Which is Faster – EV Battery Switch or Gas Fill Up?

Here is something fun for a Friday.

A Model S battery pack switch that takes less time than filling your tank with gas or biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel. The Model S is manufactured by Tesla and is an all electric vehicle. The EV design is focused on performance – driving this car is like driving a sports car.

  • 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds
  • Top Speed 125 miles per hour
  • O tailpipe emissions
  • With an 85 kWh battery, estimated driving miles at 55 miles per hour is 300 miles before charging or swapping out the battery

Here’s out it works. When you go to a Tesla station, you can choose the supercharge option or you can choose the swap the battery option. So the big questions – do you prefer faster or free? Watch below.

Vestar Helps Consumers Plug In

Vestar recently placed electric charging stations at their entertainment and retail lifestyle center, Tempe Marketplace, in Tempe Arizona. Via a partnership with ECOtality, eight Blink charging systems, including handicapped accessible units, have been placed on both the north and south side of the center.

EV Charging Photo 1“This sustainable infrastructure enables our customers the ability to charge their electric vehicles while they are enjoying the many offerings at Tempe Marketplace, including our stores, restaurants, movie theatre and other entertainment options,” said Pat McGinley, Vestar’s Vice President of Property Management.

The Blink Network of charging stations provides EV drivers the freedom to travel as they choose and conveniently charge at Blink commercial locations along the way, including Tempe Marketplace. ECOtality is the project manager of The EV Project, a research initiative to help build America’s future EV infrastructure. The project will study EV infrastructure to support the deployment of EVs in key markets, by collecting and analyzing data from vehicles and chargers.

“Our goal has always been to provide a network of chargers that are conveniently placed where consumers work, shop and play,” added Greg Fioriti, Chief Revenue Officer, ECOtality Inc. “Situated in a highly-visible and accessible area, Tempe Marketplace is an ideal location for Blink EV charging stations.”

My Hybrid Rocks!

Joannas C-Max HybridI broke down a few weeks ago and bought a new car. After test driving and researching all the options out there, I landed on the new Ford C-Max Hybrid. The estimated miles per gallon is 47 both highway and in town and I was getting such great gas mileage that after the first two weeks I thought maybe the gas gauge was broken (it was not). I opted to forgo the “plug-in” option because, frankly, I have no where to plug in (hint for more mid-sized cities to start adopting charging stations). Oh, and I liked driving the C-Max better than the Volt and the Prius and my hybrid beat out the Prius in all the biggie car publications.

I was going to call Brad Harrison with Charles Gabus Ford who spent hours having to listen to me talk about the pros and cons of all sorts of vehicles (flex-fuel, electric vehicles, fuel cell, etc.) but I thought he might not realize I was joking. Although he was a great sport Charles Gabus Ford Teamabout selling a car to someone who writes about alternative vehicles (and drives them) every day. Thanks Brad.

The car is fun to drive, has great get up and go, is quiet, so quiet in fact when you are idling you think you’ve stalled, and is approved for the use of E15, 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline, which I will begin using once it makes its way to my hometown. It’s sporty and I’ve found that when I park places (especially at the gas station) people ask me how I like my car. My answer: My hybrid rocks! (see below for confirmation).

I took my hybrid on its first road trip to the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis, Missouri MyHybridRocksand when I finally filled her up, had 500 miles for the tank. Take that big oil! I see why they are constantly attacking the biofuels industry – with better fuel economy, more fuel choices at the pump mixed with hybrids and all electric vehicles, they are going to have to strategize about how to diversify their companies in the new green age. Or how about this – the renewable energy companies could take their place and some day we’ll be telling our kids about the days when Big Oil was king. Bye-bye- king, the queen is taking the throne.

But I digress as I often do when I’m excited. So now that I am a hybrid owner, I feel I’m entitled to tell Ford (and the other autos) how to make my car just a bit better. Please make your next hybrid E85 compatible (85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline). Then we’d really be driving!

