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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Engine efficiency (was Re: Origin of 55 MPH Speed Limit?)
Date: Thu, 27 May 2004 13:34:00 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 26 May 2004 22:05:07 -0400, Sandy A. Nicolaysen <>

>>You can't do anything to dramatically improve the fuel efficiency of
>>today's internal combustion engines. If you actually COULD do that,
>>and PROVE IT, you'd be filthy rich almost overnight.
>Agreed!  :)
>>Will Sill
>- Sandy

Wrong again, as usual.  A casual review of the industry publications would
show just how wrong our resident "engineer" is.

One example is cylinder deactivation, a technique involving shutting down
cylinders during low power demand regimes.  Within the next year all major
manufacturers will have one or more models of vehicles using cylinder
deactivation.  In an article I got from my clipping service just this morning,
Honda reported getting 27.3 mpg in the EPA cycle from their 3.0 liter Inspire
engine using cylinder deactivation, up from 21.9.  This almost 1/3 increase in
mileage certainly qualifies as "dramatic".  Here's the article

Hybrid electric/ICE combos will make an even more dramatic difference.  There
are several recent developments that will likely make it to the production
line in the next couple of years.  First is the development of large, low cost
and reliable LiIon batteries.  Thundersky of china is offering LiIon batteries
cost-competitive with lead-acid but with about 3 times the energy density and
a third the weight.  Several people in our EV group have purchased some of
these batteries and are reporting excellent results.  The most severe
remaining limitation is discharge rate.  LiIons don't like to be discharged at
much more than 1C.  Enter the ultra-caps to address this problem.

Maxwell has just introduced a new generation of small but very high capacity
ultra-capacitors.  These have enough energy storage capability to provide, at
the least, the power necessary for acceleration in a hybrid.  They're close to
being able to replace batteries as the primary storage medium.  A combination
of ultra-caps and LiIon batteries, the former providing the high current
surges and the latter providing very dense energy storage, looks to make pure
EVs practical and cost-competitive with gas cars.

Other technologies are available to further improve the efficiency of the ICE
when the market is ready to pay for them.  Things that come to mind include
exhaust heat recovery using absorption refrigeration, stirling engines and/or
low temperature steam turbines.  The latter two are especially appealing for
hybrid engines where the heat recovery engine can run at a speed and load
commensurate with the available heat.  This is all mature technology with
components available off-the-shelf.  The only impediment is cost.  The cost
will, of course, tumble when automotive engineers get through wringing out
every excess penny of cost and when production is ramped up to automotive

The biggest problem I see with getting these technologies to the market is, as
usual, government meddling.  It is tragic that literally billions are being
spent on the DOA "hydrogen initiative", money that could be much better spent
refining existing and near-availability technology.  Bush was sold a bill of
goods on hydrogen, a "technology" that no one outside those feeding at the
trough consider viable.  Even the radical green weenies realize that hydrogen
(and fuel cells) is a loser, as the production of requires either converting
natural gas or very inefficient electrolyzing of water.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Engine efficiency (was Re: Origin of 55 MPH Speed Limit?)
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 01:37:42 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 27 May 2004 12:51:32 -0700, wrote:

>We still are re-inventing the wheel.  We have a '94 Fleetwood Cadillac
>that got 26 mpg traveling at 65 mph from Sacramento to Portland,
>which, as most know is not the flattest stretch of highway as you have
>to climb through the Siskiyous. On a previous round trip from
>Sacramento to Hutchinson, KS and return we averaged 23+ mpg and that
>was transiting the Sierras and the Rockies both ways and traveling at
>average speeds of 75 to 80 mph. I am sure that the  Fleetwood is much
>larger and more comfortable than the Honda Inspire.

And my mom's Lincoln LS gets about 50 mpg (according to the dash display) on
level ground at 65 mph.  Irrelevant to anything in particular, as is your
report.  When you put your piglet on the dyno and run the EPA highway cycle,
the mileage is a bit different than yours.

The EPA cycle is far from perfect but it has one thing that makes it important
- it is the only test against which any two vehicles can be compared.  Quote
your piglet's EPA highway mileage and let's see how it compares to the
Inspire's numbers.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Engine efficiency (was Re: Origin of 55 MPH Speed Limit?)
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 02:20:01 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 27 May 2004 18:54:12 -0400, Sandy A. Nicolaysen <>

>John:  All of those ideas may have merit, but unfortunately for me
>none of them apply to my current tow vehicle.  Given the current
>ancient technology that I am dealing with, how do I squeeze the most
>distance out of old-fashioned dino-juice?  Hence my original post
>about what is so magic about 55 MPH saving fuel.

I changed the Subject line reflect this thread veering off from your question.
Nonetheless, tell me a little about your tow vehicle and I may be able to
help.  The "may" qualification depends mainly on whether your vehicle uses a
PCM that I or others have hacked so that it can be reprogrammed.

I'm doing some fairly impressive economy work on my 94 Caprice 9C1 right now.
I have the source code for the PCM and the ability to reprogram the PCM so the
tuning is very easy.  I also have a pair of wide band oxygen sensors plumbed
in that lets me examine each cylinder's mixture far lean of stoich.

Mileage improvements over what the OEM did is easy if mileage is your primary,
overriding goal.  The OEM's overriding goals are first, emissions compliance
and two, meeting the federal CAFE requirements.  Neither have much to do with
on-the-road results.  If I don't have to meet emissions standards,
particularly NOX, I can do wonders with mileage.  I've spent hours in a major
domestic manufacturer's emissions lab (sorry, non-disclosure agreement in
effect so I can't name names) working in this area so I'm speaking from

An example of what simple little changes can do, I more than doubled the
real-world mileage (miles traveled/gallons of gas used over a period of time)
of my then-new '79 El Camino with a simple set of modifications:  Remove the
cat (the old pebble bed cats were awful, unlike modern honeycomb ones) and
bleed air into the intake under the control of an analog computer that also
controls timing via controlling the vacuum advance.  The algorithm is quite
similar to what modern PCMs do - at cruise lean the mixture to the edge of
combustion stability and control the spark to control detonation.  This system
was tuned to a specific drive cycle - my 60 mile one-way drive to and from
work.  I could have done much better with a digital controller but
microcontrollers just weren't there yet.

Admittedly the old El Kabong was a worst case example.  The 79 year model had
about the worst emission controls and the worst mileage.  This was when
Detroit was trying all sorts of jerry rigs until they could bring EFI online.
But I've done similar work on other vehicles with similar, if not quite as
good, results.

There was a company whose name I can't recall who marketed a similar kit in
the late 80s and early 90s.  This kit contained an air bleed valve, a narrow
band oxygen sensor, a digital control unit and a simple oxidation catalyst.
The system could be added to almost any gas engine.  The system's function was
very simple - bleed in enough air to keep the mixture at stoich as much of the
time as possible, thereby allowing the cat to work.  The kit improved both
mileage and emissions.  I tested an example during the PE mag days and found
it to work as advertised.

>I admit I haven't tried fuel line magnets, fuel additives, fancy
>exhaust pipes, etc.  But after following this newsgroup for nine years
>now, one method works, wich was proved to me this past weekend.  I am
>now a firm believer of Will's "Slow yer leadfoot a$$ down!" method of
>saving fuel.  Tomorrow I am traveling 175 miles to Knoebels Groves in
>Elysburg PA along I-80.  This is a more hilly route than the flatlands
>of southern NJ.  I still plan to keep my speed down, but since I'll be
>in the hills, I'm going to "work the terrain" as the truckers do.  I'm
>willing to bet money that I'll see improvements in fuel mileage.  I'll
>post the results early next week when I get back.  If this experiment
>is successful, then this method of travel will become my norm until
>fuel prices come back down.

I fully expect you to see a significant improvement if you're willing to live
with the degradation in the enjoyment of the trip and the hassles of "working
the terrain".

In fact, if you like that kind of travel, an automated solution is just around
the corner - or may already be here.  A couple of years ago when I was at the
Nashville Peterbilt factory I was shown a new system that was supposed to
significantly increase the economy of Class 8 trucks.  In effect, a
terrain-aware cruise control.  This system contains a GPS receiver, terrain
maps and an interface to the engine's PCM.  The system allows the fleet
manager to optimize the amount of power and speed available to the driver
depending on terrain.  When the GPS sees an oncoming hill the system
temporarily allows more power and speed so that the driver can do a "run up"
to the hill.  With the use of data collected from the fleet and some PC-based
software, the profiles can be optimized to the fleet manager's goals.  If
maximum economy is the goal then the truck performance envelope will be
controlled to that goal regardless of how fast the driver wants to go.

If your tow vehicle's engine happens to be a Cat or a Detroit, the system
should be available now.

Personally, I'll forgo the last bit of economy so that I can set my cruise,
sit back and enjoy the ride.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Engine efficiency (was Re: Origin of 55 MPH Speed Limit?)
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 03:02:40 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 28 May 2004 03:30:47 GMT, <> excreted:

>In article <>,
> says...
>> Other technologies are available to further improve the efficiency of the ICE
>> when the market is ready to pay for them.  Things that come to mind include
>> exhaust heat recovery using absorption refrigeration, stirling engines and/or
>> low temperature steam turbines.  The latter two are especially appealing for
>> hybrid engines where the heat recovery engine can run at a speed and load
>> commensurate with the available heat.  This is all mature technology with
>> components available off-the-shelf.  The only impediment is cost.  The cost
>> will, of course, tumble when automotive engineers get through wringing out
>> every excess penny of cost and when production is ramped up to automotive
>> levels.
>> The biggest problem I see with getting these technologies to the market is, as
>> usual, government meddling.  ........
>> John
>The biggest problem with getting these technologies to the market is, as
>usual, the efficiency limits defined by thermodynamics vs cost.
>Of course that is a subject that you do not understand.
>Everything looks simple when you have no clue!

Must be a lot of other folks who don't have a clue either, then.  I attended a
workshop at the National Transportation Research Center in Oak Ridge a year or
so ago.  At that workshop were prototypes exploiting everything I mentioned
above.  Absorption-based air conditioning, stirling engine driven AC
compressors and generators, low temperature turbogenerators driven by exhaust
heat.  Why, I even took some pictures!

There were even some technologies that I didn't mention, things like phase
change refrigeration and motor/generator equipped turbochargers.  The latter
technology involved using polyphase brushless DC motor technology to spool up
the turbo for better throttle response and then to convert to generator mode
to extract electrical power from the exhaust stream.  Sufficient power to
operate a cabin comfort heat pump and electrically assisted power steering and
brakes.  Or in one instance, feed useful power back to the drivetrain via a
BLDC motor embedded in the flywheel that also served as the starter.

