"Who Killed the Electric Car?" opens July 14th

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Paul Ciszek

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Jun 14, 2006, 3:26:53 AM6/14/06
to
ght I saw a preview of a great documentary
called "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

In the 90's GM produced a line of electric cars called the EV1
that had a following of hard core fans in California, Tom
Hanks and Mel Gibson among them. These cars had no trouble
accelerating and keeping up in California traffic, and once
they went from lead-acid to NiMH batteries, the range between
charging was 130 miles. None of these cars were sold, however,
only leased. Once US Automakers managed to defeat California's
"zero emissions" requirement, GM quit renewing leases, repossessed
the cars, and destroyed them. A bunch of fans of the cars offered
GM $1.9 million for the last 78 used EV1's that were sitting in a
lot, but they were taken away and crushed. GM kept insisting
that no one wanted to buy the cars.

Here's where things get really rotten: Chevron bought up the
battery division of Ovonics, which holds the patent on NiMH
batteries, and will not license the technology for any battery
design over 10 amps. This isn't the "300 mpg carburetor" myth,
this is a battery technology that I have on a charger in my kitchen
right now. 85 amp NiMH batteries were made for the EV1 before Chevron
bought the rights, and some of them are still around--after the
movie, I saw a an electric pickup truck that used them.

Lithium Ion batteries are even better, of course, but still very
expensive. The owner of the electric pickup is hoping that Lithium
batteries will become practical by the time his NiMH batteries
wear out.

Wally Rippel is one of the engineers who developed the EV1 and
consulted for the movie. He was there to answer questions after
the movie, and I heard some fascinating claims:

* The motor and drive circuit used in the EV1's were more than 90%
efficient at converting electricity into mechanical work.

* An electric car charged by a coal-fired power plant supposedly
produces only half as much CO2 per mile driven as a conventional
car (I forgot to ask what kind of "conventional car" it was
being compared to.) The emission of other gasses--carbon monoxide,
hydrocarbons, etc. is much, much lower since the coal-fired plants
are subject to stricter controls and have fancier emission control
systems than autos. If it is true that only about 52% of America's
electricity comes from coal, then the numbers get even better.

* He is part of project to build a "plug-in hybrid", a car
that runs on batteries for short commutes and doesn't even start its
internal combustion engine until the batteries start to run down.
This car would be a *true* hybrid vehicle in the original sense of
the word, with no mechanical connection between the fueled engine
and the wheels; all the engine does is turn the generator. Electric
motors and electronics replace the transmission.

Anyway, go see this movie when it opens in theaters July 14th.

Oh, here's a neat tidbit I picked up from Al Gore's movie, "An
Inconvenient Truth": US-made cars don't have good enough gas
mileage to be sold in *China*, let alone any westernized country.

--
Please reply to: | "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is
pciszek at panix dot com | indistinguishable from malice."
Autoreply is disabled |

Randolph Fritz

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Jun 14, 2006, 3:29:24 AM6/14/06
to
On 2006-06-14, Paul Ciszek <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:
>
> Here's where things get really rotten: Chevron bought up the
> battery division of Ovonics, which holds the patent on NiMH
> batteries, and will not license the technology for any battery
> design over 10 amps.

Which explains why I can't get one for medical applications.

Randolph

Robert Sneddon

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Jun 14, 2006, 5:56:16 AM6/14/06
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In message <slrne8vemk....@panix2.panix.com>, Randolph Fritz
<rand...@panix.com> writes

I know someone who worked on high-current Ni-technology batteries back
in the 90s. He has some wonderful stories about test items exploding in
the lab or flying like rockets across the room when the chemistry went
wrong.

Batteries store energy. From what I understand, Ni-chemistry devices
have a tendency to explode and catch fire if maltreated. Low-current
batteries for things like laptops and digital cameras are pretty safe
but high-current devices will be another matter. When the inevitable
happens, who will get sued? The company that made the batteries, not the
kack-handed garage mechanic or home DIYer who abused them and caused
them to fail catastrophically.
--
To reply, my gmail address is nojay1 Robert Sneddon

Alan Braggins

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Jun 14, 2006, 7:34:31 AM6/14/06
to
In article <unGWrlDA...@nospam.demon.co.uk>, Robert Sneddon wrote:
>
> Batteries store energy. From what I understand, Ni-chemistry devices
>have a tendency to explode and catch fire if maltreated. Low-current
>batteries for things like laptops and digital cameras are pretty safe
>but high-current devices will be another matter. When the inevitable
>happens, who will get sued? The company that made the batteries, not the
>kack-handed garage mechanic or home DIYer who abused them and caused
>them to fail catastrophically.

And yet we manage to use petrol/gasoline without oil companies being sued
every time they are abused in a fire.
(Lithium based batteries are generally worse for fire/explosion risk than
NiCd/NiMH.)

Joe Ellis

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Jun 14, 2006, 8:34:13 AM6/14/06
to
In article <e6odnt$1fe$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) wrote:

> Here's where things get really rotten: Chevron bought up the
> battery division of Ovonics, which holds the patent on NiMH
> batteries, and will not license the technology for any battery
> design over 10 amps. This isn't the "300 mpg carburetor" myth,
> this is a battery technology that I have on a charger in my kitchen
> right now. 85 amp NiMH batteries were made for the EV1 before Chevron
> bought the rights, and some of them are still around--after the
> movie, I saw a an electric pickup truck that used them.
>
> Lithium Ion batteries are even better, of course, but still very
> expensive. The owner of the electric pickup is hoping that Lithium
> batteries will become practical by the time his NiMH batteries
> wear out.

However, batteries are rather delicate creatures, and when damaged (as
in an accident) tend to fail rather spectacularly.

As an electric radio control airplane flier, I've been researching
batteries quite a bit. NiMH batteries are heavy (there's not much weight
savings over conventional cells) and prone to "polarity reversal" when
used in deep-discharge modes. The don't fail often, but when they do,
they can fail explosively.

Lithium polymer/lithium ion batteries are light and powerful, but quite
delicate. They are easily damaged with impact, and require very precise
charging techniques and constant monitoring of individual cells of the
battery. When they fail due to damage or charging problems, the results
can be spectacular... and deadly. There are a significant number of
flyers that have lost homes and/or garages to the resulting fires, and
even more have had fires in their shop areas, vehicles, or at the flying
field. They are enough of a problem that there are several people
selling containment devices to hold LiPoly cells while they charge.

For some movies of what happens when _small_ LiPoly batteries fail, see
these links:

http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/Lipofires.wmv
http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/Lipo2.wmv
http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/lipo3.wmv
http://www.rcstuff.us/battery/lipo/images/LipoFire.mpg

These are _staged_ failures, triggered by deliberate overcharging to
capture the results on video, but are consistent with reports of
accidental fires. Note that failure of a single cell can and often does
result in failure of other cells of the battery.

http://www.willhaney.com/rc/videos/liposhort.wmv

This one is just a short circuit - the battery terminals shorted
together.

Incident reports with LiPoly batteries:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1936756&postcount=4
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1936758&postcount=5
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2030532&postcount=6


_I_ certainly don't want a huge mass of these things in MY vehicle.

Battery storage tech is a dead end for automobiles. There are too many
safety issues, particularly in the event of collisions. This is far more
likely to be the reason all the electric vehicles were recalled and
destroyed, rather than some nebulous conspiracy theory. Fuel cells are a
better bet, and the direction of current development.

--
Evaluating all GUIs by the example of Windows is like evaluating all cars
by the example of Yugos.

Daniel Silevitch

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Jun 14, 2006, 8:43:48 AM6/14/06
to
On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 12:34:13 GMT, Joe Ellis <synth...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>
> Battery storage tech is a dead end for automobiles. There are too many
> safety issues, particularly in the event of collisions. This is far more
> likely to be the reason all the electric vehicles were recalled and
> destroyed, rather than some nebulous conspiracy theory. Fuel cells are a
> better bet, and the direction of current development.

One big problem with fuel cells right now is energy storage density.
Hydrogen is a pain to store in the sorts of densities needed to compete
with the energy content of an equivalent mass or volume of gasoline.

An area of active research though, so it'll probably be solved at some
point.

-dms

Mark_R...@hotmail.com

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Jun 14, 2006, 9:26:37 AM6/14/06
to
Joe Ellis wrote:
> _I_ certainly don't want a huge mass of these things in MY vehicle.

How many are in hybrids?

> Battery storage tech is a dead end for automobiles. There are too many
> safety issues, particularly in the event of collisions.

As opposed to that ultrasafe alternative, gasoline?

> This is far more
> likely to be the reason all the electric vehicles were recalled and
> destroyed, rather than some nebulous conspiracy theory.

