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Old 04-05-2012, 05:23 PM   #41
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As a country, we've spent so much money holding on to the weak auto industry it's ridiculous.

We could have excellent public transit in major cities, and high-speed rail between cities that is powered by renewable energy sources if we had made this a priority instead of catering to the automobile, oil, and highway construction industries. People seem to think that money spent on trains has to come from the sky when the reality is that we are spending this money on highways that are much more difficult to maintain, and have an ecologic cost in that we must use fossil fuels to drive upon them.
Are highways actually harder to maintain than rail? I was always under the impression that rail was a lot more expensive, since you need more precision to everything. And do we need fossil fuels to drive upon highways anymore than trains need fossil fuels to drive upon rail? If a large locomotive can be run with cleanly generated electricity, it's not exactly outside the realm of possibility that smaller tire-equipped vehicles could as well.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:49 AM   #42
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Are highways actually harder to maintain than rail? I was always under the impression that rail was a lot more expensive, since you need more precision to everything. And do we need fossil fuels to drive upon highways anymore than trains need fossil fuels to drive upon rail? If a large locomotive can be run with cleanly generated electricity, it's not exactly outside the realm of possibility that smaller tire-equipped vehicles could as well.
1. Rail rarely needs repair as the tracks are more sturdily built, are narrower, made of steel, and bedded on rock so that they are much more resistant to weather.

2. Modern high-speed rail is electric. The reason a train can continuously use electricity as a power-source is that there is electricity sent through the track. While electric cars have already been made a decade ago and were excellent town cars, they had a limitation of about 200 miles of driving before they are recharged. This is fine for someone using the car in town even for a heavy use day, but taking 4 hours to recharge your car battery every 3 hours of highway driving would not be practical. Also, electric cars that have to haul more weight don't even get that good gas mileage, so people loading up the family would have to make even more trips.

Still, they were excellent town cars, but they got killed off by. . . well, watch the documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car" if you like. There are fans of those cars that have been trying to figure out what happened. They know auto companies recalled them, held them for a long period, and then eventually destroyed and recycled them, but they can't be sure who was behind the electric car going away.

The real problem is that we need better batteries. They need to hold more power in a smaller space more efficiently with less weight and fewer toxic chemicals. If we have a truly exceptional battery, then most of our ecologic and power concerns would go away. We already know many ways to harness energy with minimal waste, but storage and delivery are bottlenecks.

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Old 04-06-2012, 11:52 AM   #43
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The issue with (and why I hate the idea) of electric cars is it does absolutely nothing to solve the energy problems we have today, all it does is shift it to another underdeveloped and overworked finite resource. Electric is not the future of the car and anyone that seriously thinks it is needs to stay the hell away from the whole industry before they cripple a whole lot more than just cars.
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Old 04-06-2012, 01:21 PM   #44
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The issue with (and why I hate the idea) of electric cars is it does absolutely nothing to solve the energy problems we have today, all it does is shift it to another underdeveloped and overworked finite resource. Electric is not the future of the car and anyone that seriously thinks it is needs to stay the hell away from the whole industry before they cripple a whole lot more than just cars.
Your argument confuses me. Electricity isn't a finite resource.

What electricity does is provide a layer of abstraction from the energy the car uses, to how that energy is produced. So that electricity can come from coal, nuclear, wind, etc and the car doesn't care.

What would your alternative be?
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:21 PM   #45
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1. Rail rarely needs repair as the tracks are more sturdily built, are narrower, made of steel, and bedded on rock so that they are much more resistant to weather.

2. Modern high-speed rail is electric. The reason a train can continuously use electricity as a power-source is that there is electricity sent through the track. While electric cars have already been made a decade ago and were excellent town cars, they had a limitation of about 200 miles of driving before they are recharged. This is fine for someone using the car in town even for a heavy use day, but taking 4 hours to recharge your car battery every 3 hours of highway driving would not be practical. Also, electric cars that have to haul more weight don't even get that good gas mileage, so people loading up the family would have to make even more trips.

Still, they were excellent town cars, but they got killed off by. . . well, watch the documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car" if you like. There are fans of those cars that have been trying to figure out what happened. They know auto companies recalled them, held them for a long period, and then eventually destroyed and recycled them, but they can't be sure who was behind the electric car going away.

The real problem is that we need better batteries. They need to hold more power in a smaller space more efficiently with less weight and fewer toxic chemicals. If we have a truly exceptional battery, then most of our ecologic and power concerns would go away. We already know many ways to harness energy with minimal waste, but storage and delivery are bottlenecks.
Excellent post.

I do want to point out, though, that high speed trains do not use electricity provided via the rails. They nearly always use an overhead electric source. What's really cool is that modernized subways are also converting to the more efficient and effective overhead electric.

I can only comment for Germany but they have 4 types of trains that run on those tracks. Their high speed (ICE), Standard Inter City, Regional and finally City Night Line.
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Old 04-06-2012, 04:15 PM   #46
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Your argument confuses me. Electricity isn't a finite resource.

What electricity does is provide a layer of abstraction from the energy the car uses, to how that energy is produced. So that electricity can come from coal, nuclear, wind, etc and the car doesn't care.

What would your alternative be?
The majority of electricity in the world is generated via finite resources. Unless large swaths of the four populated continents have changed without me noticing, renewable power sources aren't really taking root as much as they should (for various reasons that could take another thread to discuss). The US and European electric grids are already in a sorry state without adding more pressure to them via a few million cars being plugged in at peak times (assuming people are charging them at home after work)*

My solution right now would be hydrogen fuel cells. Either that or more emphasis (and incentives) on running cars on natural gas.

