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Old 02-01-2006, 09:05 AM   #1
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State of the Union address touches on "oil addiction."

As rh77 mentioned in another thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by rh77
In other news, the State of the Union Address touched on our "addiction to oil". PLEASE do not make this a political discussion, but the focus seems to be shift to Ethanol and a Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle to be research by the Dept. of Energy, and better hybrid batteries (?). I'm glad it was at least mentioned.
Info can be obtained here:

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2006/2006-02-01-01.asp

While I don't want this to be a political pissing match, I'm certain my bias will appear to be evident. Needless to say, I'll disclose my actual political affiliation at the end of this message so you can determine if you assumptions about me based on my criticisms/support are accurate.

Quote:
"Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources, and we are on the threshold of incredible advances," said the President, announcing a 22 percent increase in funding for clean energy research to be implemented by the Department of Energy.
Honestly, $10 billion is a drop in the bucket. We will end up spending between 1 and 2 TRILLION dollars on the war in Iraq (source). It appears to me that oil has been the priority from the beginning, but we have sunk most of our money into taking ownership of the oil in Iraq and not developing real alternative energy sources. Imagine what 2 trillion dollars could buy in renewables or research. The government could have purchased a gas electric hybrid for every adult in the US with that much money, and still have more than enough to spare for more research.

Quote:
To change how automobiles are powered, Bush said, "We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen."
Better batteries are good. Electric cars are good. Hydrogen cars are a waste, IMHO. There is so much energy lost in producing and storing hydrogen that it becomes a lost cause. Fuel cells and transportation of these cells also becomes a huge factor. At least electric cars were addressed, which is the real future of vehicles IMHO.

Quote:
"We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years,"
Good.. good.. Are we going to address the pollution problems with ethanol fuel? As I mentioned in another post, it takes more energy to get ethanol from corn than you get in return. Countries like Brazil benefit from sugar cane which ethanol can be taken from with little effort. I'm not a big fan of technologies that are counter-productive. As it is now, ethanol and hydrogen are two of those technologies. I'm not saying that it won't change as technology advances, but I think we're better off working with the technologies we have right now instead of trying to pull a rabbit out of our hat.

Quote:
"Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025, he told the legislators and government officials assembled in the House of Representatives chamber.

"By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past," said the President.
There lies the problem. I'm unsure if his goal is to remove the "oil addiction" or remove the "foreign oil addiction." It's no secret that Bush comes from a family with high interests in oil. Whatever his motivations are, removing this high dependance on oil (foreign or domestic) is a good thing.

I'm also not sure if our enviroment is the real issue. Anyone who has spent any time in Asia, Mexico, South America, etc. knows that our contribution towards pollution is nothing compared to these other countries. When I lived in the Philippines every car that drove by was beltching black smoke. That's a lot of smoke for a small city with over 20million people in it. And just so you know, within a day naitim and kulangot ko

Quote:
The solar industry will partner with the Department of Energy on cutting-edge research that will accelerate solar’s development as a mainstream energy resource, Resch said. "We will also partner with the administration to extend the tax credits through 2015 and ensure that the U.S. is the global leader in the next great high tech growth industry, solar energy."

But not all renewable energy proponents were that enthusiastic about the President's plans. A network of U.S. businesses and community organizations called the Sun Day Campaign said President Bush’s State of the Union call for "expanded use of nuclear power and so-called 'clean coal' while simultaneously cutting funds for wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and energy efficiency programs is continuing the administration’s blind-as-a-bat energy policies that offer no solutions to climate change, energy imports, or rising energy costs."
and...

Quote:
In fact, Bossong said, "the President is expected to offer a budget request next week for Fiscal Year 2007 that will slash, and possibly eliminate, funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s core wind, geothermal, hydropower, and concentrating solar accounts as well as make deep cuts in key DOE energy efficiency programs and the sustainable energy programs in other federal agencies."
I'm unsure if Bush's comments were simply lip service or not. After all, I've read 1984... I know that all a politician has to do is say one thing enough and the people will believe that is what they are doing. If Bush talks about renewables while doing nothing about it, he can always point to his State of the Union address and say, "see? I've been talking about this for months now." He essentially will be removing any blame from himself.

One also wonders his motivation when he cuts funding to wind power and geothermal heat, both of which have been shown to be more than effective AND drastically reduce dependance on foreign oil.

