back to article Uncle Sam's boffins stumble upon battery storage holy grail

According to the head of ARPA-E – the research arm of the US Department of Energy – a number of breakthroughs in battery technology have been achieved, with huge implications on the use of renewable energy and electric cars. Speaking at an ARPA-E event in Washington DC this week, director Dr Ellen Williams told an interviewer …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Which in real terms would mean cars travelling 300-500 miles on one charge for less than $10 – a fifth of the price of gasoline."

    It's not just a matter of range and cost. It's also a matter of how quickly you could get the energy into the car. Can they achieve a charge rate equivalent to a petrol pump's delivery rate and as simple to operate?

    1. Steve Knox Silver badge

      At highway speeds, 500 miles is 6-7 hours. After that much driving you should be taking at least an hour break anyway.

      Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home, which (for most of us, anyway) can't be said of petrol-powered ones.

      It's a different rhythm, certainly, but in many ways more efficient.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home, which (for most of us, anyway) can't be said of petrol-powered ones.

        Having run out of petrol on a number of occasions and had to thumb a ride to the nearest service station with a petrol container, I'm wondering how you get the vehicle home for a recharge. Bet the missus refuses to carry the battery for you when the nearest is a few hundred kilometres away. And for what it's worth I've "recharged" petrol vehicles at home before from the aforementioned petrol container.

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Regenerative towing?

          I'm wondering how you get the vehicle home for a recharge

          I have seen Tesla's towed, but I'm wondering if towing wouldn't be one way to get some charge back into the batteries (slowly, of course, or it would be hard to tow). Regenerative braking without the braking, so to speak.

          1. Trevor Gale
            Joke

            Re: Regenerative towing?

            That'd give a new interpretation of 'one for the road'... (legally!)...

            Colin: "Sorry mates, can anyone help me, me battery's gone right flat?"

            Joe: "There's little blue pills you can get for that mate!"

            Colin: "No, I don't mean that, I just need to get home."

            Joe: "Ah, you don't want to keep that sort waiting!"

            Bob: "Hey, Colin, I can hook you up okay, gotta be on my way anyway. How far?"

            Colin: "It's 15 miles home but if that's too much it's only 10 to my bit on the side."

            Bob: "No problem mate, I've got some ropes in the back and 10 miles ain't too far."

            Colin: "Ta, don't get me wrong, I've already pulled but we're not into the kinky stuff".

            Bob: "Oh okay then, I can get yer home, 6 pints of the high-octane stuff okay?"

            Colin: "Yeah fine, I'll bring it round tomorrow. Tell me better half we've been playing golf ok?"

            Bob: "Yep, no worries. Ya can bring a funnel with it yes?"

            Colin: "Yeah. It's all the 'extra commuting' that's done it, never had to get a pull before though."

          2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Regenerative towing?

            I have seen Tesla's towed...

            What's a "towed"? Is it related to what the French call a "crap-owed"?

        2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          For what it would cost a simple bow up against the alternator could give you enough armpits to get to a station. And there is nothing to stop some boffin inventing a unicycle charger to fit a back seat. Then the spare passenger would be the back seat driver too.

          1. Vic

            For what it would cost a simple bow up against the alternator could give you enough armpits to get to a station. And there is nothing to stop some boffin inventing a unicycle charger to fit a back seat. Then the spare passenger would be the back seat driver too.

            Typical usable human energy output is somewhere around 60W.

            If the previous poster's 6KW average use figure is correct - and it feels somewhat low to me - that means you get approx 1 minute driving for every 100 minutes working (hard) at the alternator[1]. That is not viable.

            Vic.

            [1] Yes, I am assuming zero losses. i don't think it makes any difference to the core problem...

      2. uncle sjohie

        Since we don't have a driveway, and have to park in the street in front of our house, charging an electric car would mean running a cable from our house across the sidewalk to the car. And that goes for the majority of houses here in the Netherlands. I imagine that would give quite some health&safety risks, not to mention a whole new way for vandalism. And the people in those houses, constitute the bulk of car owners you need to convert to electric vehicles to make a serious environmental impact.

        1. 1Rafayal

          Put an extension (underground) to the street with a locked cover on it?

          I know it's not perfect, but if someone really wanted an electric car this would make things a lot easier.

          1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Socialism

            A dirty word for Amercan'ts but in Europe we have been using it to get things done for centuries.

          2. Whiskers

            Street charging

            >> Put an extension (underground) to the street with a locked cover on it?

            I know it's not perfect, but if someone really wanted an electric car this would make things a lot easier. <<

            That presupposes that the resident's car will always be parked in the same place. In many towns and cities one is lucky to be able to park within a few minutes' walk of home, and rarely on the same spot.

            Charging points that accept money or smart-card payments would work, but require that more or less all streets where parking is allowed have them installed. That would be a massive capital investment.

            Quite apart from the matter of actually generating the electricity to charge all those cars.

          3. Vic

            Put an extension (underground) to the street with a locked cover on it?

            Few roads round here have any ownership of parking spaces - you leave the vehicle where you can. That means I can't always park in the same street as my house, let alone alongside my putative charging point...

            Vic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @uncle sjohie

          This is one thing that so many of the advocates promote. They presume that everyone lives in a 2 car garaged suburban household.

          Take the UK Victorian streets, it's not uncommon to have to park 20m down the road, or on a completely different street altogether, forget about allocated parking, not going to happen, not enough space.

          What about tower blocks, converted factories, flats and so on?

          1. 1Rafayal

            Re: @uncle sjohie

            I guess all these people living in places that are not convenient for electric cars will need to live with the social stigma.

            At least until some SJW starts campaigning for "basic human rights"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

              Yes there are lots of people for whom home charging isn't the answer. It's a shame, but it's not insurmountable, shirley?

              Why does the vehicle need to be recharged at home? Why not at place of work, or shoppers car park, motorway service station, whatever? All these places can have fast chargers, quite a few of them already do here in south Birmingham, home in the 1980s to Lucas Chloride Electric Vehicles (sodium sulphur battery on Bedford CF Transit-class van) and in the 2000s to the LDV Maxus Electric (lithium ion powered Transit-class van):

              http://www.ldv.co.uk/electric_maxus.aspx

              Maybe this time round electric vehicles might actually catch on.

              1. Domquark

                Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                The car is a personal transportation device. The idea of which, is that you can use it whenever you want. Going backwards, and being restricted by charging times and places, and you are now removing that freedom. Given that, you might as well save yourself a fortune and get public transport instead.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                  "being restricted by charging times and places"

                  Many people already go to the supermarket, or workplace, or retail park, anyway.

                  "save yourself a fortune and get public transport instead."

                  That'll really go down well with people that "don't want to be restricted". Especially those not on a usable public transport route, but who already drive to supermarket, workplace, retail park, etc.

                  1. Domquark

                    Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                    "Many people already go to the supermarket, or workplace, or retail park, anyway."

                    Yes, but how many places have charging points? And two out of three examples you have given are shopping areas - how are they going to pay for the installation? Oh, of course, they aren't - YOU, the customer are! Expensive retrofits of high current charging points will ultimately be paid for by the shopper.

                    As a point, my local Costco has electric charging points. I have NEVER seen these being used.

                    "That'll really go down well with people that "don't want to be restricted". Especially those not on a usable public transport route, but who already drive to supermarket, workplace, retail park, etc."

                    And the moral is - don't get an electric car!

                    1. itzman

                      Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                      My supermarket already has charging points

                    2. KeithR

                      Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                      "And the moral is - don't get an electric car!"

                      It's probably a big ask - but could you make your "moral" have SOME semblance of relevance to the point you were answering?

                      1. DougS Silver badge

                        Wow so many objections to electric cars

                        Because it won't work for ME. So progress should stand still until we can make it work for everyone? Please disconnect your broadband and go back to dial up, because there are people who live in rural areas for whom modern broadband isn't available. You can sign up against once the entire world has been wired for broadband, and then I'll be happy to wait for electric cars until we can solve YOUR problem of "but I park in the street down the block not in a garage".

                        Just because some people charge at home doesn't mean everyone must. In fact it probably doesn't make sense to charge at home unless you have renewable energy. i.e. solar panels on your roof with a home battery that can store the excess to recharge your car at night. Otherwise it is going to be much cheaper to recharge your car on power that's billed at lower commercial/industrial rates.

                        So how you do get those rates? Charging at a 'gas' station, or better yet automated battery swapping or best of all swapping of liquid electrolyte. Charging when parked at work. Charging in the street at home or when shopping, in designated parking spots equipped with charging that automatically bills you (the plug includes data lines so the car can ID itself to the charging station and handle those details)

                        As for the "where do we get all the power to charge all these cars, that will mean a demand for much more electricity than we can generate today". Fortunately we aren't going to replace all cars with electrics in a period of a couple years, so we don't have to worry about that. Even if we did, if ARPA-E really can do utility scale electrical storage your utility will build a few huge tanks to act as "batteries" and instantly double (or triple in hot areas of the US) their electrical generating capacity because they design based on peak load while average load is far lower. With storage they no longer have to match generating capacity to demand, so their daily output capability is greatly increased.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Wow so many objections to electric cars

                          Nicely summarised sir. Some people might wonder if the dear departed Lewis Page had attracted a particular kind of audience round here, of the "I'm all right Jack" kind.

                          Incidentally, with reference specifically to the USA, I've seen plausible-looking papers that suggest that because the USA is significantly bigger than any weather system, you can supply the USA from wind power alone, and it's cheaper than any foreseeable approach involving storage. "All" you need to do is (a) install massively more wind turbines than you would otherwise have (b) install massive inter-regional interconnects so that windy areas can supply becalmed areas.

                          Wish I could remember where I saw it :(

                          The UK (and indeed most of Western Europe) is smaller than a weather system and therefore doesn't have this possibility.

                          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                            Re: Wow so many objections to electric cars

                            ""All" you need to do is (a) install massively more wind turbines than you would otherwise have (b) install massive inter-regional interconnects"

                            The US problem (the same one we have with our railways) is the fragmentation of the electrical system, meaning that for this to happen an entirely new generation of lawyers would need to be churned out just to deal with the negotiations. Is a trans-continental supercooled underground DC line cheaper than a nuclear power plant?

                            The other problem with transcontinental windpower is the same as the one you get with, for instance, a float glass plant; you have to invest a huge amount of money before anything happens. It isn't worth building the DC line till you have enough wind turbines in North Dakota, say, but nobody will build the turbines till there is a prospect of income.

                            The Chinese, with their command economy, might do it, but capitalism does make long term large scale projects extraordinarily difficult.

                            1. Anonymous Coward
                              Anonymous Coward

                              Re: Wow so many objections to electric cars

                              "capitalism does make long term large scale projects extraordinarily difficult."

                              Capitalism arguably managed OK(ish) for quite a long while.

                              What is now in power in the US and the UK (maybe increasingly in Germany and elsewhere) isn't really capitalism as such, it's corporatism. Not really the same thing, not really interested in anything medium or long term, not really interested in anything with a benefit to wider society (cf the Quaker-founded industries in the UK, and in the US, Andrew Carnegie and his free libraries in many parts of the world, and...). If it was capitalism many global banks would be gone by now, as would the American-owned auto industry (who remembers TARP) and so on.

                              The big banks currently consider their "long term" reward schemes as based on something like three years. Right.

                              It's not going to end well without a few changes at the top.

                              "a float glass plant; you have to invest a huge amount of money before anything happens"

                              Unusual comparison, but as a long time observer of Pilkington Bros (RIP) and their successors, I see where you're coming from.

