Sunday, December 26, 2010

Green Machine New Year Message

The end of the year is upon us and the Green Machine has survived 360 days in 2010 being bombarded with mostly junk science and bad news on the topic of green. The movie Wall Street 2 is out and it too had a green theme in its plot. Greed is Good replaced by Green is Good. Hell No! just some fusion nonsense woven into thin film PV woven into human greed and fear. Obama and Chu have wasted our dollars on myriad junk ideas. The worst but not the largest waste was the guaranteeing of loans for Raser the Wealth Eraser that is now delisted from the NYSE. Perhaps the second biggest pile of junk that got loan guarantees from Uncle Sam was A 123. The third is Tesla and the fourth is Solyndra. The list is long and the money is gone. Unemployment remains at 9.8%. We are crawling out of the recession with GDP growth of approximately 2.5% for the year 2010. The one big increase that Mr. Obama can point to is the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 over 2009. Yeah CO2 emissions are up by 3.9% over last year. Well done Mr Chu Chu Train you spent a hundred billion bucks on green and yielded CO2 emissions. Chu and his Boss will say we had a hot summer and increased economic activity. Well we will have many more hot summers and hopefully increased economic activity in the future so how in the name of Lincoln can we reverse carbon emissions from growth to decline and reverse economic decline to economic growth?

Obama inherited a mess from Bush and both of them get an F in Thermodynamics 101. Bush and Bodman gave us the junk science of hydrogen and corn ethanol. Obama and Chu get an even lower grade for the nonsense they have invested in and their support of companies like Raser and A 123. This country needs a real energy policy and it needs to be taken out of the hands of the parties. We need an Engineering General like the Surgeon general who can operate on the basis of science and not the basis of political expediency. My worthless Congresswoman is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to websites that claim how well she did on green legislation. She did nothing and simply tried to placate me by giving me 15 minutes of her time while her party ruled the house. What a joke! When I now asked her to call the director of the EPA to a hearing for the nonsense the EPA is allowing plug in junk to claim for MPGs her chief of staff replied you will have to ask the Republicans to do this as she no longer sets the agenda for her subcommittee. The only agenda she ever set was her own agenda and the agenda of her party that ruled the house for many years and wasted our tax dollars. She should take note that soon the only icebergs that will be left will be lettuce and she will melt away with a legacy of less value than a beat up 2000 Subaru Legacy.

Now that I have moaned about the distressed state of our union what can be done and what make sense other than the junk of Project Lost in Space, The Bloom is off the Rose, and Raser the Wealth Eraser. LEDs makes sense, small diesel or standard hybrid cars make sense, electric bicycles make sense, double paned windows with argon fill makes sense, smaller home closer to work makes sense, carpooling makes sense, reusable cloth shopping bags make sense, not overheating or overcooling your home makes sense; roofs painted white make sense, heating water on demand with natural gas makes sense, eating less red meat and more chicken and tofu makes sense, recycling aluminum cans and other materials makes sense, synthetic lawns makes sense, and yes carbon taxes makes sense. The list goes on. The problem with our parties is it is not about sense it is about dollars that to them are worth 100 times what sense is worth. The other institution that should bear blame for the mess is the press. Sixty Minutes used to expose hype and fraud now they tout the gangrene hucksters that claim to be the saints of green. Yeah their green is the green that can be counted, my green is the green that counts. Readers pay attention to the words of this sign that hanged in Albert Einstein’s office at Princeton: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Happy New Year and remember you can fuel some of the people some of the time but you cannot fuel all the people all of the time. The good news is Toxic Tony is now sailing somewhere with his silver foot in his mouth. What a year it was!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pesticide link to ADHD

Perhaps we need to take a step back and assess our priorities as individuals and as a society. Don't know if anyone saw this in the news several months ago, but a Harvard and U of Montreal study found that children age 8-15 with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide residue in their urine had roughly double the chance of being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) compared to those without detectable levels. While the study did not address causation, it certainly is evidence that pesticides used on agricultural crops are making their way into our (kids') bodies.

I haven't heard anyone claim pesticides in the bloodstream do any good. On the contrary, they seem to be at the very least contributing to some harm. What concentration of pesticide, if any, is an acceptable risk? How can we, the consumers, prevent pesticides from entering our bodies? Go organic, for starters.

Organic methods of farming enhance soil fertility and crop growth without the use of fossil fuel-based chemical N:P:K fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Natural weed and bug-fighting methods are used so as not to harm the ecosystem of the farm. After all, soil is a living thing with mycorrhizal fungi interacting with plant roots and bacteria to cycle "organic" or life-produced nutrients through the soil into the plants and animals that eat the plants. Crop rotation is essential to prevent the buildup of harmful plant pathogens and stripping of vital nutrients.

Critics of organic farming say it produces lower yields and if all farms suddenly went organic there would not be enough food to feed a growing population. Nonsense, I say. Numerous long-term field studies have been conducted which show organic yields are as good or better than conventional chemical farming on neighboring control plots. In fact, organic plots often have lower rates of disease and infestation, perform better in droughts, do not leach many harmful nitrates into the groundwater or erode topsoil, and tend to be more profitable per acre.

Should we let the evidence be our guide?

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor

Thursday, December 16, 2010

LED = Leveen Enlightened Democrats

Lots of news out of Asia that LEDs are gaining market share in the lighting world. I had tried but in vain to enlighten my Congresswoman who is a dyed in the Woolsey democrat. I tried to tell her that the energy policy of Chu Chu Train was headed toward a siding that joins the bridge to nowhere. I wrote her an email this past month saying that had she listened to the Green Machine she may have left a legacy of energy policy that was blazoned in bright white light but alas her legacy is now that of a black hole where no light escapes. Had she listened to the Green Machine she would have been a LED or a Leveen Enlightened Democrat.

LEDs the real ones not the Leveen Enlightened Democrats are amazing devices that emit light with much less energy. Here are two article from a Taiwanese Microelectronics Trade Magazine called Digitimes. Note a lm is a lumen and a 60 watt incandescent bulb emits about 890 lumens. Therefore at $1 per 500 lumens a LED with the same lighting intensity of a 60 watt incandescent bulb will cost $1.80 to produce. A high first cost but the LED will not burn out within 100,000 hours.

Lighting-grade LED chip costs to fall to US$1/500lm in 2-3 years, says Epistar executive

Siu Han, Taipei; Willie Teng, DIGITIMES [Thursday 16 December 2010]

Production cost of lighting-grade LED chips will fall to US$1/500lm in the next 2-3 years, and if that is the case, LED lighting's market penetration will reach 20-30% in 2012 according MJ Jou, president of Taiwan-based LED chip maker Epistar.

At the recent Beijing-Taiwan Science and Technology Forum held in Taichung, Taiwan, Jou said that 40W LED light bulbs are currently US$20-30 and 60W light bulbs are US$40. Judging by market conditions, there is a good chance that the LED sector could beat the target of US$1/500lm in 2015 set by the US' Department of Energy, Jou noted.

At the moment, lighting-grade LED chip costs have reached US$1/200lm at the lowest, and could become the average in 2011.

In the past, manufacturers added red phosphor powder to warm white LEDs, which reduced luminance by 30-40%, Jou said. Epistar's red LED chip has improved from 165lm/W to a laboratory-achieved 180lm/W in December.