Ah, yes, the conspiracy theory defense. "Anybody else is a conspiracy
theorist, while everything I believe is the unvarnished truth."

> Fuel cells are a better bet, and the direction of current development.

Has the nice benefit of keeping the fuel providers a nice tight
oligarchy. Sure there will be more potential sources of hydrogen fuel,
but will they provide it as cheaply as a heavily capitalized
corporation?

Joe Ellis

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Jun 14, 2006, 9:54:31 AM6/14/06
to
In article <1150291597.9...@y43g2000cwc.googlegroups.com>,
Mark_R...@hotmail.com wrote:

> Joe Ellis wrote:
> > _I_ certainly don't want a huge mass of these things in MY vehicle.
>
> How many are in hybrids?

None.

LiPoly batteries aren't used in hybrid vehicles, and giving their safety
issues are unlikely ever to _be_ used in that application.

>
> > Battery storage tech is a dead end for automobiles. There are too many
> > safety issues, particularly in the event of collisions.
>
> As opposed to that ultrasafe alternative, gasoline?

Hollywood aside, (They promote the notion that a car going over a cliff
will blow up on the way down, before impact...) how many vehicles
involved in accidents actually burn? Not many. Did you watch those
LiPoly videos? Of course not, why do I even ask.

>
> > This is far more
> > likely to be the reason all the electric vehicles were recalled and
> > destroyed, rather than some nebulous conspiracy theory.
>
> Ah, yes, the conspiracy theory defense. "Anybody else is a conspiracy
> theorist, while everything I believe is the unvarnished truth."

Well, that's obvious from your statements above...

You DID understand that _I_ wasn't the one claiming there was some Dark
Design behind pulling the electric cars off the road....

>
> > Fuel cells are a better bet, and the direction of current development.
>
> Has the nice benefit of keeping the fuel providers a nice tight
> oligarchy. Sure there will be more potential sources of hydrogen fuel,
> but will they provide it as cheaply as a heavily capitalized
> corporation?

You seem to think electricity appears magically out of the aether. One
way or another, electric cars are going to require fuel at _some_ point
in the supply chain. It's not even clear transferring the generation of
power to a large fixed power plant would be significantly more
energy-efficient, though it does allow using better anti-pollution
technology.

The fact remains that at this point in time, fuel cells appear to be the
best potential method for powering electric vehicles.

Doug Wickstrom

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Jun 14, 2006, 12:58:01 PM6/14/06
to
On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 07:26:53 +0000 (UTC), nos...@nospam.com (Paul
Ciszek) wrote:

>In the 90's GM produced a line of electric cars called the EV1
>that had a following of hard core fans in California, Tom
>Hanks and Mel Gibson among them. These cars had no trouble
>accelerating and keeping up in California traffic, and once
>they went from lead-acid to NiMH batteries, the range between
>charging was 130 miles. None of these cars were sold, however,
>only leased. Once US Automakers managed to defeat California's
>"zero emissions" requirement, GM quit renewing leases, repossessed
>the cars, and destroyed them. A bunch of fans of the cars offered
>GM $1.9 million for the last 78 used EV1's that were sitting in a
>lot, but they were taken away and crushed. GM kept insisting
>that no one wanted to buy the cars.

Some facts about the EV1, the research and development of which
was produced by _my_ division of GM, Hughes Electronics:

General Motors lost two billion dollars on the project, and lost
money on every single EV1 produced. The leases didn't even cover
the costs of servicing them.

The range of 130 miles is bogus. None of them ever achieved that
under normal driving conditions. Running the air conditioning or
heater could halve that range. Even running the headlights
reduced it by 10%.

Minimum recharge time was two hours using special charging
stations that except for fleet use didn't exist. The effective
recharge time, using the equipment that could be installed in a
lessee's garage, was eight hours. Home electrical systems simply
couldn't handle the necessary current draw for "fast" charging.

NiMH batteries that had lasted up to three years in testing were
failing after six months in service. There was no way to keep
them from overheating without doubling the size of the battery
pack. Lead-acid batteries were superior to NiMH in actual daily
use.

Battery replacement was a task performed by skilled technicians
taking the sorts of precautions that electricians do when working
on live circuits, because that's what they were doing -- working
on live circuits. You cannot turn batteries "off." This is the
reason the vehicles were leased, rather than sold. As long as
the terms of the lease prohibited maintenance by other than a
Hughes technician, GM's liability in the event of a screw-up was
much reduced. Technicians can encounter high voltages in hybrid
vehicles. In the EV1, there were _really_ high voltages present.

Lessees were complaining that their electric bills had increased
to the point that they'd rather be using gasoline.

One of the guys I worked with transferred to the EV1 program
after what was by then a division of Raytheon lost the C-130 ATS
contract. He's now back working for us. He has some interesting
stories, none of them good, though he did like the
company-subsidized apartment in Malibu. He said the car was a
dream to drive, if you didn't mind being stranded between
Bakersfield and Barstow on a hot July afternoon when a battery
blew up from the combined heat of the day and the current draw.

Paul Ciszek

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Jun 14, 2006, 1:43:54 PM6/14/06
to

In article <synthfilker-80EC...@newsclstr02.news.prodigy.com>,
Joe Ellis <synth...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

>Battery storage tech is a dead end for automobiles.

The drivers of the EV1's were pleased with their cars, and tried
desparately to buy them from GM rather than let them be destroyed.
So there is at least one prototype design that performs well and
meets the needs of the consumer. If you think that design needs
improvement in the safety area, OK, but I think you are too eager to
write off the entire technology.

>There are too many
>safety issues, particularly in the event of collisions.

Gasoline was once considered to be too explosive to base a
safe vehicle design on. We managed.

>Fuel cells are a better bet, and the direction of current development.

Just because Dubya says so doesn't make it so. Fuel cell vehicles
would require five miracles to become practical:

1) The cost of the fuel cell itself, currently around $1,000,000
for the capacity needed for a car, would have to come down by
at least a couple orders of magnitude.

2) Somebody needs to find a way to store hydrogen that is not
pathetic. Current fuel cell cars have a range no greater
that the EV1, and can only be recharged at hydrogen stations;
you have no plan your whole day around getting that next
"fix" of hydrogen. Storing hydrogen in pressurized tanks is
unsafe, and storing it in a metal powder doesn't deliver it up
fast enough. The metal powder storage systems also wear out
after a lot of cycles. Pretty much all the bad things you can
say about batteries apply to hydrogen storage and fuel cells,
in spades.

3) The infrastructure of hydrogen refueling stations would have
to be built. The storage problem I mentioned above is much,
much worse at the "hydrogen station" level. Electric cars
can be recharged in your garage or anywhere else you can get
permission to plug in your adapter cord. Dedicated charging
stations, while nice, are not absolutely necessary. And
since the infrastructure of electrical distribution already
exists, charging stations are not hard to build, and indeed,
already have been built in a few cities.

4) Someone needs to either find a magic source of hydrogen, or
a source of free energy that can be used to electrolyze water.
The process of electricity -> charged battery -> electricity
from discharging battery -> mechanical work is much more
efficient than electricity -> hydrogen from electrolysis ->
delivering stored hydrogen to vehicles -> electricity from
fuel cell -> mechanical work.

5) While you are solving all of the above problems, you have to
prevent any of the alternatives from improving. They have
been saying that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are 15 years
away for 15 years; in that time, Brazil has gone over to
ethanol and electric cars that people liked to drive have
been produced, then shredded.

Paul Ciszek

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Jun 14, 2006, 1:46:32 PM6/14/06
to

In article <slrne9013q....@bardeen.local>,

Daniel Silevitch <dms...@uchicago.edu> wrote:
>
>One big problem with fuel cells right now is energy storage density.
>Hydrogen is a pain to store in the sorts of densities needed to compete
>with the energy content of an equivalent mass or volume of gasoline.
>
>An area of active research though, so it'll probably be solved at some
>point.

Batteries are an area of even more active research, and a better type
comes along every few years.

Paul Ciszek

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Jun 14, 2006, 2:06:55 PM6/14/06
to

In article <synthfilker-B7ED...@newsclstr02.news.prodigy.com>,

Joe Ellis <synth...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>
>LiPoly batteries aren't used in hybrid vehicles, and giving their safety
>issues are unlikely ever to _be_ used in that application.

Bu NiMH seemed to work well. I will keep repeating this until you
stop ignoring it: These cars *actually existed*, people *liked*
driving them, found the 130 mile range adequate to their urban/
suburban lifestyles, and fought bittery to retain ownership when
the manufacturere decided to destroy them. The NiMH batteries were
good enough, and might have room to improve once the patent runs
out and more people are allowed to mess around with the technology.