Quote:
Mark said the latest UCS analysis shows that the United States is "sending $500,000 overseas every minute to import oil."
...

And my politican affiliation is: Nothing. I dislike most politicians. I don't care if they're republican or democrat. To me they're two different flavors of the same evil ice cream. They both melt under pressure, and more often than not their colors are artificial.





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Old 02-01-2006, 09:53 AM   #2
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matt - feel free to move my

from an outsider's perspective, i'd say your presidents comments on "oil addiction" and (specifically) the need to improve battery technology for both hybrid and *electric cars* (yes, he actually mentioned electric cars) is significant.

this, and a number of other things have happened in the last few months that suggest to me that we've hit a real turning point in the future of ICE-dominant vehicles.

been meaning to start a thread on the topic (with links to the "other things"), but been a little bit busy this week...

if you want more info, google: 1) bush's comments; 2) the new "X-Prize" proposed for fuel efficiency; 3) "plug-in partners coalition" (i have no doubt this group influenced bush's comments on battery technology last night); 4) also look for "firefly" battery technology - a dramatic technological increase in the power/range/robustness of low-cost lead-acid batteries - just one of many companies working on batteries, but the only one whose product would be immediately useful due to cost of production (compared to li-ion / ni-cad etc).
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Old 02-01-2006, 11:00 AM   #3
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A staunch Republican weighs in...

I'm as Republican as they get, but the oil/energy part of Bush's speech was pure hogwash. To wit:

1)Fuel efficient cars and trucks ARE available on this planet, just not in the US. Almost every carmaker sells cars in Europe and Asia that get 60-80 MPG. They are safe and have low emissions. But just TRY buying one and shipping it to the US. You can't get it registered once its here.

Why doesn't Bush just tell EPA and NHTSA to certify these cars for import? Perhaps as limited edition, experimental vehicles?

2) Hydrogen fuel cells are never going to provide automotive energy, since it takes a lot more energy to make hydrogen than you get when you "burn" it in a fuel cell. Almost all hydrogen is made from natural gas and coal, and NOT by electrolysis.

And how do you store enough hydrogen gas to provide reasonble range?

Bush sqaundered billions on a technology that has little-to-no chance of succeeding. I believe that this was intentional, throwing a bone to environmentalists while actually accomplishing NOTHING. This money would have been better spent on battery research and diesel/hybrid vehicles.

3) Lithium-ion-iron-phosphate batteries have been developed that would significantly add range without significant weight. Hybrid or pure electric vehicles using these batteries would be inexpensive because the raw materials are abundant and cheap. NiMH batteries (used in ALL current hybrids) contain Nickel which is scarce and expensive.

Why won't Bush throw some Federal money at battery companies (Valence Technologies, SAFT and others) to fund production of cheap, high performance lithium batteries?

4) Why can't Bush introduce legislation to phase light trucks and vans into the CAFE standards?

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Old 02-01-2006, 11:10 AM   #4
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i'm not even american,

i'm not even american, sludgy, but i think all your points are good ones.

the canadian government floated the idea of implementing independent canadian CAFE standards last year. (they would have been higher than current US levels.)

the automotive lobby got into high-octane, supercharged, high gear to defeat the idea. care to guess whether we created more efficient standards or not?
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Old 02-01-2006, 11:14 AM   #5
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Re: A staunch Republican weighs in...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sludgy
Why won't Bush throw some Federal money at battery companies (Valence Technologies, SAFT and others) to fund production of cheap, high performance lithium batteries?
actually, from what i've seen here and there, there has been US federal funding of hybrid/battery companies. not surprisingly, it comes in the form of defense contracts.

head on over to greencarcongress.com or evworld.com and search around for battery tech articles.

maybe what you mean is funding above and beyond that. which is OK too.
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Old 02-01-2006, 11:35 AM   #6
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the white house press

the white house press release following the s.o.t.u. address gives even more details, and specifically mentions further funding for battery technology and plug-in hybrids:

Quote:
Developing More Efficient Vehicles. Current hybrids on the road run on a battery developed at the DOE. The President's plan would accelerate research in the next generation of battery technology for hybrid vehicles and "plug-in hybrids." Current hybrids can only use the gasoline engine to charge the on-board battery. A "plug-in" hybrid can run either on electricity or on gasoline and can be plugged into the wall at night to recharge its batteries. These vehicles will enable drivers to meet most of their urban commuting needs with virtually no gasoline use. Advanced battery technologies offer the potential to significantly reduce oil consumption in the near-term. The 2007 Budget includes $30 million – a $6.7 million increase over FY06 – to speed up the development of this battery technology and extend the range of these vehicles.
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Old 02-01-2006, 12:22 PM   #7
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More on batteries

$30M of research money is a nice placebo, isn't it?

