Cost per mile to drive S versus comparable cost per mile with a gasoline equivalent?

Cost per mile to drive S versus comparable cost per mile with a gasoline equivalent?

Let's compare conventional gas cars and electric (S) cars in terms of dollars per mile (US), which is what the bulk of the world will care about.

Gas is about $4 US / gallon where I live. Say my car gets 20 miles / gallon. Ratio these and you get

$4 US / gallon
----------------- = $0.20 / mile = G <-- call it G for cost to drive per mile using gas
20 miles / gallon

What's the number for an S, measured as follows:

$X US / unit of charge
-------------------------- = $X/Y / mile = S <-- call it S for cost to drive per mile using electricity
Y miles / unit of charge

Is S > G or is S < G? In other words, does it cost more per mile to drive an S than my car (focusing on fuel only)? Or, is the reverse true? Is this information somewhere on the Tesla website? Where exactly?


jackhub | 06. Juni 2011

Check with your local power company. In planning for my model S, I checked with my power company for special requirementsd, etc. Mine offers a discount for off peak charging.

ncn | 06. Juni 2011

Hydro is in most ways the ideal electrical generation for grid purposes, but as someone said, it's limited by the fact that we've already used all the good locations. (Niagara Falls, for instance.)

The baseload problem is not a serious problem. Energy is used very inefficiently right now, *particularly* for baseload, which is mostly lighting and heating, and the baseload demand could be cut substantially by efficiency improvements which are already available. Peak load is actually more of a generation issue, because it's less amenable to efficiency improvements, and for that solar is ideal since it correlates with peak load; of course it has to get more efficient, but it is doing so at astounding speed.

Getting back to topic, I did attempt to run a TCO comparison between the Model S and the gasoline car I would have otherwise gotten. I didn't post it because there are simply too many variables. The electric car costs more upfront, but costs much less to run. If you have to finance it with a loan, it's probably not worth it. If you don't, it depends on how long the battery lasts, the future price of oil, the future price of electricity, and critically, the 'salvage' value of the car when you retire or replace it.

There are revolutions in battery technology coming down the pike in the 5-10 year timeframe (my father's currently trying to get one commercialized), but I decided I want off of oil NOW. I'm predicting that most gassers will have no resale value in 10-20 years and that the Tesla Model S Signature may be collectible and will have resale value.... which is why I concluded that I'll probably have a better TCO with Tesla. Tesla's designed the car to allow for battery replacement in any case.

If you ignore the resale/salvage value issue, you can get *some* numbers, but it depends on your driving habits. I advise figuring it as follows: figure out the difference in price between the Model S which you would get and the comparable gas car which you would get otherwise -- call this hte "premium". Then pick a price for gas which you think will be the average over the period of ownership; this gives you a dollars-per-mile for the gasser, and you can subtract the (tiny) dollars-per-mile for the Tesla (electricity is unlikely to skyrocket in price, more likely to go down). This gives you the per-mile price difference. Multiply that by the number of miles per year you drive, and you have the dollars-per-year difference (though you should add in the difference in costs of maintenance here). Divide the premium by the dollars-per-year to figure out how many years it will take you to save money by buying a Tesla.

I drive very few miles per year (maybe 2000), and I have to get the large battery due to my location and recurring long trips. So for me the payback period is something like 30 years at current gas prices; I'm not saving money unless I consider resale value. If you can do all your trips with the 160 mile battery and and you drive a lot of miles per year, in contrast, you'll have a rather fast payback period. You have to run the numbers for your own situation.

ncn | 06. Juni 2011

I should note that actually number of miles driven per year is the most important number in the TCO computation. Because the Tesla costs more upfront but less per mile, it is *much* more cost-effective for someone who drives a *LOT* than it is for someone like me who only drives a little.

b300sd | 08. Juni 2011

For Solar panels
1 mile / 0.300 kWh. 12,000 miles per year = 3,600 Kilowatt Hours.
3,600 divided by 365 days = 9.83 average kilowatt-hrs/day needed
9.83 divided by average sun hours per day, my location is 5.5
= 1787 watts needed, with derate factors lets say 2000 watts
2000 watts divided by a 235 watt panel = 8.5 panels
9-235 watt panels @ $550.00 = 4,950.00., AC inverter 2,000.00., Installation 3,000.00 = 9,950.00, minus tax credits and rebates
Solar panel lifespan 25+ years

Gas engine
12,000 miles @ 22 mpg average passenger car = 545 gallons
545 x 4.25 = $2,361.00 x 25 years = $59,025.00 - $5,900 = 53,125.00
savings over 25 years if gas prices stay at 4.25 a gallon.

ncn | 12. Juni 2011

To finish your computation, b300sd, one needs to know how many times one will have to replace the Tesla battery over the course of 25 years, how many times one would have to replace the gasoline car you are considering as an alternative, the costs of both, and the resale value of both type of cars at replacement time. Oh, and interest rates (the time value of money).

