Netcat can be of great help in trasferring files across network, that too in a really scalable pipeline. For bear minimum usage of file transfer, only tar and netcat utilities are required.

I tried different options and found the following superset pipeline.

sender:$ tar cf - some_directory | gzip -9 | \
  pv | gpg -c | nc -q0  25000
receiver:$ nc -l -p 25000 | gpg -d | gzip -d | \
  pv | tar xf -

Some Caveats

  • tar and nc do not offer any security, that is why gpg is used. In a trusted network, gpg pipeline elements could be removed from both sender and receiver.
  • pv could monitor the datarate very effectively. pv is not used symmetrically in the above pipe line. In the sender side it shows data rate of compressed stream whereas in the receiving side it shows the data rate of uncompressed stream. This is done deliberately so that the user could get an idea about both compressed/uncompressed data rates. By reordering gzip and pv, this could be reversed.
  • Instead of using tar and gzip separately, once could combine them and use ‘cfz’ and ‘xfz’. But, this limits the differential data rate as explained above. Fine control would be possible only by splitting them. Depending upon network throughput and CPU performance, either XZ or Lzop could be used instead of Gzip. The former offers extremely good compression, whereas the latter gives very good performance.

Before we start, let us do a small exercise. Just go back one decade, to around 2002. That was the time when people started noticing more about Global Warming and Climate Change. If someone considers about getting rid of fossil fuels at that time he or she had a very limited options which were cost effective. Renewables like Solar were extremely expensive at around $6 per Watt, but Uranium was much cheaper instead. Public Confidence on Nuclear Energy was becoming better and better. Everyone agreed that Chernobyl was because of the faulty RBMK reactor design of the USSR. So Nuclear was a perfect option to avoid fossil fuels.

Now coming back to the current situation.

There have been a lot more concern about using fossil fuels nowadays because of Climate Change. But what are the cost effective alternatives? We do have the same options as before, mainly Nuclear, Solar and Wind power. But equations of Economics, Safety and Commercial availability are different. Let us take a look at how Nuclear take a stand in the game.

Types of fuels used in Reactors

Naturally available fissile material is only Uranium 235. Other two main fissile isotopes are Plutonium 239 and Uranium 233 but they have to be produced artificially. Plutonium 239 is produced from Uranium 238 and Uranium 233 is produced from Thorium 232 respectively and both of them require Neutron Capture and Beta Decay procedures. That means utilizing Breeder reactors and nuclear reprocessing. That is the reason why Uranium 235 is preferred as a nuclear fuel. But how much Uranium 235 is available? The answer is very less. 99.3% of the available Uranium is Uranium 238. In simple terms 140kg of natural Uranium is required to get 1kg of Uranium 235. Consider this large multiplication factor in determining the natural Uranium requirement.

Comparison with Renewables

Reserves: Uranium Reserves and Consumption Rate

Around 5000 kilotons of conventional reserves have been identified, at the same time, current World consumption is around 65 kilotons per year. That is enough for around 85 years at current consumption.

Main material used in Solar cells is Silicon and that is the second most abundant material on Earth.

Capital Cost of Nuclear Power

Nuclear Reactors are not cheap. They cost around $3 per Watt. For comparison Solar and Wind Power cost typically around $2 per Watt now. That is the current price, but one has to consider the fact that the price of Solar is going down at a very fast rate also.

Cost of Fuel: Depends upon Uranium Price

Price of Uranium went through a wave in 2007. During the beginning of 2000 it was around $20/kg and it climbed through $300/kg during 2007. It is some where around $110/kg for now. Major producers are Australia, Kazakhstan and Canada. This situation could potentially lead to yet another oil politics equivalent.

Renewable energy holds a great advantage because they do not require any fuel to operate.

Construction Time

Unlike many other power sources, Nuclear Power plants take a lot of time to get completed, typically in the order of 10 years or so. Where as, renewables could be installed in a very short time. This is yet another big drawback of Nuclear Power, a decision for a new nuclear power plant typically gets materialized in 10 years. Within that period much more renewables could be installed. As discussed above, one should consider the price drop rate of renewables during that time also.

Current share of Nuclear and Renewables

Nuclear power currently accounts for around 14% of world’s electricity (Wikipedia). Renewable Energy share varies from country to country. Germany is the world leader in Solar technologies while producing more than 20% power from renewables. In Italy it is more than 25%. For Spain, Wind Power is the single largest electricty source.

Requirement on Grid

Nuclear Plants are typically large capacity power sources located much away from load centres, increasing dependency on transmission systems, so as to upgrade or build new transmission grid. Renewables are very much decentralized and distributed. Also in many cases, they could be set up much closer to the actual load centres, reducing the requirement of Grid upgradation.

Security: The single most important point about Nuclear Energy

Nuclear took a real U-turn after the Fukushima incident. Germany decided to close all its reactors. Switzerland and Spain banned the construction of new ones. Unlike any other source of energy, this is a completely one sided problem of Nuclear power.

