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  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Sorry I missed this, it got lost in the very long thread about hydrogen fuel cells - which I believe we agree are without merit (I don't spend much time on them because government has largely stopped investing in them... If private industry wishes to waste it's money that's not my business - just as I would not consider it my business if a private person wished to buy a Tesla... It's only when government comes in with subsidies and special privileges that I get concerned... or infuriated).

    As for your suggested interpretation. I feel you're cheating the numbers here, but you feel I'm cheating the numbers here... So fairness probably will find some result that lies in the middle. Perhaps there will be a more exhaustive study of the Tesla pack specifically so we can leave the speculation to rest.

    By your result, we would get somewhere ~9 - 10 tons-CO2 - depending on the speculated mass balance in the 197 kg remainder - above and beyond the embodied carbon for a regular car. By my method - equally valid using the same incomplete data set - we get 17 tons...

    So let's call it a truce and say the figure is somewhere between 9 and 17 tons above and beyond a regular ICE vehicle... and table this until more exhaustive data is made available.

    Jun 14, 2013. 05:54 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    I've found that to be true of very few of them.

    Most environmentalists are simply honest people who want a better world and are trying to find a way to bring that about. But within every group there are a few who are - for lack of a better description - a$$holes.

    I tend to respond politely when people ask questions or politely bring up honest challenges or disagreements; I respond aggressively when people aggressively challenge a stance that I have, etc... But I respect them as long as one thing remains true:
    The conversation moves forward.

    In very few cases, a person will knowingly repeat a complete lie long after that lie has been refuted; and he/she (usually he) simply pretends the earlier discussion didn't happen and continues to assert what he/she (usually he) knows is not true. In very few other cases the person will simply be extremely nasty and not respond in a form of logical discussion, but simply repeat earlier attacks in the way one would expect from a child's toy: 5 possible phrases could result from hitting the button, regardless of what you say, one of those 5 phrases is randomly repeated...

    But I've had just as many encounters with such people when debating climate change against the denialists as I do when debating the functioning of the electric grid with EV zealots.

    It's not because they're environmentalists (I'm an environmentalists), it's because they are what they are. For what it's worth, I've had a great deal of fun debating with most of the people in this forum... and even found out (to my dismay) that I was the a$$hole in a conversation with oldpartsnrust, as I had misread his name and not noticed I was calling him the wrong name.

    Don't hate on "greenies", most of us are worthy of respect. Reserve your spleen for those who earn it, regardless of where they fall in any given political affiliation.
    Jun 14, 2013. 05:33 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    It would be nice if you didn't choose to misrepresent what I have and have not stated. There has never once been a suggestion on my part that the net efficiency of WindFuels consumed by an ICE rivals the end-use efficiency of an electric motor. That would be absurd, and has not been suggested.

    What is suggested, and in fact stated, is that in all current and near-term foreseen applications the EV uses almost exclusively fossil power - in most cases this is coal-sourced. WindFuels is designed to used wind-sourced power. That's one difference.

    The more significant difference is the relative costs. A Ford Focus costs $15,000.

    WindFuels would be profitable in most instances as long as the gasoline sold for more than ~$1.80/gallon, so in the present market price of $3.20/gallon it would do fine. At $3.20/gallon, the Ford Focus driver would have to pay ~$10,700 in fuel (sourced by WindFuels). The WindFuels plant would receive ~$9000 of that, ~$3000 or so of which would be profit... while most of the rest went to local taxes for infrastructure building and maintenance. That's $~26,700 for capital purchase and fuel for the first 100,000 miles, providing ~$1500 in taxes for infrastructure.

    For the Ford Focus EV, on the other hand, the cost is ~$38,000 up-front, of which the Federal government is burdened $7500. Then fuel costs for the first ~100,000 miles would be ~$3200. So fuel plus capital costs would be ~$41,200; of which $7500 is REMOVED from tax coffers that could have gone for infrastructure...

    Considering the Ford Focus EV is running on coal, and the WindFuels option would be carbon neutral... The dollars and sense work out to the following:
    WindFuels option yields +$1500 for government, , and the driver pays $26,700 total for fuel and capital;
    EV option yields $-7500 for government, and the driver pays $33,700 for fuel and capital.

    Government loses $9000, and driver loses $7000 ($16,000 total loss to society); all so a much greater amount of CO2 and other toxic emissions can result from the act of transporting the exact same vehicle.