I have no idea about some of these. There really are a lot of variables, and which ones you think you can predict -- are probably different from the ones I think I can predict. :-)

Volker.Berlin | 15. Oktober 2011

(Sorry for cross posting this link, it erroneously went into the wrong thread at first.)

autobloggreen: How gas cars use more electricity to go 100 miles than EVs do

"Let's go over that again. If we simply count the electricity used to make the gasoline that gets burned in a normal vehicle, you need more juice than you do to move an EV the same distance. Of course, then you need to factor in the actual gasoline used (and the resulting CO2 emissions). Plus, don't forget, it takes a bunch of water to refine gasoline. Put this all together and you've got on hell of an energy efficiency argument in favor of plug-in vehicles."

Volker.Berlin | 26. Oktober 2011

Reason why you wont need much more electricity for EV:s is that refining gallon of gasoline takes about 6kWh of electricity. That's 20mile worth of driving in EV, so your current ICE car is actually using same amount of electricity as EV. (Timo)

Funny, Elon uses your argument almost literally in a recent interview: "[...] you have enough electricity to power all the cars in the country if you stop refining gasoline. You take an average of 5 kilowatt hours to refine gasoline, something like the Model S can go 20 miles on 5 kilowatt hours."

Chris Paine (the "Electric Car" filmmaker) adds: "It does not include transporting it from the Middle East or Venezuela. The more efficient your refinery is, the lower that number is. The lowest number in the DOE study I read was 4, and the highest was 7, it depends on what your refinery is."

Here is the interview:

weccman | 26. Oktober 2011

Robert.Boston on May 29th made a number of good points about how the electricity system works. Adding to that, one should realize that the least expensive renewable energy today is wind power which, unfortunately, tends to show up at inconvenient times when there is little demand, such as, at night. This exacerbates the need for gas turbine peaking generators to be available when the wind drops off, and even without wind on the system, those gas-fired generators often need to operate inefficiently and in a manner that pollutes more than if they could run more continuously. Electric cars can help with both these problems if utilities provide a discount for charging at night that helps them build load when they have surplus wind and gas-fired capacity. My utility charges about 8 cents per kWh to avoid the peak charging period of 2 PM to 8 PM. If you charge on peak, the rate is something like 23 cents. But in fact, the rate should be much lower and should target the hours from midnight to 6 AM when demand is at its lowest, and the rate should be higher at other times. A very high on-peak rate is a good idea to discourage EV charging that adds to capacity demand. If EVs charge mostly at night, we make better use of existing capacity, improve efficiency of electricity system operation, displace oil demand without adding to the need for new power plants, and give some of the savings to the EV customer. As more EVs are in the utility system, utilities will find ways to make use of them that are hard to even imagine now. They might even pay EV owners for the use of their storage for brief periods to deal with occasional problems in system operation such as loss of power plants or transmission facilities. All of this will work to the benefit of EVs in the comparison of costs with IC engine cars.

Brian H | 27. Oktober 2011

There's already surplus night capacity; adding wind just provides surplus surplus. Wind is a loser; the windmills, e.g., last about 1/3 as long as advertised. And servicing them is a horror; access to the rotors and motor is dangerous and expensive. For offshore units, the problems are 10X worse.

Windmill graveyards are filling up with units that used to belong to operators who went bust because they couldn't handle those costs.

Mycroft | 27. Oktober 2011

I agree. I don't think wind is the answer. Harnessing ocean currents is also extremely maintenance intense. Imagine dealing with salt water in addition to all the moving parts.

IMO, the solutions will boil down to solar, hydrogen (made using water and solar energy), and hopefully nuclear fusion.

