Battery Switch Technology


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Home Hydrogen Refueling Station

Honda about to try out new Home Hydrogen Refueling Station
Honda is working on a next-generation hydrogen refueling station aimed at showing American homeowners how they could run their cars on hydrogen made out of sunshine and water. It's supposed to be unveiled in about a month.

  • Honda CEO Takanobu Ito said the unit will use the energy from sunlight, as collected on solar panels, to split hydrogen from oxygen molecules in water (H2O, remember?), providing hydrogen gas to power for the car.

    The solar panels are being made in Japan and Ito says the system might work better on American houses than those back home. Why? Because American houses are bigger,providing more roof area for the solar arrays.

     The goal was to create panels that are better and cheaper. The system will be installed at Honda's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb. There's a solar hydrogen system there now, but it's takes up a lot of space. Honda uses hydrogen to fuel its FCX Clarity hydrogen fleet.

Hydrogen Production

All hydrogen production processes are based on the separation of

hydrogen from hydrogen-containing feedstocks. The feedstock

dictates the selection of the separation method. Today, we use two

primary methods to separate hydrogen: thermal and chemical. A third

method, biological, is in the exploratory research and development


Today, 95% of the hydrogen produced in the U.S., roughly 9 million

tons per year, uses a thermal process with natural gas as the

feedstock. This process, called steam methane reformation (SMR),

consists of two steps: 1) reformation of the feedstock with high

temperature steam supplied by burning natural gas to obtain a

synthesis gas, and 2) using a water-gas shift reaction to form hydrogen

and carbon dioxide from the carbon monoxide produced in the first step.

Step 1: CH4 +H20 => CO + 3 H2
Step 2: CO + H2O => CO2 + H2

To a lesser degree, the U.S. also produces hydrogen electro-chemically

from water when higher purity hydrogen is needed. The

process, called electrolysis, passes electricity through water in an ionic

transfer device to separate water into its hydrogen and oxygen parts.

Renewable technologies, such as wind turbines, can generate

electricity to produce hydrogen from electrolysis with zero greenhouse

gas emissions. In France, an abundance of nuclear power makes

electrolysis a logical, and their most common, method for producing


electricity + 2H2O => O2 + 2H2

All production technologies have a variety of costs and

benefits with regard to the environment, economics, security and other concerns.

Radio Waves and Hydrogen

In 2005 there was an Inventor. His name is John S. Kanzius. John was an inventor, Radio TV engineer, ham radio operator. John ended up with cancer, and was looking for a way to treat his cancer. The treatment is an experimental cancer treatment where gold or nanoparticles and radio waves heat the cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. John Built himself one of the radio prototype devices to test some of his ideas and to take his treatments.

 In testing this device he found out by accident that radio waves will weaken the bond of Oxygen and Hydrogen in water. He found that as long as the radio wave machine was on he could burn salt water. The discovery was made accidentally while he was researching the use of radio waves for desalination. Kanzius said that "In this case we weren't looking for energy. We were looking for something that might do desalinization. The more we tried desalinization, the more heat we produced, until we got fire".

Kanzius admitted that this process could not be considered an energy source, as more energy is used to produce the RF signal than can be obtained from the burning gas and stated in July 2007 that he never claimed his discovery would replace oil, asserting only that his discovery was "thought provoking."

 The details of the process are still unreleased pending the issuance of a patent. Kanzius proposed that the flame is produced by burning of hydrogen and oxygen, released from the water by radio waves "forcing together" the "normally separated" hydrogen and oxygen in the water, a process he calls "reunification". In water (H2O), hydrogen is covalently bonded to oxygen, and thus the process must "reunite" pairs of hydrogen atoms and pairs of oxygen atoms, releasing dihydrogen (H2) and dioxygen (O2). The energy from the radio waves is absorbed by the water and splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen which then react together to reform the water and re-release the energy and form a flame
 In other words, the process turns radio energy into chemical energy, which then turns to heat and light energy, but does not "take energy from water". Rather, energy is put into the water in order to break it up into its components, which now may combust. The water torch, a form of oxyhydrogen torch, is an earlier example of the process of breaking down water and then recombining oxygen and hydrogen to release heat and light energy.[citation needed]

Nevertheless, this discovery may be a clean way to break down water into its elements and perhaps a cheaper way than electrolysis which in most forms produces toxic output from chemical reactions with the electrodes, or otherwise is produced with platinum electrodes, which are very expensive. It is difficult to compare the processes, when no chemical, physical or numeric details are actually known, except the claims that RF heats up the water, breaks it down into its elements and that it then combusts.[citation needed]

Kanzius' experiment has been confirmed by Rustum Roy, a materials scientist at Pennsylvania State University, in a demonstration before the Material Science faculty, using Kanzius' RF transceiver, which Kanzius had brought to the lab for the day. On his website, Roy writes: "It is clear that Mr. Kanzius has demonstrated the ability to dissociate aqueous solutions of sodium chloride at normal sea water concentrations into hydrogen and oxygen."