>> > Battery storage tech is a dead end for automobiles. There are too many
>> > safety issues, particularly in the event of collisions.
>>
>> As opposed to that ultrasafe alternative, gasoline?
>
>Hollywood aside, (They promote the notion that a car going over a cliff
>will blow up on the way down, before impact...) how many vehicles
>involved in accidents actually burn?

In the days before gasoline engines were common, gasoline was considered
a dangerous explosive. The problems were eventually solved.

>You seem to think electricity appears magically out of the aether. One
>way or another, electric cars are going to require fuel at _some_ point
>in the supply chain. It's not even clear transferring the generation of
>power to a large fixed power plant would be significantly more
>energy-efficient, though it does allow using better anti-pollution
>technology.

This is called the "long tailpipe" argument.

First of all, if you want to measure energy efficiency, the Institute
for Lifecycle Environmental Assesment says that electric vehicles
are twice as energy efficient as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

If you want to look at emissions instead, the California Air Resources
Board claims that electric cars produce 67% less atmospheric carbon per
mile driven than gasoline powered cars. Other types of emissions are
much, much less for the reason you cite above. (Remember, currently
no coal fired power plant even attempts to capture CO2, while other
gasses are monitored and removed by various means.)

Joe Ellis

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Jun 14, 2006, 3:22:44 PM6/14/06
to
In article <qfe092l69ftq4nhal...@4ax.com>,
Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:

> On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 07:26:53 +0000 (UTC), nos...@nospam.com (Paul
> Ciszek) wrote:
>
> >In the 90's GM produced a line of electric cars called the EV1

...


>
> Some facts about the EV1, the research and development of which

> was produced by _my_ division of GM, Hughes Electronics: ...

Gee, I can't IMAGINE why GM would have withdrawn them... <<chuckle>>

Well, I'm sure Paul will float some kind of conspiracy theory again...

Dorothy J Heydt

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Jun 14, 2006, 3:15:21 PM6/14/06
to
In article <e6pj7v$9t1$1...@reader2.panix.com>,

Paul Ciszek <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:
>
>Bu NiMH seemed to work well. I will keep repeating this until you
>stop ignoring it....

Well, but, that was because they had plenty of rats to turn the
flywheel.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
djh...@kithrup.com

Joe Ellis

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Jun 14, 2006, 3:43:23 PM6/14/06
to
In article <e6pj7v$9t1$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) wrote:

> In article <synthfilker-B7ED...@newsclstr02.news.prodigy.com>,
> Joe Ellis <synth...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> >
> >LiPoly batteries aren't used in hybrid vehicles, and giving their safety
> >issues are unlikely ever to _be_ used in that application.
>
> Bu NiMH seemed to work well. I will keep repeating this until you

> stop ignoring it: ... <<blah blah blah>>

I hope your hands are in good shape, because you'll be repeating it a
long time.

Of course, getting your FACTS straight might help...

You've obviously got an axe to grind. Grind it elsewhere.

David Friedman

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Jun 14, 2006, 4:48:07 PM6/14/06
to
In article <qfe092l69ftq4nhal...@4ax.com>,
Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:


(The kind of post that makes me appreciate the web. Someone posts an
account, obviously fitting a particular set of political prejudices, but
on its surfacte plausible. I suspect it is mistaken, but don't know. We
then get a detailed rebuttal by someone with expert knowledge.

And I don't even have to pay a subscription fee).

--
http://www.daviddfriedman.com/ http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/
Author of _Harald_, a fantasy without magic.
Published by Baen, in bookstores now

David Friedman

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Jun 14, 2006, 5:12:41 PM6/14/06
to
In article <e6pj7v$9t1$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) wrote:

> In article <synthfilker-B7ED...@newsclstr02.news.prodigy.com>,
> Joe Ellis <synth...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> >
> >LiPoly batteries aren't used in hybrid vehicles, and giving their safety
> >issues are unlikely ever to _be_ used in that application.
>
> Bu NiMH seemed to work well. I will keep repeating this until you
> stop ignoring it: These cars *actually existed*, people *liked*
> driving them, found the 130 mile range adequate to their urban/
> suburban lifestyles, and fought bittery to retain ownership when
> the manufacturere decided to destroy them. The NiMH batteries were
> good enough, and might have room to improve once the patent runs
> out and more people are allowed to mess around with the technology.

My guess is that you are writing this before seeing the response by Doug
Wikstrom, who appears to know quite a lot more about this particular
case than any of the other posters. I'm curious as to your response
after seeing it, since it appears to debunk most of the facts in your
story.

I'm also curious as to your view of GM's motivation, in the scenario as
you see it. I can understand arguing that Chevron would want to suppress
the technology; I don't think the argument is correct, for reasons I
could go into but won't, but it at least makes sense on the surface.

But if GM had the secret of making electric cars that lots and lots of
customers would want, why would it be in their interest to suppress it?
They can make money off of electric cars just as easily as off of
gasoline cars, and much more easily if they are one step ahead of all
the competition, unlike the situation with conventional automobiles.

Isn't the obvious explanation for GM's behavior that they concluded that
they couldn't make the cars at a cost low enough and performance high
enough for people to actually buy them--a constraint that doesn't apply
to an experimental project? You say that the owners of some wanted to
buy them, and offered 1.9 million for the last 78. If, as Doug says GM
lost two billion dollars on the project, then unless they made an awful
lot of the cars, those 78 cost them a lot more than 1.9 million. And
liability issues provide a straightforward explanation of why they were
reluctant to sell off the remaining experimental vehicles. It doesn't
take very many battery explosions or other problems--with high tech
experimental machines no longer under GM supervision--to produce legal
costs of more than 1.9 million.

Nate Edel

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Jun 14, 2006, 5:29:09 PM6/14/06
to
Paul Ciszek <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:
> much, much less for the reason you cite above. (Remember, currently
> no coal fired power plant even attempts to capture CO2, while other
> gasses are monitored and removed by various means.)

Aren't there some coal plants outside the US that do CO2 sequestration? Or
is that mismemory, and it's all natural gas or oil?

--
Nate Edel http://www.cubiclehermit.com/

"What's the use of yearning for Elysian Fields when you know you can't get
'em, and would only let 'em out on building leases if you had 'em?" (WSG)

Paul Ciszek

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Jun 14, 2006, 9:08:41 PM6/14/06
to

In article <ddfr-53C9ED.1...@news.isp.giganews.com>,

David Friedman <dd...@daviddfriedman.nopsam.com> wrote:
>
>I'm also curious as to your view of GM's motivation, in the scenario as
>you see it. I can understand arguing that Chevron would want to suppress
>the technology; I don't think the argument is correct, for reasons I
>could go into but won't, but it at least makes sense on the surface.

I should point out that while it is a fact that Chevron bought the
battery division of Ovonics, my only source for the claim that they
were not licensing large NiMH batteries was a man who had an electric
pickup truck that used NiMH's. I do not know if the Ovonics patent
even covers all NiMH batteries--somebody seems to be makeing large
NiMH's for hybrids; more on that later.

>But if GM had the secret of making electric cars that lots and lots of
>customers would want, why would it be in their interest to suppress it?
>They can make money off of electric cars just as easily as off of
>gasoline cars, and much more easily if they are one step ahead of all
>the competition, unlike the situation with conventional automobiles.

I do not doubt that GM was losing money making the EV1. The question
is, were they even *trying* to make a viable product? The sequence
as laid out in the documentary went:

California passes a law requiring that a certain percentage of
all vehicles sold by an auto manufacturer in California be "zero
emission", and this percentage ramps up over time.

GM starts the EV1 program to try to make it look like it is making
a good faith effort to comply.

GM and other automakers sue the state, and win a concesion that
they can be released from the zero emission requirement if there
is no demand for zero emission vehicles. At this point, GM has
a very strong incentive to make sure no one *wants* a zero emission
car. Unfortunately for them, California is full of idealistic
screwballs who love the idea of zero emission vehicles, even if
they have limitations. The documentary includes interviews with
former GM execs who say that GM did not want the car to succeed,
and was horrified when people, including celebrities, *wanted* these
cars so badly that a waiting list formed. Consider this--even for
an experimental project that is just for show, wouldn't a company
*want* movie stars like Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson tooling around
in their cars, comparing them to the Batmobile, and telling David
Letterman that they were "saving America"?

>Isn't the obvious explanation for GM's behavior that they concluded that
>they couldn't make the cars at a cost low enough and performance high
>enough for people to actually buy them--a constraint that doesn't apply
>to an experimental project?

They did indeed lose money on the EV1. But apparently they intended
to. There is of course the other question of whether GM is capable of
any mode of operation other than losing money.

