Hyperloop is a pipe dream


I wonder what the owner of an electric car does when the batteries act like those in a cell phone or the 18650s in my e-cigarette and in Teslas, including the pd100. Over time, they charge and discharge faster. After a year, it can be quite a difference. That’s, what, 12,000 miles for an average driver? If I buy a Tesla, will I have to replace 8,256 18650s after a year or, after dealing with declining capacity for awhile, three? Or has Tesla managed to manage that?


It’s the single largest factor in the mix. It’s why Ethanol can never overtake gasoline; the kWh you can gather from corn are too sparse to meet even 1/3 of our energy needs. Even if you devoted every ounce of corn we grow into ethanol production.

The next biggest issue would be complexity.

Steam powered cars, like this one:

…lost to gasoline automobiles, despite steam technology having (at the time) greater market penetration, and it’s fuel costing basically nothing.

All because steam engines that could drive as far and efficiently as Gasoline were too complex to scale. Too complex to train many people affordably how to maintain them, and too costly for the layman to buy.

Wind requires acres of generators to do what a coal or LNG reactor can do on just one.
They cannot spin up in relation to peak energy demand times to deliver more, and have to be taken offline during lean demand periods. They also require far more highly educated labor compared to coal or LNG to be used.


More land use (+ cost).
Inefficient storage (++ cost)
Cannot “spin up” on demand + taking generators offline (+++cost)
More highly trained labor required to build, operate, and maintain them. (++++ cost)

We are generations away from solving these problems. For Wind, the first will never be solved, as there’s a limit to how big you can make the rotors. Wind is a fad, it’ll only ever be useful as a niche source where others would be difficult to deploy.

Batteries will not keep pace until we develop molecular batteries, and we don’t even have prototypes of those yet. Much less a reproducible, commercial product.

I didn’t, rather, you missed what I said:

8% over 20 years isn’t good enough. You need to both increase density by a factor of 20, and make the technology accessible to mechanics rather than highly-trained technicians.

The Specific energy of a conventional lithium-ion battery is 0.875 MJ/kg.

For Gasoline, it’s 46.4 MJ/kg. 53 times more energy per a unit of mass.

Even if you control for ICE inefficiency, it’s still 18x more efficient.

What’s worse, for each 1% gain in efficiency ICE engines manage to maintain (because no, this technology is not stagnant), that’s another 18% gain batteries have to make, just to keep pace.

More effort, into a less efficient technology, by labor that costs more to educate & maintain.

It has many of the same problems for why solar panel roads, cannot reliably replace asphalt.

Proof of concept isn’t proof of practicality, and “efficiencies” are not made equal. Go look for yourself.



Yes, with respect to cars this is true, but there are other places to generate electricity that isn’t bound by the same constraints.

If I can generate power on my roof, specific density becomes less important and cost becomes more important.

With respect to cars, it’s clear that dollar for dollar electric can provide better performance (depending on how you measure it) so the real question becomes the weight/ volume of the fuel relative to the constraints of the car and the cost to power.

Again if solar and batteries advance sufficiently, even if my electric cannot match the range of a gasoline vehicle (because that is the real issue when it comes to energy density), it could be less expensive to operate. But I admit, this really depends on what the owner wants the car to do.

We may end up in a world where in some applications electrics are superior and others where gas/ diesel are superior.

I agree that ICE’s aren’t standing still, but huge leaps in ICE technology, like direct injection, turbocharging haven’t change the efferent numbers by more than a few % over the last 20 years.

If we are doubting that Electric/ battery tech can advance sufficiently to make these technologies viable, why would we assume that ICE’s are going to make significant leaps given how old the tech is and the inherent limitations of it (it is a system bound by friction)?

I think there is much more potential for electrics and renewables to make large leaps at this point, than ICE’s.

Yeah, don’t get me started. That was going to be my next post after Hyperloop. Solar Roadways are an even dumber idea, you’ll get no argument from me there.

Solar is barely visible on its own, now someone wants to make more expensive and far less efficient and put it under the wheels of trucks and cars where they will be destroyed long before their usable (albeit inefficient life) is over…

Sign me up for bashing this stupid idea.


After what— 15 years of operating it, and never having to replace the battery?

As it’s not just the operating cost, it’s the life-cycle and it’s the upfront cost of buying the vehicle in the first place.