According to Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) data, Taiwan's LED lighting production totaled NT$93.6 billion (US$3.1 billion) in 2009 and will rise to NT$16.77 billion in 2010. LED chips and modules will account for 64%, backlight applications 31% and lighting applications 5%. Taiwan has about 50 LED chip makers, 60 chip packagers and 100 end-use application companies, ITRI noted

TSMC aims to become top-5 LED player worldwide
Siu Han, Taipei; Yvonne Yu, DIGITIMES [Wednesday 15 December 2010]

With its LED lighting R&D center to be finished soon, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) hopes to become a top-five LED player worldwide in the future.

TSMC noted that with the LED lighting market taking off, the lineup of current global top-five LED players is expected to change. In addition to players from Japan and Korea, there will be one more player from Asia in the new top-five.

Current top-five LED players are Royal Philips Electronics, Osram, Cree, Nichia and Toyoda Gosei.

TSMC's LED R&D center will be completed at the end of 2010 and start mass production in the first half of 2011. Unlike other LED players using sapphire substrate for production, TSMC will use silicon and will focus on the cost advantages of mass production scales, producing own-brand LED light sources and light engine products and produce LED lighting products through a vertical integrated system.

TSMC noted that although most players expect demand for LCD TV backlighting to increase significantly in 2011, LED-backlit TV market share is expected to be lower than in 2010 due to high prices. Unless LED-backlit TV prices drop significantly, LED-backlit TV market share will not be able to reach 40% as expected.

Demand for LCD TV backlighting brings new hope for the LED industry and is causing players to actively expand their MOCVD sets, overall MOCVD sets in China are expected to reach 300, and 100 sets in Taiwan. However, players did not expect the usage of LEDs in TV backlighting to be reduced through design, resulting in reductions in LED chips while LED-backlit TV shipments continue to increase. Korea-based TV vendors' strategy for LED-backlit TVs is expected to affect the schedule for LED lighting to take off. Once LED capacity exceeds demand, players will become more active to generate growth in the LED lighting market.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Secretary Chu Agrees That Lithium Ion Is Dead End

Finally the chu chu train has pulled into the station. Old Stevie Wonder Chu the brain behind Obama's energy policy has admitted that his Boss and him have wasted the treasury's money on thermo junk science. This is not me opining but a guy named John peterson out of Switzerland. Here is what old Uncle John said:

Disclosure: Author is a former director of Axion Power International and owns a substantial long position in its common stock.
About the author: John Petersen

I'm a U.S. lawyer based in Switzerland. I work as a partner in the law firm of Fefer Petersen & Cie ( and represent North American, European and Asian clients, principally in the energy and alternative energy sectors. My practice is limited to corporate securities and small... More
• Company: Fefer Petersen & Cie
• Blog: EV Insights

Last week Energy Secretary Steven Chu addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun. After watching the video presentation several times, I can't help but wonder whether the Secretary didn't politely caution his audience that lithium-ion batteries are a dead-end electric drive technology. I could be misinterpreting Secretary Chu's remarks, but if you own stock in a lithium-ion battery developer like A123 Systems (AONE), Ener1 (HEV), Valence Technologies (VLNC) or Altair Nanotechnologies (ALTID), or are considering any of these companies for your portfolio, the discussion that starts 25 minutes into the following video could be very important.

My impressions, observations and interpretations are summarized below.

Secretary Chu began his electric drive remarks with a politically correct but specious comparison of vehicle efficiencies that followed the EPA fuel efficiency party line I criticized in the article Alice in EVland, Part II. The numbers simply don't work unless you ignore efficiency losses and emissions on the utility side of the electric meter. Ignoring the political posturing, the most curious and troubling aspect of the Secretary's electric drive remarks was his description of what it would take for electric drive to be competitive with internal combustion:
"And what would it take to be competitive? It will take a battery, first that can last for 15 years of deep discharges. You need about five as a minimum, but really six- or seven-times higher storage capacity and you need to bring the price down by about a factor of three. And then all of a sudden you have a comparably performing car; let's say a mid-sized car which has a comparable acceleration and a comparable range."

Now, how soon will that be? Well, we don't know, but the Department of Energy is supporting a number of very innovative approaches to batteries and its not like its 10 years off in the future, in my opinion. It might be five years off in the future. It's soon. Meanwhile the batteries, the ones we have now, will drop by a factor of two within a couple of years and they're gonna get better. But if you get to this point, then it just becomes something that's automatic and I think the public will really go for that."

While Secretary Chu was explaining these bottom-line technical and economic requirements, the following summary text was superimposed on a background slide that compared the relative energy densities of common fuels.

"A rechargeable battery that can last for 5,000 deep discharges, 6-7 x higher storage capacity (3.6 Mj/kg = 1,000 Wh) at 3x lower price will be competitive with internal combustion engines (400 - 500 mile range)."

The unspoken yet undeniable truth in Secretary Chu's presentation is that it's impossible to achieve energy densities of 1,000 Wh/kg with lithium-ion batteries. The following graph comes from the Electricity Storage Association and shows the relative energy densities of various battery chemistries on a logarithmic scale. While the graph uses kilowatt-hours per ton and per cubic meter for its scale, the magic of the metric system means that the watt-hours per kilogram and per liter end up at the same root numbers, just three orders of magnitude smaller.

Lithium-ion battery developers have made great strides over the last few years when it comes to cycle-life and safety. In every case, however, the gains have come at the cost of reduced energy density. Today's lithium-ion batteries have energy densities of 95 to 190 wh/kg and it's reasonable to believe energy densities will continue to improve at rates of 4% to 5% per year. However, the only battery chemistries that have a chance of achieving energy densities in the 1,000 wh/kg range are rechargeable metal-air and other technologies that IBM and others are working feverishly to develop.

What most investors don't understand is that emerging metal-air technologies have nothing in common with lithium-ion technology. The raw materials, fabrication methods, manufacturing facilities and fundamental chemistry are completely different. I can't predict whether or when the new technologies will be available, but Secretary Chu seems confident that the timeframe is more than five years and less than ten. Since he's forgotten more about battery technology than I'll ever learn, I tend to take his predictions seriously.

EVangelicals who believe electric drive ranks right up there with motherhood, apple pie, truth and justice have heralded Secretary Chu’s presentation as wonderful news. From an investor's perspective, I don't see how it can be viewed as anything less than a shot across the bow of the lithium-ion battery industry – a clear statement that electric drive requires better price and performance than lithium-ion batteries can deliver and an unmistakable implication that the DOE is now focused on more promising technologies.

Were I stockholder in a lithium-ion battery developer, Secretary Chu's presentation in Cancun would scare me senseless. He effectively said that developers of lithium-ion batteries can expect a couple years of intense cost pressure before their products become marginally non-competitive. If prices fall far enough and fast enough, those developers will enjoy a three- to eight-year window when they can build market share and perhaps earn a profit. By 2020, a new generation of even more advanced battery technologies will make the best lithium-ion batteries obsolete.

A recurring theme in this blog is that energy storage plays by a different set of rules. Information technology was great fun because creative types could write code one day and roll it into the global market the next. In the battery business, developers have to spend years refining their technologies, developing new production processes and building factories; which invariably means the next generation technology is nipping at their heels before they can hit the start button for a shiny new factory. Once a newer, better and cheaper technology starts grabbing headlines, obtaining expansion capital to build a second factory for yesterday's technology can be very difficult.