Yes, it makes sense to quit producing something that isn't making a
profit. But this next:

>You say that the owners of some wanted to
>buy them, and offered 1.9 million for the last 78. If, as Doug says GM
>lost two billion dollars on the project, then unless they made an awful
>lot of the cars, those 78 cost them a lot more than 1.9 million.

Yes, but hauling those cars out to Arizona and crushing them doesn't
do anything to reclaim those losses. The EV1 drivers were offering
1.9 million to take them off the GM's hands. To insist on crushing
them anyway is wasteful and spiteful.

Even the *one* car that GM allowed to go to an automobile museum
was deliberately disabled so that it could never run again.

>And liability issues provide a straightforward explanation of why they were
>reluctant to sell off the remaining experimental vehicles. It doesn't
>take very many battery explosions or other problems--with high tech
>experimental machines no longer under GM supervision--to produce legal
>costs of more than 1.9 million.

Large NiMH batteries are in lots of hybrids--more than there ever were
EV1's, I suspect--and if those are exploding, I think we would hear
about it on the news. The electric cars would have to be more deadly
than the other cars that GM sells for this argument to make sense.
Conventional autos may not automatically catch fire on impact like
in the movies, but there has been no shortage of gasoline fires
involving conventional autos.

Which brings me to my final point: Hybrid cars are pricey, but
catching on. They contain many of the things that make an electric
car expensive, such as large NiMH batteries (though not as many as
an electric car would use), an efficient electric motor (though not
as large as an electric car would use) and regenerative braking.
Toyota and Honda do not seem to be losing their shirts on this.
And the next step for hybrids seems to be a true hybrid design
that is more like an electric car and less like a conventional
one than the current hybrids. It appears to me that this is the
sort of thing that *can* be mass produced successfully, just not
by anyone in the USA.

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 14, 2006, 9:11:54 PM6/14/06
to

In article <5mb6m3x...@mail.sfchat.org>,

Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>Paul Ciszek <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:
>> much, much less for the reason you cite above. (Remember, currently
>> no coal fired power plant even attempts to capture CO2, while other
>> gasses are monitored and removed by various means.)
>
>Aren't there some coal plants outside the US that do CO2 sequestration? Or
>is that mismemory, and it's all natural gas or oil?

I remember hearing about a proposal to liquify CO2 from a fossil fuel
plant and inject it in some underground rock layer where it will
supposedly stay. This was in the US; I don't know if it has ever
been tried elsewhere. There are two numbers I would want to know
regarding this project:

1) How long will CO2 actually remain trapped in rock?

2) How much of the generated energy will be consumed by the task
of liquifying the CO2?

Michael Benveniste

unread,
Jun 14, 2006, 9:13:06 PM6/14/06
to
On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 11:58:01 -0500, Doug Wickstrom
<nims...@comcast.net> wrote:

>General Motors lost two billion dollars on the project, and lost
>money on every single EV1 produced. The leases didn't even cover
>the costs of servicing them.

And despite subsidies, GM was only able to place about 800 of them.

--
Michael Benveniste -- mhb-...@clearether.com
Spam and UCE professionally evaluated for $419. Use this email
address only to submit mail for evaluation.

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 14, 2006, 9:17:28 PM6/14/06
to

In article <qnc192pui9ksuiitc...@4ax.com>,

Michael Benveniste <mhb-...@clearether.com> wrote:
>On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 11:58:01 -0500, Doug Wickstrom
><nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>>General Motors lost two billion dollars on the project, and lost
>>money on every single EV1 produced. The leases didn't even cover
>>the costs of servicing them.
>
>And despite subsidies, GM was only able to place about 800 of them.

They only *made* 800 of them. There was a waiting list of people
who wanted to drive them and never got them.

David Friedman

unread,
Jun 14, 2006, 9:47:01 PM6/14/06
to
In article <e6qcf8$1d0$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) wrote:

> In article <qnc192pui9ksuiitc...@4ax.com>,
> Michael Benveniste <mhb-...@clearether.com> wrote:
> >On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 11:58:01 -0500, Doug Wickstrom
> ><nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
> >
> >>General Motors lost two billion dollars on the project, and lost
> >>money on every single EV1 produced. The leases didn't even cover
> >>the costs of servicing them.
> >
> >And despite subsidies, GM was only able to place about 800 of them.
>
> They only *made* 800 of them. There was a waiting list of people
> who wanted to drive them and never got them.

If they made 800, and lost two billion dollars on the project, the per
car cost was about 2.5 million dollars per car. I doubt there would be
much of a market at that price.

Of course, we don't know how much of that was fixed cost of setup and
how much was marginal cost per car. But it certainly raises the
possibilty that there was a waiting list only because they were being,
in effect, given away--leased at a price that covered a tiny fraction of
their real cost.

Matthew B. Tepper

unread,
Jun 14, 2006, 9:52:23 PM6/14/06
to
nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) appears to have caused the following
letters to be typed in news:e6qcf8$1d0$1...@reader2.panix.com:

> In article <qnc192pui9ksuiitc...@4ax.com>,
> Michael Benveniste <mhb-...@clearether.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 11:58:01 -0500, Doug Wickstrom
>> <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
>>
>>> General Motors lost two billion dollars on the project, and lost
>>> money on every single EV1 produced. The leases didn't even cover
>>> the costs of servicing them.
>>
>> And despite subsidies, GM was only able to place about 800 of them.
>
> They only *made* 800 of them. There was a waiting list of people
> who wanted to drive them and never got them.

"Volume!"

--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Take THAT, Daniel Lin, Mark Sadek, James Lin & Christopher Chung!

David Friedman

unread,
Jun 14, 2006, 10:01:47 PM6/14/06
to
In article <e6qbup$bq6$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) wrote:

> GM and other automakers sue the state, and win a concesion that
> they can be released from the zero emission requirement if there
> is no demand for zero emission vehicles. At this point, GM has
> a very strong incentive to make sure no one *wants* a zero emission
> car.

Only if they believe that they aren't going to be able to make one that
will sell at a price that actually covers the cost.

> Unfortunately for them, California is full of idealistic
> screwballs who love the idea of zero emission vehicles, even if
> they have limitations. The documentary includes interviews with
> former GM execs who say that GM did not want the car to succeed,
> and was horrified when people, including celebrities, *wanted* these
> cars so badly that a waiting list formed. Consider this--even for
> an experimental project that is just for show, wouldn't a company
> *want* movie stars like Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson tooling around
> in their cars, comparing them to the Batmobile, and telling David
> Letterman that they were "saving America"?

Not if it meant that they were going to be expected to make cars that
lost them upwards of two million dollars per car.

...

> >And liability issues provide a straightforward explanation of why they were
> >reluctant to sell off the remaining experimental vehicles. It doesn't
> >take very many battery explosions or other problems--with high tech
> >experimental machines no longer under GM supervision--to produce legal
> >costs of more than 1.9 million.
>
> Large NiMH batteries are in lots of hybrids--more than there ever were
> EV1's, I suspect--and if those are exploding, I think we would hear
> about it on the news. The electric cars would have to be more deadly
> than the other cars that GM sells for this argument to make sense.
> Conventional autos may not automatically catch fire on impact like
> in the movies, but there has been no shortage of gasoline fires
> involving conventional autos.

We have two different questions. One is the liability issue as a cost if
GM had gone on to make such cars on a large scale, as hybrid cars are
now being made. That wasn't the one I was raising. I was offering an
explanation of why, at the point when they had given up on the project,
they weren't willing to sell the remaining cars. Those were experimental
vehicles, they were unconventional, unless GM continued to provide
support they were likely to be worked on by people not familiar with
them. Selling them would be asking for legal trouble.

> Which brings me to my final point: Hybrid cars are pricey, but
> catching on. They contain many of the things that make an electric
> car expensive, such as large NiMH batteries (though not as many as
> an electric car would use), an efficient electric motor (though not
> as large as an electric car would use) and regenerative braking.
> Toyota and Honda do not seem to be losing their shirts on this.

I gather that present hybrids receive a tax subsidy of about $5000/car.
That isn't all that much. But I've seen the claim that they are also
heavily subsidized by the makers, for PR reasons--that they sell for
about half the cost of building them. I don't know if that is true or
not.

Even if it turns out that hybrid cars are a winner, it doesn't follow
that the all electric car GM was developing could have been. A hybrid
car, after all, can have a long cruising range without a half ton of
batteries; an electric car can't.

I came across an article on hybrids that also mentions the EV1 and
doesn't have any obvious to me axes to grind. Its summary is:

"But GM's earnest intent to make and lead a viable business in battery
electrics went south, along with its half-billion dollar investment,
when the needed breakthrough battery never materialized."

