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thoughts on green economy (how to get there)

Post in 'The Green Room' started by stoveguy2esw, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    all electric cars come standard with 2-60 or 4-40 AC (2 windows at 60 mph, 4 windows at 40mph)

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  2. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    How well does that work when your stuck in rush hour traffic, not moving at all, and it's over 100F outside and the pavement is hot enough to raise blisters?
  3. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    not very well at all, but there's always dry ice.
  4. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Yeah, sure, but in the real world most people need to make decisions based on what's best for them. Cars with limited range are fine for a lot of people, and if they're better for the environment, then we should encourage people to buy them. I'm just saying that they really aren't going to work for some people for a long time to come.

    The Volt *might* be a viable alternative for my situation, but there's little solid info out there right now. After I use up the initial charge what kind of fuel economy does it provide? Charging it sound pretty cheap, but it's not carbon free -- how much carbon does a coal plant put into the air to charge a Volt, and is that more or less than running a similar sized car on diesel? And how much carbon does it take to produce a Volt, and how does that compare to me continuing to drive the car I already have? How many times can the batteries be charged, and what happens to them then?

    When cheap oil supplies go away there will be more expensive oil. People will use less as a result. I'm actually more concerned about water supplies than oil, but that's another thread ;-).

    Buying more local food (and in season!) is a good way to reduce carbon. Producing some of your own food is even better. Eating fewer large animals is good for the environment too. I bet most people don't know that nearly all roses sold in the USA are imported from Columbia. On 747's!! Plant a rose bush.

    From a long term perspective, we need to be thinking of ways to encourage smart urban development. We need a national plan for how to reduce suburbs, exurbs, and rural living. I live in the country, and I kind of like it. Maybe I shouldn't have bought a house so far from everything, but now that I have, what are we going to do about it. My neighbors and I need cars that can take us to work and to go shopping. I could sell my house, but whoever bought it would be in the same situation, so there would be no improvement to the environment. The only real solution that I see would be for the government to start buying up rural land and clearing it. Of course, eventually urban living might be so attractive that people with rural properties abandon them. But I don't see that anytime soon.

    Also, we need to take advantage of the fact that steel wheels on steel rails is by far the most efficient way to move things. They keep taking about a light rail corridor between Charlotte and Atlanta. I think that would be great. I'd love to be able to hop on a train and ride to Atlanta. The trouble is getting around once I'm there.

    Oh, and about that Tesla Model S -- sweet! But $50+ is a lot for a car. My last three haven't cost that much added together.
  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Hmmm...Pyper, it sounds like your S.O.L. :lol:

    Keep in mind that it will not be ONE silver bullet that gets us to a green economy. It will be multi-faceted. So the volt may/may not work for you, but maybe a little 60mpg diesel will...., maybe you grow a big garden or you preserve foods to reduce your trips to the store. etc.

    Its gonna take the masses moving in the right direction, even taking baby steps at first, to get this ball rolling.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    pyper, prolly best to bicycle too, but maybe that's not always practical. If we can extrapolate the mileage of a Prius with an extra battery pack for a mileage example, one can expect over 100mpg average from the Volt. The car shouldn't let you take the battery to exhaustion and it will be recharging when braking and when the on board generator is running. We'll have to wait for some actual tests to see it's actual mileage, but I suspect it will be good. For you it may not be the perfect fit, but it is a good first step for GM IMO.

    PS: I'm curious what are you currently driving?
  7. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    '99 VW passat wagon with a 1.8 litre turbo. It's got about 205,000 miles. I also have an '02 Ford Ranger that I use for towing and hauling that has 125,000 miles. We'll probably sell the VW soon, and then the truck will be a daily driver.

    I'm not ruling out the Volt as an option, but right now I don't have enough information to make an informed decision.

    I'm not convinced that cars like these are really more efficient for highway commuters. If you driving is primarily highway, then there is no converting the braking energy. That means you're hauling around a lot of extra weight and it takes energy to move that weight.