                              Pilkington had their "oh dear, what do we do when energy costs increase" moment several decades ago, not surprisingly for an industry whose main raw material is sand and whose biggest manufacturing cost is energy for heat. This paper was presented in 1992, but they'd already been working on the subject for over a decade:

                              ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=167825

                              "Energy costs and energy crises imposed upon energy intensive industries are not exclusive to the recent past. The author puts energy efficiency in the flat glass industry in to an historic perspective. The way that the industry has reacted to recent energy price rises with managerial and technical measures is briefly described"

                  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                    "Many people already go to the supermarket, or workplace, or retail park, anyway."

                    And most have two, maybe as many as three charging points and that;s often only because they were installed for free and make good PR. I wonder what capacity cable was installed for those two or three charging points? Can they add more or will more new cables need to be layed throughout the car parking areas?

                    It's a nice idea, but I can see it being a lot more expensive than most of us expect, especially if the take up of electric cars outstrips the installation of charging points. There's two at the local council Civic Centre. Whenever I'm there, their own pool cars are on charge but the points are signed as public charging points. They don't appear to be planning for any extras "because costs and cutbacks"

                    I do hope it all works out eventually but I foresee much pain ahead with range anxiety being added to with "where the fuck is there an available charge point" anxiety.

                2. KeithR

                  Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                  "save yourself a fortune and get public transport instead"

                  You don't travel to work in London by train, do you?

                3. David 132 Silver badge
                  Big Brother

                  Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                  The car is a personal transportation device. The idea of which, is that you can use it whenever you want. Going backwards, and being restricted by charging times and places, and you are now removing that freedom.

                  But isn't that exactly what's going to happen? In the brave new world that's coming, as existing technological trends align, the masses won't have "personal transportation devices" - so wasteful, so consumerist. The future combines existing ride-sharing services with Google-style autonomous cars. If you need to go somewhere, you'll whistle up an automated travel pod from a public fleet. No worries about maintaining the car or finding somewhere to park it.

                  Also, no individuality, no chance to leave your personal possessions in the car, and someone else will have ultimate control over when, where and whether you can go anywhere.

                  Won't that be fun?

                  Only the rich and eccentrics will have personal cars; the insurance costs alone will, I'm sure, be exhorbitant ("you, a fleshy fallible meatbag, want to try driving on the road alongside the perfect, all-knowing Google AI? Ha!").

                  Bah.

              2. briesmith

                Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                I don't want to plan my day around where I can refuel my car. Sorry. I've got better things to do and they've got this miracle fuel which is cheap, energy dense like you wouldn't believe and in such easy supply that its price has been falling for the last few years. I think they call it petrol or gasoline or something.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: @uncle sjohie (and others)

                  "such easy supply that its price has been falling for the last few years. I think they call it petrol or gasoline or something."

                  At least part of the reason for the recent drop in prices is the OPEC countries trying to make fracking and shale uneconomic so they can retain their stranglehold.

          2. calmeilles

            Re: @uncle sjohie

            In the UK there is funding for on-street residential charge point installations which means that in principal it's possible.

            But it means getting your local authority to do it, which means the practice might be very different.

            And nothing there will solve the bar steward parked in my spot problem even if you do manage to get one installed.

            https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-funding-for-residential-on-street-charging-for-plug-in-vehicles-a-guide-for-members-of-the-public

          3. Tom 13

            Re: @uncle sjohie

            Well, if you're going to make the sort of unicorn fart powered car assumptions the greens make, adding in a public plug at every car parking spot interval is small potatoes. I've even seen the first two Tesla power stations at my local grocery store just last week. I can't wait for the public to finally see through these boondoggles.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @uncle sjohie

            charging points in all streets.

            Put your card in, plug the car in, and leave.

            IF - and it is an IF - electric cars become reasonable, that's how it will happen

          5. Longtemps, je me suis couche de bonne heure

            Re: @uncle sjohie

            My local Sainsbury has about 15 charging points.

            Also, as soon as they start providing contactless charging bays at Sainsbury, your self-driving car will be able to go out on its own, during the day, foraging for nearby electricity whenever it gets hungry.

            And then when they achieve Artificial Intelligence as a result of the Darwinian stresses of driving in south-west London, they can socialise there, too - and the marketing people can start to exploit them by offering different types of higher status electricity - "Mine's a tall, green, skinny lattetricty..."

        3. tirk

          @uncle sjohie - no driveway

          Lots of people seem to run charge cables across the sidewalk/pavement where I live (Wimbledon, a suburb of London, where the vast majority of houses don't have a driveway). Never tripped over one yet, and heard of anyone complaining.

        4. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Maybe not

          In my neighborhood in Washington, DC, I often see an electric car parked at the curb, charging with a line run from the house. Admittedly there is no sidewalk there, so people walk in the street. Still, I'd think the main health and safety risk, if circuit is properly wired, would be tripping over the line. There is not a great deal of vandalism of cars around here, and I have always supposed the Netherlands to be more law abiding than the US.

        5. H in The Hague Silver badge

          I'm also based in NL and the council have installed quite a number of 2-car charging posts in my area here in The Hague and they seem to be in regular use. One of my customers has charging points in their car park, as do Ikea.

      3. Chris Miller

        @Steve

        Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home, which (for most of us, anyway) can't be said of petrol-powered ones.

        I've recently bought an electric car* (plug-in hybrid). It has a 10kW battery giving a pure electric range of "up to" 30 miles (realistically, more like 20). It takes over 5 hours to recharge from empty using a 10A (2.4kW) socket at home - how long would it take to charge a car capable of a realistic 400 mile range (like most internal combustion vehicles)? It's true that I can pay (several hundred pounds, even with subsidies) to have a 16A charger installed, which would cut the time to 3½ hrs, but it hardly seems worth it for a relatively small gain.

        Public 'fast' chargers can deliver up to 60kW, but they're designed to stop charging at 80-85% 'full' (my antique A-level physics suggests to me that this is because the battery 'resistance' rises to the point where the heat generated (and energy lost) during charging becomes insupportable - can anyone confirm this idea?) But making such chargers universal would require rewiring every home in the country (and corresponding improvements to electricity generation and distribution)

        FWIW I really like the car and it's saving me a lot of money (measured 90 mpg - equivalent to 60 mpg once I include the cost of electricity) and that's for a substantial SUV. There's a Register review (of the old model) here.

        * Full disclosure: the decision was almost entirely the result of government subsidies and little to do with any desire to save the planet.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: @Steve

          "a car capable of a realistic 400 mile range (like most internal combustion vehicles)?"

          Is that pure town driving? I'd be very underwhelmed if I only got 400 miles from a tank of diesel. 700-800 is more like my normal expectations, mainly motorway driving.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home

        That is assuming you have the electricity to do it in reasonable time as well as the money to pay for it.

        Another thing, where is all of this electricity coming from?

        1. handle

          "Another thing, where is all of this electricity coming from?"

          From renewables producing at the the time, and the same technology being used to store energy from renewables not producing at the time.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: "Another thing, where is all of this electricity coming from?"

            "From renewables producing at the the time,"

            If you carpeted the UK in Windmills(*) and solar PV you'd _just_ be able to match the current output of the UK power generation fleet.

            Now, factor in gas/oil heating being phased out (at least double the capacity required) and a more-electric vehicle fleet (double that again, and then some)

            "and the same technology being used to store energy from renewables not producing at the time."

            ~30% loss in energy during charge/discharge cycle translates to ~50% increase in the amount of generation capacity required.

            You're better off investing the money spent on "renewables" (which aren't green in the slightest and expensive to operate thanks to windmills eating gearboxes at a prodigious & solar PV being an environmental disaster where they're manufactured, as well as cells only having a 8 year economic lifespan) in R&D for better nuclear fleets.

            Fusion's probably 100 years away, but molten salt systems are safe enough (no pressurisation, no radioactive steam, no fire risk, can't explode and don't need water cooling) that they can be sited near populated areas to provide district heating/cooling schemes, once they're commercialised. LFTR systems would reduce the waste output of a current plant (about one olympic-size swimming pool with a layer of high level waste on the bottom per reactor, per 60-year lifespan) down to 1% of that whilst simultaneously reducing physical waste on the input by 60% (that's how much raw uranium doesn't get to see the inside of a reactor after the enrichment process) and a shedload of energy (enrichment costs are a military classified secret, even for civilian fuel supplies, but it's extremely high)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Another thing, where is all of this electricity coming from?"

              "If you carpeted the UK in Windmills(*) and solar PV you'd _just_ be able to match the current output of the UK power generation fleet."

              Cite: Prof Sir David Mackay, FRS, in his excellent book of facts, numbers, and logic:

              Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air, freely downloadable at

              http://www.withouthotair.com/ (there's an executive summary too)

              or, specifically focusing on how much ground (or sea) area does the UK need for its energy supply, there's his 18minute TedTalk at

              https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mackay_a_reality_check_on_renewables?language=en

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

          Come back when you've looked at the numbers.

          Here are some starting assumptions: the electric car is the 2nd car, or other vehicle used for school run, shopping, or part time local commute. There's a lot of those about. Assume the charger is a plug in (3kW max).

          If you do do the numbers, you'll find that for typical round-town use, the time taken to recharge your electric car from a charger at home is very very roughly the same as the time spent driving. So an hour's drive, an hour or two's charge. The time taken to recharge from a fast charger at work or shopping centre will obviously be significantly less.

          Still see a big problem?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

            So an hour's drive, an hour or two's charge. The time taken to recharge from a fast charger at work or shopping centre will obviously be significantly less.

            Still see a big problem?

            Yes. Forget the maths, do the physics. You're looking at charging:use ratios well below 1:1

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

              "You're looking at charging:use ratios well below 1:1"

              Never mind the physics, what the eff is that supposed to mean?

              ps

              I are physicist. What you?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                Never mind the physics, what the eff is that supposed to mean?

                Precisely what it says. You need to charge for 'n' hours to use it for 'm'. The ratio of n to m is much worse than 1:1. If you charge your phone for an hour can you make an hour-long call? Like fuck you can, it'll be lucky to give you 15 minutes. Same for a car.

                I are physicist. What you?

                A chartered electrical engineer.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                  Phones? Phones use lots of power when in a call, and a near negligible amount when in standby (well, pre-smartphone, anyway). Same with cars - lots of power when accelerator is hard down, much much less when travelling normally, when there's just air resistance and rolling resistance to overcome, and maybe accessories to operate. Also, electric vehicles have regenerative braking which recovers some kinetic energy when braking; no equivalent on phones.

                  In an earlier post you can see my worked example, with facts, numbers, and logic, based on Mackay-derived figures. I don't intend to repeat it here, but for simplicity I'll come at it from another angle.

                  For the sake of simplicity I'm going to ignore charging losses. You may wish to do otherwise and adjust the answers by a few percent.

                  A commuter-run or school-run vehicle does not use anything like maximum power for any significant proportion of the journey. Its average power use will be much less (especially given regenerative braking) than the battery output power or motor output power. Increased use of the right foot will cause an increase in average power consumption. I'm assuming lots of slow or stationary traffic around town. Sustained motorway-class speeds will also change the numbers.

                  So, if you have a 3kW charger and your power consumption while driving is *on average* 6kW (after accounting for regenerative braking), then if you drive that way for one hour it takes two hours to recharge.

                  Obviously a fast charger will be quicker, depending on the available power.

                  What, other than the explicit disregard of charging losses, is wrong with that?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                    What, other than the explicit disregard of charging losses, is wrong with that?