I was a Prodigy user in the early-90s and remember what happened when America Online launched a better platform. I also remember what happened when Yahoo! (YHOO) supplanted AOL and when Google (GOOG) supplanted Yahoo! Nobody knows what it will take to knock Google off its pedestal, but I have every confidence that some creative entrepreneur will find a way, because that's the nature of the beast. Today's apex predators always become tomorrow's lunch.

During the fifth industrial revolution, investors made outsized returns by speculating in companies that would be market leaders when the future unfolded. In the sixth industrial revolution the outsized returns will come from investments in established market leaders that sell proven products into rapidly expanding markets while the future unfolds.

I like the lead-acid battery sector because a global manufacturing infrastructure already exists; top manufacturers like Johnson Controls (JCI), Exide (XIDE) and Enersys (ENS) generate billions in annual revenue and substantial profits by selling mundane products that serve the mundane needs of everyday people; and upstart innovators like Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) are developing important enhancements to proven technologies that can be integrated into existing factories without building new manufacturing infrastructure from the ground up.

There will always be a raging battle for the peak performance crown among battery technology superstars. Unless the overall rate of technological progress slows to a snail's pace like it did in the case of corn ethanol, today's best battery technologies will not have enough time to mature and build a global footprint before they're eclipsed by tomorrow's best battery technologies. Meanwhile the established industry leaders will continue manufacturing profitable products to meet rapidly growing global demand.

Call me a Luddite, but I don't want to own a technology that will be obsolete before it becomes profitable.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Scare tactics against cloth bags

Here is a ridiculous article about how reusable grocery bags might kill you. How about we worry about the antibiotic-resistant fecal-contaminated factory farmed animal parts we put into these bags and eventually OUR MOUTHS that are contaminating the bags because they are pumped full of antibiotics to keep them "healthy" as they stand/sit in their own feces all day long and are actually fed USDA approved chicken manure as a protein supplement (just read Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin)... and I've got news for you: coliform bacteria are everywhere you care to look. 50% of the bags NOT having coliform is pretty good. (BTW I teach Microbiology) See dumb article below.

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor

Reusable Shopping Bags: Safe?

According to a joint food safety research report issued by researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University, reusable grocery bags can serve as a breeding ground for dangerous foodborne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health.

The researchers randomly tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tucson. Researchers also found consumers were almost completely unaware of the need to regularly wash their bags.

"Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half the bags sampled," said Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona environmental microbiology professor and co-author of the study. "Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags after every use."

reusable-bag.jpgGerber said the bacteria levels found in reusable bags were significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even lead to death. This is a particular danger for young children who are especially vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.

The study found that people were not aware of the potential risks. A full 97 percent of those interviewed have never washed or bleached their bags. Gerber said that thorough washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate in reusable bags.

The report comes at a time when some members of the California State Legislature, through Assembly Bill 1998, are seeking to promote increased consumer use of reusable bags by banning plastic bags from California stores.

"If this is the direction California wants to go, our policymakers should be prepared to address the ramifications for public health," said co-author Ryan Sinclair, Ph.D., a professor at Loma Linda University's School of Public Health.

The report noted that "a sudden or significant increase in use of reusable bags without a major public education campaign on how to reduce cross contamination would create the risk of significant adverse public health impact."

Sinclair noted that contamination rates appeared to be higher in Los Angeles than the other two locations. He believes this is likely due to that region's weather being more conducive to growth of bacteria in reusable bags.

The report, "Assessment of the Potential for Cross Contamination of Food Products by Reusable Shopping Bags," offered the following policy recommendations for lawmakers, as well as tips for consumers who use reusable grocery bags including:

1. When using reusable bags, consumers should be careful to separate raw foods from other food products,

2. Consumers should not use reusable food bags for such other purposes as carrying books or gym clothes, and

3. Consumers should not store reusable bags in the trunks of cars because the higher temperature promotes growth of bacteria.

Haggen grocery stores have introduced an antibacterial polypropylene reusable bag that helps prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

The antibacterial bags at Haggen and TOP Food stores are the first in the world that are treated with AP-360, an antimicrobial product that controls harmful and odor-causing bacteria (MRSA), mold, mildew, and fungus. It is produced from natural resources that are abundantly renewable. Chitin, the active substance, is derived from the shells of crabs and contains unique antimicrobial properties.

"We know some customers have wanted to embrace the environmental benefits of reusable bags but have had food safety concerns," said Becky Skaggs, spokesperson for Haggen and TOP Food stores. "These antibacterial reusable bags help prevent the spread of E. coli, Salmonella and other bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses, even after repeated washings."

Haggen and TOP Food stores contracted with Proforma Mountainview Printing of Lynden, Washington, which used chitin in developing the antibacterial reusable bags.

The bags are $1.99 a piece and are safe to use by everyone, including those who are allergic to shellfish, according to the Bellingham Herald.

A partial list of bacteria and fungi that are controlled by AP-360 can be found here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

All the Leaves are Brown and the Sky is Grey, the EPA is Dreaming and we are Going to Pay

All the Leaves are Brown and the Sky is Grey, the EPA is Dreaming and we are Going to Pay

More fake science from the company that brought us the Le Car. They made the claim the Leaf will get 100 miles on a charge now the US EPA has measured the real distance the Leaf can travel at only 73 miles on a full charge. The batteries in the Relief only have 24 kilowatts of stored energy. The 73 mile range translates into a unit energy consumption of 328.8 watt hours per mile. This is what I had estimated a year ago and I had blogged that the 100 mile range was a figment of the French imagination just like a victorious army. Now the zinger the idiots at the US EPA will allow the Frogs to place a sticker on the overpriced heap of junk that the voiture d’electric gets 99 miles per gallon.

Here is the news release from AP.

Nissan Leaf runs equivalent of 99 miles per gallon
By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press – Mon Nov 22, 5:13 pm ET
WASHINGTON – The Nissan Leaf, an electric car aimed at attracting environmentally conscious motorists, will get the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, based on government testing.
Nissan Motor Corp. said Monday the Environmental Protection Agency's fuel efficiency window sticker, which provides information about the car's energy use, would estimate the electric car will achieve the equivalent of 106 mpg in city driving and 92 mpg on the highway.
EPA's tests estimate the Leaf can travel 73 miles on a fully charged battery and will cost $561 a year in electricity. Nissan has said the Leaf can travel 100 miles on a full charge, based on tests used by California regulators.
Nissan and General Motors Co. are both releasing electric cars within weeks in the auto industry's most prominent attempt at mass-producing vehicles that shift away from petroleum. The Leaf does not have a gas engine and must be recharged once its battery is depleted.
The tests show equivalent fuel efficiency of nearly twice the Toyota Prius, which gets 50 mpg in combined driving.
GM's entry, the Chevrolet Volt, uses an electric battery for the first 25 to 50 miles and a small gasoline engine to generate electricity once the battery runs down. The gasoline engine can generate power to run the car another 300 miles. GM has not yet revealed the mileage rating for the Volt.
Mark Perry, Nissan North America's director of product planning and strategy, said the vehicle's range would vary based on driving conditions. Tests conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising claims, had estimated a range of 96 to 110 miles per full charge and the company's internal tests had found a broader range of 64 to 138 miles, Perry said. The California Air Resources Board estimated a range of 100 miles.
"As we've said all along, your range varies on driving conditions, temperature, terrain and we've talked about, very openly, this idea of a range of ranges," Perry said in an interview. The Leaf's label will indicate the vehicle is the best in class in fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions.
Nissan will start selling the Leaf in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee in December with a sticker price of $32,780. The Leaf will go on sale in other markets through 2011 and be available nationwide by the end of next year.
The Volt will have a sticker price of $41,000 and GM will sell it first in California, then make it available in New York; New Jersey; Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; Michigan and Texas. The car will be sold nationwide in 12 to 18 months.
Both vehicles qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Some states and communities are offering additional tax breaks that will lower the price further.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said the automaker was working with EPA and expected to announce details of the Volt's mileage estimates soon.
EPA calculated the Leaf's fuel economy based on a formula that says 33.7 kilowatts per hour holds the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline. The label estimates a charging time of 7 hours on a 240-volt charge. Cost estimates were based on 15,000 miles per year at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

