Sunday, 20 November 2011

More battery breakthroughs

So things are getting interesting in the battery arena.

Right now we have batteries for electric cars that cost around $20,000 for 150 mile range, which while it will avert a collapse in the transportation and logistics network if it is all we have (it's not), the price is currently so high that it's not *very* competitive with lower end internal combustion based engines.

We really need at a minimum, double the range and half the price to bring costs and utility to a level at which the average buyer of today's vehicles will purchase them on mass.
Even better, obviously would be a battery which has three times the range and half the cost or less of today's batteries.

Well as it happens, the batteries we are using today are 2003's technology. While it may be frustrating to watch that it's taking something like 9 years to produce batteries with adequate range and pricing, compared with information technology which improves by 2X it's performance every 18 months, we are nearly there. As I make it there are now four viable improved battery technologies in the lab at a pre-production stage. There are, in fact, more than four promised technologies but if we put faith in batteries promised by large organizations with the funding and the process, engineering and production capacity to actually bring the technology to market in any kind of meaningful way then there are four.

They are:
IBM's battery 500 which is the result of millions of hours of supercomputer advanced simulation of different chemistries of anodes and cathodes for the holy grail of lithium batteris: lithium air. If this battery is real then it will have a 500 mile range for the same cost as today's batteries. Definitely adequate. On an off topic note, I wish there was a paper somewhere explaining how their model worked, because the way they rapidly scanned over 20 million chemicals make me suspect AI was somehow involved and that would be even bigger news than just a new battery. IBM promises to have a prototype ready by 2013 and if successful, it hopes a battery manufacturer will license the technology and be in production by 2020.

Toshiba's SCiB lithium titanate battery with double the range and the same cost, coming to market in 2013.

Nissan has developed a new better anode in it's battery which it uses in the Nissan leaf which currently has a 100 mile range. It plans to release these new batteries with double the range in 2015.

Altairnano, LG Chem and A123 Systems all have a variety of more efficient cathode's for more advanced lithium ion batteries with lower costs.

It's also worth pointing out that there are also magnesium chemistry batteries in the lab as well as Iron phosphate lithium batteries and various other technologies being worked on that are further away from the market.

Now a corrollary to the battery advances and cost reductions is the reduction in intermittency of renewable sources of electricity such as wind and solar. The problem of intermittency isn't really a problem of technology, since we already have technical solutions to these problems: geographic dispersement of wind farms, hydro storage, compressed air, vanadium flow batteries etc etc, it's really a problem of price (same as with electric cars). If prices of batteries become low enough that they can be added on existing electric renewable infrastructure with no large scale increase in price to the consumer it will be a no brainer to do so.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Death by Carbon Dioxide?

The global warming models propounded by the climate change scaremongers suggest warming of a "dangerous" level of 4-8C. Quite why an *average* temperature increase across the whole planet over a whole year including both daytime and night-time temperatures of that level is quite so scary escapes me. I'd like to see more granular data explaining why such and such an increase over a smaller region would be catastrophic over a smaller timescale for example.

But I'm not going to look at that today. Instead I'm going to look at the *science*.

If we examine the actual math, the scientific equation for absorbtion/emissivity by carbon dioxide produces three salient facts.
1. It's about a ONE degree increase in temperature per DOUBLING of carbon dioxide
2. All things being equal absorbtion and emissivity are roughly in balance. The more radiation coming in, the higher the emissivity. End result is it should be a wash.
3. Increases in temperature are *instant* if you double carbon dioxide. There is *no* lag.

So what gives?

Well the climate "scientists" are quoting temperature increases of much higher than one degree and absorbtion/emissivity model says it should be a wash so that means that the higher temperature increases are due to something else instead of carbon dioxide since carbon dioxide only leads to an increase of one measly degree per doubling.

At one degree per doubling that means going from pre-industrial times i.e. 200 parts per million we should see a one degree increase to 400 parts per million and a two degree increase to 800 parts per million and a three degree increase to 1600 parts per million and a four degree increase to 3200 parts per million and a five degree increase to 6400 parts per million and a six degree increase to a 12800 parts per million.

We have to go to ridiculous volumes of carbon dioxide to get to the high numbers proposed by the climate "scientists".

So what can possibly be causing it since we *have* seen an increase in temperature? (Although it has to be said that the observed increase in temperature is not as high as the scary climate models propounded by the scaremongers).

Well in order to get to "scary" levels of temperature increase there has to be a lag effect since the observed temperature increase hasn't corresponded with scary temperature increases.
Also we have to have significant positive feedback effects such as the melting of the ice sheets and the reduction of forest cover.

Now we can definitively say that both ice sheets and forest cover have decreased and that both of these are positive feedback effects thus increasing the temperature increase we would normally see above and beyond the temperature increase of one degree per doubling of carbon dioxide on it's own.