According to Roy, "The salt water isn't burning per se, despite appearances. The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies." The temperature and flame color varies with water solutions and concentrations.

John Kanzius died from pneumonia on February 18, 2009, aged 64, at a hospital near Sanibel, Florida, where he had a winter home. The pneumonia developed as complication after two recent rounds of chemotherapy

What makes this exciting is the use of batteries to produce radio waves. This could be used on cars that are on the road today. We would have to install batteries to run the radio wave machine and then it could produce hydrogen to be used in the car. It burns clean, and has an octane of 130. Compared to gasoline of 87 to a high of 92 octane it will perform better in our cars, it is in a vapor form so it will burn easily. No waste, only water will come out of the tail pipe.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Auto Shows

Electric Dreams

Automakers draw on current to power their future.

Provided by Road & Track

By Matt DeLorenzo | Photos by John Lamm and Marc Urbano

2011 Honda CR-Z
In assessing the kinds of cars we will be driving in the future, only one word is needed to describe this changing automotive landscape—electricity. By the looks of cars ready for production and futuristic prototypes, battery power will play an increasingly important role. It will be used to boost the power and range of conventional powerplants, plus be used as the sole source of motivation in other applications.

Ready for production is the 2011 Honda CR-Z, a fun, 2-seat sporty hatchback that incorporates the company's electric engine assist, which is already seen in the Insight and Civic hybrids. The CR-Z harkens back to a time when Honda offered a similar car called the CRX. In addition to its smart-looking wedge shape, the Honda CR-Z is the first hybrid to offer a 6-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. With that gearbox, it is capable of returning 31 mpg city/37 mph highway, while the optional CVT transmission delivers an even better 36 city/38 highway. The CR-Z goes on sale this fall.

Building on experience gained by the Mini E, German automaker BMW showcased an advanced electric car based on its 1 Series. Called the BMW ActiveE, this 4-passenger coupe will go into limited production and be leased to consumers on a test basis. In keeping with the company's theme of spirited driving, the ActiveE promises 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 8.5 seconds. Its lithium-ion battery back can be recharged in about 3 hours and will deliver a range of about 100 miles, along with a top speed of 90 mph. The electric motor in the BMW ActiveE is rated at 170 horsepower.

2011 Volvo C30 Electric
Similar in range and performance to the BMW ActiveE is the Volvo C30 Electric, which will also see limited production and testing. Based on the Swedish company's C30 hatchback, the 4-passenger electric has a 111-horsepower electric motor. Range and performance estimates are slightly more modest, with a 94-mile range and a top speed of 80 mph. This pure electric Volvo is designed primarily to test the durability and practicality of electric power in everyday driving.

The benchmark hybrid is clearly the Toyota Prius, and the Japanese automaker is looking to build on its reputation by offering a wider range of these gasoline/electric vehicles. The Toyota FT-CH is proof of this, a plug-in hybrid that can be operated in pure electric mode for 40 to 50 miles. If the small 4-passenger hatchback looks familiar, it's because it follows the same design theme as the Lexus LF-CH that made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Further out in the future is the Hyundai Blue-Will concept, a hybrid that capitalizes on the range and torque of a diesel powerplant. Equipped with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder oil-burner, the Blue-Will puts out a combined 152 horsepower when the 100-kw electric motor is employed. Like the Toyota FT-CH, the Blue-Will is a plug-in hybrid (using a technology similar to that which will appear later this year in the Chevy Volt) that can be driven up to 40 miles on electricity alone, with no help from the diesel engine. The Blue-Will's futuristic shape hints at a more fluid design theme being developed for Hyundai.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Strong Demand for Electric Cars

January 14, 2010 11:57 AM PST
Survey hints at strong demand for electric cars
by Martin LaMonica

Plug-in electric cars have technology geeks and the well-heeled excited, but how will they play in Peoria?

Electric cars and concepts at the 2010 Detroit auto show (photos)

Ernst & Young on Thursday released results from a survey of 1,000 licensed U.S. drivers that found 10 percent of drivers would consider purchasing a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle. That represents about 20 million American drivers, enough demand to sell out 2010 and 2011 electric vehicles.

Automakers are betting the electrification of power trains is the future of the auto business, as was clear from this week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit. But even as automakers prepare to produce tens of thousands of these cars, big questions remain over how strong the demand will be.

Some argue that there will be rapid uptake in certain regions, much the way the well known Toyota Prius hybrid has been adopted. The Boston Consulting Group forecasts that 25 percent of new auto sales in 2020 will be hybrids or electrics, with the bulk being conventional hybrids.

Yet there are still clear barriers to consumer adoption, including range, cost, and availability of charging stations at home or public places.