All this stuff was on actual running vehicles that one could drive (in some
cases) or be driven around in.  Most of this technology was displayed on Class
8 trucks.  That market can absorb the cost more easily than the passenger
automotive one plus there is plenty of room for the hardware.

On the gas engine side there was an interesting new/old sparkplug technology
being demonstrated.  This involves an annular gap plug (like the old
Plasma-fire plugs of the 60s) with a magnetic field applied to the gap area
and RF high voltage drive.  They called it a "magentron plug" because the high
frequency drive and the magnetic field caused the discharge to rotate at high
speed like inside a magnetron tube, presenting a conical sheet of electrical
discharge.  This "sheet of fire" allowed the ignition of significantly leaner
mixtures than with a conventional plug.

They had two identical engines running side by side on dynos, the only
difference being the ignition system.  The data logging system was set up to
display real time and average BSFC for each engine.  The plasma engine showed
significantly better BSFC.

here's a photo of part of the poster used during the presentation.  The other
half was too out of focus to read at net resolution.

Honda engineers worked on a similar system, and published a paper that let me
duplicate the system back in the 70s.  They and I missed only the magnetic
field.  I worked with commercially available surface gap plugs.  The results
were promising but with the state of miniaturization back then, not practical
on a racing vehicle, my interest.

>Of course that is a subject that you do not understand.
>Everything looks simple when you have no clue!

Actually the problem is that I have to dumb down my writing so far for people
of limited technical skills such as yourself that I occasionally make clerical
mistakes.  I'm just thrilled to have you here yapping and biting at my ankles,
keeping me straight on such details.  Lucky for you I have a spell-checker,
eh?  Your name-calling does get a bit tedious, though, and sends your
credibility quotient tumbling toward zero.

John the clueless (harf!!!)

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Warped EPA Mileage Testing on Hybrids
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 04:29:52 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On 28 May 2004 04:09:23 GMT, janorme99@aol.comnojunk (Jan Eric Orme) wrote:

>I think the hybrid cars are a good start at solving some problems that stupid
>mandates like California insisting on electric cars a few years back, did not
>address. But I also think that EPA is playing stupid mind games that don't
>serve the public well AT ALL! Reporting that the EPA test mileage on a car is
>47.5 mpg when it really only averages 36 mpg in the REAL WORLD is NOT serving
>us citizens well. Their propaganda is just that! Propaganda! Typical bureaucrat
>bullshit! They want you to buy hybrids!

That whiney-assed article made the rounds of the EV lists a couple of weeks
ago.  Typical comments from Prius owners was that the only way they could
achieve that low a mileage was with the parking brake on.  The people driving
primarily highway routes are reporting mileage in the 60s.

>In other words, you can just realize that the EPA dolts are lying sacks of
>They could be straight with us! But no......they have no respect for average
>Like I said, I think the cars are a good start. But they obviously are not
>anywhere near all the hype we see. If they drop the price to very near a
>standard car and stop their lying bullshit I might be interested.

Careful there, Jan, your ignorance is showing.  Here is some info to help
minimize your ignorance coefficient.

The EPA tests they way they do because that is what Congress mandates.  Anyone
with more than a fraction of a clue regarding EPA published mileage numbers
knows that the numbers bear little relationship to real-world results.  What
the EPA reported numbers do allow is the comparison of vehicles tested under
identical conditions.  While the absolute numbers are rather meaningless,
their comparison IS.  If "A" vehicle gets better EPA mileage than "B" vehicle
then it will also show better economy on the road.

It would be both dump and meaningless to change the procedure for hybrids
because changing the procedure changes the meaning of the numbers.  That would
make it impossible to compare EPA numbers for hybrids against conventional

The reason for the procedures as well as the results of testing all model cars
for 2004 is contained in "The mileage guide", available here:

Before you knee-jerk and yell for a different procedure, perhaps you ought to
familiarize yourself with what is done now.  Here are some informative URLs.
You might want to spend some time with the last one.  This is 40CFR86, the law
and regulations that govern vehicle emissions and the testing.  This one is
sure to make your head spin.

If you come to the conclusion that all this stuff is obscenely and excessively
complex, then I agree.  But this is what you get from years of uninformed
citizens screeching for "clean air" without knowing a thing about what it is
they speak.  Congress's attitude - and by extrapolation, the EPA's - is "give
'em what they want even though it makes cars cost as much as small houses."


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Engine efficiency (was Re: Origin of 55 MPH Speed Limit?)
Date: Sat, 29 May 2004 01:32:03 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 28 May 2004 07:00:00 -0700, wrote:

>You can believe the government if you want. The figures I gave were
>determined the old fashioned way, i.e. the amount of gas used for the
>miles driven. Both were for multiple tank fulls, not the one time shot
>that some folks use.

Of course, you verified the calibration of your odometer and used only pumps
with recent calibration stickers.  I thought I was getting fantastic mileage
on my new GMC/Izuzu diesel delivery van.  At least a couple of mpg better than
anyone I talked to reported.  When I put the GPS receiver in the truck and
compared it to the speedometer I understood why.  The speedometer is way
optimistic.  The fleet owner probably changed rear end gearing for his
application and didn't have the speedo recalibrated.

I suppose I could have followed in your footsteps, put blind faith in the
speedo and reported numbers that would have made me look foolish.  I prefer a
more enlightened course.

>Normally no vehicle lives up the claims made by
>the EPA testing. This one has actually proved to be better.

*sigh* If you'd followed those links I'd posted you'd realize just how wrong
you are.  Particularly since EPA changed the measurement technique in '85 or
thereabouts, again, discussed in the material I pointed you toward.  In any
event trying to compare your anecdotal numbers to EPA testing is meaningless.
>But, what so I know. You kids know so much more than your seniors.
>You must not be a native southerner. Most that I have known were
>taught to respect their elders.

Born and raised right here in Cleveland.  The DeArmonds came to Bradley county
in the early 1800s, after coming to the New World from Scotland to South
Carolina in colonial times.  Similar background on Mom's side.

My Mom taught me to show respect to people who have earned it and to be polite
to people until they demonstrate a reason to be otherwise.  You fit neither
category.  If you really are a geezer significantly older than me and we were
discussing this face to face I'd very politely tell you how full of sh*t you
are, followed by a "sir", then turn around and ignore you as not worthy of any
more wasted time.  If you want any respect from me you'll earn it.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Electric Cars/ Gas prices
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 20:40:35 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Not even close.  A good home-converted (not optimized) electric car
will run on from 200 to 300 watt-hours per mile. My little car falls
right in the middle of that range at 250 watt-hours per mile. Even if
you're paying 20 cents/kwh, some simple math will demonstrate the
fallacy of your claim.

Around here, residential electricity goes for about 6 cents/KWH.  A
little more simple math will show how much more economical an electric
is at that rate.  Even figuring in the cost of replacement batteries,
a highly subjective cost because of the wide range of life possible
according to how they're treated, an e-car can will still cost less
than half that of a gas equivalent to operate.

An electric car isn't suitable for everything, nor is it suitable as
the primary or only means of transportation.  But as an around-town
car, it can't be beat.  Over 90% of my trips are 5 miles one way or
less and for these, my little e-car with its 50 mph top speed and 30
mile range and overnight charging is perfect.  When I need to go
farther or if it's too hot or cold or if I have to haul something then
I get out the gas car or the truck.

The egregious stupidity of the True Believers among the e-car fans is
in trying to force an e-car to act like a gas car and do everything
well.  Ain't gonna happen, at least not in my lifetime.  Even with
modern battery advances, it still takes over 500 lbs of batteries
(closer to 1000 lbs of lead-acid batteries) to store the energy
equivalent of one gallon of gas.  It will be a true miracle if
batteries ever get good enough to store the equivalent of 5 gallons of
gas in the space available in a passenger car.  But 2 or 3 gallons'
equivalent is more than enough for most people's trips most of the

As for that movie and the claims that "they" killed the e-car, well,
if you believe that then I have this nice bridge in NYC that I'd like
to sell you.  "A chicken in every pot and a conspiracy under every
rock", right?


On 14 Jun 2006 20:04:21 -0700, "BobG" <> wrote:

>The catch is, if you run your electric car on retail electricity, the
>cost per mile is the same as the gas car. The electric company is
>generating electricity for 3 cents a KWH, selling it to their big users
>for 4 cents a KWH, and selling retail to us peons at 15 cents a KWH. So
>if you could generate your own electricity cheaper than 15 cents a KWH,
>you could squeak a little savings. Does anyone know why they charge
>500% more for the same stuff? Other than 'because they can'?? Its not
>'saving on the packaging material' I don't think.

From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Electric Cars/ Gas prices
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 21:11:02 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 18:04:17 -0400, "(PeteCresswell)" <x@y.Invalid>

>Per Pooh Bear:
>>*And* when the batteries can hold enough charge.
>>*And* when the batteries come with a decent life time and warranty.
>I suspect there's another factor: a sort of arms race vis-a-vis speed.
>Years ago, when I lived in Honolulu, there was this woman who was some sort of
>paraplegic - but also a saleswoman.   She worked her territory driving a
>standard golf cart - day-in-day-out for years.
>According to a newspaper article that quoted her, the only rub was the
>occasional automobile driver - angry because she could only make 35 mph.
>But the bottom line to me is that the technology is already there for extensive
>around-town use; the main problem is the driving environment.

Nope.  The problem, as usual, is the government and the zealots who
use it to try and force their beliefs on others.

The e-car isn't practical to manufacture and sell now for the simple
reason that government regulation makes it too expensive.  An e-car is
impractical as the primary vehicle but it is imminently practical as a
second vehicle for local commuting, errand-running and the like - what
most people do most.  The rub is that complying with the
government-mandated safety regulations and the "consumer protection"
(sic) regulations and the myriad of other laws runs the cost up so
much that most folks won't spend the money for this specialty car.

If a person could buy an e-car in the $5-10k range then, IMHO, e-cars
would jump off the showroom floors.  That's the kind of money that
many people could come up with from savings, from a second mortgage or
as a last resort, a car loan.  A little more than "mad money" but not
much.  OTOH, a person probably won't spend $20-30K on what amounts to
a specialty car with significant performance limitations.

There is no rational reason to force 47 air bombs and all the other
safety crap on a car that will never see an interstate or high speed
highway and will probably average no more than 30-35 mph over its
life.  A simple design right out of the 70s, with some engineered
crush zones, seat belts and the other basic safety gear is more than

The meddlers are the main obstacles in the way.  The True Believers
(TM), those bleary-eyed tree huggers, don't want this kind of e-car
because they want to force everyone into e-cars and that can't happen
with a limited performance specialty car.  The major OEMs don't want
that to happen because they don't want any competition from start-ups,
regardless of the energy source.  The politicians don't want it
because, well, they're politicians and would rather talk than actually
address problems.