Additional negative feedbacks are cloud cover and smoke/aerosols, with increased cloud cover tending to decrease temperature and smoke/aerosols tending to crease temperature.

Putative positive feedbacks increasing warming include methane gas increases.

Now the observable facts are these:

Ice cover has decreased. Forest cover has decreased. Cloud cover has decreased. Fossil fuel burning has increased. Carbon dioxide emissions have increased. Smoke and aerosol emissions have increased.

What can we speculate from this?

Decreasing ice cover should lead to increased temperature increases over and above carbon dioxide emissions.
Decreasing forest cover should lead to increased temperature increases over and above carbon-dioxide emissions.
Fossil fuel burning will increase both carbon dioxide and smoke and aerosol.
Carbon dioxide increases should lead to a one degree increase in temperature per doubling (which is piffling little as shown above compared to actual concentrations observed).
Smoke and aerosol increases should have lead to a lowering of temperature below what has been observed.

So to explain any not observable putative future temperature increases over and above the one degree per doubling as well as the not-observed increase over one degree by the observed increase in carbon dioxide increases we have to invoke very large feedback effects.

i.e. increase the melting of ice cover by a large amount and increase the amount of deforestation and invoke possibilities such as the release of methane from methane clathrates on the ocean floor.

But here's the rub: once *all* the ice has melted and the entire planet has been converted to agriculture by removing *all* of the forests there's *no more* possible positive feedbacks from those two drivers. Likewise methane persists in the atmosphere for only a handful of years and though it's a *much* more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, once the methane degrades into carbon dioxide the amount of warming is again limited to one degree per doubling. Not really a substantial amount.

So we're left with clouds.

So to pin the blame on carbon dioxide we have to invoke a huge positive feedback by showing that increasing carbon dioxide increases cloud cover which increases temperature.

Unfortunately the data goes in the opposite direction. Increasing cloud cover results in a cooler world, not a warmer one.

But *yet* the temperatures have increased and carbon dioxide has also increased (although by not as much as the scary models which include the ridiculous positive feedbacks). So what gives?

Cloud cover has actually decreased.

But that doesn't make sense if it's carbon dioxide that's driving it.

In fact, it's *not* carbon dioxide that's driving it though it *is* man-made emissions that are driving it.

It's *smoke*.

Now here's an interesting fact: millions of years ago there were massive eruptions called the "eruption of the deccan traps" which released a shit-load of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere probably because the deccan traps were sitting on top of huge coal deposits. But here's the rub: although temperatures increased by a whopping amount (12C or thereabouts and then quickly leveled out to about a 6C increase), carbon dioxide alone could not have possibly done that. Even if you invoke a pulse effect melting the methane clathrates then you'd have had at *most* a temporary spike so there should only have been the 6C increase. But the data show otherwise. Looks like there might have been something else. I suspect it's smoke.

Getting back to present times:

If we remove smoke from the picture and increase carbon dioxide we should see an increase in temperature MEDIATED BY an increase in cloud cover.

But we don't see that. Instead we see decreased cloud cover and a temperature increase *exactly* predicted by the increase of carbon dioxide. So the putative predicted temperature increase by the climate change scaremongers is due to alleged positive feedbacks.

Now we've already shown that there's a limit to the duration of the positive feedbacks so they can't generate *possibly* generate a "runaway greenhouse effect". We've also shown that carbon dioxide emissions by themselves should only create a one degree increase per doubling AND that should be mediated by increased cloud cover. Once the positive feedback mechanisms of melting the icecaps and deforestation have done their job we should only see a one degree increase from then on per doubling and the huge volume of carbon dioxide emissions required to get to multiple doublings of emissions is absolutely staggering.

In other words in order to go for a horror scenario the only possible blame we can pin on emissions is that of smoke and aerosols. Smoke and aerosols are what lead to reduced cloud cover. If we continue to increase our burning of fossil fuels we will continue to increase our smoke/aerosol emissions and *that* will amplify any increases in temperature above one degree in any continuing way.

So what we ought to do is not limit emissions per se, if we want to decrease temperature increases to only one degree per doubling we have to reduce smoke/aerosol emissions.

But we're not seeing that as a position by the greenies. Instead we're seeing an attack on multiple levels against all forms of industrial activity on a large scale. But that position isn't justified by the effects of increased carbon dioxide emissions by themselves and if we remove smoke/aerosols from the equation then we need to increase our carbon dioxide emissions by an unfeasibly massive amount in order to get to so called "scary" temperature increases.

So what gives?

The actual position propounded by you greenies is not based on a desire to limit carbon dioxide emissions per se. Instead it's based on limiting interference with the global ecosystem by man made means and from that angle, *everything* is being attacked from the burning of fuels, to agriculture, to extractive mining, to transport of products and/or the transport of people in order to allow the ecosystem to return to a natural state with no interference by humankind.

So basically if you're in favor of human dieoff, let's put the greenies, the druids and the ecologists in charge.