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Where will we get ALL that electricity whan most cars are electric?

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Rownolds, May 15, 2014.

  1. Rownolds

    Rownolds High Mileage Member

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    I know we all hope and expect that in a decade or two the majority of the developed world's fleet of passenger cars will be electric. This will require a big increase in electrical generation, and despite all of our high hopes for renewable source, at this point it looks like a very large part of the increase will be from natural gas, coal, or other fossil fuels. Who would know, really? But the holy grail of energy production has been, for many decades, fusion. There are two governmental mega-projects pursuing this (The gian tokamak (ITER) and laser based (NIF) ), and a number of smaller projects by private groups. The reason "fusion power is always 30 years away" has been that the various approaches have all been working out problems that arise from the physics of the various approaches. In the last few years, one group's theory and experiments have suggested that their approach to 'breakeven' (more energy out than in) is now down to just a problem with the engineering*. They don't claim that they can make fusion power a reality, but they have a roadmap without obvious obstacles. The research group is Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, located in New Jersey.
    These guys have been working on a shoestring for many years, ever since NASA pulled all funding of small fusion research projects. Their biggest problem right now, frankly, is that they've never had anyone on staff that was good with the media and public relations, so their accomplishments haven't become known outside of fusion research circles**. Their experiments using copper electrodes have taken them closer to breakeven than any other group***, and they are now setting up with titanium electrodes (to decrease impurities in the plasma), and finally switching to beryllium electrodes (allowing them to ramp up their current to 2.8 million amps) will, hopefully, take them to breakeven.
    The beryllium electrodes are going to cost $200,000. To raise this they have started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. If they can get enough hits on the site and enough donations in the initial weeks, Indiegogo will put them on their front page and hopefully make the campaign go viral. No one knows if they can do what they hope to do, but I think they deserve the chance because the benefits to society are absolutely huge. Please go to focusfusion.org and follow the link to the crowdfunding site and consider donating. $10, $150, anything will help, because Indiegogo looks at both numbers of donations and total amount donated.
    Indiegogo also looks at mentions on social media, so please consider posting a link on facebook, elsewhere, and tweet with their hashtag, #emPOWERtheWORLD
    Any questions, let me know. I don't believe in a lot of projects, but I really believe that, like Elon's projects, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics is going to change the world.

    *Other approaches have focused on ways to get around various instabilities in the plasma, usually addressed by trying to create a larger plasma ball or pump more and more energy into the plasma. LPP's experiments show a close match to their equations, and their equations show that with sufficient amperage and a minimum of impuritie in thier plasma, their approach will work. Impurity reduction and amperage increase are pure engineering problems. They have a roadmap for this - check out the "science" link on their website.

    **Their paper in the journal Physics of Plamas was the most read article in 2012. This link is worth a quick read: FUSION | LPP’s paper ranked #1 most- read in 2012

    ***Breakeven fusion requires that the plasma temperature is high enough, that the plasma stays confined for long enough, and that the plasma is dense enough. So the way the plasma fusion research groups judge their progress is by multiplying their temperature, confinement time, and density to get a 'triple product'. LPP's triple product is now 2,000 higher than any other group's number. These guys are now the leaders in their field. Their temperature is high enough, their confinement time is long enough, and all they have to do now is to get their density high enough.
     
  2. Jason S

    Jason S Model S Sig Perf (P85)

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    A quick scan indicates this goes from "where do we get future electricity?" to "fund this project" very quickly.

    Here's a question: what other fusion projects do you know of?
     
  3. Canuck

    Canuck Active Member

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    Too much "con"fusion for me.
     
