Who Killed the Electric Gas Tank?

A few months from now, or perhaps 5-10 years from now, we will know whether or not EEStor can make good on its promise to sell a electrical storage device capable of propelling a reasonably-sized automobile down a freeway for a couple hundred miles before needing a recharge. There are some indications that they are making progress and that this could happen, but there are many reasons to remain skeptical. In this post, I will wade into these waters -- and then get out quickly. Will EEStor revolutionize motor transportation and more? Will it even work?

The human quest for energy is an interesting topic. Mostly by burning things, we have transformed our relationship with the planet and each other. It has been said that we are addicted to oil, but it is more the case that we are addicted to what harnessed energy can do. As it is learned that some utilization of energy is not sustainable for environmental reasons, or for lack of supply, the natural response is to search for other ways of doing the same activity but with another energy supply. And conventional economics promises us that something will come along.

In modern times, one of our sacred rights (or rites?) is the ability to drive a 1-2 ton vehicle up to a fuel station, fill it up without spending a fortune or more than a few minutes of time, and then drive around at 70 miles per hour without worrying about needing more fuel for awhile. A car with a battery and an electric motor, for whatever reason, didn't bring us to this present state of mind. But take away the gasoline (or diesel), and the dream lives on -- even better, because maybe we can skip the trip to the gas station and refuel the car at home. Zenn Motor Company makes and sells electric cars, and they are clearly appealing to those with this dream:

Imagine a car that was whisper quiet at highway speeds, could go for hundreds of miles and left no trail of emissions behind. This car would never need to visit a gas station, and would top off its ‘tank’ within a few minutes.

The car is electric…and it’s powered by a revolutionary energy storage system: EEStor’s EESU (Electrical Energy Storage Unit). To put this into perspective, imagine a car that enabled guilt-free driving, eliminated dependency on foreign oil and that completely changed transportation as we know it.

Zenn electric car: automotive absolution

Ah yes, "guilt-free driving". I won't get into that right now.

What is the EEStor EESU?

The aforementioned EESU is essentially a capacitor which is designed to be charged up and then slowly drained to power an electric vehicle, similar to a battery or fuel cell. In the simple model below, an external voltage is applied across two conducting plates separated by a small distance, usually with a dielectric or insulator in the gap. Charge flows until the voltage across the plates equals the applied voltage.

Figure 1. Charging a capacitor

The charge that is dislocated per volt applied is termed the capacitance. With the external voltage is removed, the charge remains. Place an external load across the plates, and current will flow through the load (providing power), with the voltage available decaying with time.

The energy stored by the capacitor is thus a function of the specifics of the capacitor and the voltage to which is is charged. Typical capacitors found in electronics store very little charge (or energy) compared to what is needed to power devices (not to mention cars) in continuous operation. There would seem to be two options a) find new capacitor technology with a higher capacitance, or b) ramp up the voltage. At first glance, it would seem logical to take the latter route, as the energy stored increases with the square of the voltage. As we will see, it hasn't work out that way in practice up to the present. Most research and development has focused on new materials.

Before continuing, it might be helpful to highlight a few terms used to characterize capacitance:

Capacitance Terms

  • dielectric: another term for an insulator, which emphasizes the fact that it polarizes in response to an external electric field (as when placed between the plates of a capacitor connected to a voltage source)
  • permittivity: a measure of how much a dielectric can be polarized (i.e. how it responds to an electric field)
  • dielectric constant: the permittivity of a material divided by that of free space (therefore, dimensionless)

The capacitance is determined by the geometry of the two plates, the distance between them, and the electrical properties (permittivity) of the gap material. For large plates relative to the separation distance, the following approximation can be used:

To make capacitors with large values of C, the most common approach is to (dramatically) increase the area. One way to do this is to employ porous materials with intrinsically large surface areas. The term ultracapacitor is usually used to characterize such devices which are designed to store a lot of charge. One common type of ultracapacitor, electrochemical double layer capacitors, utilize high surface area materials and also the charge-storage properties of the interfacial region between the surface and an electrolyte in solution. An internet search will reveal a wealth of information about recent developments in ultracapacitors.

Why the Fuss About EEStor?

What has raised much cash and many eyebrows are the stated specifications for the EESU:

  • 52.22 kW-h of energy storage, or 188 MJ
  • Weight of 281.56 lbs, or 127.71 kg
  • 31,351 capacitors stacked and connected up in parallel, each with dielectric layers of 9.732 micron thickness
  • Each capacitor layer consists of alumina-coated composition-modified barium titanate (BaTiO3) powder sandwiched between two thin poly(ethelene terepthalate) layers and aluminum electrodes. The BaTiO3 has relative permittivity (dielectric constant) of 21,072 and the overall dielectric permittivity (including PET layers and alumina coating) is 18,543.
  • Total capacitance of 30.693 Farads, and total volume of 2.628 cubic feet.
  • Temperature stable to 85°C and voltage stable to 5000 V, with 0.1% discharge over 30 days
  • One million recharge cycles from 0-3500 volts and back again
  • Can be charged in 3-6 minutes
  • Manufactured by screen printing and sintering

The above information was obtained from the patent which was granted to EEStor, Inc. in December, 2008 (EEStor has applied for more). The key material, alumina-coated composition-modified barium titanate powder, is made in a process described in a patent application by the same inventors. The modified powder is then mixed with about 6% PET and binder and suspended in nitrocellulose resin and solvent for use as a screen printing ink. The surrounding PET and aluminum layers are also formed via screen printing. Put the layers down in succession, baking in between until golden brown. Let cool and then serve.

One thing that catches one's attention is the excessive number of significant digits in the figures. What is apparently the case is that the configuration of the overall EESU is designed to match the energy storage density used by the battery in the Tesla. Measured capacitance values for a proof-of-concept unit (100 layers) were then used to determine the overall requirements for the full unit. The values for energy storage, volume, and weight translate to energy densities of 1.47 MJ/kg and 2.52 MJ/liter, a 2-3 fold improvement over lithium batteries, but still wanting when compared to gasoline (~45 MJ/kg and 33 MJ/liter). (Note that, because an internal combustion engine is much less efficient than an electric motor, the comparable values will be perhaps 20% of these figures.)

As of now, there is a lot of scattered information including this patent and previous filings as well as some apparent verification of some aspects of the manufacturing and materials by supposedly independent experts. There is also some investors and some negotiated agreements with partners, most prominently Zenn cars (see the news item bar on the home page), and Lockheed Martin. A lot of initial reaction is detailed in an issue of MIT Technology Review from January 2007. Reactions by everyone else run the gamut from giddy true belief to skepticism to accusations of fraud. For some interesting reading, check out the following discussions:

Sort of a game of "choose your F word" (fact, feasible, fantasy, fallacy, fiction, fraud, ...). But unlike other controversies that get batted about endlessly, this one would seem to have a clear endpoint: either EEStor can make it or they can't. Of course, a negative result might take awhile, as exemplified by the example of cold fusion research twenty years from the initial media splash. In that case, the dream that abundant energy can be obtained quite easily has kept research alive, despite the absence of either clear evidence or a plausible physical explanation. In contrast, some ideas that "should" work take awhile to become reality because of engineering difficulties. Conventional fusion-based electricity generation and high-temperature superconductors probably fall into this category. Which is the case with the EEStor capacitor?

The Road Less Taken

The principle material used in the EESU, barium titanate, has been of interest for along time. If you have access to the bound set of the Feynman's Lecture Series (1963), you will find it discussed in depth in Volume 2, Chapter 11. Barium titanate is a common material for both capacitors and actuators (a related application where an applied voltage deforms a material, allowing precise movement of objects). This article provides a good background on the utility of barium titanate as a dielectric in capacitors in general and in multilayer capacitors in particular. EEStor's improvement over what is currently available is an increase in the voltage to which the capacitor (or a stacked set of capacitors) can be charged to. Thus, though the target capacitance of 30 farads listed above is not particularly high in the world of ultracapacitors, by assuming a large voltage, the energy that can be stored goes up considerably (with the square of the voltage). What is the downside, and why doesn't everybody just design for a higher voltage? First, high voltages (3500 volts) in many situations would not be practical. Second, the capacitor has to withstand the voltage applied (i.e. not break down). But there is one more problem: the simple formula for energy stored in a capacitor assumes that the permittivity of the dielectric is constant. In practical application, there exists the phenomenon of dielectric saturation.

Getting Saturated

A material with a high permittivity means that it distorts in response to an external electric field. This can be just a displacement of the electrons with respect to the nuclei, or it can include relative displacements of the nuclei. In the case of electrochemical double layer capacitors, it also includes relative positions of ions and solvent near the surfaces. Perovskite oxides (which includes barium titanates) have high permittivities because they can, in effect, store a lot of energy by distorting when an electric field is applied. But there are limits to the amount of distortion possible; with increases in voltage above a certain point, permittivity begins to decrease, with large changes in voltage moving less and less charge. Companies have spent a lot of money trying to develop capacitors which do not have this limit, but without success. (See http://bariumtitanate.blogspot.com/2009/04/intelligibility-of-eestors-re...)

Skeptics have politely mentioned this "feature" of dielectrics in discussions for awhile now, but EEStor and Zenn have recently put out PR which says that independent permittivity tests on EEStor's barium titanate powders have shown that they support their claims. Their patent clearly suggests that dielectric saturation is not observed for their samples. Much of the recent debate is thus about whether this is really plausible, based on a review about is known about BaTiO3 from prior research or first-principles calculations. One unabashed enthusiast (I'll call him "true believer", or TB) has reported that (according to Zenn and/or EEstor) their materials are in a particular phase (paraelectric) which does not exhibit dielectric saturation at these voltages. However, there is a paper published which indicates that dielectric saturation does indeed occur in the paraelectric (cubic) phase. Meanwhile, TB from above has contacted the independent tester and found that the voltage used in the test was 1 volt, but that measurements were made at multiple temperatures and there was no observed temperature dependence to the permittivity. And according to a source of TB, temperature dielectric saturation always accompanies the voltage kind. Maybe they perhaps have some phase that hasn't been seen before. Even more interesting is TB's blog post with interview snippets with other researchers in the field. This snippet is from a discussion with Dr. Eric Cross of Penn State:

B: So your view is EEStor is possibly on to something but the information they have released is not a good body of evidence from which to draw any conclusions.

EC: I would go along with that yes. I think they have something interesting and they may not know that they have a tiger by the tail.

B: Meaning that the complexity may lie ahead for what they are working on?

EC: I think that's true. One needs to understand in detail what one is doing. This is an area of extreme interest at the moment. I can't say more about it.

B: It's of extreme interest just because of the applications, right? Not because there's some sort of breakthrough? I do not understand.

EC: I think these people are scientists and I think they have made an interesting discovery but their explanations of what they have discovered are not reasonable...which is not to say that what they have discovered is not itself reasonable. That I won’t say any more about it.

A Peaceful Queasy Feeling

As I have looked into what is known about the EEStor technology, and read as much as I could stand, I have gone back and forth as to whether I believe they have indeed created a dielectric material which has the necessary properties to make the EESU function as promised. It's hard for me not to root for these guys, as there is something noble about someone striving for 20 years to bring one's ideas to fruition. The problem is that, while creative ideas and persistent attention to detail in engineering can solve almost any problem, you are sometimes stuck with what nature hands you. That they came up with a secret recipe which has eluded so many others sure seems very unlikely -- but not impossible. Will it work? Ask me tomorrow.

At this point, the only people who really know what their technology is and whether they have something that can really be brought to market soon is EEStor (and they probably don't either). Everybody else (including Zenn, until they get one in hand) is relying on partial information. But if EEStor succeeds, it will be an amazing scientific and engineering achievement by a couple of people with limited resources.

Seem Warm To You?

But what if it works? Before it can be used in automobiles, many other questions remain -- although many of these apply to electric cars in general. Where will the electricity for this really come from in the next few years? Charging infrastructure? Safety? Assorted colors?

Some of these I will reserve for another article. But I will consider here the issue of safety, which is given scant mention in the EEStor patent.

None of the EESU materials used to fabricate the EESU, which are aluminum, aluminum oxide, copper, composition-modified barium titanate powder, silver-filled epoxy, and poly(ethylene terephthalate) plastic will explode when being recharged or impacted.

The inherent danger is not necessarily the risk of explosion, but simply the sudden release of 52 kilowatt-hours of energy if the capacitor self-discharges. As shown in this illustration from the patent,

the individual energy storage units (capacitors) are connected in parallel such that, at full charge, a potential of 3.5 kV sits across each of the 31,351 units of 10 microns thickness. Although the dielectric breakdown voltage is sufficiently high such that leakage current is low, there is a finite probability that a stress fracture from impact due to an accident or a manufacturing defect propogated as the EESU ages results in electrical breakdown in one of the units. If this occurs, all of the energy stored in the EESU (52 kilowatt-hours) could potentially be released in a very short period. It is somewhat disingenuous to stress the large amount of energy which can be stored in the device and the rapidity of charging and discharging without acknowledging the downside of these.

In a rapid electrical breakdown of the device, the stored energy would essentially result in the instantaneous generation of a vast amount of heat. For example, the EESU is made primarily of barium titanate, which has a heat capacity of 434 J/kg-K. The 52 kW-hr released will heat the 280 lb unit to about 3400°C. Of course, it would probably start heating up everything around it before it got that hot. One ton of steel (with about the same value for heat capacity) would heat up to 460°C. Best to get out fast.

There are possibly ways to deal with this risk, but preferably not the Ford Pinto strategy. In any case, an extensive testing phase is warranted to assess both damage and age-related risk for a catastrophic self-discharge event. Crash-test dummies are cheaper than lawyers.

Disclaimer: I own no stock whatsoever

I will trust this technology when they start selling individual capacitors or when reserch laboratories reverse engineer it successfully.

I dont like that they are aiming for a complete car battery as the first application.
If the basic technology works they could probably sell it with plenty of profit for
easier applications where customers also are willing to pay more per individual capacitor.

Magnus I think you are right,there should be apps that are easier and more profitable to start.A stationary capacitor battery does not have to be as physically sturdy or compact as one built for automotive use,and would be less subject to temperature extremes.

It might also be used much more efficiently-more hours out of the week-which could lower the effective operating costs by a factor of ten or more since the typical car is actually driven only about two to ten hours per week.

But maybe they are aiming aT DELIVERY VEHICLES-which run lots of hours-at first without actually saying so.No business man ever turns down free favorable publicity.

When independent laboratories can reverse engineer the batteries, something else would also happen:

They will be copied by the Chinese, Indians, Russians, etc. and nobody will make any money.

The copiers will make loads of money and when the market develops and the price is squeezed it will maximize the benefits to society and spread the technology as wide as possible.

But the intellectual property systems and business culture need to honor the original developers enough for them to prosper so that other people are encouraged to innovate.

Hello Magnus Redin,

Your Quote: "If the basic technology works they could probably sell it with plenty of profit for easier applications where customers also are willing to pay more per individual capacitor."

Yep, gotta agree with you here--start with smaller, safer charged devices, then ramp up to bigger charge devices as safety and economics allow.

For example, I could see cargo-bicyclists or rail-bikers paying to temporarily rent an attachable EESTOR kicker for easily climbing a steep slope.

No different than back in the olden days where people paid for a ferry to take their covered wagons across a river too deep to negotiate:

..At some of the larger rivers, ferry service was available. Enterprising businessmen would charge families to float their belongings across on boats or rafts.

..Pioneers often had to wait days or even weeks for a chance to use the ferry.
Of course, the building of bridges eventually solved this problem. But that doesn't apply to a steep slope--the Law of Physics prevent building a 'bridge' to flatten an upgrade. Kicker devices to easily 'ferry' a person/cargo up is the better solution. Then remove the device at the top of the hill, then let gravity quickly whisk it back down to be recharged and reused again.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

"I could see cargo-bicyclists or rail-bikers paying to temporarily rent an attachable EESTOR kicker for easily climbing a steep slope."

I'm almost sure that the GP meant something like electrical motor starting and load factor compensation for distributors. If they can make small cheap huge capacitors, they'll make those applications way cheaper to buy and use.

