Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Samuel R. Avro on Sep 17, 2010 with 122 responses

$10M Purse Split Between Three 100 MPG Auto Teams

The Edison2 “Very Light Car” took home the grand prize of $5M while two other teams were awarded $2.5M each.

After undergoing on-track testing at Michigan International Speedway, and laboratory verification at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab, three vehicles emerged as winners of the X PRIZE Foundation’s $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE:

Edison2 “Very Light Car” ($5 Million Mainstream Class Winner)

Very Light Car

The Edison2 "Very Light Car" racing around the track during the X Prize finals held at the Michigan International Speedway.

This ethanol-fueled (E85) vehicle demonstrated an incredible 102.5 MPGe (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) on the test track. (RR note: According to the formula for MPGe, that means that actual mileage on E85 was 73 miles per gallon; MPGe divides the actual mileage by the ratio of the energy in the fuel used over the energy in gasoline; for fuels with lower energy density than gasoline, MPGe is greater than actual MPG).

The Very Light Car is extremely lightweight –weighing in at just 830 pounds– and boasts the lowest drag coefficient of any 4-wheel car. The Edison2 team managed to accomplish this by employing a host of weight-saving innovations. For instance, brakes that usually weigh over a pound only weigh a few ounces; lugnuts are 0.1 ounces instead of 1 ounce.

According to Virgina-based Edison2′s founder, Oliver Kuttner, their analysis 
showed 
that “
the 
only 
two 
absolute 
virtues 
in auto 
efficiency 
are 
light 
weight 
and
 low
 aerodynamic 
drag. 
So we 
avoided 
the 
hundreds 
and
 hundreds 
of 
pounds 
of 
batteries
 needed 
for 
an 
electric 
and 
chose 
a 
conventional 
internal 
combustion 
engine 
running 
on 
E85.”

Li-ion Motors “Wave II”: $2.5 Million Alternative Side-by-Side Class Winner

The battery electric "Wave II" receiving a charge. It was awarded $2.5M of the X Prize purse.

This electric car was the winner of the Alternative Side-by-Side Class achieving 187 MPGe.

The team at North Carolina-based Li-ion Motors managed to to reduce the weight of the Wave II all the way down to 2,176 lbs., despite the substantial weight added by the lithium ion batteries (for instance: The Nissan Leaf’s battery pack weighs in at more than 400 lbs).

The car’s acceleration clocked in at 14.7 seconds from 0-60 MPH, and boasts a range of 100 miles over a real-world driving cycle.

X-Tracer Team Switzerland “E-Tracer”: $2.5 Million Alternative Tandem Class Winner

The tandem two-seater E-Tracer is a motorcycle and automobile combo.

This electric vehicle achieved a remarkable 205.3 MPGe. Due to its unique design, the E-Tracer weighs just 1,446 lbs.

Built by the Swiss-based X-Tracer team, the vehicle can accelerate from 0-60 MPH in just 6.6 seconds and delivers more than 100 miles in range.

  1. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 3:31 am

    That’s one of the sharpest looking motorbikes I’ve ever seen. I want it.

    [link]      
  2. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 3:51 am

    Li-ion Motors “Wave II”: $2.5 Million Alternative

    For a moment there, I thought that was the price of this car.

    They didn;t give details of the “expected pricing” for each of these vehiclse, but it’s a pretty safe guess it is directly proportional to the amount of batteries in each.

    If you are a driver who has lots of money and want to save oil, the Li-Ion wave is fine, but if you are a driver who wants to save money, this option is in the stratosphere, and the Edison is the way to go.

    If we want widespread adoption of low or no oil usage vehicles, the Edison shows the way.  They used E85, but could equally have used methanol.  Even CNG and propane could be made to work in this vehicle – a 20lb cylinder of propane will take this vehicle over 350 miles, and can be changed in seconds (and has in “infinite” cycle life!) – a performance statistic we are unlikely to ever see from electric vehicles.  

    An interesting note – the high compression 250cc engine they used is a modified, high compression motorcycle engine.  Even though it got 102 miles on the energy equivalent of gasoline, if you used regular gasoline, you wouldn’t get that far, as the compression would need to be backed off to adjust for the lower octane rating..

    So, in addition to light weight and aerodynamic, to get real efficiency, ditch the gasoline engine and go for high compression engines and fuels like ethanol, methanol, CNG/LNG and even diesel.  All of which can be produced from renewable sources.  Gasoline can be also, but is the most energy intensive, for the least efficient fuel!

    A bit like electric cars themselves…

    [link]      
  3. By takchess on September 17, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I have a blog (more of an online personal notebook) that I put some links to the teams I thought were interesting.

    Many of the links are long dead but digging around you might some things of interest.

    http://takchesstoi.blogspot.co….._7814.html

    The team I was rooting for in the end was Illuminati which had a mechanical problem which dropped them from the contest in the last race.

    This thing went on for a long time, the contest was hard to understand and I imagine it was financially painful for most of the participants. I bet a good book could be written about this.

    http://takchesstoi.blogspot.co….._7814.html

    [link]      
  4. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Paul N said:

      Gasoline can be also, but is the most energy intensive, for the least efficient fuel!

    A bit like electric cars themselves…


     

    The electric car was 82% more efficient, even with 2 1/2 times the weight. Looks better too. Lithium batteries are expensive, but new technology always is. We talk about the expense of batteries, but what about the motors? Electric motors last forever. Rewind the armature and it’s like new again.

    [link]      
  5. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Btw, those $4000 batteries in the Prius last 200,000 miles and can be rebuilt for $500. I wouldn’t doubt that shops spring up that rebuild lithium batteries too.

    [link]      
  6. By Wendell Mercantile on September 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    That’s all very interesting, but here’s a guy who recently drove from Washington State to Mexico averaging 119 mpg — and Mr Henderson did it in a car that looks like a real car. I wonder if he gets a share of the X-Prize. ;-) From Washington to Mexico on 12.4 Gallons Of Diesel

    [link]      
  7. By Benny BND Cole on September 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    These are all wonderful and innovative vehicles, and examples of why I have erratic bursts of optimism when I consider man’s fate.

    But you know what? Detroit is not that far behind. Consider the Volt’s mileage (40 on the battery, 50 mpg on the tank). The new Ford Lincoln gets 42 mpg–a luxury car!

    There is lots of room for optimism about the future.

    [link]      
  8. By mac on September 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Along the lines of what Wendell just said, here’s a “real world” car that gets 83 mpg. Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. You can actually get some people in the thing and it still gets great mileage.

    http://green.autoblog.com/2010…..50-miles/4

    [link]      
  9. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    The electric car was 82% more efficient, even with 2 1/2 times the weight.

    It is true the electric car used 82% less energy input to drive the same distance.  However, the electric car has a massive amount of embodied energy (and human resources).  This is reflected in the cost of the car.  The batteries and motors and electronics are full of expensive, and sometimes rare, metals, which come from all over the world and need lots of energy to produce, and some of which have disposal issues.

    The Edison car, used and engine that can be made out of normal metals, and could be produced by small specialty engine shops.  It will not be affected by “peak Lithium” or any such thing, it does not need a network of taxpayer funded charging stations to be built.  Both vehicles  can be powered by renewable fuel that people can make at home, and again, to do that with the electric car requires yet more money and embodied energy in solar panels, batteres, inverters, etc.

    Comparing real world costs of these cars, the Edison could likely be built for well under $10k  The electrics are $40k.  If we take the approach that all the money, ultimately is for people’s time (as the actual materials are “free” in the first place) it has taken 4x the manhours to produce the electric as the Edison.  That is 4x as many people to be fed, housed etc etc to have the priviliege of driving an electric car.

    It may have used less energy when actually on the road, but huge amounts of resources, both human and natural,  have had to be diverted to its manufacture.

     

     Electric motors last forever. Rewind the armature and it’s like new again.

    Might want to replace the bearings, too – they don;t last forever.  Then again, rebuild an engine (new rings, sleeves and bearings) and it is like new too.  And used a smaller amount of cheap iron and steel instead of expensive copper.

     

     

    [link]      
  10. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Nice looking car Wendell. If he averaged the 119 mpg during X-prize testing, that would have given him 104 MPGe, because diesel has 13% more energy content than gasoline. Still enough to win. I read where he dropped out of the contest because of the expense.

    [link]      
  11. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Paul, lithium isn’t a rare metal. Lithium is the 25th most abundant element on the planet. Nickle and lead have about the same abundance. There’s no reason electric cars can’t eventually be recycled, battery and all.

    And yes. In theory, people could make renewable fuels at home. They don’t now, and probably never will. Even with 100 MPGe ICE’s, folks will still be stuck in long lines trying to buy a dwindling resource when peak oil hits. I’ll be the guy waving at you from my Leaf.

    [link]      
  12. By Wendell Mercantile on September 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Still enough to win. I read where he dropped out of the contest because of the expense.

    Perry~

    Yes, apparently the entry and preparation fee was quite high. Also because he was using a diesel engine that couldn’t meet California emission standards. (One of the ground rules from what I understand.)

    I suspect the reason he made his run two weeks before the X-Prize announced their winners was to take away a bit of the gloss from the X-Prize announcement.

    I also read that on his run he was traveling with traffic on the Interstate and wasn’t being a fanatic about using hyper-miling techniques.

    [link]      
  13. By mac on September 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Bill Moore over at EV World wrote an editorial where he wonders why no auto manufactures entered the contest. He shows a picture of a Volkswagen concept car that VW claims gets 170 mpg.

    Was this competition just for amateurs ?

    [link]      
  14. By rrapier on September 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Comparing real world costs of these cars, the Edison could likely be built for well under $10k The electrics are $40k.

    Sam and I discussed the cost issue, both of the vehicle and the cost per mile. I think that MPGe metric is a bit confusing; would be better to put in terms of cost per mile.

    And I have no idea why they used MPGe when looking at E85. Many people will look at that and think their actual mileage was over 100. 73 is nothing to sneeze at, but MPGe is more useful for things that can’t actually be measured in gallons (like electricity or CNG).

    RR

    [link]      
  15. By Wendell Mercantile on September 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I think that MPGe metric is a bit confusing;

    RR,

    It is. They should have used mileage in terms of miles per unit of energy consumed (kWh, Btu, or joules) instead of a volumetric unit. As we know from discussing gasoline, diesel, ethanol, and methanol, volume means nothing w/o knowing the energy content.

    That will be a constant issue with electric cars also. Unless car makers learn to show us miles per some unit of energy consumed, there is no adequate way to compare the “fuel” economy of an electric with that of an auto powered by an ICE that uses gallons of liquid fuels.

    I’ve long been an advocate that when we buy gasoline, E10, E85, or diesel fuel, we buy it by energy content, not by volume. Buying fuel in units of 100,000 Btus might be one way to go.

    We should all learn to think in terms of miles per unit of energy.

    [link]      
  16. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    We should all learn to think in terms of miles per unit of energy.


     

    I thought that’s what they did. The constant used was the energy content of gasoline. They could have used btu’s, and the electric car still would have been 82% more efficient. Electric motors are simply more efficient than ICE’s. We could probably conserve more oil by burning it at the utility and transmitting it to electric cars than buying this X-prize winner. There would be some transmission loss, but unless it approached 50%….

    [link]      
  17. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Perry,

    I chose my words carefully there –  I did not say that Lithium is a rare metal, but it is expensive, and very energy intensive to mine and and smelt.  Other rare metals are used in the power electronics and the permanent magnets.  whichever way you slice it, there are a lot of specialty items required.  True, there is  no reason they can’t be recycled, which is more energy intesive still, and that process, for e-waste, is far from perfect today.  Recycling a worn out iron engine is 100 yr established technology.

    You might be surprised to find that quite a few people make biodiesel and ethanol (fuel and drinking stuff) at home.  That is why there are businesses that sell the equipment – google “Charles 803 ethanol still” and you will see what I mean. Costs less to set up a home still than an electric charging station.

     

    Now, lets take a look at peak oil if we are all driving Edisons.  The car gets 100mpg on E85, though it could also get this on E100.

    Current average fuel economy is 20mpg, and the Edison is 100mpg.

    To keep it simple, lets assume we replace all the vehicles, with (a) Edison and (b) electrics (the LI-ion wave)

    Current gasoline use is 150bngy gasoline and (almost) 12bngy ethanol.

    So with the electrics, both go to zero.  We do need to produce 1/9th of the oil+ethanol energy as electricity. That works out to an additional 57,000 MW of electricity (as 24/7 baseload).  If we assume we can supply this from the current generating fleet, making use of off peak capacity, we are burning a lot more coal +NG +uranium.

     

    Of course, we could build wind turbines to generate the additional electricity.  Assuming  capacity factor 30%, we have to build 190,000MW of wind turbines, (and keep the coal/NG/Nuke plants as backup). At $1500/kW for wind, that is a $285bn investment in wind turbines, plus transmission lines + distribution upgrades + charging stations.  And it would take years.

    And we have to build 200m electrics, all with 500lbs of lithium Ion batteries – that is 100 million tons of Li batteries to produce.

    But there would need to be a massive capital investment in lithium mining and and battery production, and same for other electronic components.

    There would be some scale efficiencies, and let’s say the cost of the cars comes down to $20k, so a $4 trillion investment in cars.

    So a $4.5 trillion investment to save 158 bn gal/yr, or about $30 spent. to save a gallon per year

     

    Now, let’s look at the Edison.

    it runs on E85, and use 1/5th of today’s consumption.  So the 158bn gal of gasoline equivalent becomes 31.6, and we have saved 127bngpy.  The ethanol we produce today is worth 8 of that, so we just need to supply 23bngpy of gasoline – or the equivalent of 1.5mbd oil – 1/4 of current US production.  

    There is now new infrastructure investment required, in fact, we are freeing up industrial capacity for other things.  WE could easily use some of these now surplus refineries to convert biomass/waste into methanol etc to produce more non-oil fuels

    The cars cost $5k each to produce so for 200m of them we have $1 trillion investment.  We do not need to produce any new factories, for any of the components – all the current car factories could produce 2, 3x as many of these each year.   They can even be produced as modular/kits etc.  Large economies of scale, and time to be had.

    That has then cost us $7.80 to save a gallon/yr of gasoline.

    Looking at it another way, with Edison we get 80% of the saving for spending 20% of the resources.   I am sure I have heard that number ratio somewhere before.  

    So, going the electric route requires four times the resources, a massive infrastructure investment in new generation OR a hell of a lot of coal/NG/uranium.  It needs massive mining efforts for the metals, and completley new and expensive production facilities for the batteries and electronics.  And we will be competing with the rest of the world for the raw materials. Finally, it will take TIME to do al of this.

