Revenge of the Electric Car

posted Mar 26, 2013, 6:29 PM by Leada Dietz   [ updated Oct 4, 2013, 8:31 AM by Roger Twitchell ]
April 28, 2013 at 2 pm at the Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive in York
cosponsored by Reel to Real and the JCC

Several models of electric cars will be on hand with owners to answer questions.

Flyer ver. 7a

There were several plug-in cars there:

  - Tesla Model S
  - Multiple LEAFs including a "driving on sunshine" one charged by (home) rooftop PV
  - A few Plug-In Prius models
  - A Chevrolet Volt with a little model of driver's other car (the 60 - 70 mpg early Honda Insight) on its dashboard
  - Plus three early ('00 - '06) 58 - 70 mpg Honda Insights, one (mine) converted to a mini plug-in by adding a charger which I use well before every trip
  - And also present was the ultimate in efficiency, Francie's cargo trailer-equipped bicycle.

We (Reel to Real) were expecting people to come for the movie, then have some discussions out in the parking lot around the cars afterwards.

How it turned out is people having to be extracted from lots and lots of deep, involved conversations around the cars outside before the movie so they could then watch the movie, then they all immediately went back out to resume their deep, involved conversations around the cars as soon as the movie ended.  Everyone was into it!

Someone driving by even honked and waved as he/she went past.  Paul Kuehnel of the York Daily Record provided good before and after coverage, including an excellent pre-event video.

It was GREAT!  56 people attended.

Here's a little brochure I made for people to take home giving some background info on plug-in vehicles:

So now that I've just described the York sustainability movement successfully promoting battery cars...

How do plug-in cars fit into the big picture?  How can any of these batteries on wheels possibly be considered ecologically sustainable?!?

Much of the nation's electrical production is wasted by having to literally be shorted to ground at nighttime when supply exceeds demand.  This in turn forces nighttime shutdown of many wind farms, preventing them from achieving a realistic return on investment, in turn making it far harder for wind energy to compete with fracking-sourced natural gas.  Electric cars use about a quarter the energy of purely gasoline-powered cars, and you can often re-"fuel" them in their normal home parking space (garage, carport) as you sleep, using some of that surplus electrical generation in the process.

Because of regenerative braking, going down hills doesn't really hurt a hybrid's or plug-in's mpg/range because most of the vehicle's surplus momentum / kinetic+potential energy can be stored in the battery pack for use in propelling the car later on.

Hopefully in years to come that distributed portable energy storage can also help during the day:  They can release bits of energy into the grid in peak usage times to prevent brownouts then re-absorbing those bits of energy once the grid bounces back, providing quick-response distributed grid load levelling to get far more efficiency from the grid.  (That's what the term "Vehicle to Grid" or V2G means.)

Lithium ion cells have no rare earth exotica in them, unlike NiMH cells which partly rely on yttrium.  Li-Ion anodes (negatively charged sides) generally use a water solvent graphite coating on copper foil, while the cathodes use a combination of a bit of lithium plus either iron phosphate or nickel, aluminum, magnesium and/or a little cobalt on aluminum foil.  Any manufacturing scrap is recycled (not simply sent to China), as are worn out cells, so the ingredients are fairly efficiently reclaimed for reuse.  Recharge efficiency is around 90 - 99% depending on use, vs. 80 - 85% for NiMH which is over three times heavier per unit of energy stored.

After 5 - 10 years when the very hard EV life of cells is spent they can retire to an easier, gentler life helping buffer photovoltaic rooftop energy and/or home wind turbine power of a residence.

As far as old batteries lining public roads after some years, I have an embarrassingly significant accumulation of NiMH AA cells in my home, average age maybe four or five years, many visually quite tired-looking...  all doing great working together at buffering photovoltaic-sourced electricity that lights my home when it's dark out.

significantly post-event addition by Roger Twitchell 10/4/2013
Leada Dietz,
Mar 26, 2013, 6:29 PM