...the Law of Physics prevent building a 'bridge' to flatten an upgrade.

Uh, not exactly. A "bridge" that flattens an upgrade is called either a "tunnel" or a "cut". Often curves are used to lengthen the journey while reducing the maximum necessary power. At least in some situations these are better solutions energy-wise than adding helper power.

Yes, portable electronics would be a perfect introductory market. Energy density is right in the front of the user's mind. People want a light device that runs for a long time and charges as quickly as possible. And they will pay more than $200 per pound for a laptop. Compare that to the Tesla Model S, which will sell for about $12.50 per pound, and that's on the high side for cars, considering a Honda Civic DX would cost only about $5.50 per pound. I guess there might be more pounds of car battery to sell total, but it's a needlessly demanding market in terms of safety and competing technologies. Small electronics could certainly deal with the high voltage through step-up/step-down transformers, considering that even disposable cameras contain fairly high voltage capacitors. Is there perhaps something about this technology which requires it to be big?

I think you've asked the right question, which goes to the points being made above. The Eestor device, even if real as claimed, would have very little advantage competing for applications where it's advantage isn't exploited. It's main advantage is very high charge voltage. The downside of that is that the conversion equipment needed to exploit a significant amount of energy at 3.5 kv will be a fairly hefty chunk of equipment itself, likely enough to preclude any advantage in laptop computers and almost certainly cellphones.

I'd also guess that the grid-connected storage market is far too uncertain for any guaranteed exploit. Utilities are absolutely notorious for taking many years (by design it seems, at least as long as it takes a patent to run out) to test any new technology before taking it up in any volume.

I'd suspect they've analysed these issues and chosen their initial market very carefully. And their initial customer, Zenn, whose primary asset as far as Eestor is concerned is that they can provide some funding and PR while not being one of the automotive behemouths, which tend to stomp on stuff like this accidentally if not on purpose.

I could just see the internl politics of something like this at say Ford or BMW. The MBA managers are fighting each other all the time. There might be a weak manager of research supporting it, but the powerfull managers of IC engine production, IC engine development, transmission development etc. would all have their knifes out for it. It could easily get killed in a mid-level management power struggle, and EEStor would be left holding an exclusively committed empty bag.

It's interesting to just do the simple calculation. The described 270lb EESU, charged up to 12 volts, is storing only .6 watt-hours. Contrast this with the smallest IPod battery, which has 31 watt-hours.

Being able to take the high voltage (and everything that goes along with that) is the only thing that makes this (possibly) possible.

31 Watt-hours seems high, perhaps it's more like 3.1 Wh for an iPod? Anyway, it's a good point and the contrast is still quite stark given the relative weights involved.

Regarding lengould's comment, I hadn't thought of the weight of the transformers as an essential part of the system. I don't know much about power supply design, but I did fool around with a neon sign transformer in electronics class once, and it was quite a large brick, certainly outweighing many laptops. I believe it might have put out something like 3 to 5 kV. I thought perhaps something like a switching power supply and a boost converter for charging could be made sufficiently small and light, but can you put that kind of voltage through integrated circuits?

Yeah, dumb mistake. They listed 220 mAh and 3.7V, and that it runs for 12 hours. I multiplied the 220 mA by 3.7 V and then by 12 instead of 1 hr. It then is .814 Wh

Crash-test dummies are cheaper than lawyers.

Yeah, but quickly heating Lawyers to 3400°C. would be so much more entertaining ;-)

I knew that lead-in would yield a lot of good punch lines.

With all this potential to release energy very rapidly, these electric powered cars would give new meaning to the term "car bomb". Just think, some demented malcontent might add a device designed to penetrate the ultracapacitor array in the event of a crash. Then, any aspiring martyr could drive one of these vehicles into an object at a speed great enough to cause the destruction of the ultracapacitor, with rather exciting results. Even a simple pipe bomb driven projectile, such as a piece of steel rod, would suffice, with energy release on demand, say, when parked next to a large crowd of people. For added spice, include a few gallons of one's favorite mixture of fast burning chemicals stored in the trunk...

E. Swanson

Explosives "explode" because they generate a lot of hot gas in a hurry. The EESU is already an oxide, for the most part, so I don't think it would go off like a bomb. I'm not really sure what would be the result (beyond the heat).

I have been pondering about this for a long time. Imagine an explosive that is totally safe to store and can be charged up with common or garden electricity at the battle-front (with solar energy if necessary).

If ultracapacitors are going to be a reality, then the military will be first in line to buy them.


Any energy storage device that stores large amounts of energy have that risk.

The question is whether it can be mitigated?

For example, flywheels tend to have energy absorbing casings that try to contain the energy and fragments when a flywheel comes apart.

For ultra capacitors or high discharge rate batteries, the answer will be in some sort of a resistive grid array in a fireproof box that allow the discharge ---- look at the technology in locomotives for discharging the energy from braking with the motors.

Whether it explodes is almost beside the point --- it is whether it will cause fires, electrocute someone trying to rescue an injured person from a wrecked vehicle, or give off noxious fumes, etc. are the issues.

Fuses or diodes between cells and even distribution of the capacitance inside the frame is the best safety measure.

And make sure that repairs are done only on empy tank ;-)

Fuses or diodes between cells and even distribution of the capacitance inside the frame is the best safety measure.

And make sure that repairs are done only on empy tank ;-)

Well, imagine that there's a short between two layers of conductor, for whatever reason. At full capacity, that's a dischare of almost 12,000 J ((188 MJ / 31351 layers) x 2 layers) in a fraction of a second - so, several ten's of thousands of watts of power. This is enough to make a hot spot, I would think. Suppose that the heating is enough to make the next dielectric layer break down and the next conductor discharge to ground - I think you can see that this would make a chain reaction and the whole thing would discharge in an explosion.

Now I'm not sure that this is what would happen, having no knowlege of the way the materials behave under such conditions....but having seen a 0.25 Farad capacitor discharge all at once through a resistor, I have no desire to be around one of these things until I'm convinced it can't happen.

A friend and I once took apart a photo flash unit that wouldn't work. Once we had the case off, I advised him to short the capacitor in case it was charged. He did so with the blade of his pocket knife, which resulted in a flash, a sound like a rifle being fired, and the disappearance of the tip of the knife blade. This was just a small unit that slid into the shoe on top of his camera, so the result of shorting the EEStor unit should scale up to quite an event.


I wouldn't be quite so sanguine. It sounds like a significant portion of the assembly is PET and other materials that would be easily gasified at such high temps. A few things to consider:

1. Dynamite has an energy content of 7.5 MJ/kg, meaning that a fully-charged unit (188 MJ) would have the energy equivalent of some 25 kg of dynamite, or nearly 90 sticks.

2. If you have ever ignited an open container of thermite, you may have been surprised by the amount of hissing and spitting involved (the first time, I was!) This is caused by trace amounts of volatiles (water, etc.) that are in the mix with the primary ingredients; when the thermite reaction proceeds and produces its high temps, anything that can gasify, does, and the resultant local expansion serves to hurl hot bits of thermite all over the place.

Even a 1% "yield" (in explosive potential) from a rapid discharge would be sufficient to kill any passengers in the car. Sounds worrisome to me.

Agreed with respect to the gross energy stored in this device vs. dynamite.

The issue is, does it release with explosive force (and can it be moderated)?

Explosive disassembly spewing hot debri around is already a problem with cheap cell phone batteries. Its very uncommon but with millions of units some of them break down.

The system realy need to be designed so that it can contain a runaway break down and that
is easier if it can be slowed down. Or if the quality is high enough and the system is cheap
enough people will take their chances as we anyway do when we travel by car. A one in a
billion risk for being blown into pieces each time you travel by car is fairly ok if the
alternative is to not travle.

I believe the key consideration here is not energy density, but power density, which depends on how fast the device can discharge its energy. Most batteries have plenty of internal resistance, which slows down discharge and makes them relatively safer. It seems like this device could intentionally include some kind of internal resistance to mitigate the danger of a short while still providing enough power to run the car. If you needed more power for quick acceleration, it could be provided by a separate capacitor or flywheel that had a higher power density but lower total storage capacity. I think they might already do this in electric cars to get temporary power bursts from batteries.

Yeah, the carbon and hydrogen from the PET could theoretically reduce the oxide, giving H20 and COx. The key is really the timescale. Vaporizing water is comparatively easy. I don't know enough about explosion chemistry to do more than wave my hands here.

I don't know enough about explosion chemistry to do more than wave my hands here.

Explosives are quite different from burning. Explosives create a detonation, where supersonic compression from the detonation wave causes the reaction to occur, and the energy liberated from the reaction feeds into the blast wave. Gun powder does not explode, it reacts by burning. You can get a bang by confining it so that the gas pressure builds up until it ruptures it's container. I can't imagine a capacitor exploding in the true detonation sense of the term. I can imagine it violently releasing energy and doing a lot of damage, however.

Gasoline is generally rated at 20,000 BTU/#. I think that comes out to over 46 MJ/kg. Six times the energy density of dynamite.

Gasoline, however, need an oxidizer to release its energy.

That is a big difference --- the energy cannot be released quickly in an explosive release of the fuel's entire stored potential energy.

When you see gas tanks explode in movies, that is usually only a small portion of the total stored energy released (limited by the amount of oxygen available), not the whole fuel tank's energy.

Look at how a fuel-air explosive work --- when the fuel and ambient air is mixed nicely then set off.

A much bigger effect.

Spill the gasoline. You get a nice surface to volume ratio and excellent contact with oxygen.

My point is only that gasoline is a very dangerous material and we have learned to live quite easily with its dangers.

When you see a gas tank explode in the movies,you see the work of special effects technicians.

I know lots of mechanics and not a single one of them has ever known a gas tank to explode.

The reason is simple.Gasoline must vaporize and the fumes must be well mixed with air before the combustion process can proceed at all,much less in an explosive manner.

There's not much air space in a gas tank,and if there is any gasoline in it,the odds are extremely high that the mixture is too rich to burn.

Gasoline that spills in an accident can burn fast enough sometimes that the fire can be described as explosive,if well mixed vapors accumulate for a while before being ignited.

The vapor is heavier than air and accumulates readily in low spots. Gasoline vapors in a ditch when ignited burn so fast that you must be back at least a hundred feet to really keep your eye on the flame front.

I lost a twenty dollar bet many years ago when an old mechanic told me he could use gasoline as an ash tray.He proceeded to drop a whole pack of lit Camels,one at a time,in a bucket with an inch of gas in the bottom.

I think Camels were maybe a quarter of thirty cents in those days.

No fire.

Then we dropped in a lit piece of paper and the fire burned slowly and quietly in the bucket until it started getting hot. It soon boiled over and created one hell of a fire-but it was sitting in the middle of an empty gravel parking lot and no harm was done.

This does not mean that it is safe to work on gas tanks or any container that has ever held petroleum products!!!Old containers are likely to contain just enough fumes to create a combustible mix,or residues that can vaporize and create such a mix,especially if heated.And a fire confined in a tank may indeed be explosive.

I know of two incidents personally where somebody got hurt bad trying to cut and weld on old oil barrels.One was building a stove and the other wanted to make a culvert by welding barrels together end to end.

A portable EMP generator ????

Would it be more effective than the ordinary gas tank in a car? I doubt it. You can easily double or quadruple the amount of gas in a car, dump the backseat and install a tank of appropriate fragile material. Big firebomb. Quite easy really, no need for any esoteric and probably expensive battery technology.

Note that our current favorite fast burning chemical is isooctane, and we are content to drive around on top of 20 or 30 gallons of the stuff. If it doesn't pack enough energy to make a spectacular fire, it isn't going to move your vehicle very far.

A couple years ago I had a lithium ion cellphone battery to abuse, and shucked off the plastic shell. Shorting it out just made a small few sparks; there was a metallic strip around it whose resistance suddenly increased when it got hot. This was shorting it out after removing the little microcontroller that remembers its charge state and reports its temperature to the device it powers. (I stopped short of attacking it with a drill press, the little things can store about half a joule or so...)

Cellphone batteries all have two or three layers of "failsafe" technology to prevent, or at least slow down, a catastrophic discharge. While it isn't possible to absolutely prevent thermal runaway, a lot can be done to insure that it doesn't occur in microseconds. The difference between something merely getting really hot / catching fire, and a destructive detonation, is just a matter of reaction rate after all.

I'm pretty certain that if electric automotive power takes off, it will be protected by a similar assortment of safeguards.

Yes, that is possible, but you forget that any aspiring martyr can go get some blasting caps, ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel, all of which are currently available in large quantities to anyone (except maybe the blasting caps) and go martyr themselves using existing vehicle technology.

Lawyers at 3400C would create a lot of carbon emissions.

What is needed is to sequester the lawyers in a way that leave the carbon safely buried for a long time, hopefully to have them become valuable coal in 10,000 years.

hopefully to have them become valuable coal in 10,000 years.

Nah! We'd just be back in the same mess all over again. We will need to compress them under extremely high pressure and turn them into diamonds so they can be worn as jewelry. There would be less temptation to burn them in that form.

I understand that the layer by layer deposition method of manufacture is not big news anymore,but has it been used to manufacture products containing similar materials?

Have similar capacitors-meaning physically and chemically similar materials- been previously manufactured in smaller ,er,capacities?

The less new ground there is to break,the more likely the eventual success.

And if it works we are going to have to listen to the cornucopians tell us how wrong we are.

But we only have to be right once,in terms of running out of transportation energy,and they have to be right EVERY TIME ,to prevent an economic meltdown that msakes our current problems look like no more than a shower at a picnic.

There are lots of multilayer capacitors out there, made similarly. Just not with the same voltage capacity.

JB -- Thank you for this interesting post. I particularly appreciate the primer on capacitors. Assuming EV technology can truly become mass market, EEStor seems like a real 'Hail Mary' to beat out more conventional battery technologies.

I'm with Magnus on this: maybe EEStor is set to shock the world, but they are playing Hide the Ball at the moment. Wake me up when they lift the coconut shells....

It is old, I first heard it from John McCarthy more then 10 years ago.
It works but the problem is to keep the infrastructure cost down and the
car design flexibility up.

Its not hard to figure out a better system then the one Agassi proposes.
I got one such idea but I have not found the time and energy to do something with it.

Gotta love his enthusiasm!

I did find his closing comments and analogy to slavery quite apt but I don't think he quite gets the consequences of his own point. If the industrial revolution was a direct consequence of the abolition of slavery and we substituted fossil fuels for slave labor, then the question remains how are we going to shift the paradigm to a society that requires fewer or no energy slaves at all?

Unless I'm missing something, just building the entire infrastructure that he suggests will be necessary, requires huge amounts of energy (slaves), that we no longer have. Quite a dilemma indeed.

If he combines his model with the zipcar.com model, it might work. That or just the rich will own his cars. The rest of us are getting poorer by the day so owning a highway-capable car will soon be stretch...

I'm an unemployed electrician so this article caught my eye. The skeptics are right to be skeptical, the extremely high voltages claimed to be maintained without leakage have never been attained before, and there is a reason why they've never been maintained. It's like when Scotty says to Kirk: "I can't change the laws of physics captain." Yeah, those doggone laws of physics'll get you every time.

I also don't see how this proposal (And others) to keep the cars running at any cost is scalable. Do we really think we're going to change out the entire US automobile fleet? Do we really think that the cost (An extremely rosy estimate) of EEStor will remain constant given the state of our economy? What about the environmental factors? Where is all the bauxite for the aluminum going to come from? Is that cost stable? How big is the landfill going to be to hold all those SUV's that have been built over the last 15 Years and that are now obsolete?

I predict that EEStor, if it is able to perform at the V's claimed (And that's a big if) will simply be absorbed into our military/industrial complex. There has been virtually no technology developed in the last 60 years that hasn't been massively subsidized with public money and then funneled through the Pentagon system. The EEStor's will probably be used to power the next generation Bradley fighting vehicle or some other lethal tool for controling the increasingly hungry, restive and superfluous civilian population.

Hence is is no surprise that Lockheed-Martin is next in line.

