The Re-Fire Strikes Back

Cree 4flow LED lampAgain, welcome to 2015.  And a happy 2015 it is, at least in energy.  Not only have LED lamps fallen in price drastically from just a few years ago, but they continue to improve, in multiple respects.  Cree, one of the bigger names in LEDs, didn’t just release their groundbreaking lamp about a year ago.  They’re now on their generation-2 product, and yes, competition has improved the breed.

I’ve just installed Cree’s “4flow” LED lamp.  I bought this standard Edison base (“A19”) in 40-Watt equivalent.  Actual consumption is 6W, saving 34 nega-watts, or 85% less than an incandescent bulb of the same light output.  That’s also a savings over a compact fluorescent, though far less.  The big trick is getting rid of incandescents, which have only a few percent light efficacy.  The other ~97% of the electricity you put in is wasted as heat.  Basically, incandescents are little heaters that, oh by the way, make some light too.  But unlike fluorescents, LEDs turn on instantly.  They’re vibration, cold, and cycling resistant.  Their lives aren’t shortened by on-off cycles, such as bathroom and hallway installations.  Nor do they contain any mercury, though the mercury level of CFLs has been exaggerated. Continue reading

(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