OK so the US EPA says a gallon of gasoline holds 33.7 kilowatt hours and the Leaf needed 24 kilowatt hours to travel 73 miles. The idiots at EPA then do the math of 33.7 times 73 divide 24 and viola ce sa they get 102.5 mpg. Now my thermodynamic friends how did the EPA pull of this slight of hand. Well of course a gallon of gas has 115,000 BTU which equals 33.7 kilowatt hours at a rate of 3,412 BTU/kwh. But first to get 24 kwh of direct current energy into the battery one needs 26.67 kwh of alternating current energy from the grid. But the electrical energy was not generated with 100% efficiency from a fossil fuel. The US DOE reports that the average kwh of electricity generated by natural gas over the past 12 months to the grid required 7,234 BTUs. Therefore if one applies the 10% loss for AC transmission and distribution and converting from AC to DC plus the energy lost in electric power generation one gets the real equivalent fuel efficiency of 43.5 MPG. Of course this is better than Arne’s Bummer but the 99 MPG is pure fantasy of pathological liars at the EPA who believe that the President of the Ignited States can mandate out any real thermodynamics and wish that the French will save America. France is a minor economic power and the Leaf is a minor automotive power that is not as efficient as the Prius, The Leaf cost 50% more than a Prius and will last on the market about as long as a Dauphine or a La Car.

I also see that Alaric Galoric has now admitted to corn ethanol as a failure. More on that in my next blog. I bet old Alaric was the one who provided the EPA in conveniently untrue formula for MPG calculations of the E vehicles as of course EPA stands for Electricity Produced by Alaric.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My US Senate Outside Witness Testimony

Here is what I submitted to the US Senate many months back as Senator Hatch was hatching his plans with Raser Technologies that the Utah based US company had invented a 100 mpg Hummer. Sadly nobody listened. No doubt in all of our minds now that the 100 MPG Hummer is about as real as Fancy Nancy speaking for the house. GM went public this week and they have rid themselves of the Hummer, their idiotic management, their wild dream of the the hydrogen car, and are concentrating on smaller lighter and more efficient internal combustion engine vehicles. They got a real education in thermodynamics while they were reading Chapter 11. AONE is bleeding red ink and their unit costs for batteries are increasing rather than decreasing. They will never have a learning curve as they have a collective IQ three below plankton, their shareholders have a collective IQ four below plankton. Below is my letter to the US Senate

Lindsay Leveen (as an individual)
Submitted To the Senate Subcommittee For Energy and Water Development
OWT on the Subject of plug in vehicles that require rechargeable lithium batteries.
An Essay on the Thermodynamics and Economics of Lithium Batteries
My name is Lindsay Leveen. I am a chemical engineer and my interest is to apply my scientific knowledge to alternate energy sources. My graduate work involved the study thermodynamics. Over the last 35 years my work has been in cryogenics, microelectronic device fabrication, nanotechnology development, fuel cell fabrication, and most recently biotechnology.

Purpose: The purpose of this essay is to provide the subcommittee with reasoning based on thermodynamics why lithium batteries will likely not lower in cost and therefore why plug in passenger vehicles will probably not make any significant dent in the consumption of gasoline and diesel. I wish to prevent the waste of precious resources on a technology that I believe is headed toward a dead end.
I have no commercial interest in any energy or battery technology and am writing this essay as a citizen simply to inform the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development of the severe thermodynamic limitations of Lithium Secondary Batteries and therefore the probable long term unaffordable economics associated with plug in passenger vehicles (cars and trucks) that will rely upon these batteries. Much of this report is taken from my presentations, reports, and publications or from my website .

Thermodynamics – definition: “the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy or work, and the conversion of one into the other: modern thermodynamics deals with the properties of systems for the description of which temperature is a necessary coordinate.” (

Moore’s Law and Learning Rates for Technologies: Gordon Moore one of the founders of Intel Corporation, postulated that semiconductor integrated circuits would enjoy a doubling in performance in a period of every 18 months. This rate of learning allows performance to be improved exponentially with time for the same original cost.
Many technologies that engineers and scientists develop need a “Moore’s Law” in order to improve their performance and correspondingly their economics to capture vast markets. Most efforts around the improvement of alternate energy technologies vis a vis competing with fossil fuels have not yielded these “Moore’s Law” rates of learning. In particular for the past decade as much as six billion dollars has been spent without any real success toward the “learning curve” of PEM fuel cells. Much of these six billion dollars was appropriated by the Federal Government. The learning curve for PEM fuel cells over the past decade yielded a yearly learning rate of less than 2%. By comparison the Moore’s Law yearly learning rate for integrated circuits has averaged over 40% for more than three decades.

My experience with Moore’s Law: For almost twenty years I directed teams of engineers that designed state of the art Integrated Circuit (IC) fabrication facilities that helped drive this rapid rate of learning and therefore cost improvement in computers and other electronic devices. A simple explanation for the high learning rates in IC fabrication is that the technology was neither constrained by thermodynamics nor reaction kinetics but simply by the line width of circuits within the ICs. To drive Moore’s law in IC fabrication improvements in lithography, higher purity gases for deposition, implantation, and etch, as well as the occasional increase in the size of wafer being fabricated were needed.

Moore’s Law, Thermodynamics and Lithium Batteries: To drive the learning rate in PEM fuel cells and similarly lithium secondary batteries thermodynamic and reaction kinetic constraints have to be overcome. The reason why thermodynamics places constraints is that the functioning of these systems depends on chemical reactions. Thermodynamics determines how much useful energy can be derived from a chemical reaction. But we know that the thermodynamic constraints cannot be overcome as the laws of thermodynamics cannot be challenged nor avoided. ICs do not undergo chemical reactions to function, but all batteries and fuel cells do involve chemical reactions to deliver energy. It is these chemical reactions that are limiting the possible learning rate.