Smart Energy Pilot Lanched in Netherlands

A smart energy pilot project is launching in Groningen and Hoogkerk, Netherlands that will allow consumers to test innovative, smart energy services related to sustainable energy choices and cost savings. Six Dutch companies along with three knowledge institutes and 40 households will participate in the project designed to ascertain which smart energy services best meet the consumer’s requirements. The goal is to give guidance on how to  Minister Kempimplement a sustainable and cost effective energy supply. This is the first time that consumers are involved in such research.

The trial forms part of PowerMatching City’s second phase. PowerMatching City is the world’s first live, total-concept smart grid. These linked, intelligent (digitally) controlled energy grids are essential for achieving a proper match between energy demand and supply. Economic Affairs Minister Kamp initiated the second phase during a festive meeting with the participants from the City of Groningen’s Thomsonstreet.

“I am delighted that today we are taking a new important step towards the energy system and the energy consumer of the future together with households, companies and knowledge institutes,” said Albert van den Noort, PowerMatching City II’s Project Manager. “Changes are often achieved through means of open innovation in which players from different backgrounds and disciplines work together. PowerMatching City is a good example of this.” Continue reading

Volvo Debuts Noiseless Electric Buses

The launch of an ultramodern bus service in Gothenburg, Sweden will pick up passengers indoors, without noise or emissions via electric buses. The initiative is sponsored by the Volvo Group, Swedish Energy Agency, the City of Gothenburg, Västtrafik, Lindholment Science Park and Johanneberg Science Park. The project has been coined, ElectriCity.

“This represents an entirely new mode of travel and will allow for the public-transport system to contribute to a more pleasant urban environment,” said Olof Persson, president ElectriCityand CEO of Volvo. “A silent and emissions-free public-transport system will enable the inclusion of locations in the city that are currently off limits. It is immensely satisfying to be able to launch this in our hometown, in cooperation with Region Västra Götaland and the City of Gothenburg.”

The use of electric power not only places Gothenburg on the map in terms of sustainable and innovative solutions for public transport; the new bus service will also open up new possibilities in city and urban planning. Commencing in 2015, the electric buses are to run between Johanneberg Science Park adjacent to Chalmers and Lindholmen Science Park in Hisingen.

Anneli Hulthén, Chairman of the Municipal Board added, “The electric bus service entails a new mode of public-transport system usage, which is highly positive for Gothenburg. It will highlight Gothenburg as a progressive city in terms of city planning. This is also in line with our prioritized objective of having Gothenburg reduce its climate impact to become a climate-neutral city, and increasing sustainable travel.”

In addition to the electric buses, the cooperation also includes the creation and trial runs of new bus-stop solutions, traffic-routing systems, safety concepts, energy supply and business models.

SiNode Systems Wins 2013 Clean Energy Challenge

SiNode Systems has won the top prize in the 2013 U.S Department of Energy National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. The company was also a finalist in Clean Energy Trust’s 2012 Clean Energy Challenge and earned a sport at the national competition after SiNode Systemswinning the 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition.

SiNode’s game-changing battery technology will change the way we use cell phones, computers and even electric cars,” said Amy Francetic, CEO of Clean Energy Trust. “We are enormously gratified that we could help advance such a dynamic and creative company since its initial formation through the 2012 Challenge.”

SiNode, a cleantech startup from Northwestern University, is commercializing an anode for lithium-ion batteries that allows the battery to charge more quickly and hold a charge 10 times longer than current technology.  SiNode’s anode could greatly enhance battery life for electric vehicles and smartphones. The startup won first prize and more than $800,000 at the 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition.

“These wins validate the Midwest’s clean energy ecosystem and demonstrate its ability to launch viable businesses with homegrown technology from our world-class research institutions,” Francetic said. “We are thrilled to have a Clean Energy Trust company win the national title two years in a row.”

Hybrids, EVs Causing States to Ponder New Road Taxes

According to an article on Fox News, several states, with the latest being North Carolina, are looking at how to tax hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) owners. The states are trying to recoup road funding, earned via taxes at the pump.

Politicians are taking the stance that all drivers, no matter what they drive, are responsible for helping to maintain the roads they use as well as build new ones. Whereas hybrid and Nissan_LeafEV drivers along with other alternative fuel vehicles say this is the wrong approach to promoting U.S. energy independence with sustainable infrastructure funding.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), gas taxes comprise nearly 40 percent of all state highway revenues and more than 90 percent at the federal level. However, the Institute on Taxation on Economic Policy says revenues are not keeping up with rising construction costs, falling 41 percent in real value at the federal level since they were last increased 18 years ago. State are facing the same problems.

Some say the solution is to overhaul the gas tax system to miles traveled but this approach has not been well received. Continue reading

Study: Alt Fuels Developing Faster Than Expected

According to a new study commissioned by a coalition of investors, utilities and makers of alternative fuels, the alternative fuels market has developed faster than anticipated. Electric vehicle sales are beating early projections, the surge in natural gas supply is helping decrease the carbon intensity in trucking, and consumption of biodiesel and renewable diesel supplies are growing rapidly, according to the report. The coalition includes CalETC, Ceres, E2, the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, the National Biodiesel Board, and the Advanced Biofuels Association.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 9.43.40 AM“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is exceeding our expectations and driving us towards a clean fuels future,” said Eileen Tutt, executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition (CalETC). “The standard is doing exactly what it was designed to do – open the way for new fuels and technologies to compete fairly in the marketplace.”

The report analyzes recent developments in the transportation sector and presents three scenarios that ratchet down the carbon intensity of transportation fuels 10 percent, to meet the goal of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard by 2020. All three projections point to an increasingly diverse fuel supply, with more innovation leading to more renewable fuels and advanced vehicles.

Emerging as the report’s biggest surprise is the promise of substitutes for diesel, including biodiesel, renewable diesel, and natural gas – all of which can be produced from waste materials, including animal fats, corn oil, and the gas that would otherwise escape from landfills. The report stated, “2013 promises to be a banner year for biodiesel consumption in California.”

The report also highlights the benefits in terms of greenhouse gas reductions from two additional low-carbon fuel strategies: the addition of off-road electrification (such as electric locomotives and battery-powered forklifts), and improvements to California’s fuel-recovery and extraction processes (using solar energy in crude oil extraction or installing carbon capture and storage technologies at oil and gas wells).

SEAD Searches for Most Energy Efficient EV

The Clean Energy Ministerial’s Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative is in search of the most energy efficient electric motor in the world. The SEAD Global Efficiency Medal competition will recognize the most energy efficient motors on the market as well as new technologies that have the potential to greatly reduce energy use in the future.

SEAD Global Efficiency MedalAccording to the International Energy Agency, electric motors account for over 40 percent of world electricity consumption. They are by far the largest consumers of end-use electricity and are responsible for more than 6,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually–equivalent to the yearly emissions of more than 1 billion cars.

“Electric motors are in everything from small appliances to large industrial equipment,” said Kavita Ravi, SEAD initiative lead. “The competition will allow manufacturers to distinguish themselves as producers of the most energy-efficient products and help consumers save energy and cut back on electric bills.”

By recognizing and promoting the world’s most energy-efficient electric motors, the SEAD competition will help buyers make informed purchasing decisions that can lower energy bills and spur greater innovation among manufacturers. SEAD Global Efficiency Medals will be awarded in four regions:  Australia, India, North America and Europe. Winners will be announced September 1, 2014.

Navy Welcomes 1st Solar-Powered EV Charging Station

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South officially welcomed into service the Navy’s first solar-powered electric car charging station with a ribbon cutting ceremony. During the ceremony NSA Mid-South Executive Officer Cmdr. Brad Meeks thanked the combined Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and Navy Solar EV Charging Station.jpgCommander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) team that brought the station online. He noted that the new photovoltaic carports are a sign of how the base is evolving to face new challenges.

“Naval Support Activity Mid-South is leading the way,” said Meeks. “This is the first solar power charging station in the Navy, and I want to thank our NAVFAC public works team for seeing this project through. Their efforts have ensured NSA Mid-South’s role in building a clean, sustainable future for our Navy and our nation.”

