Thursday, November 26, 2009

Next Stop: Ultracapacitor Buses

On October 19, 2009, Tyler Hamilton posted this story on the website.

My first glance at the article - caught this paragraph at the bottom of the first page - "The ultracapacitor bus is also cheaper than lithium-ion battery buses," says Ye. "We used the Olympics (lithium-ion) bus as a model and found ours about 40 percent less expensive with a far superior reliability rating." Ye adds that the environmental benefits are compelling. "Even if you use the dirtiest coal plant on the planet, it generates a third of the carbon dioxide of diesel when used to charge an ultracapacitor."

Obviously - performance is important, and range is important - but maintenance can be just as important. Reliability of some Hybrid Buses - is about that of the old Diesel buses. On these - "The ones in Shanghai right now have been on the road for three years without incident, without failure whatsoever, which in the bus industry is phenomenal," says Clare, who adds that his company is in talks with New York City, Chicago, and some towns in Florida about trialing the buses. "It will end up being a third generation of the product, which will give 20 miles [of range per charge] or better."

For the complete story - run on over to Technology Review and read the whole thing!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Coal is Better - when fed to Electric Cars? Yes!

Over at, Nick Chalmers just posted his report and included references on why Electric Cars are Better Even When "Fueled" with Coal.

The biggest problem seems to be - not the facts, but the argument itself!

Additional points not covered by Nick, include the facts that - with an internal Combustion Engine Vehicle - there is essentially no way for you go produce gas at your house, even if you have an oil well in your back yard, and - while many homes over the years have had coal stoves, I know of none that have had a coal powered generator 'on the farm', so to speak.

However - I do know of many solar powered, or solar assisted homes, that use Solar Energy in it's natural forms for heat - hot water and hot air, as well as in conversion systems, using PhotoVoltaic (PV) Panels, for their electrical needs. And - with Grid Tied Solar on your home, and an EV in your driveway - you are both replacing the electricity onto the grid during the day when it needs it most, and therefore reducing the need for coal powered Electricity, and using it from the Grid usually at night - to recharge your EV, when plants are otherwise poluting and the power is going to waste.

If your EV - had a 100 mile range only - and you reduced your commuting distance to 10 miles, you could charge up the car just once a week, yet putting Solar energy into the grid every day! As most homes are not designed primarily for energy efficiency - but for show - the option of a house built to be energy self supporting has not even occured to most buyers yet! Granite Counters, 'Satin Finish Hardwood Flooring' and Classy Carpet is more important! the Same $$ could be used to make the home not a load on the grid, but a supplier to the Grid, and reduce general living and operational costs of the home.

Of course - Nick mentions "An electric car runs off of a power source that can be made from a multitude of different things. From coal, to natural gas, to biomass, to wind, to solar, to wave, to nuclear, to hydro, to oil, to anything else that might come down the pipe in the future (fusion?). It’s “infinitely” dynamic. This does two things: it makes your energy supply more secure and it means your car just became infinitely more versatile. A gas car can only run off of gas or some other form of gas-like fuel." Which is the whole point of the Switch to EV's in the first place - versatility of energy sources!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Whitepaper Posted by MyElectricfly

Since I have began to drive this Electric Vehicle, even though it's been converted from a fairly efficient Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicle to Electric - it is to date still powered by old school batteries: Flooded Lead Acid.

This new Whitepaper takes a good look at the performance issues with using Lead Acid Batteries - even the Sealed AGM (Absorbed Glass Matt) types versus Lithium Iron Phosphate. It compares a fairly common Supplier's Product - the EnerSys 12V, 17.2 Ah Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) Battery, and compares it to one of the Lower Performance Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) cells - a small 40 Ah Cell from ThunderSky.

(I say Lower Performance - in that it is rated for a Max Continuous Load of 3C versus some that state up to 30c Continuous, but cost 4 - 6 X more per cell, and use smaller cells - requiring more work to build a pack!)

Jump over to my web site and read about it here.

As you read it - you will start to see a trend with Lead Acid (PbA) Batteries - they may be fine at low loads, and long run times are fine like that - but bump up the loads to something used in an Electric Vehicle - and you start to see they just poop out before you know it!

If you think this is unfair to PbA Batteries - well - just think of it like this - first - it is very hard to get specific data like that refered to in the article for a reference Lead Acid Battery - and one can only guess why they make it hard to get cycle life specs at varying loads, as well as actual deliverable amp hour capacity at a large variety of run times. They are typically listed in 20 Hour Ratings - meaning - how much energy can it deliver at a specific load over a 20 hour period.

Take another look at the whitepaper, and then come back to me with more than a half a dozen sites that list battery capacity of PbA (Lead Acid) Batteries at increments of 1 hour declining from the 20 hour starting point to 1 hour, and in your research - you will start to see - that so few suppliers list the data, or make it easy to find, and second - when you find it - you will see - how little they can deliver if you crank up the load just a little bit!

The reality is - for my car - since it was built the way it was when I got it - I have to work with the motor specs that I have! It has a GE (General Electric) Motor rated for 20.9 HP at 90 Volts DC X 184 Amps!

Therefore - we should have a battery (pack) that can decently deliver at least a steady 184 Amps without killing the battery, and then - for a reasonable run time to get the desired range.

We will come back and talk more on this issue in the future! (It will be a bit revealing, for many - I am sure!)

Other Whitepapers with more data will be published and listed here, so keep coming back to see them, or scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email address where it says - * Be notified when this page changes * to get a notice in your email inbox to go look at it again.