Would it be possible to create a natural gas electric charger?

Would it be possible to create a natural gas electric charger?

I'm certain this has to have been discussed and not possible, but I figured I would ask. Given in SoCal that Natural gas is around 10x cheaper per therm of energy then buying it from SCE or SDG&E it seems that there would be a lot of cost savings if it were possible to make a charger that would use a natural gas connection. I'm wondering if this might ever be a possibility or is it not possible on the size/scale/saftey for a residential home?

Earl and Nagin ... | 6 avril 2017

You'd need a natural gas generator to convert the natural gas to electricity. At one level, this might be seen as crazy and un-environmental. However, getting past this, I've seen suggestions that natural gas heating could be done with the exhaust from a micro-turbine or ICE . The micro-turbine/ICE could be connected to a generator to create electricity. This home-co-generation system could be a very efficient way to get electricity and heat using the same natural gas.
On the other hand many of us geeks prefer to use solar panels to produce our electricity to charge our cars or at least trade our daytime produced solar electricity for grid electricity at night when we charge.

Garyeop | 6 avril 2017

What about a solid oxide fuel cell?

https://en.m.wikipedia. org/wiki/Solid_oxide_fuel_cell

brando | 6 avril 2017

The economics change depending on YOUR particular situation. You have to run the numbers for your self.

For Utility companies, any new generation the cheapest is either wind or solar.
Possible geothermal and I don't think any locations for new hydro (pumped hydro for storage perhaps - see Hawaii).

For many individuals, electric transport and conservation/efficiency the place to start for best returns.

nadurse | 7 avril 2017

I plan on using a natural gas generator to charge my model 3 when the grid gets wiped out by a solar flare. But for your case I am guessing the efficiency loss of a generator would wipe out any savings from just using grid electricity. I cant say for sure without knowing costs of gas and electricity in your area, but energy conversion/generation is never free.

Rocky_H | 7 avril 2017

If you are talking generator for your home, that idea has already been done long ago. There are plenty of commercial natural gas generators out in the market, which are a pretty good idea, compared to ones that run on gasoline.

mark.willing | 7 avril 2017

This has a few charts on natural gas and propane consumption. A lot of variables to contend with, such as generator size and output, the actual load on the generator, and how much you happen to be paying for natural gas or propane. My solar panels (installed 7.75kWh) with my 2 Powerwall 2's (waiting for) may be able to contribute some, if not all, of a typical plug-in hybrid (less than 30kW battery) on a daily basis,...but I would realistically need a home generator for battery recharging. A Model 3 or other electric, or electric-hybrid, with a 60kW battery,...definitely a need for a generator for home charging.

dangrilley | 7 avril 2017

I have solar on my house and currently pay a 0 electric bill based on the CA climate change credit and allowing SCE to shut off my AC in the summer. I use ~9000 KWH a year and my Solar produces 8000-8500. I have a commute of ~ 120 miles around trip per day 5 days a week. Ballpark I'm guessing that would take ~35 KWH per day x 25 days per month. This would add around 850 KwH per month to my electric bill a lot of which would fall in the 30 cents per KwH category because I don't get a whole lot of the lower tier and especially in the summer I would get nailed. Currently I build up a good KwH credit in the spring that gets used in the summer. I'm definitely looking at paying $200+ a month to charge versus currently paying $120 a month in gas for my prius. Its not that I want/need to save a lot of money on it but I would like to at least come close to breaking even. A therm of gas in my area on the other hand costs $1. I don't know if the conversions are exactly apples for apples, but my quick google says 1 therm = 29 KwH of energy which is about 3.5 cents per KwH verus the 30 cents Edison wants to charge when I go over baseline. Even if the process isn't very efficient something tells me that it would still be a huge cost savings over using the electric grid. Unfortunately expanding my solar setup isn't possible as my south facing roof is completely maxed out and I have a very small yard or that would have been my first option. Isn't burning natural gas fairly clean compared with most other fossil fuels?

ken.hixson | 7 avril 2017

As per the prior comments the short answer is definitely can use natural gas to electric, utilities do it all the time and so do natural gas generators that are used often for home back up systems.

I am guessing there is a reason you are not exploring using solar instead. I also have installed solar so the only electric costs I have is a $9/mo bill as I produce more than I consume for my home and my Tesla. At $9/mo it just doesn't make economic sense to go completely off grid by installing Powerwalls and sometimes there are some long intervals in winter that might drain stored power too much so right now I contribute solar to the grid but I also use grid for nights/bad weather/backup.

mark.willing | 7 avril 2017

Isn't burning natural gas fairly clean compared with most other fossil fuels?

Yes. However, and this is a big however, natural gas tends to leak terribly from point A to point B.

I would rather not burn any fossil fuels,...but that's just not a reality for myself and most folks. Maybe some day we will get there.

dangrilley | 8 avril 2017

As stated in my second comment I already have solar without the possibility of expansion. My south facing roof is 100% covered and I currently use slightly more electricity than I make, but my bill is zeroed due to climate credit and other discount programs. The problem is 100% of my EV charging would not be covered by my existing solar and a large portion would end up going at the SCEs highest billable rate because of my long commute. I might look at putting in a second meter and going after the EV rate which is ~14 cents per KwH, but I have read this costs around $7000 to get set up and at $~100 /month savings it would take a while to beak even. My solar has a 6-7 year break even point so I can sort of live with it, but I'm curious if Natural gas might be even more cost effective.

rxlawdude | 8 avril 2017

@dangrilley, your main issue is you are on TIERED service (Residential Rate D). You need to switch to a TOU plan, which with solar will credit you more when rates are high during daylight hours, and charge you less per kWh when the sun isn't shining.

Then, your EV charging should be scheduled for "super off peak" rate periods.