NIMBY Effect

Quite openly, most of the people including many of the “Go Nuclear” activists may not want a plant in their own neighborhood itself. This problem arises mainly because of the safety concerns and the land usage. Renewables are less affected by this, with the exception of some concerns about the aesthetic sense of wind turbines. Whatever it may be, it is much smaller in scale compared to Nuclear power.

Other Requirements

Nuclear is yet another form of thermal power plant. So it consumes a lot of water for its steam power cycle and plant ooling. Except for Solar Thermal system, renewables do not require water or any other resources.

A few thoughts

With all these details, I am not suggesting that we should stop Nuclear Energy and Research. But at the same time, considering Availability, Scalability, Safety and Cost, Renewables stand extremely competitive to Nuclear Energy.

Astronomy is a wonderful field. From History it could be easily seen that Astronomy is the cradle of both Physics and Mathematics. Most of the early phisicists and mathematicians were astronomers too. All astronomical observations from prehistorical times to 1609 were exclusively using naked eye. Those early astronomers had no access to telescopes or cameras or any other sophisticated equipment that we have now. But instead they had access to the most important requirement in Astronomy and that is what we miss now even though we have state of the art equipment: Clear Dark Skies. Astronomy is extremely sensitive to Light Pollution.

In a clear dark sky, one could see around 5600 stars with a maginude of up to 6.0. But in a typical urban environment of today it gets limited to around magnitude 3.0 and the number of visible stars to around 100 or so. Courtsey of Light Pollution.

That is one side of Light Pollution. On the other side we have tremendous amount of energy waste. Studies by US Department of Energy shows that, there are around 52.6 Million Street Lights in US alone. Energy consumption of Street Lights and Parking Lot Lights in the US reaches to around 52 Billion KWh per annum. As far as Carbon Dioxide is concerned, that itself could generate around 40 Million Tonnes of CO2 per year.
Energy Saving Estimates in US (Section 3.2.1)
Lighting Energy Consumption in US (Table Appendix G-5)

Light Pollution has a lot of ecological effects also. Animals, Plants, Insects etc. could get confused by light. Wikipedia has an interesting article on Ecological impact of light pollution.
Ecological Light Pollution on Wikipedia

Do we really need to illuminate the world like this?

Usage of modern street lights became popular more than 100 years before when personal hand-held light sources like flashlights/torches were either unavailable, expensive or inefficient. Modern electronic control systems were also absent at that time. All these technologies could be combined to reduce both energy consumption and light pollution without jeopardizing safety and security.

  • Use lower power and higher efficient light sources like Light Emitting Diodes.
    Many of the standard street lights use around 150W lamps, by replacing them with higher lumen/Watt LED lamps lot of electricity could be saved. Also LED lamps could be dimmed very easily by controlling individual diodes
  • Usage of yellowish higher Color Temperature light sources to reduce scattering and sky glow.
    For example whiter Mercury fluorescent light is more scattered than yellow Sodium light. Because of this reasons, Sodium lamps are used near many of the astronomical observatories. Sodium light is more monochromatic so that it could be filtered out very easily. LED lighting could be made with higher Color Temperature to reduce sky glow
  • Better fixtures so that light is pointed down where it is required, reducing light leakage
  • Limiting the usage of decorative flood lights and illumination by passing required laws and regulations.
    They look great, but waste a lot of energy and create a lot more light pollution
  • Unlike olden times personal LED flashlights are extremely efficient and ubiquitous, even the el cheapo mobile phones nowadays have LED flashlights, so encourage their usage.
  • Context sensitive and intelligent lighting control systems for dimming and controlling light sources.
  • Using Thermal imaging and Night Vision devices for safety and security applications so that dependency on visible lighting could be avoided or reduced.
  • Efficient usage of Daylight Saving Time
    It is proven that aligning business hours with daylight reduces energy usage

World Energy Consumption: 2250 Tsar Bombs or 18800 WW2

I like history. Recently I was reading about the 50th anniversary of Tsar Bomba, tested on 1961 October 30 by Soviet Union. Tsar Bomba is the single most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever used. It has a power of 50 to 57 megatons of TNT (210 PJ) which is 10 times the combined power of all explosives used in Second World War or around 3000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.
Tsar Bomba Video

Tsar Bomba was a part of the Sabre Rattling and display of power during the Cold War and Nuclear Arms Race. Both USSR and the US had a total stockpile of around 25000 megatons of nuclear weapons and the world was at the brink of nuclear war a few times. There were numerous Peace Advocates, Environmentalists and Anti Nuclear Activists protesting against Nuclear Arms Race and Cold War.
Nuclear Arms Race
Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

That was history, but at the same time I thought about the current energy scenario. How is the World energy consumption compared against this powerful bomb. Initially, I was thinking that energy output of the Tsar Bomba could be enough for a few months or or at least a few weeks at the rate of current energy consumption. After doing some calculation, it was totally surprising.

