Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Thermodynamics Isn't Just A Good Idea

It's the law.
Al Gore published a book, made a movie, and won a Nobel Peace prize for his thesis on global warming. The unfortunate thing is he then entered into the venture capital world and brought upon us expensive Betamax technology such as the Fisker Automobile and the Bloom Energy Fuel Cell.

Had Al stopped at the movie or just winning the Nobel prize he may never had to face the most fundamental laws of thermodynamics that unfortunately for him, his investors, his political party, his Washington friends, and the US tax payers as a whole disproved his whole notion that cheap electric cars would proliferate and cheap electric power for these electric cars would be generated in his fuel cells.

Making a movie does not require coming face to face with the realities that Lord Kelvin and Mr. Carnot contemplated 160 years ago when they first realized that thermodynamics is the real inconvenient truth and that not all heat becomes useful energy.

Al never studied thermodynamics, and he thought that his clever VC friends, his Washington Department of Energy (DOE) friends, and his millions of fans would simply allow the Fisker automobile to come down in price by riding a massive learning curve in reducing the cost of modern batteries. Al also thought the solid oxide fuel cell that his Bloom Energy company was to produce would also experience a massive learning rate. Well neither the batteries nor the fuel cell had a hope of having any massive learning rate.


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