January 26, 2012

We Don't Need No Stinking Sparky Cars

Now is the time at SDA when we juxtapose!

State Of The Union, Jan 24, 2012;

"In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries."

State Of The Battery, Jan 26, 2012;

Obama-backed electric car battery-maker files for bankruptcy

h/t Ed S.

Posted by Kate at January 26, 2012 5:32 PM

Cue Nelson laugh...

Posted by: Dano at January 26, 2012 5:31 PM

The American tax payers should be storming the White House with pitch forks and shovels demanding accountability from the occupants!!!!

Posted by: DJ at January 26, 2012 5:59 PM

For those who don’t want to sign in with WaPo to read the SOTU 2012

The “has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries” quote is about halfway down at the White House website and well inside the WaPo firewall.

Posted by: Oz at January 26, 2012 6:04 PM

I guess Obama and his speech writers don't check facts before they post drivel onto the teleprompter.

Posted by: Robert L at January 26, 2012 6:04 PM

Its like a sick joke that became real.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at January 26, 2012 6:04 PM

looks like that isn't the only 'partnership' 'bama and his crowd havs going on...

The far-left nonprofit Media Matters for America (MMFA) has attempted to court at least one Democrat lawmaker as its “all[y]” in “gain[ing] favorable media coverage” in the ongoing Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline debate. Claiming an alliance with lawmakers appears to be the latest red flag for the organization critics allege has frequently overstepped its tax-exempt privilege

Posted by: Bemused at January 26, 2012 6:14 PM

Obama's thugs must have told the battery manufacturer not to file for bankruptcy until after the State of the Union speech.

Not like it hasn't happened before ... Solyndra anybody?

Posted by: set you free at January 26, 2012 6:14 PM

Wow, "progressives" are getting more progressive by the day. Barack Obama has discovered batteries!

Perspective.. batteries are what I used to use 35 years ago when I lived in the Third World and travelled in the remote jungle -- the Natives who lived in mud huts and wore tree bark for clothing were always looking for batteries to power their transistor radios so they could at least have communication with the outside world.

Then somebody invented the wind-up generator driven radio -- perfect solution for primitive people who didn't live within 5,000 kms. of your nearest Walmart.

So you see Mr. Obama, man advanced from batteries, to generators, then to coal, oil and hydroelectric, then to nuclear and so on. Even primitive Natives living in remote jungles advanced from batteries over 35 years ago.

My suggestion to Barack Obama: go back to his ancestral village in Kenya, Africa, and see if they are still excited about batteries. These people are using diesel generators today, Barack! The people in the mud huts in Africa are more forward-thinking than Obama.

Posted by: ricardo at January 26, 2012 6:50 PM

The problem is quite simply this: in the name of the Green Religion the government is throwing taxpayer money at things it simply does not understand.

Further, the gov't should be allocating precious taxpayer dollars to more fundamental research, and *not* on engineering. The private sector should and must be able to engineer products *without* free money.

Because money is easy to get if you support the Green Religion, companies are making engineering promises that cannot be supported by the fundamental science. I think in some cases these companies *know* this, but are unable to resist the temptation to line up and get their hands on easy, no-strings-attached cash. So they sell snake oil. And why not if the person handing the cash, namely the government, is so stupid.

But it's even worse than that. People are now starting companies to work on "green technologies" with the sole purpose being to milk the cow for as much as they can. There is more money to made milking the cow than there is to be made in actually developing a product that is viable.

Posted by: TJ at January 26, 2012 6:58 PM

On the upside...the battery manufacturing plant didn't spontaneously combust...then again it's probably never been hit with a shopping cart.

Posted by: syncrodox at January 26, 2012 7:00 PM

next Nobama will invent an extention cord, and, voila, electric car problem solved

Posted by: NME666 at January 26, 2012 7:02 PM

Obviously there is dire need for US taxpayers to bailout another industry!

Another $5 Trillion and the complete loss of individual liberty should do it.

Posted by: Markon at January 26, 2012 7:02 PM

The problem is and never will be the product/idea to the progressive. The problem is and always will be they never spent enough money on it. Example US Educational system.