    If we go the Edison route, it needs 1.4 the investment, and probably, 1/4 of the time.  ALL the materials can be sourced domestically, and everything can be produced domestically, with existing technology and factories.  

    If we were facing a wartime scenario, which would be the better route to go?

    If we are facing peak oil within a decade, which route is more achievable, faster?

    Which route is a “made in America” one?  

    Which requires less taxes/spending?

     

    The Edison wins on all counts.  The only thing it is not a win for is the electric car industry, which it seems you represent

    If you want to buy your Leaf then I am fine with that – choice is a wonderful thing – just don’t ask me to subsidise it.

    But if we are trying to reduce our oil use, fast, the Edison is clearly the better way to go. 

    [link]      
  18. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

     I think that MPGe metric is a bit confusing; would be better to put in terms of cost per mile.


     

    They should probably do both. Better yeat, give us a cost per mile today and 5 years down the road. How will the Leaf compare to a Prius when gas is $5 a gallon? How about $10? That’s something new car buyers should know when buying something with a 20 year lifespan.

    [link]      
  19. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    From the X-prize website;


    Miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) is a pump to wheels energy efficiency  

    figure of merit measure that expresses fuel economy in terms of the energy  

    content of a U.S. gallon of gasoline. Calculations are based on the energy  

    equivalence of all fuel(s) consumed.

     

    They did this for the four fuels considered; gasoline, E85, CNG, B20biodiesel, and electricity.

    A cost per mile comparsion would also be useful, and to complete the picture, do “total ownership cost per year”.  

    It might cost only $50/mo in electricity, but if you are buying/leasing and insuring a $50k car, the fixed costs per month will easily eclipse the fuel savings.  

    Also, to keep it fair, the cost/month for the electrics should include an equivalent amount of gasoline road/sales taxes.

    Hmm, maybe a weekend project for me there, though I can guess the result…

    [link]      
  20. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Would you want your daughter to be the first on the road with a new Edison Paul? How many brave souls will volunteer for this deadly experiment of yours? More efficient ICE’s just delay the inevetible. Crunch the numbers any way you like, but we can only produce so much food and fossil fuel. And those brew at home renewables will be made with food, right? On the other hand, we can produce electricity in any amounts we like. For a long, LONG time. And no, I don’t represent anyone but myself. My concern is getting to a point where we all live in a sustainable manner.

    [link]      
  21. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Meanwhile, in the ethanol industry…

    So an E85 powered car wins the most publicised vehicle efficiency competition ever held, achieveing 100mpg for a road legal, production ready vehicle, and how much coverage does it get from the ethanol industry?  About E0, that’s how much.  No one mention of it on the websites of Growth Energy, RFA or Poet.  Instead, there is the usual stuff about campainging for the tax credits, or other, much more important things like the”installation of a fifth blender pump in Nebraska” (I am not making this up).

    By using ethanol, this car was able to get 600 mpg for the gasoline content.  compared to the 20mpg average today, that is a 97% reduction in the gasoline used per mile, by using ethanol, and it doesn’t even rate a mention.

    It truly makes me think they don’t give a hoot about the driving public, or saving oil for that matter.  The country could be getting invaded and they would probably still be talking about how important the tax credit is.

    [link]      
  22. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Paul N said:

    By using ethanol, this car was able to get 600 mpg for the gasoline content.  compared to the 20mpg average today, that is a 97% reduction in the gasoline used per mile, by using ethanol, and it doesn’t even rate a mention.


     

    Not even close Paul. Try 102 MPG equivalent. This is moped territory, but an 800 lb. car isn’t much safer.  Salvagers would be tossing them in the back of their pickups late at night. Like they do when you leave a fridge close to the curb.

    [link]      
  23. By savro on September 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I’m a fan of the cost per mile calculation too, because it’s the simplest way for consumers to understand the bottom line. They can easily calculate how much they’d be saving by investing in the purchase of an electic vehicle and how long it would take to pay off the added purchase price of an EV.

    However, this wouldn’t be so simple since the cost would vary tremendously depending on the location. For instance, in the northeast, California, Alaska and especially Hawaii, the cost would be 2-3 times greater than many other states (Idaho, Washington, Kentucky, W. Va. etc).

    It would be best if everything (including) gasoline was calculated on a cost per mile scale based on the avergae national rate of the fuel or electicity, and then to have it also broken down into regions, states and metro areas.

    If done right, cost per mile is a lot more practical from an end-user standpoint than MPGe.

    [link]      
  24. By rrapier on September 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Paul N said:

    From the X-prize website;

    Miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) is a pump to wheels energy efficiency  

    figure of merit measure that expresses fuel economy in terms of the energy  

    content of a U.S. gallon of gasoline. Calculations are based on the energy  

    equivalence of all fuel(s) consumed.

     


     

    And what that means is “If a gallon of E85 had the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline, the MPG would be 102.5.” But it doesn’t, and hence the number is somewhat meaningless for E85.

    RR

    [link]      
  25. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    How many brave souls will volunteer for this deadly experiment of yours?

    Exactly how is the Edison any more deadly than the Li-ion car?  Just from looking at them I can see which one is less likely to roll over, has more crumple zones to protect the occupants, does not contain any heavy mass within the car that could break free in the event of a collision.  

    Take another look at the third place winner (the tandem one) and ask yourself that question again.

     

    Crunch the numbers any way you like, but we can only produce so much food and fossil fuel.

    Yes, and the Edison allows us to easily stay within both limits.

    On the other hand, we can produce electricity in any amounts we like

    Not quite true, but we can produce enough, for sure, and for a cost.  What is far from proven is whether we can produce enough batteries..

     

    My concern is getting to a point where we all live in a sustainable manner.

    And so is mine, and the Edison is a more sustainable way to get there, faster.

     

    The Edison will cost $5k to buy, and will use 150gpy (15,000mi at 100mpg) with E85 at $5/gal will cost $750/year. With 5%insurance cost/year, the Edison will cost $5k +20 x(750+250) = $25k over its life

    The Electric will cost $20k to buy, and use 2500kWh/year, and cost $250/yr at 10c/kWh.  With 5% insurance (likely higher as those batteries will be a good target) you are looking at $20k + 20x(1000+250) = $45,000 over the lifetime of the vehicle.

    Returning to the basic premise that money represents ewither himand or physical resources, the Edison consumes half the amount of resources over its lifetime.  That is the very definition of “more sustainable”.

    The electric car is very sexy, and might command a higher resale value, etc etc, but it is not more sustainable.

    By the way, the 150gpy of fuel, if it is all ethanol, can come from 2/3 of an acre of corn.  If it is methanol, from trees, it can come from less than 1/2 an acre, and we have plenty of those sorts of acres.  

     

     

     

    [link]      
  26. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    In all likelyhood, we’ll go both ways Paul. Higher mileage ICE’s, electric, and a mix of the two. My hunch is, EV’s will rule the roads someday. May be 100 years from now, but it’ll happen. Especially if lithium-air batteries become a reality and EV’s get 1000 miles on a charge.

    [link]      
  27. By savro on September 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Paul N said:

    Meanwhile, in the ethanol industry…

    So an E85 powered car wins the most publicised vehicle efficiency competition ever held, achieveing 100mpg for a road legal, production ready vehicle, and how much coverage does it get from the ethanol industry?  About E0, that’s how much.  No one mention of it on the websites of Growth Energy, RFA or Poet.  Instead, there is the usual stuff about campainging for the tax credits, or other, much more important things like the”installation of a fifth blender pump in Nebraska” (I am not making this up).

    By using ethanol, this car was able to get 600 mpg for the gasoline content.  compared to the 20mpg average today, that is a 97% reduction in the gasoline used per mile, by using ethanol, and it doesn’t even rate a mention.

    It truly makes me think they don’t give a hoot about the driving public, or saving oil for that matter.  The country could be getting invaded and they would probably still be talking about how important the tax credit is.


     

    That’s a fantastic point, Paul.

    The ethanol industry should be celebrating the fact that a vehicle consuming their product came away with the grand prize in a super fuel efficiency contest. Shouldn’t one of their main goals be to encourage more production of vehicles that can consume their product in large quantities? The fact that they aren’t parading this around is mind-boggling to say the least.

    This all seems to tie in with RR’s essay on the ethanol industry and E85…

    [link]      
  28. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Perry, I was talking gasoline content

    But, I still actually made a mistake here.  

    E85 has 72% of the eenrgy content of gasoline, and they got 102 mpg, so 73mpg on E85  - that would have been the actual E85 mileage of the Edison, though I can;t see it stated anywhere..

    15% of that is gasoline, so we have used 0.15gallons, of gasoline content to drive those 73 miles.  One full gallon of gasoline, mixed in with the ethanol, gets us 73/0.15 = 487 miles.  So not a 6:1 improvement, but  4.9:1 is not bad.

    Combines this with the 5:1 reduction from the car itself, and you have a 24.5:1 reduction in gasoline per mile driven!

    I think we will see both too, and I am fine with that.  

    What I am getting at is the govt heavily subsidising the electrics – they have tried to pick  winner, and in this caase, they have clearly backed the wrong horse.  

    Now that it is proven it can be done, they should give any funding/subsidies for any automotive efforts that don’t get at least 100mpge.  Let the companies, and fuels, duke it out in the marketplace, not in Washington backrooms.

    [link]      
  29. By Wendell Mercantile on September 17, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I thought that’s what they did. The constant used was the energy content of gasoline. They could have used btu’s, and the electric car still would have been 82% more efficient

    Perry~

    They did — sort of. They did compensate for energy content, but why invent something new called MPGe when we already have standard units of energy called kWh, Btu, and Joules?

    GM estimates that running on the battery, the Volt will get ~ 4 miles/kWh. There are ~33.7 kWh in one gallon of gasoline, so it would be easy for the makers of liquid fuel cars to tell us their fuel economy in terms of miles/kWh.

    Were I Czar, I would tell everyone to get standardized and start giving fuel economy in terms of miles/kWh — whether they use electricity, liquid fuel, or some combination of the two. We might see numbers such as 2.758 miles/kWh, but that would be OK — it would be a true measure of the efficiency of the car, and I would know that was more efficient than a car that got 2.243 miles/kWh.

    [link]      
  30. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Why would they parade it around Samuel? The same 30% penalty apllies to E85 burned in the X-prize winner. People will still vote with their pocketbooks at the pump.

    [link]      
  31. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Paul N said:

    What I am getting at is the govt heavily subsidising the electrics –


     And we’re subsidising gas guzzlers just as much. The gas guzzler exemption saves Hummer buyers $7700. 50% of new cars have this exemption. Why shouldn’t electrics get the same break?

    [link]      
  32. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Sam,

    To be fair, Rufus did highlight this the other day, so, technically,  the ethanol industry has done something.

    BUt otherwise, for an industry that promotes freeing America from oil they sure aren’t interested in the best real world example to come along since the ethanol industry’s inception.

    They did not even join the Xprize as a sponsor, nor the Edison team, or any of the team, as far as I can tell.  I have no problem with them being concerned about ethanol pumps in Nebraska, but i think they should show some interest in the people that can use their product.  View them as potential customers – not as taxpaying subsidisers.

    They have shown no innovation, entreprenuership or even interest in this competition – I think they have let their industry down here.

    If there is a congressional hearing about the VEETC, I sure hope some asks them why out of the $5bn they will receive the year, not one one penny went into supporting an effort like this.  And why they are asking for mandate increase to 12 or 15% when the potential of E85 has just been demonstrated so well.

    To get off imported oil, some major changes and innovations are needed.  The tax credit and going to E12 or 15 are neither, and will achieve little while diverting attention/resources from things that might achieve lots.


    [link]      
  33. By Wendell Mercantile on September 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    The ethanol industry should be celebrating the fact that a vehicle consuming their product came away with the grand prize in a super fuel efficiency contest.

    Samuel~

    They are, or at least the Corn Growers Association is: E85 Comes Out on Top in High-tech Competition

    But that car winning doesn’t say anything about ethanol unless there was a special attribute of E85 that led to the victory. Did E85′s higher octane make a difference? If it did, then E85 played a role. If E85 just supplied the liquid kWh the car’s engine needed, then any liquid fuel could have probably worked as well.

    [link]      
  34. By savro on September 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Perry said:

    Why would they parade it around Samuel? The same 30% penalty apllies to E85 burned in the X-prize winner. People will still vote with their pocketbooks at the pump.


     

    That’s kind of what I’m getting at. They’re no more interested in a changeover to fuel efficient vehicles than Big Oil is. The only way they can survive is if our vehicles continue to be fuel hogs and the price of gasoline goes up as supplies dwindle.

    The last thing they want is a world where there’s a very limited worry over oil and gasoline supply because of vehicles becoming 4-5 times more fuel efficient. If that were to occur, what would happen to the ethanol industry?

    [link]      
  35. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    The gas guzzler exemption saves Hummer buyers $7700. 50% of new cars have this exemption. Why shouldn’t electrics get the same break?

    One bad policy is no excuse to implement another – that just makes the situation even worse.  How much in tax breaks would the Edison get if it were on the market today?

     

    The same 30% penalty applies to E85 burned in the X-prize winner.

    This is true, but that doesn’t mean you can get 100mpg on gasoline with this car.    The high compression engine they used, can;t run ordinary gasoline.   You could, by backing off the compression through valve timing, and then you would probably be getting around 70-80mpg.  You can only get the low btu/mile running on high octane fuels (like E85) or a diesel.

     

    Wendell, if you become Czar, why not go one step further and implement the metric system while you’re at it?  Then everything will really make sense.  The rest of the world works in L/100km, and it’s fairly easy to subsitute 9.1 kWh for the 1L.  It’s just not as easy to say as MPG, that’s all.

     

     

    [link]      
  36. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Samuel R. Avro said:

    Perry said:

     They’re no more interested in a changeover to fuel efficient vehicles than Big Oil is. The only way they can survive is if our vehicles continue to be fuel hogs and the price of gasoline goes up as supplies dwindle.


     

    Can’t argue with that. Their interest is selling more ethanol, not less. Let’s be honest with ourselves though. Few people will want to get on the road in an 800 lb. car. Lots of families would weigh more than the car. Would it still get up a hill? What would it look like after colliding with an Escallade? I think Mini Coopers are cute as a bug. But, they’re death traps as well.

    [link]      
  37. By Wendell Mercantile on September 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Wendell, if you become Czar, why not go one step further and implement the metric system while you’re at it? Then everything will really make sense.

    Paul N,

    I would like to, but I’m sure my fellow countrymen could never handle it. :-)

    [link]      
  38. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Mr. Bean might buy one.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..b7qioDBPWM

    [link]      
  39. By savro on September 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Good find, Wendell. I’m going to paste here what they wrote about it so people can see how they’re making it out to be as if E85 was the winner – not the car itself which happened to be powered by E85 (I emphasized some of the quotes I thought were humorous).