One partial solution might be with the current buzz-word, plug-in
hybrids or PHEVs.  The idea here is to take a hybrid design such as
the Prius and add larger batteries and a battery charger such that
most trips can be done on battery power alone.  The gas or diesel
engine is there for longer trips and in case you mis-figure your trip

Under the current political conditions, this is probably as good as
it's going to get.  Government regulation will keep the cost up in the
high $20k, low $30k which means that the market will be relatively

I've built a budget version of this with my little car.  The
drivetrain is sized for around-town driving with a useable range of
about 30 miles.  I keep a gas generator onboard at all times for just
in case.  It isn't large enough to provide motive power so my car
isn't a true hybrid but I can park for half an hour and charge and
then drive home.  I've had to do that more than once.

In return for tolerating a very basic car with moderate speed and
range, no AC and heat only when I stick a propane heater in the
passenger seat, I have at most, $2500 in the whole setup.  That is
almost pocket change.  I expect to have to drop in a replacement set
of batteries about every 5-6 years at a cost of about $700.

My energy cost is about 1.5 cents per mile.  That's based on a few
thousand miles of instrumented operation and 6 cents/kwh.  I could do
a lot better with some drivetrain optimization, low rolling resistance
tires and low drag brakes but the economic ROI just isn't there.

Unfortunately, for the average guy without a shop full of equipment
and an EE degree, about the only choice is to find a competent
converter (finding one is a challenge in itself) who will convert a
gas car to electric for oh, $8-10k.  Few folks will go through the


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Electric Cars/ Gas prices
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2006 10:34:22 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On 17 Jun 2006 19:48:53 -0700, "Luke" <>

>I saw that movie mentioned above "Who Killed the Electric Car?" & it's
>excellent if for no other reason than it sparks dialogue & illustrates
>quite clearly that there ARE alternative sources of energy. Maybe the
>electric car isn't perfect but it's absolutely a step in the right
>direction & just as important is the fact that it was shredded for the
>sake of maintaining the oil industry's stranglehold on the energy
>market. I think some folks are missing the point...

You KNOW this fact based on a roger moore-type fictional account?
Strange, very strange.

I know that the mundane facts aren't nearly so interesting as a good
conspiracy theory but here are a few.  These are undisputed, most
available from press reports, the few that looked past the fluff.

* The EV1 was a research project that GM undertook to discover how
feasible it was to build a gas-like EV car. (result: it wasn't.)  Like
other experimental cars such as Chrysler's turbine car, it was never
designed for retail sale.  It was leased to selected customers so that
a fleet could be in the hands of users for long term testing.

* many parts of the car - the inductive charger and the battery packs
- were experimental and not up to consumer protection law standards.
In its delivered form it would have never have been sold to customers.
Some of the technology, the inductive charger for example, turned out
not to work so well.

* GM did not bow to media pressure and agree to sell the EV1s simply
because in today's litigious climate, especially for major car makers,
there was simply too much liability exposure from transferring title
of these experimental cars to the lessees.  (my opinion here) It is
well known that the same very leftist types who flocked to the EV1 are
also the types who flock to the product liability lawyers when things
don't go their way.  Given the flood of absolutely grotesque judgments
against car companies in the last few years for "shit happens" kind of
stuff, there is simply no way GM would take on that exposure.  As a GM
stockholder (oh my!) I'm glad that they didn't make THAT mistake on
top of all the others they've made in recent years.

* The lessees knew going in that they did not take possession of the
car and that it was only loaned to them at a subsidized lease rate.
Unfortunately again, the types drawn to this car are almost invariably
the "me, me, me, me now, me forever, only me" sort of people whose
word meant nothing and getting their way meant everything.

* As for not being "dedicated" to EVs, GM spent over a billion bux on
the EV1.  That was a pretty significant commitment.  This investment
proved that EV technology is not yet ready for prime-time, major
OEM-style.  That is, enough range and power to rival a gas car,
100,000+ mile "weld the hood shut" durability and reliability and
cost-competitive with the gas car.

* People like to cite the Ford Ranger EV and the RAV4 as examples of
EVs being sold by major manufacturers.  True but that is comparing
apples and oranges.  Both of these vehicles were very much more
"conventional", not much more advanced than what an advanced converter
would do.  Mostly off-the-shelf components.  Very much more limited
performance envelope.  Even these basic vehicles were not economically

Have you ever stepped back and taken a look at what you and the movie
makers are saying and realized just how stupid it sounds?  "That major
manufactures would not make a product that 'everybody' wanted just
because they didn't want the technology to succeed?".  And even worse
"Big oil killed it.".

Knock, knock.... Helloooooo, is any intelligence in there?  Car
companies have a long history of building just about anything they can
make money on, and a few that they didn't.  Take those crazy finned
cars of the fifties.  Or take the Vega as a bad example.  Car company
managers are, above all else, slaves to the stockholders.  Their
charters are to make money and if they can make money building and
selling hydrogen peroxide powered unicycles, that they will do.

About "big oil".  The major oil companies have their fingers into
every aspect of the energy biz, from petroleum products to solar cells
to wind turbines to batteries to motors.  They have the money to GET
into any market they're not already in if they see a profit potential.

Just like any other industry, what "big oil" does NOT want to do is to
be forced to do stupid and meaningless things with no potential for
profit.  Things such as the bleary eyed tree-hugging econazis have on
their agendas.

Oil companies, like any other company, also has to look at the overall
feasibility of the proposed technology.  Hydrogen economy?  How'd that
work in the real world.  Distribution system?  Production in
sufficient quantities to matter?  Source of the original energy
(hydrogen is merely a transport mechanism - like electricity - and not
a source of energy.)

Pure EVs?  How will they be powered?  What distribution system?  The
existing power network is overloaded to the breaking point as it is.
How will that power be generated, given the near-impossibility of
siting large power plants.  Vacuous flip answers like "off peak
charging" don't work here because these guy actually have to DO it
instead of talk about it, and the consequences of not DOING correctly
it are rather severe.

>the point is that
>this oil/gas thing is NOT working & those who gain from the use of it
>seem to me to be dark-eyed, short-sighted profiteers & we keep it going
>because it's convenient.

Not working?  Until last year petroleum fuels were at an all-time
record low price in constant dollars and still is in an all time high
of availability.  That's the very definition of "working". Even at
today's prices, gasoline has barely kept up with inflation over the
last 30 years or so.  That is remarkable in the extreme, given the
heaping stinking mounds of regulation and prohibitions that have been
piled on the industry during that period.

>Clare makes a good point about the limitations
>but we are crippled moreso by our dependency on oil than by where it
>gets us. Take the train until we figure it out. Sacrifice. The key
>action is to shut down oil...

Crippled? You use such silly words.  Of course, given your last two
sentences, no surprise.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Electric Cars/ Gas prices
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 11:40:10 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 05:03:52 +0100, Arthur Dent
<> wrote:

>clare, at, wrote:
>> On Wed, 21 Jun 2006 21:46:08 +0100, Pooh Bear
>> <> wrote:
>> AC induction motors have no brushes or commutators and with inverter
>> technoilogy are simpler to control speed and power on.They also tend
>> to be lighter for the same power. They produce less EMI and are
>> quieter than a PWM controlled DC motor. They are also cheaper to
>> produce. For starters.
>Thanks for the info. Getting rid of brushes alone has to be very sensible.
>I'm surprised more ppl don't use them then !

Brushed motors are reliable, simple and cheap, as are their
controllers.  For many applications, including low priced EVs, those
features override the benefits that AC motors bring to the plate.

Controllers are dramatically more expensive for AC motors.  A 3 phase
motor requires, at the absolute minimum, 6 power semiconductors, two
for each phase.  A clever DC controller designer can get away with as
few as 1.  Two for an efficient design.  The power semiconductors, the
housings for them and the cooling thereof still dominate the cost of
the controller and probably always will.

To see the economic-driven trends in a large industry, one only need
look at the forklift industry.  DC motors have dominated, almost
exclusively, until only the last few years.  AC motors are making some
inroads, mainly in the largest lifts, but DC motors continue to
dominate.  The low cost, ruggedness and ease of repair all contribute
to this.

An AC machine makes the most sense when it is to be both a motor and a
generator, such as in the Prius.  Operating a DC machine as both a
motor and a generator is complicated (brush shifters, interpoles, etc)
and still causes one function to be much less efficient than the


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Info on inverter efficiencies?
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 14:52:15 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 14 Apr 2007 06:28:51 -0700, duh <> wrote:

>Here's the story.  PG&E has an article talking about using plug-in
>hybrids to save gas (and MONEY, but I'm doubting it), and to power a
>home in the case of a power outage.  They also want to use the hybrids
>as a power source to draw from in case of a brown-out or black-out, and
>pay the owner for the energy used.
>I'm thinking this is a lot of marketing way ahead of the economic
>feasibility, hoping it will increase the sales of the vehicles, drive
>down the cost, and then become feasible.
>I'm also thinking the auto manufacturers might void their battery
>warranties if used in this manner, like the Toyota 150,000 miles per
>battery warranty.  An article in the San Jose Mercury News says that a
>plug-in hybrid can store about 9 kwh, enough to power a home for 3+ hours.

Right on all accounts.  Remember that PG&E is the utility you think of
when you think "evil money-grubbing utility".  They've brought you
such nice things as blackouts and electricity rates that make drug
companies seem charitable by comparison.

If you want a few hours of standby power, you can get it for a HELL of
a lot less than the cost of a hybrid.  I don't know about Toyota but I
do Ford and since they're using the same NiMH pack, I bet their
policies are similar.  Touch the pack or the controls and lose the
warranty.  Plain as that.  Both companies have pushed battery
technology for the derived publicity.  To be able to offer that kind
of warranty requires that the battery be operated over a narrow range
of charge/discharge.  The PCM monitors and controls battery cycles and
logs each.  Tampering is easily detected and logged and is evident
service personnel.

The only people who should be considering these plug-in hybrid mods
are those who truly can absorb the cost of a failed pack or control
system.  One clue that you can't is if you had to finance the original
purchase.  PIHs are the playground of the idle rich (and people who
like to pretend with plastic) right now and probably far into the

I use one of several electric vehicles every day.  I also own a
conventional car, a truck, a motorhome, standby battery backup for my
house's vital loads and a standby generator, all bought for less than
what a bone-stock Prius costs.  The right tool for the right job. Just
like a Swiss Army knife doesn't do anything very well, so it goes with
trying to make a hybrid into something it wasn't designed for.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: The Golden Age of RV'ng is Over.
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2008 00:13:12 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 03 Jun 2008 00:54:02 GMT, Sandy A. Nicolaysen <>

>>>One guy recently reported that
>>>he'd ordered over $20,000 worth of LiIon traction batteries for his new EV
>>>project (on top of the $5k controller and $2k motor and $3-4k in misc parts)
>>>so that he could "ditch the pump".
>>Laugh at him all you want, but reducing demand on petroleum is the best
>>way to lower fuel prices -- or at least slow down the rate of increase.
>>I say more power to him <g>.

