Archive for the ‘Climate’ Category

Huh, it always takes a long time to find anything on web pages that are so cluttered up. Here. No idea what the MPGe or miles per gallon equivalent is.


Here’s ERA’s video (they didn’t win, although they were very close. I think they were penalized for driving too fast):

Holy crap. Their vehicle has 1000 Nm torque and does 0 to 100 km/h in 6 seconds.

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There’s a free lecture series (it’s also a course but attendance is open) at HUT Aalto University about new energy technologies, organized by a friend of mine who works at the lab there. Here’s the lecture program (they will be held in the mechanical engineering building):

Thu 9.9. Introduction. Prof. Markku Lampinen: Energy conversion – From nanomachines to renewable sources.
Thu 16.9. CO2, greenhouse effect and climate change. Dr. Jouni Räisänen, University of Helsinki
Thu 23.9. Looking for a carbon storage, biochar as a win-win solution. Dominic Woolf, Swansea University, UK.
Thu 30.9. Biomass solutions for replacing coal: biochar, biomass gasification, multifuel power plants. Jukka Rouhiainen, Helsingin Energia.
Thu 7.10. Research on bioorganic fuel cells as power sources.
Professor Yohannes Kiros, KTH, Sweden.
Thu 14.10. Microturbines, a technology for local energy production. Professor Jari Backman, Lappeenranta Technical University.
Thu 21.10. Energy efficiency – “Negawatts” for cheap.
(Thu 28.10. middle term exams)
Thu 4.11. Wave power. Dr. Ana Brito e Melo, Wave energy centre, Portugal.
Thu 11.11. Geothermal energy, overview and the possibilities. Professor Eva Schill, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Thu 18.11. Grätzel solar cells. Millennium prize winning breakthrough in solar energy.
Thu 25.11. Energy solutions for traffic – Which will win?
Thu 2.12. Student seminar
Thu 9.12. Student seminar (last lecture/seminar)

Reserve topics:
Wind power.
Passive heat technology/thermal engineering.
Solar thermal energy (STE).

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It doesn’t have the same sound as “The Last V-8” now does it? When you look at what’s happening in the world of automobiles, you get some idea of a change. It is always slow, yet I predict that when it happens, probably starting before the end of this year, people are taken by surprise.

Why Would Anyone Buy A Hybrid Car?

It doesn’t have that much better fuel economy than a modern petrol or diesel engine if you drive out of the city, and it costs some more and is complicated. New turbocharged and variable valve engines can do pretty well because they can be built to opearate in a flexible manner. BMW has even introduced a technique that could be called a “virtual hybrid” – where the aircon compressor and battery charger are disconnected when the gas pedal is pushed to the bottom, resulting in extra power available for traction – allowing a smaller engine to achieve the same acceleration.

In some cases, like buses that need to stop often, hybrids make great sense, but otherwise I see the improvements in ordinary direct internal combustion engine driven cars narrowing the gap quite considerably. On the highway the hybrid has no advantage.

A Seemingly Small Addition

Volvo V70 Plugin Hybrid Prototype

So, add a grid recharge capability and you have a plugin hybrid. By itself that’s not much yet though, you have to enlarge the batteries too. Since most trips for most people are commuting and errands, they’re short and can be done entirely on battery power. You also still haul the gasoline engine along and it is used on longer trips. Most problems solved right here? Sounds easy.

Chevy Volt / Opel Ampera is coming soon. And just take a look at the huge number of plugin hybrids being developed, listed at Plugin America. Most of these will be dead ends, but some might make it big.

Pure Electric Cars – The Charging Problem

The problem is, gasoline is very very energy intensive. If a car uses 8 L for 100 km and a 10 kWh worth of energy, then tankage of 40 liters gives about 50 kWh of energy. Done in 50 seconds this stream of gasoline through the hose is worth 1 kWh per second or 3.6 megawatts. High enough temperature superconductors have not yet been invented that would make a hand-attachable 3.6 megawatt car charger possible. If we generously assume 240 Volts and 40 Amperes, the charging power is only 10 kilowatts. The largest home appliances like sauna stoves and water heaters are in the single kilowatts range. They often use 380 V three phase power here, but that gets slightly impractical for a car charger. This thousandfold disparity in energy replenishment speed is striking. An optimistic 10 kW charger would charge a 100 km drive’s worth of energy in an hour. Certainly useful for commuters. Charging as range extension seems doubtful. Our summer cottage is 300 km from Helsinki. If a full battery only lasts the first 200 km, one would have to stop at a loading station for one hour before one could drive the rest of the way. Not realistic. The penalty of lugging around the heavy and complicated IC engine has to be bitten at this point of battery development.

Battery Improvements?

There exist some pretty high energy per mass battery technologies right now, but they are expensive and use rare materials like cobalt that they can never really be mainstream solutions on something that stores energy in the megawatt hour class. Hopefully with enough money now available, some cheaper and less material intensive ways to store electrical energy can be developed.

