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Messages - Sigmetnow

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Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: Today at 09:40:09 PM »
“Weak growth in demand for oil in many parts of the world in the first quarter made it tougher to draw down U.S. stockpiles, according to Credit Suisse analysts.”

Oil prices will be stuck below $60 through 2020, Credit Suisse forecasts
Credit Suisse on Monday cut its long-term oil price forecast by $5 to $57.50 in 2020.
Oil markets won't reach the long-awaited balance between supply and demand until 2019, the bank said.

WTI for September is currently $46.36.
Brent Crude is $48.63.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: Today at 09:23:45 PM »
A square ~161 km (~100 miles) on a side would, during 1 year, produce the energy equivalent to that used annually in the entire United States.
– Elon‘s 100 Mile Square of solar panels has been around for almost 20 years now. Interesting data points from research – 10% efficiency of solar panels. Today’s average commodity solar panel is about 16% efficiency, 60% greater than in the article. Solar panels pretty soon (middle 2020s?) will be pushing 20-24% for the commodity product. Greater than 100-140% more efficiency than the paper. That square gets smaller every day.

A Realizable Renewable Energy Future (1999 research)

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: Today at 09:16:23 PM »
Are Four Wind-Turbine Failures in Five Weeks Too Many for NextEra Energy?
Out of the ordinary but not a surprise with thousands spinning, company says
“These are four different issues at four different sites involving two different equipment manufacturers. Two of the issues involved turbine blades, one was a tower, and one was a fire in the nacelle. Yes, we are investigating each incident, as we would with any equipment issue. … We view these as isolated equipment issues. I should also point out there were no injuries.”
NextEra Energy Resources owns and operates nearly 10,000 wind turbines across the country. Of the turbines’ combined 30,000 blades, there are only five or six blade failures a year, so two in a month is out of the ordinary, Garner notes....


Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: Today at 04:01:58 PM »
Even in fossil-fuel-loving Texas, with its dearth of environmental restrictions... coal isn't economical any more.

Coal power plant lays off dozens, shuts down year-round operations
ANDERSON, Tex. (KBTX) - About seventy employees of the coal-fired electrical plant at Gibbons Creek in Anderson are being laid off.

The Texas Municipal Power Agency is moving to seasonal operations, meaning it will only run during the hot summer months, June through September.

Both TMPA and Bryan Texas Utilities officials say, it's not economical to keep the plant running year round. With the [low price] of natural gas, and the advent of more efficient alternative enrgy sources, they say coal power is just too expensive.

The layoffs at TMPA will begin in October. About 20 employees will remain to run safety operations at the plant over the winter. Then, as June approaches, more will be added back to get the plant up to full operation for the summer.

Bryan, Garland, Denton, and Greenville make up the Texas Municipal Power Agency. The TMPA has been trying to sell this power plant for nearly a year now. BTU officials say, it's not going well, and there are no pending sales nor attractive offers.

The deadline to sell is September 2018. At that point, the TMPA board will have to decide whether to shut down operations at Gibbons Creek completely.

However, Gibbons Creek reservoir will remain open to the public for the time being.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: Today at 03:50:30 PM »
Africa unplugged
Small-scale solar power is surging ahead

Electrek says:
Off-grid solar…is now thought to be providing power to perhaps 600,000 households in Africa. Industry executives reckon that over the next year the number of home-power systems on African roofs will grow by 60-100%. M-Kopa, the market leader, has installed 400,000 systems and, at its current rate of growth, may add another 200,000 to that number over the next year. Smaller rivals such as Off Grid Electric, Bboxx and Azuri Technologies may well double their client base over the same period.

– These are millions of people who will first learn to manage their electricity usage by getting just a touch of what a western lifestyle uses. They will buy efficient hardware to maximize and not waste a drip. Overtime, they’ll expand adding more panels and more household hardware. Infrastructure won’t get built here – and just like cell phones leapfrogged poles – so will off-grid solar.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: Today at 03:38:09 PM »
The Attacks On Cleantech Leaders Have Begun — Expect More
Renewables and electric vehicles have already gotten extremely competitive, but when more oil, gas, coal, nuclear, auto, taxi, investment, and semi truck companies are collapsing or have collapse in their sight, they will get desperate. Some of them will hire professional shit talkers. Some of them will fund political campaigns for people like Don the Con. Some of them will commission error-infused reports from think tanks. All of these actions will lead to some genuine, good-hearted people getting incorrect ideas in their heads — bad ideas — and unbeknownst to themselves fighting progress.