Since even the hobby's lobby, the EAA, only claims about 5000 EV drivers in
the US, the effect on petroleum demand of his profligate spending really isn't
enough to be called symbolism or even a publicity stunt, much less having any
actual effect.  Especially since probably 99.9% of the rest of us who drive
EVs get by with bog-standard "obsolete" golf cart batteries and AGMs at a tiny
fraction of the cost.

One other thing I should point out is this.  When he plugs that EV in to
charge it, that marginal energy demand will most likely be serviced by a gas
turbine generating plant burning either oil or natural gas.  You do realize,
don't you GB, that we are now importing natural gas too, the end result of The
Thirty Years War against all forms of electrical generation, but particularly
nuclear, that resulted in most new power plant construction of the last decade
or two being natural gas-fired.  So even if his conversion made personal
economic sense, it does not make "grid sense".

>>GB in NC

I know that it's become your life's mission to nip at my heals, GB, (should I
be honored or horrified or indifferent?) but really!  You ought to have at
least a scintilla of knowledge about what you snipe at.  Geez!

>John will accomplish the same result at about 5ยข on the dollar.

Man, I hope I don't spend that much!  I had about $1500 in my last car and in
a rush to sell off everything before going truck driving, I sold it for
$2,000.  Darn!  Now that I have the full resources of a >$50mil/year scrap
metal yard at my disposal :-), I hope to cut that by a huge chunk.  You simply
would not believe what companies are scrapping these days!

>Still, you need a source for electricity to recharge the batteries.
>This is not a cheap option here in NJ where PSE&G just increased rates
>13% as of June 1st.

Not really.  Here's the basic math.  A homemade EV will achieve a "mileage" in
the neighborhood of 300-400 watt-hours per mile.  Really slick factory EVs
like GM's EV-1 are down in the sub-200 range but we don't have millions to
spend on optimization.  Let's say you want a 100 mile range.  That's 400
watt-hours * 100 miles = 40kWh per discharge/charge cycle.  40kWh * (your
electric rate) * ~1.2 charge efficiency == your cost per 100 miles.

Let's say your electric rate is 10 cents per kWh.  40kWh * 0.10 * 1.2 = $4.80
dollars per 100 miles or about 5 cents per mile.  My rate is about 7.8
cents/kWh so my cost is correspondingly less.

That's a worst-case analysis.  Most folks do better than 400 watt-hours/mile.
Most are closer to 300 and a few who spend the extra money for things like low
rolling resistance tires dip a little below 300.

Of course, we have to figure in the cost of batteries.  A set of traction AGMs
is good for 2000 cycles or more if not discharged much below 40%.  The cost of
batteries varies so much depending on your source that I'm not going to do the
math but it's easy to see how.  My batteries should cost the 20 cents a pound
that scrap lead is currently bringing :-)  Most EVers kill their first pack in
a year or two. Then they put out the money for a purpose-designed charger,
don't run the pack completely down and maybe install a battery management
system.  Then they get 4 (wet) to as much as 8 years (agm) on a pack.

>If you charged your electric car from solar panels or a wind turbine,
>then it's a different story.
>I looked into a 6kw solar array.  Costs about $30,000 installed.  Way
>too pricey with gasoline at $4/gal.

Yep.  Hard to beat that nuclear power at a marginal generated cost of around
1.5 to 1.8 cents a kWh, even with all the cost over-runs that are in most rate
bases.  I'm lucky here in East Tennessee that most of my power is nuclear.
With nuclear sites on three sides and very stiff transmission lines emanating
from each, very little power from other sources flows into this area.  In
fact, I made up a sticker for my hotrod electric scooter

that says "This vehicle runs on Clean Nuclear Power".  Yeah, I get a few

Incidentally, that scooter has served most of my transportation needs for the
6 years that I've owned it.  With the 36 volt pack it'll go over 50 mph and at
a more reasonable speed for surface streets, will go 25-30 miles to a charge.
The Hawker Genesis AGM pack lasted all those 6 years until one battery finally
literally blew its top last week.

During that period I wore out 2 rear tires, one front tire, numerous brake
pads and one disc brake rotor.  Lots of miles.  I built a little trailer to
tow behind it, visible in this photo behind an earlier scooter.

In this picture I'm towing my bootie from the car show AND a range extending
battery.  I have a similar battery for the GoBig.  When I lived in Cleveland I
used the trailer when going to the food store and similar errands and even on
some in-town BBQ catering deliveries if they were small enough.

I have a 48 volt replacement pack in the marauding hands of UPS at the moment.
Coupled with a little change in gearing, I should achieve 55mph max speed and
a few more miles of range at more usual speeds.

An electric motor is just the opposite of a gas or diesel engine.  Its best
efficiency is at high speed, subject to mechanical limitations, of course.  So
the desire is to spin the motor as fast as possible.  That's what I'm doing
with the gearing and voltage change.  Of course, there will also be a "turbo"
button that bypasses the controller and puts the 48 volts directly to the
motor. :-)

On another note, I saw an announcement over the weekend that a company intends
to build an electric bulgemobile with an 800 mile range.  They claim to have a
$1million grant to work with, most of which will go toward batteries, I
suspect.  About 99.99% of all EV-related news releases are exagger/ strike
that, lies but still....

This isn't a completely outrageous proposal.  Energy economy is based
primarily on frontal area and drag, as we know from conventional RV
experience.  A large MH has far more room for batteries than, say, a large
pickup truck with the same frontal area and Cd.  They say they're going to use
Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries so the weight should be manageable.  I just
hope it doesn't "Do a Dell" :-(

I hope they pull it off.  Finally, a decent use for 50 amp hookups :-)  The
price of lithium batteries has to plunge as production ramps up.  Eventually
there'll probably be a small electric motorhome that would appeal to me and
lots of other folks.

Meanwhile, the only thing that will interfere with my EV construction plans is
if I find one of these reasonably priced

(the site isn't live yet but the photo is one of the best I've seen of the
critter.)  I've wanted one of those Corbin Sparrows since the first time I saw


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: The Golden Age of RV'ng is Over.
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2008 23:38:11 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 04 Jun 2008 02:21:41 GMT, Sandy A. Nicolaysen <>

>On Tue, 03 Jun 2008 00:13:12 -0400, Neon John <> wrote:

>John:  Thanks for the very cool pics!

You're welcome.

>I know a lot of small electric scooters are available now.  Heck, even
>Walmart sells them these days.

The Schwinn/Curie one that Sam's sells is actually a very nice scooter.  I
have an earlier model that is my backup.  Schwinn as well as ChiCom cloners
also make similar looking scooters with very low powered motors.  Make SURE
you get one that is >1kW and 36 volts.  If you get one, of course :-)

>If someone came out with an all-weather enclosed version, I would buy
>it for my 25 mile a WEEK commute to and from work.

They're available.  Google for electric Velomobiles.  Velomobiles are fully
enclosed bicycles or tricycles.  Add an electric drive and there you are!

Here's the first hit

If you have NO HILLS at all and/or don't mind pedaling fairly vigorously then
a 600 watt class electric assist will do.  Otherwise look for >1kW.  Hub
motors are particularly cool, since they require no mods to the bike itself.

Even if you don't get one that is self-contained enough to use in pouring
rain, it can still save you money on the majority of days where it isn't
raining hard.  I generally left my GoBig at home when it was raining hard but
if it was only threatening or lightly raining, I just put on my industrial
rain suit and away I went.  Only my head got wet and if that had mattered, I
could have worn a full face helmet.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Your electric car of the future.~~John
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2008 13:23:18 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 9 Jun 2008 05:02:42 -0500, (Leonard Abbott)

>John what is your opinion about adding electric power to the rear wheels
>of a standard 4 cylinder?
>You could use the extra power to accelerate. or use it to assist the
>engine, for better mileage.

That is what is called a "mild hybrid".  At least one company that I know of
is offering just such a kit.  It consists of an oversized alternator-looking
thing that replaces the standard alternator, some electronics and a small
battery pack.  It adds about 20 HP, as I recall.

It charges the pack during normal operation, especially during braking, and
then feeds it back during acceleration.  This is primarily a green-sounding
hotrod kit, designed to improve acceleration, though the ads try to wrap it in
the usual green BS.

I can't imagine it doing much to improve mileage.  True hybrids gain
efficiency by operating the engine only when necessary and then under optimum
conditions.  The Miller cycle engine in the Prius, for example, would be a
total dog in a conventional car.  No low-end torque to speak of.  That doesn't
matter in the hybrid, though, because that planetary gear set that combines
the electric and gas power acts effectively as an infinitely variable gearbox.

A mild hybrid, OTOH, still has the engine hard-geared to the road.  It must
turn at the same speed for a given road speed as before.  About all the
electric assist could do would be to add power to help overcome friction. Only
if that power is recovered during regenerative braking would it improve
efficiency and then it wouldn't be available for assisting acceleration.  This
would take different programming from what the kit comes with.

Sorry, I don't recall the brand name of the kit.  A little googling should
turn it up.  Look for "mild hybrid" and "electric power assist"

My approach to a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is a little different than the popular
one.  First off, I'm not going to pay 25 grand for a car small enough to be a
roller skate (Prius) and end up with a car that I can't modify - too much
embedded proprietary software.

My approach is a pure EV with a generator onboard.  This is a so-called series
hybrid while the Prius-style is a parallel hybrid.  Parallel because the gas
and electric motors work in parallel.

A typical generator with a utility-type engine isn't terribly fuel efficient
(though I'll improve it by adding my homemade EFI) by itself.  The key to
superb mileage is to size the batteries so that the generator is seldom used.
Almost an emergency "get home" system.

I've been using that system for years on my hotrod scooter.  I built a small
trailer that I tow behind the scooter for trips to the store and whatnot.  On
long trips that threaten to exceed the battery range, I set a small generator
on the scooter.  If my E-meter shows that my batteries are at the limit of
discharge, I simply crank the generator, wait a few minutes for the batteries
to accumulate some charge and then go on my way.

The conversion that I'm working on now, to be an S-10 pickup truck (I get all
the EV parts in hand before I acquire the vehicle), there will be a generator
in the truck bed, probably based on a small water-cooled car engine.  This
generator will be powerful enough to run the vehicle at moderate speed without
the batteries.

