Science Errors

Chapter 8: Fake Technology

Chapter Summary

The big plans for converting electrical utility and transportation systems from petroleum to renewable electrical are rationalized on the basis of false efficiency assumptions for electrical energy. Applying basic principles of physics to the falsehoods shows the ridiculousness of the claims.

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Renewable Energy Will Never Work

There's not enough renewable energy to replace carbon based energy.

Quack analysts claim 100% renewable energy is possible. They are skipping over the physics assuming efficiency can keep increasing and 15 mile per hour wind will never run out. They don't know any better. They just multiply numbers until they get what they want.

Renewable doesn't mean unlimited supply. Wind and solar are so dilute that not enough can be scraped up. It's slim pickings already. Most wind is too slow, and most solar is too dark.

Electricity is a specialty product which will not scale up to the transportation level. A massive increase in electric lines and infrastructure would be required. There is no space for it—within cities or the countryside.

The increase in transmission line length would be between a factor of 9,000 and infinity.

The British covered their country with windmills and only ended up with 15% of their electricity from that source. Now they are building nuclear plants. The Germans are building coal plants.

One of the problems is that activists assume extremely high efficiency for electrical energy. High efficiency supposedly translates into very little pain in converting to renewables. Activists have efficiency assumptions backwards. Electricity is far less efficient that other types of energy.

The simple facts:

1) Solar is going nowhere, because it is only used in the South West of U.S.A.

2) Windmills are going nowhere, because each one costs a fortune, and long lines cost even more.

3) Neither are going anywhere, because disruptive variations cannot be managed, and they waste resources trying.

4) Solar and wind are very dilute. Concentrating dilute energy is inefficient. It takes huge amounts of metal. Electrons have to be surrounded by a lot of metal or chemicals.

5) You couldn't cover the planet with enough wires to make it work. The electrical infrastructure would have to be multiplied by several thousand to produce 100% renewable energy, even if it were possible. There wouldn't be enough space between transmission towers for anything else.

Solar only gets sun power for a few hours per day. It must have 100% back up for most of the day. The back up is said to require natural gas electric turbine generators, because only they can be started and stopped easily. But natural gas is only available through fracking or imports. Before fracking, there was a shortage of natural gas. Fracking is expensive and only exists while oil prices artificially high. When the price of oil drops, fracking stops, coal plants will be needed, and solar will be unusable.

Electricity is very inefficient, because it is lost to heat in every device and wire. The amount of energy from fossil fuels is six times electricity, while electricity produces more CO2. It means electricity is less than one sixth as efficient as fossil fuels. Even if renewables could get rid of the CO2, the inefficiency of electricity would produce overwhelming clutter—in fact, so much clutter than no one gets past 15% wind or solar, even without electric vehicles adding to it.

If these statements don't look credible because too many persons are saying the opposite, we need to take a look at the difference. First and foremost, who are these other persons? They are activists and journalists who have never studied an iota of science or engineering.

Activists assume there will be an electric take-over of the energy and transportation systems, because scientists have improved the chemistry of solar cells. That doesn't wash. The contrivers are omitting the fact that long transmission lines cost more than producing the energy, while solar energy would have to be shipped from the southwest to the other forty five states to get where they claim energy is going. Wind energy would also have to be shipped long distance.

There are a lot of ignorant scientists who should have never been scientists. Journalists and activists bring them to the surface and suppress the others. That doesn't mean activists have science on their side.

Non-technically minded persons don't understand the electrical wiring problem. Electrons require a lot of metal around them. Even now, electrical wiring is strung everywhere, but out of sight. And that's just for household trivia. It has to be multiplied by tens of thousands for 100% renewable. Actually, everything hits infinity before getting there, so exact numbers don't exist. The numbers become self-contradictory, physical impossibilities before getting to 30% renewables as solar and wind. At around 30%, the energy would be so dilute it would require an extreme amount of lines and disappears in the lines.

Right now, there is an extreme shortage of grid scale transmission lines, because they cost too much. The problem is a national security threat, but the government will not require the problem to be solved, because the public would be up in arms over the environmental damage and clutter. That's before electric vehicles.

Long transmission lines are required for wind and utility-scale solar. Transmission lines generally cost as much or more than the production costs for the energy, and they lose energy along the lines.

For short lines, a minimum of 20% loss is built in; for longer lines it is 50%. The reason is because there is resistance in the metal which creates heat as a loss of energy. To reduce the resistance by half requires twice as much metal. To reduce loss from 20% to 10% would require two lines instead of one. To reduce loss on long lines from 50% to 25% would require two long lines instead of one.