    A third reason that WindFuels is preferred is the fact that, of the total volume of petroleum processed in the world, gasoline makes up less than 35%. The rest of the petroleum products are needed by society, in many cases moreso. But the act of refining petroleum would yield a large volume of gasoline whether it was used or not. So if - in the unthinkably implausible future that EV advocates envision - we didn't use gasoline; we'd still have to process nearly the exact same amount of petroleum for our other needs (plastic, rubber, diesel, jet fuel, industrial chemicals, solvents, cleaners, waxes, asphalt, fertilizers, etc...). Carbon neutral synthesis of ultra-low contaminate PETROLEUM yields all of these products, and allows all of these products to be provided for society with very low emissions. Eliminating the need for gasoline still requires all of these other products which would still require similar amounts of petroleum, and merely result in large quantities of leftover gasoline - which would then have to be burned off. It sounds foolish - but that's what I think of the "vision" of eliminating the need for gasoline without dealing with the rest of the petroleum needs of our society.
    Jun 14, 2013. 02:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Gasoline from tar sands has a life-cycle emission of ~14 kg-CO2/gallon. Diesel from tar sands rings in closer to ~16 kg-CO2/gallon.

    Those are the numbers. The UPSTREAM emissions are roughly triple that of the traditional oil super-field, but the final values really aren't that far off.

    Coal-sourced electricity run through an EV has far higher emissions/mile than tar-sands sourced gasoline burned in a relatively efficient ICE.
    Jun 14, 2013. 01:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]


    Actually, I just misread your handle. I thought I was assigning you the handle you had chosen, and was baffled when you declared I was insulting you.

    Sorry about that. I cannot afford to take more than a few minutes (while a simulator is running in the background), to both read and respond... so I'm skimming here. I truly apologize for misreading your name.
    Jun 14, 2013. 01:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    I don't see why I should be pitied.

    I have a bunch of people continually throwing incorrect numbers at me (some of whom I don't bother to read), and I correct those numbers if I happened to have read the post.

    As for that, I seem to remember having corrected the 14% figure before. It would have been your post, if I recall correctly (11 jun, 11:11).

    But as for the question: It is far more beneficial to all to use otherwise curtailed wind-sourced electricity to create fuel which can be competitively sold for regular vehicles on the road today; then it would ever be to use coal which would otherwise not be strip-mined and burned to produce electricity exclusively for absurdly priced vehicles that weigh a ton more than regular cars on the road today. This should be obvious, and I cannot imagine why it is not so.
    Jun 13, 2013. 04:29 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    You are rapidly getting to a point where you will have designated yourself as "waste of time", which means I don't read your posts as they do nothing but harass and annoy.

    There has never been a single statement that I've made that indicates I'm anything other than a fan and advocate of carbon offsets. I've fought harder for government cap-and-trade laws than anyone in the forum, and was a very early advocate for carbon offset programs.

    I just don't lie to myself and others about what carbon offsets mean concerning the activities and purchases that one has to purchase the offsets FOR.

    If you continue to harrass, bully, and flood the thread with blatant lies about where I stand, then you will simply be ignored henceforth.

    I don't have time to bother trying to reason with the dog humping my leg.

    If you are curious, the casual nuisance of Neil earned that dubious honor a few months back, and I haven't read a post he's written since.

    Further deliberate attacks and misrepresentations on your part about me or my business will be the very last post from you I'll read. It seems like a small thing, but it's what I can do, and choose to... I cannot see myself ever being small enough to go whining to the SA moderators, so I simply stop reading the garbage you choose to spew.
    Jun 13, 2013. 03:20 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Again, we're talking pack, not cell. The Tesla pack has a specific energy of ~154 Wh/kg (85 kWh, 550 kg).

    But the Argonne report was largely indifferent to the distinction between EV and PV installations, instead just giving broad averages. My suspicion (and I acknowledge that I do not have verification of this suspicion) is the EV packs have higher embodied energy/wh than the PV packs.

    My reasoning is this: EV packs must be designed for minimal weight and volume, which means more aluminum must be relied on for non-load-bearing structure, as it offers orders of magnitude better thermal conductivity and it weighs less so long as strength is not required. So to make a lightweight, compact system, less steel and more aluminum would be required... but aluminum has ~8 times the embodied energy of steel.

    So while I used a factor of ~500-fold, which is consistent with several of the systems analyzed in the Argonne Labs report, it's probable that the EV packs would have fallen on the high side of the scale - at ~650-fold.