    E85 Comes Out on Top in High Tech Competition

    Automotive designers and race car mechanics and engineers from around the world ended their quest to create a 100 + mile-per-gallon vehicle today with an interesting development; the winner was powered by ethanol, E85 to be exact. While many of the competitors chose to pursue the electric-battery option it was corn squeezings that ruled the day.

    However, it is worth noting that the extensive coverage of the $10 million X Prize competition often referred to it as an internal combustion gasoline vehicle. Kudos to the New York Times for getting it right, although I would have liked to have seen E85’s prominent role higher in the story.

    Teams from Virginia, North Carolina and Winterthur, Switzerland, with roots in the world of auto racing won the first Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize but it was Edison2’s “Very Light Car No. 98” that took the top prize of $5 million.

    The media dismissal of the ethanol connection begs the question “when did ethanol become the Rodney Dangerfield of fuel?” We don’t get no respect.” From the Toledo Blade to Wired Magazine online to even autobloggreen , they missed the American fuel angle, the green angle, the tested and proven angle of ethanol made right here, right now. With a host of flexible fuel cars capable of using higher ethanol blends like E85 this deserved to be a key component of the announcement.

    Having alternatives to imported petroleum is a great idea because consumer choice (such as the BYO blendyourown initiative) and competition in the marketplace is always a good thing.

    On a positive note E85 did win the competition and it offers another example that we don’t lack for solutions to our problems but rather the vision and drive to make them reality.

    http://corncommentary.com/2010…..mpetition/

     

    Instead of whining about why the media didn’t give all the credit to E85, shouldn’t they be whining about the fact that the ethanol industry is doing nothing to promote the usage of E85? How can the media be blamed for not tooting E85′s horn (and as you mentioned, it would be wrong in this particular case) if the ethanol industry isn’t doing it themelves?

    [link]      
  40. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    From Wendell’s link, the author wrote

    I would have liked to have seen E85’s prominent role higher in the story.

    Perhaps he should say that to G.E. and RFA.

    And;

    On a positive note E85 did win the competition and it offers another example that we don’t lack for solutions to our problems but rather the vision and drive to make them reality.

    Very true – the ethanol industry (not the farmers) lacks the vision and drive.  If the corn farmers are excited, or at least interested in this, you would think the ethanol industry would be.

    As for the engines, I have long said that you can make them very efficient, on any fuel BUT gasoline.  That’;s good for the ethanol industry, and the oil industry can get involved with diesel cars, if they want to remain relevant – their choice.

    Sam, the one mandate the ethanol industry should be chasing, is for an alcohol flex fuel for all gasoline vehicles.  In exchange, the government should then remove the CAFE exemption for alcohol (but pro-rate according to btu content).

    And start raising the CAFE aggressively.  Such that the fleet that people are buying in ten years (if not less) are enough to eliminate oil imports (off continent) based on current patterns.  Then the whole exercise is actually achieving something.

    [link]      
  41. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Few people will want to get on the road in an 800 lb. car. Lots of families would weigh more than the car. Would it still get up a hill? What would it look like after colliding with an Escallade? 

    Perry, give the designers some credit here.  They designed a stable car, with plenty of impact zones.  These guys are all race car professionals.  Indy cars and Formula 1 weigh less than 1000lbs and their drivers regularly walk away from >100mph crashes.  They didn’t put this car into official crash tests, but I wouldn’t bet against it passing them.

    What will your Leaf look like after colliding with the Escalade?

     

    I think Mini Coopers are cute as a bug. But, they’re death traps as well.

    A made for tv crash does not count as evidence for that (death trap part, it is proven that they are cute).

    Here’s my evidence;

     

    Mini and F-150 after 40mph barrier crash, 2002.

    I’ll take the Mini anyday.  Not only that, with their lower CofG, better handling, faster braking (and acceleration, if needed), and smaller frontal area, you are less likely to get into a crash in the first place.  

     

     

    [link]      
  42. By mac on September 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Perry,

    I don’t think the Edison has been crash tested. Crash testing is very expensive and most of the X-Prize contestants appear to be amateurs on a limited budget who built one of a kind prototypes for the contest. To say the Edison is “road ready” may be stretching it a bit. (OK I see Paul has just said The car hasn’t been crash tested.)

    You can buy a Toyota plug-in Prius that gets 83 mpg. It is basically a full size vehicle

    [link]      
  43. By mac on September 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Here are some specs on the Edison

    Edison2 Very Light Car
    Mainstream Finalists

    Edison2: Winner in the Mainstream category

    Team name: Edison2
    Location: Virginia
    Car name: Very Light Car
    Status: One alternative model (#96) has been eliminated for failure to meet minimum fuel economy requirement.

    Who are they? Lead by European car dealer and racer Oliver Kuttner, Edison2 is a collection of car racing experts, Kuttner has pulled together talent from race car teams, motorsports technology firms, automakers, and the defense industry. There are eight full-time team members and about 52 associates, or consultants. For this competition, they have built four cars on the same platform. They have seating configurations, body materials, and engine tunes. One, a side-by-side two-seater, uses a steel body. The other three are wrapped in carbon fiber.

    What they say will set them apart: The team plans to win by numbers. In addition to having four cars to quadruple its chances of making it through the competition, its most important numbers are weight and drag. The cars weigh less than 750 pounds and have a drag coefficient of 0.15, about half that of some of today’s best cars. The cars are powered by turbocharged 250-cc engines (two from Yamaha motorcycles, two of Edison’s own design) running on E85 ethanol. To dramatically reduce pumping losses from the internal combustion engines, the team uses exhaust gas recirculation to control engine power. The team has also patented a compact front suspension, which includes feather-weight 6-lb. wheels designed to act as force-absorbing collapsible elements in a crash. This innovation alone may be worth more than the $10 million XPrize.

    Results:
    Two identical Edison2 cars are the last vehicles remaining in the four-passenger Mainstream class after the Knockout phase of the competition. The Mainstream class by itself accounts for half the $10 million prize money, so if either of the cars passes all the tests in the Finals, the team stands to win $5 million. Of the four vehicles Edison2 entered, the steel-bodied side-by-side two-seat vehicle entered in the Alternative class, failed to meet the minimum 67 MPGe fuel-economy requirement for this round of competition. A third Edison2 car remains in the tandem Alternative class.

    Class: Alternative, Mainstream
    No. of wheels: Four
    Passengers: Two or four
    Drive type: Internal combustion engine (E85), rear-wheel-drive
    Power source: Yamaha 250cc, 27-50 hp.

    http://onlocation.consumerrepo….._Light_Car

    [link]      
  44. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    None of the vehicles were  crash tested, but one of the requirements was;

    Vehicles must be designed so that a production vehicle would  

    likely be able to meet U.S. safety standards 

    and considerable attention was paid to this.  For cars that meant design for 40mph front corner collisions, and 30 mph side impacts.  Designing for impacts is a well established field and there were crash testing specialists involved in the X-prize technical qualifying to assess this.

    It is probably fair to say that all the vehicles , that made it through the technical assessment, have had safety designed in and would come close to the standards.

    They had to do this otherwise you just build an ultralite from styrofoam, and the whole idea of the prize was cars that are production ready, not concepts that can’t be made road legal.

     

    [link]      
  45. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    That’s very misleading Paul. Of course it’s better to be in the lightest car when hitting a brick wall. But, the F-150 would demolish that Mini Cooper in a head-on collision.

    [link]      
  46. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Another noteworthy piece from the Edison team’s blog;

    An interesting side note to this accomplishment is that the engine we are using is a 250 cc, one-cylinder internal combustion engine from a Yamaha WR 250R.  This small motorcycle weighs 300 lbs and gets 70 MPG, and does not have to meet tough emissions standards.

    Our Very Light Car weighs over 700 lbs and gets over 100 MPGe. – while exceeding the stringent 2014 emissions standards, including cold start. How does this leap in mileage occur? Mainly two ways: the extreme platform efficiency of the Very Light Car, and improvements made to the engine. The Very Light Car adds a turbocharger, increases compression, uses extensive exhaust gas recirculation and reengineered internal parts and runs on E85. A similarly efficient gasoline engine we considered doable but would have taken longer, especially the emissions system.

    So they took an existing engine block, dramatically improved its efficiency, and emissions, and state explicitly that using E85 as the fuel made this easier (=cheaper, in production terms).  And still G.E. and RFA pay no attention to something that takes great advantage of their fuel.

    And the carmakers, for the ten years of flex fuels, have done next nothing to improve the performance of their engines on E85, being content to take the CAFE exemption without doing anything to actually improve fuel efficiency.  they are finally coming out with an improved engine for the Buick Rufus (I mean Regal), but if this team could do this in a couple of years, on a shoestring, then GM could have done it too (though they would, of course, spend zillions to achieve the same result).

    All of which suggests that neither the industry is seriously committed to the concept of ethanol as a stand alone fuel.  And if that’s the case they deserve neither the tax credit, nor blend mandate, nor CAFE exemptions.

     

     

    [link]      
  47. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    A wreck involving a Prius, Tesla, Toureg, and a motorbike. Which would you rather be in Paul?

     

    http://www.allcarselectric.com…..a-roadster

    [link]      
  48. By mac on September 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Paul said

    “They had to do this otherwise you just build an ultralite from styrofoam, and the whole idea of the prize was cars that are not production ready, not concepts that can;t be made road legal.”

    I think you meant to say “cars that are production ready.”

    The thing that interests me is that three of the cars were carbon fiber, one of the toughest things around – tougher than steel. It’s possible that Edison’s carbon fiber bodies could pass the crash test. But carbon fiber technology can also be applied to lighten electric vehicles which would make them more attractive by intcreasing battery range. The batteries in the Nissan Leaf weigh 400 lbs, If you lighten the car body by 400 lbs (by replacing it with carbon fiber, then the extra battery weight is no longer a liability.

    That’s the part that interests me. The 250 cc motorcycle engine puts me to sleep.. The only reason they used it was to get past 100 mpg.and win $5 million bucks.

    The old Volkswagen Beetle had a 38 hp air cooled engine. You were constantly shifting gears to keep from lugging down. The Yamaha motor in the Edison car is rated at 27-50 hp. Hauling a family of 4 around in this thing ?

    Carbon fiber technology is young and quite expensive. The engine is too small. Prediction ? It will never be manufactured. People will, no doubt borrow ideas from the car but carbon fiber technology was well known before the Edison car. They say they have a new ultra-light suspension that they have patented, Now that sounds interesting………………

    [link]      
  49. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Perry said:

    That’s very misleading Paul. Of course it’s better to be in the lightest car when hitting a brick wall. But, the F-150 would demolish that Mini Cooper in a head-on collision.

    Actually Perry I think that picture is far more factual than your “death trap” statement.   Just look at the way the F-150 crumpled – it was clearly not designed to resist an impact very well, and this at all of 40mph.  The truck weighs twice what the mini does, so there was twice the energy in the truck collision, but easily more than twice the damage, and less than half the chance of surviving.

    Fortunately, head ons are relatively rare these days.  Most high speed driving is done on divided roads, and head ons on rural roads are rare, as high speed head ons on urban roads.

    You are far more likely to be in a rear-end collision with a vehicle in front of you that brakes suddenly, or hitting a static object (tree, barrier, etc) running off the road.  You will be far safer in the Mini

    Yes, the F150 would come out of a head on better than the Mini, but would you survive?

    Let’s  assume the truck is 2x the mass of the Mini, and they crash at 60mph (each), and that the collision is completely inelastic (i.e. the vehicles stick together, not bounce off each other).

    Momentum is conserved (but kinetic energy is not) so we have momentum of the truck =60×2, and the Mini =-60×1, for total of 60.  After the crash, the two vehicles have a momentum of 60, and mass of 3, so the velocity will be 20mph, in the direction the truck was travelling.    But, the Mini has experienced a change in velocity of 80mph, while the truck has only experience 40mph.  Hit a wall at 80mph in the Mini and you will almost certainly die.  Hit the wall at 40 in the truck, and judging by that photo you will probably also die (from the report -” the F150 on the other hand had “Major collapse of the occupant compartment that left little survival space for the driver.”)

    Good, simple, explanation of the physics here.  they say that you are better off in the bigger vehicle, and all else being equal this is true.  However, in the US, bigger vehicles are classed as light trucks and do not have to meet the same safety standards as cars, as the photos show, so it is not guaranteed that you are better off!

    So, either way, for the least likely accident,  the head on, you will likely die.   For almost any other type, even a glancing head-on, and to avoid one in the first place, the Mini is the place to be.

    Now, using your assertion that heavier is better,  if you know you are going to crash into an F-150, then you are better off being in an F-150 yourself, but is this true?  

    Now the velocity change (and thus energy) in the collision for each car is identical, at 60mph to zero.  If you are unlikely to survive an accident in the F-150 at 40mph, you will certainly not survive it at 60.  

    You have traded a better safety cell for more mass, and the end result is the same – two dead drivers.

    For ANY other situation, the lighter car, which clearly has the better safety cell, is the better one.

    So who is being misleading here?

    Remember RR’s rules of this blog – start with the data – you will learn all sorts of interesting things.

    I am not sure of what point you are trying to make here?  Both the X-prize cars were about equally safe, we can assume, either will get creamed  by a bus, and if we both agree that we want sustainable transport, then smaller, lighter cars are clearly better.  And if there are more of them, and less f-150s, you have much less chance of hitting/being hit  by an f-150, so where is the problem?

    The only problem I can see is that you still think the electric car is somehow the more “sustainable” of the two, though you have given no hard reasons why that is so, and reject out of hand any evidence that suggest the winning car is indeed the better way to go.

    And that, is classic behaviour of a shill…

     

    [link]      
  50. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Paul N said:

    For ANY other situation, the lighter car, which clearly has the better safety cell, is the better one.

    So who is being misleading here?

     


     

    First of all, those were tests from 2002. What made you dig up tests that old? THAT was misleading imo. The F-150 and Mini Cooper have almost identical impact ratings now. And, I have trouble believing your physics. I’ve seen too many small cars demolished by trucks and SUV’s that barely got a scratch. I’m not personally against any car. I’m just noting that Americans don’t buy them. Mopeds getting 100 MPG have always been an option. They haven’t exactly taken over the highways. Super-sizing one won’t change that imo.

    [link]      
  51. By Perry on September 17, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I’d jump on that motorcycle in a heartbeat though. Deathtrap or not, that sucker’s sharp.

    [link]      
  52. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Mac, thanks for the notice – typo fixed.

    There is nothing magic about the use of carbon fibre of course, just that it’s very expensive.

    You can achieve  about 3/4 of the result using wood fibre instead (as wood strips, fibre or plywood), and at about 1/4th the price.  

