Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Pickens Plan

I've taken a look at the Pickens Plan over the past couple of months, and while it is a great start, it could be better. The expansion of utilizing wind energy is the absolute greatest part of this plan, and it is great to see someone finally taking strong action to change the way America produces energy. The only part I disagree with in this plan is the push for using natural gas to power vehicles. These vehicles would need to be converted to run on compressed natural gas, and the infrastructure to fill up these cars is mainly only available to homeowners who have natural gas piped to their homes. While natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline, it still produces a significant amount of CO2 .

I believe we should skip natural gas and push towards using the extra electricity to produce Hydrogen. Greater push should be made to get fuel cell or pure electric vehicles on the road. The Pickens Plan is only meant to help in the next ten years to give people more time to develop other energy sources, but the sources are available now, and we should push to use them. The natural gas will still be used to heat homes and power stoves so it will definitely not go to waste.

However, I do support the Pickens Plan because it is action, and it is action in the right direction.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lightning GT: An Electric Car with Speed!

I recently read about the Lightning GT made by the Lightning Car Company in the United Kingdom. This car is a pure electric car that recharges by plugging it in. The performance is quite astounding. The company claims it has 700 horsepower on tap and it propelled by four hub motors (one in each wheel). This car uses the same Hi-Pa Drive™ motors as found in the Volvo ReCharge. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is claimed to be under four seconds!

However, the really amazing thing about this car is the claimed recharge time. The car can supposedly go 300 km on only a ten minute charge of it's NanoSafe™ batteries. These batteries also have a claimed useful life of 12 years while still remaining 85% of it's peak capacity.

With the combination of these motors, batteries, and charging system, this could revolutionize driving forever. There will not be a need for gasoline anymore with this kind of technology.

To read the full article click here. Picture ­copyrighted by Jamie Lipman/Microsoft.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Volvo's New Green Car: "ReCharge"

Volvo is on the right track with their latest concept vehicle. It's a plug-in hybrid and uses hub motors instead of traditional electrical motors. This provides greater efficiency because there are less transmititive loses because there are less moving parts because the traditional drivetrain is non-existent.

It definitely has taken a long time for someone to decide to use hub motors on a vehicle. The first time I have seen hub motors in use was when I worked on AN/AAQ-15 FLIR systems for Combat Talon II airplanes. The torquer motors in these were hub type, and they were very powerful. They are so powerful that I saw one break the frame that was designed to hold it. Volvo has made a very good choice in using these motors and teaming it up with a plug-in hybrid style vehicle. Hopefully the ReCharge will be on the market soon and that the price for it will be reasonable.

To see more information about this vehicle click here for the full article. The picture is copyrighted under "Volvo Cars of North America".

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is Growing Our Fuel a Good Idea?

I'm just going to touch the basics of this for today's post.

Ethanol, biodiesel, and butanol at first sound like great ways to cut our dependence on foriegn oil. In reality, it's not as good as it sounds. The increase in prices for crops that are used for producing these fuels has increased dramatically. In turn this has also increased the price of food crops due to less being grown. Farmers find it to be more profitable to producs "fuel" crops instead. This is great news for farmers, but not very good for everyone else.

We still need to push for hydrogen based transport. Everything else is just steps in the road that will eventually lead us to nowhere.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Where's my electric car?

It's amazing how slow the development of electric cars for widespread use is. It does not seem like it can get much slower. Some of the biggest excuses are insufficient battery technology, and fuel cells are too expensive. This is understandable, however someone should do the best they can with the technology readily available.

A company that is doing cool things with existing technology is Tesla Motors. This company has created an electric sports car. They use the body of a Lotus Elise, install an electric drive train, and use lithium-ion batteries of the style typically found in laptop computers. The car is very expensive, but the performance is outstanding. This company is an example of pushing forward with the best you have available. Take a look at their website and see for yourself.

Two men from Canada, Csaba Lemak and Patrick MacKenzie, have built the first known electric paramotor. As stated in the referenced article, the technology is nothing new. They are just people who push forward anyways. This is what we need from car manufacturers and governments around the world.