Again, these are the very forces that sunk steam cars, despite, again, having a populace that was already used to the idea of operating steam engines.

And that’s the problem. Batteries that are reusable, durable, and can store energy anywhere close to Hydrocarbons, basically have to operate at the molecular level, and we don’t have those yet. We don’t even have prototypes, just what we think are proofs of concept.

You’re not going to cheat our way with subsidies. Energy is in everything, and we can’t subsidize enough to overcome that difference.

It won’t make Wind viable, because again, Wind has constraints on how big you can make the rotors due to aerodynamics; torque forces being exerted by the winds on the blades that want to tear the rotors apart (it’s also why you don’t see many 4-blade designs).

It can help solar, but this is far down the pipeline, and in the meantime, hydrogen, nuclear, or even more efficient uses of natural gas will continue to raise the threshold that solar has to reach to meet parity.

Without a breakthrough in electrical engineering on par with CRISPR in genetics, it’s hard to picture any of this happening anytime soon.

Equally, if your labor has to be high-skilled to deploy the technology, then that hurts scalability. Places all around the world won’t have the people or the capital necessary to do it, and will still depend on more “user friendly” sources. As will most non-urban areas of the U.S.


Well, those are some salient points to think about.



With respect to cars, it’s clear that dollar for dollar electric can provide better performance


Thought I posted this, but will or will repeat as the case maybe.

My good friend Jack, a by the numbers, dot the i and cross the t fighter pilot who keeps a log book like he did on his fighter jet.

He buy a Pirus and is quite happy with the mpg…IIRC it avg out at 41 day in day out, better on hiway, less around town. He kids me about my mpg on my car.

One day he calls and sez at 5 yr and 5 mo his batter pack goes belly up. The tab, almost $5k on the nose. And you can guess what he does with that number!

He take avg cost of gas per gal over the 5 yr time frame and plugs in the $5000 battery replace. Suddenly the Prius was not such a great deal anymore.


Sodium-ion battery beats lithium for cost effectiveness

A sodium-ion battery, designed at Stanford, can store as much energy as a lithium-ion battery for less than 80 percent of the cost.

Lithium-ion batteries are the current reigning energy-storage champion, powering everything from phones to cars. But as good as it is as an electrode material, lithium is relatively rare, and the cost of mining and refining it can blow out the budget for large-scale applications. The search for a cheaper alternative has led some scientists to plain old salt, and now a Stanford team has developed a sodium-ion battery that would beat lithium-ion batteries in terms of cost per storage capacity.


FTR, that’s csbrown’s words; I didn’t say this.


Yes, sorry, I caught that later and tried to fix it…


I think you misunderstood. A Prius isn’t electric, it’s a hybrid.

And when I made that claim I qualified that statement by saying that it really depends on how you define performance.

Having said that, if we’re talking about speed, acceleration, there is nothing (save the highly specialized Dodge Demon) that will match the Tesla P85D or P100D for performance at the same price. from the factory.

The P85D ($105K) will do 0-60 in 3.1sec and the P100D ($134K) will go 0-60 in ~2.2.

By comparison, the Dodge is $85K

However to reach that level of performance that car get’s somewhere between 13-20mpg with a combined around 16mpg. With a 20gal tank

That’s a 320-mile average range which is 5 miles more than a P100D, though I admit it may be a bit less if the cars were driven under the same exact circumstances (I just don’t know).

Now the P100D is $50k more, but when you sit in it, you’ll immediately know where that extra $50k went.

As far as cost to drive (per year), the P100D costs about $650 to charge assuming 15,000 miles (less if the owner uses Tesla’s free chargers).

By comparison, the Demon costs about $3000 a year.

But I realize that you may not value that kind of performance. Frankly, I’ve outgrown fast cars as a daily driver, though I do still appreciate good performance.

But you seemed the doubt the claim, so I’m curious, how would you measure performance?


I think you misunderstood. A Prius isn’t electric, it’s a hybrid.

NO that is YOUR selective reading again. I gave you an example of my buddy Jack who kept very detailed mpg figures on his Prius and when he had to replace the battery pack for $5K large he inputed that into his mpg figure to see what $5k would have bought him in fuel on the car and suddendly the numbers did not look like such a great deal…

I remember our discussion very well and I told him, Jack you and I have talked about this for years and you got bit just like most of America has…electric is not free and there is no FREE LUNCH!