    I’m sure you are correct that the Leaf could be lightened by the use of carbon fibre, and it would lighten your wallet too.  So now they will have spend even more $ to use a hard to mass produce material to make up for the weight difference of the batteries – the car probably just became another $3k more.

    As for the 250cc engine, well, yes, they did use it to just to win the prize.  They carefully looked at the problem, evaluated all the alternatives, and selected the best one – that is what engineers do and these guys are good ones.   Look carefully at the link from their site about their energy anaylsis.  Not one single team that went the electric route was able to pass all the requirements for the category, and the anaylsis shows why that was likely to be the case

    I think that makes the small engine an inspired decision.  You can get around the shifting gears problem with modern CVT’s and the like. I enjoy driving a manual but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

    Before we write off its ability to move 4 people, take another look at the energy analysis.  The chart shows the Prius in city driving.  to move a 2750 lb vehicle, required peak hp of 40, which just happens to be the upper limit of their engine.  Put 4x170lb adults = 680 lbs into the 800lb vehicle, and you have 1500lbs, for a power to weight ratio of 1 hp/37.5lbs.  The Prius, at 2750 and 40hp (used) is one hp per 70lbs, almost double.  But the Prius has 175hp total – 4x what is needed. So, we can still expect Prius like performance around the city in this car, which is as they designed it, we are just not carrying around a lot of extra power we don;t need.

    I’m sure the Nissan Leaf, with 4 adults aboard, won;t give sparkling performance either.

    But that’s the whole point.  These cars were optimised for maximum efficiency for the sort of boring driving we do everyday.  If you want performance, get a performance car, they are much better at that.  But if you want efficiency, it is about designing for it.  And if you want a car that has 4x the hp needed for every day driving, then it has to be built heavier etc and will never be at its most efficient for normal driving – for 95% of the time it is way overpowered and overbuilt.

    It does sound like they have a nifty suspension setup, and it doubles as an impact absorber in a crash.

    Of course this car won’t get manufactured as is, but we can hope it leads to something will get made that is  safe, efficient and inexpensive.  EV’s to date are 1 and 2 of those, and the Edison is the one that comes closest to all three.

     

    [link]      
  53. By miket on September 18, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Given Connecticuts electricity price and the x-prize mpge conversion I got this formula

     

    33.7KWh/gal x $0.20/KWh =  $6.74/gal 

    Uh Oh! they better hide that.

    [link]      
  54. By paul-n on September 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Rufus,

    I don;t have anything specific about their engines – I’m sure they changed everything for the fuel changeover.

    However, I do have a good article that explains the difference here.

    Interstingly, at the correct air/fuel mixture for gasoline, ethanol and methanol they all have the same heat output.

    But, the heat of vaporisation is higher for ethanol, and higher again for methanol.  This means, that if the fuel is added before the cylinder, it cools the air more, and you get more air in the cylinder (“free” turbocharging, or, more accurately, intercooling). If you inject into the cylinder, it means less energy is need for compression, so you will have greater net output even though the heat value of the fuel is unchanged.  Water injection is another way to achieve the same result.  The dragsters usually use 50% water/methanol, and so did the WW2 planes.  You can get up to 50% increase in power by doing this – the planes did it to take off under full load, or get away from a dogfight.  

    Same principle also works with gas turbines google “steam injected gas turbine” to see.

    Also works with diesel engines too – why I always talk about ethanol co-fueling diesel engines. Google water methanol injection diesel engines and you will see.  For a farmer operating in hot weather, this would make a significant improvement in fuel efficiency.

    Anyway, the Edison team exploited this property of ethanol, and set the engine up to use EGR, instead of throttling, to control power, which leads to less “power loss” at low rpm and low power – very important for the Xprize, where the engine would almost never be running at anything close to full power.

    Speaking of hot weather, one of the X prize runs was on a hot day, and many of the electric cars had problems with their power electronics overheating.

     

    MikeT, keep in mind the useful energy delivered by the gallon of fuel is only 20% of the total value, so it’s actually the equivalent of $1.35/gal.  The electric cars lose some along the way (battery, motor), about 30%, so you would be at $1.92.

    In any case, your electricity is expensive!

     

     

    [link]      
  55. By Walter Sobchak on September 18, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    It would take a crane to get me in or out of one of those things, and two hours with a chiropractor for each hour riding in it.

    [link]      
  56. By savro on September 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Walter Sobchak said:

    It would take a crane to get me in or out of one of those things, and two hours with a chiropractor for each hour riding in it.


     

    The exact specs of the Li-ion “Wave II” weren’t listed, but from the picture it doesn’t seem to be all that cramped.

    BTW, you need to register and add this as your avatar (you stepped over the line Yell):

    [link]      
  57. By OD on September 17, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Where do the kiddies go? strapped to the roof?

    [link]      
  58. By mac on September 17, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    There is nothing new in the Edison — Nothing. Carbon fiber has been around a long time. 250 cc motorcycle engines have been around forever, aerodynamic styling has been around forever. Plastic lug nuts.? Just four lug nuts per wheel. Epoxy lug nuts ? Nylon lug nuts. ? That’s all been around forever too. Ethanol has been around forever. What is new in this car ?

    The only thing that interests me in this car is that they say they have patented a light weight front suspension system., The rest is just smoke and mirrors and old technology all fressed up for the $5 million prize money.

    Edison entered 4 vehicles. Why? To increase their chances of winning, of course..

    Every single thing in car has been around for a long time.

    Did this hot shot Edison car use air conditioning while the driver put – putted

    [link]      
  59. By paul-n on September 17, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Mac,

    I actually agree with you that there is noting much “new” in the componentry of this car, aside from their nifty suspension.  But it wasn;t a competition to design “new” things.  It was to have road legal, production capable car that could do 100mpg.

    The total is greater than the sum of the parts.  They took ordinary components, arranged them in an extraordinary way, and achieved an extraordinary result, which no one else was able to match.  That in itself is highly innovative

    The fact that they achieved this without having to invent much “new” is great, because it means we don;t have to wait to develop new technolgy (e.g lighter/better batteries)  to get on with the job of reducing oil usage – everything we need is already here – except, perhaps, the collective willpower.

    Many people are waiting for some “tech breakthrough” with batteries (or fusion, etc) to enable a painless way to transition away from oil, that does not need collective willpower.  Great if it happens, but when, and what if it doesn;t?

    It’s the equivalent of someone going deeper into debt while buying lottery tickets – it does work out sometimes, but are you willing to bet your future on it?

    What the event shows, not that further evidence is really needed, is that to seriously reduce oil usage, we need to drive smaller, lighter vehicles, regardless of their power source.  The winning team showed that the easiest and cheapest way to do this is with existing, boring technology, and careful attention to detail on weight management – i.e. less is more.  

    If you want a vehicle to do everything you end up with an SUV – hopelessly inefficient for 80% of the time.  

    This vehicle was designed to be very efficient at what it does, and does not even pretend to do other things (go 4w driving, tow a boat, carry lumber, drive like a Porsche etc)

    It is not a sexy as high tech batteries, but it works.

    If you are looking for lots of “new” things then go to the car shows, or the SAE trade shows they are full of concept cars that will never hit the road,and lots wild ideas, most of which will likely never make it to market (e.g. Scuderi engine).  This competition did not care whether your ideas were new or it not -it just said what you had to do, and this car did it.

    And, for the record, all the cars were required to have functioning air conditioning, and it had to be running during one of the earlier trial stages, though it was not required to be turned on for the final economy run.  This is a hypermiling event, after all, and having the a/c on for that is just not cool.

     

    [link]      
  60. By mac on September 17, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Paul said

    “the (electric car) probably just became another $3k more.”

    It adds another $3,000 to the Edison also…. The only reason the Edison “works” is because it is aerodynamic and lightweight” and uses a teeny weeny (even by motorcycle standards) motor. There’s lots of 750 cc motorcycles running around, (versus the Edison with 250cc, carrying a family of four with luggage and the family dog and the air conditioner roaring away)

    An electric car won the alternative side by side class. Edison was also entered in this class.. If it’s a superior technology then why didn’t Edison win this class also ?.

    [link]      
  61. By russ-finley on September 17, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    So, electric cars took two out of the three prizes.

    I could not find the acceleration specs for the Edison 2. Obviously they met the minimum criteria, whatever that is but they don’t appear to be bragging about it. Looks like a 4-wheel Cessna without wings.

    Apparently, the engine is optimized for ethanol. Wonder what mileage it will get once compromises are made to run on regular gas as well? Ethanol allows it to use exhaust gas to throttle the engine which allows them to dodge pumping losses caused by restricting the air intake as other naturally aspirated engines do.

    On ethanol it appears to get about 50 percent better mileage than a Prius, a midsized, five person hatchback with airbags and abs brakes. I’ll wager a Prius accelerates faster as well. Engineering is the art of compromise. No surprises here.

    Auto makers produce new shapes every year to attract buyers. If engineers are limited by drag coefficient you will have fewer options to differentiate your product from your competitors who are also shooting for low drag numbers. There is a reason airliners have two wings with engines hanging off them on struts, a vertical fin, and two horizontal stabilizers.

    [link]      
  62. By paul-n on September 18, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Hi Russ,

     

    Acceleration and other results are here;

    Requirement for mainstream (4 pass) clss was 0-60 in less then 15s, 17s for alt class.

    Edison 14.2, Li-Ion Wave, 17.9, Xtracer 6.6. (2010 Prius is 9.8)

    There was also a rest in there for lateral acceleration, where the X-tracer, being a motorbike, fared very poorly, though it still passed the collision avoidance test.

    You have to be a bit careful comparing with ethanol, a bit like comparing to diesel.  Yes, they tuned their engine for it, and when you do so, you get can more btu’s out per btu in than with gasoline.  A gal of std gasoline is 115,000 btus, so they did 102 miles on 115,000 btus of E85.  E85 is only 72,000 btu/gal, so they actuall used 1.39gal of E85., or used 1150 btu/mile

    If you take a Prius, it will get 50 miles on 115,000 btu, so Edison is actually a 100% improvement.   The Prius engine can run on Ethanol (with appropriate spark timing change) but it is not a high compression optimised engine, so you will get the same work per btu as regular gasoline – 50 miles on 115,000 btu of E85, or 2300 btu/mile

    So, Edison has decide to use a fuel that they can get more work per btu from than gasoline – a smart move.  They could have used diesel, but such small diesels, while the do exist, can not meet the emissions requirments in current form, and would have taken them a lot of work to do so.  So I can see why they settled on E85.

    I’ll disagree with you on the art of compromise, though only slightly.  I view it as the art of optimise.  This car was not a compromise, it was an exercise in optimise, for some clearly laid out requirements.  It’s similar to when the military issues specs for a project – you make sure you can meet the pass/fail ones, and optimise for the graduated ones.    

    Your airline example is similar.  they have long ago standardised how many sq.ft per passenger, and beyond that the major specs boil down to how many seats, for what range, for the least fuel used, and few other operational things.  Small wonder they have converged on such similar designs, until there is some major change in technology.

    Interestingly, Edison’s chief aerodynamicist is also the aerodynamics guy at Northrop Grumman – they didn’t skimp on talent here!

    With normal cars, of course, it’s very different  You could say normal cars are a compromise, in that they are not really optimised for anything.  And you have to compete against other models on things like styling, ride comfort, “fun” to drive, finishings (e.g. leather seats) etc. Fuel efficiency is way down the list.  

    Despit my earlier criticosm of the way the race was done (far too long and arduous a process) I do like the result because it shows what you can achieve, if you put fuel efficiency at the top of your list, and what you have to do (and give up) to get it.

    Whether we as car drivers and buyers are prepared to either spend more $ for electrics, or give up space and creature comfort and styling for affordable Edison types, or take to the two wheel X-tracer, remains to be seen.

    Personally, I think if the insurance requirements were changed so that you don’t get penalised for owning a 2nd vehicle (i.e. you can only ever be driving one at any one time, so the 3rd party liability should not go up) , then we would see more people buying the econoboxes, as they wouldn’t have to give up the family car.  This is the problem for electrics, they are (currently ) way too expensive to justify themselves as an economical 2nd commuter car.

    I expect if these vehicles were on sale tomorrow, all three would sell, and probably even be profitable.  But would they sell enough to make a dent in oil usage?  The Prius, at 3% of the market, remains a niche player, and using half the fuel, has probably made a 1.5% reduction overall.  It’s a start, but the finish, if we can even agree on what it ight be, is clearly a long way ahead.

     

    Mac, if you look at the sheet, one of their alts did not meet the fuel eff requirements – this was one of the engines they built themselves – not as good as the Yamaha engine! The other one, they withdrew, though I don;t know why.

    A major difference between the two classes was a 200 mile range for mainstream and 100 mile for alt. Within the 100 mirange, the electrics, suitably designed, should indeed be more energy efficient (and were).

    if you read the “very light blog” on Edison’s website, for August, they talk there about a future electric version of their car.  Their platform is very efficient, and would need less kWh, and thus less battery, than any other four wheeler to get the 100 mile range.  

    From their coast down tests, the energy needed to push the car at 60mph is 4kW, allowing for battery and motor efficinecy at (combined)80%, you would need 5kWh from the plug, for 12mi/kWh – double that of the Leaf or iMIEV.  City driving would be even better, probably 16 mi/kWh, as the drag is halved at 35mph compared to 60.  That would mean a 6kWh battery could get 100 mi of city range, with careful driving.  The Volt, gets 40 miles on 8kWh, four times the energy per mile.

    From this, we can calculate the average engine efficiency.  They used 0.6 gal of gasoline (equivalent btu’s) per hour for 60mph.  That is 20 kW of fuel energy, to get 4kWh at the wheels, for 20% tank to wheels efficiency.  Nothing outstanding there – they did their hard work in getting the requirement to be 4kW in the first place.

     

    [link]      
  63. By mac on September 18, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Three of the four Edison cars were carbon fiber ( from the website). Two of those were set up to seat four. which allowed them to enter the Mainstream Class (which they won) They put two cars in this class to better their chances of winning the $5 million.

    The third carbon fiber bodied Edison was a 2 seat tandem set-up, one seat forward and one behind the driver. The Swiss won this class in their electric two-wheeler..

    The fourth Edison was a steel bodied car and had two seats side by side and was entered in the Alternative side by side class.. I think it was disqualified because it failed the fuel efficiency test. The Li-ion electric car Wave II won this class.

    [link]      
  64. By Rufus on September 18, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Very good discussion, guys. I’ve been busy with other things, but have been checking in to read the comments from time to time. I agree, there was nothing “spectacular,” here, just an example of what can be accomplished using current technology.

    It’s good to know that when gasoline does get in short supply we really will have some “options,” and that, perhaps, biofuels (ethanol) can be “one” of them.

