is exactly the reason I started this blog. Lots of good links and information there. It will take me some time to get through it.

    Two things I thought about after I logged off last night. First, the average refining efficiency is not 92%. As crudes become heavier and more sour, it is probably in the range of 88%.

    Second thing, if we substituted a diesel engine into the graph instead of an ICE, then things change up a bit. Diesel engines are in the range of 30-40% efficient.

    Finally, that web page was clearly written back in the 90’s, so I wonder if a new power plant might not have a better efficiency than 39%.

    Cheers, RR

  15. We have to anticipate problems in order to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future. For example, people may turn to electricity for space heating, which would reduce the supply available for cars.


    Also, we need to keep in mind that the whole energy system rests on a platform built by oil. If there were no oil tomorrow (or no affordable oil — same thing), what would happen to coal-fired or nuclear power plants, or the biofuel industry, for that matter? The whole system would collapse. Therefore, we are still very much dependent on affordable oil, and had better not forget it.

  16. Diesel engines are in the range of 30-40% efficient.

    That figure is for energy delivered to the crankshaft at consistent RPMs, right? Or is that figure intended to include losses in the transmission, due to operation at a range of speeds, etc?

  17. Hard to know the realities until PHEV’s go commercial. There are so many things that can go wrong.

    Also Robert, I believe there are some combined cycle gas plants can reach efficiency of up to 60%. Although, you wouldn’t expect that to be the norm for a variety of reasons.

  18. Diesel engines are in the range of 30-40% efficient.

    The best automotive diesel I know is VW’s 1.8 TDi which bench tested at 44%. That’s peak efficiency at the crankshaft. Installed in a car and driven normally 25% is more realistic. Downsized gas engines get a couple points less but are rarely seen in the US.

    The best diesel vs. gasoline comparison is VW’s Golf TDi vs. Twincharger. CO2 output varied by 8%, so if the TDi is 25% efficient the Twincharger would be about 23%.

    The Prius, with its Atkinson cycle engine and strong hybrid architecture, comes in around 30%.

    Battery efficiency depends on chemistry. NiMH is notoriously inefficient, around 70% in EV applications. Lithium is much better. Poorly designed chargers are very inefficient, and fast charging typically hurts efficiency. AC Propulsion demonstrated 95% combined charger/battery efficiency at one of those “green car” competitions using their own lithium pack and charger. But the Tesla Roadster, which is based on AC Propulsion’s design, measured closer to 70% in a recent fast charging test.

    The DOE puts US powerplant thermal efficiency at roughly 33%. It’s true combined cycle gas turbines can achieve 55-60%, but they make up a small part of the mix. But they COULD make up a lot more of the mix with a PHEV fleet.

    I looked at CAISO data for a California summer day recently. Total generation was 860 GWh, with a pre-dawn trough around 25 GW and a late afternoon peak around 45. Single cycle gas turbines are the most practical peakers, and supply almost all CA’s power above the 25 GW baseload. A PHEV fleet with a little V2G would create a flat load profile of 42 GW, for total generation of just over 1000 GWH. But here’s the kicker — combined cycle gas turbines would burn less natural gas supporting a flat 42 GW/1000 GWh than existing single cycle turbines used that day to support the peaky 860 GWh. So the PHEV fleet would use 80% less gasoline and also use NEGATIVE natural gas. What’s the efficiency of that?

    Of course that’s just one day in one (very populous) state. Your mileage will vary. Still, it’s illustrates how straight percentage efficiency numbers don’t tell the whole story.

  19. After considering all the available technologies, some sort of plug hybrid/ICE combination looks to be the solution.

    We have big powerful engines in our cars to provide acceleration. Once we reach speed we use just a fraction of the available horsepower to offset wind resistance and friction.

    A DC motor can provide lots of torque and horsepower at very modest weight. It could then pass off to the ICE engine for cruising speeds. I would favor taking the ICE out of the drive train and use the electric motor for 100% of the power (the Volt). Then you could put in any ICE you like. Conventional gasoline, Atkinson, diesel, or my favorite: the Stirling Engine.

