The more Electric Cars people drive the greater the Stress on the Electric Grid

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 16th, 2014

Week in Review

Have you ever noticed your lights dim when your air conditioner starts?  They do because when an electric motor starts there is a momentary short circuit across the windings.  Causing a great inrush of current as they start rotating.  Once they are rotating that inrush of current drops.  During that surge in current the voltage drops.  Because there is no resistance in a short circuit.  So there is no voltage across a short circuit.  And because everything in your house goes back to your electrical panel that momentary voltage drop affects everything in your house.  Including your lights.  The lower voltage reduces the lighting output.  Momentarily.  Once the air conditioning motor begins to rotate the short circuit goes away and the voltage returns to normal.

Air conditioners draw a lot of power.  And during hot summer days when everyone gets home from work they cause the occasional brownout.  As everybody turns on their air conditioners in the evening.  Stressing the electric grid.  Which is why our power bills rise in the summer months.  For this great rise in demand causes a corresponding rise in supply.  Costing the power companies more to meet that demand.  Which they pass on to us (see Electricity Price Surged to All-Time Record for March by Terence P. Jeffrey posted 4/16/2014 on cnsnews).

The average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity hit a March record of 13.5 cents, according data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was up about 5.5 percent from 12.8 cents per KWH in March 2013.

The price of electricity in the United States tends to rise in spring, peak in summer, and decline in fall. Last year, after the price of a KWH averaged 12.8 cents in March, it rose to an all-time high of 13.7 cents in June, July, August and September.

If the prevailing trend holds, the average price of a KWH would hit a new record this summer.

All-electric cars are more popular in California than in Minnesota.  Because there is little cold and snow in California.  And batteries don’t work so well in the cold.  AAA makes a lot of money jumping dead batteries during cold winter months.  So batteries don’t hold their charge as well in the winter.  Which is when an all-electric car requires more charge.  For the days are shorter.  Meaning that at least part of your daily commute will be in the dark and require headlights.  It is colder.  Requiring electric power for heating.  Windows fog and frost up.  Requiring electric power for defogging and defrosting.  It snows.  Requiring electric power to run windshield wipers.  Slippery roads slow traffic to a crawl.  Increasing the time spent with all of these things running during your commute.  So the all-electric car is more of a warm-weather car.  Where people who don’t live in sunny California may park their all-electric car during the worst of the winter months.  And use a gasoline-powered car instead.

As those on the left want everyone to drive all-electric cars they don’t say much about the stress that will add to the electric grid.  If everyone switched to an electric car in the summer it would be like adding a second air conditioner at every house.  Especially after work.  When everyone gets home and plugs in.  Causing an inrush of current for an hour or so as those discharged batters recharge.  A discharged battery is similar to an electric motor.  As it’s the current flow that recharges the battery cells.  There’s a high current at first.  Which falls as the battery charges.  So summer evenings will have a lot of brownouts during the summer months.  As the added electric load will greatly stress the electric grid during the evenings.  A demand that the power companies will have to supply.  At the same time they’re replacing coal-fired power plants with less reliable renewable forms of power generation.  Such as solar farms.  Which will be fast running out of sunshine as these cars plug in.

If people switch from gasoline to electric power in their cars en masse the average price for a kilowatt-hour will soar.  It’s simple economics.  Supply and demand.  The greater the demand the higher the price.  And there is little economies of scale in power production.  Because more power requires more fuel.  And the kicker is that even people who don’t drive will have to pay more on their electric bills when people switch from gasoline to electric cars.  And their gas bills if gas-fired turbines provide that peak power demand.  Raising the price of natural gas.  Making everyone pay more.  Whereas only drivers of gasoline-powered cars are impacted by the high cost of gasoline.