This architecture is probably LESS efficient than if the engine were driving
the vehicle directly.  The key is not having to use it very much.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Your electric car of the future.
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 17:40:17 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 07:11:25 -0500, Irregular <> wrote:

>Chris Hill wrote:
>> Not really.  In my area anyway, they've built natural gas peaking
>> plants to handle peak demand.  When demand drops they shut down.  Nat
>> gas is a much more expensive way to generate electricity, so calling
>> on these plants for more would just drive up the price.  Add to that
>> the fact that much of our electrical grid is way overdue for capacity
>> expansion and replacement of aging components, and you'll understand
>> why the idea of electric cars for the masses is foolish.

The environmental madness of the last decade or so has driven so much
generation capacity to natural gas that according to industry statistics that
I read in the trade press, almost half the total US consumption of natural gas
is now used to make electricity.  Note that I said "consumption" and not
production.  The US is now, amazingly enough, an importer of natural gas in
addition to oil.  We used to be a major EXPORTER.

Given natural gas's almost irreplaceable use in industry as a feedstock for
all kinds of synthesized chemicals and it's perfect fit for domestic and
industrial heating, it's crazy, lunacy actually, to burn it to make

So called "renewables" are a joke.  Consider this.  According to "Utility
Automation and Engineering" magazine in an issue dedicated to wind, there are
about 1200 megawatts total of wind generation in this country.  The popular
press will obfuscate the point by telling you how many houses that would run
(never did figure out the "house" unit of energy measurement.)

Here's the relevant point.  That is about the same as ONE large nuclear unit.
Not "plant" but unit in a plant.  Most have two units.  Some have three.  Some
in Europe have more.  That's also about the same capacity as 2 average coal
fired units.

One, count it, ONE new two unit nuclear plant would DOUBLE the output of ALL
those ugly and unreliable wind generators.  Currently, again according to the
industry press, nuclear generation costs about 1.2 cents a kWh.  That's using
the old, over-complicated, over-regulated and cost-overrun plants of the
previous generation.  Coal is just a little higher at about 1.4 cents/kWh.
Everything else is in the stratosphere in comparison.

Coal is going to rise dramatically in the next few years as the EPA, the
enforcement arm of the new state religion of environmentalism, forces plants
to install carbon sequestration equipment.  This is to capture that imagined
pollutant, carbon dioxide.  The hardware is very expensive and the BEST
estimates are that it will consume around 20% of the plant's output in energy
and revenue for chemicals and maintenance. The worst estimates are more than
double that. There is a veritable feeding frenzy going on in the industry as
contractors and equipment manufacturers prepare to harvest a bounty of
dollars.  From yours and my pockets, of course.

The environmental whacko chickens really are coming home to roost.  We're all
starting to pay for 30+ years of lunacy in the energy industry.  Every time
you read some puff article in the paper about this utility blowing money on
solar "demonstration" projects or that utility installing windmills, think

Alternative energy?                      $CHa-CHING$
"green" anything?                        $CHa-CHING$
Wind farms?                              $CHa-CHING$
PV farms?                                $CHa-CHING$
Time of day billing?                     $CHa-CHING$
carbon sequestration?                    $CHa-CHING$
protest against a new transmission line? $CHa-CHING$
Protest against a new power plant?       $CHa-CHING$

All the money to pay for this stuff comes out of the wage earners' - our -
pockets, whether it is directly via higher energy prices or indirectly through

A classic example of "Be careful of what you wish for, you might get it."

Oh, and electric cars for the masses?  Not a chance until the utility
infrastructure catches up from the last 30 years of being unable to do much of
anything in the way of expanding generating capacity and distribution.  Even a
1% market penetration of EVs would bring the grid to its knees.

As for the tired and worn claim that "we'll all charge at night", consider
this.  You have an electric car with a 150 mile range.  Doable in the
foreseeable future.  You've been instructed and maybe learned by killing a
battery pack, that you don't discharge it much below 60-70% if you want it to
last.  You've commuted to work and back, run your errands and arrived at home
at 5PM with 100 miles on the clock.

Wifey comes out and says, "I feel lousy tonight and I don't want to cook.
Let's drive to town and eat dinner."  Sounds good.  The round trip to town
where you want to eat is 30 miles.  What do you do?

Do you run the batteries down that far?  Do you risk something coming up that
causes you to detour to somewhere else that requires even more miles?  Or do
you hook up your fast charger and pump 50-80 miles' worth of electricity into
the pack while you shower and get ready?

I know what I'd do.  Same thing most folks would do.  I'd hook that charger up
and let the utility strain a little harder to handle the evening peak.  If
there were a time of day surcharge, I'd either not have an electric car at all
or I'd still charge, knowing that I'd be a little poorer (and the utility
stockholders a little richer) as the consequence.

In the above scenario I didn't even try to factor in the fact that urban
driving GREATLY reduces an EV's range.  Even with really good regen, stop and
go driving might reduce that 150 mile range by half.

I love my electric vehicles but I know that with the present state of the
utility grid, it is NOT a general transportation solution.  Not even a niche
solution.  OTOH, if the government gets out of the way and lets us do
neighborhood nukes....


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Your electric car of the future.
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 17:49:35 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 10:02:12 -0700, RW Salnick <> wrote:

>> So what, if the car is used for short hauls as I suggested it is not an
>> issue. The average commute is less than 30 miles,
>> my wife's is less than five.
>Ever drive a VW Beetle in the winter?  You need to keep a scraper handy
>to take the frost off the *inside* of the windshield.  Not many soccer
>moms are going to think that is acceptable today...

Only the most (fool)hardy EV folks go without heat.  The bleary-eyed zealots
use electric heaters that reduce range.  More rational folks like me use
propane, gasoline or diesel.  Or a combination. Not to worry.  Soccer mom can
put away her scraper.

For both AC and heat the EV is even better than a gas car.  With the vehicle
still hooked to the charger, the heat or AC can be activated (automatically,
remotely or manually) BEFORE starting the trip so that the climate is just
right when you start out.  It costs you nothing in range.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Your electric car of the future.
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2008 00:40:07 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 15:16:33 -0700, RW Salnick <> wrote:

>> For both AC and heat the EV is even better than a gas car.  With the vehicle
>> still hooked to the charger, the heat or AC can be activated (automatically,
>> remotely or manually) BEFORE starting the trip so that the climate is just
>> right when you start out.  It costs you nothing in range.
>> John
>Now that last is a great idea.  When I was driving my VW van in the
>Inland Northwest in the winter, the propane-fired catalytic heater was
>way too small to help the helpless hot air heater from the engine.  But
>an electric pre-heat would be a good start.  Are the EV motors so
>efficient that they produce no useful heat?

Yep.  Always have been.  Rule of thumb.  It takes a thousand pounds of lead
acid batteries to go the same distance as a gallon of gas in the same vehicle.
Many EVs carry the equivalent of less than a gallon of gas's worth of energy.
We don't squander that on heat!  In the motor or otherwise.

There are other strategies to supply heat in EVs.  Phase change media, for
example.  Fancy term for something that melts while absorbing heat and freezes
to release it.  Phase change involves a LOT more energy than just heating and
cooling a substance.

Paraffin is a commonly used phase change storage material.  It is available in
formulations with a wide range of melting points.  It's also fairly light, an
important point in an EV.

The idea is that there is a container somewhere in the car that contains the
phase change substance and come mechanism to input and extract the heat.  Say,
hot water.  When the EV is plugged in, an electric heater melts the stuff.
Then when you're driving, the stuff slowly freezes, releasing its heat at a
constant temperature - the stuff's freezing temperature.

A 5 gallon container of paraffin will hold enough heat for a typical commute
in a small well insulated car.  It is only fractionally as dense as water so
it's quite light, relatively speaking.

On the AC side, a good phase change media is water.  Freeze a tank of water at
night using electrical refrigeration and use its melting to provide air
conditioning during the drive.

Phase change media may not be able to provide all the heating and cooling
needed (I don't know until I do the math) but it can sure augment whatever
other heat source and cooling sources that are available.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: The Wave of the Future! Mark
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 18:18:08 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 08:57:37 -0500, Irregular <> wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>> Or go public and fool a bunch more gullible people before you
>> split.  Exhibit A: Tesla Motors.
>I like the common sense stuff you post. I enjoy reading your posts. This
>is the first time I've read something of yours that don't sit right with
>me, thus the little prod:
>Elaborate please.

Sure, glad to.

First, go through this series of articles.

Then read these.

Note several important things.  First, the financial analysis in one of the
later Birth Watch articles.  Even if everything went perfectly according to
Tesla's stated plan, the company could not possibly profit.

Second, note the bringing of Larry Sonsini, scandal-tainted (TTaC's term) wall
street shark onto the board.  I share the opinion of TTaC that this move is to
put a little more lipstick on this pig before foisting it off on even more
gulible investors.  Or to liquidate the company, depending on the outcome of
the hype.

Third, the few technical details that have leaked out of Tesla make me want to
cry.  What engineering incompetence!  The transmission fiasco is just the most
recent.  As TTaC notes, there apparently isn't an engineer among 'em with
actual automotive industry experience.

Last but certainly not least, note that they're STILL not >manufacturing<
cars.  Hand-assembled prototypes, even if production-ready prototypes don't

And then there is the secrecy.  Secrecy is used when either you have some
really nifty technology that you want to exploit or you have something to
hide.  Tesla has no nifty new technology to protect so that leaves the other
choice.  Even their vaunted lithium battery pack is nothing technically

Like building a house out of toothpicks, the process of gluing several
thousand laptop batteries together is straightforward if you have the
patience.  The motor and inverter is straight from AC Propulsion.  Yeah,
they've tinkered around with it a little but that doesn't matter much.  The
glider chassis is from Lotus.  Nothing new there.  Not much else left to

Note that TTaC isn't "just a website".  It is a true web-based magazine with
as many connections, sources and famous writers as any paper rag.  My
favorite, of course, is the legendary Brock Yates.  I utterly despise the blog
format but I suffer through it because the content is so good.

That leave hiding what is NOT there.  My opinion is that what is NOT there is
the ability to assemble a kit car and get it out the door.  There is probably
a whole lot to hide on the financial side too but since I know little to
nothing about finances, I'll not comment.

In my limited understanding of the market, this looks like an extended time
scale "pump'n'dump" scheme to me.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Solar Power can now be stored?
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 2008 01:07:51 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 8 Aug 2008 14:50:02 -0500, "PecosBill" <>

>"Vince Wirth" wrote
>> "PecosBill" wrote:
>>>A typical "fully charged battery car" will give you about 40 to 60 miles
>>>range. That's the equivalent of driving around in a Prius with only
>>>in the gas tank.
>> Bill,
>> In my past life at JPL, I was assigned to investigate the feasibility
>> of Electric vehicles-EV- and have some basic knowledge of
>> the subject.
>> Your above statement reminded me of one fact that was the basic reason
>> for the slow to nonexistent acceptance of the EV. That fact was the
>> energy in one gallon of gas - 6 pounds - would need 1000 pounds of
>> lead-acid battery to store it.
>> Go to my EV page to see a picture of what 1000 pounds of battery looks
>> like;
>> This was way back in time but not much has changed because of the lack
>> of motivation - gas is cheap -.
>Thanks, Vince. I didn't know that JPL had messed around with electric

With all due respect, Vince (and I do have a lot), 30 year old data is pretty
meaningless in this context.  Everything from batteries to motors to tires has
changed a lot since then.