This is why there is a shortage of transmission lines in the US. The distances that must be covered are too large. It's a losing battle between energy loss and massive lines. It doesn't pay.

Environmental damage and human disturbance are usually unacceptable for both solar and wind energy, even on a small scale. Scaling up would be prohibitive.

Solar and wind run into a barrier around 15% of electrical power, because electrical systems cannot tolerate more than 15% fluctuations, and backup systems are not perfect enough to remove fluctuations. No one can get past the 15% barrier with solar and wind combined beyond obfuscation over numbers and diversions.

The 36% wind energy in Iowa is not an exception. The lines are connected to a larger area which reduces the real average, while much of the energy goes into ethanol production.

Energy storage systems which convert to other forms of energy lose about 60% transforming in, and another 60% transforming back to electricity. Salvaging 40% of 40% is 16% recoverable.

Batteries are useless for utility scale electricity. Electric utilities require constant voltage. Batteries do not function at constant voltage, which means they are useless for electric utilities.

The only way to keep voltage constant with batteries is to have the same amount of power going in and out. Any difference changes the voltage. Computer chips will function at 1.3 volts while supplied by 5 volt batteries. This range allows battery voltage to go up and down between charges. Commercial utilities cannot allow voltage to change. Therefore, they cannot use batteries.
A Wall at 15% Solar and Wind

No one can get past 15% of their electricity as solar and wind on a large scale. Europeans are building coal and nuclear plants at 15% solar and wind because of the wall.

Supposedly, Iowa is an example of 36% wind power. The number has no meaning, because the grid is linked to lines going into Illinois and Wisconsin, where it is a small percent of the electrical energy, and some of it goes into ethanol production which presumably tolerates inconsistencies.

Of course, a large part of the problem is fluctuations. There is no realistic answer to the fluctuations caused by solar and wind. Existing infrastructure becomes taxed at 10% fluctuations, coping mechanisms might allow another 5% to the outer limits.

Transmission lines are a significant element of the limitations created by the 15% wall. In general, greens are unconcerned about costs and assume society should pay any price including more transmission lines. But the reality is that transmission lines are so expensive that consumers will not tolerate the expense of more transmission line.

As a general rule, transmission lines cost about as much as the generating systems for commercial solar and wind. It means, if transmission lines are constructed, they double the cost of installation. This problem has not been highly noticeable, because the small amounts of solar and wind at this time piggyback on existing infrastructure. When new lines must be constructed, they are so expensive that they never allow expansion to the levels required for going beyond the 15% wall.

In other words, even though the activists say, throw any amount of money at the problem, it never happens. Transmission lines are too expensive. In fact, a shortage of long transmission lines is creating a national security problem, while society will not invest in long lines because of the extreme expense.
Electric Vehicles Will Never be used on a Large Scale

An electric vehicle can never capture more than 16% of the energy in the source.

The maximum efficiency for a natural gas turbine generator is 40%, and it goes down from there.

The maximum efficiency of a functional electric motor is 40%, and it goes down from there.

Forty percent times 40% equals 16% maximum, recoverable energy.

Recently, there are strange claims being made for higher efficiency for electric motors. Who knows what the rationalization is, since efficiency is a ratio. But there must always be at least 60% loss of energy in a functional electric motor for inviolable reasons, which are these:

Electrical energy must be concentrated as mush as possible in a motor. If it is spread out, the force drops, and more energy must be applied. Therefore, engineers always put so much amperage through such small wires in a motor that the resistive loss is around 30%. Inductive loss varies with conditions.

The net effect is that the highest efficiency achievable under laboratory conditions is said to be 60%. Under operating, commercial purposes, it's 40%. These facts have been inviolable for more than a century. Efficiencies do vary; but they vary from 20 to 40%, not 40 to 60%.

Electric motors are designed to be as hot as possible, if heavy work is the purpose. To make them colder would require more wire, larger motors and more energy. Optimum is the maximum amount of heat the motor will handle.
The Physics of Electrical Efficiency

The US federal government has fake standards for the efficiency of electric motors requiring about 96% efficiency, and some talk exists of 98% efficiency. No functioning motors can get real efficiency above 40%; but efficiency can mean anything based upon definition and testing. There presumably is a test that shows 96% efficiency. The fraud is in claiming this number actually represents savings for society in energy and cost. Through whatever means the fakes are defining and testing for 96% efficiency, the consumers are not going to get more than 40% real efficiency for energy use and cost.