The Resulting Economic Problem: Significant effort and much money is now being spent on advanced batteries for plug in full electric or plug in hybrid vehicles. Such vehicles will require between 10 kilowatt hours and 50 kilowatt hours of stored electricity if the range of the vehicle purely propelled on stored electricity is to be between 40 and 200 miles. Lithium chemistry based secondary (chargeable) batteries presently offer the best performance on a weight and volume basis and are therefore the primary technology that a “Moore’s law” is now hoped for to solve the world’s addiction to fossil oil. Present costs of such battery packs at the retail level range from $800 per kilowatt hour of storage to over $2,000 per kilowatt hour of storage. One can purchase a 48 volt 20 amp hour Ping Battery for an electric bicycle directly from this Chinese “manufacturer” for less than $800 delivered by UPS to any address in the USA. A123 offers a battery system that will modify a standard Prius to a 5 kilowatt hour plug in Prius for $11,000 or around $2,200 per kilowatt hour fully installed by a service station in San Francisco. The Ping battery delivers much less instantaneous power (watts) and that is the reason their batteries are less expensive on a stored energy basis (watt hours) than are the A 123 batteries. Both the Ping and the A123 batteries claim safety and claim to be manufactured with phosphate technology that will neither short circuit nor burn.

Economic Case Study The Example The Standard Prius vs Plug in Prius: The following is an economic analysis of a standard Prius versus a plug in Prius using A 123’s lithium battery pack;
The standard Prius will get 50 MPG and let’s assume that the driver drives 12,000 miles a year. The standard Prius driver will need to purchase 240 gallons a year of gasoline at an estimated cost of $720 per year with gasoline at selling for $3 per gallon. If the driver purchased the A 123 plug in system and can recharge the system at home and at work such that half the mileage driven in a year is on batteries and half is on gasoline the driver will save $360 a year on gasoline. The driver will need to buy some 2,000 kilowatt hours a year of electricity from the grid in order to save this gasoline. At 10 cents per kilowatt hour the driver will spend $200 a year for electric power and will therefore only enjoy $160 a year in net operating savings. The $11,000 set of batteries have a maximum expected life of 8 years and the owner must set aside $1,375 a year for battery replacement without accounting for the time value of money. The battery replacement cost is simply too expensive to justify the savings in gasoline. How high do gasoline costs have to rise and how little do batteries have to cost to make the plug in viable? Let’s assume gas prices reach $6 per gallon and electricity remains at 10 cents a kilowatt hours we have a yearly operating savings of $520. These savings will still be far short of the money needed for battery replacement.

The A 123 batteries will need to drop to 15% of their present cost to make the proposition of converting a Prius to a plug in “worthwhile”. To reach this cost target in a decade one needs a yearly learning rate of approximately 26%. With 35 years of work experience, I have concluded that in the best case of battery costs (no inflation in raw materials) a 4 or 5% yearly learning rate could be achieved over the next decade. But if we believe that gasoline will double then we also have to assume that plastics, copper, cobalt, nickel, graphite, etc. will also double in unit cost. As raw materials account for three quarters of the manufacturing cost of lithium batteries the inflation adjusted cost will grow at a higher yearly rate than the learning rate will lower costs. My prognostication is therefore that lithium secondary batteries will likely cost more per unit of energy stored in 2020 than they do today.

Toyota is a company well known for its cars with improved fuel economy and therefore is a master of thermodynamics and must have “optimized” the cost and performance of its batteries in the standard Prius deploying a relatively small battery pack and with the choice of Nickel Metal Hydride chemistry rather than lithium chemistry. While Toyota may be experiencing safety problems no one can fault this company on fuel efficiency. Other car companies such as Ford have also chosen Nickel Metal Hydride as their hybrid car battery platform. Fisker and GM are touting plug in hybrids with lithium batteries and are much more aggressive in their claims of cost improvement and their ability to drive “Moore’s Law” in their battery systems. My educated guess on all of this is that Toyota, Ford and the car manufacturers that stick with smaller nickel metal hydride battery systems and the traditional non plug in hybrid will sell tens of millions of such vehicles over the next decade. Renault, GM, Fisker, Tesla, and others who go for plug in hybrids or full electric vehicles will only sell a few tens of thousands of vehicles in the next decade. I simply believe we will not have “Moore’s Law” at play here but have a very fractional Moore’s Law that holds.

Argonne National Labs published an exhaustive review of the materials and associated costs of lithium batteries back in May of 2000. The total material cost for the cell was estimated at $1.28 and the total manufacturing cost of the cell including overhead and labor was estimated at $1.70. This Argonne report is perhaps the best report written on the economics associated with lithium battery fabrication. Actually had folks read this report back in 2000 they would have realized that the learning curve for lithium batteries would be painfully slow. Materials just make up far too much of a fraction of the battery cost and the quantity of materials is fixed by the chemistry. Therefore economies of scale could not drive a Moore’s Law type rate of learning and a very fractional Moore’s Law resulted. In the early years of lithium cell development from approximately 1990 to 2000, the improvements in chemistry and in economies of scale did allow the technology to enjoy a Moore’s Law type learning rate and it has been reported that costs of an 18650 cell reduced from $18 to $2 per cell in that decade. Unfortunately the technology has now hit an asymptote in their cost reduction curve.
Just by doing a Google search on an 18650 lithium ion battery I came across this link . This site lists a selling price of $5.29 each for 200 or more cells. The cells are 3.7 volts with 2.2 amp hours so they are capable of holding 8.1 watt hours of energy from full charge to discharge. Expressed in cost per kilowatt hour of nominal capacity these loose cells cost around $650. My guess is that if applied today’s costs of cobalt, nickel, lithium, lithium salts, plastics, copper, graphite, and other constituent materials that make up a cell, the material cost in November 2009 compared with May 2000 have increased by more than 150% and a current estimate of the materials used in the Argonne labs report will show cost of about $3 per cell versus $1.28 back in May 2000. Hence this company sells the cells for $5.29 each. From my previous analysis of the probable learning rate I would not surprised if in 2020 the selling price per 18650 lithium cell is as high as $6 rather than as low as $3.

Conclusion: Lithium batteries are and will remain best suited for items as small as a cell phone and as large as a bicycle. The cost relative to performance or these batteries will likely not improve by much in the coming decade. Although some standard hybrid vehicles may use lithium batteries with low capacity, plug in vehicles with larger than 10 mile range of travel on batteries will likely not proliferate. Given the likely scenario that plug in passenger cars and trucks based on lithium battery technology will not reduce US consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel in large measure, I am asking the subcommittee to limit the funds that the US government will appropriate for research and development of this technology.
Thank you

Lindsay Leveen

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

National Academy Agrees With Green Machine

I have to boast that once again the Green Machine was years ahead of the National academy in determining that lithium ion batteries will be a betamax. Time to short Teslacle they have hyped their stock back to near 30 that they are on schedule to produce the S sedan. The fools on the street took this to mean that they are on budget as well as schedule. They will never be on budget as their batteries will not cost less. I say it is about a year before Teslacle get castrated and we have to continue with Castrol Motor Oil. Glad to see that Reaser the wealth eraser was delisted from the NYSE. Tell Senator Hatch (Utah) that his support of this thermodynamic joke was a badly Hatched plan

here is an article on the National Academy and Lithium Ion Batteries from the Wall Street Journal

The push to get electric cars on the road is backed by governments and auto makers around the world, but they face a big hurdle: the stubbornly high cost of the giant battery packs, which can account for half the cost of an electric vehicle.
Both the industry and government are betting that a quick takeoff in electric-car sales will drive down the battery prices. But a number of scientists and automotive engineers believe cost reductions will be hard to come by.
Unlike with tires or toasters, battery packs aren't likely to enjoy traditional economies of scale as their makers ramp up production, the scientists and engineers say.
A123 Systems in Michigan is counting on demand for electric cars despite the steep cost of its battery packs.