I used to collect old can type capacitors from old discarded TV sets back in the 1970's as a hobby when I was a kid and charge up typically 0.5uF caps up to 300-600V. When I intentionally discharged them by touching the wires together (about 0.18 Joule) there would be an astonishing bang and explosion. Quite a sight to see, an electrical bomb. I would not want to see 0.18 Joule scaled a million times! I would not trust my life to 10 microns and I predict this company will not get ESStor approved for automotive applications just because of the potential to make everyone of these devices into an easy electrical bomb

I guess you've never put fire on 50 liters of gasoline.

Yeah, but here's the thing: gasoline by itself isn't explosive. By itself, it doesn't even have any "energy", so to speak. It's thermodynamically uphill to break it apart. The key is oxygen and a spark, and all those strong C-O and O-H bonds that form as a result.

If the gas tank ruptures, spilling it's contents, you might get the right fuel/O2 mixture but you still need a spark. In contrast, TNT has everything it needs in one tidy molecule. Just bang on it real hard, and boom.

What we really need:

-Small NEVs to take those people who, for one reason or another cannot walk or bike, on short trips around the neighborhood, or to the nearest neighborhood mass transportation node. These do not need a top speed greater than 25 mph, or a range of more than about 20-30 miles at most. NEVs and battery packs presently on the market meet these specifications; improvements will be welcome and probably will come, but are not essential - we could make do with what we can make today.

-Somewhat larger electric vehicles that can serve as taxicabs or jitneys or shuttle buses and carry passengers around all day. Ditto with neighborhood delivery vans (not just for mail and parcels, we need to bring back home delivery of milk and many other goods). They do not really need to move much faster than the 25 mph that NEVs can do, but they do need a much longer range - several hundred miles per day, between recharges. It is probably possible to power these with existing batteries, although improvements in battery technology would be a very welcome development.

-We also need service vehicles like police cars, ambulances, utility trucks, etc. These are probably best powered by diesel engines running biodiesel. Ditto for farm machinery and heavy construction equipment and most heavy transportation equipment. If we limit biofuels to just biodiesel for just these applications, then we probably can grow enough feedstock without starving people, and at a high enough EROI to make it worthwhile.

What we DON'T need:

-Privatge passengers vehicles that can travel at 60+ mph for hundreds of miles. If we could build a decent network of public transportation, then we simply don't really need these.

I agree - trying to build BAU EVs that directly replace ICE vehicles is a bad and unnecessary strategy. We drive a 60 km/hr, 60 km range EV every day that we charge from solar PV and it covers 90% of our driving needs. It has been really fascinating to experiment with this sort of "minimalist" driving we have discovered our actual driving needs are rather modest compared to the medias view of what an EV should be. 60 km/hr is the minimum for todays metro commuting but if 40 km/hr became acceptable our range would likely double.

"-Small NEVs to take those people who, for one reason or another cannot walk or bike, on short trips around the neighborhood, or to the nearest neighborhood mass transportation node. These do not need a top speed greater than 25 mph, or a range of more than about 20-30 miles at most. NEVs and battery packs presently on the market meet these specifications; improvements will be welcome and probably will come, but are not essential - we could make do with what we can make today."

The Zenn company mentioned in the main post is one such NEV.


I own one. On the plus side, you can get 80%+ of a full charge in under two hours, they can go nearly 40 mph, I have gotten over 50 miles on a charge, and the cost is reasonable--about $11,000 with the tax breaks and rebates...

But their are a number of down sides. It is not for people who want all the capacities of an ICE car, as the numbers above suggest (I did not expect this, so this is not actually a down side for me).

More important is the great reduction in range when it gets cold (as it does tend to do here in Minnesota!)--down to 10-15 miles, without using the heat. The local dealer said they were testing warming units for the batteries, but those have not yet become available, apparently. We used it very little last winter.

A friend who did found out that the wheel was not engineered well so salt from the road got in and corroded the bearings which had to be replaced. I expected that the first run may have some problems, but I'm surprised and rather disappointed that this Canadian company gave so little thought to winter conditions.

I also had trouble starting the thing this spring--it would start sometimes and not others, not a great attribute for a car. After weeks in the shop, it starts, but now the range seems to be reduced to 25-30 miles on a charge even when its warm.

I bought the thing partly out of curiosity and partly because I was hoping my wife would drive it to work (five miles away). She did for a while, but got discouraged in the winter, and she now has a used Prius that she loves.

All in all, I don't completely regret buying it--you get into a lot of good conversations. But I do wish it was a bit more carefully engineered.

We've gotten a GEM at work, which I've been able to use for trips to the post office and banks. It has been working fine for those kinds of things. Haven't had it through a winter yet, thanks for the warning. Our winters are considerably milder than what you get in MN.

I've been seeing increasing numbers of privately owned GEMs in my neighborhood, I'm in Florida so winter cold is not much of an Issue. However flooding and hurricanes are. I recently watched someone driving their GEM through some rather deep standing salt water after a very high tide. I'm not sure what corrosion protection, if any these vehicles have but a lot of parks have them and I see them driving on the beach as well. Time will certainly tell.

The puddle you see in this picture is salt water on a street next to the intracoastal.

LiL Electric

I'm surprised and rather disappointed that this Canadian company gave so little thought to winter conditions.

Sorry to hear that, but not very surprised. Developing things like drive wheel technology for automotive conditions is itself a large and costly poject. No doubt several iterations necessary.

The bright side is, Zenn's stated aim is not to build and sell complete autos, which is smart, they're too small. They rather want to build and sell (to other auto companies) drive-train packages built around the EEStor storage unit. Just the storage unit, the drive electronics packages, charger and monitor systems, and perhaps optionally the motors. Development of that alone would be enough of a challenge for a company their size.

What we really need:

-Small NEVs

-Somewhat larger electric vehicles that can serve as taxicabs or jitneys or shuttle buses and carry passengers around all day. Ditto with neighborhood delivery vans (not just for mail and parcels, we need to bring back home delivery of milk and many other goods). They do not really need to move much faster than the 25 mph that NEVs can do, but they do need a much longer range - several hundred miles per day, between recharges. It is probably possible to power these with existing batteries, although improvements in battery technology would be a very welcome development.

Isn't the differentiation there based soley on charge times - the post below (above) about UC torches got me thinking - realistically, if you've got fast charge options, then a limited infrastructure means that all these taxicabs and delivery vehicles don't need long range necessarily.

My head is buzzing with the idea of fleets of UC powered, very limited range' Smart ForTwo 'taxis' with charging points at supermarkets and taxi ranks etc etc etc. One passenger+luggage (eg:shopping) taxis initially, meeting about 80% of the req in many cities - expanding to lightweight UC short-hop multi-passenger 'taxis' and commercial delivery later on. (I'm excluding milk, most bulk goods - far to heavy - best left to fossil fuel for the meantime)

The world will never change, the humans will follow their empty desires to the end, repeating the same foolish experiments over and over until they are all dead.

Dead things, their cities are full of dead things, the businesses are zombies, the humanoids are devoid of any thought other than what they don't have, the buildings are shadows lengthening, starvation hovers at the edges, the atmostphere vibrates with lies. All is painted with dark poverty that grows faster than whatever alchemy can be created by the masters.

The condemned man believes he will be saved ...

The world will never change,

Actually the only thing that doesn't change is that every thing changes all the time.
As for humans, we may just be a momentary flash in the pan as so many other lifeforms have been before us.

Hello Steve from Virginia,

Your Quote: "The condemned man believes he will be saved ..."

Yep, that's the Peak Outreach problem: convincing sufficient numbers of people to save themselves by moving to meaningful mitigation and some measure of Optimal Overshoot Decline.

Instead, we stupidly continue to societally grow into a giant Rogue Wave for a maximal, fast-crash Thermo/Gene Collision. Consider that Malthus's sound advice has been available to all for 200 years, but India and every other place just blunders ahead into massive Overshoot until they are forced to machete' moshpits over something basic like water.

Unsupported RAPD nonsense. This very topical and important site would be much better without such childishness.

This very topical and important site would be much better without the constant spamming for automobiles.

Steve - there are plenty of other total doomer sites for you to play in. TOD has a broader base than your melancholy point of view.


I do not "spam" or anything else "for automobiles". I do insist on rational and supported argument for why I, my neighbours, or the citizens of Mongolia should be required to live without energy EVEN IF THE ENERGY SOURCES ARE TOTALLY SUSTAINABLE, SELF_REPLICATING AND DO NO SIGNIFICANT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, AND MOST OTHER RESOURCE SHORTAGES CAN BE RESOLVED GIVEN CLEAN ENERGY. Every country in the "developed" world except the USA has a birth rate well below population replacement (<2.0 children per woman except USA at 2.1), and declining populations except for inmigration. Give people a decent standard of living and overpopulation solves itself.

I do not accept your unexplained personal wishes as sufficient. Grow up.


Because they are lies. They cannot exist.

Nature gave life 4 billion years to work out the kinks in a life- based earth environment. We humans are part of that 4 billion year continuum.

We are trying to make a machine- based earth environment in less than 400 years without really understanding how the life- based model works. To us, life is something to be cleared away at a small profit to make way for machines. I cannot think of a better definition of stupidity.

There is no machine that is totally sustainable, self- replicating and does no significant environmental damage. All machines, even hammers and shovels, require outside sustainence, factories and other machines to replicate them. They all do significant environmental damage. They cannot do otherwise, they are as foreign to Earth as invaders from Outer Space.

Evolution buries its mistakes and constantly gets things right. So right that life has survived massive evolutionary dilemmas such as asteroid crashes and continent- burying volcanic eruptions and repeated ice ages and warming periods and plate techtonics. The features changed ... life goes on.

Our machines make mistakes and the consequences pile up. Earth is evolved for life, not machines. Machines are good for businessmen, not good for life. The machines are consuming the means upon which their use depends. In nature, this is a minor evolutionary dilemma. Clearly, the machines themselves cannot adjust to this. Their human masters' proposed solution is always more machines, more clever ones that can somehow alter the basic resource constraint issues by changing how their operation is observed by their users. The natural solution to failure is extinction. The humans' solution to machine failure is a different colored or shaped machine.

This nonsense is packaged as 'hope' and sold to the waiting consumers.

Instead of evolution, machines do what all machines do, run as fast as possible and use up their material support - until they break. Life doesn't care about the charade of appearances. It doesn't observe: the tactic of altering how the machine appears is meaningless against the background of what life demands. Nature simply does. The machines will run down and fall silent, regardless of how 'sustainable' they appear.

Nature adjusts to the consequences of machines the way it has done before; during the ice ages and after meteorite collisions. The outcome of this will simply be irrelevant for machines which are dead things but extremely harsh for humans. In other words, nature is adapting to the consequences of machines better than we humans are.

Unsurprising, nature has had a lot more practice at adapting than we have.

Humans are stupid and anthropomorphize everything. We love our machines, we are so clever and we make myths about them and give them names. We pretend they are life itself. If life was something that could be centered in a machine, don't you think that nature would have made at least one in 4 billion years?

As for people required to live without energy ... people will be required to live with what energy they can collect by relatively simple means. I have no control of this, it is an observation. This is how nature operates. Nature requires. Not me.

There is no way for any of us ... to get where we need to go ... in an automobile. Don't believe me. Instead, keep a log of your trips. If you specifically bought the car to take the President to the airport in an emergency or remove a victim of an injury to a hospital or to plow a field with it ... please enlighten us here at the Oil Drum.

Otherwise, I know what the log will report; 'Trip to the store, trip to the store, drive to work, trip to lunch, trip to the store, drive home, drive to mall, drive to work, trip to store, drive on vacation.' Going in circles. Not winning an Formula 1 driver championship.

Changing this or that tiny thing even to the absurdity of perpetual- motion "totally sustainable' level while leaving the rest of the machine ecology is unchanged, is still wasteful and completely self- destructive.

We are humans, machines are not, we live and machines do not, we compete with our own tools to survive and the leverage we have endowed our machines with is now competing ever more efficiently against us. It will be so until the end when machines ... either cost too much to operate, or they destroy us.

Not an altogether unlikely outcome, that last.

All machines, even hammers and shovels, require outside sustainence, factories and other machines to replicate them. They all do significant environmental damage. They cannot do otherwise, they are as foreign to Earth as invaders from Outer Space.

So, to be clear. You are advocating humanity revert to a condition where people don't even have the use of hammers and shovels? And you THINK that is a fairly widely-held position among the people on this site?


You are advocating humanity revert to a condition where people don't even have the use of hammers and shovels?

This is the 'speak' and misinformation of auto and energy lobbyists: "give us what we want - or the human race will return to the stone age."

CAFE standards will return us to the stone age.

Seat belts will return us to the stone age.

Tailpipe emission standards will return us to the stone age.

I would suggest a re- reading. I don't suggest anything of the sort. I suggest getting rid of the cars.

Let me be clear about this: Get rid of the cars. All of them. It's us or them.

I do suggest that trying to solve the machine- caused problems by the use of more or less identical machines is stupid. If you hit your thumb with a hammer it will hurt. If you hit your thumb with a different shaped or different colored hammer it will also hurt.

Note, people will try to use the different 'technologies' to accomplish what the gas- and oil technologies have failed to do - create a sustainable and non- destructive form of machine. They will try and try and try again. All of these attempts will fail. This isn't doomerism or negativity, it is simply an observation, a balancing or accounting of inputs against outputs. Call it thermodynamic limits or unintended consequences or whatever you like but the outcome of machine behavior will be the same as it always been.

Destruction, waste and resource exhaustion.

I was simply quoting from your prior post. SO, you clarify somewhat to say "get rid of all cars", but allow us to keep our factory-made hammers and shovels. In your world, does society get to keep railways? Subways? Trams? Buses? Taxis? Motorcycles? Electric MoPeds? Bicycles? Just trying to see your vision of the future, sort of to "Nail you down to a position you can't again squirm out of", as it were.

Read it again.

All machines, even hammers and shovels, require outside sustainence, factories and other machines to replicate them. They all do significant environmental damage. They cannot do otherwise, they are as foreign to Earth as invaders from Outer Space.

You are coming to a conclusion from my prior post which is fine but not necessarily correct. I am making an observation, not advocating. It is circumstance that will determine the future. The circimstances are reality based, not advocacy based. That's the problem. A future of no cars and no hammers appears more likely than a future with simply no cars. A future with no humans at all isn't out of the question.

I walk around every single day and tell myself, "I could be one of the last humans!" I find that pretty astounding. It's funny, too. But ... very realistic.

The cause of this isn't humans or even too many humans it is too many machines. The machines enable all the rest; the too many humans, cows, pigs, garbage dumps, climate gasses, etc. That's an observation. Anyone can go outside and see this for themselves.

The problem is less one of machines per se than large, complex machine habitats where there are sets and subsets of machines with many machine-to-machine dependencies. The car- oil- industrial complex is the most comprehensive example ... but so are railroads.


Even though the guys name is Ding Ding I have to take what he says seriously. I'm not making this up. I don't have the control. If I did I would get rid of all private automobiles in a heartbeat. McDonalds would be out of business, too ... I would be hated and feared but never despised ...

An issue is that any machine habitat becomes pervasive and isolates or crowds natural habitats. For instance, awapping electric cars for gas cars doesn't get rid of auto companies or parking lots or traffic jams. The nature part becomes fragmented and disintegrates. We animals need the nature part, we just pretend we don't. Joke is on us!

We don't want to take the time to learn how nature works. Instead we tear it and ourselves to bits. We have all the time in the world, but racing to have what machines give us takes away our future time; we are borrowing more from our future than just credit.

An operating principal that surfaces here and other places:


Is small, local, decentralized, human scale and interdependent. Industrial habitats are centralized and pyramidal. At the top of the pyramind is Goldman- Sachs. We live the age of decline, the cause orbits around these commercial pyramids with criminals at the point. The assumption that one form or technology or other can ameliorate this cannot be demonstrated even by technology companies.


Can't trust the technologies, can't trust the companies ... there is nothing left. I see a long track record of failure. How can I believe that anything as minor as coming up with some kind of battery will change this fundamental?

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring but I suspect the underlying concept will be 'hard'. Going somewhere far away will be hard. Earning a living will be hard. Keeping your savings will be hard. If someone does something or makes something it will be hard to do and make. Doing things will take skills that people today have long forgotten ... or haven't learned yet.