    [link]      
  65. By mac on September 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Perry,

    There is a car by VW. called the L1. It’s a TDI diesel-electric hybrid that claims to get 170 mpg. The unique thing (in my opinion) is that Volswagen claims to have found a way to make carbon fiber plastic reinforced body panels, If that’s true, It;s a pretty big deal, because it will rerduce energy usage for all vehicles. Electrics, hybrids and ICE will all benefit from reduced car body weight.

    Just Google Volkswagen L1 hybrid. Lots of articles, short films, etc.

    [link]      
  66. By mac on September 18, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Rufus,

    When peak oil hits, they will all crawl on their bellies, like men dying of thirst in the desert, begging for just one drop of ethanol………..

    [link]      
  67. By russ-finley on September 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Hey Paul,

    Bottom line; the Edison 2 will travel 73 miles on a gallon of E85. A Prius will travel 50 miles on a gallon of E10.

    If I put a gallon of E85 in my Edison 2 and drive it until the tank runs dry I will have traveled about 50% farther than a Prius that had a gallon of E10. It’s just not that impressive when you consider what you will give up to do that (interior space, load capacity, acceleration, comfort, reliability, power windows, life-span, fuel type etc). In addition, an Edison 2 can only achieve that level of efficiency using E85, which is yet another compromise a consumer would have to make.

    Have to admit, the Edison 2 is very close to the car design I would like to own–if it were electric. I would accept the additional compromises that would come with that (cost and range).

    If I had a choice, I would not use a fuel that exacerbates the negative ramifications of agriculture (corn ethanol). Few people understand the scale and scope of the damage being wrought by our global need to provide ourselves with food, fiber, and housing (agriculture). Adding fuel to that demand is just not wise.

     

    Click here to see full sized image.

     

     

     

    [link]      
  68. By russ-finley on September 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Another thought just came to mind. If one accounts for the EROEI of energy source in the MPGe equation, the Edison 2 would probably fair very poorly becasue of its use of corn ethanol.

    [link]      
  69. By Perry on September 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    mac said:

    It’s a TDI diesel-electric hybrid that claims to get 170 mpg.


     It’s cute Mac, but I was hoping the first production diesel-hybrid would be a tad more practical. This gives Volkswagon bragging rights, but I can’t see them selling many. Why not something Prius size that gets 90 MPG? Europe uses diesel like we do gasoline. They need a diesel hybrid.

    [link]      
  70. By Rufus on September 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Mac,

    I do That, already. :)

    [link]      
  71. By Perry on September 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Can anyone explain why the EV didn’t win the top prize? 187 MPGe compared to 102 for the winner. It wasn’t even close. The EV got almost twice the mileage. It looks more like cars on the road today too. I can understand why they’d have an alternative class. But, if the alternative is that much better, it should win first place imo. I wonder if they’d consider a PHEV an alternative. It does use some liquid fuel. That seems to be the only criteria necessary to take the top prize.

    [link]      
  72. By Rufus on September 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    The car built along the Edison 2 lines will be much less expensive than a Prius, and will, most likely, have a far higher resale value than a Leaf.

    This would have been much more interesting if they’d specified that they were burning “cellulosic” ethanol (like some of the Grand Prix racers do.)

    [link]      
  73. By Rufus on September 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Perry, that was a two-seater, right?

    And, a 3-wheeler?

    [link]      
  74. By Perry on September 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I think so Rufus. I’m wondering how they’d figure the MPGe of solar-powered cars. The ’05 winner of the solar challenge averaged 62 MPH over the 3000 mile course. No gas,ethanol, or electricity necessary.

    [link]      
  75. By mac on September 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Perry

    Yes, the official National Engine of Germany is the diesel. A German invented it and the Germans are very proud of it. The thing that intersted me about the car was not so much the mileage of the L1, but Volkswagen’s claim that they could make cars economically (i.e. competitively) with carbon reinforced plastic. If true, that would revolutionize the auto industry.

    Diesels are more efficient, true.enough, but we are straining at petroleum resources now with nearly 1 Billion ICEs on the road world-wide, what’s going to happen when all of China and India hop into cars ?

    The answer is to electrify the transportation system with a home-grown energy source, namely electricity. Like someone said: “There’s never been a war fought over electricity”

    [link]      
  76. By Rufus on September 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Actually, I honestly believe the answer is, “All of the above.”

    [link]      
  77. By mac on September 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    What are the Arabs going to do ???? Embargo the electric grid ????

    [link]      
  78. By mac on September 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    The Arabs can’t embargo the U.S. electric grid and they can’t embargo ethanol either.

    [link]      
  79. By paul-n on September 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Perry wrote;

    Can anyone explain why the EV didn’t win the top prize? 187 MPGe compared to 102 for the winner. It wasn’t even close.

    Simple answer here,  For the mainstream class, the vehicle has to carry four passengers  AND have 200 mile range.

    For the alternate classes, 2 pax and 100 mile range.

     For any of the electrics to meet the 200 mile range means at least 2.2x the batteries, (and a 4pax car)plus your city mileage will be worse because of the extra weight stop/starting.

    But for the Edison, they just had to add another 1.4 gal of E85 (weighing 10lb) to get 200 mi range.

    Electric cars are highly efficient  but have very heavy energy storage

    ICE cars are much less efficient but have very light energy storage

    For short distance, electric wins, for long distance, ICE wins.

    As the race showed, for less than 100 miles, the electrics won, for 200+miles, the ICE wins.

     

    If we are prepared to give up range and speed, we could all be driving electrics today.

    The Volt, of course, is an attempt to get the best of both worlds, but it has not been optmised for efficiency in either mode

    [link]      
  80. By paul-n on September 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I’m wondering how they’d figure the MPGe of solar-powered cars.

    All the cars were rated on the electricity at the plug, doesn;t matter where it came from.

    For calculating CO2/mile then solar is different, for sure, but in the context of this competition, it is the energy that matters, not where it came from.

     

    Russ, I can see your point about only getting 73mpg compared to a Prius at 50mpg.   But the team had to play the cards they were dealt, meaning using only readily available fuel, and had to meet 2012 emissions requirements.     They could have got 100mpg running E10, if they were allowed to meet the same emission requirements, today, that the Prius does, but they were held to a higher standard, and the easiest way to meet that, with the fuels available was E85.   That does not mean that they (or I) endorse the ethanol concept.

    If methanol had been available as a fuel, I expect they would have used that and gotten even better mileage.

    It’s also worth remembering, in comparing to the Prius, that the only high tech thing used in their car was carbon fibre.  They built a car that got half the energy per mile of a Prius, without all the expensive high tech batteries and electronics.  This measn that it would be possible to manufacture this style of car far cheaper than a Prius (as the Tata Nano shows).

    Yes, you have to give up some things to get the high mileage, but that’s the point,  If we want spacious, well equipped vehicles, you can’t have super high mileage/low energy consumption, and long range, with current technology – you get to choose two of the three.  An until now, super high mileage (100mpg) was not a choice.  If it becomes available, some people will choose it.

    There is no doubt that their greatest achievement is a creating a vehicle that is road legal, and that weighs 700lbs.   I think a secondary achievement is that they did it without expensive electronics- fuel economy at an economical price!

    [link]      
  81. By russ-finley on September 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    People often wonder why diesel hybrid passenger cars are not the norm. The answer has been cost. A turbine is complex and expensive. A high compression diesel engine with all necessary pollution devices is also expensive (and heavy). Add that expense (and weight) to the expense (and weight) of a hybrid drive train and you get an expensive (heavy) car. It also isn’t a slam dunk that a diesel hybrid drive train will gain much in mileage. The Prius engine is optimized to sacrifice power for mileage. You have to start and stop the engine a lot and diesels take a lot of battery current to start. A diesel has a lot of torque, but you don’t really need it if you have an electric motor for low rpm torque, etc, etc.

    In a nutshell, you quickly hit a diminishing return on investment.

     

    [link]      
  82. By Rufus on September 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    No, Paul, they would have gotten worse mileage with methanol. It is about 20% less energy dense than ethanol, and about the same Octane.

    EX. The Indy 500 had to reduce the size of their fuel tanks about 30% when they went from methanol to ethanol (they wanted to keep the same number of pit stops.)

    [link]      
  83. By paul-n on September 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Russ,

     

    Quite so on the diesel (parallel) hybrid, diminishing returns and very high costs.  Someone will probably still do it because a customer is willing to pay for it, but that still doesn;t mean it is worthwhile.

    But where it would work well is in a series hybrid (Chevy Volt style) configuration.  Then the engine can be set to run at it’s optimum efficiency point and stay there.  You just need to have enough  storage to store the output when idling and regen braking, but that is just a matter of siziing the batteries/ultracpacitors accordingly.  With the imporved efficiency of the diesel, operating at its maximum efficiency point, it more than makes up for the loss of the gen-batt-motor pathway.

    One European company already has an integrated small diesel engine generator for exactly this purpose;

    This is a 2cyl diesel engine, with intergrated generator, that puts out 15kWe, and weighs 180lbs.

    They also have 25 (3cyl) and 30kW(4cyl) versions

    More details at Lombardini website

     

    For reference, 15kW is more than the average power needed by the Prius in city cycle driving, and is also more than it needs for highway cruise (on flat ground).

    I’m not saying this would be appropriate for the Prius, but it does show just little power is actually needed, on average for our driving. The Chevy Volt could easily make do with the 25 or 30kW engine, and an Edison type with the 15.

    After all, 30kW is what Designline use to power their 27,000lb series hybrid city bus! (with 320hp of electric motor).

    And if they can do that, then why does the Volt need an 80hp engine?  The more things are overpowered, the more they must be overbuilt, and the heavier, expensive and less efficient the end result becomes – as we are seeing with the Volt.  The airlines would never design a plane like that

    [link]      
  84. By paul-n on September 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Rufus wrote;

    No, Paul, they would have gotten worse mileage with methanol. It is about 20% less energy dense than ethanol, and about the same Octane.

    Depends which “mileage” we are talking about.  Yes, they would have gotten less miles per gallon of fuel, with methanol as the fuel, because it is less energy dense.

    But, they would have gotten more miles per btu of the fuel, because it actually is a better fuel – the cooling effect on compression of ethanol is even more so with methanol.  So in terms of miles per equivalent gallon (of gasoline) they would have done even better than they did, and that measure is the one that counted in this race.

    That is also why, in the Indycar, when they switched to ethanol, their power went down along with their fuel tank size, you can get more per btu, and per cu.in of engine, with methanol than ethanol.

    That is also why the “top alcohol” dragsters use methanol in preference to ethanol.

     

    I would be quite happy to accept less mpg on methanol, if was getting more miles per btu, and because ethanol is so much cheaper, it would be more miles per dollar too.

    [link]      
  85. By Rufus on September 18, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    That’s interesting, Paul. I admit, I know very little about methanol. I was under the impression they changed engines when they went to ethanol; do you have any figures, or a link, on the different engines, and the different HP output?

    [link]      
  86. By mac on September 19, 2010 at 12:06 am

    A bunch of engineers cleverly designed a vehicle to conform to the X-Ptrize contest parameters and win $5 million dollars. Yipeeee!!!

    Let’s drive the Edison over the mountains with 2 adults and two kids in the back and the trunk (if it even has one) loaded with camping gear and luggage and fishing poles…(all of this with a 250 cc motorcycle engine)

    The reason cars like the Volt are “over-engineered” is so that:they can get over mountains and when they step on the gas to pass someone on the freeway, something actually happens.

    When you step on the throttle of a Tesla Roadster, something actually happens. When you step on the gas peddle of the Edison ?

    When you step on the throttle of a Tesla Roadster you can just about “own” every gas powered sports car out there in the quarter mile. , Porsches, Lotus Elise, Lambouginis, Ferrari.

    Don’t believe me ? Go up to You Tube and watch gas powered vehicles get hammered by electric cars…

    Plus, the Tesla Roadster gets 244 miles on a charge, plenty far enough to satisfy the X-Prize rules..

    No, give me a Prius plug-in hybrid that gets 83 mpg (real world, road tested miles) and can actually haul 5 adults around, climb mountains and pass people on the freeway.

    You can have the 19 mpg difference.

    [link]      
  87. By mac on September 19, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Samuel T Avro

    The Li-ion Wave II is a two seat (side by side) It;s a TRIKE or three wheeler. Three wheelers are exempt from crash testing because they are classed as motor-cycles.

    Li-ion Motors was founded in 2001 (if I’m not mistaken). They are headquartered in Nevada and the company has incorporated and issued stock. Their ticker symbol is LIMC listed as an over the counter stock (OTCBB). Their market cap is just a little over 38 million and the stock presently is running in the $1.60 range. They are classified as a “penny stock”

    The Li-ion Motors two seat, all electric car sells for $39,000.

    They are also into the electric conversion business – converting gas powered vehicles to electric. They are planning to come out with an electric sports car, and so on, Check out -ion Motors website if interested…

    Website:

    [link]      
  88. By Perry on September 19, 2010 at 3:05 am

    mac said:

    No, give me a Prius plug-in hybrid that gets 83 mpg (real world, road tested miles) and can actually haul 5 adults around, climb mountains and pass people on the freeway.

     


     

    They’re saying the Prius PHEV will be priced around $28,000, or $25,000 after the rebate. That’s what a starter Prius goes for now. They’ll sell ‘em by the boatload.

    [link]      
  89. By takchess on September 19, 2010 at 1:34 am

    http://www.technologyreview.co…..262/?p1=A3

    info on the two stroke engine.

    [link]      
  90. By mac on September 19, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Perry,

    Great.. I think they will sell.

    BMW asked the people who leased their all-electric Mini what they liked and dis-liked about the car. One of the things people liked was that they could just plug the car in at night and did NOT have to go to the gas station any more. Critics kept saying people will never plug in their cars. Apparently, this isn’t so.

    People did complain though about the car being a bit sluggish in the winter months (Dec,& Jan). BMW is going to have to work on their battery management system a little bit more I guess – maybe wrap that battery up in a pair of Long Johns. (just kidding)

    [link]      
  91. By paul-n on September 19, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Mac,

    No one is saying you have to buy the Edison, though your standards as to what you will buy seem to change within each post.

    I’ll be very interested to see your reference as to where the Prius gets 83mpg while taking five people over the mountains.  

    The reason cars like the Volt are “over-engineered” is so that they can get over mountains and when they step on the gas to pass someone on the freeway, something actually happens.

    Yes indeed, and that is why they are still not very  fuel efficient.  The Volt is still using more energy/mile than many other fuel efficient cars (though most of these are not available here)  If you demand race car like performance, you can get it, you just can’t get lots of efficiency in the same vehicle.  Which is better when peak oil really starts to bite?