    If you really want to delve into the minutiae here, you are welcome to... but most of my estimates were made generously because I recognize I don't have the expertise to really squabble over the finer details; which means we'll have to consult some of those who do have expertise in battery manufacture in order to take this much further.
    Jun 13, 2013. 03:08 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Do you truly believe that loopholes aren't intended?

    You have less confidence in the competence of Congressmen (and their advisers) than even I do. That's saying quite a lot.
    Jun 13, 2013. 01:15 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    The Hummer subsidies are gone (thank God). That was during the time that I was so impassioned that I quit work to devote roughly 90 hours/week to political campaigning/lobbying, and we shouted about that subsidy until we couldn't speak. That subsidy no longer exists, nor does the civilian version of the Hummer or the "H2".

    No-one is saying that the Tesla subsidies pollute as much as the 3.5-ton+ subsidy of the mid-2000's. But if that's all you can say to support your subsidy "Well it's not as bad as one of the worst things passed during the Bush presidency", then you have to realize that you're standing on some pretty weak advocacy.

    The Hummer subsidy is gone. It's time for the Tesla subsidy to join it.
    Jun 13, 2013. 09:15 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Table 2 gives a cradle-to-grave energy estimate (Ectg) ranging between 125.3 and 224 MJ/kg of battery PACK (read the report) that they were studying. Note if you wished to look at the same findings you could turn to page 35 and have the exact same studies of the exact same battery packs converted to MJ/wh.

    That works out to ~1.5 - 2.35 MJ/wh, or 417 - 653 wh embodied energy/wh specific energy. I used an easy estimate of 500, as I don't know the specifics of the Panasonic cradle-to-grave system (by far the most important factors lie with the lithium mine: specifically the quality and concentration of the raw ore), and 500 lies somewhat close to the middle of the range.

    As far as the improvements in battery technology go, there really hasn't been much focus other than increasing the charge cycle life. No-one is working to make a more efficient mining process, or a more efficient process of extracting the lithium from the salts... No progress has been made in making plastic, or copper, or aluminum, or steel any more efficiency. Other than machining and assembly - which is a very small portion of the overall embodied energy - there's nothing to improve in reducing the embodied energy, and no improvement has been made nor even attempted since the Argonne study.
    Jun 13, 2013. 08:57 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Sorry, I overlooked that.

    Here you go:

    Pg 22, figure 4.
    Jun 12, 2013. 04:24 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    I stand corrected. Most Li-ion batteries are manufactured in China, but if these are not, then that's that. Thank you for the correction. Japan has a grid carbon intensity of ~440 kg-CO2/MWh.

    The only portion of the equation that would change would be the final manufacturing/assembly step.

    I assumed/guessed that would be ~15% of the energy required. That would reduce the total carbon load of the battery by ~2.3 tons-CO2. That may help a little, but it won't help a lot.

    Of course, I acknowledge some of my estimates may be off with respect to the percentage of energy of each upstream step - but again the differences will not result in large changes to the overall result.
    Jun 12, 2013. 03:25 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    I live in the real world.

    In the real world metals are mined by heavy diesel equipment.
    In the real world goods are distributed by trains, boats and trucks that also all run on diesel.
    In the real world chemicals and plastics are made from natural gas condensates (NGLs) at plants that are powered by natural gas.
    In the real world metals are smelted by heat produced by coal furnaces (this is especially true in China, where the batteries are manufactured).

    This discussion thread is not about some future world where everyone gets synthesized food and we are boldly going where no man has gone before... We live TODAY. Cars that we purchase today are made in factories today that are fueled in the exact manner that they are fueled today.

    If, in some distant future, we no longer burn fossil fuels to get energy, then I will no longer be concerned about the emissions resulting from energy consumption - my opinions might change.
    (I feel quite comfortable in boasting that I have almost certainly done more than anyone else in this forum to bring about a present and a future that has more renewable and nuclear energy than would otherwise be the case.)

    But right now this is where we are. We have to deal with that, not tell ourselves stories of where we might be if every decision henceforth is made according to what we would prefer.

    On the question of carbon offsets. I'm a huge fan of the principle... but carbon offsets do not change the environmental profile of the activity or purchase that you are offsetting. Otherwise, a person could claim their stretched Hummer was a "carbon neutral environmentally friendly" purchase, because they invested heavily in a wind farm... Does that mean we should have taxpayers foot 10% of the bill for every stretched HumV because there's a possibility that the purchaser MIGHT choose to spend money elsewhere to offset their carbon load? Does that make any sense at all?
    Jun 12, 2013. 01:31 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    4. I hadn't done this on the Tesla S. I had only done this before with the Leaf... and then I extrapolated forward to make a very conservative guess for the Tesla. So, since you called me on it, we'll work this out for the Tesla S.