Brian H | 27. Oktober 2011

Solar has the same kind of geographical and timing limitations. And environmentalists don't even want solar farms in the Mojave! Again, maintenance (even cleaning!) and transmission costs are way over "projectons", and integrating their output with the grid gives operators fits and red-rage headaches.

And hydrogen is a storage medium, not a power "source". Then you have to hold it, and protons can sneak through just about anything, including "solid steel", which it also turns brittle.

Which leaves fusion. If the "FoFu" design continues to advance, look for locally sourced ~0.4¢/kwh power everywhere, starting in <5 yrs. for first installations.

Nicu | 27. Oktober 2011

5 years is overly optimistic for electricity from fusion production. It will take more than that from the first fully functional prototype to the first real plant. I'll read about those guys, anyway. You probably know about General Fusion too?

Zelaza | 27. Oktober 2011

AHH ... fusion. The Tokamak device at Princeton has been only ten years from success for the last 50 years. And the SHIVA laser system at Lawrence Livermore Lab (which I got to see as it was being assembled while attending a conference) with its 20 super lasers and gazillion joules of energy is still not quite there, yet. Then, of course, only a few years ago there was the Fleischmann and Pons Cold Fusion miracle at some school in Utah.
Fusion, good luck with that.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. In the early 1950s, when nuclear energy was being developed, we were told that it would produce electricity so cheaply that the power utility would probably not bother with installing meters. Didn't quite turn out that way.

Nicu | 27. Oktober 2011

It turns out that General Fusion tries an approach in between lasers and tokamak. Their website is a nice read even if it stays sci-fi for another few decades. But the main idea is that combining the two approaches, you don't have to go to the limit in any direction (size, complexity, time to maintain plasma, power of lasers etc.). Of course it has only a few percentages of chance to work. But if enough ideas with such a probability are tried, who knows? The main thing is that none of those approaches contradicts any physical law (otherwise it would be laughable). It's just so damn hard to make it work with the tools and materials we have.

Zelaza | 27. Oktober 2011


I went to the General Fusion site and, although they use magnetic plasma confinement, they don't use lasers. They propose an acoustic based concept called " sonoluminescence " in which a converging spherical acoustic wave crushes a bubble so intensely that it achieves a temperature of millions of degrees and gives off a flash of light; that's how it was discovered. Seth Putterman at UCLA seems to be the head guru of this field ... look him up. I have to say .... that is one giant ugly looking device!

Nicu | 27. Oktober 2011

Ugly or not, if it works, it's all that matters. This is one of those products for which style really doesn't matter.

Btw, lasers were used just to explode the glass ball from the outside so the matter (hot gas) gets compressed. Now they start with plasma and compress it mechanically (via pistons + shock waves). Jeff Bezos has invested a considerable amount in them.

Brian H | 28. Oktober 2011

General Fusion is a huge hammer ball; maybe it will work, but it seems like a kluge, to me.

Tokamak is, IMO, physics' #1 permanent boondoggle. Plasma is just too "frisky" to stay contained in its huge space.

Another outfit is Polywell (EMC2) and its "wiffleball". Check out for info and discussions.

But LPP is far closer to breakeven than any of these. And it doesn't depend on 'stabilizing' plasma, it exploits its instability to cause micro-bursts, over and over. And 5 yrs is very realistic, because the whole device and project are 'tiny' compared to the rest. If it weren't for underperforming 45kV switches purchased from Beverly, which had to be upgraded and replaced by hand, they'd be 9-12 months further along, actually.

Timo | 28. Oktober 2011

Note to others: LPP does produce fusion reliably already. What it doesn't do yet is break-even as Brian H above says.

Equipment to do that costs teeny weeny fraction of the smallest tokamak. Much smarter way of producing fusion than any other. Goal is not only produce fusion but produce aneutronic fusion. Equipment safe ans small enough to put in basement of the apartments to power it, not some distant power plant.

If it succeeds it will revolutionize production of electricity in more ways than just producing clean energy. You could make "portable" power plants to produce energy in disaster areas, make ships nuclear, even put one of those in locomotives removing need of overhead wires. It's small enough to put in large long-haul trucks.

VolkerP | 28. Oktober 2011

But all the boron is going to Fukushima...

David70 | 28. Oktober 2011

"Goal is not only produce fusion but produce aneutronic fusion." Good additional point. The proton-Boron reaction is the only one I've seen that doesn't have neutrons as a by product. In fact traditionally, if they didn't detect neutrons they assumed no fusion.