The carport will enable NSA Mid-South to recharge its current fleet of 17 electric vehicles with renewable electricity in approximately four hours, while reducing demand on the commercial power grid. In addition to charging vehicles connected through either 110V or 220V plugs, the carport will also provide excess electricity to the local power grid, further reducing the base’s electricity costs. The 150-foot-long panel structure tilts automatically to track the sun and includes several safety features to protect against high wind or lightning strikes. So far, the energy generated is enough power more than 60 average sized homes for a day.

Public Works Department Mid-South will monitor the carport’s production via a Web-based system and will rely on the base operations support contractor to maintain the individual solar arrays and components over its expected 25-year lifespan. The carport is part of an ongoing $10 million CNIC project to install seven sites with E85 (85% ethanol / 15% gasoline) stations, nine sites with solar carports and five sites with stand-along electric vehicle charging stations and Navy installations.

Key Hydrogen Report on OpenEnergyInfo

As part of the Open Government initiative launched by the Obama Administration, Sandia National Laboratories’ Technical Reference on Hydrogen Compatibility of Materials has made its debut on the Energy Dataset of OpenEnergyInfo, or OpenEI. The work has been available on Sandia’s website for several years but the lab says this new site makes the work more widely available.

“The Technical Reference is a valuable tool for the hydrogen delivery and storage industries,” said Sunita Satyapal, director of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office, the Department of Energy (DOE) office that has sponsored Sandia’s work on the Technical Reference. “It can help eliminate R&D redundancies by providing extensive OpenEI wiki gateway hydrogencompatibility data to the broader industry. By sharing these crucial findings on OpenEI, the Technical Reference can increase the rate of progress towards overcoming the barriers of hydrogen delivery and storage and allow us to reach full commercialization of FCEVs sooner.”

The Technical Reference focuses on compatibility issues between hydrogen and other materials. Due to their small size, hydrogen molecules can seep into materials at room temperature. This high rate of diffusion can promote embrittlement in some of those materials and some materials can be downselected depending on the application and conditions.

To help overcome this challenge, the Technical Reference provides detailed information of the effects of hydrogen on the materials that might be used in equipment for storing hydrogen and delivering it to fuel cell electric vehicles. Developed and updated by researchers at Sandia, the Technical Reference consolidates results of extensive review of reports and journal publications, as well as new research conducted by Sandia, on a range of compatibility issues that must be addressed to increase the cost-effectiveness and ease-of-use of hydrogen vehicles and their infrastructure.

“The reviewed and tested data in the Technical Reference can help industry target and develop components and systems with fewer hydrogen compatibility issues,” said Sandia researcher Brian Somerday, who, along with Sandia colleague Chris San Marchi was a principal developer of the report. “This could potentially accelerate the timetable for the hydrogen-fueled transportation system.”

New Solutions for Electric Vehicles

Volvo Electric Road Test1As gas prices continue to jump up at the pump, the future of electric vehicles is looking bright. The Volvo Group is working on improving electric vehicles and looking for more solutions for vehicles to operate on renewable energy. The company has proposed a future where trucks and buses and continuously supplied with electric power but without batteries. Rather, power lines are built into the surface of the road.

Mats Alaküla, Volvo Group’s expert on electric vehicles and professor at Lund University notes that a challenge is supplying a vehicle with electrical power when needed. “In city traffic, there are currently various solutions and we are researching many others. We have field tests in progress where our plug-in buses are equipped with a battery that can be charged quickly when the buses are at bus stops.”

However, Alaküla notes that using batteries to power trucks and buses traveling long distance will not work. These vehicles stop infrequently and would need so many batteries there would be no room for loads or passengers. This is why the company is searching for a solution to constantly provide power to a truck or bus from an external source through its participation in a large Swedish research project with the support of the Swedish Energy Agency.