Let's take the good old Trojan T-105 battery that we all know and love.  About
as basic a lead-acid battery as there is.  The "105" designates the battery's
life in minutes at 75 amps.  Or it used to.  Improvements in the battery now
let the 75 amp life be 115 minutes
Not a huge increase but a significant one.

Vince, Let's consider what you did NOT have in 1980

Lithium batteries
Nickel-metal hydride batteries
sodium/sulfur batteries
power FETs
High performance variable frequency induction motors
Variable frequency drives - at least not outside the space program.
Rare earth magnets
Low Rolling Resistance tires.
Microprocessors with more than 8 bit capacities and clock speeds >4mhz
Large series motors designed for traction duty.
Large SEPEX motors designed for traction duty.
Large permanent magnet motors designed for traction duty.
Miniaturized vacuum breakers
Smart high speed battery chargers

You were no doubt working with the GE EV1 SCR speed controller because that
was about all that was commercially available then. It worked but was
significantly less efficient than modern FET or IGBT controllers. One of your
photos shows a GE motor designed for elevator work - not exactly an optimum
motor for traction use.

Your ton of lead-acid batteries is about 150 lbs of Lithiums at the current
state of the art.  Actually, nowadays, with better PbA batteries and motors,
the rule of thumb has changed to 1 gallon of gas is about equivalent to 750
lbs of lead.

My Citcar was made at about the same time (1976) and used a simple contact
controller.  The pack was split in halves.  Three speeds.  Half packs in
parallel through a resistor, half packs in parallel, half packs in series.  An
undersized GE motor and inefficient golf cart axle completed the package.

When I got the car, the mileage was in the 450 watt-hour per mile range.  I
cut that in HALF by simply upgrading the motor and installing a modern solid
state controller.  A whole bunch of the energy was being wasted as battery,
cabling and motor heat when over 1000 amps was slammed into a little motor
rated for about 80 amps.  I joked that the original motor was a heater that
also happened to turn.

At the time I sold the car I had planned the replacement of the motor with a
vastly more efficient variable frequency AC induction drive and axle which,
according to my calculations, should have put the efficiency in the 150-175
watt-hours per mile range.

A whole bunch of things have changed since 1980.

Two major reasons EVs why failed in the market in the past.  Cheaper'n bottled
water gasoline and cost.  Range was a secondary issue.  Even 30 years ago one
could achieve enough range to be practical (100-150 miles) using enough lead.
Several veterans whom I'm familiar with are still driving cars they built back

A third major factor was the smothering of the concept with eco-bullsh*t.  For
folks like me who haven't drank the Kool-aid, all that crap closed a lot of
minds and hid all the other positive attributes.  I don't care if the power
plant that fuels my EV burns used tires and lays a black cloud all the way to
California.  I'd still drive an EV because of all the other good stuff.

Cost was and is the biggie.  Nobody's going to pay $15-20,000 for a second
runabout car.  Well, no one except for the True Believers, of course.  Many
people would pay $5-8,000 for the same car.

Problem is, here in the US, practically alone in the world, it is impossible
to build an EV that cheap because the feds and the major car manufacturers
insist that these relatively low speed vehicles comply with all the various
safety regulations.  Air bombs and all that other rot that is inappropriate
and un-necessary for a vehicle that'll never see 60.

We came real close a few years ago with the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle
legislation.  The Big 2.8 pushed through the 25 mph speed cap at the last
moment as a means of killing that market before it developed.  Everywhere else
in the world including Europe, NEV-like cars that do 50 mph for 50 or 60 miles
are selling like hotcakes.

Here in the US, one can buy certain NEVs that with the snip of a wire, a turn
of a pot or a program change, remove the governor. Certain others come with 48
volt batteries but a 96 volt battery slides right in after the sale.

A major problem remains in that the car still has a low speed tag so an
aggressive fee-grabbing cop that clocks one doing over 25 mph can write a
ticket - even if the car isn't breaking the posted speed limit.  That's what I
liked about my Citi - it had a regular tag with no speed cap.  My hotrodded
one would do 50 mph for about 50 miles as it existed when I sold it.

I don't understand your hostility toward EVs, Bill.  I'm fairy sure you've
never actually driven a competently built one. Probably not any sort of EV at
all. Golf carts don't count. So why the strong feelings?

Perhaps it's the eco-bullsh*t that poisons the concept in your mind.  I
suspect that you and I despise the eco-nazis about equally.  But they're not
joined at the waist to EVs.  They're simply the cross that the technology has
to bear.  Just like nuclear power.

If I presented you with a $5-8000 runabout (motive power unspecified and
hidden) that would go 50-60 miles between refuelings and do so at a nickel a
mile or less, wouldn't you jump on it?  I certainly would.  Not a car to
replace your gas car but one to augment it.  If Congress lifted the speed cap
on NEVs today, exactly that car could be bought tomorrow.  It already exists
everywhere else in the world.

As far as the long charge interval that you complained about, Bill, that's a
thing of the past too.  With modern batteries, the charge rate is essentially
limited by the available power.  The Hawker/Enersys Genesis pure lead AGM
batteries that power my hotrod scooter are spec'd for a charge cycle as short
as 15 minutes.  I don't have a charger capable of supplying that much current
but I DO charge them in under an hour.  The Genesis has been around for at
least 20 years.

For larger vehicles, the charge rate is limited by grid considerations.  The
utility feed's ampacity and demand charges, that kind of stuff.  The charge
interval really doesn't matter when it happens while you sleep but it is nice
to know that a quick "opportunity charge" can be done as needed.

Meanwhile, if things go well, in about 6 months I'll be tooling around these
hills in my electric S-10 pickup, smiling as I pass by the gas pumps most of
the time.  In a few years when ChiCom-made lithiums become available at a
price I can swallow, I'll pass the gas pumps all the time.  There'll be a
sticker on the back like there is on my scooter that says "This vehicle runs
on nuclear energy" :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Solar Power can now be stored?
Date: Fri, 08 Aug 2008 17:18:44 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 8 Aug 2008 10:29:33 -0500, "PecosBill" <>

>> Certainly those of us in AZ have more extensive driving needs than
>> people in NYC.  I suspect a fully charged battery car would serve me
>> for a minimum of 4 days.
>A typical "fully charged battery car" will give you about 40 to 60 miles of
>range. That's the equivalent of driving around in a Prius with only 1-gallon
>in the gas tank. And that is going to last you 4 days??? That's hardly
>"extensive driving needs".

A car that will go 60 miles will last me a month.  The farthermost place I go
up here is a mile away.  That car would have lasted me a week in Cleveland, as
it is barely 5 miles from one end of town to the other.  Irrelevant, as anyone
who drives an EV for awhile learns to plug in every chance he gets.

>I wouldn't leave the driveway in a vehicle that
>I knew was going to go dead in 30 minutes, and take hours to "refill" when
>it did. I suspect to most Americans, that makes no sense at all (which is
>why no major manufacturer is today offering an electric vehicle).

GM has coined a term for your concern.  "Range anxiety".   The fear of being
stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery.  Like many anxieties,
there is a kernel of truth but mostly, the concern is overblown.  Nonetheless,
it exists.  That's why they're including a small engine generator in the Volt.

Back to current EVs.  One quickly learns how to deal with range anxiety.  I
never plan a trip farther than half my known range.  Others push the limit but
I'm conservative in that way.  My plans frequently get changed while I'm out
but by adhering to that rule, I have some wiggle room.  I also carry a
generator.  Just in case.  Never used it but it's there.  Just in case.

I've often said (and gotten poo-pooed by the True Believers) that the magic
number is 300 miles.  A person driving around town would be hard-pressed to do
150 miles in a day and still get anything done.  A 300 mile range complies
with my 50% rule.

GM's taking a different approach.  According to both government and academic
studies, over 90% of trips are shorter than 20 miles in length (or something
like that, I'm not sure of the exact number.)  In the Volt, GM is including
enough battery capacity to drive around 40 miles.  That'll cover 90+% of most
people's daily driving.  If the trip lasts more than about 40 miles, the
control system seamlessly cranks the small engine that propels the car in a
series hybrid configuration and charges the batteries when excess electricity
is available.

Even if a Volt-like car can't satisfy your daily commute, which would you
rather have?  A gas-powered car that probably gets less than 50mpg or a series
hybrid that only uses the fuel engine for a short portion of the trip?  I'll
take the series hybrid any day.

The conversion that I'm working on right now will be like that.  This is my
"going to town" car (truck, actually, as it'll be an S-10 conversion).  Round
trip to town and back is about 50 miles.  About 80 to the nearest
Wallyworld/grocery store.

I'm not willing to spend the money for enough batteries to go that far.  So
there'll be a small engine-generator in the back, highly optimized for single
speed operation, that will a) charge the pack while I'm inside shopping and b)
pick up the load when my batteries are depleted to a certain level.

I'll do most of the trip using 7 cent a kWh electricity and finish up on fuel
at 50+ mpg.  Or more likely, I'll negotiate with one of the businesses that I
frequent to install and pay for a charging station.  Then I can make the
entire round trip on electricity.  And I'll have under $5k in the whole thing.
Just like a Volt on the cheap.

The only problem with the Volt will be the price.  It's those pesky lithium
batteries again.  GM thinks that there will be enough buyers at the
anticipated price and even if they make no profit initially, the fleet
experience is worth the cost.  Gen II will undoubtedly have a much higher
energy density and lower cost battery.

>No, I have no faith in, or use for, electric vehicles using current
>technology. Other than on the golf course. EVs are just flat not practical
>in any but a few niche applications.

Have you ever been in a road-going EV?  I thought not.  You're being as
close-minded as the True Believers on the other side are.

>Ask me again in 5 years.
>Ultracapacitors may have significantly changed the calculus by then.

Ultracaps aren't even in the running.  They're an order of magnitude below
current lithium technology in energy density (kWh/lb) and even worse in energy
volume (kWh/cu inch)  If they get cheap enough, they may serve a role as an
"accelerator pump" to provide a surge of power for accelerating, and serve as
an energy dump for regen when the regen power comes in too fast for the main
battery to receive.