Toyota could finally start mass producing electric cars thanks to China
Toyota has long been one of the most reticent large automakers when it comes to producing all-electric vehicles. It had no problems with hybrids, e.g. the Prius, but the Japanese automaker would only produce the bare minimum when it came to zero-emission mandates, e.g. the Rav4 EV in California, and they quickly lobbied to change those mandates.

They are now doing the same in China, where the government is about to ramp up its electric car mandate, and while Toyota, like almost all other automakers, tried to stop the mandate, it looks it’s going to happen and it might finally force the automaker to mass produce EVs.

Now Japan’s Nikkei is out with a new report stating that Toyota is indeed considering the mass production of EVs to comply to China’s mandate and that they are again focusing on SUVs.
The main thing that has slowed down Toyota’s development of battery-powered vehicles is their commitment to hydrogen fuel cells. As we previously reported, the few automakers who are still entrenched in fuel cell hydrogen technology are slowly succumbing to physics and going battery-electric instead.

Yet automakers like Hyundai and Toyota still insist that the long-term future is hydrogen, but in order to comply with current zero-emission mandates, they are turning to batteries.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 23, 2017, 10:59:31 PM »
"(I'm leaning toward rapid recharge.)"

Me, too.  Although Musk has teased that a 350 kW charger is a "children's toy" compared to what he has in the works, there's also the possibility that the semi-truck has several Model-S-sized battery packs, and you just plug them all in, using separate plugs (into a special battery-fed charger, so as not to tax the grid).

The semi uses Model 3 motors, so using battery packs similar to existing Tesla packs might also make (manufacturing) sense.

Tesla already has "The Snake", a robotic charge connector.  And liquid cooled charging cables. 

I can see Tesla introducing an automatic charging station for their big trucks.  And industrial sized arm that plugs and unplugs itself without human involvement. 

They're going to need something like that for autonomous trucking.  Or hire a Gomer for every truck charging station.

Tesla recently filed a patent for an under-the-vehicle, high-power charging system, which could be automated....

A recently released patent application gives a glimpse at a potential solution that Tesla could implement for both high speed charging and automated charging.

Ah, OK.  I had assumed a good portion of the early M3s would be exported. 

I went ahead and put down my deposit on a M3 last week.  I suspect that I really want a Model Y (more cargo room).  But a M3 might work for me, it would just take more planning.

When they show up in a showroom I'll go and take a look.  And then I'll watch to see how they perform in snow.  Ideally I want four wheel drive.  I don't know if that will be an option when my number comes up.  And I probably won't pull the trigger until I'm sure autonomous driving will happen.

Wow!  Congrats!  Dual-motor should be available early 2018 (but you probably saw that reservations made now likely won't be filled until mid-2018).  You can hold your reservation until they offer the options you want -- or even use it toward another model.

"At least by sometime in 2018.  The Model 3 should be coming out of the plant at a rate of 400,000/year, 33,333/month.  Assume 50% are exported to Europe and Asia.  That's roughly 16,000 per month which would get them close to the top 20."

The 20,000 Model 3s a month Musk estimates for December is more than enough to get into the top U.S. 25.  Remember, his cautious rollout involves deliveries limited to California at first, then move east through the U.S.  Foreign countries (except maybe Canada) don't expect to see any Model 3s until well into 2018.  Musk is also keenly aware that U.S. buyers are looking anxiously at the 200,000 U.S. sales limit which can get the full $7,500 tax credit.  He may allow a few foreign sales as needed to get that magic vehicle to happen at the beginning of a quarter, in order to maximize the time the credit will be available, but I suspect that's about all.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 23, 2017, 09:32:29 PM »
"(I'm leaning toward rapid recharge.)"

Me, too.  Although Musk has teased that a 350 kW charger is a "children's toy" compared to what he has in the works, there's also the possibility that the semi-truck has several Model-S-sized battery packs, and you just plug them all in, using separate plugs (into a special battery-fed charger, so as not to tax the grid).

The semi uses Model 3 motors, so using battery packs similar to existing Tesla packs might also make (manufacturing) sense.

When Will an EV Crack the Top 25 Selling Autos in the US Ranking?
To date, no EV – either plugin hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) – has come anywhere close to breaking into the top 25 sales chart for autos in the US. The 5,850 estimated units of the Tesla Model S sold in December of 2016, would rank 75th in the month of June 2017.

- Article has a handy chart of the top 25 selling vehicles in the U.S. for June 2017.

- The Tesla Model 3 could break into the top 25 by the end of this year. (Musk's latest estimate is 20,000 a month in December.)

