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View Diary: Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S. Energy Security (Fourth Draft) (311 comments)

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  •  What's not in the plan (4.00)
    I'm convinced that we can solve the problem with technology that's "off the shelf" today.  

    We're I the president of Big Motor Corp, I'd start with a small car frame, something like the Chevy Aveo or Scion Xb, both of which are very comfortable for 4 passengers, get good safety ratings, and weigh in around 3000 lbs.

    Instead of a regular drivetrain, I'd put two 50hp electric motors directly driving the front wheels.  No transmission.  No drive shaft.

    Put in a bank of Valance Corp's Saphion batteries (Li batteries that have recharge and safety characteristics as good as or better than the current generation of metal hydrides).

    Add a small -- and I'm talking small -- gas or diesel engine.  This guy would directly drive a generator.

    This car would run on electric only for distances of around 50 miles.  On longer trips, the high speed combustion engine would drive the generator, not the wheels.  Even though it's small, the combustion motor would probably do no better than 50-60 mpg (pushing a lot less hardware, but there's an intrinsic loss in the energy conversion).  Still, overall vehicle mileage in average use should be well above 100MPG.

    Now, use biodiesel or E85 for the fuel this car does use, and the oil consumption of such a vehicle is a tiny fraction of the road today.

    I'm about 1/2 through a nice plan with numbers (and 3D models.  Ooooh.) based on the UC Davis studies.

    Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

    by Mark Sumner on Tue Dec 13, 2005 at 07:09:05 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Plug-Hybrid option for Prius (4.00)
      I think that your plan is a good one for the longer term (2-3 years, but it seems to me that the Plug-hybrid option for the Prius could be implemented in a matter of six months, Toyota is churning out these cars at the rate of 200,000 plus per year.

      Also, the "MPG" figure is quite misleading with plug-hybrid vehicles.  A better figure would be "MPG equivalent" where the electric power contribution is  part of the calculation.

      My Prius can easily get 60 mpg (gas) in warm weather with proper driving techniques and most of my trips are less than 50 miles, so just adding the plug-hybrid option to the Prius would allow me to stop at the gas station about two times per year when I go on longer trips.  Fuel stabilizer would then be needed!

      Do you have a good number for energy conversion (real world) from watt-hours to miles traveled?

      •  Cost (4.00)
        Of course, the thing that keeps me from going out and putting one of the existing kits onto my own Prius (which is suffering from the cold weather blues and fell below 50MPG on the last tank) is the cost.

        I'm not sure that any third party can put in an order big enough to drive this thing.  Just as it took massive orders from NASA to make Texas Instruments integrated circuits cost effective, I think it would have to be Toyota themselves, or another auto maker, moving into plug ins in a serious way, to lower the cost enough to make it marketable.  (Which, now that I look again, was probably what you meant in the first place.  Sorry.)

        I saw a demo of the Saphion batteries, and I'm very keen on the technology, but man, these guys need some more investment so they can get these things to market cost.

        Best I can scratch up from looking at the cars over at Zap motors, they're drinking up about 150 watt-hours / kilometer using lead-acid batteries in a vehicle that weighs in at 2600lbs.  Which... actually sounds too good.  Hmm, since the Zap car tops out at 25MPH, I'd at least double that consumption for highway speeds.  Okay, time to look for more figures.

        Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

        by Mark Sumner on Tue Dec 13, 2005 at 07:56:44 AM PST

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        •  Cold is taking me near 50 mpg also (none)
          We have had unseasonably cold weather in MD, tough to get that mpg figure above 50 when the engine is running just to stay warm.

          I think Toyota will respond to the market, so if we could get a reality based government in place in this country, a hefty tax credit for Plug-hybrid vehicles would surely jump-start that market. Or just a committment from a government agency (maybe the EPA?) to buy 10,000 of the first run Plug-hybrids.  MDs failed Dem candidate in 2002 pledged to buy hybrids for the state vehicles, but she ran a terrible campaign and lost to our current Repug slime-bucket, Cowardly Bob Ehrlich.

           I would like to get access to the Prius firmware, the cars are now optimized for low emissions, I'd like to see what mpg we could get with a max mpg code.

          Imagine if the Prius cruise control SW were modified to "Pulse and Glide" with user settable ranges of speed.  This would save a lot of gas-pedal finessing and would allow easy comparison of different methods to achieve max. mpg.  My best mileage comes when driving at night without traffic so I can use the 30 to 40 mph Pulse and Glide parameters.

          •  Pulse and Glide (none)
            That would be a great idea for the folks at CoastalTech.  I bought a little patch system from them that lets me throw my Prius into electric only mode (if you work for Toyota, you did not see that).

            The CoastalTech switch works by repurposing the cruise control stalk into a mode selector when the car is traveling at low speed.  It seems like it should be well within their reach to implement the pulse-and-glide technique.  They seem able to alter the car's behavior in some pretty significant ways through the cable connections to the main control system.

            By the way, did you see those guys over at priuschat who managed 1300+ miles on a single tank of gas?  Amazing.

            Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

            by Mark Sumner on Tue Dec 13, 2005 at 05:18:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  How much for the patch? (none)
              What did Coastal Tech charge for that "electric only" patch?  I've heard on priuschat that some of the Japanese models of the Prius have this feature.  Talk about something suitable for stealth driving- that would make an awesome option for someone who wanted to move quietly.

              Yes, I learned about the Pulse and Glide from reading about the guys who did the LeMans type driving of 1300 miles on a tank of gas.  They had to use a special monitor because the standard mpg gauge only reads 99.9 mpg.

              Thanks for the link to Coastal Tech, I've had my Prius long enough that I'm ready to start modifying it.  The Prius is the best stock car available for fuel economy and low pollution, so that means it is the best platform to use to improve the technology.  

              I'll buy a plug-hybrid option when they get some decent batteries, some of the new ones look promising.

        •  Take a look at A123's batteries. (none)
          Shipping in DeWALT 36V power tools soon.  Looks like they played with the internal chemistry like Sapphion did, but in addition to that, used a nanocrystal form of Li.

          OpenSource volunteers needed to bring election accountability:

          by skids on Tue Dec 13, 2005 at 11:35:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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