World Energy Consumption

Total energy consumption of the world is around 15TW (15 * 10^12) now, coming to around 474 exajoules (474 * 10^18) per year (From Wikipedia). As of now, more than 80% of this comes from fossil fuels, mainly coal, petroleum and natural gas. All of them are non renewable and produce green house gases. Let us see how 15TW or 474 exajoules compared against these powerful nuclear weapons.

In terms of tons of TNT
It comes to 3.59 kilotons of TNT per second or 113200 megatons of TNT per year.

Mass Energy Equivalence, using Einstein’s equation
Completing transforming 1kg of mass per 100 minutes, that means 5250 kg (11600 lbs) yearly.

Hiroshima Bombs of around 18 kilotons
One Hiroshima Bomb has to be detonated per 5 seconds. That is 6300000 Hiroshima Bombs in one year.

Total Second World War Explosives
Total explosives used in Second World War was around 6 megatons. More Details
We have to conduct a Second World War in every 28 minutes or 18800 Second World Wars in one year for the same amount of energy.

Tsar Bomba
Out of all bombs, this would produce the maximum mileage of around 4 hours per Tsar Bomb. That means detonating around 2250 Tsar Bombs yearly.

Total Nuclear Explosions
Total Nuclear Explosions carried out by all countries would come close to around 510 megatons. More Details
These 510 megatons could take us for around 40 hours. That has to be repeated 222 times to meet our yearly consumption.

Total Nuclear Stockpile of 25000 megatons
Our yearly energy consumption is 4.5 times of the much critized stockpile.

A few thoughts

Just think, how the reaction would be if a country try to detonate even a small nuclear device. All the environmentalists, peace activists, nuclear and war opponents would definitely make it a big issue. There have been many programs like SALT, START, etc. to reduce the Nuclear Stockpile.

But, the above mentioned nuclear weapons look very small compared to our energy requirement and no one is talking about reducing our energy consumption rate. Policy makers try to promote the idea that both GDP and Development are directly proportional to Energy Consumption, just like the computer processor makers used the Megahertz Myth during 1990s to show case that more CPU clock frequency means more performance. Since it is not practical to increase the clock rate above 3.5 GHz, they themselves stopped it afterwards.

So, at the current rate, our energy consumption looks like a war against our own Mother Nature. Normally, every war strategy planner try to think about supply lines and resources – Does it look the same with this energy war? Is it sustainable, could we afford this much of pollution and environmental destruction?

It is an excellent decisions to use more and more Renewable sources like, solar, wind etc. But at the same time, we must also try to limit this insanely high energy consumption.

Why we require localized food and energy production

Yet another Gandhi Jayanti has come. In the wake of sustainability and issues like global warming, teachings of Mahatma Gandhi is becoming more and more important.

Some of the Inspirational words of Mahatma Gandhi on Grama Swaraj (Village Self Governance), Sustainability etc.

“The true India is to be found not in its few cities, but in its seven hundred thousand villages. If the villages perish, India will perish too.”

“We have to show them that they can grow their vegetables, their greens, without much expense, and keep good health….”

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”

According to Gandhiji, each village should be basically self-reliant, making provision for all necessities of life – food, clothing, clean water, sanitation, housing, education and so on, including government and self-defence, and all socially useful amenities required by a community.
Gandhi’s Concept of Gram Swaraj

If we look at the current scenario, it is essential to include clean technologies and localized sustainability also to the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. Let us see more on some of the important items.

Increasing Localized food production:

Localized food production should be encouraged to the maximum. This would definitely boost local economy. From a pure consumer point of view, one could get much better and fresher food items. From environmental point of view, this could reduce a lot of emission and pollution arising from the usage of fossil fuels for transportation. The extra cost and wastage arising from paper and plastic food packaging materials also could be reduced.
The Localization of Agriculture

Localized Energy Revolution:

Clean Energy Generation is getting a great momentum nowadays. Looking from a broader perspective, clean energy could be divided into two separate streams. They are

  1. Large Solar and Wind Farms owned and operated by big companies.
  2. Small Distributed Rooftop Solar systems and Micro Wind turbines owned and operated by mainly residential customers.

It can be easily seen that the localized option is fully in alignment with Gandhiji’s dream: Self reliance, sustainability – Apart from generating one’s own food and clothes, generate one’s own energy also.

Let us see some advantages of small distributed generation.