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Hot and Cold Weather reduce Range of Electric Cars

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

AAA makes a lot of money during cold winters.  Because when the temperatures plummet a lot of batteries won’t start their cars.  A low cost service call for AAA.  For all it requires is about 5 minutes of time on site and a pair of jumper cables.  Connect the cables to the dead battery.  Give the AAA vehicle a little gas to increase alternator output and the car with the dead battery will start up like it’s a summer’s day.  And as soon as it does the driver can drive home.  She doesn’t have to wait for the battery to charge.  For it will trickle charge on the drive home.  While the car’s alternator will provide all the electric power needed to run the defroster blower on the windshield, the electric defroster on the rear window, the headlights, the turn signals, the stop lights, the radio, whatever.  Once the car starts gasoline will do the rest by providing the rotational motion that spins the alternator.  None of this could happen, though, with an all-electric car (see Electric car range fluctuates in extreme weather, reports AAA by Richard Read posted 3/21/2014 on The Christian Science Monitor).

We’ve known for some time that battery range in electric vehicles can fluctuate in response to temperature. However, studies and simulations have produced varying estimates of how much range owners can expect to lose…

To carry out its tests, AAA used a 2014 Ford Focus Electric Vehicle, a 2012 Mitsubishi iMIEV, and a 2013 Nissan Leaf…

When tested at the moderate temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, AAA says the three vehicles averaged 105 miles per charge. After the thermostat was cranked up to 95 degrees, however, that range plummeted to just 69 miles.

The batteries performed even worse in cold weather. When the vehicles were tested at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, they averaged just 43 miles — a 57 percent reduction in range.

Imagine yourself driving home in a February blizzard after work.  With a 30 minute drive home on the expressway.  Which is crawling along at a slow speed due to the bad weather.  Your normal 30 minute drive home turns into an hour.  As you inch along in heavy traffic.  With your wipers running.  Your heat on.  Your headlights on.  Your windshield defroster blower running.  Your rear window defroster on.  And your stop lights blinking on and off as you ride your brake in stop and go traffic.  All of these things just sucking the charge out of your battery.  Imagine all of that and tell me which kind of car would you rather be in.  An all-electric car that has only 43 miles of charge in it?  Or a gasoline-powered car that can sit in that traffic for 3 hours (or longer) before getting you home with everything running while keeping you toasty warm inside?

If you don’t want to wait for a tow truck standing next to your all-electric car in that blizzard to tow you home after it runs out of charge in that stop and go traffic I’m guessing you’ll probably choose the gasoline-powered car.  Which is why few people are buying these all-electric cars.  People don’t want a car that can only be driven in nice weather when there is little traffic on the road to slow your way home.  That’s why they choose gasoline-powered cars.  Because it will drive in anything and will always get you home as long as there is gasoline in the tank.


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Car Companies making more Electric Cars that people will not Buy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 9th, 2014

Week in Review

Auto makers are caving in to green paranoia.  Fooling themselves that electric cars are worth the investment (see Geneva Motor Show: Electric cars no longer the exception? by Theo Leggett posted 3/6/2014 on BBC News Business).

The Porsche Panamera S is quite a car. Sleek, powerful and aerodynamic, it’s capable of 167mph.

But that’s not all. The version on display here in Geneva is also able to travel for about 20 miles on nothing but battery power.

It is, of course, a hybrid. It has an electric motor sitting alongside a 3-litre petrol engine. It is fast, powerful and remarkably economical. Porsche claims it can drive for 91 miles on a single gallon of petrol.

Wow.  A whole 20 miles on battery.  A Ford Taurus with a full tank of gas will take you 522 miles on the expressway.  With heat or air conditioning.  In snow or rain.  Night or day.  That’s what the internal combustion engine gives you.  The ability to get into your car and drive.  Whenever.  Without worrying if you have enough charge in the battery.  Or whether you can risk running the heat or use the headlights when you’re running low on charge.   All you need is gasoline.  And when you’re low on gasoline you just have to spend about 10 minutes or so at a convenient gas station to refill your tank.  Something no battery can do.  For the fastest chargers (i.e., the highest voltage chargers) still require more than a half hour for a useful charge.

Now, under pressure from regulators around the world, carmakers have been working hard to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. So hybrids have become decidedly mainstream…

“There’s no doubt in our mind that it’s coming and it’s coming quickly and there is legislation supporting this in many cities.

“You can drive into London and pay zero congestion charge, for example. There are taxation incentives in the UK, but also in the US and Asia as well…

“We know our customers now,” he says, “and we remain totally convinced that electric cars have a strong, strong place in the market…”

Yet although sales of electric vehicles are growing rapidly, they remain a tiny fraction of the global total. For the moment, the internal combustion engine remains king.

The only thing causing electric cars to become mainstream is the coercion of government.  Legislation.  The only way you can make an electric car more attractive than a gasoline-powered car.  Also, just to get people to buy electric cars requires massive government subsidies.  No.  Hamburgers, fries and Coke are mainstream.  Because you don’t have to subsidize them or coerce people to buy them.  In fact they are so mainstream that some in government use legislation to try and stop people from buying them.

The internal combustion engine is king and will remain king until you can drive an electric car as carefree as a gasoline-powered car.  Until the electric car makers can give us the range and the ability to use our heaters and lights without sweating profusely as we sit in gridlock during a blizzard worrying whether we’ll ever make it home people just aren’t going to buy an electric car.  Because people want to know they will make it home safely.  And right now nothing does that better than the internal combustion engine.


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Girl sits on Phone in Back Pocket and starts Fire just as Damaged Batteries start Fires in Electric Cars

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 2nd, 2014

Week in Review

Lithium-ion batteries are a wonder.  But they can be temperamental.  Which you can expect when you put highly reactive chemicals together.  Which is the price of higher energy storage densities.  Danger.  To make that charge last longer in the batteries powering our electronic devices.  And they can only do that by a chemical reaction that produces heat.  Boeing had a problem with their lithium-ion batteries that nearly caught a couple of their new Dreamliners on fire.  Resulting in an FAA grounding of the entire fleet until they found a way to make their batteries safer.  But it’s not just big lithium-ion batteries that can burst into flames (see iPhone catches fire, teen girl burned by Chris Matyszczyk posted 2/1/2014 on CNET).

An eighth-grader in Maine is sitting in class when she hears a pop. Then she notices smoke coming from her back pocket…

The culprit is said to have been her iPhone. Images suggest it had caught fire…

The division chief of the local emergency medical services, Andrew Palmeri, told Seacoast Online that the phone’s battery had “shorted out.” He suggested that the phone had been crushed in the teen’s back pocket. Local fire services are investigating…

Cell phones of whatever brand do catch fire. iPhones have caught fire on planes, just as Droids have exploded in ears.

So lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous.  Despite being the wonders they are.  For these chemical reactions are powerful.  And need to be confined perfectly.  But if you sit on a cell phone you can damage the confinement of those chemicals.  Causing a fire.  Just as accidents in electric cars have resulted in battery fires that have totaled these cars.  Or a faulty charging circuit started a fire overnight while charging in an attached garage.  Starting the house on fire.  Or nearly started a plane on fire.

The greatest hindrance to electric car sales is a thing called range anxiety.  Will I have enough charge to get home?  The answer to this problem is, of course, increasing the charge available in these cars.  Typically with bigger and more powerful batteries.  Which can burn the car to a crisp after an accident damages the battery.  Or debris on the roadway is thrown up by a tire into the battery.  Things that won’t total a gasoline-powered car if they happen.  Because gas is a high-density energy source.  Like these lithium-ion batters.  But it takes a lot more abuse to the gas tank to get it to start a fire.  Which is why electric cars will not replace the gasoline-powered car.  As they provide a far greater range and are safer.  And until the electric car can out do the gasoline-powered car on these two points the electric car will remain a novelty.


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Tesla has made it Possible to drive Cross-Country in an Electric Car

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 1st, 2014

Week in Review

Tesla has installed charging stations across the country.  You can now drive from Los Angeles to New York City.  As long as you want to take the scenic route and are in no hurry (see Tesla’s 800-mile cross-country detour by Chris Isidore posted 1/30/2014 on CNN Money).

Tesla owners can now drive across the country using the company’s network of charging stations to power their batteries — as long as they don’t mind going about 800 miles out of their way…

Tesla says the route…is…3,400 miles long…

The superchargers provide enough juice in 30 minutes to take a Tesla about 170 miles. There are 32 stations on the route between downtown Los Angeles and New York City, and more than 40 others mostly up and down both coasts.

The Model S, which starts at about $69,000, needs to be charged every 244 to 306 miles, depending on the battery size.

Sounds good.  But for those of us comfortable with ease of traveling with gasoline will not experience that same ease driving from one charging station to another.  Let’s look at this by first looking at a full-size sedan powered by a gasoline-engine.  Like a Ford Taurus.  They can get about 29 miles per gallon on the highway and have an 18 gallon gas tank.  Crunching the numbers for that 3,400 mile trip it will take about 117 gallons of gasoline (3,400/29).  With an 18 gallon gas tank it will take 7 fueling stops to complete the trip (117/18).  Assuming 5 minutes to refuel and another 10 minutes for incidentals (pulling in, pulling out, paying at the pump, waiting for a fuel pump to become available, etc.) that’s 105 minutes (7 X 15).  Or 1.75 hours (105/60).  Adding just under 2 hours to the trip for fueling.

For 32 charging stations to cover that 3,400 miles means they are on average 106.25 miles apart.  So a half-hour quick charge will take you to the next charging station with 170 miles of charge available on your battery.  Assuming 30 minutes to charge and another 15 minutes for incidentals (pulling in, pulling out, waiting for another car to complete their 30 minute charge, etc.) that’s 1,440 minutes (32 X 45).  Or 24 hours (1,440/60).  Adding 24 hours to the trip for charging.  Or a full day.  Or 2 days if you only drive 12 hours a day.  Or 3 days if you only drive 8 hours a day.

Now imagine a world where everyone is driving electric cars.  And there are three cars ahead of you at the charging station waiting for a charge.  Adding an hour and half waiting time in addition to your 45 minute charging stop.  If it was like this at every charging station and you drove 12 hours a day that would add 6 days of traveling to that trip.  Whereas the odds are less likely that you will have to wait for 3 cars ahead of you at a gas station.  Because there are so many more gas stations to go to.

Driving cross-country in an electric car could add 6 days to a 4-day trip.  Making the electric car a novelty at best.  Unless your vacation is all about getting there.  And not about being there.  Where you drive there, turn around and return home.  Because you have no time to spend there due to the time it took to get there.  You could do that.  Or drive a gasoline-powered car.  And do more than just drive on your vacation.


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A 2013 Tesla Model S turns a 9.5 Hour Trip into a 12.5 Hour Trip

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 14th, 2013

Week in Review

There are times when we like to take to the open road and just drive.  And if we have the time there are few things more enjoyable than taking the road less traveled.  Seeking out and exploring things we’ve never seen before.  But there are also times when the journey is so long that we want to make it in the shortest time possible.  For if we’re traveling to the favorite family fun park we’d much rather arrive by 7 PM in the daylight.  Instead of 10 PM in the dark.  So we can easily find our room.  Freshen up.  Have a nice dinner.  Shower.  And get to bed by 10 PM so we can get a good night’s sleep for a long day of fun in the morrow.  Something that a gasoline-powered car can help us do a lot better than an electric car (see We Took The Tesla Model S On A Road Trip — Here’s How It Did by George Parrott posted 12/12/2013 on Business Insider).

Once Tesla Motors built out its Supercharger network of quick-charging stations along Interstate 5, my wife and I decided to drive from our home in Sacramento to Portland in our new 2013 Tesla Model S…

It was almost 600 miles from our home in West Sacramento to our hotel room in Portland…

Our West Sacramento to Downtown Portland driving time was about 9 hours and 35 minutes of actual driving, with another 2 hours in short Supercharger stops–plus a longer stop for a full recharge (for the car) and for us (breakfast) that took a full hour.

That’s another 3 hours added to the trip.  Three hours is a lot of time.  A 30-minute charge time may seem like a short stop but if you’ve ever gone on a long trip (say, driving in excess of 8 hours) a 30-minute stop is excruciating.  Because the sun doesn’t stop with you.  It’s still racing across the sky.  And there is nothing worse than having a 9 hour trip turn into a 12 hour trip.  Where you find yourself driving dead-tired in the black of night.  Drinking coffee to try and stay awake.  Slapping your face.  Talking to yourself.  Anything to stay awake as you drive on and on into the black of night.  Praying you don’t see any moose in your headlights.  And then when you finally get to your room for the night you can’t sleep because of all that coffee you drank.  Which just ruins the first day of your vacation.

Now imagine all of this and you arrive at a charging station and you have to wait in line as other cars get their 30 minute charge.  Or you arrive at the charging station only to find it out of order.  Leaving you to find a 120V outlet to ‘steal’ electricity for 6 hours or so to give you enough charge to get to the next charging station.  Or that your car runs out of charge in the middle of nowhere in the black of night.  Before you ever made it to the charging station.  What then?  I can’t say for sure but I’ll bet it’ll involve an expletive, a reference to your electric car and a yearning for a gasoline-powered car.  As you could be surrounded by lit up gas stations full of gasoline that just won’t do a thing for you and your electric car.


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Heart Attacks and Defibrillators

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 29th, 2013

Technology 101

Moving Electrons from one Atom to another creates a Positively and a Negatively Charged Atom

Too much humidity can make one uncomfortable.  It can labor your breathing.  Make you sweat so much that you stick to everything.  Making it feel hotter than it is (it’s not the heat; it’s the humidity).  And play havoc with well-coiffed ladies.  As excessive humidity can straighten the finest curl.  That’s why we like the spring and fall.  When there are warm days without the humidity.  Winters, on the other hand, are just too cold.  And uncomfortable humidity-wise.  They’re not too humid.  But too dry.  Giving us dried and cracked skin.  Bloody noses.  And painful electrical shocks.  As anyone can attest to who has slid out of a car only to get a big static spark when they pushed the door close.

What causes that static electric spark?  When you slide your buttocks over the car seat to get out of the car you are charging a capacitor.  By stripping electrons away from atoms.  Leaving atoms with fewer electrons than protons.  Giving them a positive charge.  And atoms with more electrons than protons.  Giving them a negative charge.  Atoms prefer to be electrical neutral.  Which is why when we reach for that metal door those excess electrons jump the air-gap as soon as they can.  So both atoms can return to a neutral state.  Until the next time we drag our buttocks across the seat.

These electric discharges can be painful.  And annoying as they scare the bejesus out of you when you’re not expecting it.  But this is not all that capacitors do.  As it turns out this charging ability has a lot of uses.  They are in pretty much every piece of electrical and electronic equipment we use.  We use them to condition power.  For power factor correction.  Signal processing.  Noise filters.  Tuned circuits (as used in a radio dial to tune in a station).  And energy storage.  Which is what we do when we drag ourselves across a car seat.  We’re storing energy that we discharge later.  In a car it just annoys us.  But it can act like a temporary battery when we change the batteries in something with a volatile memory.  So we don’t lose the songs on our MP3 player when we change the batteries.  And the energy they store can even save lives.

A Defibrillator sends an Electric Charge through an Irregularly Beating Heart to Shock it back into Rhythm

In the movie The Matrix the machines took over the world.  And used humans as batteries to power their machines.  Because a human is a little like an electrical battery.  It creates electricity that operates the human body.  For the human body is controlled by electrical impulses sent along our nervous system.  These electrical impulses even make our hearts pump.  The heart itself is ‘wired’ to transmit this pulse in a delayed mode to the various tissue in the heart.  First a pulse contracts the two top chambers (atria).  This contraction empties the blood they hold into the two bottom chambers (ventricles).  Then after a delay that same pulse contracts the ventricles.  Pushing the blood out and through the body.  When a doctor looks at an EKG he or she can see how that pulse propagates through the heart.  And determine if it’s healthy (showing a normal sinus rhythm).  Or if there was some cardiac event that has altered the normal sinus rhythm.

If a heart doesn’t have a normal sinus rhythm it can lead to cardiac arrest (i.e., a heart attack).  An arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) can be a fast heartbeat.  A slow heartbeat.  Or it may be an irregular heartbeat.  Which is due to abnormal electrical activity in the heart.  And can lead to ventricular fibrillation.  Where the muscles don’t contract in a coordinated fashion with the proper delays propagating through the heart tissues to pump the blood.  But instead contract without this coordination.  Causing the heart muscles to quiver instead.  If this continues more than a few seconds the heart may stop.  With an EKG showing a flat line.  With no blood flowing organs begin shutting down.  Causing irreversible damage.  And if a normal sinus rhythm isn’t restored within 90 seconds once a person goes into v-fib the chance of survival from this cardiac event are pretty much zero.

In the movies and on television when a patient goes into v-fib they sometimes show the patient flat-lining when they rush in the crash cart.  They rub gel on the paddles of a defibrillator.  Yell ‘clear’ and shock the patient.  Sometimes with the patient jerking wildly from the jolt from the paddles.  They may do this a couple of times until they hear the flat-line begin beeping again in a sinus rhythm.  It doesn’t really happen like that, though.  If a person is flat-lining a jolt from a defibrillator won’t bring them back.  Some medicine shot into the heart and chest compressions might.  But not an electric shock.  The use of a defibrillator sends an electric charge through a heart beating with an irregular rhythm to shock it back into a normal rhythm.  Sort of like banging on an electronic device to get it working properly again.  With the physical shock perhaps jiggling a loose component back into connection with something.  It can sometimes make the device work again.  But it won’t make it work if the cord is unplugged or if the batteries had been removed.

Portable Defibrillators have a Charged Battery that Charges a Capacitor

Early defibrillators were AC devices that plugged into a wall outlet.  They had a big transformer to step up the voltage.  But they were big and bulky and difficult to move around in a crowded room.  And they didn’t work that well.  Rarely pulling a patient out of v-fib.  And sometimes damaged the heart tissue as much as the heart attack.  In 1959 the AC defibrillator was replaced with one using charged capacitors.  This is the type we see in the movies and on television.  And use in real life.

If a patient goes into cardiac arrest they set the charge level for the given arrhythmia.  As the capacitors charge the person who will use it removes the paddles while someone else applies an electrically conducting gel to the paddles.  The person then places the paddles on the patient with force to ensure a good electrical connection.  And waits for the unit to finish charging.  Once charged anyone working on the patient breaks any contact they have with the patient so they won’t get shocked, too.  When everyone one and everything is clear the person will focus on the EKG for the appropriate point in the rhythm to press a button that discharges the capacitors.  Causing the stored energy to flow from one paddle to the other through the heart.  To reset the arrhythmia into a normal sinus rhythm.

Time is critical in surviving a heart attack.  So using a defibrillator as soon as possible increased a person’s chances of surviving from a heart attack.  Making defibrillators portable allowed paramedics to use them in the field.  Before they got the patient to a hospital.  These portable units have a charged battery that charges a capacitor.  Electronics and computer controls even allow ordinary people to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).  You will see AEDs in crowded areas like airports, shopping malls, casinos, etc.  Anywhere a large concentration of elderly men (the most likely to suffer cardiac arrest) may congregate.  This device often triggers a security alarm when removed to alert first responders.  Someone who witnesses a person suffering a heart attack can follow automated voice instructions from the AED and hook it up on the patient.  The AED will analyze the arrhythmia.  Set the appropriate charge level.  But usually requires someone to press a button for the shock.  To give everyone a chance to get clear from the person before the capacitor discharges its energy.  Because if they are in contact with that body when that charge hits it they may have more than a bad hair day afterwards.  Perhaps even sending their own heart into arrhythmia.  As this shock will be nothing like the one they get after sliding out of a car on a dry winter’s day.


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The Tesla Model S is a Gorgeous Electric Car but You can’t take the Path Less Traveled in It

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 11th, 2013

Week in Review

The joy of the open road is taking the path less traveled.  How many of us taking a drive on a beautiful summer’s day turned down some country road on a whim?  Just because the scenery was beautiful?  Or because there was something interesting down at the end of that road?  That is the joy of the open road.  To travel without plans.  Where the driving is as good as the destination.  If not better.  This is what the electric car, though, cannot give us (see Tesla Model S receives near-perfect score from Consumer Reports by Eric Evarts posted 5/8/2013 on Consumer Reports).

There, we said it. The Tesla Model S outscores every other car in our test ratings. It does so even though it’s an electric car. In fact, it does so because it is electric…

The electric motor delivers impressive power, right now, and it is impressively efficient. The Model S uses about half the energy of a Toyota Prius every mile, and it has more than twice the range—about 200 miles—of any other electric car we’ve driven. Still,  you’ll have to plan ahead for longer trips; you won’t be taking it on a spontaneous jaunt from, say, New York to Cleveland any time soon. You won’t make it. Even with Tesla’s optional High Power Wall Connector, it takes about five hours to charge. On a standard 240-volt electric-car charger, it would take about 12 hours…

We paid $89,650 for our Model S, with the biggest available battery, the most seats available, and the fastest available optional chargers. Then we still had to pay another $1,200 for Tesla’s High Power Wall Connector.

That’s a lot of money.  And for what?  A range of 200 miles?  Which is something like 2-4 hours of driving time.  With stops of between 5-12 hours to recharge between those 200 miles.  That just doesn’t cut it.  The Model S is a gorgeous car.  But it has one serious flaw.  The joy of that beautiful car comes from driving it.  Not sitting at a charging station admiring it.

Cars are meant to be driven.  To take to the open road.  To go wherever that road may take you.  And when the weather or mood strikes you, you take the long-way home.  Instead of the 2 hours on the interstate you take the rambling secondary roads.  And get home when you get home.  Sometimes 4 hours later than you planned.  Because you could.  This is what people want from a gorgeous car.  They want to see the world from it.  Not just the commute to work.


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Charging your Electric Car will be as Simple as Understanding your Cellular Bill

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

People hate the high price of gasoline.  And bought electric cars so they could laugh at those poor saps still buying gasoline.  For with their electric car all they needed was to plug in when they needed some charge and go on their way.  Of course, they didn’t think about that charging part so carefully.  For plugging in at home is one thing.  And appears to be free.  Because your electric meter doesn’t itemize your electric use.  But when you’re looking from a charge away from home some may have been surprised to see there is a cost for electricity.  When they can even find a place to plug in (see Merging networks give electric car drivers more places to charge by Eric Evarts posted 3/8/2013 on Consumer Reports).

It ought to go without saying that with relatively few public chargers for electric cars, if you have an electric car you ought to be able to plug into any one of them.

That wasn’t the case last year, when highlighted the challenges EV owners face when traveling beyond the range of a home recharge…But now with a new partnership forged, it is getting much easier for EV drivers to recharge on the go.

The two largest charging network providers, Ecotality (Blink) and Chargepoint, have come together to create a joint billing and data connection called Collaboratev. As a result, Collaboratev will allow each network’s customers to charge up at any Blink or Chargepoint charger by swiping a single card and get a single bill. The networks are working to recruit other, smaller networks to the system, as well.

So charging your electric car will be like using your cell phone.  Or an ATM.  Where different costs and fees may apply depending where you are.  It’s not like that with gasoline.  Where any cluster of gas stations will have similar prices.  Making it easy to choose.  For the only price you need to know is on the gas station sign.  And you don’t have to worry about getting a monthly bill later with additional charges or fees added in.  Now that’s convenience.

Also, having more charging stations available doesn’t solve another problem.  You can pull into any gas station, pump gas for about 10 minutes, then go on driving.  And you can have your lights on and your air conditioning or heat on high.  Even drive on the highway for another 5-6 hours easily.  And you just won’t be able to do that with an electric car.  Where the limited range will make you very nervous on the drive home if you get stuck in traffic.  At night.  During a snow storm.  With your headlights on.  And your heat and defrosters on high to keep your windows clear.

You’ll be sweating bullets.  And praying that you have enough charge to get home.  While your gasoline-powered companions on the road have no such concern.  For if they run low on gas they can pull into a gas station.  Top off their tank.  And be back in that traffic jam some 15 minutes later.  Whereas if you run out of charge you will have to call a tow truck.  For you can’t go to a service station and come back with a can of charge to pour into the battery.  No.  You’ll need a tow to a charger.  And an hour or so to charge.  Or more.  Depending on the voltage.