                    Physics, or perhaps electrochemistry.

                    Current battery technology doesn't permit charging at anything lke the same rate as discharge, for reasonable battery life you're looking at charge rates of C/5 with charge times of 2-6x discharge. Take a battery rated at 3KW discharge and fill it at 6KW and those charging losses you're so blithely disregarding may reassert themselves in a fairly spectacular fashion. Your battery won't be good for more than a small number of cycles if (ab)used that way.

                    Now, maybe some novel new battery technology will change that, or supercapacitors may become energy-dense enough, but for today's battery technology it's a non-starter.

                2. Col_Panek

                  Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                  The difference is that you don't normally drive your car all day like you run your phone.

                3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                  Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                  "If you charge your phone for an hour can you make an hour-long call? Like fuck you can, it'll be lucky to give you 15 minutes. Same for a car.

                  I are physicist. What you?

                  A chartered electrical engineer."

                  I am neither a physicist nor a chartered electrical engineer, but my phone takes a little over three hours to charge and a 1 hour 3g phone call drops the battery charge by typically 10%.

                  Reminds me of an account many years ago in Wireless World about some poly lecturers arguing in the lab about the phase of the AC voltage out from a coil with co-wound primary and secondary. It took some time before one of them went and got some wire, some ferrite, and hooked it up to a signal generator and an oscilloscope.

                4. Deckard_C

                  Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                  "Never mind the physics, what the eff is that supposed to mean?

                  Precisely what it says. You need to charge for 'n' hours to use it for 'm'. The ratio of n to m is much worse than 1:1. If you charge your phone for an hour can you make an hour-long call? Like fuck you can, it'll be lucky to give you 15 minutes. Same for a car.

                  I are physicist. What you?

                  A chartered electrical engineer."

                  Who doesn't know about battery charging. Most battery types can be fast charged at C1 which is full charge amount in an hour, although you do lose some in heat at that rate so not 100% charged and the final bit to full charge need to be done slower with li-ion types. So if your battery can last an hour for a call you can charge it in an hour. Providing you are charging at C1. Which is why you need those 2A USB power supplies to charge your phone quickly and takes a lot longer when you plug it in to computer standard USB port is probably only supplying 500mA

                  If your battery can give you 2 hours call time on full charge. It's a lot easier to get it 50% charged in an hour for an hour call time as you aren't needing to do the final slower bit to get to 100%.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                    Most battery types can be fast charged at C1 which is full charge amount in an hour,

                    Some, not most, and you'll only get 30-50 usable charge cycles out of a battery treated like that.

                5. Dick_Durkin

                  Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                  Ahh, a chartered electrical engineer... met them before!

                  Who says you have to charge at the same rate you're using the battery!? If I charge my phone for an hour it works for a day and a half ....quite possibly the charger is charging at many more W/hr than the phone uses.....

                  HND electrical engineer

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                    "Ahh, a chartered electrical engineer... met them before!"

                    Be grateful he wasn't a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology. I've had the pleasure of working near a couple of them whilst working a a well known blue chip outfit. One was a nice chap who was encouraging as many people as poss to get Chartered, whilst offering zero support in terms of time or funding to make it happen. The other one was just a downright liar who was dangerously clueless on his chosen specialist subject.

                    There may be some perfectly decent ones elsewhere too, who don't stick out like sore thumbs.

                    If the IET has a mechanism for disqualifying the incapable, I'd love to hear about it.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                      If the IET has a mechanism for disqualifying the incapable, I'd love to hear about it.

                      It's not up to the IET. Chartered status is conferred/removed by the Engineering Council, see http://www.engc.org.uk/

                      Membership or Fellowship of a professional institution like the IET is only one of the criteria. Proven continuing professional development is another.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Chartered Injuneer

                        Proven continuing professional development is another (criterion)

                        Not if you're old enough, it isn't. I think I could have got it through grandfathered rights up to about 10 years ago, but it was just too much hassle. You just needed a degree or equiv and proven capability for 4+ years or so.

                        I went to a session plugging it at Savoy Place, but the eejits at the IEE (as it then was) didn't get back to me, I couldn't be arsed to chase, and chartered status makes f-all difference to me and those I work with/for now. I eschew vendor quals too.....

                        As an aside, isn't the IET magazine a comic these days ?? I read better analysis and more correct tech in El Reg

            2. Steve Knox Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

              "Forget the maths, do the physics."

              Do you realize what you just said? Doing physics without math is like cooking without food.

              "You're looking at charging:use ratios well below 1:1."

              A charging:use ratio well below 1:1 would be very good. A use:charging ratio below 1:1 would not.

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                Doing physics without math is like cooking without food.

                Which is what I'm told most people do given that supermarkets specialise in food-like substances rather than food. The local supermarket "The Fresh Food People" does sell vegetables, though describing them as "fresh" is very much an exaggeration.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: " the electricity to do it in reasonable time"

                Doing physics without math is like cooking without food.

                Fair enough, I should have said, do the physics as well.

        3. John 104

          Coal

          It comes from Coal. Or Nuke. Some lucky ones get hydro. So, most of the idiots out there who think they are so green are driving coal or nuclear powered cars.

        4. willi0000000

          where is all of this electricity coming from?

          the same fluid used for storing energy from renewables for use when they are not producing can be used in an automobile . . . this would further increase the incentive to use renewables which could make up for the gap in production from the extra demand from electric automobiles.

          as for recharging at home, just keep a few gallons of the fluid in a can somewhere at home (i think some (all?) of them are even non-flammable) and with some clever kit you could probably reprocess it back to it's original energy content for the next use or just take it back to the station and swap it for usable.

          i'm seeing this technology used like filling stations are used now but with a slight difference . . . when you connect to the pump you need two hoses, one to suck out the used fluid tank and one to fill the fresh fluid tank.

        5. Uffish

          Electricity

          The electricity will come from windmills of course - anything else is unthinkable.

      5. Domquark

        "Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home, which (for most of us, anyway) can't be said of petrol-powered ones."

        That's great - IF you have your own off-street parking area. If you don't, and are forced to park on a public road, then you're pretty screwed, aren't you? I often have to park my car more than 100 meters from my house, so that makes charging at home impossible. At least if my petrol car runs out of fuel, I can walk to the nearest petrol station and return with a can of go-juice. What am I supposed to do with an electric vehicle? Run back and forth with rechargeable AA batteries?

        If you live in a flat, and are lucky enough to have allocated parking, there would be a significant disruption and huge costs involved to get 3-phase 63A power points to every parking spot. For comparison, the average UK home only has a 60-100A single phase supply, so the electricity company is looking at effectively doubling the potential supply current to each and every house, plus retrofitting each house with 3-phase instead of single phase.

        So any kind of vehicle that requires home charging, would require the right kind of house to go with it!

        1. CoolKoon

          Actually you have 3-phase wiring on EVERY single street where you have electricity. Sure, it might not be pulled directly into your house/apartment, but it is there, because the load distribution must be (quasi-)symmetrical (the distribution system uses 3-phase wiring everywhere).

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home, which (for most of us, anyway) can't be said of petrol-powered ones."

        Yes, big problem with the long lines at the petrol stations with all those lawn mowers and chain saws "recharging".

      7. John Sturdy
        Boffin

        About "After that much driving you should be taking at least an hour break anyway."...

        Other technical changes (self-driving cars) may render that irrelevant.

      8. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        "

        Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home, which (for most of us, anyway) can't be said of petrol-powered ones.

        "

        The energy required to recharge a battery enough to do 100 miles in the average electric car will be about 40kWh. That's quite a bit of power to be using from your home mains supply, but if you charge overnight for 12 hours it is just about do-able via a standard 13A socket.

        If however you want significantly more than 100 miles worth of power, and if you want to charge it more quickly, you'll find that it quickly reaches currents that your house supply will not be able to accommodate. e.g. to charge for a 300 mile range in 2 hours would need a 240V supply rated at 250 amps - that's more than the wires entering most houses can carry.

        Even overnight charging will be problematic if everyone in the neighbourhood has an electric car. All those cars charging at the same time will almost certainly overload the local substation.

        Even if a car battery were to be developed that could be charged from flat in, say, 15 minutes (which I'd say is the longest you'd want to wait to refuel on a long journey), the national grid would not be able to supply the refuelling stations without a huge upgrade. To recharge just 10 cars at once, each with an 100kWh battery, would need a power drain from the grid of around 4 MW.

        Swapping out the battery at the service station is really the only practical model (in which case charging time does not matter), with the flat batteries being physically shipped to a central power station for recharging. Each battery could have a tamper-proof monitor so that customers only pay for the amount of electricity that they had used from the battery they were swapping.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The energy required to recharge a battery enough to do 100 miles in the average electric car will be about 40kWh. "

          Reference welcome, but it sounds the right order of magnitude.

          "If however you want significantly more than 100 miles worth of power"

          Then you're not in the foreseeable market for an affordable electric car.

          "overnight charging will be problematic if everyone in the neighbourhood has an electric car. "

          See above. There is no currently foreseeable situation where electric vehicle penetration will become numerically significant, let alone "everyone in the neighbourhood". Therefore the availability of power for charging is unlikely to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

          "Swapping out the battery at the service station is really the only practical model (in which case charging time does not matter),"

          Apparently Tesla tried it and no one was interested?

          http://fortune.com/2015/06/10/teslas-battery-swap-is-dead/

        2. Pompous Git Silver badge

          The energy required to recharge a battery enough to do 100 miles in the average electric car will be about 40kWh. That's quite a bit of power to be using from your home mains supply, but if you charge overnight for 12 hours it is just about do-able via a standard 13A socket.

          Interesting... Back in the 1920s, Jack Hodge drove from Zeehan to Hobart via Burnie and Launceston in 14 hours. He was the first to do so. Most thought him mad, there being no proper roads at the time. That 300 mile trip based on your figures would be ~6 hours drive time plus two 12 hour recharging stops for a total of 30 hours. And presumably two nights of accommodation costs. That's progress for you ;-)

          Oh yes, Tasmania is a much smaller state than any other in Australia.

          I'm not against EVs, just the rather silly idea that they are practical outside of cities.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: practical outside of cities

            "I'm not against EVs, just the rather silly idea that they are practical outside of cities."

            For someone outside a city whose kids school is five miles away and whose nearest shops are ten miles away and where (obviously) public transport is not an option, why isn't an electric vehicle a perfectly adequate short-journey car? Lots of other vehicles don't make sense (from a practicality point of view) for longer journeys but people still buy/use them, because they fit a particular set of requirements.

            In many ways, cities with adequate public transport are the last places where electric cars should make sense.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: practical outside of cities

              For someone outside a city whose kids school is five miles away and whose nearest shops are ten miles away and where (obviously) public transport is not an option

              While it may seem obvious to you that public transport is not an option, it doesn't seem so obvious to me. When the Gitling was going to school, the school bus passed within 300 yards of the farmhouse. When I was going to high school in rural Victoria in the 60s the school buses brought students from up to 20 miles away. When I was in the IT biz, I commuted to the city 30 miles away by bus. There are seven spanning a 12 hour period on weekdays and they pass about a mile away from the farm.

              Mrs Git and I share a single vehicle and while it's main use is commuting to her work 40 miles away, it's also used for long intrastate trips. She occasionally needs to travel to a city over 150 miles away. That's likely impractical in an EV especially since it would require an overnight recharge at the very least. In the Subaru Forester she drives there and back again the same day.