  20. RR – you are indeed correct. The efficiency numbers quoted are low and not reflective of current technologies.

    I often warn people NOT to look at the past as a judge to the future where efficiency is concerned. Efficiency is an economic decision, not a technical one. When most of the power plants in operation today were built, energy was selling for $1-2 / mmBTU. At those prices you couldn’t afford a lot of efficiency. Coal is still there. Gas is $8 / mmBTU and oil is $15. Efficiency pays a little better today.

    Modern Pulverized coal fired plants are around 25-30% efficient. Integrated gasification combined cycle can do 40-50%.

    The holy grail for power would be IGCC with combined heat and power. You could achieve 85% efficiency. However you would need to locate near a large, low or moderate pressure steam user – like a refinery.

    The IGCC has further benefits to a refinery. It can dispose of pet coke and recover the hydrocarbons from oily water streams. The IGCC can be used to make hydrogen (from the oily water), and provide baseload power to the plant. The air seperation units make liquid nitrogen. Which can then be either sold or used by the refinery.

    If you add CO2 taxes to the mix, efficiency really starts to pay out and gasifiers start to look really good since they produce a concentrated CO2 stream that is easier to sequester.

  21. King, don’t most refineries have cogen already? Not IGCC, of course. Note that a few ethanol plants also use cogen, with significant effects on EROEI and CO2.

    BTW, Stirlings tend to be heavy, expensive and inefficient. 30% is really good for a Stirling. The Prius Atkinson cycle is about 40% at optimum load/speed and VW’s 1.8 TDi benchmarked at 44%. Stirling’s advantages are fuel flexibility and continuous combustion (which helps w/emissions).

  22. The latest supercritical steam coal plants get 40-45% efficiency.

    These, and older coal fired plants as well, can be upgraded with ORC’s as a second turbine. That increases net electrical efficiency to 50-60 percent or higher. The added capital costs are significant but will be mostly offset by much lower coal and water use per kWh. What’s great is that we can do this relatively quickly at a reasonable cost, getting big GHG savings fast, contrarily to IGCC which is probably more expensive too. IGCC does have the benefit of easier CCS but then that’s not yet a serious option now and can’t be used for a large number of existing plants anyway.

    China has energy policy to increase the average electrical efficiency of their coal fired plants to ~50% by 2020. Of course, things are much simpler in communist regimes, but still I think we can do the same.

    In the future, waste biomass can be de-torrified and co-fired in these plants.

    Powering plug-in hybrids with such high efficiency coal and biomass plants is a huge step forward in my mind. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  23. I wonder how much it would alter the numbers in the PHEV’s favor if you could drastically cut the transmission losses – e.g. if rooftop PV became more widespread, a la the trend in Germany.

  24. It’s academically interesting that PHEVs are a more efficient way to burn fossil fuels, but the quantum leap comes with wind. A PHEV’s electric miles can be fueled by $1000 worth of wind turbine. That’s a $1000 one-time expense instead of $1000+ every single year for gasoline. And since smart PHEVs aren’t bothered by intermittency, they’re a great match for wind.

    The US buys 16 million new cars per year. A $5000 PHEV premium plus $1000 worth of wind turbine for each one comes to less than $100 billion annually. We now spend $400 billion annually importing oil and another $200 billion on mideast military adventures. The economics alone make this a no brainer, but switching from oil to wind also eliminates the major source of jihadi terrorism funding AND slashes emissions of CO2 and various pollutants.

    We are complete idiots for not making this our #1 national priority.

  25. Battery efficiency depends on chemistry. NiMH is notoriously inefficient, around 70% in EV applications. Lithium is much better.
    Table 4 did not include battery losses. If Doggy’s numbers are right that could be significant for NiMH, lot so for Li.

    My conclusion is that hybrids is a long term solution, not a transition to anywhere. PHEV offer the flexibilty of travelling all electric (depending on battery range) or going cross country in the same vehicle. Regarless of liquid fuel prices, some people will be willing to pay for that flexibility.

  26. Also, we need to keep in mind that the whole energy system rests on a platform built by oil. If there were no oil tomorrow (or no affordable oil — same thing), …

    Rice Farmer, at what price is oil suddenly unaffordable? It seems that a fivefold increase (from $20/bbl to $100/bbl) had a very limited effect on affordability. So what will it take? $200/bbl? $500/bbl? $1,000/bbl?