*Estimates for the UK power grid usage/capacity are somewhere around 80% (2005-2012) right now and the long term plan is to shut some coal fired plants without any notable replacement, bringing the total capacity down even further. There's around 31 million cars on the road in the UK (as of 2010) and just think about what would happen if even half of them were sucking power from the grid.
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Old 04-06-2012, 05:48 PM   #47
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Where do you think the hydrogen is going to come from? The majority of hydrogen production today comes from the same finite resources that is used in making electricity.
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Old 04-06-2012, 06:24 PM   #48
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MagLev trains would be cool. Play games on route to places.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:19 AM   #49
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Where do you think the hydrogen is going to come from? The majority of hydrogen production today comes from the same finite resources that is used in making electricity.
The majority comes from natural gas and there's enough of that that it can be used as a holdover until things like water splitting and landfill gas (while technically natural gas, with the amount of landfill sites it may as well be a different source altogether) can be used efficiently.

The best part about hydrogen is that it's a natural byproduct of organic waste and trash disposal which aids in recycling.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:15 AM   #50
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The Natural Gas used to make compressed Hydrogen could be better served as fuel for Thermal Electrical Plants.
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taint = slippery slope

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Old 04-07-2012, 05:53 AM   #51
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If you want to go with thermal plants then why not just skip over natural gas and go full nuclear? Sure, you lose about 10% efficiency but you get the advantage of much easier transport logistics and a lot less volatile fuel.

For my money, I'd bet on nuclear power being just the thing to strengthen power grids enough that mass electric vehicle usage would be viable but the nuclear bad guy looms over the world like a bad smell.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:30 PM   #52
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Wait, how do you use Nuclear to derive steam and isn't that overkill. Besides, not everyone is allowed to go Nuclear. And integrating a Nuclear power plant would cost more, especially if a country already has local supply!
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I think it's the collective form of the noun, actually.
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taint = slippery slope

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Old 04-07-2012, 03:10 PM   #53
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It's not overkill because that's exactly how a nuclear plant works. In a reactor nuclear fission is used to generate heat (a major byproduct) which is used to create steam which is pumped into a turbine. As for nations on the naughty list, do states like NK or Iran really need extensive boosts to their existing grid? If you're willing to play ball with the IAEA, they'll hand over the equipment you need.

I do concede that a new NPP is extremely expensive but after the construction costs there's significantly less money spent on maintenance and fuel so it's a "pay more now, less later" or "pay less now, more later" deal.

Edit: Just out of curiosity, how did you think a nuclear power plant worked before this post?
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:38 PM   #54
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I fully support the construction of a nuclear train, raining blood and terror down as it cuts a path of violence, science, and revenge through the United States.

I actually had this idea ages ago, but the Train also powered a weather station and freeze-ray that winterized everything in my path. I called it the RailStorm.
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:42 PM   #55
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I'll chip in for funding on that project. Set up a Kickstarter, see who else would be interested.

Edit: Amusingly, those crazy Soviets did actually draw up plans for a nuclear powered train. I swear, give them moon rocks and Soviet Science could be Aperture Science.

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Old 04-09-2012, 04:10 PM   #56
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Given the soviet track record on nuclear power, that would have been awesome. Transcontinental Death!
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:47 PM   #57
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It's not overkill because that's exactly how a nuclear plant works. In a reactor nuclear fission is used to generate heat (a major byproduct) which is used to create steam which is pumped into a turbine. As for nations on the naughty list, do states like NK or Iran really need extensive boosts to their existing grid? If you're willing to play ball with the IAEA, they'll hand over the equipment you need.

I do concede that a new NPP is extremely expensive but after the construction costs there's significantly less money spent on maintenance and fuel so it's a "pay more now, less later" or "pay less now, more later" deal.

Edit: Just out of curiosity, how did you think a nuclear power plant worked before this post?
I read up after making that post. Regardless, there are more complex geopolitical forces at work here than Santa Claus morality. Suffice to say, Uganda isn't getting plutonium or uranium any time soon. On a side-note; North Korea does indeed need a cheap source of electricity, as most people do not have electricity there at all.
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I think it's the collective form of the noun, actually.
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"An Internet."
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taint = slippery slope

Got it. Thanks.
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:55 AM   #58
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I read up after making that post. Regardless, there are more complex geopolitical forces at work here than Santa Claus morality. Suffice to say, Uganda isn't getting plutonium or uranium any time soon. On a side-note; North Korea does indeed need a cheap source of electricity, as most people do not have electricity there at all.
I'll admit to being quite flippant with that post and you're right, it's not as clear-cut as I said. North Korea is a funny beast though, I don't think any of its leadership give a damn about power for the people (which interestingly enough flies in the face of Juche but hey, dictators aren't known for having the moral high ground).

Interestingly enough, Jordan is probably the closest middle-east state to having nuclear power plants. Isreal (and by extension the US) are unhappy but have no legal recourse since Jordan is part of the NPT and follows the rules very closely. The NPT itself is a clusterfuck that you can only ever get when the UN is involved though.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:30 AM   #59
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Jordan are also yellow-bellied uncle toms, as my history professor would've said. To be more polite, Jordan is fairly liberal constitutional monarchy, where the King has legislative destroyed any chance of change in the status quo and it is not in open conflict with it's neighbor. What the international community is afraid of is the situation we have in Pakistan and India, both non-NPT nuclear neighbors and hostile towards each other, or Israel, which still claims it has no nuclear stock piles. The NPT it self is rather useless, when India and United States have a 123 Agreement(with IAEA blessing of course), also made due to another complex geopolitical issue.
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I think it's the collective form of the noun, actually.
"What's an anonymous group of assholes called?"
"An Internet."
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taint = slippery slope

Got it. Thanks.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:40 PM   #60
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I'm all for solving the rest of the world's problems just as soon as we solve our own.
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