If we don't blow it we will all have plenty of opportunities for learning.

I personally like hard. Hard is good. Hard is rewarding. IMO, the only way out of this dilemma we have putten ourselves into is to embrace the hard.

All good, but the last paragraph perfectly sums up my outlook as well.

I like hard too. But decent and rational as well. It is simply prima facia irrational to propose that society may revert to a condition without hammers and shovels within any currently living person's lifetime. Even in the Mad Max scenario presented in the movie, they maintained hold of some technology, and I find it preposterous to propose otherwise. I certainly know exactly what I will do if all complex infrastructure should crumble for some unforseeable reason.

Given you "have no idea what tomorrow will bring", you appear to be very specific about predicting things.

The basic point was that using tools has consequences. I don't see anyone advocating never using tools of any kind, as you seem to suggest.

The fact that tools have consequences means that anyone creating new tools aught to reflect on to what use they are likely to be put.

To some, you perhaps, such questions are unacceptably threatening, and so must be dismissed as the musing of arbitrarily anti-tech, powerdown maniacs.

Our use of the energy we have used so far, even apart from the global warming and other direct negative effects of the energy sources, has lead facilitated the sixth great mass extinction event in the history of complex life.

If that isn't enough to give us pause and to cause us to reflect a bit before grasping for massive quantities of new energy sources, I don't know what would be enough for us.


The art is alive, and will become industry again should the need arise.

Unsupported Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) nonsense??? You don't make any sense lengould.

Shortforming a post I made this site, different thread, a week or so ago. I coined RAPD as short for Radical Arbitrary Power Down.

As usual, the same old same old anti-technology stuff being posed against a worthwhile concept. It's started me thinking about some questions. Why is it acceptable to demand an arbitrary power-down of society even though sources of energy may be available which use renewable natural energy sources, renew their own construction, and pose no significant threat to long-term sustainable society? The primary rational presented is "because it will encourage population growth", but that argument is clearly false to anyone who has spent even two minutes studying world demographic trends. A secondary argument presented is "because such access to additional energy will simply enable humanity to bump into some other limit", with no proof presented that given simple access to energy all other limits can be dealt with, which appears to me to be true.

It appears that the real reason is that such people are hoping for a dramatic life-support-system crash which will "take out" all the people which the downers don't happen to like (different races in poorer countries, city-dwellers or especially suburb-dwellers in their own countries, liberals, etc. etc.) I can find no counter-argument for this position and will henceforth begin to raise it every time a "radical-arbitrary-power-down" (RAPD) comes on here or elsewhere. eg. You can expect to start seeing me posting "That's an unsupported RAPD position" on this site.

Thanks for the explanation. I think that if you can find the extra few seconds to type "Radical Arbitrary Power Down (RAPD)" for the next few weeks, your term might catch on. Can't expect people to learn the acronym by themselves, though.

Agreed, good advice. Will do, if necessary, though I hope not.

I agree. Inventing acronyms without spending at least a month spelling them out even on a site like this with a small group of highly regular users is not very good behavior.

An acronym dictionary containing all the ones found here would be a very good thing.

I like to think of myself as somewhat smarter than the average hillbilly or yeast colony,but I spend a good bit of time googling acronyms nevetrtheless.

First entry:

ADCATOFH = acronym dictionary containing all the ones found here

I agree with your sentiments, but each stupid "anti-technology-arbitrary-power-down" idea needs to be challenged, the RAPD abbreviation will not carry any weight( perhaps nothing will but it's worth trying).

We don't have to love our fellow suburban neighbors, but they have a fairly secure strong hold, high enough density to provide a critical mass to solve most problems, close enough to all infrastructure and support, low enough density to be self sufficient on a short term basis. Why would you want to live anywhere else? If times become tougher where would be better? An isolated rural location, a high rise? I don't think so. As long as the suburb is several meters above sea level, it seems the best place to be living for the next 100 years.

A few people got into a fight over water and 2 or 3 people got killed. It is unfortunate, but hardly a "machete-moshpit" in a country of 1.1 billion people. It has started raining again and the crisis has eased somewhat. I think you should quit exaggerating and looking for "machete-moshpits" everywhere.

steve from virginia,

"The condemned man believes he will be saved ..."
Its called hope, some cannot understand it's value.

The doomer man will always have a reason to expect a "hopeless outcome"; a great depression, deflation, hyperinflation, famine, pandemics, oil shortages, ignoring the fact that various societies have experienced these many times in last 100years....but if all else fails we still have nuclear war and asteroid strikes as good fall back disasters.

"Its called hope, some cannot understand it's value."

It has no value because it doesn't exist. In its place is marketing. Think about it. Hope always attaches itself to something that is desired.

Not having a battery car cannot be equated with any kind of grand social failure. Good grief!

Trying to get something that cannot be had can cause the very breakdown you wish to avoid.

Being unrealistic has no virtue regardless of how it makes you feel.

I see very little reason to hope, so I guess that makes me a Doomer. Is a RAPD Doomer one who believes that a voluntary power down is better than one enforced by Nature? (not sure) I'm not there yet, I still "hope" for a softer landing, but I see their point.

Hope buys the condemned man only short term psychological comfort. It actually makes his execution easier to carry out. "He kept his dignity to the end and died like a man." When they come for me I plan on crying, screaming, begging, puking, fighting back, and generally making the executioners as uncomfortable as I can before they do me in.

Hope is not necessary to face reality and do the right things. This was apparently widely understood in dark age Europe. (A post collapse scenario, BTW.) "The Northern Theory of Courage" was a favorite topic of J. R. R. Tolkein's. He apparently said it was the "chief contribution" to the modern world from the old literature he studied. (See Tom Shippy's books.) Not that Beowulf would have thought crying and screaming was the right thing, he'd probably treat the executioners with contempt. I don't want to steal your hope if you need it that's great. But I will point out that if yours are false hopes they will not only harm you, but might harm me as well.

I have a problem with "the fact that various societies have experienced these many times in last 100years..."
I can go along with Spanish flu and oil for WWI, an unfavorable peace settlement and poor finance policies leading to the others, and ultimately to the solution of WWII. This seems like a "one timer". Any other incidents were pretty isolated. I mean the "last 100years" pretty much excludes the Mayan collapse, etc. Maybe you meant the last 1000? But we live in a global economy now. Peak Oil, climate change, mass extinction, population overshoot occurring all at once all over the world will surely be worse than anything in the past.

And WWII was a pretty drastic solution resulting in tens of millions of deaths, mostly civilian. Where I grew up there was a reproduction of a painting hanging in the hall of my elementary school that showed a sleigh crowded with passengers being pursued by wolves. It depicted the passengers throwing one of their number off, to slow down the wolves. The adult solution?

And I'm not sure why you bring nuclear war and asteroid strikes in. Do you think they can't happen, or just aren't worth worrying about due to low probability, or that it's OK if they happen we'll deal with it? Not flaming just asking to better understand where you're coming from.

The timeframe and severity of collapse and the potential for some mitigation are the only reasons I read the posts and comments here.


The problem with doomer thinking is that it's very one dimensional. Take as an example some of Kunstler's ideas on his post "wobble time";
From a purely practical standpoint, the electric car is absurd. If they were produced on a mass basis, they would crash the electric grid -- assuming that the masses could afford to buy them, which assumes a lot. We simply don't have the electric generating capacity to run even one-quarter of the current car fleet on volts, and building the necessary nuclear or coal-fired power plants in five years is also an absurdity. (Don't expect wind, solar, biomass, or anything else to pick up the slack.)

basically his doomer assumption is that because presently the suburbs rely on oil for 90% of transport, in a world with 50% or 10% of today's oil, the suburbs will be abandoned.
I don't think it's assuming a lot that electric cars will be mass-produced or will be affordable, there are enough countries planning substantial subsidies to ensure a rapid uptake of electric vehicles. As for crashing the grid with one quarter of the car fleet(60 Million if you include light trucks), rather simple calculations show more than enough for electric power for overnight charging of 200Million vehicles. And why would not wind solar or biomass pick up the slack( apart from angry unemployed mobs roaming the countryside destroying every solar panel and wind turbine in sight; I mean credible reasons)?

On 27th April Kunstler writes about the Mexican swine flu(H1N1)
"My guess is that the fear emanating from the story will be a potent generator of paranoia in the meantime, leading to widespread closures of things, canceling of events, restrictions on travel (official or otherwise), and a sell off in the financial markets. And that's if the flu turns out not to amount to anything."
well 3 months on, we are now in the middle of a pandemic, I haven't noticed much in Australia at the peak of flu season, apart from some schools closing for a few days. Of course we now know the flu is the real deal, here is what Kunstler wrote 3 months ago;

" If the flu is the real deal, it will surely drive a stake through the faintly-beating heart of that invalid global economy, and possibly even continental-scaled economies like the US, the Euro-zone, and China -- any place where things and people have to move long distances to keep life going. The US, obviously, suffers in this instance from its proximity to Mexico, and the fact that so much of our food comes from places that employ casual Mexican labor. A serious flu outbreak would be a short path to food shortages in the US, with our three-day supermarket inventories and just-in-time shipping methods. It would not be such a bad idea now to lay in supplies of beans,brown rice, cooking oil, onions, and toilet paper..."

Does this make any sense, even if 50% of the population comes down with flu, they won't all get it in the same week. And is it a fact that so much of the US's food comes from places employing Mexican labor(or have all Mexicans stopped working)? Come on wheat, bread, beef pork, maize, milk all produced with Mexican labor? Hand picked fresh vegetables OK, are we going to starve if onions are not available for a few weeks?. Beans, rice, cooking oil are produced a year ahead so there should be 12 months stock piled requiring a few truck drivers who have recovered or not been infected to drive them to the supermarkets.
I am not saying flu pandemics are not serious, I have lived through 2 others before now, they are just do not live up to doomer expectations especially with anti-virals, and flu vaccines due to be released in a few months. In 1918-19 or 1957, or 1968, the world didn't have either of these.

I'm tempted to say that Kunstler and ilk are simply hoping for a crash, any reason will do. One then has to ask why?. The possible answers to that are few, nasty and revealing.

The possible answers to that are few, nasty and revealing.

I'd like to know what you think they are?


I have it in my explanation of RAPD above.

It appears that the real reason is that such people are hoping for a dramatic life-support-system crash which will "take out" all the people which the downers don't happen to like (different races in poorer countries, city-dwellers or especially suburb-dwellers in their own countries, liberals, etc. etc.)

Essentially I see it as the modern equivalent / replacement for racism.

Racism is just another way of saying I'm "special".

While I disagree with their conclusions on several fronts I do not ascribe foul motives to them.

There is a vast difference between wanting something to happen and seeing it as inevitable and trying to warn people about it. Thus is Cassandra's dilemma, which your comment illustrates nicely.

Your juvenile assumption that anyone predicting or anticipating negative outcomes of oil depletion is a doomer is quite tiring. Just because one accepts the reality of negative outcomes does not make one a doomer.

Doomers also have quite a bit of data supporting their position whereas there is very little data to support the notion that the staus quo will continue absent fossil fuels.

If you wish to remain in denial about the ramifications of peak oil please abandon your assaults on realists and head on over to the group peak oil denial blog www.peakoildebunked.blogspot.com

Note the banner on the top of the blog:

"Debunking peak oil hype with facts and figures, and exposing the agendas behind peak oil.

DISCLAIMER FOR IDIOTS: This site officially accepts that oil is finite, and will peak someday."

Just the sight for the likes of you. We TODders have a really long list of secret agenda items.

You err. I ONLY object to those minority of doomers who explicitly express the wish to suppress EVERY source of energy regardless of its sustainability, effect on the environment etc. Those who exploit the ending of cheap petroleum (which I readily grant) to demand radical restructuring of society in some form which pleases them but appears to me to be designed mainly to harm people in general or perhaps only that subset of people (foreign people in poor nations, suburbanites, liberal, etc. etc.) who displease them.


Actually, you err. Kunstler is absolutely not a doomer and he regularly refutes the doomer tag in his blog posts and interviews. I am not endorsing Kunstler, his views, or predictions; just pointing out that you are wrong in labeling Jim a doomer.

From time you have also labeled me a doomer when the post you commented on was absolutely not doomerish.

Go on now, get over to peakoildebunked and have some fun with the denial crowd. Keep on believing that peak oil is a trivial event.

'Kunstler is absolutely not a doomer and he regularly refutes the doomer tag in his blog posts and interviews.". Then we probably need a new word for someone who predicts half the population abandoning homes, food shortages angry mobs rampaging, economic meltdown as worse as the 1930's depression, while ignoring the range of energy resources and technologies available today in the US to replace all oil imports over the next 20 years( a gloomer?).
The quotes of his blogs above are good examples that he isn't prepared to consider any response to peak oil( or any other stress such as the flu pandemic) other than a severe or permanent collapse of the economy. On electric vehicles he is just wrong.
Few at this site would dispute that we are soon going to run out of oil cheap enough to waist burning in ICE vehicles, BUT it's not going to be the end of the world economy, unless we all do absolutely nothing except hold up in a cave with 10 years food supply waiting for the end of oil. At least the US now has a leader that has taken a number of very constructive steps towards making the transition.

There is a big difference saying peak oil is a going to be a trivial event and saying it's an event that will collapse the world economy as we know it today.

The world economy is collapsing all by itself. Credit excess and poor quality is an issue. The excess has not been cleared; only a very small amount of deleveraging has cost 16 million Americans and at least 20 million Chinese their jobs.

Question; how many jobs will the rest of the deleveraging cost?

Peak oil has come and gone - I measure by dollar price and others here measure by barrels per day. The effects are felt already; a systemic erosion of profitabilty of US companies. The loss of tax revenue and the increased expenses of supporting the sprawl infrastructure is bankrupting municipal governments. The governments themeselves will not 'fail' but the services that these entities provide will be cut dramatically. Tax and business revenue growth has been cancelled out by a long- term increase in oil prices since 1998- 99 of over 400%. Payment for that increase has to come from somewhere and that somewhere has been business profits. Loss of business profitability has forced job cuts and reduced tax revenues. The process is circular and self- reinforcing.

Tactics to work around the oil cost tariff include sending high- paying jobs overseas. Cheap labor plus high energy costs leaves a profit whereas expensive labor plus high energy costs leaves none. No profit equals no business. Pushing jobs overseas also eliminates customers. No customers also equals no business.

Expanding credit and structured finance to balloon asset values was also a tactic to hedge against rising oil/energy prices. You can see how that turned out.

The dilemma facing the Chinese is identical to ours. This indicates the economic difficulties are not debt- rooted as China has a large current account surplus and did not engage in any credit engineering. Nevertheless, the Chinese economy - as measured by taking note of both the actions and the remarks of Chinese officials - indicates the Chinese are facing indentical constraints emergent from rising input costs. An example would be the substitution of cheap Uighur labor in Chinese factories for more expensive Han Chinese labor.

As far as abandoning 'homes' there are millions of abandoned homes in the USA right now. According to the Census Bureau, the total is over 20 million vacant homes. There will be many more.

A problem is that the final and obvious manifestation of the economic or energy availability disfunction takes place long after the time has passed to take effective action. The same paradigm certainly is occuring with the third great dilemma, climate disruption. I personally don't want to see New York City, Calcutta, Miami, New Orleans, Venice or the Netherlands under 20 feet of sea water. I don't want to tempt the extinction fate. If it were up to me, the choices would be simple. Instead of trying to make incremental adjustments here and there around the periphery which are a waste of time, I would use tools that are sure to work. We have no time to waste.

Conservation works. It is simple, enforceable, durable, requires no additional adjustments and is fair. It also creates opportunities. Conservation in this case - with our three big dilemmas - will require a reduction of energy use by 50- 75%. That is a lot. In order to effect this and do so in ways that prevent many from suffering, priorities must be set. People would have to choose what is most important and jettison everything else.