Brian H | 28. Oktober 2011

In the run-up to switching over to pB11 testing, LPP's been doing D-D, and using the normal neutron testing etc. to characterize the "pinch" events. I'm not up on what sensors and diagnostics will be used when they go neutronless.

ncn | 29. Oktober 2011

Solar has no meaningful geographical limitations and only one meaningful timing limitation ("day"). That will be addressed by substantially improved energy storage systems.

I am not at liberty to disclose why I know that both battery capacity and solar panel efficiency will get much, MUCH better within the next 20 years or so; it is confidential information. Oh, and the grid management problem can be solved, too.

So I can forgive people who don't have that information for not realizing that in 30 years solar will satisfy the vast majority of demand. (Some hydro and geothermal will still be desirable for nighttime baseload.)

Timo | 29. Oktober 2011

@ncn, Solar has no meaningful geographical limitations and only one meaningful timing limitation ("day").

How about year? In north (Canada, Russia, Scandinavia) winter is very dark and that is the time when you need the power most. North of northern arctic circle there is a time when sun doesn't raise at all. Sun rays are also coming in in an angle passing a lot of atmosphere in between, that reduces total radiation quite a lot.

Robert.Boston | 30. Oktober 2011

Let's agree on a few things:
Fusion is promising, but has been tantalizingly "almost there" for quite some time. We need to find other, achievable alternatives.
There are many promising technologies for producing renewable energy: wind, wave, tidal, solar, geothermal.
Given that all of these are intermittent (except geothermal) and geographically variable, there's not going to be any one "magic bullet" renewable tech
With variable generation, energy storage becomes more important
EVs can be an important source of distributed storage, just as roof-top solar is becoming an important source of distributed generation.
I know that marine technologies sound tricky, but believe me, compared to fusion, it's a piece of cake. Look for grid-parity costs in wave energy in about two years (really).

Nicu | 30. Oktober 2011

I'm not ready to believe that yet, but it doesn't cost me anything to follow this story, either to the discovery of a scam or to some good news. They claim to have achieved .5 MW autonomous power generation from fusion. Details are scarce and everything sound too good to be true (usually this means it is).

Brian H | 30. Oktober 2011

IMO, the initiative will be on the market in about 5 yrs., and will render solar and all other renewables instant economic roadkill.

Did you see the size of that plant? For 1 MW? The entire LPP installation, including all walk-around service space, would be about the size of 4 of the racks he was standing beside (2x2), and put out 5 MW. With no added steam turbine-->electricity construction/equipment needed--which his heat engine definitely requires.

It's a white elephant, if the Focus Fusion project succeeds.

Nicu | 31. Oktober 2011

Any tech that works reliably in that direction is already awesomely good. All we need is one of them. Having several is not a bad thing, but that goal is still so elusive that even if only one of the dozens approaches works and only produces 1/10 of what is promised, it will change the world. Having a head start of 5 years may prove to be the most important thing for such a tech. Aren't you tired for all the world changing technologies that were only few years away for the last 50 years?

Zelaza | 31. Oktober 2011

Ahh, LPPhysics. Let's see what they can do for energy in the future and let's do a little due diligence before investing hope and money in this outfit.