Solectria built a car 4 or 5 years ago that would run at highway speeds and
achieve 300 miles to a charge.  Their plan was to sell a few cars as proof of
concept (they did) and then sell the design to a major OEM or development
company.  In that part they failed.  A group of EV enthusiasts including one
serious and competent engineer, bought the remains from the company and is
developing it into a kit car.

A kit car is the only way around the government's onerous safety standards for
a 4-wheeled vehicle.  The kit may range from a fiberglass shell and a crate
full of parts to a fully assembled glider that the buyer has to bolt the motor
into or some such other minor assembly work to qualify as a "kit".  This
effort is now known as the Solectria Sunrise if you want to google and follow

So.  The deed's been done.  The reason the Solectria car failed was cost.
Lithium batteries simply cost too much then.  They still do but almost a
Moore's law seems to be at work now that there is major industrial interest in
vehicle-sized batteries.  Vehicle-sized batteries are available now from China
at modest cost but one has to do his own QC/QA.

So I gotta ask.  What is an average trip length for you?  If you could buy an
inexpensive EV that would take care of the majority of those trips for a
nickel a mile including battery amortization, would you not go for it?  Well
maybe not you.  I remember when you first came to the group and tried to
impress us with your possessions.  But most folks would.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Solar Power can now be stored?
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 2008 01:48:07 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 8 Aug 2008 15:52:33 -0700 (PDT), Rich256 <> wrote:

>I have not noticed a discussion on depth of discharge.  Everyone here
>is aware that batteries should not be fully discharged.  Lithium
>although way ahead of lead acid, is no exception.  The hybrid should
>keep the battery charged and use it only for peak demands.  An all
>electric would result in total discharge.

Nope.  Nobody goes below 80%.  My never planning a trip that uses more than
half my range (range figured on 80% DOD) means that I almost never go below
50% DOD.

>I am not aware of batteries
>that can continuously do that for long periods of time.  Researching
>the VOLT I have not seen number of discharges mentioned.

That's the problem.  You (and others) post without bothering to gather any
knowledge first.

Wet NiCads, around since before WWII thrive on full discharges.  In fact,
they're stored fully discharged and shorted.  I have a collection of military
surplus aircraft NiCads, some of which date to the Korean war, that are still
at 100% capacity.  I'm gradually buying up surplus cells as they become
available until I have enough for an EV project.  I'm almost there.  The ones
I have sit in boxes with shorting jumpers across their terminals.

The even older nickel-iron battery (invented by Edison in the 1800s) also
thrives on full discharge and has an infinite cycle life.  100 year old
batteries made by the Edison battery company are still in service powering the
antique electric cars that they were sold with.

Nickel-iron batteries were also used on the Chrysler TEvan electric-powered
van.  I got to drive one of the vans that was brought to an SAE section
meeting in Atlanta.  It performed quite nicely and had an over 125 mile range.
Georgia Power made them available to employees to carpool with and in that
application they worked just fine.

Because the batteries were hand-made by Eagle-Picher, they were quite
expensive.  As with everything else in America these days, the ChiComs have
stepped in to produce them in volume.

They're almost as heavy as lead-acid batteries so they won't be used in high
performance EVs but their infinite lives and 100% DOD capability make them
extremely attractive for other applications.  Including RV house batteries.
Other than cost (which the ChiComs are fixing), the only other disadvantage is
that they use a lot of water.  The TEVan included an automatic watering
system, as will any other use of the chemistry.  Either that or catalytic
recombination (Hydro-Caps)

The new LiFePo (Lithium Iron Phosphate) chemistry, already mass-marketed in
the DeWalt Lithium line of cordless tools and the Black & Decker VPX line of
inexpensive homeowner cordless tools, thrives on deep discharge.  ALL lithium
packs, regardless of chemistry, include battery management systems (BMS) that
a) ensures equal cell charging and b) opens the circuit when the battery
reaches a pre-determined DOD.  It is simply impossible to damage these
batteries by over-discharging them.

The ChiComs are making vehicle-size LiFePO cells.  Thundersky is a rather
disreputable but very cheap producer.  You buy about 30% more than you need so
you can select the good ones and discard the bad ones.  Their prices make that
a worthwhile endeavor on an individual basis.  Other companies are making much
better quality product.

There's a feeding frenzy going on right now with LiFePo batteries and the
price reflects that.  There is so much demand that Li itself is getting to be
in short supply.  The world supply situation is sufficiently serious that many
major car manufacturers such as Toyota are looking past lithium.

You can read what Toyota's head nerd Bill Reinert has to say about it here:

Toyota's all hush-hush about things but I'm betting on sodium/sulfur in
addition to the zinc/air technology that he mentions.  Incidentally, Bill,
here's the solution to your bullshit need for 5 minute recharges.  (Bullshit
because you can't fuel your conventional vehicle in 5 minutes when you count
the time going to and from the gas station and back onto your trip route.) The
spent zinc slurry is removed and fresh slurry installed.

To summarize:  When we EVers talk about range with PbA batteries, we're
speaking of no more than 80% DOD.  When we talk about range with NiCads, NiMH
or NiFe batteries, we're talking about close to 100% DOD of the weakest cell
in the pack.  When we talk about range with Lithium chemistry, it is based on
the DOD that the BMS is programmed to permit.

See how easy that is.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Solar Power can now be stored?
Date: Fri, 08 Aug 2008 23:45:40 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 8 Aug 2008 16:08:56 -0400, "Peter Pan"
<> wrote:

>Do you know of anywhere that prices have gone down? While it may not go up
>that much for a long time, has it ever gone down? admittedly, i'm a young
>whippersnapper only in my 50's, but in that time, I have never seen prices
>go down..... Maybe I missed it when i was drinking/doing drugs, heck I
>missed the whole 60's and 70's..... ps drinks and drugs are only getting
>more expensive too...... :)

Are you talking about inflated dollars or real dollars?  During the late 90s
and early 2000's, TVA first held a 10 year moratorium on rate increases and
then extended it 3 or 4 more years.  During that time, the real cost of power
went steadily down at the rate of inflation.  Since breaking the moratorium,
the total rate increases total something like 12 or 14% which is far from
keeping up with inflation.

Like gasoline, electricity was the cheapest its ever been in the 90s and the
first half of the 00's - at least in places where the so-called deregulation
debacle didn't hit.

According to an old book on utility operations that I have (I collect such
books), in 1920, the average cost of a kWh of electricity in this country was
10 cents.  According to the government's inflation calculator, that would be
the same as $1.09 per kWh today.

Yeah, it must have been the drugs that let you miss the gradual decline in the
real cost of power from about the 20s until now.  I'm paying less for
electricity right now than I ever have even though the nominal price per kWh
has risen a little.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Solar Power can now be stored?
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 2008 03:39:45 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 8 Aug 2008 17:45:00 -0500, "PecosBill" <>

>"Bruce S" <> wrote
>> This brings up an interesting concept (interesting to me at least).  What
>> would be the feasibility of building a "series hybrid" that carries the
>> Volt concept a little further.  One with no ;real battery bank at all,
>> just a small generator to provide power to the electric motor which powers
>> the car.
>"In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
>Divide the son of a bitch by two, and that's the number of watts in a

Let me see if I can de-bullsh*t that response.

Without any energy storage in the drivetrain, the engine must supply the
necessary power at every instant - just like with a regular drivetrain.
However, there is benefit to be had with an electric "transmission".

The electrics can serve as an infinitely variable ratio gearbox, always
matching the engine's output to the load.  This is similar in concept to the
belt-type "torque converters" used on snow mobiles and some mini-bikes.

With the engine speed decoupled from the wheel speed, the engine can be
operated at its most efficient point.  Plus it doesn't have to have a wide
torque band.

At highway speed, that is effectively what a Prius is. The battery is so small
that all it does is supply some acceleration power and soak up a little regen

The engine uses the Atkinson cycle which involves holding the intake valve
open long into the compression stroke.  At low speed it has essentially no
torque but in its design speed range, intake resonance - ram effect as
hotrodders know it - plugs the intake port with pressure pulses before the
valve closes.  The late intake valve closing reduces pumping losses while the
tuned intake allows the engine to make power over a narrowly defined RPM
range.  The electronics allow the engine to operate in that range regardless
of the vehicle speed.

The Prius is actually a very mild hybrid.  The battery does little more than
supply surge energy for acceleration and an energy dump for regen braking. The
main cause of the mileage improvement is not the battery but the infinitely
variable "transmission" that the engine and motor/generator represent.

GM's Volt will be a much more intense hybrid.  If one cuts off the power cord
and operates it strictly as a gasoline-fueled hybrid, the efficiency
improvement over both regular cars and mild hybrids like Prius will be large.
The small engine will be able to operate within a narrow and highly optimized
speed range all the time - perhaps even when the car is unoccupied, depending
on how the control system is programmed.

GM is being remarkably open with technical info on this car.  I've seen the
numbers but don't recall details other than being impressed. I don't have any
interest in the car per se because it's going to be way overpriced for
anything I'd ever buy but I AM interested in the technology.  And I'm looking
forward to scarfing up some of those batteries from the junkyard after a few
are wrecked :-) If GM achieves its goals in the battery department, they'll be
kick-ass batteries.

We RVers, at least MH'ers should benefit greatly from this technology in the
near future.  Even a mild hybrid would improve the overall mileage
significantly.  A serious hybrid with enough battery capacity onboard to store
the energy of regen down long hills and then regurgitate it for later hill
climbing, the effect will be remarkable.

The trucking industry is already testing prototype hybrid tractors.  My
contact at one of the companies involved tells me that the results are amazing
and that even better results await better batteries.  This is one area where
super-caps side-by-side with chemical batteries may excel.  They can absorb
and give up energy faster than any battery chemistry right now so they'd excel
at absorbing regen energy and sending it either back to the drivetrain later
or to the batteries at a rate they can absorb.

If the house batteries are integrated into the system, several benefits
accrue.  First, we really could operate Air conditioning and all the other
house loads for a day or more at a time without the generator.  Indeed, there
probably won't be a separate chassis and house AC system.   Simply multiple
zones in one integrated system.  Two, the house batteries could be charged
from regen energy.  Three, they could be recharged by the main engine in
minutes when stationary.  Four, they could supply part of the surge power
needed for hill climbing.

I can hardly wait.  I won't be benefiting directly, because I won't pay the
price of a new rig.  But I'll be adapting and copying the technology.  That's
one reason why I'm working on a battery-powered AC for my rig right now.  I
want the field experience under my belt.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Solar Power can now be stored?
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 2008 16:32:26 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 9 Aug 2008 14:55:06 -0400, "Peter Pan"
<> wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>>> pumps all the time.  There'll be a sticker on the back like there is
>> on my scooter that says "This vehicle runs on nuclear energy" :-)
>> John
>Got any of those black and yellow radiation hazard stickers? I had em on the
>side of my van a few years back, never got broken into, stereo never stolen,
>was stopped but no speeding tickets given, and if I parked outside the
>store, when I came out the parking spaces nearby where always empty..... way
>better than a car alarm :)

Even better.  I have a set of official DOT placards that includes the
radioactive ones.  They were attached to my cube van. :-)

I also have plenty of the yellow and magenta propeller and "Radioactive
Material" stickers.

