Food, then Fill

Speaking of food… A new push in EV charging is at groceries.  I’m a bit mixed on this one.  Sure, a shopping trip is an hour, hour and a half.  Some days might stretch to two hours if there are other shops nearby (“trip chaining”).  But… most people buy food close to home.  If you’re already close by, a public EVSE largely replaces your own nighttime charging.  (If your only grocery is 30-40 miles away, well, you have other issues.)

Still, numerous fooderies have added EVSE, as it makes sense from their perspective:
Whole Foods
Publix
Kroger (which owns Fred Meyer, Ralph’s, Harris Teeter, and Fry’s)
Giant Eagle Continue reading

Goo Ideas

Yesterday was Food Day– you missed it?  I write a lot about feeding your vehicle, but how about feeding yourself.  Without that, what else matters?

Economist Robert Gordon of Northwestern claims the United States is out of ideas.  (He’s angling to be the next Francis Fukuyama, then.)  Whatever our new ideas are, one of them had better be about food.  Some appetizers:

-Entirely New Cropsbglg
-Expanded Aquaculture
-Perennial Grains
-Genetic Engineering
-Entomophagy
-Waste Reduction

In the late ’50s and ’60s, the Green Revolution brought new seed strains and other agricultural practices.  Protesters had lots to complain about, but for most starvation wasn’t one of them.  Time for a new revolution. Continue reading

Receptacle Roundup XIIc: Rest of Asia

There are several virgin territories for EV charging:

Taiwanese Standard (CNS10917)

Taiwan uses the 2-prong and 3-prong that Japan and the US do.  That was easy!

312Australia/New Zealand/Oceania (AS3112/NS3112/Others)

Aussies and Kiwis use a household plug derived from Argentina/Uruguay’s: a 3-prong with angled hot and neutral.  However, those antipodals reversed hot and neutral from the older IRAM 2073 standard.  It’s good for 230 volts and 10 amps (i. e., 2.3 kW), not quite as much as the UK but still beating the US standard.  But there’s a neat trick: the higher-amp connector standard (15A, 3.4 kW) simply enlarges the ground pin, so the beefier appliance socket can still take ordinary plugs- “backward compatibility.”  (This also implies the 10A hot and neutral blades have leeway and safety margin.)  Continue reading

How Hybrid 3b: …Small Packages

The simplest way a hybrid engine beats a “regular” gasser is simply size.  A small engine can hit several engineering targets an equivalent large engine can’t- ask a motorcycle racer.  If electricity makes up the torque difference, then pairing an electric motor with a small gasser makes much sense.

Thermodynamics– on the most basic level, fewer cylinders make a heat engine more efficient.  One big cylinder has much less surface area than its equivalent in two or more smaller cylinders.  Surface is bad because heat is lost through the walls of the combustion chamber.  Any combustion heat that escapes to the oil, the coolant, or the air around is heat that’s not pushing down the piston, and thus pushing the vehicle.

So why don’t more vehicles use one big cylinder?  Above a certain size, one cylinder is too rough.  (Or “NVH”- Noise, Vibration, Harshness to engineers.)  That size is generally 400-500cc- not enough engine for a (non-hybrid) car.  You typically see single cylinders in motorcycles only, and typically 450cc or less, which is still considered a small motorcycle in developed countries.  Single-cylinder motorcycles are then referred to as “thumpers,” and typically not sold for long-distance riding or upscale models. Continue reading

Phone-ys, Part BZZT

nnkSheeei… No, Nokia did NOT charge a phone with lightning.  I’m getting tired of these blatant, obvious lies.  What they didn’t brag about was:

-The “lightning” wasn’t lightning.  It wasn’t a few milliseconds, the demonstrators could turn it on and off at will via their lab equipment.  Basically, they took a phone and ran its charging current across an air gap, producing an arc and a cool display.

-The “charging” wasn’t charging much.  The phone only gained a few percent.

-The “phone” wasn’t a real phone and charger.  They used sophisticated equipment, which would not actually be handy for a consumer.

So what actually happened was that a team did a “Mythbusters”-style stunt show… except they’re trying to spread a myth, not bust it.  The CBC’s story is a decent takedown, after you get past the headline and the initial paragraphs of hype.  Desperate, Nokia?

(BD cont’d) How Hybrid 3a: Consider it Covered?

As much as Elon Musk loves to run his mouth (and boy, does he love to run his mouth), he is still, by his own admission, a few years from producing an affordable pure-battery EV.  And then, the supercharger deployment rate would have to jump by an order of magnitude or so.  Which means, aside from city cars and second cars, us regular folk (e. g., apartment/condo dwellers) are still living in an era of hybrids.

We are not even close to seeing what vehicle hybridization can do.  Except for expander-cycle engines (the Atkinson/Miller operating cycles), today’s hybrids have regular piston engines, just a bit smaller.  In hardware terms, the Atkinson/Miller Cycles only vary the cam profiles- you can barely see it.  Many other means can make electrification interstate-ranged, less charger-reliant, and more flexible.  As a field example, BMW’s 1.5L in their upcoming i8 is, by some metrics, their most advanced engine ever.

Why not jump directly to batteries alone?  Sure, there’s something to be said for simplicity, and for a clean break when the opportunity presents itself.  But there are reasons- some more plausible and pressing- why some form of consumable, “combustible” fluid still appeals, and won’t go away for a while:

-Emergency power and logistical redundancy
-Thermal power and conversion processes (or lack thereof)
-Mechanical transfer versus ‘the cloud’
-Daytime grid demand and infrastructure buildout Continue reading

Receptacle Roundup XIIb: Japanese Level 1

I had written how Britain, Ireland, etc. lucked out with their power connector.  Well, we can certainly say we’re not Japan at least.jisc8303

Japanese Domestic Standard (JIS C 8303)

The common Japanese plug and receptacle, derived from ours, isn’t even grounded.  This despite being a rainy island, with flimsy homes needing  electric heaters and air conditioners everywhere, hit by earthquakes and typhoons.  And they aren’t even polarized, so half the time devices are backwards.  Combine this with lower voltage than us- nominally rated for up to 125 volts, but usually closer to 100.  That means even less power than our plug.  The only saving grace is that their rainy, island nation is crowded, so trips are shorter and slower. Continue reading