"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ideology Driving installation of Unworkable Technology!

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

TS Eliot

Alice would be quite at home in the Wonderland of green-inspired technology costing untold billions; technology that unfortunately doesn't really work and no amount of beating an ideological drum will change the end result. The electric car is a technological marvel , computerised to the wheel-nuts and representing the pinnacle of current automotive engineering and is touted as the answer to our personal transportation problems. The shadow between a great idea and an imperfect reality is the lack a proper battery and this beautiful piece of engineering is leaving the factory powered by a huge bunch of  lithium cells , more at home in an Ipod, and which give very limited range, together with temperature and aging problems . The car is so expensive that it  is priced out of the market even with the subsidies provided by silly Governments. The new Nissan Leaf is a good example where recently the price of a replacement battery has been estimated at $32,000, about the same as the cost of the subsidised car. The website for the Leaf tells you nothing about the battery's poor performance  and Nissan does not publish temperature performance degradation or life characteristics. but these silly details don't matter as long as the car is "green". Electric cars should NEVER have been mass-produced until a suitable battery technology was designed - we now have a very good cart but no horse!

Solar cells are also great high technology products and when coupled with a storage system are great for remote communications and remote small power systems. Somehow panel manufacturers using the "is green, is good" argument has convinced gullible people and their governments that suddenly the storage system is no longer necessary for large scale power systems and huge subsidisation will solve the problem ; a totally incorrect assumption.

Wind generators are also widely used for marine power ( coupled to a battery) and together with solar cells form a reliable diversified power supply for small craft. The "green " wind story has been sold across the world and thousands of these ugly behemoths are springing up everywhere but like the solar technology and the electric cars someone forgot the storage system that makes the technology viable.
None of the above technologies should have made it past prototype installation until the storage problems were solved .


5 comments:

  1. What more can one say...you have summed it up beautifully Baron.

    I just hope someone out there is listening.

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  2. Automotive technology is developed to be more environment-friendly.

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  3. In the future, I hope cars run on environment-friendly technology.

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  4. I don't want to see the day when car technologies use unreliable energy sources such as wind power (absurd, I know).

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  5. I have to agree that a new battery design could be a breakthrough for electric vehicles. MIT researchers is now developing a new battery that "relies on an innovative architecture called a semi-solid flow cell, in which solid particles are suspended in a carrier liquid and pumped through the system."

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