Doug Wickstrom

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Jun 14, 2006, 10:10:42 PM6/14/06
to
On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 01:08:41 +0000 (UTC), nos...@nospam.com (Paul
Ciszek) wrote:

>The documentary includes interviews with
>former GM execs who say that GM did not want the car to succeed,

That would be news to the people who were actually working on it.
It would also be news to the board of directors, who authorized
spending the money with the intent of succeeding. Gigabucks
aren't chump change, not even to General Motors.

Keith F. Lynch

unread,
Jun 14, 2006, 11:47:59 PM6/14/06
to
Daniel Silevitch <dms...@uchicago.edu> wrote:
> One big problem with fuel cells right now is energy storage density.
> Hydrogen is a pain to store in the sorts of densities needed to
> compete with the energy content of an equivalent mass or volume
> of gasoline.

Hydrogen isn't the only fuel that can be used with fuel cells.
However, two other problems with fuel cells are:

* They tend to need very expensive metals such as platinum.

* They are easily destroyed by the slightest impurities in either
the fuel or the air.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 12:39:00 AM6/15/06
to

In article <Xns97E2BFFD5DA...@207.217.125.201>,
Matthew B. Tepper <oy兀earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>"Volume!"

That is pretty much what it comes down to.

In grad school (call it 1990, or thereabouts) I was trying to
rehabilitate an old vacuum gate valve. I was told that a
replacement would cost over $50,000 dollars, which was why
we had to fix the old one. I doubt that gate valve had more
than a couple dozen moving parts in it, or that it had to be machined
to anywhere near the precision of an internal combustion engine.
It contained no electrical parts whatsoever.

You could buy a new car with two orders of magnitude more moving
parts machined to far closer tolerances, all sorts of custom
molded plastic parts, a mile of electrical wiring, etc. for
a fifth of the price--because the car is mass produced, and
the gate valve isn't.

One of the famous paradoxes of mass production was when
IC chips became cheaper than the sockets to put them in;
there just wasn't much market for sockets, outside of
hobbyists and prototypers. The chip might play pong or
or run an RC car, but it was cheaper than a piece of plastic
with some metal pins running through it.

Michael Benveniste

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 12:48:42 AM6/15/06
to
On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 01:17:28 +0000 (UTC), nos...@nospam.com (Paul
Ciszek) wrote:

>They only *made* 800 of them. There was a waiting list of people
>who wanted to drive them and never got them.

According to my source, http://www.saveev1.org/?Home they made 1100
and only leased 800. And that includes fleet leases, a goodly
number of which were done for publicity purposes. That's consistent
with the Google archive of the GM website here:
http://snipurl.com/rssd
Quoting: Another lesson learned was that most consumers will not
buy a vehicle that doesn't closely match most of their needs
and lifestyles, no matter how advanced and environmentally
sensitive it may be.

Your sources, Paul?

Some of the inability to place cars was no doubt due to the limited
number of qualified dealers (35 or so) and limited geographic area in
which the car was offered. The car had performance problems in even
moderately cold weather. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that
even with the subsidies, you could get larger, more luxurious, and
better performing cars for the same money, even taking into account
fuel cost savings of the EV1.

Even CARB, which had established a mandate in 1990 for a 10% minimum
sales of zero-emissions vehicles by 2003, admitted defeat. After
advancing the deadlines several times, CARB dropped the ZEV requirement
in 2003.

Of course, calling the EV1 a zero-emissions vehicle is also inaccurate,
since the majority of the electricity in California (and the US as
a whole) is generated from fossil fuels:
http://www.energy.ca.gov/html/energysources.html
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html
From a societal standpoint, those fuel savings costs are also a bit
suspect, as the pricing and tax structures of electricity are quite
different from that of gasoline.

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 1:20:19 AM6/15/06
to

In article <52l192ddpdqj84m7l...@4ax.com>,

Michael Benveniste <mhb-...@clearether.com> wrote:
>Quoting: Another lesson learned was that most consumers will not
> buy a vehicle that doesn't closely match most of their needs
> and lifestyles, no matter how advanced and environmentally
> sensitive it may be.

People who commuted in an urban/suburban environment found it
matched most of their needs.

>Your sources, Paul?

The claim that there was a long waiting list comes from the people
selling (well, leasing) the cars. These people were interviewed
in the documentary.

>Some of the inability to place cars was no doubt due to the limited
>number of qualified dealers (35 or so) and limited geographic area in
>which the car was offered. The car had performance problems in even
>moderately cold weather.

In southern California, which I believe was the limited geographic
area in question, that is not an issue.

>Or perhaps it was due to the fact that
>even with the subsidies, you could get larger, more luxurious, and
>better performing cars for the same money, even taking into account
>fuel cost savings of the EV1.

People going for performance and luxury wouldn't go near the EV1.
There are enough idealistic screwballs in southern California to
lease as many of the cars as GM would lease, with many more on
the waiting list.

>Even CARB, which had established a mandate in 1990 for a 10% minimum
>sales of zero-emissions vehicles by 2003, admitted defeat. After
>advancing the deadlines several times, CARB dropped the ZEV requirement
>in 2003.

After being sued by GM and other automakers.

>Of course, calling the EV1 a zero-emissions vehicle is also inaccurate,
>since the majority of the electricity in California (and the US as
>a whole) is generated from fossil fuels:
> http://www.energy.ca.gov/html/energysources.html
> http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html
>From a societal standpoint, those fuel savings costs are also a bit
>suspect, as the pricing and tax structures of electricity are quite
>different from that of gasoline.

According to CARB, an electric car produces 67% less greenhouse
gasses than a gasoline powered car in California. Other emissions
are even more tightly controlled for power plants than for vehicles.
You have several factors operating here: A good chunk of the power
comes from non-fossil-fuel sources. Of what does come from fossil
fuels, part of that is from natural gas, which produces less CO2
than coal for the same amount of energy. Even the coal fired power
plants can be designed to run more efficiently than a variable load,
variable speed, frequently idling internal combustion engine.
The electric motors and drive electronics are over 90% efficient
at converting electricity into mechanical work, according to
Wally Rippel, one of the engineers who worked on their development.

Of course we could reduce the percentage of electricity coming from
fossil fuels to zero by building enough nukes, but we're not sane
enough to do that.

Mike Van Pelt

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 4:06:43 AM6/15/06
to
>Hollywood aside, (They promote the notion that a car going over a cliff
>will blow up on the way down, before impact...) how many vehicles
>involved in accidents actually burn? Not many. Did you watch those
>LiPoly videos? Of course not, why do I even ask.

My first thought was "Hey, how about a link to those
cool explosion videos!", but thought, hey, that's why
we have google....

http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/Lipofires.wmv

Impressive. These were, of course, AA size cells.
The kind of cells you'd need in any kind of vehicle
would be capable of much more incindiary mayhem.

The videos were all of cells being overcharged, but
if I understand correctly, shorting out a charged
cell can do the same thing.

--
Tagon: "Where's your sense of adventure?" | Mike Van Pelt
Kevyn: "It died under mysterious circumstances. | mvp at calweb.com
My sense of self-preservation found the body, | KE6BVH
but assures me it has an airtight alibi." (schlockmercenary.com)

David Friedman

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 4:13:33 AM6/15/06
to
In article <e6qqmj$4i6$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) wrote:

> According to CARB, an electric car produces 67% less greenhouse
> gasses than a gasoline powered car in California. Other emissions
> are even more tightly controlled for power plants than for vehicles.
> You have several factors operating here: A good chunk of the power
> comes from non-fossil-fuel sources. Of what does come from fossil
> fuels, part of that is from natural gas, which produces less CO2
> than coal for the same amount of energy.

Is that using average emissions or marginal emissions? It makes a
difference. If you have been generating a million units of power of
which 100,000 is hydroelectric and electric cars push it up to
1,100,000, that doesn't result in the dams producing ten percent more
power. The extra power comes from whatever source can be expanded, which
I think in practice means coal.

I gather your main source is the movie. My conclusion from your summary
of the movie--supported when we got an informed critique--was that it
was made by people with a clear agenda and was heavily slanted to
support that agenda. Given that, it seems to me one ought to be very
suspicious of data that comes only from the movie or the people who made
it.

For instance, you wrote:

"The claim that there was a long waiting list comes from the people
selling (well, leasing) the cars. These people were interviewed
in the documentary."

But the people producing the documentary got to decide whom to interview
and then to decide what parts of the interviews to show--there wasn't
any defense attorney cross examining them or offering his own contrary
witnesses.

Or consider the distinction I made above between average and marginal
pollution--which very few watchers are going to think of, and which
might, for all I know, double the emissions cost of electric.

