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Friday, March 27, 2009

Outgreening your neighbors

Photo:Wikipedia Commons

The competition for greenest car is really heating up. My favorite is the Bolloré Bluecar, which will be available as a lease option in several European countries next year. That's OK with me because I am not an early adapter. People who willingly act as guinea pigs by paying exorbitant prices to be the first to purchase gadgets do us all a favor by helping manufacturers flush out bugs in new technology.

This car has in addition to an advanced solid-state Lithium Metal Polymer battery, a large ultra capacitor to handle regenerative braking and acceleration. If I were the engineer in charge of designing an electric car, this is just what I would be shooting for. It has a 150-mile range on a 6-hour charge. Purchase of a fast charger will let you get fifteen miles on a five-minute charge.

You have probably already heard about the low cost Honda Insight that will hit the U.S. market this summer:

Honda has received more than triple the 5,000 orders a month it was expecting…[Japanese sales of Insight].

Toyota is responding by keeping a lower cost Prius in the lineup but more importantly:

Chief Designer Akihiko Otsuka said Toyota is planning a smaller, cheaper hybrid based on its Yaris platform to take on the Insight.

I called this shot in an article I wrote last summer titled:

"Converting a Yaris into a plug-in Hybrid--Toyota may have something up its sleeve."

The trick is to call a lot of shots but only highlight the ones that panned out.

My oldest daughter absconded with my Yaris when she decided to come back to Seattle to finish college. I have been working on a 91' Tercel instead. Results of that conversion will be discussed in a future article, but don't hold your breath. Progress is painfully slow.

Outgreen: To be more active with respect to environmental concerns, or to be more environmentally conscious, than another.

I created a Wiktionary entry for this word just before writing this piece, which has already been edited and improved upon. It will eventually be removed if someone decides that it doesn't meet the criteria for inclusion. In theory, it should, assuming Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded is considered a well-known work.

I'm not sure I like the definition as it stands. My first attempt at a definition was "To have a smaller environmental footprint or impact than a competitor." How would you define it?

The battery and capacitor of the blue car were developed by a French company called Bolloré. I have seen some wonderful stuff developed by French engineers. Boeing designed and analyzed the 777 in three dimensional Boolean solids using software developed by Dassault. It was an order of magnitude better than any other CAD software on the planet at the time (although it required a large complex of mainframes to run). It set the bar until it was eventually eclipsed by a competitor in the United States with even better software that ran on a PC platform, which Dassault immediately bought out.

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  1. Here in Seattle it was becoming fashionable to drive a diesel car using some blend of biodiesel. People saw it as an economical way to "outgreen" their neighbors. I think that fad is finally waning for three reasons:

    1) Unless you can find a source of biodiesel that is not made from food crops you are doing more damage than just burning straight diesel.
    2) Soot is the second leading cause of global warming and biodiesel produces far more soot than a gasoline car.
    3) The price of biodiesel takes some of the incentive away.

  2. Anonymous7:10 PM

    "Soot is the second leading cause of global warming ..."

    Actually, soot helps REDUCE global warming, although it is bad for other reasons (eg human health impacts)

  3. According to NASA:

    "...Black carbon, the component of soot that gives it its colour, is thought to be the second largest cause of global warming after carbon dioxide..."



    "...Rich countries have already reduced their emissions of black carbon from burning fossil fuels dramatically since the 1950s. The health benefits of a worldwide cut could be massive. Soot contains up to 40 different cancer-causing chemicals and can also cause respiratory and heart diseases. It is estimated to cause two million deaths in the developing world each year – mainly among children – when emitted from wood-burning stoves in poorly ventilated houses. In Britain, research has shown that people are twice as likely to die from respiratory disease when heavily exposed to soot emitted from vehicle exhausts...."

    I'm just quoting what I think is a reliable source. Feel free to quote from another source that you feel is reliable.

  4. Yep bio-d, that lithium/supercap design is awesome,but of course out of reach to us DIYers.

    I have gi hopes for the Oasis,but still can't find out where to buy them. I'm going to call Firefly and ask,I'll let you know what they say.

    For the near future I kind of think some nanotech lead/acid graphite breakthrough is coming. It might just make lithium a thing of the past for EV use? We'll see. Bucky balls, carbon nanotubes who knows?

  5. Inviting comments! I have a sanctuary for frustrated former grist commentors on my blog. Grist comments live!

    Well sort of..maybe, unoficially? Hehehey.

  6. Just phoned firefly bio-d, it looks like the group 31 will be available this sunmmer from their website @ $490 per copy. 1.2 kwh for 490, that puts my project at 30 to 40 mile battery range for 1500 bucks and 210 pounds of batteries. more info,click my nick.

  7. The real question is cycle life. How many years will these batteries last in an electric car? The fact that they are not advertising this value tells us one of two things. They are not done testing them or the test results are not so great.

  8. amazingdrx9:16 PM

    The blurb in the pdf said 1500+ cycles, about 5 years? Possibly 2000 was hinted at. I would expect the price to come down with mass production. I urged nano-tech research,hehey.

    Not sure if the Firefly people are on that wavelength or not. Iran is though, an Iranian universtity has done nanotech lead acid battery work.


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