Posted by: Mike W at January 26, 2012 7:16 PM

Worst president in US history!

The saddest thing is that no one is even 100% sure he's legally the president, except with wishful rhetoric and allot of blind faith.

Posted by: Knight 99 at January 26, 2012 7:24 PM

I'm shocked! Shocked I tells ya.

Posted by: Frank Q. at January 26, 2012 7:26 PM

Then somebody invented the wind-up generator driven radio...

The "wind-up generator" is called a dynamo.
First one was built by Hippolyte Pixii in 1832 using Michael Faraday's 1831 magnetic eletrical generation principle.
The problem has always been storage of electrical power, not conversion.
Chemical batteries are not 'clean' energy.
Try googling 'clean battery' and see what you get.

Posted by: Oz at January 26, 2012 7:32 PM

Someone should start up an ETF that engages in short selling all of the ventures that Obama's theocracy invest in. It could be called the "Profit from those that leveraged their investments with the unborn US taxpayers whose grandparents voted for a watermelon who doesn't understand physics and economics Fund". This could be shortened to the Watermelon Hedge Fund.

Posted by: John Chittick at January 26, 2012 7:52 PM


You wouldn't know where a fella could get a case of holes and a gross of tunnels (without trains) would ya?

Posted by: syncrodox at January 26, 2012 8:11 PM

Watermelon hedges...hhhmmmmm...

Posted by: Homer j. at January 26, 2012 8:14 PM

@OZ: "The "wind-up generator" is called a dynamo..."

Good points OZ. Today's wind generator (or turbine) isn't much different from the old dynamo. I built one in a remote Native village to power a schoolhouse and it worked quite well, but as you mentioned the main problem is energy storage -- reliable RECHARGEABLE batteries (I used 3 large truck batteries connected to a DC inverter).

But to think that wind turbines, and even solar can supply big energy needs is ludicrous. And they aren't even close to inventing a rechargeable battery storage system that has a large enough capacity. The best they can do is little electric cars, which everyone seems to forget RUN OFF OF THE TRADITIONAL GRID!

It's sorta like "taking from Peter to give to Paul". None of it is sustainable or necessarily "green" -- it's all just a shell game. Primitive people are more practical than the Suzuki/Gore types -- that's how they survived and the Obama greenie "progressives" would probably die of starvation.

Posted by: ricardo at January 26, 2012 8:23 PM


zactly...(practicing 4 twitter)...

Posted by: syncrodox at January 26, 2012 8:39 PM

Oz, Ricardo, and there's no solving the energy density problem with batteries. There's no new electromotive series out there waiting to be discovered. And the best of them, lithium, is just too unstable.

NME666: I'm sure that Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner could provide lots of useful advice.

John Chittick, I really like that idea. It's virtually guaranteed to make a ton of money. It's rare to see a group go 0 for Everthing, but the green slime at least are consistent losers in everything they advocate.

Posted by: cgh at January 26, 2012 8:51 PM

$118 million is a prodigious sum by ordinary scientific and engineering standards. I know of one company that was happy to receive about $100,000 for developing a specialised battery. Most researchers would be hard pressed to know what to do with that much money. Well, it is not much if you are flying a satellite - but it will build a small production plant.

One can only assume that most of the money went as kickbacks. Something like the Canadian gun registry - it is impossible that all of that money could have been spent legitimately.

Posted by: John Lewis at January 26, 2012 8:57 PM

A researcher in Washington State just got a $2.25 million grant to develop a simulator to train soldiers for foreign cultural interactions.

We already have such a simulator. It's called "war" or the "UN." Take yer pick.

Posted by: Reginald at January 26, 2012 9:17 PM


Life works also.

Posted by: syncrodox at January 26, 2012 9:20 PM

This whole battery deal is all smoke and mirrors...the batteries are so limited...backing out the drive and soon's the engine that supplies all voltage/current....when you tally all that up there is little or no savings....those batteries are gold...when you have to replace one////not like the tow motor batteries thats for sure...governments pushing something they have no knowledge what so ever..what ever the shills say thats law...SAD....///

Posted by: Ken E. at January 26, 2012 9:34 PM

I guess those waters won't recede after all.