LPPhysics = Lawrenceville Plasma Physics. Lawrenceville is a nice town just down the road from Princeton Univ, Princeton Physics department, and the Princeton Plasma Laboratory. How many of the people at any these institutions are moonlighting at LPP for a little extra cash and stock options? NONE!
Staff of LPP. The President, Eric Lerner has a BA in Physics from Columbia University (commendable, if not impressive.) Lerner did graduate work in Physics; code for "did not get a graduate degree."
The CFO, Aaron Blake, has a BA in Social Work and an MBA from Trident Univirsity International, a for profit on line school; very impressive. Oh, and Blake "proposed the idea of injecting angular momentum into the plasma filaments, which was written into the patent." The others are just as impressive :-)
From the Technical Section at the LPP site: Magnetic Field Effect
"The effects of magnetic fields on ion-electron collisions has been studied for some time. It was first pointed out in the 1970s by Oak Ridge researcher J. Rand McNally (does this guy also make maps?) in a non-quantum mechanical form, and more recently astronomers studying neutron stars, which have powerful magnetic fields, noted the quantum mechanical form of the effect, which is much larger. However, Lerner was the first to point out in 2003 that this quantum effect would have a large impact on the plasma focus, where such strong magnetic fields are possible. Experiments have already demonstrated 0.4 giga gauss fields, and DPFs with smaller electrodes and stronger initial magnetic fields can reach as high as 20 giga-gauss, Lerner calculates. This should be achievable in the next round of LPP's experiments. NOTE: (DPF)=The Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) "
So how much is a giga gauss magnetic field? Well, 10,000 gauss = 1 Tesla (magnetic field unit, not car). So, 1 giga gauss = 100,000 Tesla. How much is that? Here is a portion from a recent story in Physorg(dot)com:
"World record: The strongest magnetic fields created
June 28, 2011
On June 22, 2011, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf set a new world record for magnetic fields with 91.4 teslas. To reach this record, Sergei Zherlitsyn and his colleagues at the High Magnetic Field Laboratory Dresden (HLD) developed a coil weighing about 200 kilograms in which electric current create the giant magnetic field – for a period of a few milliseconds. The coil survived the experiment unscathed." Also interesting later in the article is: "In order to examine as closely as possible the electric charge in the materials of tomorrow, researchers need higher magnetic fields with, for example, 90 or 100 teslas. "At 100 teslas, though, the Lorentz force inside the copper would generate a pressure which equals 40,000 times the air pressure at sea level," calculates Joachim Wosnitza. These forces would tear copper apart like an explosion. "
So, if 100 Tesla is larger than the strongest magnetic field yet produced here on earth (not a Neutron Star) what are the chances of producing 10,000 times that field in the next five or ten years? Not too good! And, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near Lawrenceville or Middlesex NJ when they throw the switch.

Nicu | 31. Oktober 2011

I think you meant 1000 not 10,000 times stronger. Anyway, it's the same. I'm glad you did a short version of their website. When I went there, it felt a bit too commercial and not so clear on the technical part so I did not put enough energy to dig into it. You saved me a good deal of time, thanks.

On the other hand, General Fusion's web site is much more clear on what they attempt. This is in no way a judgement on their entire project, just a recommendation for a nice read.

Zelaza | 31. Oktober 2011

Thanks for the vote of confidence (I think?) Yes, one giga gauss is "only" 1000 times 100 Tesla, but Lerner mentions 20 giga gauss which is 20,000 times more. Beyond silly in either case. For more investor confidence in LPP, use Google to drive by their location at 128 Lincoln Blvd, Middlesex NJ. If that doesn't give you confidence enough to write them a check for a few mill, nothing will :-) . Also, their Wish List for equipment donations includes a Tektronix scope and a small lathe; H&ll, I've got that stuff.

I don't have much more confidence in General Fusion. For people who are bothered about the reliability of an ICE with 4, 6, or 8 cylinders and pistons, I wonder how they can be comfortable with a device that sprouts 200 cylinders and pistons. The General Fusion thing just doesn't work for me.

It seems that some sort of (non-government sponsored) Fusion has become the new Perpetual Motion of energy generation. Fusion seems more palatable because, instead of getting energy from nothing, you get prodigious amounts of energy from tiny specs of material and shiny monster machines with bells, whistles, and all sorts of exotic things hanging from it (ala, Victorian era movies.) Ain't gonna' happen, in my opinion.

William13 | 31. Oktober 2011

My bet is on the liquid thorium reactor which both China and India have decided to investigate. The greens and vested interest groups have prevented any significant discussion of this relatively safe and proven type of nuclear reactor. This will change after China or India prove its utility and safety. It is too bad we will be at the end of this technology.

This was proven to work in the 1950s and 1960s.

Fusion has been 5-10 years away for the same time. I wouldn't bet on it.

Crow | 31. Oktober 2011

I did my own math using my electric bill and the Tesla website and came out to 4 cents per mile for the Model S. That's consistent with my utility's website which posted the cost per mile of their company EV utility van fleet at 5 cents per mile. My utility charged me $80.90 for 700kWh. My current car averages 24 mpg and gas is about $3.70. 4 cents per mile vs. 15 cents per mile.