One of the more interesting experiences of my life happened when I
visited Yale in the process of deciding what school to go to. They were
having some sort of a program about the House Unamerican Activities
Committee. I got to see the movie "Operation Abolition," from which it
was entirely and convincingly clear that the attempt to abolish HUAC was
a communist plot. Then I got to see a movie--I've forgotten the
name--made by people on the other side. That one made it entirely clear
that the first movie was dishonest propaganda, selecting and
misrepresenting its materials. Then I got to read the written materials
debunking the second movie. Then ... .

Joe Ellis

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 7:24:32 AM6/15/06
to
In article <44911513$0$19185$d36...@news.calweb.com>,

m...@web1.calweb.com (Mike Van Pelt) wrote:

> In article <synthfilker-B7ED...@newsclstr02.news.prodigy.com>,
> Joe Ellis <synth...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> >Hollywood aside, (They promote the notion that a car going over a cliff
> >will blow up on the way down, before impact...) how many vehicles
> >involved in accidents actually burn? Not many. Did you watch those
> >LiPoly videos? Of course not, why do I even ask.
>
> My first thought was "Hey, how about a link to those
> cool explosion videos!", but thought, hey, that's why
> we have google....
>
> http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/Lipofires.wmv
>
> Impressive. These were, of course, AA size cells.
> The kind of cells you'd need in any kind of vehicle
> would be capable of much more incindiary mayhem.
>
> The videos were all of cells being overcharged, but
> if I understand correctly, shorting out a charged
> cell can do the same thing.

The links were in my previous post. Here's the relevant part again:

"For some movies of what happens when _small_ LiPoly batteries fail, see
these links:

http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/Lipofires.wmv
http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/Lipo2.wmv
http://www.utahflyers.org/movies/lipo3.wmv
http://www.rcstuff.us/battery/lipo/images/LipoFire.mpg

These are _staged_ failures, triggered by deliberate overcharging to
capture the results on video, but are consistent with reports of
accidental fires. Note that failure of a single cell can and often does
result in failure of other cells of the battery.

http://www.willhaney.com/rc/videos/liposhort.wmv

This one is just a short circuit - the battery terminals shorted
together.

Incident reports with LiPoly batteries:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1936756&postcount=4
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1936758&postcount=5
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2030532&postcount=6


_I_ certainly don't want a huge mass of these things in MY vehicle."

--

Mark_R...@hotmail.com

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 9:13:20 AM6/15/06
to
Joe Ellis wrote:
> I hope your hands are in good shape, because you'll be repeating it a
> long time.

> Of course, getting your FACTS straight might help...


> You've obviously got an axe to grind. Grind it elsewhere.

So you're into stifling dissent as well. I'll have to remember that.

Joe Ellis

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 9:22:14 AM6/15/06
to
In article <1150377200....@g10g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
Mark_R...@hotmail.com wrote:

"Dissent" is a matter of differing opinion.

What Paul is doing is ignoring hard facts and attempting to pretend they
don't exist. Worse, claiming the opposite is true in the face of
overwhelming evidence from those with first-hand knowledge.

If he wants to continue to make his claims, he needs better backup than
"I said so" and "I can't hear you, blah blah blah".

Stifle dissent, no. Stifle damn fools, willingly.

Randolph Fritz

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 10:05:03 AM6/15/06
to
On 2006-06-15, David Friedman <dd...@daviddfriedman.nopsam.com> wrote:
> In article <e6qqmj$4i6$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
> nos...@nospam.com (Paul Ciszek) wrote:
>
>> According to CARB, an electric car produces 67% less greenhouse
>> gasses than a gasoline powered car in California. Other emissions
>> are even more tightly controlled for power plants than for vehicles.
>> You have several factors operating here: A good chunk of the power
>> comes from non-fossil-fuel sources. Of what does come from fossil
>> fuels, part of that is from natural gas, which produces less CO2
>> than coal for the same amount of energy.
>
> Is that using average emissions or marginal emissions? It makes a
> difference. If you have been generating a million units of power of
> which 100,000 is hydroelectric and electric cars push it up to
> 1,100,000, that doesn't result in the dams producing ten percent more
> power. The extra power comes from whatever source can be expanded, which
> I think in practice means coal.
>

It's probably average; big fixed combustion engines are much more
efficient than little mobile ones.

Randolph

Michael Benveniste

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 12:50:05 PM6/15/06
to
On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 05:20:19 +0000 (UTC), nos...@nospam.com (Paul
Ciszek) wrote:

>
>In article <52l192ddpdqj84m7l...@4ax.com>,
>Michael Benveniste <mhb-...@clearether.com> wrote:
>>Quoting: Another lesson learned was that most consumers will not
>> buy a vehicle that doesn't closely match most of their needs
>> and lifestyles, no matter how advanced and environmentally
>> sensitive it may be.
>
>People who commuted in an urban/suburban environment found it
>matched most of their needs.

I'm sure "people" did. Fewer than 800 of them, and I'm willing to bet
that fewer still had an EV1 as their only car. Of course, almost any
econobox at less than half the cost would have worked for them.

>>Your sources, Paul?
>The claim that there was a long waiting list comes from the people
>selling (well, leasing) the cars. These people were interviewed
>in the documentary.

And a fine unbiased, unfiltered source that is. There was an initial
waiting list, which the GM site mentions. But once it became apparent
how limited the cars were, the initial blush wore off.

>>Some of the inability to place cars was no doubt due to the limited
>>number of qualified dealers (35 or so) and limited geographic area in
>>which the car was offered. The car had performance problems in even
>>moderately cold weather.
>
>In southern California, which I believe was the limited geographic
>area in question, that is not an issue.

Close enough, because the EV1 didn't have enough range for a trip into
the mountains. But the cars were also offered in the San Francisco
and Sacramento areas, where it was an issue.

>People going for performance and luxury wouldn't go near the EV1.
>There are enough idealistic screwballs in southern California to
>lease as many of the cars as GM would lease, with many more on
>the waiting list.

Funny thing. It's a lot easier to be idealistic when you don't have
to do anything about it. That there are lots of idealistic screwballs
I grant you. There are a lot fewer who are willing act on their
beliefs at the level of commitment an EV1 required. And fewer still
that would buy a two-seater that could, in effect, only be driven in
smoggy urban areas.

>>Even CARB, which had established a mandate in 1990 for a 10% minimum
>>sales of zero-emissions vehicles by 2003, admitted defeat. After
>>advancing the deadlines several times, CARB dropped the ZEV requirement
>>in 2003.
>
>After being sued by GM and other automakers.

The lawsuit in question was filed after CARB relaxed the guidelines to
count hybrids, where GM was (and is) well behind in technology.
Cites:
http://www.pbs.org/now/science/caautoemissions2.html
http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/zevprog/factsheets/2003zevchanges.pdf

>According to CARB, an electric car produces 67% less greenhouse
>gasses than a gasoline powered car in California.

It depends on where you start counting in the energy production chain.
But the fact remains that calling it a "zero emissions vehicle" is a
politically fueled joke. Even CARB now qualifies the term as "zero
tailpipe emissions."

>A good chunk of the power comes from non-fossil-fuel sources.

But over 90% of new, incremental power generation comes from fossil
fuels. Currently, we aren't building any new nuke or large-scale
hydroelectric plants in the U.S. While there's progress in building
wind-, solar-, and trash-powered plants, as the Cape Wind project has
shown, those efforts also run afoul of some of the same sort of
"idealistic screwballs."

>Of what does come from fossil fuels, part of that is from natural gas,
>which produces less CO2 than coal for the same amount of energy. Even
>the coal fired power plants can be designed to run more efficiently
>than a variable load, variable speed, frequently idling internal
>combustion engine.

You're presenting a false choice.

Natural Gas produces about 1/3rd less CO2 per KWh as Coal or Oil, but a
natural gas powered vehicle uses it more efficiently than one which uses
it indirectly through electrical generation.

Likewise, cars can (and have) made more efficient use of fuel through
engine management systems and hybrid technologies. In fact, over the
last 30 years vehicles have improved fuel efficiency and reduced
pollution at a far faster rate than power plants.

For over 20 years of the same period, the inflation adjusted pump
price for gasoline kept dropping, reaching all time lows around the
same time as the EV1 came out. The overall U.S. consumer response
was not to claim an "energy dividend," but to buy larger and higher
performing cars, minivans, and SUV's. A 1984 Corvette weighed 3192
pounds, produced 205hp, and had an EPA rating of 19/26mpg. A 2004
Corvette weighs 3116 pounds, produces 405hp, meets stricter emission
control standards and has an EPA rating of, drum roll please,
19/28mpg.

How about something more mundane, like a Honda Accord? 1984: 86
horsepower, 29/41 mpg, weight 2205 pounds. 2004: 160 horsepower,
24/34 mpg, wheelbase 107+ inches, weight 3117 pounds.

Over the same period, CO2 output per KWh of electricity produced in
the U.S. has dropped a mere two or three percentage points.