The fakes won't clarify for the public what they mean by 96% efficiency or how it is tested. So here is the physics which shows why the real efficiency never gets above 40% for functional, heavy working electric motors:

Electric motors transform electrical energy into kinetic energy. All transformations lose a lot of energy to heat, which is inefficiency—always far more than the 2-4% loss of 96-98% efficiency being described for electric motors.

To create kinetic energy from electrical energy, an inductive force acts upon electrons in copper wires which exert a force on the metal around them. Force acting upon electrons or atoms creates a lot of heat. Heat is the same thing as kinetic energy which has been randomized in direction at the atomic level. Actual kinetic energy is linear motion. To get high efficiency, the motion must be almost all linear and very little randomized.

The randomization of motion at the atomic level cannot be prevented in creating linear motion. The number one reason is because all atoms and molecules are constantly vibrating when the temperature is above absolute zero. To get linear motion, every contact would have to by right in the center of an atom or molecule pushing it in the desired direction. But since the molecules are vibrating in every direction, many of the hits will be off-center and push an atom or molecule in some other direction. All of that "other direction" creates heat. It randomizes the motion of the atoms or molecules.

For this reason, it is impossible to get more than about 50% of the energy directed linearly in the transformation of energy into kinetic energy, usually less. A resistive loss is designed into electric motors to concentrate the energy. If resistive loss is 20% and it adds to inductive loss of 50%, the total is 70% loss, which is 30% efficiency. This is usually as efficient as electric motors get under optimum speed and torque. Efficiency goes down from there, as variation in speed and torque occur during use. Historically, the maximum efficiency of electric motors has been assumed to be 40% but that high of an efficiency probably requires light loads.

The rational for 96% efficiency is probably based upon the misdefinition of energy. Contrived numbers are often used for the relationships between different forms of energy, and they don't have consistent or stable derivations. An example is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant showing 20-50 times too much radiation at normal temperatures.
Compared To Other Autos

Considering a lot of other losses, an electric auto will convert 5-10% of the energy in natural gas into motion. A normal vehicle will convert 20-30% of the energy in gasoline into motion. That's 3 or 4 times more energy recovered with an internal combustion vehicle than an electric vehicle.

Electricity is a specialty product. It's not appropriate for transportation. It looks cheap at this time, but that's because it was designed for toasters, not transportation. Increase the amount of wiring and infrastructure by a factor of a thousand, and it's not cheap.

Electricity does not scale up properly to the transportation level due to its miniscule nature. Sure, a whole lot can be used for something, but at extraordinary expense and materials.

Using electricity as an energy source requires two energy transformation steps, while using petroleum requires only one. With electricity, the original energy, usually chemical energy, must be transformed into electrical energy; and then the electrical energy is transformed into the kinetic energy of motion. With an internal combustion engine, the only transformation step is the conversion of chemical energy to kinetic energy in the combustion chamber.

The difference matters, because there is a lot of energy lost every time it is transformed or used. Electrical energy is harder to handle and loses more in handling.

The use of electrical energy requires it to move into and out of the space medium through induction. Induction through space should be referred to as another form of energy, but physicists sandwich it into the category of electrical energy. Going into and out of the space medium through induction loses a lot of energy.

Another problem with electricity is that it loses energy to heat production due to resistance in the wires. A short transmission line will have 20% loss built in, and a long line will have 50% loss built in. These losses are designed in, because reducing the loss by half would require twice as much metal in the wires. Wires have to be optimized for diameter and strength, which means doubling the metal would be doubling the number of transmission lines.

High voltage transformers are said to get 90% efficiency with expensive designs, but household level voltages get 50% efficiency. Electric motors can get up to 40% efficiency, but only at optimum rpms and load. For autos, they average 25% efficiency. Gasoline engines get 25% efficiency with old-style carburetors and 30% with fuel injection, though additional losses can occur.

The result is this: A natural gas electric generating turbine gets 40% efficiency. A high voltage transformer gets 90% efficiency. A household level transformer gets 50% efficiency. A short transmission line gets 20% loss, which is 80% efficiency. The total is 40% x 90% x 50% x 80% = 14.4% of the electrical energy recovered (85.6% lost) before getting to the vehicle and doing something similar to the gasoline engine in the vehicle.

Electricity appears to be easy to handle sending it through wires. But it is the small scale that makes it look cheap. Scaling it up takes a pound of metal for so many electron-miles. Twice as much distance means twice as much metal. Twice as many amps means twice as much metal. Converting the transportation system into an electrical based system would require scaling up the amount of metal and electrical infrastructure by factors of hundreds or thousands. Where are all those lines going to go? They destroy environments. Where is that much natural gas going to come from for the electrical generators? There is very little natural gas in existence when using it for a large scale purpose. Natural gas has to be used with solar and wind energy, because only it can be turned on and off easily for backup.