The rest / Re: Solar Eclipse 2017
« on: July 23, 2017, 07:54:29 PM »
NASA wants You to report on cloud and temperature changes that occur during the eclipse.

“No matter where you are in North America, whether it’s cloudy, clear or rainy, NASA wants as many people as possible to help with this citizen science project,” said Kristen Weaver, deputy coordinator for the project. “We want to inspire a million eclipse viewers to become eclipse scientists.”

NASA Invites You to Become a Citizen Scientist During US Total Solar Eclipse

Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2017
« on: July 23, 2017, 07:42:12 PM »
More on the record Pacific storms. (Plus some Atlantic historic data.)

Eight Tropical Cyclones At Once in the North Pacific Ocean For First Time Since 1974
The north Pacific Ocean pulled off an impressive feat with eight tropical cyclones spinning at one time Saturday, July 22, something that hasn't been accomplished in more than four decades.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 23, 2017, 07:35:59 PM »

Rover Gas Pipeline Builder Faces Investigation by Federal Regulators
Energy Transfer Partners has been accused of destroying a historic home after promising “no adverse effects” and fouling farm fields and wetlands in Ohio.
Federal regulators will investigate Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, for alleged violations associated with its $4.2 billion Rover natural gas pipeline in Ohio.

The investigation comes as the number of violations and fines against the company over the Rover project continue to grow.
"Generally, when the agency is dealing with a company and there are violations and proposed orders, the company will respond in writing and show some degree of contrition and make some sort of a counter offer or alternate proposal," Lee said. "In three rounds of proposed administrative orders, Rover would not do that."

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 23, 2017, 05:40:11 PM »
“We have no idea what we’re doing—I want to be clear about that.”
- Elon Musk, re tunneling

Don't forget: before Musk came along, there was no such thing as reusable orbital-class rockets... or modern high-volume luxury EVs.  The future of tunneling will probably look like nothing from the past -- or even the present.  His close friends made him watch a 20 minute video of rockets blowing up, and journalist after journalist said of Tesla, "You know you are going to fail, right?"

Just wait. :)

… A quarter mile of my ride home is a single lane, barely clinging on the side of a mountain, unpaved road.  Cars may have to 'learn' to drive that road (especially in the snow).  Humans are going to have to do the training by manually driving it a few times.

I was fascinated by the stories, in the early days of the Tesla Autopilot, about cars unexpectedly taking exit lanes, or refusing to engage at all on some tricky roads — but after a week or two of driving those routes, the car stopped diving toward the exits, and they drove just fine on routes it had previously considered unacceptable.

Artificial Intelligence and computer learning!  By the fleet as a whole, as well as individual cars.  Every Tesla built today has a supercomputer on top of the glove box....

I wonder if we'll end up with Level 5 cars that can be remotely driven by someone if the car gets stuck/confused.  I wouldn't be surprised if cars always maintained the ability for humans to take over.  It could be done with something as simple as a touchscreen.   

Musk mentioned at the Governor’s conference that hacking was one of his greatest concerns — “if someone hacked the Tesla fleet and sent all the cars to Rhode Island… that would be the end of Tesla” — and suggested there would always be a kill switch [which could make the car slow down, pull to the side of the road, and stop, which Teslas on Autopilot do now if they do not get feedback from the driver for a minute or two], or have some way for the occupants to take over.

Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science
« on: July 23, 2017, 04:38:14 PM »
“It is easy to use delusions to obstruct and destroy. Building something is hard. Building something valuable means thinking about consequences and confronting weaknesses in an ideological framework. Building something invites consequences. Republicans cannot govern because Republicans lack any respect for facts. Tilting at windmills is much easier than constructing them.”

Why Republicans Cannot Replace the ACA, Or Accomplish Anything Else

Hottest day ever in Shanghai as heat wave bakes China
SHANGHAI: Shanghai sweltered under a new record high of 40.9°C (105°F) on Friday (Jul 21), authorities said as they issued a weather "red alert" over a stubborn heat wave that has plagued much of the country.

Hospitals in the city have reported increased numbers of patients suffering from heat-related illnesses, according to state media, and the Shanghai zoo said it was putting large blocks of ice into some animal enclosures to help them beat the heat, while providing frozen apples to its pandas.

China's most populous city has baked under soaring summer temperatures for more than two weeks and Friday afternoon reached the hottest point since the establishment of its benchmark weather station in 1872, the municipal weather bureau said.

Other areas of China also have seen records set in recent weeks, in what has been a torrid summer so far for much of the country, while large areas of south-central China have endured raging floods from torrential rain....