These experts say increased production of batteries means the price of the key metals used in their manufacture will remain steady—or maybe even rise—at least in the short term. They also say the price of the electronic parts used in battery packs as well as the enclosures that house the batteries aren't likely to decline appreciably.
The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of bringing down car-battery costs by 70% from last year's price by 2014.
Jay Whitacre, a battery researcher and technology policy analyst at Carnegie Mellon University, said in an interview the government's goals "are aggressive and worth striving for, but they are not attainable in the next three to five years." He predicted "it will be a decade at least" before that price reduction is reached.
Current industry estimates say the battery pack in the all-electric Nissan Leaf compact car coming out in December costs Nissan Motor Co. about $15,600.
That cost will make it difficult for the Leaf, which is priced at $33,000, to turn a profit. And it also may make the Leaf a tough sell, since even with federal tax breaks of $7,500, the car will cost almost twice the $13,520 starting price of the similar-size Nissan Versa hatchback.

Nissan won't comment on the price of the battery packs, except to say that the first versions of the Leaf won't make money. Only later, when the company begins mass-producing the battery units in 2013, will the car be profitable, according to Nissan.
The Japanese company believes it can cut battery costs through manufacturing scale. It is building a plant in Smyrna, Tenn., that will have the capacity to assemble up to 200,000 packs a year.
Other proponents of electric vehicles agree that battery costs will fall as production ramps up. "They will come down by a factor of two, if not more, in the next five years," said David Vieau, chief executive officer of A123 Systems of Watertown, Mass., a battery maker that recently opened a plant in Livonia, Mich.
Alex Molinaroli, president of Johnson Controls Inc.'s battery division, is confident it can reduce the cost of producing batteries by 50% in the next five years, though the company won't say what today's cost is. The cost reduction by one of the world's biggest car-battery makers will mostly come from efficient factory management, cutting waste and other management-related expenses, not from any fundamental improvement of battery technology, he said.
But researchers such as Mr. Whitacre, the National Academies of Science and even some car makers aren't convinced, mainly because more than 30% of the cost of the batteries comes from metals such as nickel, manganese and cobalt. (Lithium makes up only a small portion of the metals in the batteries.)
Prices for these metals, which are set on commodities markets, aren't expected to fall with increasing battery production—and may even rise as demand grows, according to a study by the Academies of Science released earlier this year and engineers familiar with battery production.
Lithium-ion battery cells already are mass produced for computers and cellphones and the costs of the batteries fell 35% from 2000 through 2008—but they haven't gone down much more in recent years, according to the Academies of Science study.
The Academies and Toyota Motor Corp. have publicly said they don't think the Department of Energy goals are achievable and that cost reductions are likely to be far lower. It likely will be 20 years before costs fall 50%—not the three or so years the DOE projects for an even greater reduction—according to an Academies council studying battery costs. The council was made up of nearly a dozen researchers in the battery field.
"Economies of scale are often cited as a factor that can drive down costs, but hundreds of millions to billions of ... [battery] cells already are being produced in optimized factories. Building more factories is unlikely to have a great impact on costs," the Academies report said.
The report added that the cost of the battery-pack enclosure that holds the cells is a major portion of the total battery-pack cost, and isn't likely to come down much.
In addition, battery packs include electronic sensors and controls that regulate the voltage moving through and the heat being generated by the cells. Since those electronics already are mass-produced commodities, their prices may not fall much with higher production, the study said.
Lastly, the labor involved in assembling battery packs is expensive because employees need to be more highly trained than traditional factory staff because they work in a high-voltage environment. That means labor costs are unlikely to drop, said a senior executive at one battery manufacturer.
When car makers began using nickel-metal hydride batteries, an older technology, in their early hybrid vehicles, the cost of the packs fell only 11% from 2000 to 2006 and has seen little change since, according to the Academies study.
Toyota executives, including Takeshi Uchiyamada, global chief of engineering, say their experience with nickel-metal hydride batteries makes them skeptical that the prices of lithium ion battery pack prices will fall substantially.
"The cost reductions aren't attainable even in the next 10 years," said Menahem Anderman, principal of Total Battery Consulting Inc., a California-based battery research firm. "We still don't know how much it will cost to make sure the batteries meet reliability, safety and durability standards. And now we are trying to reduce costs, which automatically affect those first three things."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Not So Smart Smart

News from Daimler Benz is that they and their partner Teslacle will offer an electric version of the Smart for Two. The Smart for Two is a two seater car that is overpriced even in the gasoline version. Sales of the basic Smart are stalled and the resale value of used Smarts are low. I saw on Ebay that a two year old Smart for Two is selling for $8,999 or about half of its original cost. The sales of the Gasoline Smart have been declining as it simply is overpriced and underperforms against a Toyota Corolla that gets the same MPG, costs $5,000 less and seats five not two. There are a limited number of buyers for the impish Smart that need it in a cramped urban setting where parking spaces are limited. In Peoria or Pretoria it is simply a novelty that is expensive. Well to add insult to financial injury, Daimler and Teslacle have announced their E Smart that is equipped with Lithium Ion batteries instead of a gas tank.

The E Smart will have a range of about 80 miles on paper but about 60 miles on the road. It will be available for lease at $599 a month. Leasing an E Smart for this price is pretty dumb as one can lease a Gas Smart for $169 a month. When one does the tedious math to calculate the carbon savings of running an E Smart on electricity with power coming for the US Grid versus running a gasoline Smart one sees a savings of about three quarters of a ton of carbon dioxide a year. Calculating the total operating costs of the two alternates (fuel plus lease costs) and dividing the added costs of the E version by the carbon savings one gets that it cost about $6,000 per ton of saved carbon dioxide. Even Alaric La Deux’s The Bloom is off the Rose Box does not have as high a price tag for saved carbon dioxide. The E smart is plain dumb. One can lease a Prius for about $200 a month and have lower emissions than the E Smart and simply pocket $400 a month in savings.

No doubt that Obama and his energy secretary Dr Chew On That will provide Teslacle more money for this dumb idea. Teslacle will never get their S Sedan off the ground and will tell old BO that they succeeded in providing the US consumer an E Smart for a lease of only $599 a month and that the electric car is an American success story. If only Abe Lincoln could come back and see what has happened to the country he so desperately held together. Perhaps in 1860 he should have provided the Pony Express billions of dollars of Federal aid to stave off competition from the Union Express. Had old Abe done this Teslacle could compete effectively against each of us riding a horse to work. Actually in 1898 the gasoline engine was considered the clean alternate to horses as there was no manure to deal with. Back then folks were not worried about greenhouse gases they simply did not want to step in it. Unfortunately now with the pure manure we have as public policy we are swimming in it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time for PlasTax

Americans go through an astounding 92 to 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, according to various sources. Many locations, such as grocery stores, accept their plastic bags back at the store for recycling, but it’s estimated that only about 5% are actually recycled. So what is the fate of the remaining 95%? Well of course some end up littering roadways and waterways, especially around urban areas. The bags are unsightly and potentially hazardous to wildlife who can mistake them for food and ingest them. About 10 percent of all bags make their way into the ocean and due to currents contribute to huge patches of floating plastic waste like the one in the North Pacific Central Gyre. But the vast majority end up as “trash” in landfills where they leach toxins into the soil, groundwater, and air as they degrade. Or worse, they are burned in incinerators releasing carcinogenic dioxins into the air that we breathe. There is also a production cost: it takes 1 gallon of petroleum oil to make between about 25 and 40 plastic bags, depending on size.