From batteries that don't work to a pipeline that won't go ahead, Obama has been batting a straight zero.

Posted by: Osumashi Kinyobe at January 26, 2012 9:36 PM

And the MSM never reports it, of course.

They need to keep the Illusion alive.

Obama the Almighty

Posted by: DanBC at January 26, 2012 10:15 PM

As someone who lived with a battery powered farm,you cant pour electricity into a battery like you pour fuel into a fuel tank.It takes time to charge a battery and they start to lose power as they run down ie an engine delivers full power till it runs out of fuel,a battery doesnt.The motors slow down and the lights dim.The less power that is left in a battery the dimmer the lights are.Some things need full power to operate.Also while the batteries are being charged you CANT TAKE POWER OUT OF THEM.If you dont believe me READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ON YOUR CELL PHONE.

Posted by: spike 1 at January 26, 2012 11:27 PM

Modern Bush Sense.

If you can't find two sticks to rub together, either crash a Volt against a tree, or hit the Volt with a branch ... within three weeks it will burst into flames.

Roast your marshmallows as you always have.

Posted by: ∞² at January 27, 2012 1:46 AM

A small consolation I suppose but the other day I was in a hardware store and saw a display of battery powered drills. The new 20v battery is a lot smaller than the old 18v they had sitting beside it.

Posted by: Joe at January 27, 2012 1:55 AM

Get rid of gas, go completely electric...and OFF grid.
Those that can afford it, should remove their residences from the grid...

The idea is to have two banks of batteries, one powers your house, while the other re-charges.
Ideally you want each of your battery packs to have enough juice to power your house for 24 hours.
For some homes that may require two banks of 240 amp/hour capacity batteries.

With an automated timed switch set to say.. 5:00 am, every morning your batteries automatically switch from the dis-charged battery to the charged battery, back and forth every morning at 5:00am.
The nickel-Iron battery(the Edison battery) is the ONLY re-usable battery capable to provide life-time service for such an application...
To paraphrase Jay Leno...the maintenance on my 100 year old Edison battery is pull the nickel plate out and rinse it, pull the iron plate out and rinse it, then replace the electrolyte and I'm good to go for another year or two.

1000 watts of solar panels and a 400 watt windmill should be enough to re-charge your idle battery pack, in less than the 24 hours you have before your batteries switch.
Keep your grid connection, 2 to 6 hours of grid power 2 out of 7 days a week to charge that idle battery when the sun doesn't shine and the wind don't blow, is far cheaper than using grid power 24/7.

Posted by: William in Ajax at January 27, 2012 2:07 AM

Theoretical Question.

If you have a Sihk Canadian in conflict with a Aboriginal Canadian...What is the square root of the responsibility of the un-hyphonated?

Posted by: syncrodox at January 27, 2012 2:15 AM

William in Ajax, oh my, oh my. What a mass of confusion here.

"For some homes that may require two banks of 240 amp/hour capacity batteries."

You aren't going to power a house with stove, refrigerator, air conditioner with this setup, particularly not with this:

"1000 watts of solar panels and a 400 watt windmill should be enough"

providing all of the energy.

And this:
"Get rid of gas, go completely electric...and OFF grid."

is contradicted by this:
"Keep your grid connection, 2 to 6 hours of grid power 2 out of 7 days a week to charge that idle battery when the sun doesn't shine and the wind don't blow"

So are you keeping or not keeping your grid connection? If you are, then essentially the grid is subsidizing your peak power consumption with you not buying enough electricity from the grid to pay back the grid infrastructure requirement to meet your added demand.

And then there's this bit of foolishness:
" far cheaper than using grid power 24/7."

You seem confused again.
"Those that can afford it,..."

So it's actually more expensive than grid power, is it?

Just a few things you forgot. Namely the cost of building or purchasing all this stuff and the opportunity cost of your time.