The method currently being developed and tested by the Volvo Group, together with Alstom, entails two power lines built into the surface of the road along the entire length of the road. A current collector in contact with the power lines will be located on the truck. With this method, electric vehicles could be continuously supplied with power without carrying large batteries explains Alaküla. The power line will be built in sections and one section is only live as the truck passes.” Continue reading

Tesla Repayment Testiment to DOE Loans

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Automotive has repaid its entire $465 million DOE loan guarantee the company received from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nine years earlier than originally required. New Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said of the feat, “When you’re talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed — but today’s repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department’s portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated.”

The program came under fire in 2011/2012 when solar manufacturing company Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and ceased all operations after receiving a Tesla EVsignificant amount of loans and grants from the DOE. Yet Moniz noted that more than 90 percent of loan loss reserve Congress established remains intact with losses only representing about 2 percent of the overall $34 billion portfolio.

“The Department first offered loans to Tesla and other auto manufacturers in June 2009, when car companies couldn’t get other financing and many people questioned whether the industry would survive,” continued Moniz. “Today, Tesla employs more than 3,000 American workers and is living proof of the power of American innovation.  This is another important contribution to what the Obama Administration has done to preserve and promote America’s auto industry.

“Finally, this announcement is also good news for the future of America’s growing electric vehicle industry.  While the market has taken longer than predicted to get going, sales of electric vehicles in the U.S. tripled last year and are continuing to increase rapidly in 2013.  Tesla and other U.S. manufacturers are in a strong position to compete for this growing global market,” Moniz concluded.

Tesla’s $465 million loan enabled it to reopen a shuttered auto manufacturing plant in Fremont, California and to produce battery packs, electric motors, and other powertrain components. Tesla vehicles have won wide acclaim, including the 2013 Car of the Year from both Motor Trend and Automotive Magazine, and Consumer Reports recently rated Tesla’s Model S as tied for the best car ever rated. Tesla has created more than 3,000 full-time jobs in California – far more than the company initially estimated – and is building out a supply chain that supports numerous additional jobs and technologies, and is bringing advanced manufacturing technology back to America.

GM Adds Solar, EV Charging

General Motors has added four new solar photovoltaic solar projects to its Warren Technical Center campus located in Warren, Michigan. The installations, done by Empower Energies, included a ground-mounted solar array and three solar electric vehicle charging stations. The 49kW ground-mounted array is situated on the north side of the pond adjacent to the GM Vehicle Engineering Center, and according to GM, is outperforming energy production expectations.

“General Motors is committed to promoting the use of 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, which includes solar installations,” said GM’s Manager – gm-website-1Renewable Energy, Rob Threlkeld. “As the leading automotive user of solar power, we understand the importance of solar projects like this, and we continue to work with companies such as Empower Energies to activate new projects at our facilities around the globe.”

The three EV charging stations are located in parking areas adjoining the Vehicle Engineering Center and the Advanced Engineering Center. The latest of these solar EV charging stations is situated in the parking lot across from GM’s new IT Center. These solar charging stations enable Chevy Volt-owning GM employees to power-up their vehicles while they spend their work-day engineering next-generation EV technologies or taking existing vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt, to market.

“These EV Charging Stations may be small in stature by today’s solar-industry standards,” said Len Jornlin, Empower Energies Chief Executive Officer, “but they represent a huge commitment to Clean Transport Infrastructure, and our ability to scale the technology domestically and abroad using our expertise and extensive relationships, including strategic partners such as China Triumph International Engineering Company (CTIEC).”

Installations such as the solar charging stations at the Warren Tech Center enable Empower Energies and market leaders such as GM to refine product design while honing commercial understanding of EV owner requirements.

To Buy or Not Buy a Hybrid Car

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 4.05.17 PM

I’m in the market for a new car and one of the areas I have been researching is hybrids. The question: to buy or not to buy a hybrid? I came across this infographic developed by Auto Pawn, that tells the tale of two cars: hybrid versus non-hybrid.

While many factors are considered, one that is not is if the driver is using an alternative fuel such as biodiesel, ethanol, compressed natural gas, propane, etc. Click here for a link to the full graphic.

While I still haven’t decided what new car I’m going to drive home soon, this information is definitely worth mulling over….