The reason this bag problem is ongoing is that plastic bags are free and the cost of cleanup are externalized. If you put the environmental costs into the bags and make people pay upfront for them, as sort of “PlasTax”, then plastic bag use magically goes way down as people switch to a biodegradable option or reusable tote. Individual retailers have discovered this neat trick as a way to save money on supplying bags to their stores. Aldi, Ikea, Fred Meyer, Loblaw, and Marks & Spencer are just some of the retailers around the world charging customers for plastic bags. Walmart and other retailers are running plastic bag charge pilot programs.

Other larger efforts have also been undertaken in recent years. In 2007, San Fransisco outlawed petro-plastic bags in grocery stores and drug stores in favor of paper, bio-degradable cornstarch, and reusable totes. The results thusfar are estimated to be a 50% reduction in plastic bag litter on the streets. Just this year, Washington DC instituted a 5 cent per bag charge, resulting in an 86% drop in bag usage and $150,000 in its first quarter year. In 2008, China instituted a ban on free plastic bags, reducing bag usage by an estimated 66%. In 2002, Ireland introduced a fee of 22 euro-cents (~29 cents USD) per bag which resulted in a 90% drop in their use, plus it raised a 9.6 million euro fund that year to benefit the environment. Other countries around the world, such as Bangladesh, India, Australia, Greece, Israel, Italy, South Africa, and Taiwan have also instituted taxes or bans on plastic bags. Is it now time for a PlasTax in your city?

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Not So Green Queen

Old Lizzie The Second is pure gangrene with her big old castles. The photo shows her in blue as I could not find her dressed in green. Here is a report from Yahoo.

Queen tried to get UK poverty fund to heat palace

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER and GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writers – Fri Sep 24, 5:19 pm ET

Even a monarch needs a little help from time to time — especially when the cost of heating those drafty old palaces spirals past $1.5 million a year.
But a request for assistance from a government fund that provides subsidized heating to low-income Britons has caused a spot of bother for Queen Elizabeth II, long one of the world's wealthiest women.
Her Majesty's application in 2004 was politely turned down by the government — in part because of fear of adverse publicity — and quietly forgotten until The Independent newspaper published the correspondence Friday after obtaining it via a Freedom of Information request.
The documents quote an unidentified functionary as gently reminding the royal household that the program was meant for people in need, not the upper crust, and he noted the potential public relations disaster.
"I also feel a bit uneasy about the probable adverse press coverage if the Palace were given a grant at the expense of, say, a hospital," the official said. "Sorry this doesn't sound more positive."
Chagrined palace officials confirmed the account on Friday. A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said royal officials explored the possibility of getting money under the program as a way to reduce the monarchy's cost to taxpayers by making the palace more energy efficient.

She said the royal household did not know at the time that the government money was targeted for low-income Britons. She spoke anonymously in line with royal policy.
The revelation touched a nerve at a time when Britain is facing severe budget cuts in the midst of a prolonged recession.
Graham Smith, spokesman for the anti-monarchy group Republic, said the queen's attempt to access low-income funds was shameful.
"It is clear evidence of the contempt the palace has for ordinary people in this country," he said.
Some Londoners agreed.
Nick Bowring, a 23-year-old fitness instructor, said he didn't think the queen should get help paying heating bills. "There are people who need it a lot more than she does," he said.
The queen's finances have been controversial in the past, with occasional debates about whether Britain's head of state — whose role is largely ceremonial — costs taxpayers too much.
The 84-year-old monarch has royal residences across Britain, including Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham House in eastern England. Other residences, such as the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and St. James's Palace in London, are used as offices or for functions.
She has many other assets, including an extensive art collection and a fleet of the world's finest automobiles at her beck and call, although the royal yacht has been sold.
Buckingham Palace has been in royal hands since King George III bought it in 1761 and has been the official London residence of Britain's monarchs since 1837. While it has magnificent gardens and grand state rooms with priceless paintings and furniture, large parts of the sprawling 775-room palace have not been modernized and are cold and drafty. Many of the rooms used by staff are downright dingy.
Insulation is poor and the heating system needs replacement, as do many of the windows, which lack proper glazing. Thermal imaging testing, used to identify and measure energy waste, showed heat escaping through palace windows, the roof and cracks in the walls.
Taxpayers fund the royal household to the tune of $60 million (38.2 million pounds) a year, which the monarch's official website points out costs Britain's 62 million people less than a dollar (62 pence) each.
It notes that royal spending has been cut substantially over the past two decades, dropping from $138 million (87.3 million pounds) in the 1991-1992 fiscal year to $60 million (38.2 million pounds) this year. That amount doesn't include the cost of providing security for the queen and her family.
The queen also receives $12.5 million (7.9 million pounds) of public money each year to pay for staff and other costs, an amount that has not risen in 20 years.
The accounts show the government spent more than $23.4 million (15 million pounds) on the upkeep of royal residences including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and almost $6.2 million (4 million pounds) on royal travel.
While some criticized the queen for trying to get still more government help, others defended her.
Ian Laming, a 49-year-old carpenter, said the government should have OK'd her request.
"She helps a lot," he said, adding that the monarch was a big boon to the U.K. economy.
"You just have to walk down to Buckingham Palace to see all the tourists."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Obama Calls In For Votes

Another week and another trillion pennies wasted by the Feds. The President made a grand speech this week about how brilliant his team was in spending recovery money on technologies of the future. Yeah the election is near and the speeches are heating up. The President happened to make this week’s speech by calling into the opening of A 123’s new lithium ion battery plant in Michigan.

"This from WBUR dot org

BOSTON — A123 Systems of Watertown has opened what is says is the largest lithium ion battery manufacturing plant in the country, in Livonia, Mich.
President Obama phoned in to the grand opening, calling it the birth of a new industry.
“I am calling to congratulate A123 Systems on this tremendous milestone,” Mr. Obama said.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm called the stimulus-funded project a start for her hard-hit state.
“A123 represents a slice of success for Michigan,” she said. “This commercialization and taking this technology to scale, putting Michigan workers to work in it — and the partnership that grows in it — can be replicated not just in Michigan, but in this country, to keep advanced manufacturing jobs here.”
Many of the 300 employees who were at the event are former auto workers.
A123 got a $249 million grant from the federal stimulus, and an additional $125 million in state tax incentives to build its factory in the Detroit suburbs. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick acknowledged that the Bay State could not offer a competitive package to build closer to company headquarters in Watertown.
A123 also plans to open another plant near the Motor City next year.
Despite the fanfare, there are big commercial hurdles to battery technology in cars."

I love the last line of the WBUR dispatch. The fanfare was for vote getting this November. The reality of thermodynamics and reaction kinetics that translate into economics will be evident when the bucks given to A 123 and other Betamax companies runs out and we are left holding the dead battery that results.

Some positive news for the week in that some really hard working and smart guys did manage to achieve the target of a 100 mpg vehicle that is not some slight of hand like Raser (now trading below 30 cents a share) and their political team of Arnie and Senator Orin Hatch. Readers have to admit that I am fair and balanced in knocking the opportunists on both sides of the isle. Here is the news report on the teams that shared the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize. I like the Edison as it rhymes with Edsel.