Your Local Correspondent

Naturally, Finland would be a pretty ideal place to have electric and plugin hybrid vehicles. A significant portion of the populace keeps their cars parked in a spot with an electric socket nearby – those house timers that turn on the cylinder block heater on an hour or so before leaving for work in the wintertime, meaning less fuel use and wear for the engine. It is trivial to use those 240 V outlets for electric car charging. Also, electric cars are actually manufactured in the city of Uusikaupunki, Finland by Valmet. The Th!nk City is one. Too bad because of insane tax policies, it is not actually sold here – at the moment you can only get them in Norway, Austria and Holland. The Fisker Karma electric sports car will also be manufactured in “Uki”. I think they have a long nose on the car for Freudian reasons – since it doesn’t need to hold a long block internal combustion engine – or maybe it’s just that buyers are conservative. And then there’s the e-cars now project aiming to refit old Toyota Corollas with electric motors and batteries. But there’s more.

Automotive X-Prize

There’s that going on, which is actually interesting! My favorite vehicle is the Peraves E-Tracer.

Here are the results from August 2 but I still don’t know what will change / what is coming because the pages are unclear: [EDIT: fresh info at the blog indicates some testing is still going on]

1st Place Team Lithium Ion Motors of North Carolina (125 MPGe average fuel economy for the event)
2nd Place RaceAbout Association of Finland (0.179 seconds behind the leader and 100 MPGe average fuel economy for the event)
3rd Place TW4XP of Germany (11 minutes, 36.9 seconds behind the leader and 139 MPGe average fuel economy for the event)
4th Place ZAP of California (DNF – 48 laps completed)
5th Place Aptera of California (DNF – 18 laps completed)

The Raceabout team is from Helsinki’s Metropolia university of applied sciences. They have a long background of building electric vehicles, and it’s nice to see something in the competition that looks like an actual car, yet still manages to do so well.

RaceAbout's E-RA vehicle in the Automotive X-Prize 2010 competition

Hopefully the politicians here can get something sensible done, and the super-high taxes on electric vehicles (basically, anything that isn’t gasoline or diesel is considered fishy and is taxed hugely) can be dropped so we can start seeing more of them here! The current situation is a travesty!

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Surveying Some Scientific Publications

So, some guys did a study on who are the top names in climate sciences, by how many publications and how many cites they have etc.. They also looked at what published petitions people had signed so they could have an easy way to check their views and found out that “climate sceptics” have few cited climate publications. Pretty straightforward, as all this is public knowledge.

Naturally it doesn’t tell anything directly about a science. It’s just a survey or a meta research paper.

The paper here.

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

Stoat has more. And Michael Tobis more and more elaborately and in a larger view.

I’ll close the comments for a while as I’m spending the midsummer elsewhere and these kind of posts tend to attract comments that have to be responded.

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Well, not real money. But Atmoz is discussing about when it will be reached with commenters. My bet is march 2018, though if you use woodfortrees to visualize, straight extrapolation seems to predict before 2015 already, for the northern hemisphere winter peak. Most seem to bet around 2014-2016.

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Local is not Global

global temperature anomaly map for January 2010

RSS Satellite Temperature, January 2010 Anomaly

Some people in the blue islets say and have been saying it’s been cold. It has been, locally, in the US, Europe and Siberia. But globally averaged, January 2010 was warm. At least according to this data. They’ll be checking it thoroughly since January only ended a few days ago.

Anyway, it’s one of the beginner fallacies to extrapolate globally from a local (or short time) situation, and it seems to sit very tight even among some engineer friends of mine who should clearly know better. It’s “cold here now hence IPCC is wrong” or some variation thereof, like Peter Sinclair reviewed a year and again a few weeks ago.

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BEGIN EDIT: I think I misread the Britannica part. Netherlands has half of it’s area highly developed and half of that highly developed area is low lying, so a quarter of the total. END EDIT

The Netherlands is an example of a country highly susceptible to both sea-level rise and river flooding because 55% of its territory is below sea level where 60% of its population lives and 65% of its Gross National Product (GNP) is produced

IPCC AR4 Working group II Chapter 12.2.3.

If this too is wrong, you bet the WG1 people are pissed off.  (WG1 is the scientific basis, WG2 the effects and WG3 is the mitigation ways working group of IPCC.)

But it seems Britannica has information in similar vein:

The Netherlands is bounded by the North Sea to the north and west, Germany to the east, and Belgium to the south. If the Netherlands were to lose the protection of its dunes and dikes, the most densely populated part of the country would be inundated (largely by the sea but also in part by the rivers). This highly developed part of the Netherlands, which generally does not lie higher than about three feet (one metre) above sea level, covers more than half the total area of the country. About half of this area (more than one-fourth of the total area of the country) actually lies below sea level.

So, the question becomes tides and how sea level is measured: if it’s the mean sea level, then even low stuff over sea level is unlivable because of the tides (unless you put dikes and pump it dry of course).

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