atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1683: Problem is, you can't.

New battery technology is all well and good, but it won't make solar power any more efficient. The quote that led to the title of today's post:
Ceramatec says its new generation of battery would deliver a continuous flow of 5 kilowatts of electricity over four hours, with 3,650 daily discharge/recharge cycles over 10 years. With the batteries expected to sell in the neighborhood of $2,000, that translates to less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour over the battery's life. Conventional power from the grid typically costs in the neighborhood of 8 cents per kilowatt hour.

Re-read that last paragraph and let the information really sink in. Five kilowatts over four hours -- how much is that? Imagine your trash compactor, food processor, vacuum cleaner, stereo, sewing machine, one surface unit of an electric range and thirty-three 60-watt light bulbs all running nonstop for four hours each day before the house battery runs out. That's a pretty exciting place to live.

And then you recharge. With a projected 3,650 discharge/recharge cycles -- one per day for a decade -- you leave the next-best battery in the dust. Deep-cycling lead/acid batteries like the ones used in RVs are only good for a few hundred cycles, so they're kaput in a year or so.

How do you recharge? By tapping your solar panels or windmills. It's just like plugging in your cell phone or iPod, only you plug in your house.
Emphasis added.

Is there anyone here who doesn't know what's wrong with that? You, in the back--I don't recognize you:

The earth has a total solar insolation of around one kilowatt per square meter. The conversion efficiency of solar cells has never been much above 20%, and for new technology (such as the thin-film cells on a flexible substrate) it's not even close to that good. So figure that even if you cover your house's roof with solar cells, you're going to get you a maximum of 200w per square meter.

Forty square meters will get you 16 kilowatts of power while the sun is shining. And of course it won't be any 16kw all the time, either; it will peak at 16kw sometime around noon. Expect to stuff about 12 kilowatt-hours into your battery on a day with no clouds.

Now read the next line in the article:

"A small three-bedroom home in Provo might average, say, 18 kWh of electric consumption per day in the summer -- that's 1,000 watts for 18 hours."

Congratulations! You've got a power deficit of 6 kilowatt-hours! And that doesn't even include six hours out of a 24-hour day.

And the punchline is that I didn't even take into consideration the conversion efficiency of your battery charger. It'll be a lot less than unity, let me tell you; the laws of thermodynamics are pretty clear on that point. (Oh, sorry, new guy: all the electrons that come from your solar cells won't end up being stored in the battery. Some will be wasted.)

And I also didn't bother with the efficiency loss of powering the inverter you'll need to convert whatever DC voltage the battery emits into the 120v 60Hz power that all your appliances use. That conversion also occurs at considerably less than unity.

So, look: this new battery technology is a fine thing, but it is not going to make solar and wind power any more efficient.

* * *

Was Obama in Chicago during the years that Cabrini Green existed? I have to wonder if he was.

Government-subsidized housing ends up being an epicenter for crime and urban decay. I suppose Obama was well-insulated enough from it that he still thinks it's a good idea. Or maybe it's another ploy to ensure Democrat control of Congress, as Boortz suggests.


UPDATE: Apparently Obama knows all about government housing. And he sides with the rich property owners rather than the poor people who have to live in their slums. /UPDATE

* * *

They can't manage a one three billion dollar program and they want control of the health care system?

CARS--"cash for clunkers"--is suffering from success: the Department of Transportation has a staff of 225 to deal with 338,659 claims.

Apparently four out of five of these claims are being rejected because of technical errors. This is how bureaucrats work: "You've put this information in the wrong box. Your application is rejected. Next!"

* * *

Michael Barone asks, "Is this the hope and change you want?"

He quotes a book by a liberal intellectual who apparently feels she has to invent new words. She "assesses policies based not on whether they are liberal or conservative but on whether they are dynamist--promoting or leaving room for change--or stasist--tending to freeze institutions and people in place."

Why not just say "dynamic" and "static"? What's wrong with those words?

* * *

While we're on the subject of mediocre people trying to sound intelligent, could we--as a culture--just lose the word "utilize"? WTF, most of the time people pick that word to replace the word "use", exchanging one syllable for three and enhancing the informational content of the sentence not one little tiny bit.

Every time I hear someone say "utilize" it lowers, rather than raises, my estimation of his intellect.

* * *

"Health care concession riles left; right unmoved", goes the headline.

Way to go, Obama: piss off your own voters. Of course, it's not like they'll vote Republican right?

* * *

...and that's all I've got. See ya.

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