Mackems lead the electric charge

Posted by Paul Horrell at 10:02 am on Monday July 20, 2009


There’s something far more important behind the news that Nissan’s Sunderland plant is to lead the charge (ha ha) in battery manufacturing. In 18 months time, you’ll be able to buy a proper full-sized Nissan hatchback powered entirely by batteries.

The car itself will be unveiled in just a couple of weeks. It isn’t just a re-powered version of any existing model. (Our picture is of a concept using a Cube body, but that’s not the real thing.) Nissan knows, like Toyota did with the Prius, that a new technology only gets headlines if it’s dressed in new clothes.

So the electric Nissan will look unique. It’ll make its owner identifiable as a green early-adopter. But it won’t look odd, because it mustn’t shock (ha ha) anyone. Expect a fairly low-drag but acceptable car in the mould of a Prius or Honda Insight.

Nissan engineers insist that the new car will do everything to match the usefulness of your 1.6-litre Focus or Golf. In other words, it’ll do nearly 100mph, and hit 60mph in about 11 sec. (Though the performance will be far sweeter and quieter than a petrol or diesel, as electric-drive cars always are.) It’ll be a five-seater, and it’ll have air-con and all the usual amenities.
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Even the cost is comparable to your regular hatch. Though you’ll have to count the cost in a different way. Buy a £13,000 Focus and you have to keep on spending to put fuel into it, service it and tax it. For the electric car, the likely scenario is this. The upfront price will be about £5,000 more, but then there will be a £5,000 government subsidy to bring it back level. But that price is just for the car, batteries not included. Instead you’ll lease the batteries, for about the same cost as your monthly petrol bill. A recharge will be just pennies.

But – and it’s a big but – even if its performance, space, safety, comfort and costs are comparable with a regular car, one thing isn’t. The range will be little over 100 miles. That’s OK for commuting, where you can charge it overnight in your garage or front drive.

For longer journeys, Nissan is working with the authorities and electricity companies to get fast-chargers installed at motorway service stations. But even though these will give you 80 miles of juice in just 25 minutes, that’s a helluva hole in your average speed.

In Britain, the North East is the first region to sign up to provide that charging network, as well as other incentives like being able to use bus lanes and to park free. Other countries and regions worldwide are doing the same thing. Nissan is working hard to get the infrastructure in place before the car goes on sale.

Part of the reason the car is a unique design rather than an adaptation of an existing hatch is that the components are arranged differently. Nissan has developed an easily cooled layered Lithium-ion battery, while everyone else using Li-ion has small cylindrical cells. So the Nissan has thin battery sandwiches all over its floor, and a thicker layer under the rear seat. The motor, electronics and charger are under the bonnet, but they are compact.

Nissan reckons its new battery concept, which will be made at Sunderland, has a lot more development in it. The engineers expect they’ll have doubled range within five years. They’ll have to if Nissan is to reach its bold goal that by 2020, 10 percent of all the cars it sells will be electric.

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  1. Stig's Irish Cousin said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 1:27 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Good to see another manufacturer get in on the electric game but it’s the same old problem of poor range and non-existent infrastructure.

  2. chrisc990 said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I am very grateful that the author of this article was humble enough to correct the headline.

  3. e-bunny said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm Link to comment Report comment

    ..a 100 mile range and half an hour recharges every 80 miles ??!!! Is this for real ??????!!!! ..or is it all about the gvmnt. subsidies… So basically your getting your avreage focus or Golf, only it’s actually a nissan…,with a max of 3 gallons of fuel at any given time with a range that will not get you out of the county, at a 5k up price to be refunded by GB..And the juice to charge it will come from ?? Yes, as dumb as it gets ! They might as well have converted the factory to a nunnery to increase motor marality… rubbish !!!

  4. Paul Horrell said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm Link to comment Report comment

    e-bunny: You’re right, compared with a diesel or petrol car this range is absolutely hopeless. But then, there are lots of people who have a Golf as a second car and it never ever goes more than 100 miles in a day, so let them be the guinea pigs for battery cars.