One of the overwhelming facts about electric transportation is the chicken and egg phenomenon. Supposedly, a lot of electric vehicles will create an incentive to create a lot of expensive infrastructure. There are reasons why none of the goals can be met for such an infrastructure. The basic problem is that electricity will never be appropriate for such demanding use as general transportation, which means there will never be enough chickens or eggs to balance the demand. It's like trying to improve a backpack to such an extent that it will replace a pickup truck. The limitations of muscle metabolism are like the limitations of electrical energy.

Electrons are not a space-saving form of energy. Electrons have to be surrounded by large amounts of metal. It means electric motors get heavy and large. When cruising around town, the problems are not so noticeable. But the challenges of ruggedness are met far easier with internal combustion engines. Engineers say it is nice to get rid of the drive train with electric vehicles. But in doing so, they add clutter elsewhere, which adds weight, takes up space and messes up the suspension system. Out on the highway, the suspension system is the most critical factor.

These problems will prevent electric vehicles from replacing petroleum vehicles for all but specialty purposes. The infrastructure needed for electric vehicles will never exist when limited to specialty purposes. This would be true even with the perfect battery which takes up no space and holds infinite charge. Batteries are assumed to be the limiting factor in electric vehicles at this time due to their weight and expense.
A Problem with Fake Numbers

Bureaucrats determine auto efficiency through numbers which they derive in strange ways. They have themselves convinced that electric vehicles are five times more efficient than petroleum based vehicles. The real efficiency is similar for both, as explained above, when electrical loses are ignored, and about 5 or 10 times less efficient for electric vehicles, when total infrastructure losses are considered.

To shoehorn their false assumptions into place, bureaucrats try to get petroleum vehicle efficiency down and electric vehicle efficiency up to show a ratio of 1/5. They put petroleum vehicles somewhere around 15% efficiency, when they are 25-30% efficient, and electric vehicles around 60% efficient, when they are around 25% efficient. Even that combination is a 1/4 ratio; but with a lot of vagaries, the difference is supposedly 5 to 1.

What makes bureaucrats assume electric vehicles are 5 times more efficient than petroleum vehicles? It's not entirely clear, but they do have an energy conversion problem. They calculate kilowatt hours per mile for electric vehicles and compare it to miles per gallon for petroleum vehicles. They seem to think there is a lot more energy in kilowatt hours than there actually is, or less energy in BTUs of petroleum than there actually is, or maybe both.

Part of their problem seems to be that electricity is cheap to deliver compared to petroleum, while not-so-bright persons assume cheapness is the same as efficiency. Electricity is only cheap with the previous electrical infrastructure designed for toasters, not autos, and with coal or gas as the source. When crude was $120 per barrel, not-so-bright persons could have gotten a lot of false impressions on the efficiency of electrical energy. Now the cost of energy is changing, but the rationality is not improving.

There is not a correct relationship between kilowatt hours and petroleum BTUs due to a misdefinition of energy. Physicists cannot measure the actual relationship between kinetic energy and other forms of energy. They fake the results and contrive a floating value for the relationship between kinetic and other forms of energy.

Not the least problem is that physicists deal with the resulting errors by contriving. And they contrive, and contrive, and contrive. So all related facts become contrivances. Which means there is no way to pin down the real energy relationships.

But there is an analysis which is independent of those contrivances, and it is explained above. In that analysis electric vehicles function at about the same efficiency as petroleum vehicles in the auto, while 5 or 10 times that amount of energy is lost in getting electricity to the electric vehicles.

Engineers, outside the bureaucrats, generally agree that petroleum vehicles get 25% efficiency with old style carburetors and 30% with fuel injection, while other factors could lower it somewhat. The maximum efficiency for electric motors is 40% under ideal conditions at one optimum speed and torque. Electric vehicle motors are not so optimized, and average driving conditions take down efficiency, which should be 25%, but no one can say exactly. It's certainly not 40%, which might be maximum for electric motors at one ideal speed and torque. None of the uncertainties create much difference in efficiency for electric vehicles and petroleum vehicles inside the autos.

There is a loss within electric vehicles due to speed control. When the speed of an electric motor is controlled with dc voltage, there is a loss of about 40% in the control circuitry. Ac voltage control can be more efficient with "light dimmer" type of controls, but inverters which convert battery dc into ac lose about 30%. Some fancy switching might reduce the loss a little. So it is quite likely that electric vehicles do not get 25% efficiency going from batteries to kinetic energy.