  • Common people are very much invloved. It is real democracy: Simply speaking, “Energy of the people, by the people, for the people”
  • More local job creation, which would improve local economy.
  • If a proper financial model is setup, that would boost local banks and finance institutions.
  • Minimal land requirement. Most of the rooftops are unused anyway. But, large farms do require a lot of land. Even though in many cases, these farms are constructed on barren and arid land unusable for anything else, still that is nothing but real encroachment on nature.
    Battle Brewing Over Giant Desert Solar Farm
  • Around 400 Million people in India do not have electricity and majority of them are in villages. This is a unique scenario to India. Large Solar/Wind farms would not make any difference to these people, instead they would cater only the established traditional urban customer bases. But small scale systems could revolutionize these villages.
  • Large Solar/Wind farms are the Clean versions of centralized generation. Apart from reducing/stopping carbon dioxide emissions, they have every other problems of large centralized power generation. They are prone to political issues. They depend on national grid to reach customers, which would effectively increase grid congestion, transmission and distribution losses etc. To minimize these issues, setting up and maintainance of new grid would be required. But for small distributed systems, a minimal micro grid would do the real work.
    Solar Subsidy in India Bias of Large Solar Farms unwisely goes against the Global Trend of Rooftop Solar System Support
  • Large centralized systems are like big brand department stores. They use Client Server approach. Electricity is ‘going’ in only one direction, from producer to consumer. Whereas small systems are like ebay or skype. They use Peer to Peer model. Producer and consumer distinction and their separation is reduced. More of using the Shortest Path approach. This model has many advantages during failures and problems.

This does not mean that large solar/wind farms are not necessary, but small distributed systems genuinely require a lot of attention and that should be given.

Lead Acid battery is touted as the cheapest battery available. In fact, Lead Acid is the family name for a collection of closely related battery types, from simple vented/flooded to advaned Valve Regulated ones. Depending upon the type of usage, there are shallow and deep cycle batteries. Typical examples of shallow cycle batteries are the ordinary car starter batteries, where as deep cycle batteries are used for prolonged deep discharge operations like electric propulsion, UPS etc. For a comparison, some reasonable Deep Cycle flooded batteries are available for around $120 per name plate KWh. This “lowest cost” has given a lot of advantage for Lead Acid batteries in renewable energy applications. But before getting deep into the deep cycle lead acid batteries there are a lot of interesting facts to consider.

The Fine Prints

Both capacity and the state of charge depend heavily upon a factor named Vpc which is nothing but Voltage per Cell. Normally all standard battery manufacturers quote their capacity to 1.75 Vpc with a discharge time of 20 hours. In simple language, it is the capacity until the voltage of the cell reaches 1.75V with a discharge period of 20 hours. 1.75 V is considered as 0% State of Charge. As Depth of Discharge (DoD) is just the opposite of State of Charge, it is nothing but 100% Depth of Discharge. But discharging up to that level puts a lot of stress on the battery, so that, the battery could only handle very limited number of cycles in that manner. In short, 100% DoD is not at all preferred for lead acid batteries.

All Capacities are equal, but some are more equal than others

Another interesting parameter is the “name plate” capacity mentioned on the battery. Normally a “120AH” battery gives an implication that, it could give 1A for 120 hours, or 120 A for 1 hour, or 20A for 6 hours or whatever combination of that which gives 120AH as the multiplication output. But, in reality this is not the case. Faster discharging try to reduce the available capacity of the battery drastically. As stated above in the previous section the “name plate” capacity is quoted at C/20 which means at a very slow pace of 20 hours to discharge the battery. Many standard discharge applications using inverters do require much higher discharge rate. Available capacity of a battery could be computed using an empirical law named “Peukert’s law”. The following figure shows the available capacity of a typical Lead Acid battery against discharge time. 100% capacity is stated for 20 hours.

Lead Acid Capacity and discharge time

See the interesting fact, if the battery is discharged in 100 hours it could give 145% (actually 45% more than the nameplate) capacity whereas if it is discharged in 6 hours, it could give 75.7% capacity only.

Number of cycles

Total usable cycles of the battery is very much related to the regular depth of discharge. For a regular 80% DoD, a typical battery lasts for around 600 cycles, but if we use 50% DoD, it lasts for around 1200 cycles. There are many telecom batteries which are advertised for 20 years, but they have a rating of 5% to 10% DoD which is ridiculously low(fine prints again). The following graph from windsun.com and Concorde batteries shows the relation between available cycles and Depth of Discharge
Number of Cycles vs DoD of Lead Acid Battery

Apart from that, there are a few “solar batteries” which could give around 2100 cycles at 80% DoD, like the HuP Solar battery. But they also cost a lot, somewhere between $200 to $300 per KWh
HuP Solar Information

There is a clear disadvantage of the better cycle life and lower DoD. More batteries have to be kept in parallel to store the same amount of electrical energy. That means at 80% DoD, 125% capacity is required whereas at 50% DoD, the requirement would become 200%. If the above mentioned telecom battery is used, the requirement would go more than 1000% !!

So, basically it is a trade-off between capacity, DoD and number of cycles.

That is the story of Lead Acid battery. Let us consider two other types of batteries.