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 23, 2017, 03:55:51 PM »
Here's his originally-proposed San Francisco Bay route (mostly above ground, using highway right-of-way).  Turns are engineered to restrict passenger G-forces to no more than 0.5G.

Visualization - The preliminary route is shown in yellow. Bend radii are shown in red.

Route - Follows I-580 to minimize land/right of way purchase costs. Deviation from I-580 West of Dublin in order to develop straight sections.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 23, 2017, 03:45:26 PM »
Wide sweeping heavily banked turns are certainly doable, but how does one adjust to up and down movements at speed?

Wide sweeping up and down movements.

Or, slow down to a couple hundred miles per hour through the mountains.  The real mountainous part of the Sierras, on a route from SF to NYC is about 50 miles. 

Or one drops south to LA and then east.

That's the route I was referring to. When that tunnel is completed you'll be dead, I'll be dead, and Musk's life will be a footnote in history books.

Remember when the Europeans taught the poor benighted Japanese how to build proper brick edifices, by the time the second earthquake struck they either abandoned them, or carried on at a terrible cost to avoid losing face. There's a reason Californians haven't been world leaders in subway construction, and it's not because holes are hard to dig.


From Musk's Hyperloop paper:

For aerodynamic efficiency, the speed of a capsule in the Hyperloop is typically:

• 300 mph (480 kph) where local geography necessitates a tube bend radii < 1.0 mile (1.6 km)
• 760 mph (1,220 kph) where local geography allows a tube bend > 3.0 miles (4.8 km) or where local geography permits a straight tube.

These bend radii have been calculated so that the passenger does not experience inertial accelerations that exceed 0.5g. This is deemed the maximum inertial acceleration that can be comfortably sustained by humans for short periods. To further reduce the inertial acceleration experienced by passengers, the capsule and/or tube will incorporate a mechanism that will allow a degree of ‘banking’.

Re: "They want accessibility incorporated into car design and states to steer clear of laws that would prohibit the blind from one day sitting in the driver’s seat."

This sounds weird. This is Level 5 automation, which is not there yet. Although I would like to see Stevie Wonder laying rubber in a muscle car.

Although Elon Musk said recently that in 10 to 20 years, owning a purely manually-driven car will be "a hobby, like owning a horse," he has also said some people like to drive their cars, so he doesn't think steering controls will disappear soon.

I am reminded of this Nissan ID Concept video, which has manual controls that fold away when the car becomes fully autonomous.  So the idea of a "driver's seat" may be with us for a while yet, and the blind don't want to be shut out of the new technology due to a technicality of the law.

All of Tesla’s seat options are now vegan
...Tesla’s mission statement is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”  While many are attracted to Teslas simply because of their incredible performance or for other reasons, it’s obvious that the point of an electric car company is to offer consumers a more environmentally-friendly choice.  So, naturally, this would mean that many of Tesla’s customers would seek out an interior which doesn’t rely on bovine agriculture (which, while tasty, has quite a large environmental impact).  And since there’s significant overlap between vegetarians/vegans and electric car buyers, this seems like a natural move by Tesla.

For any buyers who are worried about this because they traditionally prefer leather seats, Tesla’s vegan interiors have been getting good reviews from owners and seem quite durable and comfortable....

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 23, 2017, 12:04:18 AM »
Los Angeles will have a subterranean version of the Basingstoke Roundabouts! ;D
Good thing we can leave the navigation to a computer. 8)

Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science
« on: July 22, 2017, 08:17:22 PM »
Trump Nominates Climate-Denying, Conservative Talk Show Host as U.S. Department of Agriculture's Top Scientist
Clovis, an early advisor to the Trump campaign, has a master's in business administration and a doctoral degree in public administration, and appears to have no published scientific or academic work to his name. The position he is nominated for, which is tasked to provide scientific direction and uphold "scientific integrity" at the USDA, has previously been held by distinguished scientists with deep expertise in certain issue areas.

In a 2014 interview, Clovis called evidence of climate change "junk science," claiming that he has "enough of a science background to know when I'm being boofed."

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 22, 2017, 06:16:05 PM »
Elon would love to have a freight hyperloop between the Nevada Gigafactory and the car factory in Hawthorne, California. 
My guess is, tunnels bored quickly using lasers (or, a workable Star Trek Transporter!) would happen first. ;D

Elon Musk says Hyperloop route up to Tesla Gigafactory 1 would be ‘great’ to curb ‘gigantic’ logistic cost

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 22, 2017, 05:41:30 PM »
On and off ramps are basically sidings.  The approaches have to be long enough for pods/sleds to exit and merge at full speed.