              I'm not at all sure that an EV would be up to the sort of driving conditions a rugged vehicle like the Subaru takes in its stride. Have you ever heard of anyone pulling a pasture harrow with a Tesla or a trailer load of firewood from the bush? Then there's the occasions when you decide to purchase a ram at the stockyard and take it home. My best friend in high school was a farm boy. His dad purchased a ram at the Royal Melbourne Show and took it home in the Jaguar. He punched a few holes in the boot lid with a pick axe so it didn't suffocate. Not too many people would do that I know, but the ram did cost more than the Jag.

              I do take your point about public transport in cities though.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: practical outside of cities

                "I'm not at all sure that an EV would be up to the sort of driving conditions a rugged vehicle like the Subaru takes in its stride"

                Is anyone even suggesting this kind of thing?

                Choose the right tool for the job. Perhaps from a different range of tools than we have today. But many of them will, at least in the medium term, be very similar. Including the farm vehicles.

                "it may seem obvious to you that public transport is not an option"

                In the modern UK, public transport doesn't run unless there's a profit (from passengers or from subsidy). Thus much of the country has no useful public transport.

                "seven [buses] spanning a 12 hour period on weekdays "

                That's about the service my former employers said was acceptable, for shift workers, on a site just outside a big city. No service at all at weekends. The sites they were leaving had buses every few minutes from 6am ish (before early shift started) to after 10pmish when late shift finished, Saturdays and Sundays included.

                1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                  Re: practical outside of cities

                  Is anyone even suggesting this kind of thing?

                  Assuming you are the same AC who responded to my previous comment, you suggested that public transport wasn't available to me as a rural dweller. I pointed out that your suggestion was incorrect. I live in rural Tasmania, not UKLand. You also suggested that an EV for transporting kids to school and shopping. That too was a foolish suggestion because while the Subaru is entirely capable of doing such, and isn't required for schoolchild transporting anyway, it would not be suitable for several other uses to which the Subaru is put. Not to put to fine a point on this, even if we could afford to purchase a vehicle for the sole purpose of shopping, we'd do what we do now and purchase another property. It's our superannuation scheme.

                  One of the problems we country folk have is you townies telling us what we should be doing while being profoundly ignorant of what rural life entails. Of course when you move to the countryside and actually try your ideas out we generally get a good laugh.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: practical outside of cities

                    You stick to your locality, Tasmania (population half a million, public transport allegedly available in the middle of nowhere), and I'll stick to mine, the UK (population a hundred or so times more than Tasmania, public transport frequently barely exists outside major urban areas), thanks.

                    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                      Re: practical outside of cities

                      population half a million, public transport allegedly available in the middle of nowhere

                      I don't know why you are alleging I live in the "middle of nowhere; I certainly have never said any such thing. Here's the bus timetable to verify my claim:

                      www.tassielink.com.au/_literature_145145/Huon_Valley_Timetable

                      I live on the outskirts of Franklin, pop. 326 (2011 census). We have 2 gourmet restaurants, 3 pubs (one of which serves food), a wine bar, a fish and chippy/pizzeria, a town hall that was larger than Hobart's when it was built, a post office, primary school, wooden boat building school, an old folks home (used to be the hospital) and a bowls club.

                      And here's a picture of "the middle of nowhere":

                      http://www.smod.com.au/Images/galleries/1378213155.jpg

                      The Git will be sticking to his locality. UKLand has nothing to offer that I desire.

              2. Vic

                Re: practical outside of cities

                I'm not at all sure that an EV would be up to the sort of driving conditions a rugged vehicle like the Subaru takes in its stride.

                If anything, an EV could be built to be *more* capable, since you tend to have more precise control over torque generation, for example. The mechanical bits of the car could be very similar, with electronics checking for wheel slip and changing power output near-instantaneously.

                Whether or not they would build such a vehicle is another matter, and depends entirely on whether or not a market exists for it.

                Vic.

    2. Flashdunce

      Or for car batteries, instead of charging there's the concept of hot-swapping - which might make the charge time moot for some drivers

      http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/20/tesla-shows-off-a-90-second-battery-swap-system-wants-it-at-supercharging-stations-by-years-end/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "hot-swapping"

        Suggested that once, but the girlfriend wouldn't be in it...

      2. DaLo

        @Flashdunce: Tesla Hot Swap

        "Or for car batteries, instead of charging there's the concept of hot-swapping - which might make the charge time moot for some drivers"

        http://fortune.com/2015/06/10/teslas-battery-swap-is-dead/

      3. Jim84

        "hot-swapping"

        A company called Better Place tired that idea but went bankrupt. It seems that people want to own their own battery rather than be part of a battery sharing service. I suspect this has some deep psychological routes as most people seem to prefer owning cars to using a ride sharing service.

        The other problem is that if everyone is relying on battery swapping then you'd need as many battery swapping stations as a modern city has petrol stations. The cost of building this, and having batteries waiting around everywhere could be huge.

        I think a solution would be to have a bay at the back of the car with no battery in it, but where one could be robotically attached for longer trips out of town. Then you'd only need battery swapping stations in a ring around the edge of a city and on some intercity highways. You'd drop the battery off at the next city or on your way back to your home city.

    3. Faux Science Slayer

      Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

      There is no overcoming the limits if Physics and Chemistry.....

      Too detailed for comment section, see "Green Prince of Darkness"

      posted at FauxScienceSlayer, along with info on climate hoax and Abiogenic oil.

      1. Mike Pellatt

        Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

        I know I shouldn't have gone there, but just for the lulz I visited your website. In one essay (Nullius in Verba, presumably yours) I found:

        "Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years in laboratory conditions but the decay rate is unknown and unpredictable in the Earths molten mantle"

        This assertion tells me who is the faux scientist in one sentence.

        1. Denarius Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

          Mike, that is the conventional wisdom, given the relative differences in the strengths of the electro-magnetic forces and the nuclear weak force. When actually tested, you know, like empirical science is supposed to, it has been found that some elements (no I dont have list to hand) do seem to increase in decay rate under very high pressure. Only one report so I await followup testing. Scepticism of all claims is a virtue IMHO. Whether site is faux is irrelevant to its testable claims.

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

            Citation required.

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          2. ElectricRook

            Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

            It's called isotope reset, google it.

            1. Mike Pellatt
              Facepalm

              Isotope reset

              I read it. "Isotope reset" does not change the half-life of any isotope. It determines the ratios of isotopes in the sample.

              Next.

          3. Mike Pellatt

            Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

            Even accepting (which of course I don't) the second half of the sentence in the quoted assertion, it's still faux science, because the first half of the sentence doesn't tell us (other than by implcation) which isotope of Uranium is being referred to.

        2. scrubber

          Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

          "This assertion tells me who is the faux scientist in one sentence."

          Agreed, but to play devil's advocate for a second, there is probably a much higher amount of radioactivity in the mantle than in a lab, so the decay rate may be different due to nuclear bombardment (at which point you could legitimately say that it's a different isotope so his entire 4.5 billion year comment is guff anyway). But I'm taking his comment out of context because I'd rather read the comments here than read his article.

        3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

          > "Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years in laboratory conditions but the decay rate is unknown and unpredictable in the Earths molten mantle"

          Who would that be?

          In the presence of vanadium and or chromium, the earth could easily be making Uranium for all that anyone knows. What little we do know is that specialised iron eating bugs live and work down there and Uranium is in the family belonging to Iron if not the family belonging to iron eating bugs.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Green Prince of Darkness....the "sustainable" fraud....

        Oh you have found your way here have you? here's a tinfoil hat and a megavolt battery to plug it into..

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      less than $10 – a fifth of the price of gasoline

      Only because gasoline for road use is taxed much more than electricty. At present.

      a matter of how quickly you could get the energy into the car

      Which is one place where flow-technology batteries might actually be useful. If recharging became simply a case of draining the used electrolyte and refilling with fresh, refuelling could be as quick and easy as it is today for gasoline vehicles. Small filling stations could be refilled by tanker using a similar system, larger ones with good grid access might have on-site electrolyte recharging facilities. It would be interesting to see numbers on fluid quantity versus range.

      1. fedoraman
        Go

        At last - someone who realises that the energy in a flow battery system is stored in the electrolyte! So, yes, just fill up with new electrolyte, and the spent stuff can be recycled. We need to get away from the thinking that electric vehicles need to be powered by something "like an AA battery, but better"

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Only because gasoline for road use is taxed much more than electricty. At present."

        Around 80% of UK pump price is tax. The rest is crude oil, transport and refining costs.

        IE: the real price is about 1/5 of what you pay at the pump.

        Expect to find that road charges of some sort are rapidly introduced when EVs become the norm.

        The UK government is _not_ going to give up £60billion/year in income without a fight

    5. David Gosnell

      Hot swapping

      Hot swapping was mooted in my Usborne book about electricity a generation or more ago - and expected twenty years ago. Works well enough for gas canisters etc, why not batteries? "Just" requires standardisation as the main hurdle.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Hot swapping

        "Just" requires standardisation as the main hurdle.

        No, that's the easy bit.

        All those swapped-out batteries have to be stored somewhere they can be charged, ready to be swapped back in again. Work out how many cars a typical petrol station refuels in a 24-hour period, and then calculate how much space and electrical power you'll need to store and charge that many batteries, while venting off the surplus heat so your charging station doesn't go up in flames like an apple charger.

        1. Tom 13
          Joke

          Re: calculate how much space and electrical power you'll need

          No problem. You won't actually store the batteries at the swap point for long. Every five minutes you'll launch an Amazon drone to carry a load of car batteries to the charging station in Alaska where the heat dissipation won't be an issue.

      2. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Hot swapping

        Gas canisters slowly degrade over their lifetime, with no loss in storage capacity, until the very end.

        Batteries degrade over a much shorter lifetime, with huge losses in storage capacity

        So when you truck up to the motorway services wanting to swap out your brand new lovingly cared for battery you might just be getting a real shag nasty replacement with a hundred miles off your range.

        To make it work would require some kind of charge counter embedded in the battery, or a customer readable testing meter, coupled with a discounting scheme for those batteries that have degraded.

        1. Tom 13

          @Rol

          The only way I've been able to imagine a system that works is one where you don't own the hot swap batteries the hot swap company does. You have a service subscription to them based on your usage. Whenever you swing into a station, they give you a fresh pack, recharge the old ones, and do the inspection for old check. Then they pull the near EOL ones and replace them. It also "solves" the problem of disposing of the old one because now the company instead of the end user is responsible for it. I used scare quotes because obviously it doesn't solve the problem of how to process the thousands of batteries that would be going through such a system if even 50% of cars were electric.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hot swapping

        Hot swapping was mooted in my Usborne book about electricity a generation or more ago - and expected twenty years ago. Works well enough for gas canisters etc, why not batteries? "Just" requires standardisation as the main hurdle.

        I think it very much depends on implementation. I personally would be uncomfortable with frequent replacements of something that is part of the structural strength of the car as it is with a Tesla, and there's also the question of quality control and the fairly involved mechanics to make it happen. Running just a few power lines is probably less involved than to add a lot of mechanics to it.

    6. itzman
      Unhappy

      battery charge times

      Under 5 minutes is possible, if a little inefficient and heat producing, with some cells.

      The main constraint is energy per unit weight. It simply isn't good enough yet, and it would push the limits of battery technology to get it almost there.

      Everybody is working on 'promising technology' but frankly I am skeptical. Batteries are well understood beasts and although incremental improvements are possible, I doubt that total breakthroughs are.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: I doubt that total breakthroughs are.

        Total breakthroughs are ALWAYS possible and rarely foreseen because if they could be easily foreseen somebody would already have done it.

        Of course that doesn't actually help the green weenies any because hope is not a plan and while such breakthroughs are possible, they can't be predicted or juiced by throwing more funding at them.

      2. Rol Silver badge

        Re: battery charge times

        It doesn't work for everyone, in every instance, but does that really matter?

        For probably (hold on I'm pulling on this really hard, urrgh, urrgh, arrgh, there) 90% of the population a vehicle that has a range of 100 miles on an overnight charge, with supplemental charges at work would be perfectly adequate.

        The other 10% can stay with the combustion engine.

        and of the 90% who occasionally want to slip off to Cornwall for the weekend, then might I point you towards public transport, or car rental services.

        Oh, but the cost of having to rent a car, when there's one already parked outside?

        Well, for every mile in your leccy car, you could put 5p in a jar, representing money saved, and then spend it on hiring Stig to drive you in a DB9 when the whim takes you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: battery charge times

          and of the 90% who occasionally want to slip off to Cornwall for the weekend, then might I point you towards public transport, or car rental services.

          Won't work. All the demand for those rental vehicles would be bank holiday weekends, and school holidays. You'd need a large fleet, which would lie idle for most of the year, taking up space and costing the rental companies a fortune in depreciation while they got no income. There'd also be the problem of who would make them, and who would run the fuel station network, if they only got used by people a few days a year.

        2. David 132 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: battery charge times

          The other 10% can stay with the combustion engine.

          You know, I keep hearing this, but to my mind it's overlooking a very important point.

          Why would the infrastructure for ICE vehicles be maintained if the customer base is 10% of what it is now?

          Can you really imagine having petrol stations everywhere they are today, if so few holdouts/"eccentrics" still need them?

          Sorry, but having such a small customer base would drastically change the economics of the whole thing, which only works as it does because of economies of scale.

          Dealerships.

          Filling stations.

          Mechanics (with appropriate skills - all the others will only know how to fix EVs).

          I can imagine that owning, fuelling and maintaining an ICE vehicle would become far more awkward - for example, having to travel 100 miles+ to find the last remaining stockist of gasoline in the county. Oh, and because there's so little demand for it, it's 50x the price it is today in real terms.

          Not to mention the regulatory pressure and fiscal "nudging" that our ever-loving governments would bring to bear. You know, because they're always so keen on people maintaining habits/hobbies that can be demonstrated to be "harmful" (think smokers, or drug-users) - "You want to use a fume-belching car with no autonomous control, when there are safe, clean googlecars available at very reasonable cost that cannot travel in excess of the speed limit and are totally green? You monster!"

          I don't think we can blithely assume that running an ICE vehicle will always be an option.

    7. Boring Bob

      Pump rate

      Can they achieve a charge rate equivalent to a petrol pump's delivery rate ?"

      A petrol pump delivers 1/2 litre of petrol per second and there is 36MJ of energy released when burning 1 litre of petrol. Hence a petrol pump transfers energy at a rate of 18MW. This is enormous, a typical coal fired power station produces 200MW and a nuclear reactor 1500MW. So I doubt they can achieve the equivalent delivery rate as a petrol pump.

  2. ma1010 Silver badge
    Meh

    Well, it sounds good.

    But I've heard too many similar claims. I'll believe it when I see it.

    Of course, I hope it IS true, but you know...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Well, it sounds good.

      ARPA, now DARPA... well, your soaking in it.

      We literally live in their world.

      1. Steve Knox Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Well, it sounds good.

        Yes, this is ARPA, which means that it's not so much announcements of new science as it is preparing us for the latest release of alien technology...

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Well, it sounds good.

      If you read the statement they are making specific claims about large scale storage system but then say it WOULD be nice if they invented something for cars.

      So far ARPA and Argonne NL research into replacing Li-Ion batteries hasn't got very far

      1. Tom 13

        Re: If you read the statement they are making specific claims

        Yes, and they're even coy about the specific claims. I didn't see any specifics about how large those tanks need to be.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: If you read the statement they are making specific claims

          "I didn't see any specifics about how large those tanks need to be."

          We may regret doing away with all those gasometers.

          1. Mike Pellatt

            Re: If you read the statement they are making specific claims

            And we won't be able to use the ones left, coz they're all Grade 2 listed so can't be modified.

  3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "much-vaulted"

    "...Musk's much-vaulted Powerwall battery packs for houses..."

    I believe that you spelled 'much-ridiculed' incorrectly.

    Only the gullible innumerate are falling for Musk's 'Battery Seconds Disposal Program'.

    1. Steve Knox Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: "much-vaulted"

      Well, I believe they spelled "much-vaunted" incorrectly, but your phrasing is probably more accurate.

      1. Unep Eurobats
        Headmaster

        Re: "some holy grails in batteries"

        While we're being pedantic, I think you can only have one holy grail.

        Elon Musk is not the messiah, and "that's not the holy grail, it's just a very fancy cup".

        1. Tom 13

          Re: I think you can only have one holy grail.

          But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, a false one will take it from you.

          IJ:TLC

      2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        Re: "much-vaulted"

        I assumed they were frequently installed incorrectly, maybe with an exposed live contact.

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    Free market saves the day again!

    Damn gubmint interference.

    Oh wait...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

    We are pretty well convinced that some of our technologies have the potential to be significantly better.

    Show me the numbers or GTFO!

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

      Yep. Show me stress tested versions please. (Also systems thoroughly theft-proofed.)

      1. MD Rackham

        Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

        I suspect that the thief who tries to steal a large tank of Prussian blue will be fairly easy to identify.

        (Old enough to remember handling real blueprints, not diazo bluelines.)

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

          "thief who tries to steal a large tank of Prussian blue"

          I suspect the unit of measure for the tank of ferric ferrocyanide, to give it a slightly more explanatory name, is going to be the Olympic swimming pool, and that the thief's fleet of tankers may be a bit of a giveaway.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

            "I suspect the unit of measure for the tank...is going to be the Olympic swimming pool"

            I hope they agree on a standard depth and width instead of just length or some people are going to be sorely disappointed by the "up to" claims :-)

        2. Tom 13

          @MD Rackham

          I expect the other guys will too. They'll either be in those yellow hazmat suits or suffering from some very nasty burns/rashes. I was no good in chemistry but one thing I do remember is no matter how you try to vary the ingredients, battery juice is necessarily nasty stuff.

    2. Thought About IT

      Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

      "Show me the numbers or GTFO!"

      Citing evidence, to those who are in a state of denial about the need for such technology (which this site seems to attract in droves), is a complete waste of time. The mountain of evidence proving that our greenhouse gas emissions are changing the climate in a bad way is a case in point.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

        The mountain of evidence proving that our greenhouse gas emissions are changing the climate in a bad way is a case in point.

        In that case why worry about the trivial contribution made by personal transportation (some fraction of 14%)? We could eliminate 24% of emissions just by giving up farming and forestry and 46% by giving up industry and heat/electricity production entirely. Surely that would make you happier.

        1. KeithR

          Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

          "In that case why worry about the trivial contribution made by personal transportation (some fraction of 14%)? We could eliminate 24% of emissions just by giving up farming and forestry and 46% by giving up industry and heat/electricity production entirely. Surely that would make you happier."

          I do believe that's what's called a straw man argument.

          Well done for continuing to live up to your handle, though...

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

            I do believe that's what's called a straw man argument.

            Actually, it was sarcasm. Sorry you missed that. IFF I thought plant food was a problem, I would concentrate my efforts on the major sources rather than the trivial ones.

            Glad you like my handle :-)

  6. Speltier

    Work in the Lab

    Now, get these ideas to scale up to the real world. Figure 10 years to commercial if they really work, long enough for Musk at least to get his dime back on car batteries-- and you have to buy his batteries for the Tesla pretty much so the factory has a future market even if the battery type is obsoleted in 10 years.

    For grid scale, can't say anyone has a leading candidate so that market is wide open and easier for new tech to penetrate. Not really any massive legacy inertia there.

  7. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Texan scientists have been storing energy in tanks of liquid since the early 1900s.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Storing, yes, but replenishing it from a renewable resource?

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Bah!

        "Storing, yes, but replenishing it"

        Why not? You just need a new barrel of the stuff to pour into your tank.

        "from a renewable resource?"

        The source is definitely renewable - you can drill a new hole any time you want...

      2. Mike Pellatt

        Re: Bah!

        replenishing from a renewable resource ?? Yes, on a geological timescale.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Coat

    Prussian blue?

    Ran out you say?

    Dead?

    No, it's only restin'

    1. Andy A

      Re: Prussian blue?

      What is it that makes me think that the Norwegians already have the patent on this?

    2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Prussian blue?

      I was waiting for the disclaimer to reassure us that "No Hooloovoos were harmed in the making of our Prussian Blue product.

  9. Grikath Silver badge
    Meh

    was looking for the phrase,,,

    "The battery storage systems developed with Arpa-E’s support are on the verge of transforming America’s electrical grid, a transformation that could unfold within the next five to 10 years, Williams said."

    SSDD... That's what they all say.. pics or it simply hasn't happened.

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    It does have a too good to be true feeling about it, doesn't it? Let me guess, budget reviews coming up? Anyway, here is another xkcd for perspective.

    1. handle

      Who would have thought, even 10 years ago, that the average householder would be able to afford solar cells at the scale required to cover their roof to generate at the kW level? And even when I had mine installed, the prospect of being able to store significant amounts of that at home was a pipe dream, yet it's now possible if still a little bit out of most people's league.

      1. nijam

        > ... the average householder would be able to afford solar cells at the scale required to cover their roof to generate at the kW level

        Average householders can't, without a very substantial taxpayer-funded subsidy. Now the subsidy (in the UK at least) has been much reduced, you might have noticed that the number of new installations has dropped (to zero, in my neighbourhood).

        1. handle

          Clean energy is the result of the subsidy, and its substatial level kick-started the market with the result that prices have dropped so there are still companies offering free solar installations. But I'm sure you are surveying every visible and invisible roof in your area at regular intervals to come to the authoritative conclusion that no more panels are being fitted.

          1. Mike Pellatt

            You have seen the terms of "free" solar installations, haven't you ?

            Renting your roof to the installation company (or its successors/financiers) for 25 years.

            Neat idea, that.

            For the solar installer.

            Not for the homeowner.

  11. Michael Thibault

    >proprietary materials to produce what it claims is a better battery for things like phones

    Aaaaaaand... the first one's free!

  12. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    Colour me surprised.

    Well, I said this would happen, given the amount of wonga the US military is hosing on battery tech. "Fast charge" can't be far behind.

    I'll bet anyone who invested heavily in Hydrogen[1] and fuel cells is feeling a bit poo now, as the ROI on that just went negative.

    [1] i.e. very like a battery, only rather less convenient.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: anyone who invested heavily in Hydrogen

      is a moron, who deserves to be parted from their money.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: is a moron, who deserves to be parted from their money.

        Just like the ones investing in this round of DARPA announcements.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is no way driving will get cheaper

    It always amuses me when I see people predicting that life will be cheaper - you do realise that the majority of your energy costs is made up out of taxes, don't you?

    This is the untold story about saving energy: how is the government going to backfill the loss in income from lower energy sales? Yes, you got it: more tax.

    It's like a Microsoft strategy: as soon as enough people have been lured into electric cars, the tax benefits are over and taxation will creep up. Of course, it will be camouflaged with an even higher tax on combustibles, but enjoy your cheap energy while you can.

    I like Teslas (a lot), but when I calculated the difference between driving a far cheaper car on petrol over 3 years and a Tesla there wasn't that much of a gap (not sure where diesel is going, it would have to be an ad-blue).

    Granted, the Tesla appears to have frankly fantastic features so I'm probably going to buy one, but I'm not blind to the reality that it's not going to remain this cheap to run.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is no way driving will get cheaper

      "you do realise that the majority of your energy costs is made up out of taxes, don't you?"

      That'll be news to many people. References welcome.

      "enjoy your cheap energy while you can."

      In much of the "Western" world, cheap energy ended a couple of decades ago.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: There is no way driving will get cheaper

        This is less of a thing in the US where gasoline IS actually relatively cheap. In Europe though most of the price is taxes. (In the Netherlands over 60%! of the price of a liter of fuel is taxes. And then we pay VAT on the taxed price)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is no way driving will get cheaper

          "In the Netherlands over 60%! of the price of a liter of fuel is taxes. And then we pay VAT on the taxed price"

          And for energy that isn't petrol or diesel, for road vehicles or elsewhere? How much of the price of domestic gas or electrickery is tax? How much of the price of LPG/propane/etc, either for road vehicles or other uses?

          The original claim related to *energy* prices being mostly tax, Plainly untrue, perhaps with the exception of some popular classes of road vehicle fuel.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: There is no way driving will get cheaper

            Roughly 50% of the price is tax on both gas and leccy: (sorry, only have a dutch link, but I think the pics and numbers are clear enough) https://www.energievergelijk.nl/energievergelijker/energiebelasting

            Tax on LPG makes up slightly over 30% of the total price.

            A lot of the rest of the costs of energy (any energy source) is things like transport costs for leccy (fixed), fixed costs for the fuel pump owner, etc, etc. Less then a third of the price of energy is from the variable part of energy production costs. The rest comes from fixed costs that won't become cheaper (and probably more expensive)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: There is no way driving will get cheaper

              "50% of the price is tax on both gas and leccy"

              This varies around Europe though doesn't it? And in most (every?) other European countries, electricty is cheaper than yours is? Because, apart from anything else, it's less heavily taxed?

              NB all electricity is energy. Not all energy is electricity. Ish.

              "Less then a third of the price of energy is from the variable part of energy production costs."

              Further citations welcome.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: This is less of a thing in the US

          According to the most recent statistics even in the US 25% of the price of gasoline is down to taxes. Even that is treating the cost of crude as a pure cost and not taxed.

          http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/gasoline/margins/

          1. Tom 13

            Re: This is less of a thing in the US

            Progrards were out in full force for this article. Downvoting facts is a sure sign of jihadist like rage.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: how is the government going to backfill the loss in income

      Yep. They're already starting to whine just from the loss of revenue due to hybrids.

  14. Martin Summers Silver badge

    It's ok for them to take swipes at Musk, but at least he got product out to market and did something. How long are they going to sit on this stuff before the masses get to use it? We hear of new battery technology on these pages so many times but have any of them made it into products we use yet? No, not one.

    1. you are idiots

      @ Martin Summers

      "It's ok for them to take swipes at Musk, but at least he got product out to market and did something"

      All Musk has done is set up a business to suck subsidies from the government, very clever, but if he was actually relying on profit from his marketed products he would be bankrupt many times over!!!.

      The guy is a massive cockwomble!!!.

  15. Mage Silver badge

    Electric Cars: Rich People

    Electric cars need massive increase in power production (Power stations) and distribution (Grid) if everyone had them.

    Currently tax payers are subsidising rich people and Elon Musk.

    1. handle

      Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

      Not as much massive increase as you might think. Better load management on the grid (even to the extent of getting your fridge to switch off for 5 minutes to shave the peaks), micro-generation (reducing the distance the energy has to be transported), and storage technologies like the ones discussed, which can also be placed close to areas of consumption as they don't emit pollution and don't have to be huge, and can be charged dynamically in response to grid capacity variations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

        "micro-generation (reducing the distance the energy has to be transported"

        reducing the distance is largely irrelevant; such losses as there are in electricity distribution are less than 10% or so (source: see Mackay [1] and look it up there), and those losses are largely in the local/low-voltage "last mile" part of the distribution network, The same "last mile" losses would largeky also apply if generation was decentralized and/or micro-generation became widespread.

        [1] http://www.withouthotair.com/

        1. handle

          The last mile

          "The same "last mile" losses would largeky also apply if generation was decentralized and/or micro-generation became widespread."

          Why? I've got plenty of neighbours to use the energy I generate.

          But I'm glad that's the only thing you disagree with.

    2. Hairy Spod

      Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

      about 6KW of energy (3KW electricity and 3KW heat energy) goes into to producing each gallon of petrol.

      In summer I get about 5 miles and the depths of winter with lots of heating about 3.3 miles per KW out of my leaf.

      That means that the most thirsty petrol cars out there actually use more electricity than my Nissan Leaf on top of the fuel that they burn!

      Almost all charging is done over night, so the additional demands on the electricity infrastructure that would be caused by inscreased usage of electric cars are not actually as great as you might think

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

        "6KW of energy (3KW electricity and 3KW heat energy"

        Please repost with words that show that you've understood the difference between energy and power.

        If this was a discussion on cricket, would people really post without understanding the difference between total runs scored and run rate (e.g. runs per over)? (Suitable soccer example welcome). They're clearly different (though obviously not clearly enough).

        Have a great weekend. Don't use all your energy at once.

        1. Hairy Spod

          Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

          Apologies..... 3KWh of electrical energy an 3KWh of heat energy

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

            In fairness, the kWh is a ridiculous unit for energy and has probably done more to confuse and put off secondary school pupils than anything else in the science syllabus.

            A Norris-Double-decker-bus is much better (though smaller).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

        "In summer I get about 5 miles and the depths of winter with lots of heating about 3.3 miles per KW out of my leaf."

        mm, considering that is way more than even nissan claims I smell bullshit! especially for the winter with heating.

        I did consider buying one, but then ran the math, checked what owners were saying about range, and worked out I would be lucky to get home, even if I decided to drive in full thermal gear with no heating.

        My present car gets 50miles to a gallon, so at 6kw = 50/6 = 8.33 miles, so it still beats yours even with bullshit figures!!!.

    3. Col_Panek

      Re: Electric Cars: Rich People

      ....unless they all charge their cars at night, when power plants and wind turbines are loafing.

  16. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Charging...

    We seem to be barely able to generate enough power at the moment, god knows how the required power plant construction will get through planning in time for electric cars.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Charging...

      Good point, but it's a question of the energy crunch. Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line and there's too much uncertainty about what to replace them with. It's really, really good that "free to refill" sources like wind, tide and solar are out there, thanks to our friendly neighbourhood fission/fusion reactor, and we've got the capture part worked out, but the storage side of things... not so good. Pumped hydro-electric is a fairly cool way of doing it, but that comes with it's own environmental impact (it takes a LOT of space, usually a few dozen miles of valley). So the debate continues and long term investment is less attractive. We are at a turning point - as the Victorians oversaw the coming of the industrial revolution, so we stand at the crossroads of the energy revolution. I won't be around in 100 years to see the result!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Charging...

        It's really, really good that "free to refill" sources like wind, tide and solar are out there,

        The one massive problem with ALL renewable power sources is that the are INTERMITTENT and can not supply base load.

        Any power generation system that dies not supply power 12/7/365 is nothing but a disruption on those systems that do, especially when the unreliable sources are mandated to have priority over the reliable ones as in the UK.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Charging...

          >The one massive problem with ALL renewable power sources is that the are INTERMITTENT and can not supply base load.

          So imagine if your base load was a million battery packs.

          With enough electric cars and a smart charger that would sell power back to the grid you wouldn't need base load at all.

        2. Tom 13

          @Ivan 4

          Yes and no. IF the storage capacity for the system were such that it could hold enough power for more than the expected down time for the system you could do it. Even a system that only covered the overnight/calm period and excluded a parked weather system would make it acceptable for most use. BUT

          That assumes you can get enough generation to displace fossil fuels in the first place. El Reg has run the calculations here repeatedly to the dismay of the green weenies. It simply isn't possible. Cover the whole UK in solar cells or windmills and at best you still get 50% of the demand covered.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: @Ivan 4

            El Reg has run the calculations here repeatedly to the dismay of the green weenies. It simply isn't possible. Cover the whole UK in solar cells or windmills and at best you still get 50% of the demand covered.

            Easy peasy, just kill off all the excess population. In UKLand, an estimated 15,000 people died unnecessarily between December and March 2015 because they were living in homes they couldn’t afford to heat and nearly 160,000 excess winter deaths during the five years of the last Parliament. Sounds like a start has already been made...

            1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: @Ivan 4

              "Easy peasy, just kill off all the excess population"

              Given the rapid development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and the failure of the pharma companies to develop new ones (not profitable enough - you only take them for a week, they like things you need for the rest of your life) the Black Death might just come along again and do exactly that.

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                Re: @Ivan 4

                Given the rapid development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and the failure of the pharma companies to develop new ones

                I'd be more worried about a pneumonic Ebola or Marburg mutation than bubonic plague, but your point is an excellent one.

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: "Chornobyl (sic) was about as bad as it could be"

                  Fukushima is pretty bad as well. And Three-Mile Island, and many others. But these are not the single catastrophic event I'm talking about which is the hypothetical worst case scenario. The light of experience in the 60 years of atomic energy has shown that damage can be mitigated, effects lessened and chance reduced, but that does not change the fact that the more you build, the more chance there is of the nightmare scenario.

        3. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Charging...

          The one massive problem with ALL renewable power sources is that the are INTERMITTENT

          Geothermal energy is intermittent? Whoda thunkit?

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Charging...

            "

            Geothermal energy is intermittent? Whoda thunkit?

            "

            Geothermal energy is not really renewable energy. If we started using it in large amounts I suspect that the resulting cooling is likely to get people more riled up than the present greenhouse gas panic.

        4. Mike Pellatt

          Re: Charging...

          The one massive problem with ALL renewable power sources is that the are INTERMITTENT and can not supply base load.

          And the massive problem when nuclear came along was that it was slow to turn on and off (and the problems weren't just with the reactors - I saw the video of what happened to the stator end windings on a 600MW set when it went from 0 to full load...) ie constant generation, whilst the load was variable - sort of the converse of wind/solar/tidal.

          It's why Cruachan and Dinorwic were constructed in the first place. And they can do the same job for renewables - store until needed.

          Anyway, we've kicked the can a decade or two down the road by extending the life of a number of existing nukes.

      2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Charging...

        > It's really, really good that "free to refill" sources like wind, tide and solar are out there, thanks to our friendly neighbourhood fission/fusion reactor.

        They've been trying to get planning permission to build a runway at an airport for pretty much my entire lifetime, they've been trying to build a nuclear reactor at a nuclear power plant for so long it won't be a nuclear power plant by the time they start work.

        I just don't see anyone being allowed to build this stuff.

        Windmills won't cut it, we'll be needing an extra 60 or so KWh per household per day if everyone went electric.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Charging...

          "an extra 60 or so KWh per household per day if everyone went electric."

          Where the heck did you pick that number from?

          1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

            Re: Charging...

            > "Where the heck did you pick that number from?"

            You're right, it's probably a bit low.

            http://www.carstuffshow.com/blog/how-to-convert-gasoline-energy-to-kilowatt-hours-kwh/

            Guessing at more than one car per household of course.

            Here as well:- http://www.withouthotair.com/c3/page_29.shtml

            "40 kWh per day per person."

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Charging...

              I think you're all missing the point in the article which is that the DARPA people are developing mass cheap efficient storage to address exactly the problem of renewables not having consistently the same output 24/7/365. The other alternative is solar collector / reflector in space, out of Earth shadow. You spread your supply across many bases. If these storage devices make renewables a realistic source then that's a good thing. One day, one day very soon, we will run out of fossil fuels. The more nuclear you build, the more likelihood that one of them will go wrong in a bad way, even a 1 in a billion chance is unacceptable if that one instance has global consequences for centuries to come.

              1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                Re: Charging...@TRT

                I think you got downvoted because your last sentence is plainly ridiculous. Chornobyl was about as bad as it could be yet the main problems have come from the kneejerk reaction to evacuate the entire area; it is now an annoying problem but no worse than one of those coalmines which are on fire underground. It's having local consequences for maybe ten decades, not global consequences for centuries.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Charging...

              "http://www.withouthotair.com/c3/page_29.shtml"

              Thank you, SEWTHA/Mackay is always an excellent place to start. So, what do see when we look more closely/

              First, as you note, it's not 60kWh per day but 40. And where does that come from?

              It comes from a "typical" 50 miles per day at a "typical" 30 miles per gallon.

              Any European vehicle doing significantly less than 60mpg is no longer "typical". It's especially untypical of the commuter-run car or school+shopping run car in 2016.

              So that 40kWh per day could easily become 20kWh per day just from mpg improvements from 30 mpg to 60(ish) mpg. Adjust accordingly if you don't like 60mpg.

              Additionally, for those cars that are used only for the school run, shopping, etc, it's likely to be rather less than 50 miles per day. For simplicity let's assume that 25 miles per day covers a worthwhile number of cars. For a typical round-town mph that's a couple of hours of driving.

              So that's 10kWh per day, for a good proportion of the number of vehicles on the road in Europe today. And with a 3kW charger that's maybe four hours of charging for two hours of driving.

              So no real problem with supplying extra electricty for these levels of power and these lengths of time, either at grid level or via the local distribution network, for levels of electric car penetration likely in the foreseeable future.

              Aren't facts, numbers, and logic (Mackay style) great. Random numbers picked from thin air are less useful (such as my unevidenced assumption that a reasonable number of cars do less than 25miles per day), but can still serve a purpose when it's clear what's going on.

              1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

                Re: Charging...

                > So that's 10kWh per day...

                I'm perfectly happy to accept that would be possible for your selected demographic, and it is indeed possible with petrol engines right now. It isn't what they do though.

                Oh, and it quotes 40 per person (actually car) where I estimated 60 per household, so you see I'm actually already at roughly 30 per car.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Charging...

                Additionally, for those cars that are used only for the school run, shopping, etc, it's likely to be rather less than 50 miles per day.

                Assume one car per household. Average distance travelled by a car in the UK is ~ 12,000 miles per year, that's about 32 miles per day. Even at only 1.5 cars per household you easily get ~ 50 mile per day average.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Charging...

                  "Even at only 1.5 cars per household you easily get ~ 50 mile per day average."

                  Correct, if you average over the whole national fleet of cars.

                  But as you clearly realised, electric vehicles cannot realistically address (for example) the road warrior consultant or sales rep or whatever doing hundreds of miles a day and many tens of thousands of miles a year.

                  For now, focus on the road journeys the electric vehicle *can* realistically address. As well as the vehicles doing tens of thousands of miles a year, there are many doing a few thousand miles a year, all in short journeys. It's a smaller (in energy terms and maybe in numbers of cars terms) but potentially still worthwhile sector of the market.

                  Clearer now?

                  1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

                    Re: Charging...

                    > Correct, if you average over the whole national fleet of cars.

                    Anything else would be cherry picking.

                    Besides, 12,000 miles is typical usage for cars, I have a short commute and generally hit just over 9,000.

                    This is however beside the point, even at 10KWh we will need a nuke plant the size of Fukushima to generate the leccy even if only a quarter of households have your feeble-mobiles. We will need to substantially increase generating capacity regardles. A more realistic 20Kwh for half of the cars or just under one for each of 20 million households and it should be obvious that a truly epic building programme is required.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Charging...

                      "Correct, if you average over the whole national fleet of cars.

                      Anything else would be cherry picking."

                      You don't think it might be classed as using the right tool for the right job? In the same way as, for example, we don't use buses for freight deliveries and vice versa? Or two seater sports convertibles for the monthly shopping run?

                      "I have a short commute and generally hit just over 9,000."

                      30-40 miles a day isn't what I'd class as a short commute, though obviously some unlucky people might. I know a number of people left my previous employer when they proposed moving thousands of employees from an accessible suburban and slightly dated (but demolishable and sellable for housing) site to an out of town site fifteen miles away with no sensible public transport for miles. Others had little option but to grin and bear it.

                  2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                    Re: Charging...

                    For now, focus on the road journeys the electric vehicle *can* realistically address. As well as the vehicles doing tens of thousands of miles a year, there are many doing a few thousand miles a year,.

                    This is the classic spurious argument, assuming that if 90% of journeys can be done by electric cars, then 90% of cars can be electric. It's false.

                    My daily commute is 50km round trip, with a need fot heating in winter and sometimes AC in summer. My wife's is something similar. My car is garaged at night right beside the main electricity distribution board. I could indeed use an electric vehicle for 90% of my journeys. Except that once or twice a month I have a 250km round trip to an airport, maybe twice a year a 600-100km holiday trip, and usually one 3000km+ longer trip.

                    The only practical approach for us would be two cars, one electric for the short trips, but not only would that only work for one of us, my wife is quite attached to her sporty two-seater and isn't likely to react well that I replace it with a Leaf or similar.

                    Clearer now?

                    It's been perfectly clear for a long time, thanks.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Charging...

                      "if 90% of journeys can be done by electric cars, then 90% of cars can be electric."

                      Yes that's total sleight of hand, which is why I didn't say anything like that. I said address the market where electric cars are a practical answer. It won't be anything like 90% of cars, and I thought earlier posts had reflected that electric cars aren't going to take over in any meaningful way although they do have a role to play. If things do change it isn't going to happen in double quick time, for reasons of practicality as well as emotional attachment e.g. cars as fashion statements/comfort blankets.

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: heating and air conditioning

                      "a need fot heating in winter and sometimes AC in summer."

                      Your car air conditioner is a heat pump. In summer it moves heat from inside to outside. A little "thinking outside the box" (actually, repurposing the existing tried and tested commercial air source heat pump) reverses the heat pump setup so it moves heat from outside to inside.

                      Put 1kW of electricity into the heat pump's motor, get 4kW of heat out at the hot and, and a matching amount of cold at the cold end. Or 10kW, or whatever's in the design.

                      This is what's already in a Nissan Leaf, maybe Tesla too. Further reading:

                      http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/heat_pump_cabin_heater.html

                      If necessary in colder climates, back it up with either or both of a resistive heater, and/or the cooling air from the motor+electronics (do Tesla already do this?). Or maybe in certain climates a small oil or gas fired heater could be fitted, as I believe is already used in some cars, either as original fit or as aftermarket add-on.

                      Lots of the apparent engineering issues (such as this) are already sorted somewhere. If you want to find reasons to object to electric cars, fine, some of them might be valid. Energy use for passenger comfort (heating/cooling) on relatively short journeys isn't necessarily one of them.

              3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                Re: Charging...

                "So that 40kWh per day could easily become 20kWh per day just from mpg improvements from 30 mpg to 60(ish) mpg. Adjust accordingly if you don't like 60mpg."

                Cars just used for short trips have a lot worse MPG than cars mainly used on longer A road journeys. That's because so much time is spent running with a rich mixture to deal with (a) cold engine and (b) heating catalyst. In winter our smallest car does a little over 30mpg, mainly around town. In summer it averages around 44mpg, which is the "realistic" end of official consumption figures of 60mpg. Part of the reason for that is that it usually travels 2 up plus luggage, unlike the official test with one adult only on board.

                We need to look at the winter figures because that's when load is highest. Electric cars use more power because they need heating. (I'm surprised nobody seems to have thought of deviating from ideological purity and fitting them with small propane tanks and Webasto-type heaters, but there you go.) The power available for mass charging may be low due to demand elsewhere. There have been articles about the "smart grid" required to charge EVs only when power is available, it's a known problem.

                The difficulty is that under our "free market" system nobody wants to build more electrical capacity without a bribe subsidy. We can't even get Hinckley started. Unless we can find a way to increase capacity massively without simply burning gas, any talk of mass conversion to EVs is just hot air. (Which is also what current ones are short of in winter.)

      3. Tom 13

        Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

        I read that same line of crap from econazis posing as my friends back in the 1970s. Last time I checked our aging fossil fuel reserves were higher now than they were back then and most of those nukes are still online. Of course at the time I was about 12 and didn't recognize them for the econazis they were and neither had my parents.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

          I didn't say that the fossil reserves were running out in that post, though they are. I said that fossil plants were going off line and there isn't the economic or political certainty to say "we build so many of these, and so many of this other and we're sorted".

          1. Tom 13
            FAIL

            Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

            Yes you did because the way I reply to quotes is copying a snippet from them for the title.

            But that is the sort of bold faced lie I've come to expect from econazi like you.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

              " the way I reply to quotes is copying a snippet from them for the title."

              Thank you for proving the point then. I'd get your eye's (or brain) checked.

              As for "econazi"... I think you're just showing yourself up there.

              1. Tom 13

                Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

                Like I said you're the sort of econazi who lies. Even to the point of going back to edit his original post because he just happened to be inside the edit window.

                That quote is purely YOU because I'd never use such an awkward construction.

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

                  My edit was to add "in that post, though they are" because in the post you responded to... you know what, I'm going to stop feeding the troll. Have it your own way, mein Führer.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

            Well SSE are closing their coal power stations as quickly as they can, including paying fines of over GBP 30 million for one station which had signed up to the governments "capacity market" auction for 2018 onwards. Given the spare generation capacity in the UK during winter is down to around 5%, I guess that losing 2 to 3 GW means we'll need another couple of quick-build gas generators.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Ageing fossil and nuclear plants are going off-line

              "including paying fines of over GBP 30 million for one station which had signed up to the governments "capacity market" auction for 2018 onwards"

              Oh, I missed that. I'd seen the closure announcement (3 of 4 units, ie 1.5GW out of 2GW, to close [1]), but hadn't seen discussion of a ~£30M penalty for non-delivery to the capacity market [2]. Still, what could possibly go wrong.

              "another couple of quick-build gas generators."

              Filling fields with banks of diesel generators seems to be fashionable at the moment as it's even quicker to profit than the original "dash for gas" or "dash for gas 2.0". Diesel's not exactly low carbon, but hey, money talks.

              Someone should also point out that SSE could have chosen to invest in their coal fired stations (not just Fiddlers Ferry) in order to achieve compliance with the 10+year old Large Combustion Plant regulations, which limit the number of hours of pollution a coal station can produce, but SSE chose instead to live with the limited hours and shut down afterwards [3]. And now it's caught up with them, and the victims of the underinvestment are not going to be SSE management, they're going to be SSE employees who lose their jobs, and you and me when the lights go out.

              [1] http://sse.com/newsandviews/allarticles/2016/02/consultation-on-future-of-sses-fiddlers-ferry-power-station/

              [2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/12128668/Energy-security-threat-as-SSE-mulls-early-closure-of-coal-plant.html

              [3] BBC4's excellent documentary Power to the People, co-produced with the Open University, covered Ferrybridge in episode 1; not on iPlayer, try this for background

              http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/tv/power-the-people

              and for the programme itself try this, and see if you can see any evidence of significant investment in recent decades (e.g. in the kind of control systems that might have allowed LCPD compliance):

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSoa6XKgJXo

      4. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Charging...

        Pumped hydro-electric is a fairly cool way of doing it, but that comes with it's own environmental impact (it takes a LOT of space, usually a few dozen miles of valley).

        Hydro is also a non-renewable energy source according to the Thermageddonists. So it goes...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What we need ..

    .. is a system that can store lightning strikes, or at least an approach that could charge up and then divert the excess so things don't blow up.

    1. handle

      Re: What we need ..

      Lightning strikes would provide a minuscule amount. Don't be fooled by their dramatic nature; the energy available per unit time per unit area is insignificant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What we need ..

        lightning strikes contain around 275KWh or energy, there are approximately 1.4 billion strikes per year world wide, that is 385TWh of energy (approx 100 nuclear reactors at 100% load). World electricity production is around 23000TWh, so around 1.6% of the worlds energy production.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: What we need ..

          I thought they were 1.21GWe...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What we need ..

            Only when they hit clock towers

            But it would be close to that, as a strike last only a fraction of a second, and each strike has 275KWh of energy.

  18. Hairy Spod

    Person in charge of looking for funding says...

    someone with billions should spend it elsewhere shocker

    nuff said

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Roswell, the gift that keeps on giving.

    Anal probes all round!

  20. theOtherJT

    Jaded

    Various sources have been promising incredible breakthroughs in battery technology for as long as I can remember, and they never seem to actually show up.

    Sure, they sound very exciting, there are some impressive "in the lab" demonstrations, but when it comes to being able to go out and _buy_ the things it's back to tiny incremental steps that don't really change much.

    Until I'm actually able to go out and buy a laptop that can work for 3 days straight, or a mobile phone that actually lasts for a week I'm just going to have to stay sceptical I'm afraid.

  21. Unep Eurobats
    Thumb Up

    BEEEEEEST

    Acronym of the weeeeeeek, for sure.

  22. Tim Soldiers

    I just love the idea of refilling the old gasometer tanks with Prussian Blue

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oval_Gasholders

  23. Tim Soldiers

    seems a good time to report this

    http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

  24. CCCP

    Fossil religion?

    It's funny how strong the resistance to electric cars is. "I live in a flat", "Cables will make people fall over", "It needs to be cheaper than petrol" etc. It's bordering on fossil religion.

    I imagine horse owners felt similarly aggrieved about noisy internal combustion automobiles.

    Thinking about it, someone should calculate the human cost of fossil engine noise. We have learned to accept it but I, for one, will be happier when my neighbour stops running his engine warm at 4am.

    1. nijam

      Re: Fossil religion?

      > I imagine horse owners felt similarly aggrieved about noisy internal combustion automobiles.

      Yes, they did. Many restrictions were imposed on motorised vehicles because of it.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Fossil religion?

        But at least they didn't leave the streets ankle-deep in shit.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Fossil religion?

        That WAS a genuine problem because horses could spook and bolt, threatening the passengers. I recall early on-street vacuum cleaners had the same effect: thus the term "noisy serpents".

  25. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "Dr Williams attracted some controversy when she noted that ARPA-E's projects were creating new innovative battery technologies but everyone's darling battery entrepreneur Elon Musk was just scaling up existing technology"

    Yeah, but Musk doesn't play with masses of taxpayers' money (with no real issue if it won't pay off) does he?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Musk doesn't play with masses of taxpayers' money

      Yes and no.

      While his initial development money came from profits he earned, the business model for his e-car business is completely dependent on massive amounts of government subsidies to e-car buyers. There's a similar issue with his Space X venture.

      In the case of Space X I'm willing to tolerate it for the simple reason that at the moment almost all space spending is government spending and what he's doing is making the same level of activity possible at HUGELY reduced costs while spurring actual technological advances. There is no similar savings for his e-Car business and I don't get the sense that we are seeing real technological advances.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Yeah, but Musk doesn't play with masses of taxpayers' money (with no real issue if it won't pay off) does he?"

      check on where telsa's income actually comes from. (and it's not the car sales! or batteries!).

      He's pretty much the same, but sucking much more money!.

  26. imanidiot Silver badge

    I call Bullshit!

    Currently, a significant factor holding back renewable energy sources like solar and wind is the fact that energy storage is often inefficient and expensive. When the sun stops shining or the wind stops blowing, that energy source is cut off. With better energy storage, however, the economics of the entire industry would change.

    (emphasis mine)

    The efficiency of energy storage is not the ONLY thing that matters. Conversion efficiency is much more important than storage efficiency. Getting the energy into and out of a storage system is actually where a lot of the losses occur and what make a lot of the proposed schemes completely unviable to begin with. On top of that the total efficiency of storage would have to about quadruple to even begin to have an impact. Storing energy is just not a good thing to do and matching generation to real time use will always be the most efficient option.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: I call Bullshit!

      Storing energy is just not a good thing to do and matching generation to real time use will always be the most efficient option.

      Seems to have worked well enough with Tasmania's hydro until the Greens decided it was non-renewable. Definitely agree about matching generation to real time use, the main failing of wind and solar.

  27. Dave 32

    Prussian Blue

    I wonder what will be evolved in the event of a fire in that Prussian Blue battery? Remember that Prussian Blue is the nice name for Ferric FerroCyanide. Someone should at least ask the question.

    Dave

  28. WilliamBurke
    Facepalm

    We should have stayed on the trees

    Or, come think of it, it was quite comfy in the water.

    Why is on a technology site, frequented by those working towards a brave new world where computers will solve all our problems, every new invention greeted with a howl of "this will never work"? Some prototype built by researchers is not competitive with the established technology, which has hundreds of thousands of man-years headstart. So what? There was no network of petrol stations when the first cars were built. Nor was there a need for private cars, because everybody obviously lived in walking or riding distance of their workplace. It took decades to get electricity to every household. The first owners of a phone had nobody to call. And yet it happened.

    Technology take-up follows a pattern. First it's a interesting toy for enthusiasts or showoffs with more money than sense. As the teething problems are ironed out and the prices come down, slightly less rich showoffs are trying it out. Large corporations start to use it internally because it makes sense for one specific use case. And suddenly the infrastructure is there, and it's a commodity that everybody has. I don't know if the electric car falls into this category, but wouldn't rule it out. Maybe the Google-owned self-driving electric taxi will replace the personal car, first in the cities, then further out. Who knows?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: There was no network of petrol stations

      Actually there was. Maybe not the way you'd recognize them, but it was there. Everybody always forgets WHY Henry Ford settled on gasoline as the power source for his internal combustion engine. We all know diesel is a technically superior fuel. So why gasoline? Answer: because it was waste from processing oil into kerosene. The kerosene had an existing distribution system and gasoline just got tacked onto it.

      I can pick apart the rest of your rant if you want me to, but I think that's sufficient.

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: We should have stayed on the trees

      Why is on a technology site, frequented by those working towards a brave new world where computers will solve all our problems, every new invention greeted with a howl of "this will never work"?

      You should have been around when Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Ptersen was touting a water-powered car. I'm sure its inventor would have been glad to put his hand in your wallet as well as the taxpayers of Queensland. Still waiting for the conversion of Queensland's trains to water power...

  29. Brian Miller 1

    Lean on details

    Just because a battery technology can store energy does not mean it can deliver that energy as needed. What sort of load constraints does a huge tank of liquid have. How will we convert the AC generated energy to DC for battery storage and then BACK to AC for use with loads? Or will we have to upgrade everything including the distribution system to DC?

    I ask because even if batteries become cheap, invertors for megawatt+ loads will not come cheap and the efficiency of these are not fantastic (a mechanical mechanism is probably the most efficient at that scale, literally coupling a DC motor to an AC generator which is more semi-redundant generation equip.). That is if these massive batteries can actually discharge at high enough amps. Or is the plan to have massive DC voltages by daisy chaining cells? 11KV battery cells sound a bit scary if you ask me.

  30. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    Just saying...

    They'll need someone more babelicious to do the marketing...

  31. aqk
    Paris Hilton

    And where is the Hydrogen response?

    Ironically, right beside this article is a leader for a "hydrogen powered car".

    Will this hydrogen idiocy ever die? Or have they recently drilled a hydrogen well?

  32. Johnny Canuck

    Has anyone

    stopped to think what governments will do when all the revenue they take in from gasoline taxes dries up? Once everyone is driving electric that revenue will have to come from somewhere else, and you can bet it'll cost us all more (governments being the way they are).

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Has anyone

      They'll tax electricity. It's such an obvious idea that they won't even have to think of it.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Has anyone

        They'll tax electricity.

        Or the air! Oh wait, they're already doing that...

      2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Has anyone

        They already do tax electricity.

  33. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Maybe we're think about this the wrong way

    Everyone is trying to solve the problem of storing energy so that they can smooth out the differences between baseload (~50%) and peak load. That's proving hard, but wasting energy is really easy, so perhaps we should just up our baseload generating capacity to the current peak and arrange to dump the surplus. For the dumping, you'd need an energy-intensive process that could be rate-switched up or down as quickly as consumer demand went down or up. (Electrolysis of water to drive all those hydrogen cars might do.)

  34. kmac499

    Moving the bottleneck

    My house uses about 10-12kWh of leccy a day. Heating by Gas. If I was to go for a decent home charged e-car my power consumption would at least double. The UK is already struggling to keep the lights on.

    I also have solar PV on the roof, it's averaging about 9kWh a day over the year so far, during daylight hours only of course.

    Much as I look forward to an electric future, no matter how cheap we make storage systems, we are going to need a lot more generating capacity hopefully renewables and or safer nuclear (Thorium fuelled molten salt reactors seem a good civil technology option)

  35. another_vulture

    A real-world(?) example

    I own a BMW i3. I travel about 40 miles a day (20 miles each way to work), and about the same on weekends. I charge at home, and I need about 10 kWh a day. I charge at 25 A at 220V, so I need a bit more than 2 hours to charge. I charge at night between 11:00 PM and 6:AM and I am on a special rate plan that provides electricity at a low rate for these hours, which are the hours of lowest demand in my area. So: Charging off-peak is a crude but effective way to solve the peak demand problem.

    It is perfectly feasible to deploy home charging stations that work with the car to communicate with the grid. My car already knows when I intend to use it next and the current battery state. If the electricity company would give me a further discount, I would be happy to suspend charging when sent a request to do so: my car knows when it can honor such a request and still have time to complete its charging. A central computer in the grid can allocate electricity to the cars to perform load leveling. This would solve the problem when there are more electric cars than now.

    For those of you with no dedicated parking: wait for driverless cars. They can go park in a shared garage and quit cluttering up your neighbourhood, and they can charge when they get there.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. assault on batteries

    It does occur to me that zinc bromide technology (aka Redflow) are pretty advanced now with near 100% coulombic efficiency.

    Also yes they are fairly nasty if they leak but no worse than lead acid plus the electrolyte(s) can be collected and filtered then returned to the tanks, one recharge and its good as new.

    IIRC the big advantage with vanadium is that the two electrolytes are essentially just different oxidation states in solution so again if someone screws up and reverses them its more of an annoyance.

    In fact any flow battery has the main advantage that because the tanks are separate to the MEA if something bad happens it can simply be mechanically disconnected or a secondary MEA connected.

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