I have absolutely no objection to cleaner more efficient transportation.
But the EV1 was both a technological and market failure. A better way
to reach that goal is by all of us driving less, driving less fuelish
vehicles, and continue to improve the technology which we know can work.

If you want to become as rich as Bill Gates, invent a battery that can
replace lead- acid batteries in real world applications, only with
quadruple the energy capacity at merely double the cost. Until that
happens, electric cars will still be special-purpose vehicles.

>Of course we could reduce the percentage of electricity coming from
>fossil fuels to zero by building enough nukes, but we're not sane
>enough to do that.

In case you missed it, Bush mentioned "clean safe nuclear energy" in his
2005 State of the Union speech, and the current administration is once
again offering incentives to build new nuke plants.

When you take the fuel life cycle into account, nuclear power generation
does produce some greenhouse gases, and at least one environmental group
(the Oeko Institute of Germany) claims that greenhouse gas output per
KWh is higher from nuclear power than from cogeneration with natural-gas
powered internal combustion engines. But, heck, why don't you float
that idea of nuclear plants located in the backyards of the "idealistic
screwballs" who leased EV1's?

David Friedman

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 3:34:16 PM6/15/06
to
In article <slrne92q8f....@panix2.panix.com>,
Randolph Fritz <rand...@panix.com> wrote:

If it is average, and if I am right in guessing that marginal output is
mostly coal, then the CARB figure substantially overstates the advantage
of an electric car wrt greenhouse gasses.

Wilson Heydt

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 4:15:21 PM6/15/06
to
In article <ddfr-2FADE8.1...@news.isp.giganews.com>,

David Friedman <dd...@daviddfriedman.nopsam.com> wrote:
>Even if it turns out that hybrid cars are a winner, it doesn't follow
>that the all electric car GM was developing could have been. A hybrid
>car, after all, can have a long cruising range without a half ton of
>batteries; an electric car can't.

I've seen photos of a car that was converted to all electric. For
long range driving on a non-routine basis it has a trailer that
contains an engine, generator and fuel tank. That does--rather
neatly I think--solve one fo the major problems.

--
Hal Heydt
Albany, CA

My dime, my opinions.

Wilson Heydt

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 4:28:35 PM6/15/06
to
In article <ujn292pehk9sulort...@4ax.com>,

Michael Benveniste <mhb-...@clearether.com> wrote:
>I'm sure "people" did. Fewer than 800 of them, and I'm willing to bet
>that fewer still had an EV1 as their only car. Of course, almost any
>econobox at less than half the cost would have worked for them.

Fewer, indeed, since one of the lease conditions was that you aleady
have (and plan to continue to have) a conventional vehicle in
addition to the EV1.

Doug Wickstrom

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 4:36:03 PM6/15/06
to

Indeed it does. You can convert an internal combustion engine to
run on wood or coal with such an arrangement, too. The French
used to call it a "gasogene."

David Goldfarb

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 7:29:18 PM6/15/06
to
In article <ddfr-780E95.1...@news.isp.giganews.com>,
David Friedman <dd...@daviddfriedman.nopsam.com> wrote:
>In article <qfe092l69ftq4nhal...@4ax.com>,
> Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>
>(The kind of post that makes me appreciate the web.

I'm a bit surprised at you, confusing Usenet with the World Wide Web.

--
David Goldfarb |"That's what the dragon *wants* you to think!
gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu | He doesn't want you to know he exists!"
gold...@csua.berkeley.edu | "Actually, I just want her to think you're nuts."
|"Oh, shut up." -- _Bone_ #3

Keith F. Lynch

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 8:57:43 PM6/15/06
to
Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
> Indeed it does. You can convert an internal combustion engine to
> run on wood or coal with such an arrangement, too. The French used
> to call it a "gasogene."

Using a generator and electric motors? Why not skip the two
inefficient conversions and just use a steam engine.

David Friedman

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 9:14:34 PM6/15/06
to
In article <e6sqge$1pl2$1...@agate.berkeley.edu>,
gold...@OCF.Berkeley.EDU (David Goldfarb) wrote:

> In article <ddfr-780E95.1...@news.isp.giganews.com>,
> David Friedman <dd...@daviddfriedman.nopsam.com> wrote:
> >In article <qfe092l69ftq4nhal...@4ax.com>,
> > Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
> >
> >
> >(The kind of post that makes me appreciate the web.
>
> I'm a bit surprised at you, confusing Usenet with the World Wide Web.

You are correct and I was mistaken.

Nate Edel

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Jun 15, 2006, 10:20:57 PM6/15/06
to
Paul Ciszek <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:
> And the next step for hybrids seems to be a true hybrid design
> that is more like an electric car and less like a conventional
> one than the current hybrids.

While I agree with most of your points, in fairness, there's nothing more
"tru[ly] hybrid" about possible future designs than present ones; from a
theoretical point of view, they're both equally acceptable (and given that
some of the current ones can run entirely on electric with the motor off,
it's not clear whether the advantages are universally one way or the other.)

The terminology I leared from a friend who did that sort of engineering was:
* Parallel hybrid for what we've got today on cars with a drive train connection
to both the gas engine and the electric motor/generator (for which there's a
better term that I'm blanking on)

* Serial hybrid for those which like diesel-electric trains (and ships?),
the gas engine drives only a generator.

--
Nate Edel http://www.cubiclehermit.com/

"What's the use of yearning for Elysian Fields when you know you can't get
'em, and would only let 'em out on building leases if you had 'em?" (WSG)

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 15, 2006, 11:27:41 PM6/15/06
to

In article <95h9m3x...@mail.sfchat.org>,

Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>
>While I agree with most of your points, in fairness, there's nothing more
>"tru[ly] hybrid" about possible future designs than present ones; from a
>theoretical point of view, they're both equally acceptable (and given that
>some of the current ones can run entirely on electric with the motor off,
>it's not clear whether the advantages are universally one way or the other.)
>
>The terminology I leared from a friend who did that sort of engineering was:
>* Parallel hybrid for what we've got today on cars with a drive train connection
>to both the gas engine and the electric motor/generator (for which there's a
>better term that I'm blanking on)
>
>* Serial hybrid for those which like diesel-electric trains (and ships?),
>the gas engine drives only a generator.

The latter is what I heard called a "hybrid automobile" back before
there were any, and what I have been calling a "true hybrid".

Wilson Heydt

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 1:23:37 AM6/16/06
to
In article <e6svm7$llm$1...@panix3.panix.com>,

Keith F. Lynch <k...@KeithLynch.net> wrote:
>Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
>> Indeed it does. You can convert an internal combustion engine to
>> run on wood or coal with such an arrangement, too. The French used
>> to call it a "gasogene."
>
>Using a generator and electric motors? Why not skip the two
>inefficient conversions and just use a steam engine.

Or just generalize that method: External Combustion Engine.

(I wonder if anyone has ever tried using a Sterling engine for a car...)

mike weber

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 5:21:48 AM6/16/06
to
I don't know if it's ever been tried in Real Life, but when i was Very
Young i wrote a series of Pretty Bad spy stories in which the hero's
car was.

Alan Braggins

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 7:17:24 AM6/16/06
to
In article <e6svm7$llm$1...@panix3.panix.com>, Keith F. Lynch wrote:
>Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
>> Indeed it does. You can convert an internal combustion engine to
>> run on wood or coal with such an arrangement, too. The French used
>> to call it a "gasogene."
>
>Using a generator and electric motors?

Using a gas generator on a trailer, I suspect.


> Why not skip the two
>inefficient conversions and just use a steam engine.

Because you already have an internal combustion engine (that you were
running on petrol before the war introduced petrol rationing), and
you don't already have a steam engine?

Jenn Ridley

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 10:57:14 AM6/16/06
to
whh...@kithrup.com (Wilson Heydt) wrote:

Been done. My dad worked on it for 6-7 years in the 1970s. There
were lots of reasons it didn't work, not that I remember any of them.
(hey, I was 12 when they gave up on it.)

jenn

--
Jenn Ridley : jri...@chartermi.net

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 12:27:33 PM6/16/06
to

I have a thermodynamic question about external combustion engines.
I have heard that some steam engines have the option of running either
open cycle or closed cycle, and the vehicle goes a lot faster in the
former case but of course uses up water. My questions are:

1) Does running a steam engine open cycle mean that the "cold side"
temperature in the Carnot efficiency equation is the ambient
temperature, rather than the temperature of your cooling system?
Is this the reason why open cycle engines do better?

2) Can the same thing be done with a Stirling engine, making Tc the
ambient temperature by "inhaling" outside air with each cycle?