I'm having trouble believing single car sleds are going to be a big deal.  We need pods moving at very high speeds and charging small money in order to lure people off roads.  Really fast subways.

I refer to the Boring Co. sleds concept video simply to show an existing illustration of "elevators" and merging traffic. :)

As you suggested, within city limits you might have a separate "city exits" hyperloop tube section that joins, at the north and south ends, with the "through traffic" tube.  Well, at least four tunnels in city areas, then:  local, and through traffic, for northbound traffic; the same for southbound. I wonder if a single city elevator would have ramps to serve both directions?  That would make it easier to get empty pods to stations that need them....

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 22, 2017, 05:12:21 PM »
RE100, a group of companies with a commitment to transition to 100% renewable power, has reached its 100 members milestone.  The group has total revenue of US$2.5 trillion and operates in a diverse range of sectors – from Information Technology to automobile manufacturing.

Union of Concerned Scientists:

"US electric vehicle (EV) sales are up 45% for the twelve-month period from July 2016 through June 2017, compared to the prior twelve-month period."
There is one category notably lacking among US EVs sales: the pickup truck. The best-selling light-duty vehicle in the US has for 35 years been the Ford F-series, with 820,799 units sold in 2016 (this is more than double the sales of the top-selling car in 2016, the Toyota Camry).

Some companies perform aftermarket conversions to turn trucks into plug-in hybrids, and others have announced plans to build brand-new electric pickup trucks (such as Tesla, Via, Havelaar, and Workhorse). Trucks have a wide range of needs and duty cycles, and not all applications would be suited to electrification at present. There are definitely engineering challenges to resolve.

Still, a plug-in version of the F-150 could serve the needs of many owners, and could propel Ford to the top of the EV sales charts. This is not in Ford’s plans at the moment (although a basic hybrid F-150 is), but what if the company experiences positive results from its other electric and plug-in products? Might we see an electric F-150? Or would the Chevy Silverado or Dodge Ram (the #2 and #3 selling vehicles in 2016) have plug-in versions first?

The pickup truck market is too big to ignore. As battery technology continues to improve, it should become easier to make electrification work for at least part of this segment.

Here's a helpful list of announced future EVs (in the U.S., only, for now).
2020 should be awesome! ;) Or a frustrating time, filled with empty promises and carmaker tears.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 22, 2017, 03:24:54 PM »
Except with a short run and a very fast speed there would be no way to move from the furthest station at full speed.  Other pods would be stopped or slowed and on the track.  On rail systems the 'local' moves to a siding to let the 'express' highball on through.

On-ramps and off-ramps. :)

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 22, 2017, 03:07:40 PM »
Oren, Bob Wallace ...

I feel I am shamed by a recent tweet:

Some people want  a big house, a fast car and  lots of money.

Others want a tiny cabin in the woods away from those kids of people

(Anyone know how I can find that tweet again?)


Just google it.  It appears to be a popular meme.

Here's one:

34 new fast-charging stations with energy storage for EVs to be deployed along Trans-Canada Highway
Good news for Canadian electric car drivers or soon-to-be electric car drivers. A new network of DC fast-charging stations has been announced to cover the Trans-Canada Highway in a currently underserved region between Ontario and Manitoba.

Interestingly, the stations will be equipped with energy storage systems in order to make sure it can deliver fast-charging even where there are grid limitations.
The project, which is expected to cost CAD $17.3 million (USD $13.6 million) and is partially funded by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is a partnership between 3 energy storage companies: eCAMION, based in Toronto, Dallas-based Leclanché North America, part of Switzerland’s Leclanché SA and SGEM based in Geneva....

The comments under the article mention locations of other Canadian fast-charger stations.

Policy and solutions / Re: Boring, boring ol' Elon Musk...
« on: July 22, 2017, 03:27:47 AM »
Elon Musk: Discussing physics of tunnels with Mayor Vargas (who has a physics background). Hawthorne support for The Boring Company much appreciated.

More photos in the sub-tweet.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 21, 2017, 11:55:02 PM »
"The number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States in the week ended July 21 totaled 764, up by 393 from a year ago. Including 186 other rigs drilling for natural gas, there are 950 working rigs in the country, up by 488 the same from last year.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for August delivery settled at $46.79 a barrel, down 0.7% on Thursday, the contract’s final day of trading. WTI for September delivery traded down 2.4% on Friday at $45.75. ..."

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 21, 2017, 11:53:08 PM »
Let's get back to the real issue.  There are a number of people who need a car.  And a number of people who don't actually need a car but want one.  The number of people who don't actually need a car, only want one, and are willing to give up their car in order to combat climate change is insignificant. 