What's needed isn't Federal research money. Excellent battery chemistries/technologies already exist. What's needed are PRODUCTION LINES for large rechargeable (lithium) batteries. In order for hybrid or plug-in electric vehicles to make economic sense, we need huge numbers of inexpensive batteries equivalent in size to group 24, 27 or group 31 lead-acid deep cycle batteries.

There are lots of ways to get manufacturers to invest in battery production. Among other means, the Feds could foster the construction of battery factories by requiring that some (or most) government vehicles be equipped with high-performance batteries, even if they are only to be used for starting engines. With guaranteed demand for high performance batteries, investors would build the factories.

This would not take one red cent of Federal money.

And given the uncertainty of world oil supplies, a Manhattan-Project-sized effort for lithium battery production would not be unreasonable.
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Old 02-01-2006, 12:37 PM   #8
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More on lithium and lead

We'd also remove lots of lead from the environment, and make cars safer by not having acid splash about in an accident.

Finally, if we were depressed after the accident, we could take some of the lithium and cheer up!
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Old 02-01-2006, 12:38 PM   #9
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Re: More on batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sludgy
$30M of research money is a nice placebo, isn't it?

What's needed isn't Federal research money. Excellent battery chemistries/technologies already exist. What's needed are PRODUCTION LINES for large rechargeable (lithium) batteries. In order for hybrid or plug-in electric vehicles to make economic sense, we need huge numbers of inexpensive batteries equivalent in size to group 24, 27 or group 31 lead-acid deep cycle batteries.

There are lots of ways to get manufacturers to invest in battery production. Among other means, the Feds could foster the construction of battery factories by requiring that some (or most) government vehicles be equipped with high-performance batteries, even if they are only to be used for starting engines. With guaranteed demand for high performance batteries, investors would build the factories.

This would not take one red cent of Federal money.

And given the uncertainty of world oil supplies, a Manhattan-Project-sized effort for lithium battery production would not be unreasonable.
Excellent point Sludgy. This is why I said that he is pandering more to everyone's interest than actually wanting to do anything. Ethanol and Hydrogen just don't work here. Besides, as you mention, the technology exists. Let's import and produce it.

In my line of work we deal with GPS technology. Recently they had the Darpa Grand Challenge. It was a technology race to help develop a vehicle completely self guided using GPS technology. The future application is to have unmanned vehicles in combat areas to deliever supplies, etc. to soldiers. The applications are endless.

The prize was 2 million dollars.

The winner was Stanley

<img src="http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge05/grandchallengephotos/awardphotos/DSC_5090.jpg" width="400px">


Then, of course, there is the Spaceship One, which won the X-prize for being the first privately built craft to successfully enter space. Prize: 10 million dollars. Even though the cost was twice that, they investors didn't do it for the prize money. They did it to win and for future stake in capital gains.

If I had a million dollars to blow, I'd offer it as a prize to the first group to create an electric car that can go 300 miles, seat four, and be able to recharge quickly (less than 30 minutes). With the publicity this would draw, you bet it would happen, and it would happen much faster than the government could do it.
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Old 02-01-2006, 12:52 PM   #10
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you're right, $30M is small.

you're right, $30M is small. especially compared to the $300M proposed in your 2007 budget for hydrogen research. (makes you want to pull out your hair, eh?)

Quote:
If I had a million dollars to blow, I'd offer it as a prize to the first group to create an electric car that can go 300 miles, seat four, and be able to recharge quickly (less than 30 minutes).
the technology exists to do most of this. the problem is what it would cost to build and buy. you'd have to add "affordability" to your contest.

a secondary problem is the charging time. most EV proponents *don't* advocate for super-fast-charging batteries, because they put enormous demands on the electricity grid. instead, they advocate for slow overnight charging, when demand on the grid is down, power plants have surplus capacity, and rates are cheapest. also, from my limited understanding of battery technology, slow charging promotes longer battery life.
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