Though nobody seems to pay any attention anymore, it is still technically
illegal to display the propeller on something that isn't radioactive.  There
were a few reports "back in the day" of vans containing longhairedhippfreaks
being pulled over and given a good going over with a survey meter and a few
more serious things.

I'll just put a salt shaker of potassium chloride salt substitute in my truck
so that the propeller will be legit :-)
Toward the bottom of the page.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: electric car grid overloads
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2008 16:36:19 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 03 Sep 2008 08:30:07 -0500, Chris Hill <> wrote:

>On Tue, 2 Sep 2008 20:42:40 +0000 (UTC), Cydrome Leader
><> wrote:
>>What's stupid about current hybrid vehicles is there's no way to even
>>take advantage of the fact it's electric. You can't plug a prius unto a 15
>>amp outlet and let it complete some of a charge overnight. You have to
>>feed it gas to charge up, which is obviously going to be less efficient
>Not so obvious.  Coal isn't that efficient either, it is just cheap.

Actually it is, but efficiency is pretty much irrelevant if the fuel is cheap

>Besides that, the prius batteries aren't designed to be fully charged
>anyway, and they are small enough that the benefit would never pay for
>itself from plugging it in without adding batteries.

The real reason Toyota didn't include a plug was that this was an experimental
vehicle in which they and Ford (they developed the drivetrain as a joint
venture) stuck their necks rather far out there just introducing the hybrid
when they did.  Any adverse publicity would have destroyed the hybrid concept
before it could get off the ground.  They had to have a closed, completely
controlled environment to minimize risk AND to be able to collect useful fleet
data. This is first-hand information, though I'm not going to reveal the

The social and political environment was much different when the concept was
being commercialized.  The notion of an electric car turned a lot of people
off.  It still does.  Toyota and Ford knew that for the vehicle to have a
chance of market success, the electrical aspect had to be invisible as far as
the ownership experience goes.  They did that admirably well.

I'm not sure things have changed that much.  Yeah, there's a lot of noise
being made about PHEVs but I'm not sure how much real market there is.  I say
that as a long time EV user.  I have to admire GM for having the corporate
balls to stick their neck out as far as they are with the Volt.  I give it a
50:50 change of being a complete flop.  Hope not but my rational side has to
acknowledge the obvious.


From: John De Armond
Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2008 13:19:23 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sun, 21 Sep 2008 02:35:34 -0700 (PDT), Ron McNulty <>

>>> 300 miles needs 40 KWH
>Sounds a bit light to me. Do you have any references on this? It has
>always been an interest of mine, as so much petrol replacement talk
>seems to not to consider the amount of energy that is actually needs
>to be replaced.

Ron, there doesn't seem to be anyone in this thread who actually owns an EV. I
do.  Several.

My little run-about, a CitiCar, has 16kWh on board.  It's good for about 40
miles at 50 mph or perhaps as much as 50 miles if driven in the 35 mph range.
This is a tiny, golf cart-sized car with decent aerodynamics, a direct-drive
drive-train, nice hard, low rolling resistance tires and light weight, as EVs
go, having an aluminum chassis and plastic body.

A converted conventional vehicle such as a Geo or an S-10 pickup will use from
250 to over 500 watt-hours per mile.  40 kWh would take the vehicle 160 miles
at 250 watt-hours per mile and 80 miles at 500 watt-hours per mile.  As a
practical matter, because of hills and stop and go traffic, one typically gets
from half to 3/4 the theoretical range.  These are low speed vehicles, seldom
topping 60 mph.

A typical conversion has 144 volts' worth of 220 (20 hr rate) amp-hour golf
cart batteries.  At the high discharge rate that an EV subjects them to,
they're typically worth about half that.

Production EVs should have better Cds and much better drive trains,
particularly AC motors.  The Chevy Volt is quoted in various places of having
a Cd of 0.27 to 0.29 - not all that hot.  The GM EV-1 had a Cd of 0.19.  Of
course, it was as ugly as the south end of a north-bound mule....

Though the information leaking out is muddled, best I can tell, the Volt will
have a 16kWh pack.  If the leaked information is correct, the control system
will maintain the battery's charge between 20 and 80%.  IOW, 60% of the
battery's capacity will be available for propulsion.  16kWh * 0.6 = 9.6kWh. If
the Volt can go its claimed 40 miles then the efficiency is 9,600/40 = 240

The 40 mile range is almost surely quoted over the EPA's standard test cycle
for EVs which tanks into account hills and stop and go traffic.  IOW, it's a
realistic range and efficiency.

For a pure EV (no fuel engine), I've been saying for years that a 300 mile
range is the magic number where the average driver simply won't have to worry
about range for around-town driving. It's the magic "comfort number" that
eliminates what GM calls "range anxiety".

I've learned with my EVs not to PLAN a trip longer than half their known
range.  The reason is that something invariably comes up that causes me to
travel extra miles.  Using the 0.5 formula, I have plenty of head room for
those extra miles without depleting my batteries to a damaging level.

Using that rule, one would have to work extremely hard to drive 150 miles in a
day other than on an extended trip where a BEV isn't appropriate.  Even when I
lived in Atlanta and  burned up I-285 on a daily basis, I'd be hard-pressed to
do 150 miles.

For a Volt-like car with a PRACTICAL efficiency of 240 watt-hours per mile,
one would need 0.24 * 300 = 72kWh on-board.  Actually closer to 100kWh if the
depth of discharge is kept above 20%.  100kWh is not doable at any reasonable
cost right now but it will be in a few years if battery technology continues
to follow an almost Moore's law-like capacity vs cost curve.  I can hardly

Meanwhile my next conversion is under way.  It'll have a 60 mile range using
PbA batteries and an on-board generator configured in a discontinuous series
hybrid mode.  That is, the generator won't be large enough to supply the
running power but it'll be large enough to replenish battery energy fairly
quickly.  A typical scenario will be that I drive 50 miles to the store (I
live in the mountains and the closest store are between 25 and 50 miles away).
I'll do my shopping while the generator recharges the batteries.  Then I'll
drive 50 miles back home with the generator still running.

That way I'll drive over half my trip on pure battery power (cheap TVA
electricity) and the other half on very highly optimized engine power.  If I
can find a friendly merchant in town who will allow me to opportunity charge
(my paying for the electricity, of course) then I may be able to make almost
all the trip on battery power.


From: John De Armond
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 21:01:32 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 23 Sep 2008 22:26:07 +0200, Trygve Lillefosse
<> wrote:

>On Sun, 21 Sep 2008 13:19:23 -0400, Neon John <> wrote:

>Interesting stuff.
>Seems like limiting disscharge and avoiding full charge makes many
>battery-types live a lot longer than if they are completely
>charged/disscharged. Is this true with lead batteries?

Yes, even more so.  The cycle life of a PbA battery vs depth of discharge
(DoD) curve looks quite exponential.  Most of us try to keep the DoD at 50% or
less.  I'll drop to 70% in a pinch but I don't like to.

>If so, do you have a controller that will keep the batteries within

Not a controller - PbA motor controllers aren't that sophisticated yet.  I do
have a gadget called an E-meter (now Link-10 by Xantrex) that tracks amp-hours
in and out and displays the state-of-charge on a bar-graph.  It does the
Peukert compensation so it accurately reflects SoC based on the load profile.
It also shows the amp-hours (or optionally watt-hours) used as a digital
number.  That is not Peukert-compensated but one learns quickly enough.

The bar-graph display uses the maximum allowable DoD that is programmed in
during configuration.  That is, if I set the absolute maximum DoD at 70%, the
bar-graph display is based on 70% of the programmed battery capacity.  That
way, when the meter says that the battery is "dead", it has actually only
reached the programmed DoD limit.

Optional extra features include an open collector sink when a programmed low
battery voltage is reached (originally aimed at starting RV generators) and a
serial output data logging function.  All the measured and calculated
parameters are output once a second in one big ASCII sentence, similar to

>I think that you might as well run the generators on your way to the
>store, to share the load with the batteries. In cold weather they will
>also supply heat.

Since generated electricity is many times more expensive than utility
electricity, I want to use every bit of utility energy that I can.  That means
that ideally I'll arrive home with my batteries depleted down to my maximum
designated DoD.  Plus if I can charge in town, I certainly don't want the
generator running on the trip down.

Eventually I'll install a mobile PC and write the software that will work with
a GPS receiver and the E-meter data to predict the amount of energy needed for
the return trip and run the generator accordingly.  Until then I'll just have
to make do with the computer holding my ears apart :-)  The trip down the
mountain involves an elevation change of a bit over 1500 ft so it takes
considerably more energy on the return trip than on the trip down.

>If you can charge it at the store, that would offcource be the ideal
>solution. And in the wintertime you could either run the generator (As
>batteries get their range limited), or use a diesel burner for heat.

In past EVs, I've used a propane radiant (ceramic surface burner style) heater
because it heats objects (me) and not the air.  Very economical to operate. On
this vehicle that I'm working on, I'm planning on using an electric
motor-driven heat pump.  Most likely an inverter-driven variable speed
hermetic compressor-based system.  It rarely gets cold enough here that the
heat pump won't work.

I haven't made the decision yet but I'll probably use the engine from a very
small car to drive the generator.  That gives me all the efficiency benefits
of EFI and closed-loop operation plus the water cooled engine is very quiet. I
can, of course, take advantage of water jacket heat when the generator is
running but I won't run it just for that purpose.
>BTW: I am thinking that for serial hybrids, it might be a good idea to
>have several small generators instead of one big one. And that the
>generator(s) could be slided in/out of the wehicle. Since it only
>needs to be connected with some wires. This should make the mechanics
>work a lot easier when the generator needs service.

One can make this arbitrarily complicated but my goal is simple and cheap
transportation up and down the mountain.  I'm using as many salvage parts as I
can.  If I let the cost escalate much, I'd be as well off just buying the

My most likely target vehicle will be an older model Chevy S-10 pickup.  It's
a popular conversion vehicle.  There is plenty of room under the bed for
battery racks, more batteries can go in the bed, as can the generator, and the
suspension can handle the battery weight.  I'll pick the target last after
I've accumulated all the other parts and a lot will depend on what shows up in
my friendly local scrap yard in good condition but with a blown engine or
tranny :-)  This is a very low budget project!


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