Timo | 31. Oktober 2011

@Zelaza LPP experiment device doesn't create that magnetic field inside a copper coil, what happens is magnetic pinch where strongest magnetic field is in mid-air where that plasma creates fusion. It's not continuous but pulsing (that's why they need capacitors).

Brian H | 31. Oktober 2011

Kind of superficial dissing, there! Anyhow, note the 0.4 giga gauss already. Which is 40,000 tesla. The fields are very brief, during the "pinch".

LPP has demonstrated yields 10-100X closer to "break even" than any other project on the planet (according to publicly available info).

Your contempt for its smallness is misplaced; it has gotten where it is purely on private funds, totalling in the 2-3 $million range, over the last 3-4 years. All the official government-fattened efforts are trying to establish stable containment, which is why the "30-50 years, and always will be" projections come about.

General Fusion is far better funded but still much further from unity.

Anyhow, keep up with the ~monthly technical reports. Far more info coming out than anyone else provides. Oh, by the way. Check again; your staff listing is short by a PhD, an MS, and two consulting PhDs. Plus various other specialists in instrument design etc. who have been involved as required.

Nicu | 31. Oktober 2011

Brian H : "LPP has demonstrated yields 10-100X closer to "break even" than any other project on the planet (according to publicly available info)."

If you have had payed attention, I posted a link with an experiment which claims not only break even, but large net gains. I don't claim I know more than what's in the article and I wouldn't be on it, but the claim is there.

Brian H | 01. November 2011

Re: above reports -- most recent (Oct. 20) here.

Brian H | 01. November 2011

Yes, I'm familiar with the Rossi E-Cat project. It's not fusion as such; LENR is a mysterious energy gain from some kind of metallurical/crystal/electric effect. He's got a huge plant full of his devices, supposedly just sold to an American firm, which is rated at 1 MW. That's heat; figger 30-40% of that steam-converted to electricity, around 350kw. We'll see.

If the LPP generator works, it will occupy about 0.1% of the volume, and produce 5X the total output, as pure electric current, or 15X the net power. At a minute fraction of the cost.

Nicu | 01. November 2011

"Mysterious energy gain" sounds too scarily like "free lunch" of "hoax" for me. I had the feeling they claim cold fusion. Chemical energy is nowhere near what they claim.

If we make abstraction of that, choosing between a solution that is 10x better than we had until now but which is available today and one that is 100x or even 1000x better that will probably be available in the mythical 5 years, I take the first choice with my eyes closed. It's already cheaper to produce energy than to transport it so it simply doesn't matter if it becomes 100x cheaper. And all inventions need a lot of innovations to be put to work in practice, so 5 years (heck, even 2 years) of head start in this race may prove to be crucial.

Zelaza | 02. November 2011

@Brian H:

Regarding your comment concerning LPP, "Oh, by the way. Check again; your staff listing is short by a PhD, an MS, and two consulting PhDs. Plus various other specialists in instrument design etc. who have been involved as required."
I did notice the PhD in Computer Science and am not impressed because CS is not a hard science and has nothing to do with the physics involved. I was in graduate school along with some of the scary smart guys (as Nicu would say) who helped develop CS (Al Aho, Jeff Ullman, Brian Kernihan [sic]) and as brilliant as they are, they probably wouldn't qualify as authorities in Fusion, or other hard physics stuff.
The thing to look at is Lerner and his CFO, Blake, and to see how utterly unqualified they are for the work.
I explored further and found this LPP proposal:

It reads as pure gibberish and in looking through it I have to conclude that LPP is in Looney-Wacko-land and exhibits all the necessary ingredients including conspiracy allegations. At one point the proposal says," ... The new technology already faces efforts to suppress it. Dr. Richard Seimon, Fusion Energy Science Program Manager at Los Alamos, demanded that Dr. Hank Oona, one of the physicists involved in the experiment, dissociate himself from comparisons that showed the new results to be superior in key respects to those of the tokamak and to remove his name from the paper describing the results. Seimon also pressured Dr. Bruce Freeman, another physicist and co-author of the paper, to advocate the removal of all tokamak comparisons from the paper. Seimon did not dispute the data nor the achievement of record high temperatures. However, the tokamak, a much larger and more expensive device, has been the centerpiece of the US fusion effort for 25 years and apparently is now undermined by a smaller upstart.
"Both of my colleagues in this research have been threatened with losing their jobs if they don’t distance themselves from comparisons with the tokamak" says Lerner."