    According to a test by a German firm (summarized in English, below), the Prius, at 60 mph actually gets about 36 mpg, while a 300 horsepower BMW 535d touring gets about 30. The VW Golf 2.0 TDI gets consistently better mileage than the Prius. Given a choice between a Golf and a Prius I know which one I'd rather drive through a switchback ;-)

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/05/fuel_consumptio.html

    So anyway, if a Prius really gets mid 30's for fuel economy do you think the Volt will get more? It appears to be a larger car, and wind resistance is the biggest factor in making a car go at highway speed. Actually when you think about it, if you don't spend a lot of time stuck in traffic, then a Prius isn't as fuel efficient as a Corola (same platform, BTW), but it costs 50% more. Now if you live someplace where you are stuck in stop and go traffic for 45 minutes every day, then either a hybrid or an electric would be a perfect choice.

    I really do like bicycles. I have one, but the tires are dry-rotted. I'd fix it, but they're metric tires, and the last time I put new ones on it was really expensive. Anyway, the trouble with bicycles where I live is rednecks. A lot of them don't share the road. If I put saddle bags on my bicycle I could ride it to the store and back in under an hour, but it would be dangerous.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Nice car. We considered a Passat TDI. Interesting article. It sounds like Atlanta driving is not fun.

    Instead we have a Prius and don't get the low mileage in that article, even in winter. Right now we are averaging 50mpg and that is with the worst driving possible, short trips, up and down hills. Our mileage goes up to about 57 when driving at or below 65mph. If I start pushing it to 70+ mileage will drop to about 53mpg. This is a stock 2006 Prius. Most of our freeways locally restrict one to 55 or 60 mph due to the proximity of urban centers. So for us to get 55mpg on a trip to Olympia (~30 miles) is pretty normal.

    However, one thing we noticed with the Prius is that it has a longer breakin period. When the car was new, we did touch 36mpg with winter short trip driving. But now that the car has >10K miles on it, we would have to work very hard to get that low mileage. Normal winter driving for us now is about 42mpg. I suspect that many reviewers are testing with new cars and might have a bit of a lead foot when they report low mpg.

    We are trying to decide whether we are going to keep the Prius for a decade or not. If we do, I may invest in an aux. lithium battery pack + plugin conversion. I have been in touch with local owners that have done this. They say that getting 80-100mpg with freeway commuting is not uncommon for them. But their commute is about 20-40 miles round trip. For us, it would mean that the majority of our use, except for trips, would be mostly electric. Still considering, it does qualify for an energy credit. The downside is that the aux. battery is only charged by plugging it in. This is where an integral system like on the Volt is superior. How well they do it will still need to be determined. I had read a while back that Volvo was working on a hybrid with a similar configuration. But now that the sale has gone through to Geely, I'm not sure about future plans.

    http://www.a123systems.com/hymotion/products/N5_range_extender
    http://www.squidoo.com/hymotion
  9. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    I think the Passat in general is a nice car, but mine was nothing but trouble for the first 150,000 miles. I guess all the shoddy parts have failed now...

    Anyway, regarding your Prius milage, is that a calculated rolling average that you're doing? That is, are you tabulating how much gasoline you are buying and dividing the number of aggregate miles by it? I've read a lot of reports that the car's computer is overly optimistic when it calculates the mileage.

    It's important to track fuel usage over a number of fillings, because otherwise there is too much error attributable to different fill levels (squeezing a bit more into the tank, etc) and also driving conditions. I got about 35 mpg in the Passat once at 80 MPH. It was driving from Atlanta to Savannah. It's a flat, downhill run. I probably had a tail-wind too :lol:.

    Between my wife and I we drive about 30,000 miles a year. It's expensive.

    I'm actually thinking of a Dodge Sprinter to replace the Ranger. My friend gets 25 mpg towing a work trailer with his Sprinter going to and from job sites.
  10. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    What's with the need for unlimited mileage? 100 miles/day is pretty good, and would serve about 80% of the market 90% of the time. How many KW are we talking about to charge for 100 miles?
  11. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    But if you can only afford one car, then what do you do the other 10% of the time?

    We also need better standards for how to measure range. They need to be publishing wost case ranges, not "up to" ranges.