Lithium Ion Battery (Lithium Iron Phosphate)

Like Lead Acid, Lithium Ion is also a family name for, Lithium Cobalt, Lithium Manganese, Lithium Iron Phosphate, Lithium Polymer, Lithium Titanate etc. I am mainly considering Lithium Iron Phosphate for comparison. It has much better cycle life compared to other types of Li-Ion batteries, but a bit lower energy density. Normally Li Ion batteries could handle much better discharge rate compared to Lead Acid batteries. Discharge rate could go more than 2C, that means discharging the battery in 30 minutes. Another advantage of Li Ion battery is that, it has very low dependency on Peukert’s law, that is, even at higher current ratings the battery capacity would not go down like Lead Acid battery. Modern Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries give around 5000 cycles at 70% DoD or 3000 cycles at 80% DoD. The cost has gone down to less than $400 per KWh. Since they have better energy densites, they weigh less and occupy less space compared to Lead Acid batteries.
Specification of Thundersky Lithium Iron Phosphate battery

Sodium Sulphur Battery

Sodium Sulphur could be a very good solution for large scale storage spanning upto MWh range. NGK Insulators of Japan supply these batteries at a price of around $350 per KWh. They are quoted at 2500 cycles at 100% dischange or 4500 cycles at 80% discharge that too at a 6 hour discharge rate. Similar to Lithium Ion, NaS battery has much better energy density compared to Lead Acid, so the weight and volume are also much lower for the same capacity.

Levelized Cost

Let us say that we have to select a battery for renewable energy applications. Since in most cases levelized cost is calculated for a period between 20 to 30 years, we select 9000 cycles which comes very close to 25 years. Assume that the battery has to be discharged in 6 hours. Let us see how these options stand against each other. See the table at the bottom for detailed explanations.

Levelized Cost of different Batteries


It is very easy to jump to conclusions by seeing the nameplate capacity cost, but actual levelized cost/KWh/cycle is an entirely different story. Cheapest lead acid battery is the costliest to operate in the long run. For small and portable storage applications Lithium Iron Phosphate could be an excellent option. For large installations, Sodium Sulphur could give drastic cost and performance advantages.


Peukert’s law:
Capacity of Lead Acid battery is computed using the following eqution, as given by An in depth analysis of the maths behind Peukert’s Equation (Peukert’s Law)
T=C x ((C/R)^n-1) /(I^n)
Here n is taken as 1.3 for Lead Acid Battery.

Battery Levelized Cost:
Total cost of batteries to store 1KWh is computed as follows
Multiplier Factor = (1/DoD) x (1/(6 Hours Capacity Factor)) x (Number of times battery has to be replaced to get 9000 Cycles)
6 Hour Capacity Factor is 75.7% for Lead Acid Batteries. Since the capacity of Lithium Ion does not degrade for 6 hours, the factor is taken as 1. For Sodium Sulphur, the name plate capacity itself is stated for 6 hours, so the factor is 1 for that too.
Number of usable cycles for Lead Acid is taken as 750 and 1500 for 80% and 50% DoD respectively.
Total Cost = Cost/KWh nameplate x Multiplication Factor
Levelized Cost = Total Cost / 9000

This is the summary of all these calculations. All prices are in US Dollars only.

Battery Cost Comparisons

% DoD Usable
Number of
Total Cost/KWh Levelized Cost/KWh
per cycle
Lead Acid
120 80 750 12 19.80 $2376 $0.264
Lead Acid
120 50 1500 6 15.84 $1900 $0.211
Lead Acid
200 80 2100 5 8.25 $1650 $0.183
Li-Ion 400 80 3000 3 3.75 $1500 $0.167
Li-Ion 400 70 5000 2 2.86 $1144 $0.127
NaS 350 100 2500 4 4.00 $1400 $0.156
NaS 350 80 4500 2 2.50 $875 $0.097

In my last article, I was concentrating more about the Specific Capacity of different cathode materials. But this is only one part of the story when a complete cell is concerned. To find the Specific Capacity of a particular battery chemistry the whole chemical reaction has to be analyzed.

Essentially the method used here is similar to that of previous analysis. Instead of just the cathode material, we have to consider the complete chemical reaction taking place in both cathode and anode. But the rest of the calculation is nearly the same. In short,
Specific Capacity = (N x F) / (Total weight of all components)
N = Change in oxidation state or the number of electrons released.
F = Faraday constant, 26801mAh/Mole

In this article I will be discussing about three popular battery chemistries.

Lead Acid:
This is one of the oldest rechargeable batteries invented, yet ubiquitous. The following is the chemical reaction happening in both Cathode and Anode during discharge process.
-ve Electrode: Cathode: Pb + H2SO4 = PbSO4 + 2H+ + 2e
+ve Electrode: PbO2 + H2SO4 + 2H+ = PbSO4 + 2H2O
The total chemical reaction is,
Pb + PbO2 + 2 H2SO4 = 2 PbSO4 + 2H2O (with 2 electrons through circuit)
Finding the total molar weight, 643g of reactants produce 2 Moles of electrons.
Specific Capacity = 2 * 26.801/643 = 83mAh/g
Total Energy Density, assuming 2V per reaction = 166 Wh/g