    It takes roughly ~500 times as much energy to make a Li-ion battery pack as the pack can store (thank you Argonne Lab). So a battery pack that is 1 kWh would require roughly 500 kWh of upstream energy to make. Included in this is the energy used to mine and separate the metals, distribute them, extract/smelt/alloy them, make plastics and chemicals, and then manufacture/assemble the pack.

    I don't know the actual breakdown, so I'm assuming roughly 25% for mining and base separations (petroleum), 5% in distribution of materials, (petroleum), 40% heat for extraction/smelting/al... (coal), 15% for plastics and chemicals (natural gas), and 15% for manufacturing/assembly (electricity - Chinese grid mix).
    (Please note these numbers are guesses on my part)

    For an 85 kWh battery pack, we then have 42.5 MWh of embodied energy. That energy would - based on my guesses - comprise of 12.75 MWh of refined petroleum products, 17 MWh of coal, 6.38 MWh of NG, and 6.38 MWh of Chinese electricity.

    For the petroleum, it's pretty easy. Assuming ~14 kg-CO2/gallon of diesel, and ~37 kWh/gallon, then we'll see ~4.8 tons of CO2 from the petroleum's share of the battery manufacture. (This obviously includes all upstream emissions from drilling, pumping, piping, filtering, refining, and distributing).

    For coal, if we assume ~330 kg-CO2/MWh of thermal energy, then 17 MWh of coal would result in another ~5.6 tons of CO2. (Of course, this ignores the CO2 release from mountaintop removal, distribution, and pulverization of coal, which would likely be another ton of CO2).

    For the NG, we will be generous and assume no leaks in the system. For every MWh of natural gas we see ~180 kg of CO2, so the NG portion of CO2 release here is ~1.1 ton CO2. (If you factor in upstream drilling, piping, scrubbing, and separating, you get another ~.2 tons or so).

    Finally, Chinese electricity has a carbon intensity of ~800 kg-CO2/MWh, so this portion is another 5.1 tons-CO2. (again this doesn't cover the mining, distribution, or pulverization of the coal).

    The embodied carbon in steel is always given with an assumption of average recycled content, and is listed at ~1.4 kg-CO2/kg-steel. The idea of the EV is specifically selecting a vehicle that has MORE steel than normal, so I don't know that it's fair to include recycled steel into the equation, but that's a fight for another day... If we assume 300 kg more steel at 1.4 kg/kg, then we add another 0.4 tons-CO2.

    So, the battery and the increased steel mass would account for an embodied carbon of ~17 tons steel (before considering upstream emissions for coal and NG), before considering the rest of the vehicle.

    The average straight ICE vehicle has an embodied carbon load of ~5-7 tons (a Prius has an embodied carbon load of just under 9 tons). So just the battery pack and additional frame support for the Tesla S triples the embodied carbon of an ICE. Once the rest of the car is added in, there will be more than 21 tons of embodied CO2 in the Tesla S, as opposed to 5-7 tons in a straight ICE and 9-11 tons in a hybrid car.

    5. I've spent my life advocating for more money to renewable energy. As it stands, a very large plurality of the money is being wasted on corn ethanol (a program I once supported - when we were paying farmers to leave their land fallow - and now oppose since we're plowing under seemingly all agriculture to force out more and more corn for ethanol). I've paid my dues, some years quitting work entirely to get paid next to nothing in order to work 90 hours a week on lobbying/grassroots campaigning efforts for various efforts to fight global warming. It doesn't help, we're likely to see the amount spent drop over the next 3 years rather than increase.

    One of the reasons we're losing the battle is because we are spending money so STUPIDLY. When the opposition comes at you saying that it's all kickbacks and corruption, and bring up monstrously stupid "investments" like algae-oil or hydrogen fuel cell cars (or subsidies for rich people to buy luxury cars that pollute more than half the new cars on the road).... it's hard to defend the programs. If WE don't care about actually fighting global warming, and instead just back whatever nonsense "neat" gadget that caught our fancy... then how do we successfully argue to spend more money? We can't. We lose... and funding is further slashed.

    If we went for the low-hanging fruit. Seriously funded projects that delivered the most environmental "bang for your buck", we might be able to raise the amount spent.

    I don't see people rushing to do that here.
    Jun 12, 2013. 10:35 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment