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John Williamson

The Electric Car (is a) Joke... 

There's always some nut that actually believes all the hype over "Man Made" CO2 and increased Global Warming and wants to save the planet. 

Well actually if you ignore the governments own paid panel of scientists with a vested interest and listen to the others or the likes of the Japanese governments scientists views, then its very much NOT proven "science" at all. 

There really is still much debate over IF global warming (sorry climate change now, since it keeps on getting colder for ten years now) is actually still happening, and much more over if any of it is caused by us!

Its NOT a fact, yet.

But even if you do believe "we" cause it, or even a small part of it, the electric car just makes things worse!  Read...

The US today converts fossil fuel into electricity at 33% efficiency, wasting most of every unit of fuel we burn in cooling towers etc. Other countries are similar. This is fact.

That's the only reliable figure I could find easily and non for the UK, but it gives you an idea. (from Wikipedia)  This power is used in your clean green electric car to charge it up.  So we throw away 66 percent of the fossil fuel at the power station directly...

It gets worse though since once generated at the power station it has to be stepped up via a big inefficient transformer to very high voltages to try and reduce long distance power line losses. Transformers are not 100 percent efficient either though. And this process only reduces further losses.

And there is another one (big step down transformer) at the other end of the high tension line too to drop it down to a usable level for your area. And another one locally near your home. And that high tension line also has losses that vary with distance / loading etc on the way from the power station.

So by the time the power stations already low 33 percent arrives at your home its actually considerably lower still!

Now consider that to charge any battery requires a charger. Even the best switch mode charging systems are at best about 90 percent efficient and more likely less. So if you had a whole 25 to 30 percent of your original fossil fuel electricity left you would be lucky! Lets call it 27 percent for the sake of this discussion. Less 10  percent lost in the fancy chargers so now its 24 percent of your original fuel left. Or 75 percent wasted in conversion, production and delivery to your battery.

But it gets worse... When you charge a typical battery you have put between 120 to 150 percent of what you removed back in to fully charge it depending on chemistries and temperatures.

For e.g. a NiCad or Nickel Metal Hydride battery should be typically charged for 14 hours at 1/10th of its capacity in amps.  So a further 40 percent wasted.  FORTY PERCENT!!!  A lead acid is similarly inefficient. Lithium's (Lithium Polymer, Lithium Phosphate and Lithium Ion) are MUCH better here but currently super expensive.

This loss during charging gets worse as charge speed increases due to battery internal resistance and revered Peukert law. At least when applied to lead batteries and to an extent to Nickel based batteries..

So you lose yet another third of that 24 percent that we had left even if you charge it slowly at least with lead batteries.

We now actually have about 18 percent of the original fossil fuels energy left that the power station consumed sat in the batteries after charging.  Whew!!!  Not sounding very good this "green" technology is it?

And if you don't drive it straight away some is "lost" every day. Called "self discharge" and its very variable. Typically between 1 and 5 percent per day from most batteries. So there's a hole in the fuel tank too!

But that's not the end of it. An electric car or van is very heavy. Double the weight of a vehicle and actual energy used also doubles...

So the CAR itself is now wasting more power and is less efficient due to a huge weight increase over its equivalent fossil fuelled version, every time you move it.  Batteries are heavy. And you need as much capacity as possible just to get even sluggish performance and limited range. Almost all the spare space is packed with heavy batteries. Its quite possible to double the weight of a vehicle in this way. Which means double the amount of fossil fuel is burned in your power station.   But this bit we will also ignore, even though it DOUBLES (or can double) the actual fuel burned!!! Making the end result twice as bad...

But we also have the fact that the batteries internal resistance reduces actual power available and wastes it as heat every time you take power from it. And at high discharge rates its quite marked.  Yet more losses in efficiency. Below:

E.G. typical 100Ah lead acid batteries (that you just topped up with much MORE than 100Ah) is 100Ah at the 20
hour discharge rate. They are actually a tiny bit more if you discharge them slower. And unfortunately very much less if you do so quickly as an electric car does. So yet more very marked losses and yet more wasted fossil fuel at the power station...  At the 1 hour rate a 100Ah Lead based battery will typically supply just HALF of this.  Only Lithium based batteries help here.

And then before it can get to the 90 percent efficient motors where you lose another 10 percent (only if you use very carefully designed brushless motors under the right conditions) it has to go through a similar 90 percent efficient "speed controller"...  That's another 20 percent of the small amount we left had left gone south.  And remember that the 90 percent motor efficiency is much lower than this at MOST speeds! Its only 90 percent it its BEST RPM. But again we will ignore that!

At the end of the day only about 20 percent of the original fossil fuel burned by the power station gets to the cars wheels.  And only in ideal conditions and with the most efficient systems, most are much worse. Think about what that means.  We are throwing away 80 percent of the oil/coal/gas needed to generate the electricity. And this is being kind and ignoring some HUGE losses, and facts such as the heavier car needing more power in the first place...

And then after a time we need to replace the batteries if used heavily. They can only work for x number of cycles or years. And that alone takes masses of energy in mining, and production and shipping and storage.  (Most deep cycle LEAD batteries are good for 300 to 500 cycles depending on type and usage, Same with NiCad / N/mh batteries. Lithium's are good for about 1000 or 1500 cycles used correctly)

What exactly is the point of electric cars again?  To save the planet. They are worse at everything and more expensive. But the one thing they are supposed to be good at, they do NOT do!!!

I have an idea! Why don't we burn the fossil fuel directly in the car? Its way more efficient and its lighter too with HUGE further gains!

And its got many other advantages like speed and not damaging the planet so much (if you are daft enough to believe all that rubbish).  And its cheaper and we already have hundreds of millions of them. So we don't  need to build hundreds of millions of new cars with all the energy and pollution that this causes. Oh. We do that already. Ever wondered why?

So how efficient is a normal modern petrol engine or diesel engine? Not much. Typically around 22 to 25 percent. But you don't have the extra weight of batteries to drag about that reduces the miles per lb of fuel burned. And it doesn't "leak" away while parked which is where most cars spend most of each day or night. Often for weeks at a time.

And it doesn't have range issues, performance or speed issues and a warm heater doesn't cost you range or energy costs since its waste!. And no really expensive battery to replace often at a price that has to be government subsidised when new, and that effectively writes of the car at renewal time.  Or the pollution and extra fuel costs that making them causes.

Also see WHY we don't cause global warming, although it is happening obviously!

Or a sensible use for electric power here T-Rex 500 Helicopter!




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