    And as for the Tesla, a perfect example.  Yes it can out-accelerate other expensive sports cars, as an expensive sports car should be able to.

    But according to your own criteria, it’s no good because it can’t take five people over the mountains.  

    It’s no good for the X-prize mainstream criteria either because it can’t take four people.

    It could have entered the alternate class, but then it would not have won, as it is nowhere near as energy efficient as the other cars in that group.  But that is no shame on the Tesla, it was designed as an expensive sports car,  and it is good at both sporty driving and being expensive.  

    It does highlight the fundamental problem with electrics, that if you want long range, you are going to have a very expensive, and/or very small car.

    “Give” me a plug in Prius and I’ll be happy to drive it too.  However, for peole who have to spend their own money on a car, and who are trying to save their money,  are better off to buy a Corolla, Civic, etc, and that is what they have been doing. 

     

    Critics kept saying people will never plug in their cars. Apparently, this isn’t so.

    I do laugh whenever I see this.  Those critics have never spent a winter in central Canada or Alaska, where people plug in their cars (the engine block heaters) all the time.  I know a guy in Calgary who has an electric (converted Neon).  He works down town but lives outside the city, he drives to the train station, where they have a large “park and ride” carpark, which includes 120V plug ins, as do some (outdoor) shopping centre carparks.  Plugs in and lets it charge all day for free.  

    While there are valid criticisms of electrics, “plug in anxiety”  is not one of them.  And certainly for a PHEV, if you can’t get to a plug, it is not the end of the world.

     

    [link]      
  92. By russ-finley on September 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Also keep in mind that these cars are essentially prototypes. Prototypes are full of unsolved engineering issues and rarely reach production–witness the Aptera. Those that do are rarely a marketing success.

    If the Edison 2 ever makes it to market it will weigh a lot more to make it more safe, durable, and ascetically appealing. To do that they will compromise on mileage. The market does not require 100 mpg, er, 73 mpg. Light weight bodies cost more, and that’s why our cars are made of steel.

    All this exercise did was verify that engineering is the art of compromise and there is no breakthrough technology out there at this time. The laws of physics still apply.

    [link]      
  93. By Perry on September 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    miket said:

     

    33.7KWh/gal x $0.20/KWh =  $6.74/gal 


     

    Wow. Connecticut has the second highest rates in the US. Only Hawaii is higher, at .27 per kwh. The average American pays .11 kwh. It will cost them $2.64 to fill the Leaf’s 24 kwh battery. With a 100 mile range, that’s the equivalent of 100 MPG with today’s gasoline costs.  That number rises along with the cost of gasoline. Russ is right. There’s nothing really groundbreaking about the Edison.

    [link]      
  94. By paul-n on September 19, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    All this exercise did was verify that engineering is the art of compromise and there is no breakthrough technology out there at this time. The laws of physics still apply

    Amen to that.  The winners did their engineering, to the rules of the competition, smarter than anyone else.

    I agree the Edison will be like so many other concept cars that never make it to market, but as long as some of its innovations do, then it has achieved something.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that some of the other competitors, like Li-Ion motors and Aptera, were there running cars that they are or will be trying to sell – the fact they didn;t win is no shame – Edison had the advantage of desiginign a car from scratch, that was designed specifically to win, though the rules were written to make it “production capable”.

    As for the tech breakthroughs, what I find surprising is that for all these the companies that purport to have these amazing technologies, like EEStor, or Scuderi, or Revetech, Ecomotors etc ,  not one of them was willing to step up to the plate and play ball.  if any of their technologies were even half as revolutionary as what they say they are, this would have been THE forum to showcase them.  A win for a new engine type would have been a breakthrough.  These companies have been doing their stuff for almost a decade, often with government funding, and with years notice for the X-prize, could still not get their act together to get a demosntration vehicle in the race.

    This was as good a chance as they will ever get to a Charles Parsons opportunity to show up the others as being obsolete.  

     

    I will still differ with you on fuel, less btu per mile is less btu per mile.  They did say they could have achieved it on gasoline, given time and money, but when an easier option is available for the competition, why divert your resources?  In the real world, ethanol is not the ideal fuel the reasons you state,  but that is not Edison’s fault.

    With the lightweight bodies, it would be interesting then to see a good comparison of the cost of “lightening” a car (e.g the Honda Civic) compared to “hybridising” it, to achieve the same fuel savings.  I’m not sure that it could be done, without giving up some creature comforts, (power windows, etc) but that’s part of the efficiency equation.  Removing power windows though, is one example that saves weight and cost.

    The lack of market penetration of hybrids (3%) clearly shows most buyers are not prepared to wear the costs.

    Would they wear the cost of a lighter vehicle, and the “perception” of a reduction in safety?

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  95. By Wendell Mercantile on September 19, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    If one accounts for the EROEI of energy source in the MPGe equation, the Edison 2 would probably fair very poorly becasue of its use of corn ethanol.

     

    Good point Russ.  Besides the EROEI of the fuel, they also need to take into account into embodied energy that goes into making he car.  I’ve asked GM if they’ve yet done any embodied energy accounting on the Volt.  If they have, they aren’t saying.  The declined to answer.

    [link]      
  96. By paul-n on September 19, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Wendell,

     

    Why do you need to account for the EROEI of the car? And then what do you do with the results?  Is a car with lots of embodied energy (e.g. BEV) that then uses little for fuel better or worse than a low embodied energy car that uses more fuel?  How much the car will get used also makes a difference.   Different sources of energy have gone into the manufacture of different cars (and different fuels).  Even if we go to all the trouble to track this, what do we do with the information?

     

    A well engineered car will likely have more energy invested per kg of car than a lesser engineered one, but may well be much lighter.  Is the criteria EROEI per car, or per kg of car, or per passenger of car?

    I’m not surprised GM did not give an answer, and I would be surprised if they have done any exhaustive analysis – what would be the point?

     

    As for the fuels, here is what the X-prize rules said;

    The organizers will use the GREET model, created by the Department of Energy and Argonne 

    National Laboratory, to determine the upstream emissions or wells-to-tank (WTT) using average 

    default values that reflect fuel production today and in the near future.  Competition officials will 

    release the upstream emissions per gallon of each of the fuels and electricity before the start of 

    the Knockout Stage.  

    The criteria for all vehicles was a maximum of 200g CO2 per mile. I  couldn’t find their results, but obviously the winning vehicles all passed the test.

    With fuels, we can use the carbon as a proxy for EROEI.  Corn ethanol certainly has a high embodied carbon, but then so does gasoline from oilsands oil, and electricity from coal plants.  My understanding is that they used the official mix of energies, so elec has a coal fraction ethanol has a NG fraction, etc etc.

    200g CO2, is what you get if you use ordinary gasoline and get 55.mpg – about that of a Prius, so clearly all these vehicles were ahead of that game, by at least half.

     

    [link]      
  97. By Perry on September 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    I’m pretty sure the Leaf would’ve won this competition. It gets 140 MPGe by my calculations. Carries 5 passengers, has a trunk, etc.

    [link]      
  98. By Wendell Mercantile on September 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    I’m not surprised GM did not give an answer, and I would be surprised if they have done any exhaustive analysis – what would be the point?

    Paul N,

    There are consumers for whom that is important. And I too would be surprised if GM has even thought about, analyzed, or calculated the embodied energy in a Volt.

    [link]      
  99. By Kit P on September 19, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Paul wrote

     

    The lack of market penetration of
    hybrids (3%) clearly shows most buyers are not prepared to wear the
    costs.

     

    Then Paul wrote

     

    Why do you need to account for the
    EROEI of the car?

     

    If EROEI is a measure of anything, it
    is the crude measure of environmental impact assuming that energy is
    the most important factor.

     

    While mundane, the Corolla is one of
    the most popular cars on the market based on safety, reliability,
    cost, and fuel economy. There are several similar car provided by
    other makers that are popular too.

     

    Putting batteries in cars makes them
    more expensive with marginal benefit for saving fuel. It is a Catch
    22. The novelty of driving some odd BEV only lasts until they are
    not novel. Visualize the area under a bell curve as the amount of
    fuel used in a year. The 1% at both ends of the curve do not matter.
    Convincing Corolla owners to spend $10L on batteries every ten years
    is just not going to happen.

    [link]      
  100. By Perry on September 20, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Kit P said:

    Convincing Corolla owners to spend $10L on batteries every ten years
    is just not going to happen.


     The value proposition is there Kit, especially for someone paying .08 per kwh, which is what you pay, right? You would pay 2 cents a mile to drive the Leaf, compared to 10 cents a mile for the Corolla, with gas at $2.50 a gallon.

     

    After 10 years and 150,000 miles, you’ve saved $12,000 on fuel. If gas goes up in the next ten years, you’ll save even more. With $5 gas, you’d save enough to buy that $10,000 battery AND a Corolla.

     

    Not that the battery will cost $10,000 ten years from now. Costs should drop quickly with mass production. And they can probably be rebuilt for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

    [link]      
  101. By paul-n on September 20, 2010 at 4:26 am

    Perry said:

    I’m pretty sure the Leaf would’ve won this competition. It gets 140 MPGe by my calculations. Carries 5 passengers, has a trunk, etc.


    I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have even made it through the first stage.
     

    I already posted this, back at #76, but as with any rebuttals of your claims about ev’s you seem to conveniently ignore it.   From the X prize rules;

    For the mainstream class, the vehicle has to carry four passengers  AND have 200 mile range.

    (emphasis added) Does that answer the question?

     

    Kit wrote;

    if EROEI is a measure of anything, it

    is the crude measure of environmental impact assuming that energy is

    the most important factor.

    Although on another topic he had said

    If there is anything that does not have anything to do with anything it is EROEI

    I tend to agree with the latter.

    And then, not all energies are created equal.  If the car factory in China uses the same amount of coal fired electricity as the plant in Kentucky does nuclear electricity, as the one in Quebec does hydro power – do they all have the same impact?  Do we use the same energy input (kWh) for all of them, or do we look at the fuel.   If the old nuke plant is less thermodynamically efficient than a (new) coal plant, more btu are being used per kWh, but does it matter?  For the hydro powered plant, it used electricity but no btu’s were used to make that electricity, so should it be zero? If water runs down a penstock before going into the river, but no one is there to see it, did it really happen?

    A coal plant in the US will use some (small) portion of its energy doing gas cleaning for NOx and SOx and so may use more btu of coal per kWh than the one in China that is not cleaming its flue gases and is dumping ash in the river – which has the greater environmental impact?

    The plant in China may have  people still doing some tasks that are automated elsewhere, so more man-hours per car, but less electricity – how do we account for the energy input of those workers?  do we include their drive/walk to work etc etc?

    For a new model car like the Volt, how do we account for all the R&D, compared to buying the Corolla that has had tens of millions made?  Do we count the failed EV-1 as part of the R&D energy?

     

    Assuming somehow that we have a system to sort out this mess, we then have an EI (energy invested) for the car.  When we buy it, it has no energy return, in fact, it never does, it just consumes more energy.  From here on, we can, and do, easily track the energy consumption, for the miles driven.  No matter how efficient the car is, it does not have energy production, so the energy invested only gets bigger.

    The “carbon footprint” is becoming a standard measure for cars, based on fuel consumption,  but, until a carbon tax/trading system is implemented, we can have no real way of measuring the EI of the car.

    A much better indication is likely to be where it’s made.  If it is an OECD country, it is likely to have been made in the most energy efficient way practical, in a plant that follows appropriate safety and environmental regulations.  If it is made in India, it may, or may not be.  Would we trust an EROEI statement from the car maker anyway? 

    That said, until the electrics came along, the EROEI was probably similar pr lb of car, made in the same country, or by the same company.  Now, a car with added $10k of high tech batteries, motors etc definitely has a greater energy invested, but the only real measure that is being used, is does it use less energy, or $, per mile than an ICE equivalent, and is this enough to cover the much greater ownership cost?

    When the Nissan Leaf costs $33k compared to the same sized Versa for $13k, it’s a fair bet that it has a lot more energy invested.  Which is the greener car to own, before you even drive it a mile?  How many miles does the driver need to do before the extra energy invested in the Leaf is made up for by the reduced energy while driving?  Does it matter how the electricity is generated?  If they spend $ 30k on energy-intensive-to-make monocrystalline silicon solar PV to recharge it themselves?  If they preferentially buy wind power from 1000mi away and lose 20% in transmission?  IF they charge during the day with on-peak power, or at night with off peak?  etc etc.

    All EROEI attempts suffer from the same problem – where do you draw the boundaries?  And if you do draw them, we can expect the car makers to start to game them,  like they do the CAFE standards.

    There is not a meaningful way to measure the energy invested in making a car. We can certainly calculate the energy savings in operating said car,  and over the car’s lifetime, that will likely far exceed the energy used to make it.  Except, of course, in the case of the electric car with the solar PV array – then, depending how much it is driven, we may have invested more energy than it will ever save, and almost certainly more money.

     

    [link]      
  102. By mac on September 20, 2010 at 7:57 am

    “When the Nissan Leaf costs $33k compared to the same sized Versa for $13k, it’s a fair bet that it has a lot more energy invested.”

    All this “embodied energy”: stuff you keep talking about doesn’t matter because when gas hits $10 a gallon the Leaf becomes competitive. Technology moves on.and battery prices will undoubtedly go down. Iinternal combustion engine technology has virtually nowhere to go. We are highly unlikely to see orders of magnitude improvements to the ICE. On the other hand, we are quite likely to see significant improvements in battery technology along with price reductions for electrics.

    It’s a pocket-book thing, It has nothing to do with some sillly little tag listing the carbon content of the car. Completely irrelevant. It’s a price thing, a money thing. When electric vehicles become competitive with ICE people will buy them And fuel prices will level the playing field, When gas goes through the roof, and the government is issuing gas rationing coupons, or there is no gas around period, then people are simply going to walk across the street to their friendly electric car dealer and that’s the end of it.

    Maxwell thinks gas is going to $15.00 gal. But Long before that ever takes place there will be a mass exodus to CNG, to hybrids, electric cars, PHEV,, coal to liquids, bio-diesel & E85. I have a hunch that people will gladly wave bye- bye to gasoline and never look back..

    [link]      
  103. By Kit P on September 20, 2010 at 9:00 am

    “The value proposition is there Kit,”

     

    Sorry it is not. The Corolla is my
    wife’s car. If she puts 150,000 miles on it in 10 years it is
    because we are making long trips to visit family. That is why we
    bought it. Hauling weight down the highway like batteries does not
    save gasoline.

     

    I use a beater car to drive to work. I
    am not going to drive a $40k car to work to get dinged up in the
    parking lot.

     

    Perry does not understand the future
    value of money. You do not spend $10K today to break even 10 years
    from now, maybe.

     

    “ten years from now “

     

    Perry also does not understand the
    present tense of verbs. When people buy a car they base it on the
    car they are looking at that day. People who buy cars like Corollas
    or Civics do so because of reliability.

     

    If in 10 years we have $5 gas and
    various BEV have been proven reliable then maybe I will be wrong when
    I say,

    “ BEV are MIA, and PHEV are DOA”

     

    But Perry, if you are comparing the
    present reality with wishful thinking; it is hard for me to find it
    crediable.

     

    “I tend to agree with the latter.”

     

    I really do not disagree Paul but it
    does depend on what you are comparing. When you are comparing
    electricity generation as a source of energy for transportation to
    oil, just look at the energy does tell you something about ghg
    emissions. We have a huge data base for electricity generation but
    we only have speculation about BEV in long term applications.

     

    “And then, not all energies are
    created equal.”

     

    You are correct, LCA has to be location
    specific.

     

    “plant in Kentucky does nuclear
    electricity”

     

    Kentucky is all coal but the coal
    plants are more efficient than China.

     

    “do they all have the same impact?”

     

    The impact of electricity generation is
    insignificant in the US and most western counties but would appear to
    be horrendous in China and Russia judging from the body count.

     

    “but does it matter?”

     

    Can I assume that as an environmental
    engineer you understand the meaning of ‘impact’ and ‘insignificant’.
    To build a power plant in the US you have to show in the EIS that the
    environmental impact is insignificant and consider alternatives.

     

    For transportation, most of the
    environmental impact is in use. Assuming a POV last ten years it
    really does bot matter where it is made. For something like tires,
    it may make a difference if it is manufactured in the US or China.

     

    where
    do you draw the boundaries?”

     

    If the BEV is being used someplace
    where air quality is bad (a few places in the US) and the electricity
    generation does not impact air quality (everywhere that I know of in
    the US), then BEV would have a positive environmental impact for that
    area. We would want to recycle batteries in third counties with
    child labor however.

     

    So if I can get Perry to make a poor
    choice for children and buy a BEV, it would be good for my industry.
    However, it would be unethical for me to do that. If you want to
    help the environment Perry, join a car pool.

    [link]      
  104. By Wendell Mercantile on September 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Why do you need to account for the EROEI of the car?

    Paul N,

    It makes a big difference in the total energy a car consumes to go a certain distance.

    Example: The EROEI of corn ethanol is roughly 1:2 to 1. The EROEI of gasoline is roughly 5 to 1. That means it takes about 4x as much energy to make one energy unit of corn ethanol as one energy unit of gasoline.

    Take two cars: One that could get 75 mpg on gasoline, and another with a high-compression that could take advantage of ethanol’s higher octane and got 95 mpg on corn ethanol.

    Since it takes 4x as much energy to make an equivalent energy unit of ethanol, the car with the lower-compression engine burning gasoline would come out ahead if the fuel economy calculus had used total energy consumed.

    Throw embodied energy into the calculus, and suddenly cars with batteries and motors made of energy-intensive-to-extract-and-refine rare earth elements could also be at a disadvantage.

    [link]      
  105. By paul-n on September 20, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    KIt/Wendell

     

    My point on the EROEI, is that it is not necessarily a good proxy for the environmental impact of the car’s manufacture, for the reasons Kit and I say above.  Where it is made is a better determinant, and within the same areas, then the price.  A BEV from China might be cheaper than a Civic made here, but I’m sure we’ll agree on which had the greater environmental (and human) impact in its manufacture.

    It’s just that trying to quantify it, accurately, and across different countries, is almost impossible.  

     

    For transportation, most of the
    environmental impact is in use. Assuming a POV last ten years it
    really does not matter where it is made.

    Agreed completely. 

    Since it takes 4x as much energy to make an equivalent energy unit of ethanol, the car with the lower-compression engine burning gasoline would come out ahead if the fuel economy calculus had used total energy consumed.

    This may be true, but does it matter? If the ethanol distillery happened to have it’s own wind farm to power it (quite feasible in much of corn country), using the electricity to run the distillation,  the energy invested would still be the same, though the carbon footprint would be much smaller.   If that distillery is very ineffiecient, so uses 2x as much renewable energy as an efficient one uses NG, which one is worse?  If it takes as much NG energy to make ethanol as there is energy in the ethanol, are you not then running your car on NG?  Certainly you ARE using less oil – which is more important?

    I still maintain that EROEI is not a good metric as there are so many different sources of energy.  It is better to identify the sources we want to minimise, like oil, and then talk about oil invested for oil displaced, as that is easier to measure, and more important, IMO.  In this regard, ethanol, or NG will displace a lot of oil.

    So too will a BEV, but you’ll just go broke in the process, and may not have an overall environmental improvement anyway.

    Our economy is not running out of total energy, it is running low on oil.

     

    Throw embodied energy into the calculus, and suddenly cars with batteries and motors made of energy-intensive-to-extract-and-refine rare earth elements could also be at a disadvantage.

    Agreed with this too, and that is reflected in the price of these vehicles and batteries, though the government is trying to mask that with subsidies.  

    If you take away the subsidies, the price will probably be the best, and certainly easiest indicator you have.  If the vehicle costs a lot to buy, there is either a lot of embodied energy (a BEV), or embodied labour (a handmade sports car, like a Morgan) or you are just paying a lot for a brand (like a Mercedes).

    For the energy used to run the vehicle, it is certainly easier to track.

    So then, a BEV made in Japan, like the Leaf, with batteries made in Korea, and driven here, is not using much energy in the US economy.  we have moved the energy use to somewhere else, and get the energy savings here – is that good?  If GM is successful with the Volt, and  starts exporting them one for each sold locally, then domestic energ use is going up (but oil is going down).  If we are using EROEI, then our energy balance is going backwards, as we are exporting embodied energy.   But this IS good business, and good for reducing oil use.

    Using embodied energy is a poor measure, better to compare on the basis of physical resources used instead, over the vehicles life.  In that context, a BEV driven lots, for a long time, will likely have a lower total resource use than an ICE (as long as the batteries don’t need replacing).  An ICE vehicle, used sparingly, and/or that is small and efficient,. like the Edison, will also minimise resource use (and is easier to afford in the first place).  

    Ultimately, the cost is still the easiest way get an indication – if it’s expensive to buy – it is likely high embodied energy, if its expensive to run, it is likely inefficient, or you are doing too much driving, which is inefficient in it’s own way.

    One caveat is that if it is cheap and made in China, it likely has a high environmental impact, but it is easy to track things made in China (just sometimes, as in the case of electronics, hard to find a non – China alternative)

    [link]      
  106. By Wendell Mercantile on September 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    If the ethanol distillery happened to have it’s own wind farm to power it (quite feasible in much of corn country), using the electricity to run the distillation, the energy invested would still be the same, though the carbon footprint would be much smaller.

    Paul N.

    Do you have any idea how much embodied energy goes into a tall, utility-scale wind turbine? I don’t have specific numbers, but it’s a lot. As just one example of where that embodied energy is: To anchor a single 420 ft AGL wind turbine, they need to dig a hole about 45 ft deep and fill it with concrete. (The process of making Portland cement — the binder in concrete — from limestone, is one of the most energy-intensive industrial processes around.)

    Using wind to power an ethanol distillery would be feasible — but perhaps not practical — there would have to be a constantly-running backup source of energy. A still should be brought up to heat, kept there, and operate continuously for best efficiency. The operators of an ethanol still couldn’t afford to take the chance of their process coming to a halt because the wind suddenly stopped, or afford what might happen if they suffered a three day loss of operations because a high pressure system moved over Iowa and stalled out.

    [link]      
  107. By paul-n on September 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Wendell,

    You are quite right about the wind turbines, ( i have seen one get built in the Yukon- quite the process, and involved bulldozing a road up the side of an otherwise undisturbed hill!  The cement, and the turbine itself, all came from a long way away), so how then do we calculate the EROEI of the wind turbine, the then calculate the EROEI of the ethanol plant to finally calculate the EROEI of our car?  How many assumptions have we made along the way, and how accurate, and meaningful, is the answer at the end of this process?

    This is my point – the more accurate you try to make your EROEI, the more complex the process gets, and you are not necessarily more accurate.  And then you have to repeat it for whatever else you are comparing against.  

    So what do most of us do? – a first pass evaluation and leave it there.  We all have our own BS detectors and we know when they are going off.

    Some posters here have called BS on some of the cars in this race.  Personally, I think the race organisers actually did a pretty good job, in the end, of setting the rules for the competition to reflect reality and prevent unrealistic gaming.  By that I mean the requirements that the cars had to be designed to meet safety rules, minmim 0-60 in 15s, carry four people, 200 mile range, be able to go up a hill of x gradient at y speed, be able to be manufactured, and sold at a price that is reasonable to sell 10,000/year, etc etc.  They did a good job setting the criteria to represent real world conditions and expectations.  The Tesla might have been able to on range,milage etc, but it has already proven that it won;t sell 10,000/yr, doesn’t even sell 1,000 – so it won’t make a dent in overall energy consumption as hardly anayone can afford it.

     

     They then had the alternate classes (2 seaters, 100 mile range) to see what happens when you change the parameters of your model – which really means, the custromers expectations.

    And the results were?

    The best way to meet 200 mile range, and 100mpge, is a small, lightweight, low powered car.  It is not the only way -you could design an electric to do it, take two Tesla battery packs, and then you have $150k car.  And al of our BS detectors would be going off, as that car is not a practical solution.  You may think the Edison is not a solution either – I think it can be – if we are prepared to give up other things for the high mileage – most of us are not.

    For the alternatives, if you are prepare to give up range (max 100mi) and four seats for two, then yes it can be done with electrics, though still at a price.

    And if you combine them, a very light electric vehicle, you might be able to get 200 mile range, but in a car that is illsuited to hwy driving.

    In all of these, none of us needed a detailed EROEI to make our judgements, as to whether the cars are appropriate, or are likely to sell, or how they will perform, or how much energy they use.  And it is the same in our buying decisions in the real world.  If every car had  an EROEI sticker next to the milage stickers, how much would it influence your decision, and how much would you trust a government EROEI calculation, or the carmakers?  Do you then give up othert things in the car (performance, features, etc)for low EROEI?

    Adding extra battery to a BEV increases range, and makes it more useful, but adds dramatically to EROEI.

    Ultimately, I think it is a bit of a straw man – if you don’t like a car, and don’t think it is appropriate, or energy efficient, or overpriced, etc, a statement of low EROEI, if it can be believed, is unlikely to change your view, or your decision.  As we have seen with everyones opinions of the X prize cars – even if , somehow the Edison had a zero or negative energy input in manufaturing – would it change anyones mind on buying and driving it?

     

     

     

    Sidenote -you are also correct in that the wind powered ethanol plant would need a backup source – that would be the grid. But their wind farm could conceivably make more annually than what they use – a positive energy balance overall, though not at any given time.   But EROEI only looks at the overall balance, not time intervals.  

     And for the record, there are other ways to extract ethanol – you can use vacuum distillation and vapour compression, all at room temperature (this is one process for desalinating seawater, used extensively in the middle east, powered by you-know -what).  Needs a vacuum pump to run the process, but if electricity is your energy source, you will use less of it than by just heating and distilliing.  Turn off the pump, and distillation stops, and you don’t waste any energy while you wait.

    In fact, vapour distillation CAN be more energy efficient, as the evaporation cools the water/ethanol mix, which can then absorb heat from ambient air.  Just like a heat pump, you are getting “free” heat from the environment, it just costs in elec and equipment to do so.  And it costs more than using NG, but it IS using less energy input.

     

    [link]      
  108. By russ-finley on September 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Paul,

    Good find. Glad to see they attempted to account for upstream CO2 emissions but you can’t really use CO2 emissions as a proxy for energy returned on energy invested. RR’s earlier article called “Fun With Numbers” demonstrated how hell-bent Wang is to show corn ethanol’s energy balance in a positive light.

    After accounting for the energy content of all ethanol by products, ten percent of the calories contained in the corn used to make a gallon of ethanol is unaccounted for–it’s lost. Corn ethanol has a negative energy balance even before you subtract the coal, natural gas, and diesel burned to make and distribute the ethanol and dry any distillers grains.

    Ten percent of the calories are lost from the food chain when diverted to a refinery. Something somewhere had to replace that energy lost to the food chain. Wang ignores that fact right from the start.

    And to ice the cake, according to the latest EPA studies, corn ethanol at present, is producing more GHG than gasoline per unit energy.

     

     

     

    [link]      
  109. By russ-finley on September 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    mac said:

    No, give me a Prius plug-in hybrid that gets 83 mpg (real world, road tested miles) and can actually haul 5 adults around, climb mountains and pass people on the freeway.

    You can have the 19 mpg difference.


     

    Good point, but the Edison 2 will only go 73 miles on a gallon of ethanol. A consumer pulling up to a pump trying to decide which fuel to buy, E85 or gasoline, needs to know how far his car will go on ethanol.

    [link]      
  110. By Wendell Mercantile on September 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    A consumer pulling up to a pump trying to decide which fuel to buy, E85 or gasoline, needs to know how far his car will go on ethanol.

    A consumer needs to know how far his/her car will go on a kWh of energy — whether buying fuel in the form of liquid fuels, or electrical energy. That makes it easy to compare the economy of ICE-powered cars and battery-powered cars. It also makes it easy to compare the fuel economy of a serial hybrid such as the Volt.:

    For liquid fuel cars:

    1 gallon gasoline = 115,000 Btu = 33.7 kWh

    1 gallon of E10 = 112,000 Btu = 32.8 kWh

    1 gallon of E85 = 88,100 Btu = 25.8 kWh

    1 gallon of No. 2 diesel = 129,500 Btu = 37.95 kWh

    For electric cars:

    1 kWh = 1 kWh

    [link]      
  111. By Wendell Mercantile on September 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    In fact, vapour distillation CAN be more energy efficient, as the evaporation cools the water/ethanol mix, which can then absorb heat from ambient air.

    Agree Paul, but how may corn ethanol distillers are so forward thinking that they’re doing that? All the ones in my neck of the woods prefer to burn natural gas and use distilling technology that’s little advanced from the technology the Chinese first used almost 3000 years ago..

    [link]      
  112. By paul-n on September 20, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Russ,

     

    That is the problem with EROEI – nothing is a perfect proxy, and EROEI itself depends on where you draw the boundaries – I just don’t think it is a metric worth pursuing across different energy types.  As long as there is corn ethanol, there will be disagreement as to what the EROEI is, and what that actually means.  And if it is mandated, somehow, it will be gamed.