    Sadly, one day soon the oil will run out. So we might as well start preparing for it. Paul

  5. John ex Nissan said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 6:23 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Good news for the North East and the workers at Nissan. In one of your programs last series I think it was James May tested a Hydrogen powered car this to me is the way forward and not batteries. Again it will come down to cost and range and, until they sort those out the sales will be poor, as for the charging stations get them up and running now so if or when these cars take off the infrastructure is in place to keep them moving, instead of doing it the other way round.

  6. Metal-omega said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 6:32 pm Link to comment Report comment

    If the problem maybe in placing charging stations throughout the country, why not make some sort of a portable charger?
    You charge it at home, then when you run out of juice, you simply use it to discharge to the car’s battery. No need to worry about distance issues or even making stations.

  7. Mikeado said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Early adopter?! People have been preaching green shite for ages!

    Still, at least they’re saving the world with cars that run on power stations. And has a range of less than half the Honda FCX Clarity. Ok ok, hydrogen is still a couple of years off, but it’s progress would be faster if people (and the government, who seemingly know nothing about cars) didn’t keep focusing on batteries as though they are the only and best solution.

    Anyway, if I were to design an electric car, that’s how I’d do it – batteries along the floor, I mean. The CoG is low, which is sporty – except mine would have a solar panel on the roof so it charges itself. And go 200 miles. And rival an M5. Hey, my imagination, my rules.

  8. luckyman said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm Link to comment Report comment

    For all those who apparently STILL haven’t read it – ‘Nazi Sharks’; go to http://www.claverton-ener, in ‘Most Downloaded’ on the right hand side of the front page of the site. The direct link is http://www.claverton-ener but it only seems to work when it wants to. Or just Google Nazi Sharks, actually. Please have a look at the issues before you post (unless you can’t be bothered, in which case fair enough)

    Paul, do you know if these batteries are water or air cooled?


  9. luckyman said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 6:58 pm Link to comment Report comment

    PS re transmission yesterday – greenhouses six miles long and CO2 scrubbers at more than a tenner/mile. Nice to see the arithmetic is back where it should be :-D

  10. skul said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm Link to comment Report comment

    hmm where does electricity come from?
    cos last time i checked im sure it came from power stations, which burn fossil fuels

    electricity is not the way forward people

    hydrogen is!

  11. skul said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 8:55 pm Link to comment Report comment

    or fairy dust its more economical than hydrogen

  12. Greg K Nicholson said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 2:29 am Link to comment Report comment

    Trying to recharge batteries quickly is pointless — instead, they should be easily-swappable.

    Petrol stations could then have a stash of fully-charged batteries, which they would exchange for an empty battery and some money. They’d then recharge the old battery for use by someone else later.

    (This avoids breaking the petrol stations’ business model and so gets them on-board with the enviro-goodness.)

    skul: hydrogen is produced using electricity — it’s no greener than just using the electricity in the car. Indeed, it’s less energetically efficient.

    (The argument is that it’s quicker to get hydrogen inside the car than electricity, but that’s only so if you refuse to swap batteries about.)

    See also Shai Agassi’s TED talk: lang/eng/shai_agassi_on_e lectric_cars.html

  13. MB said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to comment Report comment

    I’m glad that new energy is being developed, but Hydrogen is the way forward. It goes further, It’s quicker to fill up. I’m with honda on this one

  14. Mikeado said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 7:25 am Link to comment Report comment

    ^The hydrogen makes the electricity and emits only water. Once we can get hydrogen without CO2-emitting methids, we’ll have cars that fit the mould of today’s cars, without those blasted emissions.

    Batteries contain lithium (or, in the Prius, nickel), which has to be mined in vast quantities. So the production is not very green at all.

  15. ribena said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 7:27 am Link to comment Report comment

    why not just hitch up a petrol powered generator for the longer journeys?

  16. Merlin said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 8:00 am Link to comment Report comment

    Instead of the huge glass roof on the Nissan concept, why didn’t they think of adding some solar panels to it, to charge the batteries for free? This would even trickle charge the battery when you are driving, extending the range by a small amount.

    Also, who is going to wait for 25 minutes at a motorway services eating horrible food costing upwards of £10, while the car charges up? I can’t see sales reps going for that idea.

  17. Paul Horrell said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 8:17 am Link to comment Report comment

    Thanks for the interesting comments everyone.

    @ Metal-omega 6 – Portable chargers: they need to get their electricity from somewhere, so the problem remains sadly.