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 12:35:34 PM6/16/06
to

In article <J0x49...@kithrup.com>, Wilson Heydt <whh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
>In article <ddfr-2FADE8.1...@news.isp.giganews.com>,
>David Friedman <dd...@daviddfriedman.nopsam.com> wrote:
>>Even if it turns out that hybrid cars are a winner, it doesn't follow
>>that the all electric car GM was developing could have been. A hybrid
>>car, after all, can have a long cruising range without a half ton of
>>batteries; an electric car can't.
>
>I've seen photos of a car that was converted to all electric. For
>long range driving on a non-routine basis it has a trailer that
>contains an engine, generator and fuel tank. That does--rather
>neatly I think--solve one of the major problems.

You have a your choice of any fuel that you can find a generator
to run on, and the generator can be set up to run only at the
speed and torque that yield optimal conversion of fuel to
electricity. (For most IC engines, this will be close to the
maximum ouput, which is fortunate.) I don't know how "duty
cycle" affects IC engines, but presumably the guys working on
"series hybrids" do.

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 12:44:26 PM6/16/06
to

In article <ujn292pehk9sulort...@4ax.com>,

Michael Benveniste <mhb-...@clearether.com> wrote:
>
>In case you missed it, Bush mentioned "clean safe nuclear energy" in his
>2005 State of the Union speech, and the current administration is once
>again offering incentives to build new nuke plants.

For real? Or is this like the president giving a speech about his
commitment to renewable energy at a facility that had just laid off
a substantial chunk of its scientists because its budget had been
slashed?

>When you take the fuel life cycle into account, nuclear power generation
>does produce some greenhouse gases, and at least one environmental group
>(the Oeko Institute of Germany) claims that greenhouse gas output per
>KWh is higher from nuclear power than from cogeneration with natural-gas
>powered internal combustion engines.

Are they refering to the American nuclear fuel cycle or the French one?
What the Americans dispose of as waste, the French burn as nuclear fuel.
I figure that has got to help.

> But, heck, why don't you float
>that idea of nuclear plants located in the backyards of the "idealistic
>screwballs" who leased EV1's?

As I said, we as a society are not sane enough to do the right thing.

Michael Benveniste

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 1:34:15 PM6/16/06
to
"Paul Ciszek" <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:

>>In case you missed it, Bush mentioned "clean safe nuclear energy" in his
>>2005 State of the Union speech, and the current administration is once
>>again offering incentives to build new nuke plants.
>
> For real? Or is this like the president giving a speech about his
> commitment to renewable energy at a facility that had just laid off
> a substantial chunk of its scientists because its budget had been
> slashed?

It was actually the 2006 speech, but is an estimated 4.3 billion
dollars "real" when it comes to U.S. Government pork? Decide for
yourself after reading the "Energy Policy Act of 2005:"
http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/energy_pdfs_2.htm

Duke Energy is on public record as having plans to submit a
license application for a new plant by 2008.

> Are they refering to the American nuclear fuel cycle or the French one?
> What the Americans dispose of as waste, the French burn as nuclear fuel.
> I figure that has got to help.

The study was done in the Netherlands, which, according to
the last article I found, follows the Reprocessing (French)
model. But they've been debating a switch for a decade or
so.

--
Michael Benveniste -- mhb-...@clearether.com

Spam and UCE professionally evaluated for $250. Use this email

Paul Ciszek

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 2:07:35 PM6/16/06
to

In article <ujn292pehk9sulort...@4ax.com>,

Which greenhouse gas? I doubt they mean CO2. Most likely a halogenated
hydrocarbon; some of them have a much stronger greenhouse effect than
CO2. Recapture ought to be possible, especially since nuclear fuel
processing/reprocessing takes place in a fairly closed and controlled
system--or at least, is supposed to.

I met one chemist at Duckon who claims that volcanoes output several
times more halogenated hydrocarbons than human activity does. I have
no idea how plausible that is.

David Dyer-Bennet

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 4:56:34 PM6/16/06
to
"Keith F. Lynch" <k...@KeithLynch.net> writes:

> Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
> > Indeed it does. You can convert an internal combustion engine to
> > run on wood or coal with such an arrangement, too. The French used
> > to call it a "gasogene."
>
> Using a generator and electric motors? Why not skip the two
> inefficient conversions and just use a steam engine.

Well, most US railroad engines are diesel-electric designs; they seem
to feel the benefits of electric drive are so great that they win even
if you have to haul your own generator along. Of course the problem
of starting a train is MUCH different from the problem of starting a
car moving.
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:dd...@dd-b.net>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
RKBA: <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>

Doug Wickstrom

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 5:44:17 PM6/16/06
to
On 16 Jun 2006 15:56:34 -0500, David Dyer-Bennet <dd...@dd-b.net>
wrote:

>"Keith F. Lynch" <k...@KeithLynch.net> writes:
>
>> Doug Wickstrom <nims...@comcast.net> wrote:
>> > Indeed it does. You can convert an internal combustion engine to
>> > run on wood or coal with such an arrangement, too. The French used
>> > to call it a "gasogene."
>>
>> Using a generator and electric motors? Why not skip the two
>> inefficient conversions and just use a steam engine.
>
>Well, most US railroad engines are diesel-electric designs; they seem
>to feel the benefits of electric drive are so great that they win even
>if you have to haul your own generator along. Of course the problem
>of starting a train is MUCH different from the problem of starting a
>car moving.

Not that much different. It takes very little horsepower to get
a train moving, and even less to move a car. What it takes is a
lot of torque, which is why cars have gearboxes. Electric motors
have an interesting torque/ horsepower curve that puts maximum
torque at minimum RPM, which is why 600 h.p. yard engines can
move consists at a walking pace that it takes 6,000 h.p. road
engines to move at speed. Internal combustion engines produce
maximum torque with maximum horsepower at maximum RPM, which is
why the prime movers in a locomotive run pretty much flat out
whenever under load, though with higher fuel consumption at
higher loads and speeds. The few gas-turbine-electric
locomotives did the same thing. So it's not that goofy an idea
to use a purely electric-powered vehicle, battery-powered for
short range use, and with an auxiliary generator on a trailer for
long distances. It's actually a pretty smart solution to the
problem of range.

Anyway, Keith misunderstands a gasogene, which produces flammable
gas to be used directly in an IC engine.

Thomas Womack

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 6:55:28 PM6/16/06
to
In article <e6us17$s2h$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
Paul Ciszek <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:

>>When you take the fuel life cycle into account, nuclear power generation
>>does produce some greenhouse gases, and at least one environmental group
>>(the Oeko Institute of Germany) claims that greenhouse gas output per
>>KWh is higher from nuclear power than from cogeneration with natural-gas
>>powered internal combustion engines.
>
>Which greenhouse gas? I doubt they mean CO2. Most likely a halogenated
>hydrocarbon; some of them have a much stronger greenhouse effect than
>CO2.

I'd imagine (given how effective SF6 is) that UF6 would be a hellishly
effective greenhouse gas, if only it were gaseous at natural
temperatures and didn't hydrolyse to HF in moist air. There is a UF6
production process that reacts UC2 with elemental fluorine and gives
CF4 as a biproduct, but I think the process currently used is to react
UO2 with HF and then with F2 to get up to the +6 oxidation state; CF4
is an *extraordinary* greenhouse gas, 6500 times worse than CO2 and
with five hundred times the atmospheric lifetime, which sounds reason
enough not to produce it in industrial quantities.

[can anyone think of good search terms to find a gas with higher
global warming potential than SF6? Enquiring terraformers want to
know ...]

On the other hand, the centrifuge cascade has to be heated otherwise
the UF6 freezes and blocks the pores, and the UF6 synthesis itself
works best at elevated temperatures, so I suspect isotope separation
plants produce fair amounts of CO2 from the gas heating.

Of course, uranium isotope separation isn't necessary for nuclear
power - CANDU works with natural uranium, albeit with isotopically
separated water as the moderator. And were it not for the utter
paranoia with which reprocessing and large-scale use of plutonium
tends to be treated, it would be practical just to breed and use
239Pu, and leave 235U as a weird curiosity obtained by extraction of
the decay products from old 239Pu.

> I met one chemist at Duckon who claims that volcanoes output several
> times more halogenated hydrocarbons than human activity does. I
> have no idea how plausible that is.

The figures I see using google suggest that volcanic output is a
couple of percent of human output, but that unclear processes
operating in the oceans do produce an amount of CH3Cl equal to about a
quarter of human chlorocarbon production. Section 4.4 of
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/text/ozone is pretty authoritative --
basically, volcanoes do produce HCl in largish quantities, but mixed
with so much more water, in which HCl is incredibly soluble, that it
rains out before reaching the stratosphere and depleting ozone there.

Tom

Keith F. Lynch

unread,
Jun 16, 2006, 8:55:13 PM6/16/06