    The fact that we value certain energy forms above others for their convenience and/or environmental attributes, shows that comparing on the basis of energy alone ignores the things that make the different forms desirable or not.

    CO2 and GHG equivalents are one attempt to get around this, but that leads to Al Gore-ism – where it’s OK to have an 8000 sq.ft house wasting energy because it is “GHG nuetral”.

     

    Wendell, you are spot on with your table there.  A simple comparison of kWh per fuel, and kWh per distance is the way go.  For electric, the kWh is measured at the plug/charging point.  But guaranteed some would see that as aback door attempt to force the Metric system on America.

    Still, it will avoid outrageous mpg ratings being thrown around for the Volt.

    You have kWh/mile on electric (city and hWy cycle), and thus range on electric for both, and then you have gal(or kWh-gal) per mile on gasoline, city and hwy cycle.  

    Now the wrinkle comes when you have a car that can get better kWh/mile on some fuels (E85) than others (E0).

    And that is why there should be a separate, official, tested rating for any flex fuel car when running on E85, E100, M85 CNG, etc

     

    The mileage ratings for the Volt is a classic example of gaming a system, and trying to pull one over the general public.

    Best hopes for fact based reality.

     

     

    [link]      
  113. By paul-n on September 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Agree Paul, but how may corn ethanol distillers are so forward thinking that they’re doing that? All the ones in my neck of the woods prefer to burn natural gas and use distilling technology that’s little advanced from the technology the Chinese first used almost 3000 years ago..

    I don;t know what they teach people in school here.  When I was in yr 10 science class, we did an experiment where we made ethanol by fermentation, and then distilled some of it (with a bunsen burner).  If your distillate would light and burn a blue flame, you were successful.

    Out teacher then showed us how to achieve the same with a vacuum pump, and we had to work out from vapour pressures why this would work.  We meaasured the temperature drop of the solution while in an insulated flask, with the pump running, and then removed the insulation ad did it again. Were able to calculate the heat gained from the ambient air, which of course, was enough to provide the energy to evap each gram of alcohol.  We were then asked how we could make the system better still, and the answer was, of course, to put the condenser loop inside the flask, or vice versa, so the heat of the condensing alcohol flowed back to the evaporating stuff.  Then the only energy input is the vacuum pump.  

    Basic chemistry, but a bit more sophisticated that burning a rock filled still. 

    Now, it is probably cheaper to use NG than electricity, although, if you had an on site CCGT, it would be better to make electricity from the gas, and use the low grade condenser waste heat in your still.  This way you are getting the HHV of the gas.   You would probably size the GT so the condenser provided all your heat, and not use the vacuum system.  If you did have a GT handy, then you could do anaerobic digestion on the DDG’s (instead of drying and selling them) and also the corn stover.  You don;t need to clean up the gas as much to burn directly as you do to get to “pipeline quality”.   If you are turning 50% of the gas value into electricity, then it is worth more than as selling the DDG’s.  And you would have a “cellulosic” process that made sense – just use the cellulose as fuel, and ferment the easy stuff.

    For the distillery, if corn prices are too high, you could just stop distilling and keep making electricity from NG.  When corn is really cheap, or stover is cheaper, or free, you might buy and AD more of that instead of buying NG.  As long s you stay within the small box of conventional, subsidised, corn ethanol, you are very vulnerable to changes in markets, mandates and subsidies!

     

    But for a wind powered plant, the vacuum pump system would work, and you could definitely claim a much better EROEI, for what it’s worth. 

     

    [link]      
  114. By mac on September 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Wendell said,

    “Throw embodied energy into the calculus, and suddenly cars with batteries and motors made of energy-intensive-to-extract-and-refine rare earth elements could also be at a disadvantage.”

    The electronics industry uses rare earth elements extensively. The hard drive in your computer for example. The rare earth elements have unique properties due to the way the electrons are arranged around the nucleus, Used in magnets (and alloyed with other metals) they enhance magnetic effects, so that magnets can be made smaller and more powerful, The little magnets in your hard drive have rare earth elements in them. Rare earth elements in the electro-magnetic arena act something like catalysts do in chemical reactions and processes.

    Regular ICE vehicles also use rare earth metals in their starters and alternators, but the Prius gas-electric hybrid uses twice as much in their car because of the larger electric motor-generator.

    China has the largest known rare earth reserves but Canada and other places have rare earths also the U.S does likewise and was once world leader in their production. Yes, it’s worry-some.but there are a number of work arrounds. The electric induction motor is one of them and I think the Tesla Roadster has one in their electric car.

    Paul is off to the races on this embodied energy idea, but I say that the embodied energy used to manufacture a car is basically reflected in the sticker price already. You have the price for raw materials, the energy costs involved in manufacturing and the cost of labor. These are all reflected in the base price of the vehicle, People that work in lithium battery plants may have to work in “clean rooms” and wear white cover-alls, but that’s all reflected in the price of the batteries.

    The extra price of batteries becomes irrelevant when gas goes to
    $15 gallon.

    Embodied energy studies are a waste of time in my opinion because they are already reflected in the price you pay for something.

    What Paul apparently wants to do is to suddenly re-write the X-Prize rules and install an “embodied energy” penalty or manufacturing cost parameter . He argues tirelessly that this has some merit but but I don’t see it.

    To me the whole idea that the embodied energy costs increase manufacturing costs is a waste of time since the sticker price of a car already reflects the energy used in the various manufacturing processes, the price of the raw materials (including the energy costs to extract them) and the labor costs.(including the energy that people use to get to work). It’s all reflected in the price of the finished product.

    Why not just say: “I think the costs to manufacture electric vehicles is too high to ever make them a viable choice as a substitute for the gas powered ICE.”

    Paul wants to re-write the rules ?. That’s fine by me. Let’s throw out the IPCC inspired carbon parameter for the X-Prize.. Let’s re-write the X-Prize rules that way.

    The X-Prize had no “projected cost to manufacture” stipulation..

    All these new, (recently discovered) “secret and hidden” embodied energy costs are really just old timey and not so-secret and are automatically factored into the price of something. You can’t argue from a static set of statistics. because things are constantly on the move. You have to look at the trends. And the trend is: The price for electric vehicles will come down and the price for gas will go up,

    [link]      
  115. By Kit P on September 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    “For electric cars:

     

    1 kWh = 1 kWh”

     

    Wow Wendell, 100% efficient batteries
    and motors regardless of hard the consumer accelerates or how hot or
    cold ambient conditions are. Next Wendell you will tell me that you
    will provide the batteries for free. I just have to pay shipping and
    handling. In this case the small print tells me S&H id $18,000.

     

    Wendell, your understanding and
    accounting methods of energy are suspect.

     

    “You are quite right about the wind
    turbines,”

     

    No, the embedded energy for most
    renewable energy and nukes is a small close to zero fraction. All
    that concrete is an example for the reason high initial capital cost
    and some ghg associated electricity generating plants that do not
    burn fossil fuels.

     

    Of course the assumption is that the
    amount of electricity projected to get generated before pouring
    concrete actually is generated.

     

    People with energy OCD often get
    confused over the big picture. Adding an AD to a dairy may produce
    some electricity but the main product is still milk. LCA shows that
    AD reduces the environmental impact of producing milk. To compare AD
    to something else is an incorrect comparison.

     

    The reason farmers grow corn is to
    produce animal feed. If adding a co-product of ethanol reduces the
    environmental impact of producing energy, good for them.

     

    The purpose of LCA is to provide a tool
    to reducing environmental impact of what we do. The correct question
    to ask is the new way a better way than the old way not if it is the
    perfect way.

    [link]      
  116. By paul-n on September 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm
    Mac, I’m not sure if you read my previous few posts, but I did say, in # 106 above;
     

    Using embodied energy is a poor measure, better to compare on the basis of physical resources used instead, over the vehicles life. 

    and

    Ultimately, the cost is still the easiest way get an indication – if it’s expensive to buy – it is likely high embodied energy,

    I think EROEI is a waste of time, in most cases. Within the narrow confines of specific processes, like turning one fuel into another, it has it’s place.  In the commercial world, what matters is $ returned on $invested, and that is unlikely to change. 

    I did not say the X-prize should be re-ritten at all.  I do not think EROEI should be in there because it is silly.

    manufacturing cost was not my idea, that was one of the criteria, initially, from the X-prize guidelines;

     Manufacturability, Cost: Vehicles must be capable of being manufactured in 

    quantities of 10,000 per year, with vehicle production 

    costs within levels consistent with historical examples of 

    comparable vehicles 

    Quite subjective really , but something that is very expensive, like the Tesla, would have been rejected.

    But at keast we are agreed, and I doubt that anyone will reallyargue otherwise, the the sticker price is an indication of the embodied resources (energy and human).  It is certainly in indication of the level of resources that the buyer has to commit to it.

    Why not just say: “I think the costs to manufacture electric vehicles is too high to ever make them a viable choice as a substitute for the gas powered ICE.”

    I don;t say that because I don;t think that is true.  Starting at the extreme low end, an electric bike is cost competitive with an ICE bike. I think a small, two seater electric car could be made today that would be cost competitive with small ICE cars, for city cars, IF the driver is prepared to give up a a bunch of weight adding, power using luxuries.   However, the carmakers are trying to make the electric to be just like normal ICE cars (four passengers, etc) and, clearly, at present they are not cost competitive for all but some special situations (e.g. fleet vehicles).  

    The price for electric vehicles will come down and the price for gas will go up,

    I think that is likely, but there is a large gap to close, and the less people drive, the larger that gap is.  So for now, for someone who needs to save money, their best bet is the Kit approach, drive a smaller, reliable vehicle, and drive less, by whatever means, and save their money.  

    For the Chevy Volt, their lease has mileage limit per year of 12,000.  So if you do more than that, then eh excess km charges will eat away your advantage.  If you do less than that, you aren;t doing enough miles for the electricity to make up the difference in ownership cost (lease +insurance).

    12,000 mi @30mpg =400gal/yr * $3/gal =1200yr.  On electricity, 4mi/kWh = 3000/yr@0.10 =$300/yr.

    You have a net saving of $75/mo, which will easily be eclipsed by the lease and insurance.

    So it’s a great way to save oil, for sure, but not a great way to save money, yet.

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  117. By Wendell Mercantile on September 20, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Wow Wendell, 100% efficient batteries and motors regardless of hard the consumer accelerates or how hot or cold ambient conditions are.

    Kit P.

    That one obviously went right over your head. Sure, I believe batteries are 100% efficient. Give me a break.

    What I meant is that with an electric car, you don’t have to convert the kWh to any other units, as you do when converting the volumetric measure of a liquid fuel to units of energy whether it be Btu, kWh,or Joules.

    If motor fuel companies sold liquid fuels by their energy content instead of by volume, and if we learned to think in kWh, Btu, or Joules, it would become easy to compare the efficiency of cars, no matter whether they used liquid fuel, solid fuel (as did the WW II charcoal burners in Germany), electricity, or some combination of fuel and electricity as do hybrids.

    For example: If an electric car used 25 kWh to go 100 miles, it would be simple to compare that with a car that burned three gallons of gasoline to go the same distance, because three gallons of gasoline contains ~ 101.1 kWh. (3 x 33.7 kWh)

    Now wouldn’t it be easier to pull your 1983 Flexmobile Super 8 into a local filling station and tell the attendant to, “Give me 500 kWh of fuel,” than to say, “Fill it up,” and then have to convert 14.8 gallons to kWh in your head?

    [link]      
  118. By moiety on September 21, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Paul N said:

    But for a wind powered plant, the vacuum pump system would work, and
    you could definitely claim a much better EROEI, for what it’s worth. 

     


    I am not sure what you are getting at. In Ethanol purification it is not unusual to see

    • Vacuum distillation (~500 mbara)
    • AND heat integration where ‘low temperature’ reboilers are used to condense previous distillate and heat ‘high temperature’ condensor is used to reboil a future bottoms.
    • OR Heat integration from re-compression.

    Which is pretty much what you say in your chemistry lecture.

    A wind plant would not support this system; too much variability.

    [link]      
  119. By paul-n on September 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Moeity, I don’t have specifics, but I’m pretty sure most of the ethanol distillation here is by heating rather than vacuum – the plants use large amounts of NG and not much electricity.

    With vacuum, your columns get shorter, but much wider, all the pipes get bigger, etc, so it is not a free ride.

    But, the point was, if you wanted make it using electrical input instead of heat input, you can, and you will use less input energy in doing so, so better EROEI, (if that is important) but more capital cost.

    In this hypothetical case of the wind powered plant, you would be connected to the grid also, so the process runs constant.  BUt as long as the wind turbines are producing more kWh than you use, then you can  claim to be a wind powered plant, and your energy input would be lower than an NG distillation system.  Doesnl;t mean you will be more profitable of course, NG is about $5GJ, so is much cheaper than electricity.

    I bring up the wind example because much of the US corn belt, is also the US “wind belt”, so, on paper, they are complimentary.  The fact that there are no commercial ethanol plants doing this suggests that NG is still the better option. 

    [link]      
  120. By Kit P on September 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    “Now wouldn’t it be easier to pull
    your 1983 Flexmobile Super 8 into a local filling station and tell
    the attendant to, “Give me 500 kWh of fuel,” than to say,
    “Fill it up,” and then have to convert 14.8 gallons to kWh
    in your head?”

     

    No actually. If fact, units of enrgy are
    irrelevant to the transaction.

     

    “A consumer needs to know how far
    his/her car will go on a kWh of energy”

     

    Consumers want to know (if they care at
    all) how far they can go on the money in their pocket.

     

    Let’s face it, anyone who can afford
    $18k for batteries or $40k for solar panels does not need consumer
    protection.

     

    Funny thing, when I fill up the clerk
    tells me how much money I have to pay.

    [link]      
  121. By mac on June 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Perry,

    There is an interesting car that Volkswagen has come up with called the L1. It is a TDI diesel electric hybrid that VW claims gets 170 mpg. It is a two seater tandem setup where the passenger sits behind the driver. (one of the X-Prize classes)

    The most interesting thing though is that Volkswagen claims they have found a way to make to make carbon fiber reinforced plastic body panels competitively. If they have.discovered a way to make carbon fiber competitive, then this is a pretty big deal.

    It will reduce vehicle weight across the board, not only for electrics, but also hybrids and internal combustion engine powered cars also. Lots of gas saved,

    If interested, just Google Volkswagen L1 hybrid or try the links below.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..91257.html

    http://blogs.edmunds.com/green…..0-mpg.html

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2…..1-concept/

    [link]      
  122. By rrapier on June 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    When I fished Rufus’ comment out of the spam folder, I found some others that had gone in and were never published. That’s what the previous comment was, as well as a few others that have suddenly just popped up.

    RR

    [link]      
Register or log in now to save your comments and get priority moderation!