    As far as kWh, the Chevy website says it's got a 27 kWh battery to make it go "up to" 40 miles. At my electric rates (10.64 per kWh), that's about $3 to go "up to" 40 miles, whereas with $4 gas it's more like $5. For the $10,000 premium in car price (30,000 after tax for a volt, compared to $20,000 for some other car) you can buy 2500 gallons of $4 gas, which is enough to drive 75,000 miles at 30 mpg.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Actually it might be more like $2 recharge cost. You can't deplete the battery 100%. I haven't driven a Volt yet, but if it works like Toyota hybrids, in that 40+mi. the generator may have already kicked in at times when needed like heavy acceleration, going up a mountain, low battery, etc. So maybe more like $2 worth of electric and .50 of gas. We'll have to see. But there are other savings not being accounted for. Because of regenerative braking, brakes can last 2-3x as long as regular ICE cars. There are no belts to replace. The whole system should be lower maintenance cost over its lifetime. Then there is the cost to the environment. If the Volt is cleaner than the current generation of hybrids like the Prius, the total emissions over the life of the vehicle should be significantly lower, perhaps by order of a magnitude.

    As for the pure electric vehicles, this too will develop as infrastructure gets standardized and built. The Leaf is just the first of many. In some countries they are trying out a fast exchange battery pack to extend range. You pull into a station stall, kind of like a car wash, it drops out the battery pack and replaces it with a fresh one in about 5 minutes. In the west they are installing charging stations along the I5 corridor. There is a cool company that has developed a super-capacitor to work in conjunction with the battery pack. The capacitor provides extra punch and distance and charges very quickly.

    But ideally, you will not need the long distance car very frequently. A car sharing system was developed out here and now is all across the country that allow flexible usage of a car. You show up at a pickup point, use the car and only pay for the hours needed, not for the hours it sits in a parking lot. http://www.zipcar.com/
  13. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    There are other costs, too. How many charges will the battery take, and how much does a new one cost?

    I like the ZipCar idea, especially for people in urban cores. It's another thing that, like electric cars, might work well for a lot of people. At the moment, I'd need to drive 180 miles to get to a zip car location, which kind of defeats the purpose ;-) But I could see how in ten to 20 years there might be one within 40 miles.

    I really don't think there's going to be any single, unified, solution. There's going to be a lot of little ideas and a few medium ones, each of which contributes.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    So far there have not been a lot of battery replacements on the Prius until they get into some high miles (over 150K miles). I am told the cost is about $2.5K by the dealer minus $200 for exchange of the old one. By then you are going to have to do a couple timing belt replacements, several brake jobs and full tuneups on a regular car. Both the Prius and Volt offer an 8yr/100K warranty on the battery. Considering the higher resale value of a good hybrid, I think it balances out pretty well. As far as emissions go, it's a no brainer.

    Agreed, there is no one shoe fits all solution. That's the same reason we have a truck. There's no way I am doing dump and wood hauling runs in the Prius. But if there was a local coop where I could use a truck several times a year like with the zip car, I might forgo ownership.
  15. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    I go camping three times a year and I'd love to be able to rent a truck to pull the camper!

    As things stand, I'm probably looking at replacing the Ranger with either an Explorer or a Honda Pilot, because the Ranger really isn't made for pulling a 3000# camper.

    I'm not looking forward to burning the gas though.

    I've looked at the idea of having both a truck for towing and a fuel efficient car for commuting, but between the insurance and the registration it's cheaper to put gas in a truck than to have two cars.

    My wife points out it would be even cheaper to sell the camper and just drive a small car, which is true, as far as it goes, but I look forward to my camping trips. She's driving a CRV right now. It's not particularly fuel efficient. She was initially interested in a Prius, but after she sat in it she decided it wasn't comfortable enough.

    For a while I was thinking about the idea of riding a bicycle to work. It's 35 miles, which is kind of far. It would only be possible in the summer because it would be too dangerous where I live to ride a bike after dark. The problem I can't get past though, is the weather -- too many thunderstorms.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It looks like Dupont has come up with a way to significantly improve lithium battery output and reliability. This technology should start showing up in 2011, they're building the first plant now.

    http://tinyurl.com/24rplj8
  17. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    That golf TDI can tow 1000 lbs. I haul a little less than a face cord with mine frequently, and it doesn't strain a bit. It is my small car and truck.

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