  4. Rownolds

    Rownolds High Mileage Member

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    Hi Jason S,
    thanks for the reply -
    I know quite a bit about the ITER and NIF projects, there's also Tri Alpha Energy and a couple of other private projects (ALL of which deserve government support, with the hopes that one of them, at least, will pan out.
    One of the things that the Focus Fusion guys (Actually they are Lawrenceville Plasma Physics. FoFu is thier 501c3 supporting group) are doing is being totally open about their progress, problems, and methods. Tri Alpha and the others are keeping their information proprietary. This strategy has worked out well for FoFu since they have been able to discuss their roadblocks with other researchers who are studying the dense plasma focus, and have been able to find out from them how they solved certain problems - notably ones of impurities and current densities.
    A healthy dose of skepticism is prudent with this sort of post. They rounded up about 100 volunteers (and I'm one) to try to get the word out about the crowdfunding campaign, and this is one of the venues I'm sharing it with. I hope the post dunning everyone for cash isn't too annoying ;-)
    Please take a look, Jason, and I'd be happy to discuss it with you in depth. email me at [email protected] if you'd like my cell phone number.
     
  5. RandyS

    RandyS Fan of Elon

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    I don't know about other areas, but here in San Diego we can accommodate a LOT more cars charging on the grid from midnight to 5am, because the grid isn't as highly utilized at that time...If we exceed that very large number, then more generating assets will have to be built...As long as we avoid peak time charging, we'll be okay for some time to come....
     
  6. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    I am already powering my car with fusion generated electricity as are 60% of other Tesla owners. Driving on Sunshine

    In our case that fusion reactor is at a very safe 93 million miles away :)
     
  7. Burt Court

    Burt Court Member

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    I wouldn't worry about it in this or the next lifetime...
     
  8. roblab

    roblab Active Member

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    I just ask people where we got ALL THAT POWER to run our Air Conditioners at home, at work, at the mall, at church, and on and on. I know some of you are old enough to remember service stations that would hook up a swamp cooler to your window while you filled up. The rest of the time, you drove the original HOT rod. Homes used to have fans, windows, screen doors. Businesses would have fans at every desk. People got used to fans beside the bed, or overhead. Cars had little fans that would mount on the dash. Tough on the passengers. They could roll the windows down, but at 100 degrees and 98% humidity, well....

    Air conditioners use a lot of power. About 5% of all power used in the US is for air conditioning alone. A home with AC emits about two tons of CO2 (presumably from the power plant) per year.

    Hopefully my not using a gas car somewhat neutralizes all that, but I don't use a whale of a lot of AC at home, either. But there's still the office, etc., etc.

    Those businesses, called Power Companies, seem to figure out that if they make more power, someone will use it. They are just centered now on making it more efficiently, with a little less Carbon footprint, with fewer peaks and valleys. But believe me, they will make it and you will pay for it. My utility has just upgraded all the transformers around here, specifically because of the new solar panels and all the electric cars popping up.
     
  9. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Indeed. I believe something like 70% of all US transportation (not just cars) could be powered using current spare capacity. But then there's residential rooftop solar power which could, theoretically, produce 80% of current US electricity use. And of course, lots of BEVs would mean greater economies of scale for battery manufacturing, which could only help storage technology.
     
  10. EarlyAdopter

    EarlyAdopter Active Member

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    Also, per household electricity usage has dropped three years in a row now, the first time that's ever happened. In fact, it's dropped so much we're actually back to 2001 levels.

    You can thank CFLs, LEDs, tablets instead of PCs, and LCD TVs for that.
     
  11. RichardC

    RichardC Cdn Sig & Solar Supporter

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    &
    All of the articles and studies that I have reviewed suggest that this is not going to be a problem for the following reasons:

    1. As noted above, there is much excess capacity in off peak hours (in Ontario we are famously paying other jurisdictions to take our excess power at night);
    2. As cars are typically parked for 95% of the time, there is great flexibility in charging when the power is cheap and readily available;
    3. Pricing can be used to prevent grid overloads (for example, premium prices for high amperage usage would incent electric car owners to charge at lower amperages, which is all that is required 99% of the time); and
    4. The falling cost and increasing availability of solar make it an increasingly compelling source of energy to more and more of the public.