This is the price of the all-electric car.  Convenience.  And security.  Something that gasoline gives you.  Which is why it is the dominant fuel we use.  Because there is nothing better.


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Lithium Ion Battery Fires ground entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner Fleet

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 20th, 2013

Week in Review

The big drawback for electric cars is range.  For after a battery powers all the electrical systems (heating, cooling, lights, etc.) what charge is left is for going places.  And if that place is more than 30 miles away few people will feel comfortable taking a chance that they will have enough charge to drive there and back.  Unless that trip is to work where the car can recharge for 8-9 hours while at work.

Range anxiety is the greatest drawback to an all-electric car.  For if you run out of charge there is only one way to get your car home.  With a tow truck.  For you can’t walk to a gas station and ask for a can of charge to pour into the battery.  Charging needs an electrical source.  And time.  So the Holy Grail of the all-electric car industry is a battery that can hold a lot of charge.  But is small and does not weigh a lot.  And can be recharged in a very short time.  Right now that Holy Grail is the lithium ion battery.

But there is a cost for this Holy Grail.  There is a lot of chemistry to do this.  Chemistry that can produce a lot of heat.  Catch fire.  And explode.  Which has happened in some electric cars.  As well as in some airplanes (see Bad Batteries Seen as Best Case for 787 Overcoming Past by Susanna Ray, Alan Levin & Peter Robison posted 1/18/2013 on Bloomberg).

Other aircraft bleed air off the engines for a pneumatic system to power a variety of critical functions, such as air conditioning. That diverts power from the engines that they could otherwise use for thrust, and means they use more fuel.

With an electrical system for the jet’s other needs, the engines become much more efficient. The 787 uses five times as much electricity as the 767, enough to power 400 homes. To jump- start a so-called auxiliary power unit that’s used on the ground and as a backup in case all the plane’s generators failed, Boeing decided on a lithium-ion battery because it holds more energy and can be quickly recharged, Mike Sinnett, the 787 project engineer, said in a briefing last week.

Those capabilities also make lithium-ion cells more flammable than other battery technology, and they can create sparks and high heat if not properly discharged. Chemicals inside the battery are also flammable and hard to extinguish because they contain their own source of oxygen, Sinnett said.

A couple of battery fires have grounded all Boeing 787 Dreamliners.  The last commercial jetliner to receive such an order was the McDonnell Douglas DC-10.   Which happened after an engine came off while taking off at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.  Due to a maintenance error in changing out the left engine and pylon.  Causing the plane to crash.  After investigation they found the slats did not mechanically latch into position.  When the engine ripped out the hydraulic lines the slats retracted and the wing stalled.  The plane slowly banked to the left and fell out of the sky.  Killing all on board.  The DC-10s were grounded worldwide until the hydraulic lines were better protected and the slats latched to prevent them from retracting on the loss of hydraulic pressure.  Now no 787s have crashed.  But few things are deadlier to an airborne aircraft than a fire.  For there is nothing pilots can do other than to continue to fly towards an airport while the plane is consumed by fire.

Stored chemical oxygen generators in the hull of ValuJet Flight 592 were stored improperly.  They were activated.  Producing oxygen by a chemical reaction that generated a lot of heat.  The heat started a fire and the oxygen fueled it.  Once the pilots were aware of the fire they turned to the nearest airport.  But the fire consumed the airplane and fell out of the sky before they could land.  Killing all on board.

Fire on an airplane rarely ends well.  Which explains the grounding of the entire 787 fleet.  Because these lithium ion batteries run very hot when they make electricity.  And they can generate oxygen.  Which is the last thing you want on an aircraft.  However, both Airbus and Boeing are using them because they are the Holy Grail of batteries.  They’re small and light and can hold a lot of charge and nothing can recharge as fast as they can.  Which is why they are the choice for all-electric cars.  Even though some of them have caught fire.  This is the tradeoff.  Smaller and lighter batteries are smaller and lighter for a reason.  Because of powerful chemical reactions that can go wrong.  So to be safe you should park your electric car outside and away from your house.  In case it catches fire you’ll only lose your car.  And not your garage or house.  Or you can stick to the gasoline-powered car and not worry about battery fires.  Or range.


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