    You think those prices might affect demand (just a little bit)? Sick’em Benny!

    The problem with Peak Oilers is that they seem to have no grasp of economic theory. They all claim to understand that oil will not dry up overnight. Then they go and paint these dire scenarios based on the premise that on one cold day in February there suddenly was no more oil.

  27. doggy…”combined cycle gas turbines would burn less natural gas supporting a flat 42 GW/1000 GWh than existing single cycle turbines used that day to support the peaky 860 GWh”…interesting way to look at it. Of couse, the implicit assumption is that the combined cycle plants could actually get *built*, rather than being tied up in perpetual litigation.

    Isn’t it a fair assumption that a combined cycle baseload plant, even one running on natural gas, is going to be physically much larger than a peaking plant?…and, if so, a more likely target for political attack?

  28. Optimist, you raise a good question about the price of “affordable oil,” but surely that is hyperbole about $500/bbl. Let’s take the situation here in Japan. Just recently, the excrement has hit the fan. The government is obliged to enact emergency fuel subsidies for low-income families and small businesses. Some farmers who use heated greenhouses in the winter have already been forced to shut down their operations, and there is talk of giving them subsidies, too. Additionally, the hottest topic of political debate right now is whether to continue or cut the gasoline fuel tax (which is needed for road maintenance). What’s happening here is that, in Japan at least, the petroleum economy must now be subsidized. Yet oil only briefly made $100/bbl. I don’t know what you are reading in English about Japan, but under the surface, the situation here is economic and political panic.

    Because warning bells are already ringing at this price, the economy would have to be totally transformed to weather $500 (and such an economy, I guess, would use precious little oil).

    The need for subsidies means that the petroleum economy here is no longer viable. It can no longer pay its own way. So in that sense, the price of “affordable oil” under the present circumstances is no higher than $100/bbl.

    Take nuclear power. It has never been economically viable. Nuclear power is dependent on oil. It rests on the “platform” built by oil. It has been “subsidized” by oil. But now oil itself has to be subsidized.

    That’s my view of economics. It no doubt differs from yours.

  29. Nuclear power dependent on oil? That’s a ridiculous assertion. The three biggest factors in building a new nuclear power plant are the time it takes to construct, the interest rate paid to finance it, and the labor used to design, build, inspect, and certify it.

  30. Doggy – most refineries don’t have CHP. A Stirling engine can reach Carnot Efficiency, so efficiency depends on the temperatures of the hot and cold heat sinks. You could get a ceramic burner to reach temperatures of 1,200 F. If the cold end of the Stirling engine were discharging at air temp of 70 F, the efficiency could approach: n = 1 – Tc/Th or 1 – (70+460)/(1200+460) = 68% efficiency.

    If you could get to 2000 F efficiency would be near 80%. The upper end of the efficiency is a matter of materials. You are correct in that a Stirling engine could use a wide variety of fuels.

    Stirling heat engines don’t start up or stop quickly, making them poor choices for direct mechanical drives. Weight doesn’t have to be a problem. Cost today is the biggest issue. Nobody is mass producing Stirling heat engines, so they are quite expensive. Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway is working on a Stirling engine for distributed power production. I’ve always wanted to build one!

  31. I’ll stick up for Rice Farmer – nuclear power is dependent on oil in that you need oil driven machinery to mine the ore and process the ore into fuel. Although the EROI is so huge I think it self sustaining pretty shortly.

    Without oil there would never have been nuclear power. But the same could be said for solar, wind, and just about every other alternative. It would take a lot of horses to carry those huge wind turbine blades I see every week headed out to West Texas.

  32. King,
    I understand the argument, but I think it is wrong. That equipment can run on natural gas, can’t it? You can make synfuels out of coal/natural gas/biomass/wastes/… to run the equipment. Nothing is necessarily tied to oil – we’ve just been using oil because it has always been so incredibly cheap.

    The reason we are not seeing a rush to built alternative fuel plants out there is that the men with the money are not (yet) convinced the high oil prices is a permanent phenomenon. I think you would agree with that.

  33. Robert Rapier said…

    “Two things I thought about after I logged off last night. First, the average refining efficiency is not 92%. As crudes become heavier and more sour, it is probably in the range of 88%.”