We will not get oil out of our transportation systems by asking people to make a sacrifice. 

We won't get coal and natural gas off our grids by asking people to not buy coal/gas generated electricity.

I've watched and been part of the "green" movement since the mid 1960s.  We haven't stopped the use of fossil fuels.  We weren't able to decrease the use of fossil fuels any appreciable amount.  Fifty years of trying should be enough to tell us that we will not be able to avoid extreme climate by getting people to give up stuff, be that stuff cars or buying new clothes.

The only hopeful route I see off fossil fuels is to give people acceptable, affordable alternatives. 
I fully agree.

Well said, Bob.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 11:44:35 PM »
"If one gets on at the furthest station there should be  'direct to downtown' pod option and perhaps one or more options that stop only at a few stations.  Twelve stops to get downtown would slow things up."

I've heard several times over the years that individual hyperloop pods would be able to go directly to their destination, with no stops.  I imagine that as you request a pod, or, when you enter one, you give your destination... and computers time your entry into the tunnel against other pods, so your pod does not have to stop.  Particularly in town, individual pods could be sped up or slowed down slightly to adjust the traffic flow.  They don't have to be like connected cars on a train, all going the same speed.

Audi to update 850,000 cars as diesel recalls widen
German automaker Audi says it will fit up to 850,000 diesel cars with new software to improve their emissions performance, following a similar move by rival Daimler as the auto industry tries to get ahead of public controversy over the technology.

Audi, the luxury brand of the Volkswagen Group, announced the voluntary retrofitting program on Friday. The company said in a statement that it "aims to maintain the future viability of diesel engines" and believes the program "will counteract possible bans on vehicles with diesel engines."

The free program, which will apply to Europe and other markets outside the U.S. and Canada, applies to cars with six-cylinder and eight-cylinder diesel engines. The service action also applies to Porsche and Volkswagen models with the same types of engines.

On Tuesday, Daimler said it will voluntarily recall 3 million Mercedes-Benz cars with diesel engines in Europe to improve their emissions performance.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 10:23:03 PM »
Elon Musk and the hyperbolic hyperloop 'announcement'

a spokesman for The Boring Company did say that it intends to break ground on the project this year.
We've been trying to track down whom exactly Mr Musk might have been talking to about this. I won’t keep you in suspense: we failed.
Suffice it to say, Mr Musk’s promise of “rapid” formal approval seems way, way off the mark. It takes a committee to move a lamppost in America, let alone a multi-tunnel transport ecosystem that would be the most ambitious infrastructure the US will have seen since it began building freeways way back in the 1930s.

Musk has had positive discussions with the mayor of Los Angeles, and does have permits for digging near SpaceX in Hawthorne, California.

Musk tweeted:  @ejohnson99 City of Chicago already approached us about doing a high speed tunnel from O'Hare to downtown. They've been great.

And: @curiousworlds For sure. First set of tunnels are to alleviate greater LA urban congestion. Will start NY-DC in parallel. Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop.

And: @libbycwatson Verbal approval was at Federal level. Still a lot of work before formal, written approval, but this opens door for state & city discussions.

Hyperlooping by tunnel, rather than on the surface, means even most “lampposts” won’t need to be moved. :)  Tunnel below infrastructure, without needing to condemn land above the route.

Musk tweeted: City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city

If you’ll recall the Boring Company concept video:
You’ll see the entrance/exit envisioned is indeed a simple elevator (the hyperloop would also require an airlock).  Meaning hyperloop “stations” might only take up about as much surface area as a bus stop or taxi stand.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 09:40:36 PM »
For comparison, here's some info on today's airliners speed:

Wikipedia: "Typical cruising airspeed for a long-distance commercial passenger aircraft is 475–500 knots (878–926 km/h; 546–575 mph)."

"Airliners generally cruise between about Mach 0.8 and Mach 0.9, which at cruising altitudes of 30,000 to 40,000 feet, is around 450 to 500 knots (or about 500 to 600 MPH). No airliner other than the Concorde is capable of supersonic flight.

Airliners can only fly a very narrow range of speeds at cruise flight (the so-called "coffin corner").  The higher you fly, the more narrow the margin.  At the bottom end is stall speed, which increases with decreasing air pressure (increasing altitude).  At the top end is maximum Mach speed, which decreases with increasing altitude.  At around 40,000 feet of altitude, this speed range may be only a dozen knots or so.  So these aircraft do not have a very wide range of speeds to select from.