Lithium Ion (Lithium Ferrous Phosphate):
This is one of the variants in the family of Lithium Ion Battery.
Overall Chemical reaction during reaction is as follows
LiC6 + FePO4 = LiFePO4 + 6C (with 1 electron through circuit)
That means 230g of reactants produce 1 Mole of electrons, at 3.3V
Calculating both Specific Capacity and Energy Density
Specific Capacity = 26.801/230 = 117mAh/g
Energy Density = 385Wh/kg

Links: http://spinnovation.com/sn/Batteries/Recent_developments_and_likely_advances_in_lithium-ion_batteries.pdf and http://plaza.ufl.edu/csides/Publications/LiFePO4-Carbon.pdf

Sodium Sulphur:
Mainly used in grid scale energy storage application, Sodium Sulphur is a variant of molten metal battery.
To give the overall chemical reaction,
2Na + 4S = Na2S4 (with 2 electrons through circuit)
The cell gives out 2V.
In this case, 174g of reactants, give out 2 Mole of electrons.
So Specific Capacity and Energy Density are
Specific Capacity = 308mAh/g
Energy Density = 616Wh/kg

It could be easily seen that Lead Acid battery, even though most widely used has a very low theoretical capacity. An interesting finding is that, the current practical capacities of both Lithium-Ion and Sodium Sulphur batteries are reaching very near to the theoretical capacity of Lead Acid technology.
Energy Density of Lead Acid, Li-Ion, NaS batteries

Recently I read some news about Lithium Ion batteries and the author mentioned that Lithium has the highest Specific Capacity of 3861mAh/g. I was very curious to know where this magic number came from. After trying to understand more about that, finally I found the answer. That was 12th class electrochemistry. The calculation is given below.

Specific Capacity = (N x F) / (Atomic Weight)
N = Valency of the Material
F = Faraday constant = 96485 Coulombs/Mole

If this has to be expressed in terms of current, divide that by 3600
F = 26.801Ah/Mole

This is how the equation works for Lithium. Faraday constant is nothing but the total charge of Avogadro number of electrons. Since Lithium has a Valency of 1 and atomic weight of 6.94g/Mole, every 6.94g of Lithium would give out Valency times Avogadro number of electrons when ionized. So, to find out the Specific Capacity

Specific Capacity = (1 Valency x 26.801Ah/g x 1000mA/A) / 6.94g/Mole
= 3861mAh/g

That means, when 1 gram of Lithium metal ionizes to Li+ ions, it gives out 3.861Ah of electricity. This is just the current, but not the energy. If we are interested to calculate the energy density of reaction, it is required to know the Standard Electrode Potential of each material. Since it is 3.03V for Lithium, the total energy density of ionization of Lithium is
3.03V x 3.861Ah/g * 1000g/kg = 11701Wh/kg.
This comes very close the values of hydrocarbons.

But, remember this is just a half reaction taking place in the cell. We did not consider the anode reaction at all. So, total Specific Capacity of a complete cell would be much lower and it also depends upon the anode, electrolyte, other chemicals used in the cell etc.

Table1: Specific Capacity of Cathode Materials

Reaction Atomic No: Atomic Weight Valency Specific Capacity (mAh/g)
H/H(+) 1 1.008 1 26588
Li/Li(+) 3 6.94 1 3861
Na/Na(+) 11 22.990 1 1166
Mg/Mg(2+) 12 24.310 2 2205
Al/Al(3+) 13 26.980 3 2980
K/K(+) 19 39.10 1 685
Ca/Ca(2+) 20 40.08 2 1337
Zn/Zn(2+) 30 65.39 2 820
Pb/Pb(2+) 82 207.2 2 259

The following bar graph summarizes the specific capacity of all Metals given above.
Specific Capacity of Metals

This is the scenario. I have a working ethernet device eth0 with an IP address 192.168.1.x. There is one more special interface in the system, say if1 which is connected to another network. That network is mainly used for transmitting multicast data.

Received multicast data has to be processed by a userland application. Due to some reason I want to project this multicast data as unicast, with a destination MAC as the MAC address of eth0 and destination IP address as the IP address of eth0. So, the application feels that the multicast is coming through eth0 interface. This has to be done for UDP packets to port 10000 only.

This is achieved by changing the driver of if1 interface the following way.

#include <ltnet/checksum.h>
#include <ltlinux/inetdevice.h>

static struct net_device *eth_dev;
static u32 local_ip;
static int init_done = 0;

static void init_fwd_process(struct net_device* net_dev)
  /* Here net_dev is the if1 device */
  struct in_ifaddr* ifa;

  if(likely(init_done == 1))

  /* Find out the net_device of eth0 */
  eth_dev = dev_get_by_name(&init_net, "eth0");

  /* First find out the IP address of eth0 */
  ifa = ((struct in_device*)eth_dev->ip_ptr)->ifa_list;
  local_ip = ifa->ifa_address;

  init_done = 1;

/* Initial 2 octets are used by the driver, for this particular driver */
#define ETH_DST_OFF 2
#define ETH_SRC_OFF 16
#define ETH_TYPE_OFF 30
#define IP_HDR_OFF 32
#define IP_TYPE_OFF (IP_HDR_OFF + 9)
#define UDP_HDR_OFF (IP_HDR_OFF + 20)