These priorities aren't hard: reduced- petroleum (organic) food production, basic security, communications, electric power, rail transport, sewage treatment and public water service, waste recycling, resource area remediation, basic financial services, local level merchantile business, craft- artisan and workshop structuring, education, medical care for elderly and ill, disease prevention. Did I mention education? Teaching the million or so new farmers how to farm will be the difference between plenty and want, long and short term. Part of the 'American Dream' was the family farm, i fail to see anything doomerish about prioritizng this endeavor.

Natural sciences would be a priority.

Non- priorities would be status symbols and mass entertainment; diversions, finance, expanded government services, prison expansion, gambling and speculation, shopping for its own sake, auto use, vacations, airline travel, industrial agriculture, industrial scale mineral and resource extraction, industrial ocean transport which includes maintaining global commercial supply chains, defense and technology which is both energy intensive but with small returns such as nanotachnology or defense- oriented bio technology.

Fifty years of money for everything has filled the country from top to bottom with cheap, trash- garbage development. All of this has to be redone; this is probably the greatest single construction endeavor in the history of the world and will take generations. The single greatest shortage in the world right this minute is interesting and useful things to do. The task is right out front, begging to be started.

Why not this, an opportunity to leave somthing behind and useful skills, instead of the legacy of unemployment that inevitably accompanies industrialization.

We have two tools only to engage with the tremendous dilemmas that confront us. One is brutal and unflinching honesty. The other is the ability to endure. Everything else is a trap. The time for traps is done.

Steve, 100+

The only thing in your comment that I totally disagree with is this:

The single greatest shortage in the world right this minute is interesting and useful things to do.

I know that almost everything around me is becoming more interesting almost by the hour.

Case in point I went to my local city council marine advisory board meeting as a private citizen last night. It was most interesting to note that despite the push and momentum towards maintenance of BAU there are already many signs that reality is sinking in on many levels and people are becoming more and more aware that something is not quite right, they don't really have their finger on what it is but everyone is talking about doing things differently.

Let me just say that I least in my personal life I have not been bored recently and I am finding that people who even a few months back would have dismissed some of my ideas and opinions out of hand are at least giving me a chance to express them.

Lets be clear on something. A dramatic collapse of a few state budgets in the USA is NOT going to end the world, even if it causes some people to re-migrate back to places where water supplies are somewhat more available. Even a dramatic collapse of the entire US federal system won't "eliminate the use of automobiles / personal transport in the world". There are just too many other sufficiently independent locations in the world which would survive well enough to maintain the knowledge required to produce electric MoPeds and some autos for the elites. (China, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia, etc.) Not going to happen.

In the collapse of the Roman empire still ALL their technological advances and those from prior civilizations were carried on (concrete, arches, coinage, metal smelting, paper etc.) The Dark Ages were relatively nasty for Europeans for a while, but had no effect on the Chinese. The Dark Ages essentially amounted to a period of stagnation where improvements in knowledge were halted by an oppressive erroneous religious fanaticism called Christianity. May re-occur in the USA, but not everywhere.

An agreement in principle, perhaps? A collapse of a few state budgets is NOT the end of the world and NEITHER a car battery nor a battery car will save it.

You can keep your car, it has to be on blocks in the backyard to be used by the chickens.

I've come aross the same thing. A neighbor who is a John McCain Republican started castigating consumerism and it was quite a seismic shift. He's starting with the (flower) gardening, so the vegetable garden is right around the corner.

I find it's easier to talk about some of this stuff if I start; "You know where it talks about in the Bible, there are the end times? Well, these are the end times. Just like it says in the Bible."

Listeners will absorb pretty much anything after that point ...

I'm mot bored, either.


Does this make any sense, even if 50% of the population comes down with flu, they won't all get it in the same week.

If it spreads exponentially this flu season, the spike might be pretty high. Public health officials are concerned. Out health care system is not set up with surge capacity in mind , i.e. there are barely more than a few empty hospital beds during good times. The system will very likely be overwhelmed, which means that most cases at the peak of the wave will have to be treated at home.

We are in a bit of a race, vaccine availability and flu season are both predicted at about the same time. Whichever side suffers a delay will lose the race.


Its called hope, some cannot understand it's value.

Even fewer understand it's true nature - hope is bittersweet, at best.

Ask Pandora...

all of the evils, ills, diseases, and burdensome labor that mankind had not known previously, escaped from the jar, but it is said, that at the very bottom of her box, there lay hope.

But you are so, so wrong to assume that without hope, what is left is hopelessness. What is left is simply what is, and what will be...

Some readers of Green Car Congress (GCC) are skeptical about articles posted on GCC about EEStor.
Perhaps a more promising technology is the “spin battery”, a battery that is "charged" by applying a large magnetic field to nano-magnets in a device called a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ).
The electrical current made in this process is called a spin polarized current and finds use in a new technology called "spintronics.”

University Of Miami Physicist Develops Battery Using New Source Of Energy:



Again with the "new source of energy".

I don't really understand how you can store energy using "huge" magnetoresistance, and if I did, I probably couldn't explain it.

The new technology is a step towards the creation of computer hard drives with no moving parts, which would be much faster, less expensive and use less energy than current ones. In the future, the new battery could be developed to power cars.

Don't wait.

Interesting parallel, though. The EEStor guys previously worked in magnetic data storage. Why is powering cars always the next application for any discovery? That is the real problem.

Step right up to see the latest in technological innovation. It's just one step away from solving all our transportation needs and it has plenty of leg room.


I had a toy something like this when I was a kid. 'Cept it had four wheels rather than two and lacked a handle & kickstand.

I too had something like this except it lacked any wheels and pedals. It was a pogo-stick.


The fact of the shortage endpoint temperature is 3400C, indicates that a substantial amount of energy, comparable to perhaps 10% of chemical bond energy is involved. To think that that much of a change at the chemical bond level wouldn't change the properties much is a real stretch.

One could attempt to mitigate somewhat the discharge risk, by putting substantial resistance between the cells. At least then the time constant for the energy in a good capacitor to drain into a shorted one could be made longer. But I suspect the overheating of the bad cell, and any resisters would rapidly destroy the neighboring ones as well -so I think all you accomplish is to slowdown the meltdown somewhat.

In general ultracapacitors can't discharge as rapidly as the good quality stuff we are used to with the older technology (which can give up all their energy in microseconds to milliseconds), these babies require seconds to minutes, but it is still enough energy in a small enough space and time to cause safety issues. Generally also ultracapacitors have been pretty pricey. It would be great to add current ultracapacitors to current hybrids, as that would allow higher acceleration/deceleration at decent round trip (electrically) efficiency, but the price is way out of line with the benefit.

The key problem is having 5000+ points of failure. Perhaps one way around this is to make the aluminum connection from the common lead to each plate as small as necessary to allow only the amount of current flow in normal operation. If one particular dielectric fails, the two associated connections would fail, as in a fuse, and the only result would be one less unit.

Exactly. That possibility was immediately obvious to me as well, so I'd guess EEStor has seen it too.

I recall many years ago much publicity about a battery powered Corvair that drove across the US. The siler-zinc batteries were said to cost about $20,000. Of course the silver could be and surely was recycled.


To charge that thing in 3 minutes from empty to full, you would need about 1 Megawatt of electrical power. In Germany the usual one family house gets 15 kW of max power before the main fuse gives in. Let's say you use 10 kW to charge the EESU, you would need about 5 hours to fill it up (assuming you don't do too much else electricity related in that time).

So either you have a second unit at the house which you fill over the day and use it to quickly recharge your EESU or you connect up your car in the evening, program a timeframe between 5 and 10 hours and let your local utility manage how much juice you get at any given time, which could even have beneficial side effects on the power grid. A combination of both could work too, of course.

As for the explosion sceptics: Gasoline-driven cars are known to have some energy containment problems of their own, if the fuel-tank gets ruptured. And a special to the guy who used to blow up his µF-Elkos: They blow up because the heat vaporizes the liquid electrolyte inside of a hard casing. Doesn't work like that with a non-liquid. It will probably melt, but not vaporize, which takes the whole explosion-fun away.

Last not least the total consumption: Based on todays figures (about 175 billion gallons of fuel consumed, about 4000 billion kwH of electricity produced) and assuming that one EESU is about the equivalent of a 10 gallon tank, some additional 1000 billion kwH had to be produced to replace all vehicles on the road, which sounds at least doable, *if* you can do it without major grid replacements.

If a charging station had access to a 3500 volt power source then a 3 minute charge time would require 285 amps. At the 240 volts available to most homes we are talking about nearly 4200 amps. Rapid recharging is not a realistic option in most situations. Even using a slow 6 hour recharge when there are large numbers of EVs in the same parking lot then we have a reasonable power level multiplied maybe hundreds of times. Would we need large substations at every apartment complex and at every large employer? Consider just the amount of wire needed to put a socket at every parking place considering there are several parking spots available for each car on the road.

about 4000 billion kwH of electricity produced) and assuming that one EESU is about the equivalent of a 10 gallon tank, some additional 1000 billion kwH had to be produced to replace all vehicles on the road

Using your figures, that means that generation would need to produce about 1/4 more total energy than they do now, which could easily be handled simply by scheduling the charging into the valleys of the present typical load curve, eg. nights and weekends. The result would be a) some large baseload-capable fossil plants would spend more time at their peak efficiency rather than being turned down to very low and inefficient settings at night. b) a lot of very inefficient simple-cycle N Gas peakers could be turned off entirely. c) the grid could operate reliably with minimal to zero spinning reserve provided a good chunk of the charging units could be available to back down on command from the grid operator (in return for a reduced electricity price) and perhaps even provide some emergency power back to the grid if a gen station failed unexpectedly, until another unit could get started up, eg perhaps 1 hour. d) the charging units, if centrally communicating to the grid operator, could easily compensate for swings in output of intermitttent sources such as wind generation. e) eventually, additional baseload would be built to improve efficiencies over present peakers if running too much, but a smooth transition. Overall, easily do-able, highly beneficial and not very costly.

This sounds very much like snake oil.

Ultra-capacitors are great - I've played with them. BUT their failure is (comparatively) high internal resistance compared with standard caps (and batteries) - this means you get back a fraction of what you put in, as it gets lost in heat internally.

The force between plates is proportional to the voltage applied squared - which is why no one has solved the voltage problem - this is called physics and I'd be surprised if there is a short-cut. [Just to be clear - high voltage leads to physical crushing of the dielectric]

Love to be corrected if someone has derived an answer...

Correction. Snake oil has no sound. A better way to say it is that this smells or tastes like snake oil.

High voltage means that leakage currents can be high. Trying to get rid of a pesky carbon trace from an arc indicates that these will also need lots of maintenance. It seems to me that nobody should be handling these in any moist or contamination prone setting. (In contrast the piddly 12V car battery can have all sorts of leakage paths, no big deal as long as it is not egregious)

I have more experience dealing with and maintaining 10,000+ V electronics but 3500 is getting up there as well.

In order to correctly assess the potential of some energy storage devices or matter, I would strongly reccomend the following link of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, with an article titled "The Limits of Energy Storage Technology", by Kurt Znez House:


In summary, the situation is as follows, taking the lead-acid battery as reference (one) for the comparison ratios in energy density:

Limits of energy storage = in Mj/ in kWh/ Ratio

1 Kg of oil (1.16 l.)= 50/ 12/ 600
1 Kg of coal = 20 to 35/ 5 to 9,7/ 250 to 485
1 Kg. of natural gas = 55/ 13.2/ 660

Lead-Acid Battery = 0.1 per Kg/ 0.02 per Kg/ 1

Thermodynamic limit oflead-acid battery = 0.7 per Kg/ 0.14 per Kg/ 7
Lithium-ion Battery = 0.5 per Kg/ 0.12 per Kg/ 6
Thermodynamic limit of lithium-ion battery = 2 per Kg/ 0.5 per Kg/ 25
Thermodynamic limit of lithium-ion battery with silicon anodes = 3 per Kg/ 0,7 per Kg/ 35
Thermodynamic limit of lithium-ion battery with hydrogen-scandium = 5 per Kg/ 1.2 per Kg/ 60
Conventional Capacitor = 0.01 per Kg/ 0.0024 per Kg/ 0.12
Special Capacitor (I assume subject of the article) = 1 per Kg/ 0.24 per Kg/ 12
Limit of zinc-air battery = 1.3 per Kg/ 0.3 per Kg/ 15
Limit of theoretical zinc-pure oxide battery 5.3 per Kg/ 1.3 per Kg/ 65
Hydrogen at 700 bars 6 per litre/ 1.4 per litre

And now my American dear friends and colleagues: is there any possibility for an American born in a car and living for a couple of uniterrupted generations in the sprawl of the suburbia, to imagine a world with public transportation and different ways of mobility and transportation solutions, other than the sacred cow of the private car (Marvin Harris dixit)?

A couple of articles with much more data and comparisons (sorry, in Spanish language), at

(The Electric car as a replacement -of ICE cars- and its limits) and


(The "nose" of the electric car)

Best regards.

Pedro from Madrid

is there any possibility for an American born in a car and living for a couple of uniterrupted generations in the sprawl of the suburbia, to imagine a world with public transportation and different ways of mobility and transportation solutions, other than the sacred cow of the private car (Marvin Harris dixit)?
Why would they be any different to Europeans, who also travel >80% of kms by private vehicle. In both Europe and US these trips average less than 60km, so Lithium batteries have more than enough range for most trips. Not the same as a ICE vehicle but then mass-transit is not the same as a private transport vehicle either. All have limitations, none can provide 100% of transport.

Agree, Neil. All Americans and Europeans have transport limitations. Today, both can provide 100% of transport, and the evidence is the transport itself we all can see in the cities and roads.

The differnce between Americans and Europeans is mainly in the concept of cities. In old Europe, in most of the cities, specially the old ones, several or many centuries old, the distances between home and point of work (commuting) could be not so high. In the rural areas, houses in towns are packed, even to provide shadow to each other in summer and heat hrough the wall in winter, very much the contrary than in the rural (North)American rural urbanism. And own fields were close to homes (mostly within walking distance) to produce goods for a survival, local economy. The first development of an agriculture of big spaces to produce huge amounts of food to be transported to very long distances, being the commmerce the first target and the own feeding a seodnary issue, were in the big plains in mid America. Thus separating the food from the consumers and forcing transport.

The difference, is that "automobilization" took place first in (North)America and there most of the people has already born in a car. On the contrary, in Europe, 50 years ago, mobilization was very little through private automobile and a lot by collective transport means. Many living people in Europe has in their brains the information of the know how (how to do it, how does it work, how it is) in public transportation in big cities and of course in rural areas. Animal force was the rule in the 50s and 60's of last century in most of Southern Europe. Tractors, cars and vans were the very exception. Even more, they have in their memories that this was not so bad or painful, after all.

I note this feeling even among the many members and readers of TOD, very aware of the problem of fossil going through the slide,slope and cliff of the fossil fuel supplies. The American members very rarely think and propose collective means of transport as an alternative and spent most of their time with the same concept: how to evolve and how to solve the problem of depleting fossil fuel, but without touching a hair of the sacred private, individual 1 or 2,000 kg car, driven by a single 70 kilos, self transportable, human being, to continue with the way of living of going to buy a single loaf of bread several miles frmo home. As it is in this very thread.

Very rarely (a very, though isolated but encouraging example, was the past proposal of going back to trolley-buses and trams) propose a radical change in urbanism structures. Probably is because they see it almost impossible in this stage of development for their cities and human groupings. An impossible back to the future (even in the film imaginery, the future is always rich in energy: the Matrix, Back to the Tuture, Star Wars, etc. Even the classic and pioneering Mad Max, the very early warning film on the energy crisis, is all about action inside the private, individual metal box with wheels). That is the only difference.

In the rest, of course we are all going to face huge problems,when mobility starts to become more and more difficult. Both Americans and Europeans, the later copying the urbanism and transportation models of (North) America in the last decades.

All US cities have a mass-transit system, it would be very slow to expand this from moving <10% of person miles to say >90%. However, both US and EU have a very good alternative to oil powered ICE vehicles two actually, CNG conversions or new EV and PHEV's. Since vehicles are replaced about every 20 years but homes last for >100 years it seems a simpler option to replace the ICE vehicles.
I don't think it can be argued any longer that its technically not possible or not practical. It's not even clear that EV's are going to be any more expensive to operate.

