Boeings and batteries?

Could battery powered plane ever fly

We have applied the equations of flight to a Boeing 747. Fuel economy of 5-6 gallons per mile is calculated as a function of the plane’s mass, velocity, distance travelled and aerodynamics. Hence for a 10,000km journey, jet fuel makes up c30% of the take-off weight (which is more than all the passengers).

To fuel the same journey with battery-power would require the batteries to weigh 12x more than the entire plane, at batteries’ current energy density. The maximum range of a battery-powered 747 is currently around 90km.

With some heroic assumptions over the next 10-20 years, a battery-powered 747 could be extended to cover c1,000km. But overall, because of the long range, Trans-Atlantic air travel looks immune to electrification.

Download the model and you can see our calculation methodology, as well as testing your own inputs.

Hydrogen Cars: how economic?

how economic are hydrogen cars?

We have modelled the relative economics of hydrogen cars fed by renewable energy and hydrolysis of water, to assess whether they can be cost-competitive.

In our base case US assumptions, hydrogen is c85% costlier than gasoline. In Europe, all in costs of hydrogen can match gasoline cars with c20% deflation across the board, free renewable energy and c$75/bbl oil inputs.

The model breaks out full-cycle costs as a function of: oil prices, oil taxes, power prices, renewable prices, hydrolysis costs, carbon costs,  vehicle costs and capital costs. Download the model and you can flex these variables.

Aerial Vehicles: why flying cars fly

Aerial vehicles in energy transition

Aerial vehicles will do in the 2020s what electric vehicles did in the 2010s. They will go from a niche technology, to a global mega-trend that no forecaster can ignore.

These conclusions stem from a deep-dive analysis into the technology, the fuel economies and the costs, all of which will be transformational.

This 20-page written-insight summarises the evidence, reviewing over 100 different companies’ efforts, checking the equations of flight for leading concepts, and bridging to competitive costs. Aerial vehicles accelerate the energy transition.

Aerial Vehicles Re-Shape Transportation Costs?

costs per passenger-kilometer for transportation

This model calculates the costs per passenger-kilometer for transportation, based on mileage, load factors, fuel prices (oil and electricity), fuel-economy, vehicle costs and maintenance costs.

Ground level vehicles are assessed using data from around the industry, on gasoline, electric, owned and taxi vehicles.

Aerial vehicles could compete with taxis as early as 2025. By the 2030s, their costs can be 60% below the level of car ownership.

This model shows all of our input assumptions and calculations.

Who’s Afraid of Aerial Vehicles?

consumer attitudes towards aerial vehicles

This data-file tabulates consumer attitudes towards aerial vehicles, based on the best perception study we have seen in the technical literature.

It summarises attitudes towards aerial vehicles in four countries, covering overall attitudes, and how they are influenced by geography, income, age, gender, education levels and length of commute.

It also identifies the top six concerns, and how sensitive each one is to different input parameters.

Round Trip Battery Efficiencies

Battery efficiencies

This data-file derives the ‘net round trip efficiency’ of nine different battery solutions for storing energy. Rough costs are also estimated.

Net round trip efficiency is calculated as the energy efficiency of the battery (kWh recovered per kWh fed in) divided by the energy efficiency of the displaced energy source.

We see great potential in “good batteries”, for example, electrification of the vehicle fleet, which can achieve c3.5x uplifts in efficiency.  We see less potential in “bad batteries”, for example, backing up the grid with hydrogen, which reduces total system efficiency by c35%.

A Short History of Travel Speeds

History of Travel Speeds

This is our database of global travel speeds throughout history. It contains notes on the top travel-speeds attainable by different forms of transportation; plus more granular data on the average travel speeds in Britain since the 1970s.

Top travel speeds have increased by c100x since pre-industrial times, however in the past 20-years, the trend has reversed and begun slowing down. Average travel speeds are down c6-7% since 2000, connoting lower mobility.Travel Speed reports

Vehicles: fuel economy and energy efficiency?

Vehicle fuel economy and energy efficiency

Vehicle fuel economy and energy efficiency are quantified in this data-file, looking across different transportation types: cars, trucks, buses, hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs), hydrogen cars, planes, trains, helicopters, plus other smaller vehicles such as bicycles, scooters, motor-cycles and simply ‘walking’.

Our numbers are built up for each category, in kWh-per-mile, miles-per-gallon, energy efficiency percentages and ultimate CO2 intensity per mile of travel. In turn, these numbers are built up from physics calculations, enthalpy calculations and technical disclosures of underlying companies.

A good rule of thumb is that a passenger car achieves 20-40mpg and 15-20% efficiency, depending on its size; a bus or truck achieves 5-10 vehicle miles per gallon, but this is equivalent to up to 50-250 passenger-equivalent miles per gallon, because of a higher load factor; and likewise a plane might achieve 0.2-0.5 vehicle miles per gallon, translating into 50-70 passenger miles per gallon, when you think of a plane as just a flying bus.

Electrification generally offers a c4x gain in vehicle fuel economy and energy efficiency, especially for ground-level vehicles, increasing efficiency from c15-20% on conventional oil-powered vehicles to c60-80% on electric vehicles. Hybrids and hydrogen also yield modest efficiency improvements.

Smaller vehicles are surprisingly exciting. This is just physics, but a bicycle achieves an effective fuel economy of 1,000 miles per gallon-equivalent, which is about 8x better than an electric vehicle, and even 3x better than walking (note here). Moreover, an emerging class of electric transportation technologies is fast, convenient and yet achieve 4-120x efficiency gains per passenger mile (note here).

Further data dis-aggregating the CO2 intensity per mile of electric vehicles versus ICE cars, depending on how they are powered, is linked here.

LNG as a Shipping Fuel: the Economics

LNG as a Shipping Fuel

This model provides line-by-line cost estimates for LNG as a shipping fuel, compared against diesel. We used industry data and academic studies to estimate the all-in costs for (a) trucking LNG (b) small-scale LNG and (c) LNG bunkering, to supply a relatively fuel-intensive shipping route.

After IMO 2020 regulations buoy diesel pricing, it should be economical to fuel newbuild ships with small-scale LNG; and in the US it should be economical to convert pre-existing ships to run on small-scale LNG.

Fast-charge the electric vehicles with gas?

Fast-charge the electric vehicles with gas

When electric vehicles are widespread, how will we fuel them? Our model shows the economics can be compelling for powering fast-chargers using gas turbines.

The electricity would cost 13c/kWh, at $3/mcf input gas (e.g., in the US), 20% utilisation of the infrastructure and a c7.5% pre-tax IRR.

Carbon emissions are lowered by c70% compared to oil-fired vehicles. And the grid is spared the strain of sudden demand surges.

Is upside suggested for gas? Utilisation of the fast-charging infrastructure is much more important to the overall economics than the gas price. This means that greater EV adoption can accommodate considerably higher gas prices.

Our model is constructed as a sensitivity analysis, based on economic data from gas turbines (chart below), so you can flex the assumptions.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2019-2023.