    As I noted above the efficiency claims seems off. Kinda reminds me of the flap over the EROEI calculation comparison between gasoline and ethanol which was discussed here previously.

    “Second thing, if we substituted a diesel engine into the graph instead of an ICE, then things change up a bit. Diesel engines are in the range of 30-40% efficient.”

    Aha, I detect a logical error creeping in here Robert. One can’t chose between diesel and gasoline in the real world. Crude petroleum yields relatively set amounts of both fractions so somebody is going to end up using the gasoline the diesel-using Green Elite don’t use after they switch to expensive diesel engines *(see “Eco-Boost reference below). There is plenty room for growth in diesel commuter cars yet I wince at the thought of the commercial and industrial sectors competing up prices with the Happy Motoring set. Stoich is the best we can aim for.

    Likewise, a middle ground would seem to be to average all petroluem-derived motor fuels for the calculation in question.

    Btw, the DiesOtto engine looks neat. Who needs heavy fuel oil, eh?

    * Ford Eco-Boost branding.
    Compares ROI for competing strategies TDI w/ downsizing, diesel and hybrids.


    “Finally, that web page was clearly written back in the 90’s, so I wonder if a new power plant might not have a better efficiency than 39%.”

    Generic combined-cycle gas/steam powerplants get up over 50%. State-of-the-art replacement systems are pushing over 60%.

    Still lots of heat being lost for lack of co-located low-temperature bottoming cycles (algal bioreactor scrubbers? methane biodigesters? alcohol biorefineries?).

  34. I work for an Electric Car company (Miles Electric Vehicles) so my opinion is very bias. But isn’t the bottom line, that as we find more sustainable energy, the carbon foot print while driving and charging EVs is much less than that of a IC vehicle? Isn’t the other, and most important goal of the electric vehicle, to reduce the need for foreign (or domestic for that matter) oil while reducing our overall carbon output? Furthermore, there are companies out there that are very good at recycling batteries, in fact they are recycling batteries to make more batteries. How efficient is that? Yes, this is a very simple way of looking at EV’s vs. IC vehicles but what is the ultimate goal? Really.

  35. KingofKaty took the words right out of my mouth. Proponents of nuclear and “renewables” need a reality check. Without the underpinning of fossil fuels, nuclear power would not exist. Neither would the renewables industry. And that includes the large-scale biofuel industry.

    Don’t get me wrong — I am in favor of renewables. But without fossil fuels, how are you going to manufacture, deploy, and maintain the equipment? That’s why I think we must “power down,” deploy renewables ASAP, and husband our fossil fuels because they provide the underpinning that renewables need.

  36. Don’t get me wrong — I am in favor of renewables. But without fossil fuels, how are you going to manufacture, deploy, and maintain the equipment?

    You’re back to arguing that one morning in February we discover that *darn* we have no more fossil fuels (I thought I saw some last night…).

    OTOH, expensive fossil fuels will allow you to prioritize, and to eliminate those stupid food-based biofuels.

  37. That’s right what you say about expensive fossil fuels, but remember that nonrenewable resources eventually go from “expensive” to “unaffordable.” I’m saying we should avoid that as long as possible. We will never wake up one morning in February and find there are “no more” fossil fuels. But there will come a February morning when there are no more AFFORDABLE fossil fuels.

  38. If you want electric vehicles on the road, would it not be simplier to bypass the battery issue and simply let the vehicle pick up power from an electric grid endabled and powered roadway?

    That prevents all the losses associated with charging and discharging the batteries, as well as getting rid of the weight and space issues on the vehicles.

    Electric fault interrupter circuits could make the overall roadway system much safer than either liquid fuels or batteries on board.

    The grid goes most places vehicles go, and the few that go beyond the grid could still use either batteries or liquid fuel.

    Putting grid power towards the roadways also allows the maintenance equipment and vehicles being discussed to be fully electric.

  39. Optimist, au contraire. It’s the economists who don’t understand Peak Oil. The Peak Oilers have contended for many years that the problem isn’t running out of oil but its increasing scarcity. They’ve also said that, at peak, we’ll experience volatile swings in crude prices.

Comments are closed.