We are definitely going to have shortages of oil and eventually all FF's, but it clear that even Europe with a much higher population density has very large economic wind energy available(about X10 more than expected consumption):


And N Africa has a very large solar potential closer to Europe than Canadian hydro is to US cities.
I see a big problem with future air travel.


It is a pity if you can not read my two above referred articles, as they are in Spanish and I have no time to put them in English.

As for the renewable energy plans for Europe from Northern Africa, I am actively involved in these projects and they are much, much more difficult to materialize than what the rosy press releases are indicating.

Just one year ago, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, launched the so called Solar Mediterranean Plan. It was aparently ambitious. It was about 20 GW of solar thermal plants,basically in Northern Africa, and some 30 billion euros investment to 2020.

See my comments and calculations on this Power Point illusion at


The "ambitious" plan represented, in the best case, less than 3% of the present electric consumption of the involved countries. It is still not identified who is going to put the money on the table (meaning subsidized money)

One year after, it is still press paper and Germans are producing it now.
This involves now thermo-electric solar plants and wind parks in the Atlantic coast (washed by the Atlantic trade winds, with about 3,000 hours nominal a year). Now they have 'shot the ball ahead' and are having much more ambitious plans to install about 200 GW, but by year 2050, with 400 billion euros.

Talking of these huge amounts of euros is very good, because they are also paper, like the press paper. But things have to build up with energy (usually fossil fuel depleting energy) and row materials, whose availability, as Ugo Bardi has put it here several times, are a direct function of the net energy availability.

And this is not still covering even a 30% of the European electric consumption of today by 2050, when oil, as we, the peak oilers believe, will be a vanished matter, a remote smelling in the gas tank taps.

Before replacing transport, it is a must to replace the electricity already generated by the depleting fossil fuels (first oil, then gas and them coal), because for every unit of energy in the electric output replaced, we can presume to save three units of fossil fuel energy, at the input side of the consumption.

However, it is not so clear that replacing ICE's by EV's is going to produce the same results of 3 by one.

Houses (in the suburbias and sprawl models) are certainly designed for 100 years and cars for 20, you are right. But ships are also built for 50 years and sometimes one has to be very aware, in some occassions, of when to jump out of the boat, before the life cycle has nominally ended, if the situation so demands it. Sometimes, the decisions have to be taken not only in amortization financial terms. And I am afraid that this is going to be the case sooner than later.

If moving a 70 kg self transporting being, with a 2,000 kg machine, consuming about 1/4 of gallon of gas or 30 kWh of electricity, to buy a single commodity, forgotten in the supermarket the day before, miles away from home, or if this self transportable being has to travel 40+40 daily miles to make it from his/her home to his/her job and return, this is UNSUSTAINABLE, be that ICE or EV and therefore, the argument of whether the EV or the ICE is nonsense, in my humble opinion.

The system is dead, anyway. It is not a question of comparable efficiencies of two unsustainable things, or a question of accepting the present status, because we belive it is "irreversible". If we do not revert it, soon, nature will revert it, no doubt.

I am not a religious person, but I think this quote deserves to be read. It is about what we are still lacking, even above the Ten Commandments, and about what we do not want to renounce to:

Matthew 19:16-24
The Rich Young Ruler

16And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?"

17And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."

18Then he said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness;

19 Honor you father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

20The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?"

21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

22But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

23And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

24"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Pedro from Madrid

24"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

**modern day equivalent
Holmes, I say to you, it is easier for a government to back their currency with real scrip, than for an American to enter a European car

Superheroes make sacrifices.

I vote for metal-air (eg. zinc-air, lithium-air, etc). You only have to carry one reactant and that could be made user replaceable to recharge.

Of course, a negative result might take awhile, as exemplified by the example of cold fusion research twenty years from the initial media splash. In that case, the dream that abundant energy can be obtained quite easily has kept research alive, despite the absence of either clear evidence or a plausible physical explanation

I must take issue with this.

Firstly, there have been at least one hundred(!) credible (ie University and military research level ) confirmations of the Cold Fusion phenomenon in at least a dozen countries over the past twenty years. In many cases, the anomalous exothermy (and helium evolution) has been 100 times greater than the error bars. What more clear physical evidence do you want ?
See www.lanr-canr.org for a large collection of papers on this topic.

Secondly, there is at least one very plausible physical explanation, see


- although since it is due to a quirk of quantum mechanics, some people might argue that this particular explanation is neither plausible nor physical !

It needs to be said however that no one has - so far - got anywhere near turning what is still just a fascinating laboratory phenomenon into a viable PO-mitigating technology.

In that case, the dream that abundant energy can be obtained quite easily has kept research alive, despite the absence of either clear evidence or a plausible physical explanation

I was gonna say that there is an alternative perspective: which is that the research has been kept alive by a succession of evidence-producing experiments and a potential plausible explanation, despite the ongoing chorus from the establishment to the contrary.

In a curious twist, New Scientist today publishes an interview with the 81 year old Fleischmann, and reviews the current state of the field.


... During the years following 1989, a number of researchers shrugged off scepticism about cold fusion and persevered with the field. As the numbers of reports of excess heat ran into the hundreds, scientists uncovered possible reasons why the major labs failed to get positive results, such as insufficient "loading" of deuterium in the electrodes. Patchy evidence also accumulated for several different by-products such as tritium, neutrons, helium-4, gamma rays and X-rays, which hint at a fusion reaction. ...

Anyway - back to big capacitors - then Flux Capacitors - leading of course to the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor http://bttf.wikia.com/wiki/Mr._Fusion

Patchy evidence also accumulated for several different by-products such as tritium, neutrons, helium-4, gamma rays and X-rays, which hint at a fusion reaction. ...

Words like "patchy" and "hints" keep getting used. I'm not going to debate CF here. A lot of people are claiming to find something. A factor of 10-100 higher number of people (including me) have looked but found nothing.

But my point was this: the main reason that this work has continued is because the prospect (of seemingly free energy) is so enticing, not because the evidence is strong enough to give pause that some new science is going on. People really want to believe it. Doing science with that lead weight around your head is always very dangerous.

Screw Fleischmann, I barely care what happened to him. I gave a scientific presentation 20 years ago, before his cold fusion debacle, and he openly criticized my results, saying that the effects were already known in the 1920's. No skin off my nose, as I got the impression that most people in attendance realized he was turning into a mean old coot.

People probably have forgotten what a pompous a-hole he was. But hey, if you need to make a living off of consultancies, that's the personality it takes (I guess).

Tell me when I sound too pompous ... I realize its hard not to when you fling math around.

If it helps, I thought he came across pompous in the interview, saying there was 'no option' but to do the press release or whatever before publication (like, he could've said "no" f'rinstance).

It's still interesting for those of us, erm, not personally invested - to get an update.

It looks like he will go to the grave believing he was right.

When people question EEStor's energy density figures of 350+ Wh/kg it is worth mentioning the patent US7466536 does include actual test data at 3500V and 5000V. Since EEStor got backing from one of the biggest and well known VCs one the planet (KPC&B) to suggest EEStor somehow fooled their investors by presenting fake data is just silly. Add Lockheed Martin's exclusive rights agreement with EEStor and it seems clear to me the investors risk was never in the science but in the manufacturing process.

Also here is a spec sheet (EESU-52) that recently leaked out. The spec is likely at least one year old, but is makes for some interesting reading. One of the posters at the TheEEStory blog did an excellent review post that analysed line by line each specification.

Update* Link to spec sheet fixed.

For that leakage current (4.3 microamps), the output resistance path is maybe 800 megohms. So it is using 15 mW of power just sitting there (for 3500V charge). Jacket insulation is often 1 gigohms.

It might be hard to keep trace conduction contamination from the contacts?

I havn't read the whole article in detail, or read the comments, however I have seached and thus far noone has mentioned this:

511 makes a torch called "light for life" that has a Capacitor in it. It a newish torch, and I dont believe its been done before.

It can be charged very quickly, and the battery does not "die" or wear out with many charger/dischage cycles the way a normal torch does. (apparently can do 50,000 cycles before its stuffed...)

The main draw back is the power density, and even though the torch is quite large it will only run a couple of hours on the capacitor pack. Compared to a normal torch that size/brightness using regular batteries you could get closer to 20 hours runtime (ie, 10x more)

Also, its not something they think they can do or whatever, its here, now, and actually exists, and if you have the money you can have one in your hand :P


Now if they scale that up a couple of 100 times I dont see why they couldn't propel a car 50km or so at least. We may have to reduce our expectations of being able to drive 500km without filling up... but still, better than a petrol car with no petrol.

Presumably, if regular batteries give ten times more runtime per unit volume, then the same applies compared to current automotive battery tech...

ie: scale whatever is in this torch up to fit the battery volume, and you get to go 10% of the distance of a current EV?

Of course, weight is a big factor here... Not sure how much an ultra-capacitor is supposed to weigh compared to an equivalent volume of lithium cells.

Still want the torch tho.

Actually - there's an article down below (or up above) that mentions taxis... Now there's a realistic thought, applying the tech available today in these torches - given the fast charge times, and taxi's that congregate at ranks etc, and the short journeys.

That's actually probably seriously doable - spend five minutes picking up enough charge for a couple of fare's while queuing, back to a rank - not so different to what goes on in many cities already.

Solar Cell Breakthrough

If the band-tail states are a fundamental property of the amorphous state, as seems likely, then one inescapable consequence is that amorphous semiconductors have intrinsic nonradiative recombination centers that cannot be removed, unlike the conventional defects and impurities in crystalline semiconductors. It is well known that nonradiative recombination limits the output voltage in solar cells. It has been shown (Tiedje,1982) that the band-tail distributions, inferred from the transport experiments described in this chapter, limit the output voltage of amorphous silicon solar cells to 1.0 V for material with an optical (Tauc) gap of 1.7 eV. For comparison, a crystalline semiconductor with the same gap limited only by nonradiative recombination would have a maximum output voltage of 1.4 eV.
T. Tiedje, in "Hydrogenated amorphous silicon" (1984) ed. Jacques I. Pankove

The following post describes my solution to one of the most enigmatic electrical mysteries in the behavior of disordered materials, that of the anomalous dispersive transport that occurs in amorphous silicon and other materials used in photovoltaics and solar cell technology:

There is still lots of room for analysis in the burgeoning field of electric storage technology.

Do you have a published paper or just a blog article?

Off the top of my head, it looks like carriers get stuck in traps for random amount of time before freeing themselves, thereby creating the conventional random walk correction to the simple diffusion model. Can you show this is not correct?

I agree that a high mobility material can lead to an ultra high speed photo-detector. If you are making a solar cell why would anybody care about mobility? The output power arrives a nanosecond later, big deal.

But what are the variations in the random-walk characteristics in a disordered material? This is what everyone has missed. Even Montroll and Scher, who came up with the random-walk model, punted at this point and had to fake a 1/t1-alpha factor in the waiting time distribution. I basically use maximum entropy principle to derive what this would be.

As far as your second comment, read the block-quote at the top. I would suggest that understanding of the basic physical principles is the key to coming up with technical innovations. The same principles that go into reducing the effectiveness of solar cell voltage also go into the anomalous transport mechanisms. The effective band gap gets reduced which effects both characteristics in similar ways. Time-of-flight measurements and spectroscopy are the ways that we can characterize solar cell materials, and therefore work to improve their efficiency. Don't worry, I realize that speed does not make a diff in solar cell output, but I do know what needs to be done to drum up interest in a topic.

The reason I don't have this published elsewhere is that the math is innovative and I was using it to describe oil depletion, and stumbled on the application for amorphous semiconductors.

We are all willing to look at things from a different perspective here on TOD, because that will ultimately lead to a breakthrough. As the EESTOR story shows, it is healthy to remain skeptical, but it also pays to keep your eyes open, as that leads to continuous paradigm changes (isn't that what Thomas Kuhn had in mind?).

Right now, the paradigm that I want to see changed is that no one really treats disorder as a macroscopically varying concept. The physicists are always looking for a fundamental property, such as a disordered Ising phase transition, and I am saying more mundane (but just as fundamental) statistical variations are at work. That is the case for oil discovery, and also for amorphous materials.

I'm trying to come up to speed on this topic. So you have come up with a better model for the distribution of traps in amorphous silicon than Montroll and Scheer (1975)? Or you have applied what we know from the diffusion of carriers in a trappy semiconductor to the diffusion of oil through porous rock? Or both?

The interesting takeaway is that Harvey Scher (of Montroll and Scher) has since stopped working on semiconductor materials and has applied his math to solute transport through soil and porous rock. He is simply a mathematician and really has no special expertise in any one discipline. He currently consults at an environmental geology research institurte in Israel.

There are no real analogs to trapping states in geologic material so that whatever Scher is doing by applying his dispersive transport random walk to solute migration comes down to pure statistical considerations. That is my take anyways.

The other point is that no one has actually applied the math for Montroll and Scher's formulation very carefully. Experimentalists tend to look at two power-law regimes and fit straight lines on a log-log scale and claim victory in matching Montroll & Scher's predictions. My formulation is a very compact closed form solution that actually works over a fairly wide dynamic range. The minute you can come up with something simple, it means that engineers can start updating their SPICE models and start to really understand what is happening with their devices.

By the same token this formulation has all sorts of applications for oil, which is where I started from. I find it fascinating how everything is linked together.

Thanks for your interest. I am fairly isolated working on this, so any ideas are good ideas, AFAIAC.

I'm an integrated circuit designer when I have a job. Transister grade silicon isn't as trappy as the amorphous silicon.

One application would be switched capacitor circuits where the distribution of channel charge when you turn off a switch (CMOS transistor) is poorly understood. Switch cap circuits are typically driven by non-overlapping phased clocks. If you can come up with a spice model for how much current will leak through vs. the delay time between switch phases.

Cool. I know that meta-stability at power up is not very well understood and randomness can definitely effect this. This CMOS issue seems to be under the same class of problems in unpredictability.

Hey WHT, I followed your link and to be honest was barely able to muddle through the math and physics. Disclaimer, I have a hard time understanding a simplified explanation of a PN junction, so a lot of what you say was a bit beyond my level of comprehension but I still found it interesting to say the least!

However I did find some strange behavior in the display of text, specifically your quotes flowing over your graphs, which may be an artifact of the FireFox Browser I'm using at the moment. I'll check back later and try it with IE. Thought you might want to know about that little anomaly as well ;-)

Thanks. Google Docs has a feature that you can post directly to a blog. I tried using that and the formatting is not the best apparently. Therefore, the spillage.

Any propulsion source that can propel a vehicle 200 miles is going to contain a lot of energy. And the consequences of releasing all that energy at once, whether it is gasoline, a lithium battery, or an ultracapacitor is going to be bad. The issue becomes the probability of said catastrophic event happenning rather than hoping to survive it. ISTM that putting a reverse biased diode in series with the capacitor will prevent any hazard.

Having said that, the F-word that comes to my mind is fraud. I don't believe it.

In the review of EESTOR, I see three problems but one opportunity:

(1) Parallel or Series. The post has

"the individual energy storage units (capacitors) are connected in parallel"


"3500 volts".

For 3500 volts, I have to believe that the individual capacitors are connected in series, not parallel. I concede that maybe the capacitors are physically mounted in 'parallel' and maybe are charged in parallel and after charging are connected in series.

(2) Energy Stored. The post says that the capacitor can store up to 188,000,000 Joules of energy.

But at


we see that one gallon of gasoline, burned, releases about 132,000,000 Joules of energy.

So, the capacitor has the energy of a grand total of

188,000,000 / 132,000,000 = 1.424

gallons of gasoline. People would not be thrilled to have a car with a gas tank with capacity of only 1.424 gallons of gasoline.

Yes, an electric motor can be more efficient than a gasoline engine, transmission, etc., and the post suggested a factor of 5. I would be more comfortable with a factor of 4 or 3 but here will use 5.

So, using this factor of 5, the capacitor would effectively have the energy of

5 * 188,000,000 / 132,000,000 = 7.121

gallons of gasoline. That's still small for the capacity of a tank of gasoline.