#define IP_TYPE_UDP 0x11

/* These are relative to IP packet */
#define IP_SRC_OFF 12
#define IP_DST_OFF 16
#define IP_CS_OFF 10
#define UDP_CS_OFF (20 + 6)

/* UDP Port we are interested in, 10000 in this case */
#define UDP_PORT 10000

static int fwd_mcast_packet(struct sk_buff *skb, unsigned char *data,
  int len, struct net_device  *net_dev)
  int n;
  u16 c;
  unsigned char* eth_src;
  unsigned char* eth_type;
  unsigned char* ip_hdr;
  unsigned char* ip_type;
  u32 ip_dst;
  u16 udp_dst;
  unsigned char hdr_802_3[14];

  do {

    eth_src = data + ETH_SRC_OFF;
    eth_type = data + ETH_TYPE_OFF;
    ip_hdr = data + IP_HDR_OFF;
    ip_type = data + IP_TYPE_OFF;
    ip_dst = (u32)(ntohl(*((u32 *)(data + IP_DSTABSOLUTE_OFF))));
    udp_dst = (u16)(ntohs(*((u16 *)(data + UDP_DPORT_OFF))));

    /* only IP packet */
    if((*(u16 *)eth_type) != (htons(ETH_P_IP)))
    /* only UDP */
    if(*ip_type != IP_TYPE_UDP)
    /* only multicast */
    if(!(ntohl(ip_dst) & 0xe0000000))
    /* only interesting port */
    if(ntohs(udp_dst) != UDP_PORT)

    /* We are interested in this packet
    Let other packets go through the usual path */
    /* destination is eth0 */
    memcpy(&hdr_802_3[0], eth_dev->dev_addr, 6);
    /* source is the original one */
    memcpy(&hdr_802_3[6], eth_src, 6);
    /* ethernet type is the original one */
    memcpy(&hdr_802_3[12], eth_type, 2);

    /* for aligning IP header on 16 byte */
    skb_reserve(skb, 2);
    /* copy the generated MAC header */
    memcpy(skb_put(skb, 14), hdr_802_3, 14);

    /* copy from the original IP header onwards */
    n = len - IP_HDR_OFF;
    memcpy(skb_put(skb, n), ip_hdr, n);

    skb->protocol = htons(ETH_P_IP);
    skb->pkt_type = PACKET_HOST;
    skb_reset_mac_header(skb); /* just like eth_type_trans */
    skb_pull(skb, ETH_HLEN);

    /* Destination IP address should be local_ip,
    Here skb->data is the beginning of IP header */
    memcpy(&skb->data[IP_DST_OFF], &local_ip, 4);

    /* regenerate IP checksum */
    skb->data[IP_CS_OFF] = 0;
    skb->data[IP_CS_OFF + 1] = 0;
    c = ip_fast_csum(skb->data, 5);
    memcpy(&skb->data[IP_CS_OFF], &c, 2);

    /* Only clear the UDP checksum */
    skb->data[UDP_CS_OFF] = 0;
    skb->data[UDP_CS_OFF + 1] = 0;

    /* call the main receive function */

    return len;

  return -1;

/* Inside the main packet receive function of driver */
  if(fwd_mcast_packet(skb, (unsigned char *)data, length, net_dev) > 0) {
    /* This packet has been already forwarded to IP stack,
    Just do no do anything */

There have been a lot of focus about energy storage these days coupled along with solar and wind. As a coin has two sides, Energy Storage has both pros and cons.

Some of the main concerns I could gather are:

  • Prohibitively Expensive Capital Cost:
    Energy Storage systems are expensive to own. Cheapest solutions like Lead Acid Battery itself costs around $200 per KWh.
  • Usage of exotic Chemistries and Rare Materials:
    Many of the materials used are rare and expensive, for example Platinum is used as a catalyst in Fuel cells, usage of composite materials in flywheels, rare earths in superconductors etc.
  • Environmental issues:
    Batteries use environmentally unfriendly chemicals. Prime examples are the usage of Lead and Cadmium. Extremely reactive metals like Sodium and Lithium also are used.
  • Safety Issues:
    Many of the fuel cells and batteries should be operated at high temperatures. Reactive metals like Sodium and Lithium have safety concerns.
  • Limited Cycles:
    Most of the batteries could only be used for a limited number of cycles, for example Lead Acid Batteries have a limit of around 800 cycles.
  • Bad Depth of Discharge:
    They could not be 100% discharged, Deep Cycle Batteries could go to around 20% charge
  • Low Energy Density:
    Energy Densities are very low compared to both fossil fuels and biofuels.
  • Geographic location dependence: Especially for CAES and pumped hydro storage

Does that mean that we could dump the whole idea of energy storage itself? Hold on for a second, let us see what are the alternatives available.