Aircraft normally do not fly a faster speed to make up for delays.  The airspeed of each flight is typically chosen in advance by the airline (in the form of the cost index or CI), and it depends on the profitability of the flight.  A faster flight burns more fuel but makes the plane available for more paying passengers in a day, so the cost of fuel and the price of an airline ticket determine what speed is the most economical.  The #1 factor in making up for lost time is tailwinds, which give the aircraft a "free" speed bonus that doesn't affect the coffin corner. (This is because the coffin corner speeds are airspeeds, relative to the surrounding air, but a tailwind increases only groundspeed.)

Most mid- and large-body airliners typically fly the same speeds.  It's not that the airline is trying to normalize travel speeds; it's that a 747 and a 737 have similar performance capabilities at cruising altitude.  They only majorly differ on passenger capacity and range."

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 09:32:26 PM »
"Imagine a straight route from SF to NYC that doesn't bother to go around the mountains or slow down to weave through them but just goes under at full speed."

I believe Musk has said the Hyperloop is most efficient up to about 900 miles.  More than that, flying is more efficient.

I fail to see why this would be true.  The 'loop would be faster than a commercial jet.  It would use far less energy per mile.  And there would be no weather disruptions.

eta:  Ah, supersonic airplanes.  Lots of energy required.  Might be like the Concorde, only for the champaign class.
Perhaps by flying Musk means suborbital rocket? Fly up 50km then there is no air resistance to speak of until you want it to slow down.

Musk has mentioned that his "landable and reusable rocket" technology could be used to travel anywhere on earth in a few minutes.  But yes, the cost would be prohibitive for most.

Here is his explanation of the 900-mile hyperloop limit:
The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. Around that inflection point, I suspect that supersonic air travel ends up being faster and cheaper. With a high enough altitude and the right geometry, the sonic boom noise on the ground would be no louder than current airliners, so that isn’t a showstopper. Also, a quiet supersonic plane immediately solves every long distance city pair without the need for a vast new worldwide infrastructure.

However, for a sub several hundred mile journey, having a supersonic plane is rather pointless, as you would spend almost all your time slowly ascending and descending and very little time at cruise speed. In order to go fast, you need to be at high altitude where the air density drops exponentially, as air at sea level becomes as thick as molasses (not literally, but you get the picture) as you approach sonic velocity.

Here is his Hyperloop paper:

Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science
« on: July 21, 2017, 08:44:31 PM »
Quoting the Reply #243 above:
Eric Holthaus:  Whoa. France just launched and is offering grants of up to 1.5 million Euro for climate scientists to move there.

Now this:
Hundreds of climate scientists, including many from the United States, have applied to work in France under a €60-million (US$69-million) scheme set up by the country's president, Emmanuel Macron, after his US counterpart Donald Trump rejected the Paris accord on global warming. And Germany has announced that it will set up a similar programme to lure researchers.

Macron launched his ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ initiative on 8 June, seeking to entice researchers in other countries to France with offers of 4-year grants worth up to €1.5 million. Six weeks on, the programme has been flooded with applicants, says Anne Peyroche, a biologist and the chief research officer of the CNRS, France’s national basic-research agency.

Policy and solutions / Re: Energy Efficiency: The “First Fuel”
« on: July 21, 2017, 08:29:06 PM »
Aliso Canyon Should Close Permanently, Says California Governor Jerry Brown

A call to phase out Southern California’s biggest natural-gas storage site in 10 years, and bring in efficiency, solar PV, energy storage and demand response to take its place.
The threat drove the CPUC to fast-track utility deployments of DERs in record time, starting with Southern California Edison’s procurement of more than 70 megawatts of energy storage from Tesla, Greensmith Energy and AES Energy Storage. SCE has also turned to Nest to enable 50 megawatts of smart thermostat-enabled peak load reduction, tapping about 50,000 of its existing customers in the region with utility incentives and fine-tuned behavioral and automated demand response.

Southern California Gas is also working with Nest to deliver incentives to customers in return for some control over their thermostats -- not to reduce summer peak air conditioning usage, but to lower natural-gas heating bills. While this incentive-based program is measured in terms of overall efficiency, not peak capacity, it coincides with smaller but challenging regional winter peak in demand for electricity and gas.

These combined projects represent a little more than one-tenth of the generation capacity fed by Aliso Canyon’s reserves. Replacing Aliso Canyon’s capacity and reliability is no small task, and “not one that I take lightly or without thoughtful consideration,” Weisenmiller wrote.

“In the short term, we must continue to closely monitor energy reliability in Southern California through peak usage in the summer and winter. We must also work with all parties to pursue effective mitigation measures to meet the energy demands of residential and commercial customers.”