Check out Lerner's CV. He's a science and technology writer. Not a scientist, as he claims.

Nicu | 02. November 2011

I did not use "scary smart", only scary something else that I do not want to repeat too often :)

I can also confirm that having a PhD in a different field does not amount to anything (personal experience, don't want to get into details).

Zelaza | 02. November 2011


I stand corrected concerning "scary smart".
It was Mycroft, in another thread, who wrote, " ... obviously haven't met someone who is scary smart."

David70 | 02. November 2011


Nor does a Ph.D. in a certain discipline (physics, chemistry, etc.) make you qualified in any specific area of that field. I had a friend after a summer job at a well known national lab (I don't remember which now) tell me how little the researchers remembered of physics outside their narrow area of expertise.

Although I took courses in plasma physics and nuclear physics while in grad. school I would in no way be qualified to work with the LPP or any other fusion project (even if younger and smarter).

Well, I did get my Ph.D. in '71 and it was in surface physics, so I wouldn't expect to qualify. Most of my post-doc experience has been in general college physics teaching.

At least their basic arithmetic is right. The mass defect associated with the proton-boron reaction does yield the energies they indicate.

Andrew18 | 02. November 2011

Anyone out there considered a wind turbine for their home?

Robert.Boston | 02. November 2011

Andrew, depending on where you live, that could be an economic option. Solar is more popular because it has little maintenance, operates silently, and isn't very visible. Make sure your local zoning ordinances would allow you to install a wind turbine.

Andrew18 | 02. November 2011

Robert-What about solar shingles?

Robert.Boston | 03. November 2011

Solar shingles attempt a between functionality and aesthetics. If you're looking for the cheapest solar alternative, go with panels, which have higher conversion efficiency and can be mounted in a direction and at an angle to maximize power generation. Assuming your house doesn't happen to have a roof perfectly aimed and slanted, the shingles will be somewhat less effective -- but they look a lot prettier!

As one analyst wrote, "building integrated solar installations are, despite manufacturers' claims, still significantly more expensive than conventional rack-mounted solar arrays due to increased costs associated with manufacturing and installation. The devices currently occupy niche markets for those willing to pay a premium for the aesthetic value of the less-obtrusive integrated systems."

A good article is:,,1205726,00.html

One trouble with solar shingles is that they are fundamentally still based on asphalt, which is basically the sludge left over after cracking a barrel of crude oil There are also more sustainable options, called Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). Instead of mounting PV panels over your existing (or new) asphalt roof, true PV cells are integrated in a sustainable design, such as manufactured slates or tiles. See and for examples.

evpro | 10. November 2011

I think it has already been established that recharging the foreseeable number of electric cars on the existing grid is not a problem. I have not seen any commentary on the coming mass market for LED lighting, which saves 80-90% of energy usage. EVs and LEDs are both poised to happen at the same time (huge potential but current high price being steadily reduced). They will work hand in hand to free up energy for the eventual total replacement of the vehicle fleet. Similar positive feedback loops exist for use of EV batteries for grid storage and the general load evening effect of flexible overnight EV charging. The future of EVs is bright!

b826166 | 16. November 2011

One thing every one has to remember:

1 US Gallon = 3.785 liters

1 UK gallon = 4.55 liters

As of today:

1 gallon of US gasoline = $3.33 (as of today, 11,16/2011, MD, USA)

1 Kilowatt/hour = $0.136040146 (Inclusive of all charges, taxes, etc in Maryland)


($3.33 / $0.136040146) = 24.781 Kw/hrs

24.781 Kw/hrs * 1000 = 24781 watt/hrs

(24781 watt/hrs) / (300 watt/hrs/mile) = 82.6 miles

As in a ICE vs an EV engine, the bottom line will be dependent on tire pressure, road conditions, driving habits, and other factors.

Timo | 17. November 2011

[nitpick: it's kWh not kW/h]

Nice calculation. So Model S reaches 82.6mpg if calculated using dollars instead of efficiencies. I think that matters more.

Here in Europe that would be around 190mpg because gas costs so much more here.

Brian H | 17. November 2011

Here in BC you can divide the power cost in half, and multiply the cost of gas by 1.5, so the S would get about 5/.07 = 70 kwh for the price of a USGal of gas, so 70 x 1000/300 = 233 mpg. Not tea bags!