"WASHINGTON (September 16, 2010) – The X PRIZE Foundation, an educational nonprofit prize organization, and Progressive Insurance, the country’s fourth largest auto insurance group, today, at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., awarded $10 million to three teams who successfully completed the rigorous Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The winning teams—Edison2 of Lynchburg, Virginia; X-Tracer of Winterthur, Switzerland; and Li-ion Motors Corp. of Mooresville, North Carolina—emerged from an original field of 111 competing teams, representing 136 vehicle entries from around the world. The winning vehicles were showcased to an audience of auto industry, business and government leaders. Each of the winning teams was also presented with a towering bronze trophy designed by Harry Winston, Inc.
The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE was launched in 2008 to inspire a new generation of viable, safe and super fuel-efficient vehicles capable of achieving 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent (MPGe). Now, after nearly 30 months of vehicle and business plan development, on-track testing at Michigan International Speedway which included dynamic safety testing by partner Consumer Reports, and laboratory verification at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab, three vehicles emerge as winners:
$5 Million Mainstream Class Winner:
• Edison2 “Very Light Car #98” (Charlottesville, VA)
• Economy: 102.5 MPGe
• Fuel: E85 ethanol
• Boasting the lowest drag coefficient of any car with four wheels tested in the GM wind tunnel and at the Chrysler Proving Grounds, this vehicle demonstrated over 100 MPGe on the test track, and verified in the lab, under stringent testing conditions using a highly innovative small displacement engine. Its low weight of just 830 pounds is a tribute to its use of light weight materials, reduced engine displacement and a host of other weight-saving innovations.
$2.5 Million Alternative Side-by-Side Class Winner:
• Li-ion Motors Corp “Wave II” (Mooresville, NC)
• Economy: 187 MPGe
• Fuel: Battery Electric
• This side-by-side two-seat battery electric car was built on a lightweight aluminum chassis and weighs in at only 2,176 pounds, despite the weight of its powerful lithium ion batteries. The Wave II demonstrated outstanding
• low mechanical and aerodynamic drag that resulted in 187 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory efficiency testing, a 14.7s zero-to-60 mph acceleration time, and over 100 miles range over a real-world driving cycle.
$2.5 Million Alternative Tandem Class Winner:
• X-Tracer Team Switzerland “E-Tracer #79” (Winterthur, Switzerland)
• Economy: 205.3 MPGe
• Fuel: Battery Electric
• This tandem two-seat vehicle combines the best of motorcycles and automobiles. This clever design has two extra outrigger wheels that deploy at low speed to stabilize the vehicle. At 1436 pounds, the E-Tracer is able to deliver over 100 miles in range, led the competition with over 200 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory fuel efficiency and achieved a zero-to- 60 mph acceleration time of just 6.6 seconds.
The awards ceremony participants included Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Progressive Insurance President and CEO Glenn Renwick; X PRIZE Foundation Chairman and CEO Dr. Peter H. Diamandis; Representative Edward Markey, Chairman, House Energy and Environment Committee; Cathy Zoi, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Senator Mark R. Warner, U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Also present at today’s announcement were several of the other vehicles that competed in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. Specifically, vehicles on display included: Spira4U, of Thailand; Commuter Cars’ Tango of Spokane, WA; amp’d Sky of Blue Ash, OH; Aptera 2e of San Diego, CA; RaceAbout of Finland; TW4XP of Germany; Western Washington University’s Viking 45 of Bellingham, WA; the ZAP Alias of Santa Rosa, CA; The West Philly EVX of Philadelphia, PA; and Illuminati’s Seven of Springfield, IL.
While the prize has now been awarded, the journey continues for the winning teams. They will immediately begin leveraging their winning status, prize money and connections made over the course of the competition to catapult their vehicle into the consumer market. Under a U.S. Department of Energy-funded technical assistance program, qualified Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE competitors will also gain funding support for access to key automotive expertise and test facilities. The aim of the program is to assist teams in readying their vehicles and technologies for introduction to the market.
“We’ve seen a shift in the market since we first launched this competition, and a greater awareness by people everywhere to think more seriously about the actions we take, and how they affect our environment,” noted Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. “Gas mileage ranks as one of our top concerns when purchasing a new vehicle and I believe strongly that the innovations showcased throughout the life of this competition will continue to impact and improve our car buying options for the future.”
“Congratulations to the winners and to all the teams who competed over the course of this competition. Their innovations and hard work are truly inspirational,” said Glenn Renwick. “We’re extremely proud to support a competition that will result in more super fuel-efficient vehicle choices; choices that will make people’s lives better.”
The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE is the second X PRIZE awarded by the X PRIZE Foundation, known worldwide as a leading organization for bringing about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity through incentive prizes.
For detailed information about each winning team and to learn more about the competition, visit
For all the highlights and drama of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, please tune in to a one-hour documentary entitled, "X PRIZE Cars: Accelerating The Future" debuting tonight (September 16) at 9PM ET/6PM PT on the National Geographic Channel.
The X PRIZE Foundation prides itself on making the impossible, possible; addressing the issues that people prize the most.
The goal of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE is to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles that offer more consumer choices. Ten million dollars in prizes will be awarded to the teams that win a stage competition for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 Miles per gallon or energy equivalent (MPGe). The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will place a major focus on efficiency, safety, affordability, and the environment. It is about developing real, production-capable cars that consumers will want to buy, not science projects or concept cars. This progress is needed because today's oil consumption is unsustainable and because automotive emissions significantly contribute to global warming and climate change. The ten million dollar purse and partial funding for prize operations was provided by Progressive Insurance. Additional major funding for education, outreach, and technical operations was provided by $9 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy. Additional funding for prize operations was provided by Cisco and private donors. For more information about the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, please visit or email
Progressive, founded in 1937, is one of the country’s largest auto insurance groups and a leading insurer of motorcycles, recreation vehicles, boats, and commercial vehicles. The Company offers competitive rates and innovative products and services that meet drivers’ needs throughout their lifetimes as well as 24/7 online and in-person customer and claims service. One of Progressive’s Core Values is Excellence. To the Company’s more than 24,000 people, it simply means seeking constant improvement. Over time, this has meant introducing revolutionary ideas that make car insurance easier to shop for, buy and use. It’s this same innovative spirit that’s behind the Company’s sponsorship of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will inspire innovation that will produce more fuel efficient vehicle choices, helping to make a difference in people’s lives. Progressive’s products and services are available locally through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies in the U.S., online at, and by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737).
The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating and conducting competitions in four prize groups: Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, and Education & Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit "

More from a report by The Environmental Transport Association of the UK on the Edison 2

"The Automotive X Prize, a competition to find the best super-efficient vehicles capable of 100mpg (or energy equivalent), has been won by the Edison 2 Very Light Car. This fuel efficiency equates to 120mpg imperial.

The Edison 2 four-seater design was today awarded the top $5m prize. The vehicle uses a rear-mounted, single-cylinder motorcycle engine running on a blend of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol to produce 40 horsepower.

In order to qualify for the main prize, vehicles had to have four wheels and be capable of carrying four people a distance of 200 miles on one load of their chosen fuel.

In addition, they had to be capable of accelerating from 0 to 60mph in 12 seconds and reaching a top speed of 100mph."