    See: http://content.sierraclub.org/evguide/myths-vs-reality
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/2013/01/28/electric-cars-and-the-power-grid-how-are-they-coming-together/
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/03/electric-cars-101/index.htm
    http://www.autotrader.com/research/article/car-news/212758/off-peak-charging-for-electric-cars-saves-drivers-money.jsp
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/is-the-grid-ready-for-electric-cars-1.1023203
    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/03/fast-charging-electric-cars-off-peak-grid.html
     
  12. ZsoZso

    ZsoZso Member

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    Where do we get all the electricity to run a full fleet of electric cars ?
    Simple: from the same place where we get the electricity for refining all that oil into gasoline. Nissan ads said that a Leaf can run on the amount of electricity that is required to refine the gasoline for a similar size car to make the same trip.

    Furthermore, electric cars are mostly charged overnight when the load on the grid is low, while the refinery runs during the peak hours. So shifting the consumption from refinery to EV charging will actually help to smooth out the electricity production curve. Our current generation capacity has to be enough to cover the peak usage and then a lot of those resources are shut down or wasted in off-peak hours (late night to early morning). That unused capacity can be used to charge the EVs.
     
  13. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

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    Tungsten, not titanium. There are some other threads here already about LPP. I and others (PeterJA) have invested, in my case I think it is a long shot but definitely work worth doing.
     
  14. Reykjavik

    Reykjavik Member

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    We will unplug the power at the refineries and plug them into the charging stations.
     
  15. Jeff Miller

    Jeff Miller Member

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    I don't know anything about LPP, but doesn't their claim seem ever so slightly too good to be true? A near infinite source of clean energy from a system that you can build in your garage? And this possibility evidently completely overlooked by the many scientists who are working on fusion? The fact that the guy behind it is evidently also an amateur cosmologist who claims that the big bang never happened and that the universe is not in fact expanding (this is the first thing you see when you go to LLP's website), all of the voluminous and multi-facted evidence accumulated over the last 80 years to the contrary, does not exactly inspire confidence...

    But the poster does raise a good point. To get off of fossil fuels, we need not only get rid of them as sources in the current electrical generation system, but also in all other sectors as well. That is a very tall order and is the main reason I believe nuclear power (fission) is necessary.
     
  16. ReddyLeaf

    ReddyLeaf Member

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    Sorry, there is no need for a big increase in generation anytime soon. Scientists have estimated that 75% of passenger vehicles and light trucks could be converted to EVs and charged with the 2010 grid. By the time we get close to 75% EVs, we will have a completely different grid. My guess right now is that the percentage of renewable energy on the grid will exceed the percentage of EVs on the road (or even sold in any one year), for decades to come. Here are some links to the actual papers and discussion: My Nissan Leaf Forum
     
  17. Dutchie

    Dutchie Member

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    It might well too good to be true, however, the science is sound and have been published in peer reviewed papers. Two milestones have been accomplished namely the right temperature and the right confinement time. Rests the right density which - in theory - should be doable too.

    Yes, he has written a book about the bing bang - which he claimed never happened. That does not scare me. History is full of lone scientist who have been ridiculed by contemporaries only to be found right later on. Lately there are more voices that have different explanations of the red shift of distant galaxies. I too am an investor and a volunteer iin LPP. It still is along shot but very worth while perusing.
     
  18. Canuck

    Canuck Active Member

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    True. But the problem with that theory is that history is far more full of lone lone scientist who have been ridiculed by contemporaries only to be found later that the ridicule was appropriate.
     
  19. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    1. Half of electric energy will come from not refining the oil any more - to refine a gallon of oil, one needs to burn 4.5 kWh of electricity.
    2. Half of remaining half will come from small residential power plants (mostly solar, some hydro and some other source) that new owners of EVs set up in/on their homes.
    3. The remainder will come from new powerplants. Peanuts.
     
  20. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

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    There are home-built fusion devices already. They just fail to be useful to generate power. But I don't find the possibility to be surprising. And it isn't like he doesn't tell you how it all (might) work.

    He's not an amateur, he has a long publication record. And it was research into stellar fusion that spawned the insight into other ways of doing things. And even that paper about the big bang was published in a peer-reviewed journal!

    Yes. I don't want to sound like I am 100% certain that LPP is right, because I'm not. Maybe 10%. But it's still important, too important to dismiss.

    - - - Updated - - -

    By this logic, it's impossible to win lotteries.
     

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