As for performance of the other kind…electric motors get full torque at zero rpm so they accelerate like crazy…as compared to my 1320 racing days when I sie stepped the clutch pack at 7000 RPM and 200 rpm over my max HP then I watched the Tach drop to about 5200 rpm just shy of my max torque at 5500 rpm. I ran the 1320 in 12.3x’s around 105 mph and 0-60 3.x sec.

IMO when it comes to electric cars TELSA GETS IT! And on big trucks the concept sounds great, not sure if it meets the makes good sense test till they can sort out some things. But someone needs wade into the water and Telsa cold be the best bet. As for the driverless…well not really and unless things change (and they MAY someday) the big rigs will still have a driver sitting in that seat. If for no other reason than the liability exposure without a driver just won’t won’t work anytime soon.

I am solidly behind the commercial use of electric vehicles but for personal use, not so much. Why NOT? As we drive full bore into our world of “SMART” TV’s, HVAC systems in your home, washing machines etc etc they all do a lot of neat things. But behind that is a very dark cloud. Specifically…that 100% EV you drive has all the data of where where you go, how long you stay, when and where. Your HVAC system at home, yea you like it warm in the winter so you set it at 80F or you like it cool in the summer so you set it at 72F. Now some faceless bureaucrat sitting in DC gets and alert, you have changed the temp outside the govt mandated high/low parameters and you drove this month more than your allocated mileage…so he begins flipping switches and your EV won’t start and you house just got cold when it should have been warm. Do we have this ability, YES!!! The govt will never do that: Yea you are right, we never did have a FED mandated 55 mph speed limit adn the govt has never mandated high and low temps!

A truck company’s dream would be a private citizens nightmare…


I don’t intend to misread as I told you before. This happens a lot in this medium when conversating. Not on purpose.

Yes, batteries are incredibly expensive. I just bought a new car, I didn’t buy a hybrid or electric for the reasons you’ve outlined. However, if the promise of electric becomes a reality, this might be the last ICE auto I ever own.

If your argument is that political motivations are driving adoption of electric before it’s commercially viable, while at the same time not meeting the goals that people believe (pollution). I think that’s entirely possible. The industry is changing really fast and I haven’t spent a lot of time researching the topic in depth.

However, based on what I do know, I think we’re probably 5-10 years before electrics become viable vs ICE’s in some applications, like cars.

It really all hinges on how far we come in battery tech, some of which you’ve been kind enough to post.

Even if the nations power distribution doesn’t change, it will still have the effect of moving pollution from hundreds of millions of cars to the power plants that make the energy. I think it’s probably much easier to develop technologies to capture pollution at 7,500 power plants than it is to capture pollution from 250 million cars or however many electric cars end up on the road over the next 50 years or so…


I really think battery tech is the least of the problems with Electric. Tesla already has pretty decent batteries that are 5 years old and still holding a 90% charge. The range is an over stated problem I think, as most people don’t drive 300+ miles in a day at all. I’ve done roadtrips, but most people my age haven’t. They either fly or sit at home and watch netflix. Driving 500 miles is a foreign concept. I’d expect electric cars to clear 500 miles within 10 years. But I don’t think that matters very much.

The main value will be in getting the price down. Making batteries last longer will have a middling effect IMO. Making them cheaper will have a much bigger impact.


What many people forget is that you can drive that 500 miles in a day and then, all you have to do is spend 10 minutes at a gas station to refill your tank and, if you want to, drive another 500 miles. You can’t do that with an electric vehicle. I’ve driven from OKC to Indianapolis (or back again) in one trip several times. (It’s about 750 miles) It takes around 14 hours to make that drive, BTW. Including stops for gas, bathroom breaks or snacks, that’s an average of about 53 mph. It IS mostly turnpike/freeway. I couldn’t DO that in an electric car today in less than 5 DAYS because of the time required to re-charge batteries–assuming that I could FIND a charging station in the first place. That’s certainly not going to change anytime within my lifetime remaining. I will STICK to gasoline.


“At all?” I dispute this. People don’t travel that kind of distance often, but when they need to or they’re going on a trip, electric doesn’t cut it. And unless there’s some radical new technology that I haven’t heard of, it takes a LOT less time to gas up a common ICE vehicle than charge up an electric.