    @ Mikeado 7 – Pure electric cars will always be cheaper than FC cars and better for short trips. Also, because FC cars will use electric motors, high-voltage electronics and most of the other paraphernalia of a battery car, the development of battery cars this is useful R&D. FC cars will probably be battery hybrids, though they might be ultracapacitor hybrids.

    @ luckyman 8 – I did read your interesting paper a while ago and again today. But if you hadn’t called it such a daft name it wouldn’t get caught up in every spam filter in the world.

    @ skul 10 – As I’ve said in several EV blogs in the past, because power stations are more efficient at converting fossil fuel than car engines are, electric vehicles are more efficient in CO2 than diesel or petrol cars, even if they use non-renewable electricity.

    @ Greg K Nicholson 12 – Nissan’s partner Renault will use the Shai Agassi Betterplace swappable battery system. Nissan has decided against it, but the Nissan car can be easily adapted to swappable batteries if the world goes that way.

    @ Mikeado 14 – I asked Nissan the same question about Lithium. They say there’s 30 years’ supply at least, mostly in Bolivia, and that it’s very easily recyclable, so this isn’t the worst of our problems.

    @ ribena 15 – Congratulations, you just invented the Chevrolet Volt. This is in essence what an extended-range electric vehicle is.

  18. Svrallo Svrallone said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm Link to comment Report comment

    @the fast title changing : LOL
    Always the same problems, same matters, same datas, etc etc etc. At this point i’m quite tired of the argument and i have a negative conclusion, just suck out all the ffff…unny oil and somebody will “misteriously” find in two or three day a new way to do the old stuff.
    A “yes, I’m realistic like a fairy tales” svrallo

  19. PetrolHead247 said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm Link to comment Report comment

    When someone says ‘electric car’ to you, you always immediately think G-Wiz. That’s what put’s me off electric cars. Some are extremely good – the Tesla for example. Others however are rubbish – like the G-Wiz, which technically isn’t a car.

    Anyway enough banging-on about G-Wiz’s. This does sound like a good idea. It’s got all the convenience of a normal hatch, which is vital if Nissan want to build a successful eco-car. But range is and has always been a weak point. 100 miles isn’t like a normal hatch, although it’s more than a Ford GT’s 4mpg which takes it 75 miles. But that’s a mad supercar, the eco Nissan is a small electric hatch. However, i have a solution.

    Why not just put some solar panels on it? This would mean when you’re driving along on a sunny day, your car was being charged by the sun and you don’t need to stop. Also why don’t you have two sets of batteries? One would be charging while the other would be powering the car so if your low on charge you could change the sets of batteries instead of waiting 20mins for them to charge.

    I think this will work, and it might even show the world that practical electric cars don’t have to be horrible little snot-box’s and that they can be very good indeed. Tesla has already showed the world how good electric sports cars can be, incredible good infact.

  20. Merlin said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to comment Report comment

    @ petrolHead247

    I did say something about the solar panels earlier, but for some reason Paul Horrell didn’t comment about it; maybe it’s too sensible an idea for Nissan.

  21. PetrolHead247 said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm Link to comment Report comment

    @ Merlin: Yes, seems like we’ve got the same idea. Although with the solar panels i put that there could be two sets of batteries. One would be charged by the sun through the solar panels and the other would be used to power the car.

    Still you deserve the credit for mentioning solar panels first. Great idea btw. :)

  22. PetrolHead247 said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 3:16 pm Link to comment Report comment


    Why not run a car on water? You would have a generator which takes the hydrogen from the water. Then the generator would release electrons which would power the car. But you’ll need something called an MEA which can seperated the H2 from the O. Click the link, it explains it all: (This has already been built a year ago btw).

    http://cheeju.wordpress.c om/2008/06/15/660/

  23. e-bunny said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm Link to comment Report comment

    or how about synthetic hydro carbons as a bulk enhanced with toulene, benzene or even ethanol ? Running out of oil isn’t really an issue as far as I know.. And the dymano is a century old invention..could also charge a battery… The way i see it, governments globally, can’t or won’t loose out on revenues generated through fuel taxes.. in the uk around 70p per litre.. so instead they subsidise the technology that will enable them to maintain this income.. and it’s wrapped in “green”..and already smells rotten.. not because I’m a fossilfuel freak, a conspiracist or a sceptic but simply because of common sense..

  24. hopper said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 5:51 pm Link to comment Report comment

    to mr clarkson ref new honda type r just watched your bit about car on dave where u didnt like it basicaly ref handling ect understeer against old typer did u think of turning V/S/A off as by doing this 1 simple thing turns the car into an animal i own a 57 plate import and dont know if thigs have been done b4 i got it and power being the same as old civic i dought it as i have kept up with a vxr vectra in a straight line and given some scubies a shock close would like your responce

  25. e-bunny said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm Link to comment Report comment

    hopper.. you’re on the wrong page.. If you’d like to get in touch with JC try writing an email.. did promise a clarkson, may, hammond blog but as of yet there’s no sign or even any talk of it…

    oh and the dave shows are repeats from as far back as 5 years ago… it’s a bit like watching rambo III and trying to get in touch with stallone to tell him one of the scenes was a bit too realistic… :D

  26. e-bunny said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I mean..unrealistic..!

  27. luckyman said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm Link to comment Report comment

    skul, don’t worry at least I read your comment properly ;-)

    Paul, did anyone else who actually likes Top Gear bother to do any work? Besides, would you rather I’d called it ‘Soft Porn (or why Top Gear haven’t done their aritmetic)’ instead? Now that would have been interesting for the internet filters. I was almost certain you’d read it, likewise Clarkson. Thanks to you both. Any word on the cooling for these batteries?

    Mikeado – you are half right on the batteries in that the nickel for Ni-MH (the last and this generation Prius & Insight) is nasty stuff to recycle.

    Petrolhead247 – err, no. There’s this inconvenient truth called the second law of thermodynamics. In trade we call this type of thing ‘snake oil’ iki/Snake_oil

    e-bunny – oil ‘running out’ is not the problem as such, the problem is the point at which production can’t keep up with demand – ‘peak production’. I don’t know whether you noticed but it was sitting at $147 per barrel last summer. Once you adjust for inflation that was half as high again as the previous record (during the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s, when petrol was rationed)of about equivalent to $100/bbl. Last year, say 2007-2008, was the largest redistribution of wealth in the history of history. It’s a problem. As you rightly point out so is tax revenue for the government, at the very least in the UK (hence, I suspect, all these GPS based charge-by-the-mile road tax ideas). What do you mean by bulk synthetic hydrocarbons please?


  28. luckyman said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 7:22 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Petrolhead247, I just thought of something. When I mentioned snake oil I was talking about the MEA thing on the link you provided, not the solar panels on car roofs which are a decent idea. Apologies!

  29. Nheo said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to comment Report comment

    Well, full electric cars are very interesting to be honest. Batteries are very expensive though. I don’t understand why Toyota couldn’t do the prius with a diesel engine and also had a capability to recharge batteries at home. It would then get 100mpg easily with a range of 1000 miles probably.
    Anyway, in the USA full electric cars is a huge thing with lots of companies now offering to do a swap.

  30. Paul Horrell said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 9:33 am Link to comment Report comment

    About solar panels. They don’t generate enough power unfortunately. Some Audis have a panel the size of a sunroof. All it does is generate enough power to keep the ventilation fan going when the car is parked in the sun, to keep the cabin cool. Even if you covered the whole roof and bonnet, you’d still have nowhere near enough power to top up traction batteries. Shame, but there you are.

    @ luckyman 27 – the Nissan batteries are lamina of Li ion, rather than cylinders. This makes them far easier to cool uniformly than the Tesla-type Li ion.

  31. Showie said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 11:17 am Link to comment Report comment

    why cant we just put hydrogen pumps in petrol stations and sell the Honda FCX Clarity and BMW hydrogen powered 7 series? they are better cars, smarter, can go further, technically emit less i would guess as they emit water and don’t use electricity from power plants to charge them, are easier to fill up, are faster to fill up and help countries like Australia (yeah hey from down here) out of their current situation of major drought. and your getting a proper car and not supporting that Toyota Prius thing in any way shape or form.

  32. Merlin said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 12:40 pm Link to comment Report comment

    @ Paul Horrell

    Thanks for the response about solar panels.

    Forgive me challenging yours and Audi’s argument, but if solar panels on the roof could run cabin ventilation or other less current-hungry car accessories, it begs the question why haven’t they done it? I mean, even caravan owners can buy a solar panel to stick in the window, to trickle charge the caravan’s battery. I just think that a trick was missed, that’s all. If Audi can do it, so can Nissan on an all-electric car.

  33. said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 2:13 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Solar panels peak at about 100 watts per square metre when in bright sunshine. To match the power from a single domestic 240V 13A supply therefore requires a sunny day and about 30 square metres of solar cells – roughly the roof area of a London Bendy Bus.

    If it takes 8 hours to charge your Nissan from the UK mains, it will take about two weeks to charge it from the 1.5 square metres of solar cells that would fit on an average hatchback roof, assuming it is sunny for 12 hours a day.

    So solar cells are not going to solve the EV range problem even if you live in Arizona.

  34. homemade said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 3:39 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Why don’t they use swappable batterys for this car? It’s much easier to make an infrastructure by supplying all the petrol stations with recharged batteries. You just swap an empty one with a full one. It would take even less time than refueling. Like you do with those printer cartridges. I understand that the battery would be quite big, but they would get smaller and more powerfull with time.

  35. luckyman said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 3:54 pm Link to comment Report comment

    30 Paul – thanks; any drop in parasitic losses during charging is more than welcome

    32 – Merlin. Speaking about parasitic losses solar panels can be good for reducing them. You can make the same argument about solar PV as for regenerative breaking in a mild hybrid system such as Mini’s stop-start for instance, in that any time the alternator doesn’t have to work there is better efficiency from the engine. Not too sure why more manufacturers haven’t looked at PV yet but my guess would be that the cheaper types degrade over time. Cost vs. efficacy I suppose.


  36. luckyman said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Paul, you might find this interesting l/CET_Technical_Brief_Eco nomic.pdf although be aware it is NOT light reading! It’s an interesting paper but I’d want to see the hot-swapping of batteries in action on some scale before making such sweeping conclusions

  37. plebeian said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 8:45 pm Link to comment Report comment

    luckyman.. lucky in love ?

  38. luckyman said...
    Thursday July 23, 2009 at 12:12 am Link to comment Report comment

    Plebeian – My ex-fiance still owes me a grand, and I doubt I’ll ever see it back. She’d probably still try to tell you I was lucky to have her. I’d disagree…

    The tag is mostly from a favourite song of mine. You could say I’m happy, more or less ;-)

  39. ariel said...
    Thursday July 23, 2009 at 6:59 pm Link to comment Report comment

    soooooooo washingpowder!!

  40. Ricardo said...
    Friday July 24, 2009 at 4:07 am Link to comment Report comment

    As far as the swappable batteries goes, it’s be a little tough to get to all those batteries, and if you put them in a more accessible location, then you’d get problems with the center of gravity. Electric research is certainly great for hydrogen power, which seems to be a bit more likely to be the future than battery electrics.

    The only problem I might have with the hydrogen powered electrics is their production of greenhouse gases. No, I’m not talking about the production of the electricity to power them (which, as mentioned, is far more efficient than with a standard petrol car). I’m talking about the production of water vapour, which has an absorption line right at the peak of the radiation emitted by the earth. Now, I’ve heard arguments that water vapour is at least a negative feedback system, but I’m worried about the sheer volume of it changing weather systems. So, does anyone know if the emissions are liquid or vapour?

    Also, about the solar panels, I agree that they are not very efficient. I am aware of a lot of the cutting edge work on them, because I am getting my PhD from one of the leading institutions in optics research, and one of the professors is doing some of the top stuff on solar panels. Of course, I’m not studying any of that stuff (because why would I be studying something useful for my PhD?), but I’ve attended some of the lectures.

    And that water powered car does seem to violate the laws of thermodynamics. You have to put in energy to split up water. Just look up the Gibbs free energy of H20, then the constituent parts. Water sits at a much lower molecular energy. I also think the entropy is at a lower energy level in water, but I’m not absolutely certain about that.

  41. luckyman said...
    Saturday July 25, 2009 at 7:15 am Link to comment Report comment

    @ariel – gets clothes nice and clean, and it’s a pain to hoover if you spill some

    @Ricardo – very interesting post. What’s your thesis on?

    I tend not to use energy levels within atomic and molecular bonds if I can possibly avoid it though I get what you mean and you’re correct: most stable bonds = least possible energy. For what it’s worth the entropy of water in the way I tend to discuss the second law is a specific, indirectly inferred and therefore measurable concept of disorder, and it depends on whether the water’s liquid or gaseous.

    Solar panels are never going to be more than a way to power ancilliary systems on cars, but it’s interesting research – what type of PV is your professor involved with?

    Global warming –

    Water vapour is a greenhouse ‘gas’ but it isn’t at the peak of the radiation emitted, at least not if you count the whole electromagnetic spectrum. Are you talking about the infra-red range? I presume so.

    Climate science isn’t my field, but I can give you some information on the variables that would be involved plus some guesses. The answer to your question would firstly depend on what type of fuel cells you’re considering. The most common for automotive use is Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) which operate at c325K – c350K when on load. Given the purity of the H2 and the fact that only O2 is taken from the air the H2O produced is extremely pure, so by the time it gets through an exhaust system there *should* be very little vapour – but I’ve never seen a fuel cell car running.

    That still doesn’t answer your question entirely, because you’d then have to take ambient temperature, cloud cover, wind speed, road temperature and humidity into account. Plus the amount of traffic driving on a road, since beyond the immediately obvious there’s also the issue of tyres throwing up minute liquid water droplets. An interesting empirical and modelling problem for someone in the future, but I think I’ll pass on researching that one.

    As a proper guess I would think that water evaporated from roads wouldn’t contribute to the heat island effect more than the particulates, NOx, SO2 and unburnt fuel vapour presently emitted. With H2 and elec you avoid those. On a global level the important thing is that any vapour which does end up in the atmosphere does so on a local scale, say at most city-wide. It pretty much gets trapped there, and will then precipitate at some point – I think that’s what you’re talking about when you mention a negative feedback system, or are you also discussing/hearing arguments about oceanic water evaporation?

    Batteries –

    Heavy and not at all energy dense when compared to compressed H2. The ideal place to put them is somewhere in the floorpan. Nissan’s partner Renault is looking at hot-swapping with Betterplace, and I believe that’s where the batteries are going. The swap system prototypes I’ve seen in the literature look a lot like automatic car washes.

    Hydrogen –

    You can get it from electrolysis or far more cheaply (very roughly a factor of 10) from the steam reforming of natural gas. Very convenient until you consider that the UK will be importing 70% of its gas within five years, and you’d need to double the imports if you wanted to add road transport to that. There’s then the fact that the price of natural gas is directly linked to the price of oil, and the oil price has been unstable lately and is almost certain to become more so. Then there’s the cost of infrastructure. I ran some numbers on H2 vs EV-mode transport a while back and they’re on the link in one of my earlier posts if you’re interested, though do please note I was being a bit kind to fuel cells.


  42. wally said...
    Saturday July 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm Link to comment Report comment

    ..aligators have nipples.. can’t we use them for something ? they can’t.. :D

  43. Ricardo said...
    Sunday July 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I haven’t actually proposed my thesis yet, but I’m currently doing work on novel all-fiber devices.

    As for the information on water, excellent stuff that I didn’t know. Thanks. With this information, I’ll definitely agree that, since the water is emitted in liquid form, then the environmental impact will probably be minimal. What I meant with the negative feedback system is that, when more water is in the atmosphere, it’s more likely to rain, and therefore release the water from the atmosphere, therefore pushing the system back towards equilibrium.

    The professor I’ve heard from is actually doing/has done work with a number of different systems for widely different applications, which have all required something quite different going into them, so I’ll be buggered if I can remember any of it. The one main point I got out of it is that the actual photovoltaic materials are very expensive, so they usually comprise a very small part of the system. Optics are used to make the system more efficient, and that’s when I kind of zoned out, because I really hate free-space optics.

  44. luckyman said...
    Sunday July 26, 2009 at 10:33 pm Link to comment Report comment

    @wally – go for it! Just don’t get bitten while you’re doing the research ;-)

    @Ricardo – ‘I’ll be buggered if I can remember any of it’ – I’ve sat in lectures like that myself :-D . I know an engineer who’s just installed a concentrating and solar tracking PV system, though I think the DIY cost benefit was marginal for the extra efficiency – he just didn’t want to mess about with his own roof! People have been looking at Fresnel lenses for flat panels and other types for trackers; most of the big concentrating systems now use polished aluminium with or without glass coatings – again depends on cost, but in any case it’s a lot cheaper than PV. May looked at CSP in a recent O.U. programme.

