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jfinlayson
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"where a car drives at a short distance from the car in front" Proponents of autonomous automobile convoys like to tout this "short distance" as a solution for road congestion, but I think it's a big safety risk. Yes, autonomous vehicles can react much more quickly than human drivers. But slow human reaction time is not the only reason for maintaining distance between vehicles. I believe there will be cases when that short distance will take a terrible toll where a normal distance would not. For example, imagine a head-on collision in a narrow 2-lane tunnel -- a truck suddenly swerves into the lead lead car of a 200-vehicle platoon. With nowhere for the lead car to turn to avoid the collision, it goes from 60 to 0 in 0.03 seconds. Even with a zero reaction time, there may well be nothing the following cars can do to avoid a a catastrophic pileup. If there were more distance between cars, all but the first few following cars would be able to brake in time.
I like this approach. Similar to what some EV drivers are already doing when they hitch generator-trailers to their EVs, but with the potential for more efficient utilization of power from the ICE. Another advantage (for both this and the trailer approach) is that you are less likely to be caught owning a petroleum-powered car when oil prices go through the roof. By then, there will likely be one or more alternatives that could be swapped in. Rather than having to sell a gasoline car into a market that doesn't want it and buy a whole new car, you could keep your car and just swap in whatever range extender happens to be the best power plant -- whether that be a better battery pack with a future fast-charging network, a CNG engine with a future refueling network, a fuel cell with a Hydrogen refueling network, or whatever. I think they'll need to get the cost down under $20k, though. That's about the level I'd consider it worth considering, anyway. $33k is a lot to pay for what is essentially an EV with a 25 mile range. Figure the 17 kWh pack will add another $10k (whether purchased, leased, or rented, if you're using one for most of the life of the vehicle, you've got to pay for its cost one way or another). So you're looking at over $40k for a subcompact that still requires that you rent an engine for long trips. And make sure you reserve that engine well in advanced for the holiday weekend when demand for them peaks. I'll be interested in seeing what comes of this. I wish them the best.
I know you're just quoting the press release when you write "plug-in electric", but I'm pretty sure they must mean "plug-in hybrid".
Interesting, but it's difficult to assess their accomplishment without knowing the capacity (kWh, not kW) of the battery. It's no breakthrough to build a light EV if it only goes 20 miles per charge. For comparison, the Tesla Roadster, built on the same Lotus Elise glider and body, weighs 1235 kg, but about 450 kg of that is a battery big enough to move it 393 kilometers (244 miles). If you reduced the size of that battery pack (and its range) so that it matched the 100 mile range of the Nissan Leaf, for example, it would weigh about 970kg. They do claim that their battery has "high energy density", but provide no numbers to support that claim. I checked their press release, but there's no number there, either.
Since the cylinders have a high compression ratio to take advantage of 130 octane natural gas, I'm wondering how it manages to run on gasoline without knocking like crazy. http://www.apvgn.pt/veiculos/zafira_1_6cng_ingles.pdf I read through the marketing literature describing the technology (above), which confirms that the two fuels use the same cylinders, and that performance suffers when using gasoline because the engine is optimized for natural gas. But how do they manage to suppress dieseling/knocking? I see no indication that this is a variable compression engine.
> What made CO2 level drop from 4000 ppm to around 250 ppm? One hypothesis that explains the drop is the "uplift theory". Good summary and links here: http://www.moraymo.us/uplift_overview.php This theory was also described in a NOVA documentary, "The Big Chill": http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ice/chill.html From the above page (at the bottom): "...it has been hypothesized that the tectonically driven uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas is the prime cause of the post-Eocene cooling trend." What caught my eye in this Green Car Congress article is the note at the bottom: "The rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels around 40 million years ago approximately coincides with the rise of the Himalayas...." I don't have access to the study text, but I followed the second abstract link, and does indeed seem to suggest that the Himalayan uplift is responsible: "The hunt is now on for a geological cause for this event—and fingers are pointing at the Himalayan mountain belt." This is the first time I've seen the rise of the Himalayas fingered as a cause of the INCREASE. Now I'm really confused. Do we now have two competing and incompatible -- even contradictory -- hypotheses? Or is it possible for the rise of the Himalayas to be responsible for both the sharp rise and the sharp drop of atmospheric carbon dioxide?
Sounds good. Personally, I'm fine with driving on electrified roadways. But I shudder to think what an outcry there will be from folks who already fear that their cell phones are causing cancer and other health woes. The EMF emanating from a cell phone is tiny compared to what will be coursing through your body as you cruise these future highways. Expect to see gasoline-burning cars completely wrapped in tin-foil.
And indium, while less expensive than gold and platinum, might have difficulty scaling. World reserves stand at 6,000 tons (a mere 13 year supply at this rate). It's been an issue hanging over the head of the CIGS development community. Not an issue while it's still in the lab, but if we're serious about making PV a big part of our future energy supply, there won't be enough indium.
Says "inexpensive material", but gold and platinum (not mentioned here, but in the New Scientist article describing the same work) are hardly inexpensive.