Finally, just how many rooms in your house do you have filled with batteries? And is all the wiring that's been done here up to code spec? Does your insurance company know that it's not?

There's of course a few other things you forgot to mention. One big one is the voltage dropoff within 6-10 seconds of nickel-iron batteries. As the voltage continuously drops, you're going to have problems with flicker unless you filter the system through a capacitor bank. Modern HE electric motors are quite intolerant of voltage sags.

N-E batteries are also ridiculously low density. And just to cap it, their inrush capacity is highly limited, which means you may have problems meeting the inrush demand of any electric motor, like your fridge compressor.

Finally there's this:
"Get rid of gas..."

You intend to heat your home, how? By burning the carpeting in a campfire maybe? Because your cr@ppy-dappy little generating system isn't going to provide you with nearly enough energy when the temp drops outside and you see icicles forming o the end of your nose.

Finally, you really need to understand just how few kWh are produced on a daily basis by a 1000 watt solar array.

Riddle me this, junior. Have you actually worked out what the daily ENERGY consumption of your home is in kWh? Do you really understand the variability in solar and wind energy generation, given the 80% loss of energy production on any day with overcast? Since you're presumably running electric heat, do you really understand what your total electrical load will be? And good luck boiling water given the enormous specific heat of water. Guess there will be lots of stone cold showers with no gas-fired water heater.

But cold showers are all right. Running around maintaining all this stuff won't leave you time to reproduce anyway.

Now when you've actually built this tinkertoy setup and it actually works as you claim it will, then come back to us. We promise not to laugh too hard.

Posted by: cgh at January 27, 2012 9:28 AM

CgH..excuse my ignorance..
Ok my numbers don't add up, I was dreaming outloud...I'm NOT an electrical engineer.
But they ARE making this work in China and even here in Canada, did you even look at the link?

The cottage I visit up north has a giant coffee maker as an "instant water heater" on the wall in the laundry room, no gas needed..'s just a matter of having the right sized battery pack for your application.
Along with the right sized charger.

Better minds than mine will eventually figure it out, but not without some experimentation first.
I wouldn't dismiss such technology so non-chalauntly.

Posted by: William in Ajax at January 27, 2012 10:16 AM

Willam, your numbers don't add up by several orders of magnitude. And no, they're not making this work in China. What's making China work is one new large coal-fired plant starting up every week.

"Better minds will eventually figure it out"

There's nothing for better minds to figure out, because many aspects of the system are constrained by absolute physical limits:
1. The power output of the Sun is constant over time and we can't do anything about it.
2. The number of electromotive series is limited by the elements in the period table, and we can't do anything about it.
3. All of the electromotive series have already all been discovered, see 2.
4. Energy production from solar is limited by the energy imparted by the Sun to its particles, and we can't do anything about it.
5. All battery systems have very low energy density. The best of them, nickel-cadmium, is vastly lower than the energy storage in fossil fuel, which in turn is vastly lower than nuclear forces, either fission or fusion. And we can't do anything about it.
6. All renewables are highly diffuse energy sources, meaning that you need very large infrastructure to produce very small amounts of energy. And we can't do anything about it.
7. Solar power efficiency could be improved enormously in orbit outside the Van Allen belts and the atmosphere, but the energy cost to put it into orbit would require about 10,000 years of production from the facility. And you can't do anything about it. A gravity well is a gravity well.
8. Solar power efficiency can be somewhat improved by new materials, but their cost of production eats up all of the increased production and then some. Rare metals cost what they cost in terms of energy extraction. And you can't do anything about it.

In short, batteries are a mature technology, meaning that we've hit the physics limits of what can be done with them except for very minor improvements, usually offset by increased capital costs.

Renewables are a dead end because of variability problems which can only be solved by storage. And they are too diffuse as energy sources, meaning that you need GREATER material inputs for the energy produced, not lesser. And we need energy sources that put out HUGE amounts of energy for the materials invested in them. Like nuclear.

Batteries are too low density, and pumped storage means you lose half the energy from friction losses.

The final lesson of the day is that this system ignores what's been happening in energy technology for the last 1000 years. The world has been demanding more concentrated energy sources and methods of energy production and supply, not more diffuse ones. Otherwise, we'd still be powering our cities by burning wood instead of nuclear reactors and large thermal stations. If diffuse worked, we'd simply harness the heat given off by salinization when a river meets the ocean. But it doesn't work and can't work in our modern, high technology society.

Posted by: cgh at January 27, 2012 2:07 PM

William in Ajax, be aware as you see with cgh that there are a lot of engineers, scientists, IT techies and just clever people on Kate's blog that know a lot of technical stuff and will call you out if your facts are incorrect or weak.

Lefties, not saying you are of course, get regularly blown away as facts are not their strong point. Great blog to learn a lot of interesting things.

Posted by: dave at January 27, 2012 2:08 PM

But... but, cgh, Obama has it on good authority, from Steve Chu no less, that the USA will be producing a battery that gets a hundred miles a gallon in three years. He said so, last week I think it was.

OK, maybe not from Ener1.
Ya gotta have HOPE, man!

heh, heh, heh.

Posted by: BJG at January 27, 2012 3:25 PM

"But... but, cgh, Obama has it on good authority, from Steve Chu no less,..."


Stop that right now. I just about flooded another keyboard.

When I was four, or was it three?, I was firmly convinced that candies and nickels were made by pockets.

And then we grew up.

We gotta have HOPE, you say?
Isn't that a four-letter word?
As in, what famous highway is paved with Good Intentions?

Posted by: cgh at January 27, 2012 5:25 PM


"Don't need reason, don't need rhyme
Nobody's gonna slow me down
I'm going down, all the way down
I'm on the highway to h***"

Apologies to AC/DC.

Posted by: BJG at January 27, 2012 9:50 PM

Holy Crap I suggest taking oneself off the grid if you can afford it.
GOT that CGH...if you can afford it.
Missed that part did ya..?

I offer up a system that has worked for many others including that guy in Chicago.
He COULD afford it.
I offer up a few quirky(ignorant) ideas on how this system could/might work better.

Still haven't looked at the link eh?

There's nothing for better minds to figure out, because many aspects of the system are constrained by absolute physical limits:

I never suggested this system for anything but ones "RESIDENCE", I actually thought some of the brainiacs here would offer some advice or knowledge as to HOW to improve upon the system being used by the guy in Chicago at the link.
He somehow powers his home with it.
Silly me...
Instead I get a rant assuming I want batteries and solar everywhere for everyone...(Jeez)s H chri...

Oh and using electricity as your sole source of power for your home (IS) viable, regardless of your obvious bias against it.
Ever heard of the 12 volt system and the many products running on 12 volts.?
Ever live in the north?

Riddle me this genius, ever heard of a 12 volt fridge and or water heater, guess not eh?
I used to respect your comments and intelligence CgH, now, not so sure.

BJG, I'm no lefty, far from it...I've been a SDA'r since at least 2005, I've been shot down here before, it's no big deal.

Posted by: William in Ajax at January 28, 2012 6:53 AM

"GOT that CGH...if you can afford it."

Why bother? Grid is always cheaper and far more reliable.

"He somehow powers his home with it."

No he doesn't. He supplies a trivial part of his home with it. Because a solar array that small is never going to produce enough kWh to run a refrigerator compressor, let alone lighting and all the other stuff.

"Riddle me this genius, ever heard of a 12 volt fridge and or water heater, guess not eh?"

Of course. So what? Irrespective of voltage, there's still not enough total energy coming into the system to power a house's demands.

"Oh and using electricity as your sole source of power for your home (IS) viable, regardless of your obvious bias against it."

Viable maybe but completely uneconomic, particularly when gas is about $2/million BTUs. It's uneconomic for just about every price below about $8. If it's uneconomic, it's not worth doing. And you can't heat a house in Chicago in winter electrically off grid. So he's got a gas hookup as well.

Posted by: cgh at January 28, 2012 7:35 AM