    Novel all fibre devices. Good stuff. If it’s optic fibres then I’d be interested to know about possible energy savings vs existing tech, but as far as my knowledge goes then err… If it’s carbon fibres etc. then if you can get a hold of a copy you might be interested in reading the IET’S E&T magazine, Vol 4, Issue 10, 6th-19th June 2009, all of it really but especially pp 24-27 on fibre tech. Might be something there of wider interest for you.


  45. greghalliday said...
    Tuesday July 28, 2009 at 5:53 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Oh my god it is so ugly

  46. jayz09 said...
    Saturday August 8, 2009 at 7:36 am Link to comment Report comment

    well… i think we need some entrepreneur to innovate that thing

  47. said...
    Saturday August 8, 2009 at 1:48 pm Link to comment Report comment

    If the production car is as lively as the prototype, it’ll be a great car around town. We recently drove the Cube-based EV-02 in Switzerland and liked it a lot (Mr Horrell was there too, as it happens): uk/2009/07/round-block-in -nissans-electric-vehicle .html

  48. JEZZA said...
    Monday August 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Electric cars are compleitly irelivent they just take the engines from washing machines
    WASHING MACHINES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  49. EARTH LOVER said...
    Friday August 21, 2009 at 10:22 am Link to comment Report comment

    What’s Copenhagen?

    The capital of Denmark, but you knew that. Commentators are billing the international negotiations in Copenhagen this December (officially known as COP15) as “the most important meeting mankind has ever had”.

    COP15 is the culmination of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, and it is supposed to produce a binding global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enough to prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’ in the climate.

    In practice, most countries agree that this means limiting global temperature rise to below 2˚C above pre-industrial temperatures. Above 2 degrees, it is believed that frightening feedback mechanisms in the climate system will kick in, causing warming to accelerate to a runaway pace that humanity will no longer be able to prevent by simply reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions. Pretty near every country in the world has signed up to the UNFCCC – which is a good start.

    The UNFCCC’s greatest achievement to date has been the Kyoto Protocol, which set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These targets amount to an average of five per cent cuts against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. What happens after 2012 is what must be decided at COP15 in Copenhagen this year.

    Many scientists now believe that it is too late to achieve the primary UNFCCC goal. As Professor John Holdren, now President Obama’s science adviser, put it way back in 2006: “We have already passed the stage of dangerous climate change. The task now is to prevent catastrophic climate change.”

    Unfortunately the increasingly grim news from the scientific community has not meant that the world’s political leaders have knuckled down to work harder on reducing emissions. Far from it; worldwide emissions have been rising faster than even the worst-case scenarios predicted by the global authority on climate change, the IPCC. Meanwhile, we are almost no closer to reaching a deal at Copenhagen than we were 4 years ago when Kyoto came into force.

    At present, the very highest aspirations of any rich nation at COP15 would, if realised in full, give us a 50% chance of avoiding crossing the 2˚C threshold to runaway warming; yet we are very unlikely to achieve even this best-case scenario at Copenhagen.

    Most observers agree that the outcome at Copenhagen – and hence, perhaps, the future of civilization – will ultimately be determined by what the USA and China can manage to commit to between them. But the truth is every nation has a crucial role to play in the negotiations, from the powerhouses of the G8 richest economies to the poor, low-lying countries of AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States. Nothing less than a comprehensive global deal that is as strong as the science demands will do. All of humanity must agree a way to work together to avert this disaster – or else.

    The international politics of climate change, and the relative positions of the world’s nations – both with regard to one another and to the absolute targets dictated by the climate science – are fiendishly difficult to follow and understand. Even the delegations themselves can have a hard time keeping up.

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  60. bobby0109 said...
    Sunday January 25, 2015 at 9:58 am Link to comment Report comment

    So many new electric cars showing vast mpg. But we never see what it costs to charge those batteries! As an example the new Renault Zoe can save lots of petrol but as the batteries can only be leased for £75 a month, where are the savings? Please Paul, tell us the real costs of these cars!

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