With two such capacitors could have something closer to a gasoline fueled car, but two capacitors would weigh

2 * 281.56 = 563

pounds which is heavy for a small, light, energy-efficient car.



we see that the density of gasoline is


pounds per gallon. So with our factor of 5, the gasoline for the

2 * 281.56 = 563

pounds of capacitors would weigh

2 * 6.073 * 7.121 = 86.5

pounds. Continuing, per unit of energy stored, the capacitor is

563 / 86.5 = 6.51

times heavier than gasoline in a tank.

(3) Charging Time. The post has the goal of

"fill it up without spending a fortune or more than a few minutes of time"

Okay, the power of one Watt is the energy of one Joule per second.

The picture in the post shows a common household electrical plug. Commonly the wall socket for such a plug supplies at most 15 amps at 115 volts. To get the power in Watts, we just multiply amps times volts and get

15 * 115 = 1,725

To charge one capacitor with energy of

188,000,000 Joules

would take all the power of such a wall socket for

188,000,000 / ( 1,725 * 60 ) = 1,816

minutes and not the "few minutes" in the post.

Okay, suppose we run to the garage a connection like that for an electric stove, 50 amps at 230 volts. Then the charging time would be

188,000,000 / ( 50 * 230 * 60 ) = 272

minutes. Okay, suppose we use all the power of a common house, 100 amps at 230 volts: Our charging time would be

188,000,000 / ( 100 * 230 * 60 ) = 136

minutes or over two hours.

To charge in 5 minutes we would need a connection of 230 volts with

188,000,000 / ( 5 * 230 * 60 ) = 2,724

amps, that is, the full power of a little over 27 houses, i.e., the neighborhood, or

230 * 188,000,000 / ( 5 * 230 * 60 ) = 626,667

Watts. Also we need this power as direct current so need to do a conversion, and that will not be cheap and will lower efficiency.

The US electrical grid, from wall socket to generating plant, is not nearly ready for such power demands.

And those charging times were for the equivalent of just

5 * 188,000,000 / 132,000,000 = 7.121

gallons of gasoline which would need charging much sooner than we would like. For two capacitors, would need twice the electrical power or

2 * 230 * 188,000,000 / ( 5 * 230 * 60 ) = 1,253,333

Watts which means that one nuclear power plant of 1 gigawatt could charge

1,000,000,000 / 1,253,333 = 798

cars at once. Hmm .... So, near a modest city, to get 100,000 people ready for their morning commute to work, charging all at the same time, we would need

100,000 / ( 1,000,000,000 / 1,253,333 ) = 125

1 gigawatt nuclear power plants. Hmm .... Okay, we stagger the charging to need only 10% this many plants: We are still looking at 12.5 plants for a modest sized city.

My conclusion is that, with EESTOR or not, converting US cars from gasoline to all electric is absurd, not just a little challenging, not just a small stretch, but laughably absurd like something in the local Happy Acres funny farm. E.g., even if we have a dream capacitor, both the total energy needed for charging, say, for everyone in a modest sized city for their commute to work, and the charging time are laughable.

(4) Opportunity. A capacitor does have some potential for a car. So, could have a gasoline engine that runs at just one power setting and, at that setting, is especially efficient, and use the engine to charge the capacitor. Also, when connect the electric motors to the wheels, arrange a switch for the field coils so that those motors can act as generators and provide the braking. Then get to recover much of the energy now lost in braking, and in stop and go traffic the savings could be significant.

For some purposes, e.g., driving up the Rocky Mountains at 65 MPH with a car full of people and baggage on a hot day with the A/C on, still need a LOT of power, not just for a few seconds at a time but all the way up the hill. So, for this actually do need a significantly large engine, say, 100 HP unless want to pass trucks when will want, say, 200 HP. A ceramic gas turbine, anyone?

So, a capacitor in a 'hybrid'? Maybe.

Conclusion. Generally for energy for cars and light trucks, the US should forget about all-electric vehicles and work really hard on how to get much better supplies of gasoline. So, we should drill, baby, drill, make gasoline from coal and oil shale, use engineered microbes, etc. We should get methane, from natural gas or engineered microbes, and use it in fleet vehicles, etc.

Also, the US is just awash in world-class products and services, and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq are just awash in oil and have nearly nothing else. So, we should exchange.

The all-electric car is a wasteful, distracting detour from reality and essentially only for people who are smoking funny green stuff, can't understand the arithmetic of eighth grade general science above, or are charlatans selling a flim-flam scam to ignorant neurotics.

Q. But, but, but, you didn't mention the danger of CO2 and its result, global warming. The earth is close to the tipping point of disaster that would make the poles like the temperate zones and make all the rest lifeless deserts.

A. Where, oh where, have you been getting that really strong funny stuff you've been smoking?

Let's dispose of VP Gore, President's Science Adviser. John Holdren, the IPCC, the EPA, all with just two URLs:

First, in the graph on page 2 of the US National Research Council study at


the temperature of the earth in year 1950 was essentially exactly the same as in the year 1000.

Second, in the graph of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration at


the temperature of the contiguous US in year 2008 was within a trivial 0.1 C of the average from year 1885 through year 2008.

Net, there's no significant global warming since year 1000 from humans or anything else.

All that's required is just being able to read a graph.

The above post could be regarded, perhaps should be taken, by many as a case study in how intelligent rational people can fall back on comfortable logical fallacies (in this case, a 'straw man' embodied by mr A. Gore et al; the moment that the evidence stacks up against their world-view.

I find it interesting, but unexciting.

(on a separate note, observe that the carefully calculated numbers assume each vehicle needs a full 100% daily (morningly) charge, kindly staggered over a limited period, arbitrarily dividing load by 10, rather than actual required load over time available)

Basically I'm saying, for anyone who bought the above post - you need to re-calibrate your bullshit detectors, specifically for any argument that starts out well, and then sucks you into unsupported nonsense as it goes on...

[EDIT: Reading WHT's post below - you could substitute 'any argument that appears to start out well']

Your "bullshit detector" has its false alarm rate set too high and needs to be readjusted.

There's nothing wrong with what I wrote. There is no "unsupported nonsense".

In particular for the response of





"Bottom line, I would think they have be in parallel."

is wrong as I show in detail below in


What I said in my first post to this thread was correct: Can charge the capacitors in parallel at low voltage and then connect them in series to get high voltage. As you reconnect, the energy in the capacitors, which is what really matters for driving a motor, remains the same. Yes, the capacitance falls, but that doesn't matter; again, what does matter is that the energy stays the same. So, get the current at higher voltage and, thus, less current. Law of conservation of energy wins again.

Why higher voltage? Transmit the energy to the electric motors with less current and, thus, get to use lighter wires and, then, save a lot on cost and weight of, say, copper.

For your

"(on a separate note, observe that the carefully calculated numbers assume each vehicle needs a full 100% daily (morningly) charge, kindly staggered over a limited period, arbitrarily dividing load by 10, rather than actual required load over time available)"

relax and turn down your danger detector. You are not being fooled. Math doesn't give any results; instead, math gives results only when given some assumptions. My math is correct. For the assumptions, I clearly stated two scenarios, (1) charging all the cars at once each morning and (2) charging all of them, but 10% of them at once, each morning. Those are just scenarios, just simple assumptions to get some ballpark numbers for the number of 1 GW power plants that would be required. The intended intuitive, qualitative conclusion is just that the number of plants is surprisingly large. Better assumptions would give better ballpark numbers but would likely be more complicated. If can get some data, say, on number of cars per gas station, etc., then could get a better ballpark estimate. Still, the qualitative conclusion is, for the US electric grid, charging cars ready for morning commuting would take a LOT of energy, really, many new generating plants.

There's, then, a related qualitative conclusion: For driving cars and compared with electricity, gasoline is miracle stuff with a LOT of energy per pound and per gallon that we know how to use very well and that gives us a LOT of energy compared with what we currently commonly get from the electric grid. So, don't look to the electric grid to replace the energy in gasoline easily. Moreover, and my main point, for having most of the US cars all electric cars, for anytime soon, f'get about it. If do insist on most of the cars being all electric, then start building electric generating plants quickly. For another point, stay with gasoline and do all we can to get cheap, secure supplies of a LOT of gasoline. E.g., drill on US lands, convert from shale oil, convert from coal, use engineered microbes, etc.

For your

"I find it interesting, but unexciting."

you will find what I wrote very interesting once you are very excited, outraged, as 'carbon taxes' kick in as in H.R. 2454, the 'American Clean Energy And Security Act of 2009' or as President Obama, as a candidate, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, on 1/17/2008, at



"So, if someone wants to build a coal fire plant, they can it's just it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, and biodiesel, and other alternative energy approaches."

That's about half the electric power generating capacity of the US and should get you both interested and excited. As your costs of electric power and everything that uses electric power increases to contribute to the "billions", you stand to get both interested and excited.

For your

"'straw man' embodied by mr A. Gore et al"

H.R. 2454, the 'American Clean Energy And Security Act of 2009' and Obama's 1/17/2008 show that I am mentioning no "straw men".

I only got to the point of you suggesting that they are connected in series. Work out Kirchoff's law on such a configuration and you will see that CdV/dt is the current through the circuit and since it is conserved across the nodes, if the voltage is then equally divided across each of the caps, then C_total=C/N, where N is the number of caps that you placed in series.

This basically reduces the effective capacitance, which is not what I think they are after. Practically speaking, what is happening is that the capacitors are working in charging each other up, and not working efficiently to provide practical power to the load.

Capacitance is in some ways a non-intuitive concept and people have a much easier time with resistors, which add in a more intuitive fashion. Another way of thinking about this is that putting them in series increases the effective plate separation by N, which gives the configuration less capacitance.

Bottom line, I would think they have be in parallel.

Point well taken. I was misled by the 3500 volts. It's been too many years since I studied E&M although I do currently have Jackson for bedtime reading!

To make the capacitors work to supply the energy, have to connect them in parallel.

But then there's the question of how to get the 3500 volts? Tough to believe that the microscopically thin insulators could withstand 3500 volts.

Okay, I looked again at four pages of one of my old E&M books.

So let's take a capacitor and put charge Q on it at which time it has electric potential (electro-motive force) V. We measure charge Q in Coulombs and electric potential V in Volts. Since Coulomb and Volta were real persons, I capitalize the corresponding units -- similarly for Watt and Joule.

Now from experiment or derivations from capacitor geometry, we know that, for whatever pair of Q and V we use, they are proportional. So there is some constant C such that Q = CV. This constant is called the 'capacitance' and is measured in farads (from Michael Faraday, but I am not capitalizing the word farad). So if in our capacitor, when Q is 1 Coulomb we have that V is 1 Volt, then C is 1 farad. Commonly in electronic circuits, capacitors are 1 micro farad or even 1 micro-micro farad. A 1 farad capacitor is enormous.

Okay, when we run charge Q into our capacitor, we put energy into it. Let's see how much energy. Let's use E to denote energy and measure energy in Joules.

Suppose we use t to denote time and measure time in seconds. Suppose we regard Q, V, and E as functions of time. So we have functions Q(t), V(t), E(t).

So at time t we have Q(t) = CV(t). Suppose, as is traditional in physics, in small additional time h we feed in a small additional charge q which increases the energy by a small amount e. Then

(Q(t) + q) V(t) ~ E(t) + e


q V(t) ~ e

Dividing by h and taking the limit as h --> 0 and using prime to denote first derivative from elementary calculus, we have that

Q'(t) V(t) = E'(t)


C V'(t) V(t) = E'(t)

Assuming that at time t = 0 we have V(0) = 0 and E(0) = 0, from the fundamental theorem of calculus we get

E(t) = (C/2) V^2(t)

Now suppose for some positive integer n we have n capacitors with capacitance C.

Let's connect these capacitors in parallel and let C1 be the resulting capacitance. Then fairly easily C1 = n C.

Now let's charge these capacitors to electric potential V1 = V.

The energy is E1 = ( n C / 2 ) V^2

Now let's disconnect these capacitors and arrange them in series with the positive terminal of one capacitor connected to the negative terminal of the next capacitor.

Since the charge per capacitor has not changed but the voltage of the arrangement is now

V2 = n V1 = n V

and letting C2 be the capacitance of the new arrangement, we have

Q = C2 ( n V )

so that C2 = C/n and the energy E2 of the series arrangement is

E2 = ( C / 2 n ) ( n V )^2

= ( n C / 2 ) V^2

= E1

So we can (1) arrange the capacitors in parallel, (2) charge the capacitors to voltage V and energy E; (3) rearrange the capacitors in series and get voltage (n V) but the same energy E. This is what I was assuming, intuitively, from being rusty at E&M, in my post to explain how EESTOR got 3500 Volts from some capacitors with microscopically thin distances between the two plates. Now we know that my assumption about the E&M theory was correct.

But further reading on the Internet suggests that, actually, the 3500 volts comes from some electronic voltage conversion circuitry that EESTOR intends to ship inside the black box of their product. So it is not clear how the capacitors are connected inside the box. But for n capacitors, if each capacitor is charged to energy E, connecting in series or parallel can change V but not E.

Once again conservation of energy wins!


That's the same as what I derived except in the case of all the capacitors the same.

What's important for driving a motor is the energy in the capacitor, not the capacitance.

But you made a mistake.

You essentially started with pre-charged capacitors and then magically connected them in series after the fact. That is not the same thing as connecting them in series and applying a voltage (3500V) across the whole string. The thing then behaves as a single capacitor (with a very small capacitance). And the the energy stored is given by the simple E=1/2CV^2 (again, within limits).

Stop already.

I find that one step he did of magically connecting them in series fascinating. It's like a whodunnit and somebody places a McGuffin in the story. Trying to find the McGuffin is the challenge because the rest reads logically.

No I did not make a mistake, you did. You keep getting this wrong. You're confused.

There's no magic.

From Q = CV, with Q the charge, C the capacitance, and V the voltage, keep Q the same and use a smaller C and get a larger V. So, right: If connect in series, then get a smaller C. That's not a problem.

Could charge the capacitors in series but just would have to use a voltage source with higher V.

Or, can charge in parallel at low voltage, connect in series, and get high voltage. The current that comes out is less but at higher voltage. Net, the energy is the same.

You believe this for rechargeable batteries: Take the batteries out of the device, charge them one at a time or in parallel, and then put them back in the device in series.

Let's go over it again:

Start with one capacitor of capacitance C. Put in charge Q and get voltage across the plates V. The energy is E = (C/2)V^2.

Now for some positive integer n, use n capacitors of capacitance C and do this n times. Have put in charge nQ and again obtained across each plate voltage V. The energy is E = n(C/2)V^2 = (nC/2)V^2 just as in the energy equation E = (C/2)V*2.

Now connect the charged capacitors in parallel. Connect all the negative terminals together and connect all the positive terminals together. Nothing happens.

The parallel arrangement has capacitance nC, charge nQ, and voltage V, just as we expect. Since the capacitance is now nC, we still satisfy the equation Q = CV, that is, we have nQ = (nC)V. Using the energy equation, the energy is E = (nC/2)V^2 = n(C/2)V^2 just as for the charged separate capacitors before we connected them in parallel.

Could discharge these capacitors. Would get energy E = (nC/2)V^2 and charge nQ.

Then could charge the parallel capacitors again and would put in charge nQ and have voltage V again. Again, we satisfy the equation Q = CV: We have nQ = (nC)V.

Or could take the charged capacitors connected in parallel and disconnect them. Nothing happens. Now we are back to n separate charged capacitors. The total energy is still the same.

Now we can connect the separate charged capacitors in series, connecting a positive terminal to a negative terminal. Nothing happens -- no sparks, no smoke.

Then each plate still has voltage V so that in series the whole arrangement has voltage nV. The capacitance is C/n. If we discharge, we get current of only Q. That is, as soon as current Q flows, the last capacitor in the series has voltage 0. But we got charge Q starting at voltage nV from the whole series. Actually, after removing charge Q, all the capacitors in the series have 0 charge and 0 voltage. The whole series has 0 charge, 0 voltage, and 0 energy.

Again we satisfy the equation Q = CV because Q = (C/n)(nV). The energy is E = (C/2n)(nV)^2 = (nC/2)V^2 as in the parallel arrangement.

