Batteries are an obvious technological bottleneck to electric vehicles, but far from the most challenging.
Even if a suitcase-sized 100lb battery was developed that could give 200 mile ranges, that would not allow EVs to play a large role in transport.
The ultimate big challenge is that EVs need to be charged and that electricity has to come from somewhere. Putting EVs in the driveway would treble, or more, a families electricity usage. That would need a whole lot of generators being built, as well as increasing the carrying capacity of the grid and reticulation.
Putting solar panels on every roof doesn't fix the problem either. PVs require an immense amount of energy to make. Ironically, you'd first have to build a whole lot of carbon (or nuke) power stations to provide the energy required to build PVs!
Yes, but you know what, even that isn't entirely true.
For example, if you dedicate huge expanses of surface area to solar collectors, you are shading what is underneath. That may have an ecological impact. If you create large wind turbine farms, you change the wind patterns in that location. Same applies to tidal energy systems.
There's no escaping that if you actually capture a significant portion of "renewable" energy, with these renewable schemes, that energy is no longer going to be doing what it previously did. It will be energy that is funneled off to other purposes.
There is no reason to assume this can be done with zero ecological impact. We simply have to learn to manage, and live with, the ecological impact of a comfortable life.
To play the devil's advocate, oil in the ground is doing nothing much at all. It is certainly debatable whether we should rely more on oil, and less on resources needed to grow crops, for our energy needs.
Yes Bert, 'most' is probably overstating it; and yes you get the point that military spending is for military stuff. 'Speak softly, and carry a big stick' is an oft-quoted recipe for peace negotiations.
If military funding does come up with radically better batteries might they be kept secret for a while?
Alternatively military research can force through huge leapfrogging developments, which might otherwise be hushed up in commercial development, which prefers more structured, incremental 'progress'.
Sorry Mark, can't let that pass: all the renewable energy sources you quote have been dissipating their energy on this good Earth for ever; they are in balance with the earth's losses, so no temperature change. Redirecting that energy for e.g. powering transport is fine. However,fossil and nuclear fuels free off locked-in energy, which has no obvious balancing factor, especially when thermal insulators like atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by 50% in the last 100 years.
I think the main attraction, in the case of military platforms, is for these batteries to supplement the internal combustion engines. As in hybrid vehicles.
This also applies to airplanes, apparently, and may have commercial applications too. Not when flying the airplane, but in taxiing while on the ground. Which apparently accounts for a significant percentage of overall fuel burn.
"As some on this thread have pointed out, batteries are no solution."
For powering cars, yes, and I was one of those making that comment.
"The purpose of the military is to prop up a system that is no longer efficiently delivering. Overall neither the military nor the system it props up, benefit society at large."
I don't even know what that means. The purpose of the military is to defend the nation. Period. If intellectually challenged politicians have misused it, this does not mean that its purpose is no longer a valid one. We still need defense.
Of course having a military is an end unto itself. Tht end is absolutely NOT to "create jobs," or to "fund research for commercial products," or any other such tangential functions. If these fallouts occur, wonderful. If they do not, too bad. We still need a DoD.
As some on this thread have pointed out, batteries are no solution. The problem of getting energy to where it is needed needs to be looked at from a systems engineering perspective.
You speak of the military as if it were an end unto itself with some beneficial fall out.
The purpose of the military is to prop up a system that is no longer efficiently delivering. Overall neither the military nor the system it props up, benefit society at large.
Ummmm.... that line about "oxygen-breathing batteries': if they "breath in oxygen," what do they EXHALE? Sounds like another possible environmental disaster masquerading as a solution! That's typical "greenie" ignorance at work. Think about this: EVERY form of "green energy" (good examples are hydro, geothermal, wind, etc.) involve extracting energy in one place and turning into heat (eventually) someplace else, with the vast majority going into those infamous "urban heat islands'! That's a recipe for WEATHER and CLIMATE modification on a grand scale! Learn to think like a systems engineer, folks; it'll keep the egg off your face.
I do not think this is an issue, however. In my view, the national defense task is there a priori, and always has been. Any potential beneficial effect of that DoD R&D, to the general economy, is just gravy. No one, at least in this thread, has suggested that this military R&D should prop up anything but what it was designed for - the military.
I doubt anyone here would suggest that the Internet (originally ARPAnet) has not benefitted humanity. That's just one obvious example. Radar and sonar? Don't benefit humanity? Computer control systems? GPS? And on and on.
Blog Doing Math in FPGAs Tom Burke 2 comments For a recent project, I explored doing "real" (that is, non-integer) math on a Spartan 3 FPGA. FPGAs, by their nature, do integer math. That is, there's no floating-point ...