Actually, there is (maybe).

Graphite/ Graphite batteries can recharge in less than 1 min (some as little as 2 seconds) that last 7 times longer (in terms of the number of times they can be recharged) than Li-Ion.

Graphene batteries are the future. One company has developed a new battery, called Grabat, that could offer electric cars a driving range of up to 500 miles on a charge.

Graphenano, the company behind the development, says the batteries can be charged to full in just a few minutes. It can charge and discharge 33 times faster than lithium ion. Discharge is also crucial for things like cars that want vast amounts of power in order to pull away quickly.

The capacity of the 2.3V Grabat is huge with around 1000 Wh/kg which compares to lithium ion’s current 180 Wh/kg. The best part of all this is that these batteries should be ready to go by midway through 2016 [prototype with consumer-ready batteries by 2019].

Now, to be clear, I have NO idea if there is any truth to this. I personally remain EXTREMELY skeptical, but if it is true, assuming they aren’t extremely heavy or unusually dangerous. They seem a pretty viable alternative.

Here is the site: https://futurism.com/scientists-develop-better-battery-thanks-graphene/

Now, having said that, again, there are a lot of well produced, crowd-funded, solutions to everyday problems that are TOTAL FAILURES and never deliver on their promise.

Here are three classic examples of extremely well-produced advertising campaigns that are total bulls**t. Anyone with a high school science education should have been able to figure these out.

Fontus "the self-filling water bottle. Collected $60k in crowdfunding and $345k to date. Right now they are selling something that is basically a desk-sized dehumidifier you can buy an Amazon for $40 put it in a fancy package and they are charging $341.


Solar Roadways, another example of “green tech” that makes ignorant liberals desperate to make the world green, look dumb, though to be fair, some on the right have fallen for this stupid idea.

Last of the BS tech is “Water Seer”. Another “spin” (pun intended) on condensation technology.

Is this Grabat battery another example? Maybe, I haven’t looked into it. But I remain skeptical.

Having said that, there are market forces driving batteries, solar, wind, and electric cars. There aren’t any insurmountable problems so far that I’m aware of.

As far as recharging today. On a “Super Charger,” it takes about 20 minutes to get a Tesla up to 1/2 charge (150ish miles) and a little more than an hour for a full charge (280-335 depending on the car and driving conditions).

Another possibility for taking long trips is to swap your drained battery pack for a full one. The swap takes about as long as it does to fill up a 20-gallon tank (there is a youtube video of this being done). You’d be credited for your batteries and pay for the new ones plus a fee for the convenience.

Obviously, this possibility is limited by costs, but Tesla has a lot invested and would probably do everything they can to make something like that work.

Having said that, CF is right. Few people spend 3 hours in a stretch in a car, those that do will simply avoid electrics until they get better or there are methods or technology that can cut down on the time it takes to recharge. Either way, this is not an insurmountable problem.


Couple of things:

I have been reading Popular Science/Mechanics as far back as I remember and they were and are the mags of future promises. As an avid reader I can tell you that few, very few ever materialized.

When I had my welding and metal fab shop I had a sign on the wall that said: “PICK ANY 2: Fast, Cheap, Good”

And that is reality, Fast, Cheap and Good are hard to come by, but your can usully get 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

11 gals of water per day out of thing air. YEA, sure, it can be done, in fact I have done 10 gals in less than 10 hrs.

My basement in my home in Va my dehumidifier would give me 10 gals a day with no problem. The walls were not waterproofed and in front of my house was a 16 ft seawall were the ocean was. Then between my house and my neighbors house was an underground stream. The humidity in my basement was unbelievable. But to get 11 gal per day is not easy because you cannot extract more water from the air than there is water contained in the air…


It’s an “insurmountable problem” UNTIL recharge/exchange stations are at least as convenient as filling stations across the country.


One thing we were taught in survival school was how to extract moisture from the air–even in the desert. You dig a hole, put a quart jar in the bottom, cover the hole with a piece of plastic and weight it in the middle (over the mouth of the jar). Even in the desert, it will produce as much as a quart per day when left overnight. In more moist areas, it’ll make even more drinkable water. It also will work at sea.