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 21, 2017, 08:24:38 PM »
Aliso Canyon Should Close Permanently, Says California Governor Jerry Brown

A call to phase out Southern California’s biggest natural-gas storage site in 10 years, and bring in efficiency, solar PV, energy storage and demand response to take its place.
Aliso Canyon, the leaking natural-gas storage site that’s been shut down for the past year and a half, has driven utilities Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas to invest millions in demand response, batteries, and other distributed energy resources.

Now California Governor Jerry Brown wants it to be closed permanently, forcing utilities and state regulators to come up with a plan to replace a major part of the region’s energy infrastructure with a lot more of the same.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 12:11:52 PM »
From WaPo:

Asked if it had given Musk verbal approval, a White House spokesman said, “We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector.”
A Boring Co. spokesperson said: “We look forward to future conversations with the cities and states along this route and we expect to secure the formal approvals necessary to break ground later this year.”

Per the article, most city government's heads are exploding. ;D  Elon Who?

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 01:22:14 AM »
NWS Podunk (a parody site satirizing a U.S. weather service office out in the boonies):

"Some nice man called us the other day and asked if he could dig a tunnel for a fast train that runs on magnets. We told him it sounded okay!"

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 12:29:07 AM »
Color me highly doubtful. Not that I disbelieve Elon's intentions, but where is the business plan? Long-term financing? Where are the billions that will be invested upfront to pay for all this boring, infrastructure, stations etc., with very slow payback? I just hope he doesn't mean to do it through Tesla, as it might cause it to go bankrupt.

I have not seen anything about Tesla or Musk taking up Hyperloop production.  Musk may do the Boring, and partner with a separate Hyperloop company(s) for the installation and operations.

It looks like California, and Chicago, to start, are willing to finance hyperloops.

CarbonBrief: Factcheck: How much power will UK electric vehicles need?
Electric vehicles (EVs) could grow more than twice as fast over the next 10 years as expected just a year ago, potentially posing major challenges for the UK’s electricity grid.

That’s according to National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios, published today. The annual report presents a wide range of possible futures, partly in order to flag those challenges, so that they can be planned for and avoided. It does not make forecasts of what is most likely to happen.

In one scenario, where 100% of cars go electric but smart charging and shared autonomous vehicles help manage the impact on the grid, peak demand could be limited to around 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2050. This is equivalent to 10% of the current 60GW peak demand on a cold winter’s day.

Yet in today’s media reports, several headline writers presented a more extreme scenario – in which no efforts are made to manage the impact of EVs on the grid – as a racing certainty.

Carbon Brief runs through the misleading headlines and picks out the other key points raised by this year’s Future Energy Scenarios....

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: July 21, 2017, 12:12:08 AM »
July 20

States of Emergency in California and British Columbia from Raging Wildfires
One of the largest evacuations in British Columbia history is underway, thanks to 155 wildfires—including fifteen major wildfires that threaten populated areas—that have forced more than 45,000 people from their homes. According to CBC News, the number of evacuations is approaching the province’s record set in 2003, when 50,000 people were forced out of their homes by a wildfire near Kelowna. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre reported on July 19 that the nation was operating at the highest level of wildfire response, Level 5, and that international assistance would likely be needed, since “national resource levels are insufficient to meet occurring and anticipated wildland fire activity.” A state of emergency was declared for the province on July 7, and has been extended through the end of July....

Detwiler Fire threatens California’s historic town of Mariposa

A state of emergency was declared on Wednesday in Mariposa County, including parts of Yosemite National Park, as the Detwiler Fire doubled in size in just one day to encompass roughly 46,000 acres on Wednesday. The fire had expanded to 70,000 acres by Thursday morning, with just 10% containment, and 45 structures had already been lost, according to CalFire. The Merced Sun-Star reported that more than 3100 firefighters were being coordinated from an incident command post at the Merced County Fairgrounds. In the crosshairs of the spreading fire on Thursday was Mariposa, a Gold Rush-era town of about 2000 residents and 4000 structures. The town was almost completely evacuated on Wednesday....

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 21, 2017, 12:03:18 AM »
Found this:

Musk thinks Hyperloop-type transport should connect places that are less than 900 mi (1,500 km) apart. He believes the long-term future of air transport will be electrically powered, high-altitude, supersonic planes, and that that type of air travel will be faster and cheaper than a Hyperloop for distances longer than 900 miles. But when the distance is shorter, Musk says that “having a supersonic plane is rather pointless, as you would spend almost all your time slowly ascending and descending and very little time at cruise speed.”

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