If we discharge the series arrangement and want to charge it again, then we will need a power source with voltage not just V but nV but we will need only current Q.

Law of conservation of energy wins again.

Uh, there are a lot of colleges; sign up for a course. Or, just think about it. I've explained it to you three times now. You're not that dense; instead you just don't want to think about it or admit you blew it. But you did blow it, repeatedly. THINK about it. Then tell the rest of us that you finally understand and are not that dense.

Now we can connect the separate charged capacitors in series, connecting a positive terminal to a negative terminal. Nothing happens -- no sparks, no smoke.

The two terminals described have equal and opposite charges. One has an electron excess with respect to the other. If you connect them, you have one continuous metal -- which being a metal, cannot support an internal electric field. It (instantaneously) represents an extremely excited state for the metal. It will decay to a lower energy state, one with the electrons uniformly distributed, giving off heat or photons. It will be at 0 volts with respect to the other plates. Energy is conserved, but not within the capacitor.

The potential of the terminals relative to each other is not fixed by the charges.

As the electrical engineer in residence, and given the way in which this subthread came to my attention, I am forced to speak:  Realist_Skeptic has both his facts and his arithmetic right (at least this far).

If you are forced to speak, at least say something worthwhile.

You want something worthwhile?  Since you used that tone with me, I'll give you TWO things.

  • The potential of the plates of the individual capacitors are fixed relative to each other by the amount of charge and the value of the capacitance, C.  However, the potential of the entire capacitor can vary by e.g. being carried up or down a potential gradient; since the net charge on the capacitor as a whole is zero, no energy needs to be expended to do this.  Therefore, there is no problem with taking a set of capacitors connected in parallel, charging them, disconnecting them from each other, and reconnecting them in series.  In fact, this is exactly how some schemes work to step up DC voltages.  This is all first- or second-year EE stuff, and even some people who only study electronic theory for ham radio licences will have it cold.  (I offer no opinion on EESTOR's scheme, and believe that if individual cells operate at less than 3500 V it would be counterproductive to connect them in series because of the impractical voltages resulting.)
  • It is better to be silent and be thought an idiot....

Now, it is possible that Realist_Skeptic has some of his facts wrong elsewhere, or has made unwarranted leaps of speculation.  But so far as I can tell in this subthread, he has his basics right (though his speculations seem to be getting out there).  Railing at him when he's got his facts right just damages your credibility; it's the kind of thing that free-energy cranks do when confronted by physicists.

Now that we have added rectification and active elements to the mix, anything is possible. I suggest that EESTOR is taking the DC voltage, applying a DC-AC voltage converter, pumping up the AC voltage using a step-up transformer and then applying another AC-DC stage using a diode bridge plus filter to get the high DC voltage.

After all, it is all shrouded in mystery and one idea is as good as another.

Why, oh why did we all get sucked up in this insanity?

Sometimes I think that figuring out how much oil that the Saudi's have is an easier nut to crack than dealing with the American hype-machine.

Why would they do that? They don't need 3500 volts to drive the car, but they do need 3500 volts and the 30 farad capacitance to get the energy they need. It's not as simple as tens of thousands of caps hardwired together, though.

There is this tendency of mine to speculate on secrecy, though.

Aha, yes that is the question.

What if someone like LockheedMartin wants to create a weapon?

Also for servo motors, there are low voltage and high voltage variations. The current military ground vehicles are all hybrid electric drives and use a variety of servos to rotate turrets, etc. Some of these I believe operate at least 100's of volts.

The defense industry is built on secrecy, and bluffing to your adversaries that what we have is more powerful than what they have is the norm.

So one question is how much EEStor relies on the DoD for their strategic plan.

DC-DC step-up converters resemble the electric equivalent of hydraulic rams more than your description.

Which is all irrelevant.  The optimum voltage for light-duty vehicle motor systems appears to be in the region of 300-600 volts, and safety considerations argue for lower voltages (the latest Prius runs the motors and battery at different voltages).  There is no reason to have any part of a storage system operating at 3500 volts unless it is required by its characteristics.  The claim of 3500 V operating voltage is consistent with a storage system of novel characteristics, though (3 years after it first got onto my radar) it fails to resolve the question of whether or not the whole thing is real.

But it only takes one technology to do this.  If it's not EEStor, A123 batteries getting cheaper can do it.  Even Firefly Energy's 3D² cells will suffice.

Of course my description of the actual step-up configuration probably doesn't match, that was my point. Technology allows all sorts of possibilities for this aspect of energy conservation.

The whole issue of this discussion is that you don't waste high capacitance devices by putting them in series when charging them.
If that were the case, we could also place a straight piece of wire in parallel with a coil to build up inductive energy. Or how about this one: you don't place a Casio calculator in series with a Cray to speed up some numerical calculation. However, you can do a bunch of calculations in parallel on your Casio and incrementally improve performance (Amdahl's Law and the Von Neumann bottleneck applied).

In this case the step-up analogy becomes silly as an ex post facto argument. After the calculations are done in parallel, someone comes along and serially concatenates them and then claims victory, saying that he has somehow sped up the solution by serializing. I know what I have just stated is dangerous, since you said ....

"It is better to be silent and be thought an idiot...."

You know, no risk=no reward.

I still think that RS was using the Chewbacca Defense in arguing for something that didn't address the original point.

The chewbacca defense? Is that when you pull arms out when you lose? I find it an extremely good debate tactics.

The electronics are well understood to people who well understand the electronics. The capacitor is irreproducible, particularly the non-saturating barium titanite.

Thank you.


I concede that I might be wrong in the manner in which I am thinking about the problem of connecting (or more) identically charged capacitors in series. I don't claim to be right about everything, but I will argue until I understand where I am wrong. I don't think your insults are worth commenting on further.

Regarding the EEStor unit, there is nothing in the patent which suggests that it is designed to be charged in parallel (to a lower voltage) and then reconnected in series. Quite the contrary. For example, they give data on breakdown voltage for individual capacitors (9 micron thick) of 5500 volts. If they are going to get to 3500 volts by first charging parallel-connected components to much smaller voltages and then reconnecting, this seems pointless. Similar for the leakage current measurements across a single capacitor at 3500 volts.

While I disagree with much of what you have argued elsewhere in the comments, I do agree that there difficulties will arise in trying to charge an electric car for everybody. I will have a future post on this.

Misled by the premise at worst.

Nowhere did they say that they were using the capacitors in a charge pump or step up configuration. This clearly indicates that they are charging in parallel, no question. Whatever they do after this is a different matter.

According to some people on this thread you need a Ham Radio license to formally discuss anything.

Actually what you need is some experience in the defense industry. This is all first- or second-year defense industry stuff, and even some people who only study electronic theory for video war gaming will have it cold. The deal is that EEStor is getting exclusive rights from Lockheed Martin, and what is LockMart interested in but kinetic energy and especially directed energy weapons, which are the descendants of rail guns. A directed energy weapon in this case is essentially "lightning in a bottle", and you need some way to control the path. In terms of rail guns, it is relatively simple, a set of conducting rails to propel a projectile. More elaborate configurations use a high energy laser to ionize a trace path through the atmosphere that the bolt of lightning emanating from the stored energy source will follow. This is actually a controlled lightning ball. In this case, you need the DC step-up configuration to "jump the gap" and get the ball of energy to follow the path.

There is a very good analog here to the way that natural lightning works. Try this for a thought experiment: assume billions of parallel capacitors (charged water droplets) and take one of the droplets out and put it in series. This could actually be the equivalent capacitance from the cloud layer to the ground. The transient step- up as the discharge occurs will be some huge voltage and the lightning will result. The point is that charge is built up in parallel, and only through an appropriate path will that energy get released. The energy is conserved taking resistive losses into consideration.

This is all in keeping with other discussions on the topic in terms of the incredible energy stored and the damage it could do. I actually posted on this almost three years ago and eventually jumped to the same conclusion regarding an eventual application.


And remember as a bottom line, this is still an energy conversion problem, and as JoulesBurn well understands doesn't get at the heart of energy sources and the depletion of fossil fuel.

Thanks, WHT.

Let's say for a moment that the EESU actually can store 52 kWh (not just charge up) in a fully parallel configuration at 3.5 kV. What kind of potential could be realized with a step-up switching?

Thanks for the links. I'll read more about power electronics sometime, and I'll probably understand it long after that.

I was thinking that LockMart may actually get multiple of these devices and bank them together in some special configuration. These could either be in parallel or perhaps some more in series to get their directed energy devices to work properly. I don't actually know exactly what voltage is required to trigger the release, but I know it is at thousands of volts per inch in air, which is what I had to fight years ago when I worked with high-energy electron scientific equipment years ago.

BTW, these also could be used for laser energy weapons which also require huge amounts of instantaneous power.

You can potentially create megavolts. As long as you aren't drawing any power from it. If you want high voltages, rub you feet on the carpet and touch a door knob.

It like those homemade motors that turns a shaft real real fast but the shaft isn't connect to a load. It takes very little power to do that.

energy storage = 1/2cv^2. c in farads. Farads are a silly number, kind of like calling the distance from the earth to the moon a mile. 30 farads is an incredible amount of power.

Caps in series are additive in voltage but if of equal capacitance, total capacitance is divided by the number of caps.

10 100VDC caps of 10uF in series equals 1000VDC 1uF.

In parallel capacitance is cumulative and voltage constant.

10 100VDC caps of 10uF in parallel equals 100VDC 100uF.

30 farads is an incredible amount of power

30 farads is an incredible amount of capacitance.

energy storage = 1/2cv^2

As nicely explained in the main post above, this is of course only valid in the linear regime, i.e. for rather small voltages.

We are talking power electronics here. Capacitance is stored power.

Well, I prefer to stay in the world of physics. And there, power and capacitance are quite different things.

Capacitance is stored power.

Stored power? What can that be? I have a rather good idea about what "stored energy" might mean, but stored power?
I don't want to insist on meaningless semantics, but in a technical discussion, we should at least be precise and not assume that everyone reading TOD will know what is meant.

Above I derived E = (C/2)V^2 without assuming linearity or small voltages. The equation holds until the capacitor quits acting line one, e.g., arcs across the plates from too much voltage.

All that's required is just being able to read a graph.

But are you sure you can do that?

Sure? Absolutely. One of the world's best research universities awarded me a Ph.D. in engineering certifying that I can read graphs, create graphs, and much more.

But, don't need such a Ph.D. to read a graph. Instead, can learn just in middle school math class. If you are rusty, then try a local community college.

Can Holdren, the IPCC scientists read graphs? Of course. In their favorite case of "the sky is falling" -- 'global warming' -- do they want to read graphs objectively in public? Apparently not. It's called 'politics', or "Always look for the hidden agenda", manipulation, deception, four-flushing, thimble-rigging, flim-flam, and scam.

It's a very old scam: Humans have sensitive danger detectors and, in particular, that they may be doing something wrong that will lead to harm. Then a charlatan can manipulate and trigger some false alarms in the danger detectors. Then the humans have fear that they are being bad, evil, are transgressing, will encounter some catastrophe, some retribution. Then the charlatan says that catastrophe can be avoided, redemption can be achieved, if the sucker, mark, uh, human, will just make a big sacrifice the charlatan has in mind.

The ancient Mayan charlatans picked as the catastrophe that the sun would quit moving across the sky. As a sacrifice they picked killing people to get their blood to pour on a rock. Yup: The sun kept moving across the sky. Can get details on page 76 of

Susan Milbrath, 'Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars (The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies)', ISBN-13 978-0292752269, University of Texas Press, 2000.

Or, as in the movie 'The Music Man' the town needed to sacrifice to pay for a boy's band to save the boys from the catastrophe of pool. "Save our boys". "Keep our boys pure". "Pure boys".

Of course, need to argue that the threat is real and immanent, that the catastrophe is near. So, cite some anecdotal data or "tell-tale signs". The music man didn't use glaciers or the snows of Kilimanjaro but "buckling knickerbockers BELOW the knee".

Of course, don't present graphs of temperature and, instead, show pictures of polar bears:


The news media, which wants attention to get ad revenue, has made a major industry out of screaming about danger from sin, corruption, anything they can find, to trigger false alarms in danger detectors.

How about "clean energy"? I mean, as in a mummy B movie, we we must stamp out everything 'UNclean', e.g., UNclean energy from the UNclean hands of UNclean humans!

The VP Gore crowd and the IPCC have as their catastrophe 'global warming'. For the sacrifice they want to stop human activity that emits greenhouses gasses. Then in particular they want to reverse the industrial revolution. Indeed, President Obama, as a candidate, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, on 1/17/2008, at



"So, if someone wants to build a coal fire plant, they can it's just it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, and biodiesel, and other alternative energy approaches."

That's about half the electric power generating capacity of the US. Shutting down half of our electric power would be a real catastrophe.

Gore gets a new religion, a job flying around burning jet fuel, and a slot at KPCB. Holdren gets a political career. The IPCC gets big meetings in Paris, Rome, London, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Kyoto and tries to throttle the developed countries. Obama gets billions of dollars in new revenue he can play with, reward his friends. Hmm .... MSNBC was 'in the tank' for Obama during the election, is owned by GE, that wants to sell equipment for wind and solar, and Immelt was recently sitting beside Obama at a big meeting in the White House cabinet room. Did I mention something about "The hidden agenda"?

That charlatans will take advantage of any excuse to make a buck has no bearing at all on whether any particular threat is a valid one.

I dislike much of the GW hype as well, but the existence of the hype and the existence of people and companies eager to take advantage of the situation (not to our benefit as a society at all in most cases) has no bearing at all on the evidence for GW.

As far as restricting the use of fossil fuels? Bonzo! Whatever the reason, they are a limited resource of unknown extractable extent, we shouldn't be burning them like a sailor on leave spreads his money and seed to the 4 winds.

Another safety concern is short circuiting the capacitor. If the anode were to come in contact with any portion of the (metal) frame or body the entire vehicle would instantly be vaporized along with occupants and accouterments.

In a way this highlights the futility of attempting to manufacture electric versions of the current automotive fleet, they just consume way too much energy.

My physics is merely grammar school, so I need help. I was told that the charge on a capacitor was:- Voltage X Capacitance. I was told that Current = Voltage/Resistance, and that Power = Voltage X Current.
So as power is drawn from the Capacitor, the voltage should drop. As the voltage drops,the current to the motor should drop and the power output drop. If the voltage falls 10%, the current should fall 10% and the power should fall 20%. So where am I wrong?, How does the power stay up, as the capacitor discharges?

The driven motors only want perhaps 300 or 500 volts. Intermediate electronics efficiently down-converts the energy comming from the cap banks at 100% to 40% of full charge voltage (eg. 3,500 volts to 1,400 volts) into constant voltage at whatever the input DC spec might be for the motor drive electronics, say 500 VDC. If the cap bank is offering 3,500 volts, the intermediate system might only draw 10 amp to provide 35 kw, whereas if the cap voltage is 1,750 volts the intermediate system might draw 20 amp to provide the same 35 kw. No effect on motor operation.

I like realistic skeptic's demonstration methods, however, I think looking at power usage
for charging electric cars is misleading (bad for the intuition), and a better feel is given by using energy usage.
For example, you don't need to charge your 400 mile battery 100% every day, unless you drive 300 x 400 = 120 000 miles per year...

For an average use of gas of 2000 l per year per home, at 34 MJ per liter for gas = 22 000 kWh.
Since the electrical motor power train is 80% efficient rather than 20% for the gas motor the actual yearly consumption will be about 7 200 kWh, or 500$ at 0,07$ per kWh.
That is about 1/4 to 1/5 of the power usage in an average Canadian electrical home.
This could be supplied off peak by existing power grids with proper power management.

Does the electric car seem less magical with these numbers?

Michel Lamontagne

News from EESTOR

Well, there's some more news now: Dick Weir, CEO of EESTOR, claims that nothing is standing in the way from commercial production by the end of this year.

Lots of bold claims (yet again), but still no more details in terms of physics. So probably nothing is going to change for now: The believers will continue to believe, the others (including me) will continue to claim that's it's all a huge scam.

But at least Weir is on record now. This at least is new for this secretive company.