What about maintaining the current status quo?
We are using fossil fules like petroleum, coal and natural gas to meet majority of our energy requirements. They have many advantages which could not be ignored for now, mainly comparatively cheap, excellent energy density, easy to store/carry wherever required etc. Most of the infrastructure required are already there.

To give an overview, currently huge amounts of fossil fuels are getting used. World usage of petroleum is around 86 Million Barrels per Day. To make it simple, 1000 barrels of oil is getting burnt every second !!!!! Coal usage is an astouding 6 Billion Metric Tonnes per year, that is 1 Metric Tonne per person. India alone uses around 3 Million Barrels of oil per day and 250 Million tonnes of coal every year.

So, if are ready to forget about pollution, climate change and expendable nature of fossil fuels, we still would be able to continue drinking petrol, eating coal and breathing natural gas. That is the only way to maintain current status quo.

Hydropower is really clean, should we use it?
Hydropwer is the single largest renewable energy source currently under use. It accounts for 20% of both India’s and World’s electricity production. Hydropower has a total potential to supply around 100% of installed capacity (around 3000GW) of the world. So water could barely lift the current load.
Hydro Potential of India
Hydro Potential of World

Nuclear Power Scenario
Nuclear Power provides around 14% of World’s electricity. Nuclear enjoyed lots of interests until recently. But after the Japanese Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, serious safety concerns have been raised.

How about using biomass like agricultural by-products, manure etc.
Biomass has got a huge potential and we should try to utilize them. A study says that India produces around 500 MMT of biomass per year and out of which around 150 MMT is surplus. This gives a potential of around 25000 MW electricity production for India.
Biomass Potential of India
But, looking carefully, biomass is really a low hanging fruit. It looks fantastic until biomass based systems try to go real mainstream. Once they reach the mainstream status, they could potentially create the following problems.

  • Limited amount of biomass availability because they are mainly agricultural by-products. So further scaling up from the above numbers would be really difficult.
  • Direct competition with food production for the availability of land if biomass production becomes a profitable business.
  • Stepping upon forest land for the same reason.
  • Difficult to use in transportation sector.

Can we complement the situation with Biofuels?
There are many different types of biofules available like bioethanol, biodiesel and biobutanol. Current main source of ethanol are sugar cane, and corn. Where as biodiesel could be produced from different oil sources like sunflower, coconut oil, palm oil etc. and also from Jatropha from marginal lands. But the best yield is given by different algae streams.
One study says that Jatropha based biodisel cound supply 22% of India’s petroleum demand.
Jatropha Potential of India

Considering the usage of land, it is essential to look at the overall efficiency from sunlight to biodiesel. It is practically less than 1%
Photosynthesis Efficiency

So, only algae based Biofules could reach sustainability. It is progressing but still it has not reached commercial status.
Other biofuel technologies like sugar cane ethanol, corn ethanol, palm oil and other biodiesel etc. have limited potential to fix the overall energy issues. Apart from that, they also contribute to the above mentioned problems: encroaching upon forest and farm land.

Our Earth is too hot inside. Geothermal energy.
Geothermal is another often discussed (pseudo) renewable energy and it could be considered as a baseload resource with no energy storage requirement. For commerical/quality power generation deep wells are required, on the other hand shallow wells could be used for heating purpose.
All these come with a few drawbacks. As per wikipedia, even though geothermal potential is much more than the current energy requirement, only a fraction of that is recoverable. Also quality varies through geographic locations. Apart from the economics, there are potential environmental drawbacks also. Chances of trapped carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide etc. getting released to the environment is high. In addition to these gases toxic elements like Mercury, Arsenic etc. could get released. There have been concerns about increased earthquakes due to deep wells.
Environmental Effects of Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Resources

Wave Power, OTEC and Tidal Power
Wave Power, Tidal Power and Ocean Therman Energy Conversion (OTEC) have great energy potential. But they have not reached commercial status yet. Only pilot projects of a few MWs have been carried out so far.

How about Solar and Wind?
As per Harvard University, Wind Energy has a potential of more than 40 times the current World energy consumption. Where as Earth receives around 6000 times Solar Energy compared to the energy consumption. Wind Power has already reached grid parity in many cases and solar is gearing towards that. Lots of reserach and investments are taking place to make them go mainstream.
Global Potential for Windpower
Windpower Potential
Solar Potential

So, Sustainability and Climate Change have defined a clear goal…… Reduce the above oil and coal usage numbers as much and as fast as possible. A very challenging problem, much more than any “Rocket Science” ever achieved.

Considering both the current state of technology development and overall potential to meet the global energy demand completely, only Solar and Wind could be considered for the top positions. But their sustainability depends upon Energy Storage.

So as far as Energy Storage is concerned, apart from biting the bullet no other solution is existing in the long run. There is no other way, but to fix all of the shortcoming of Energy Storage.

Edited on 08/08/2011
I received a comment about Solar Thermal systems. Solar could include both Photovoltaic and concentrated solar thermal systems also.

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