Ernst & Young found that 34 percent of respondents were willing to subsidize local charging stations. At the same time, their top reason for considering buying an electric or plug-in hybrid is to save money on fuel.


Detroit Auto Show: Chrysler's Electric Star, the Gem


Paul Stenquist for The New York Times Chrysler's Gem is a neighborhood vehicle, with a top speed of about 25 miles per hour.

It's not easy to find Chrysler's world-beater plug-in electric vehicle at the Detroit auto show. You have to work your way past the Ferraris, Fiat 500s, Dodges, Chryslers and Jeeps. There, tucked in a corner, you'll find Chrysler's green transportation star: the Gem. Chrysler has sold more than 40,000 Gems since 1999 and reportedly owns about 70 percent of the neighborhood electric vehicle market.

Some might tell you that the Gem is no more than a golf cart, albeit a golf cart that's available in six different configurations. But consider that the little Gem sprints to 25 miles per hour rather promptly, thanks to the torque of its electric motor. Zero to 60 comes at, well, infinity, and its top speed is right around 25 miles an hour. That means it's awesome power can be unleashed on roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less in more than 40 states. Rechargeable on standard 110-volt household current, Gem has a range of about 50 miles on a single charge. With safety glass, three-point seat belts, turn signals, headlamps, brake lights and more, it meets federal safety standards for low-speed vehicles.

Despite the fact that the Gem's performance is somewhat limited in comparison to, say, a Tesla plug-in electric, the Gem's build quality is comparable to, well, a golf cart. The doors shut with a pronounced shudder. High-gloss plastic is applied abundantly inside and out, and the dash features a rough-textured material that looks like the underside of a fiberglass body panel.

Nevertheless, Gem is a regular means of transportation in warm-climate beach communities and suburban neighborhoods. Because it's apparently a money-maker for Chrysler, we have to wonder if it will soon be rebadged as a Fiat and sold in Italy.

Smart Charging

Google Working on "Smart Charging" Software for Electric Cars

The Internet giant's geniuses are working on software that'll help get electric cars juiced without stressing out the electrical grid.

By Mike Spinelli

Google Working on "Smart Charging" Software for Electric Cars Google says "smart charging" software could be the answer to getting millions of plug-in electric cars to work on an overtaxed electrical grid. Such software would, for example, automatically turn off EV charging during times of peak grid demand, among other functions. Google

Imagine millions of plug-in vehicle owners returning home from work on a hot summer day, plugging in their cars at the same time, and melting down an overtaxed, outdated, and otherwise atrophied electrical grid. But the geniuses at Google say averting a disaster scenario could be as simple as a few lines of code (well, a few more than just a few). Working with a test fleet of a plug-in vehicles, part of a project the company initiated two years ago, Google came up with new "smart charging" software that can manage the charging needs of EVs based on real-time signal data from a grid operator. For example, automatically turning off EV charging during times of peak grid demand.

The software is in its early stages, but since 2007, when the RechargeIT plug-in hybrid fleet program began at Google's Mountain View, California headquarters the company has pursued a number of solutions, like plugging vehicles in when parked to give the grid a series of battery backups and reduce strain.

The company's director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives (yes, that's a real title) says the possibility of a large number of plug-in vehicles hooked to the grid presents an opportunity to introduce a megawatt-scale storage technology in the grid for the first time.

[Reuters via Gizmag]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Old Timer

Jan 12, 2010

Electric cars hardly new, as 1922 model proves at Detroit auto show

Pick your cliche: Everything old is new again. What goes 'round comes 'round. Nothing new under the sun. They all apply to electric cars. Around the turn of the century -- the nineteenth into the twentieth -- electrics outsold gasoline and steam-power cars combined.

As gasoline cars grew in popularity, electric makers pitched theirs to women, who sometimes had trouble with, or balked at the crude nature of, crank-starting gas engines. Then the electric stater was invented for gasoline engines and the electric car business evaporated as fast as dry ice at room temperature.

This 1922 Detroit Electric, parked in the lobby of  Cobo Center, home to the annual Detroit auto show, was priced equivalent to about $38,000 in today's money, according to info provided by the Henry Ford Museum. And it went an estimated 60 miles on the batteries -- a longer range than some of the electrics that today's automakers are boasting for their new electrics, coming in a year or two.

-- James R. Healey/Test Drive

Chinese Electric

BYD Hopes to Offer Electric Car in U.S. This Year

January 13, 2010, 4:54 am

After a disastrous year for the auto industry, carmakers are working hard to exude optimism and confidence at this year's auto show.

On that score alone, the winner may be the Chinese company BYD Auto, which counts Warren E. Buffett among its investors, BYD created a stir on Tuesday by announcing that it plans to start selling an electric car in California by the end of this year, a move that would make BYD the first company to sell Chinese-made vehicles in the United States, The New York Times's Nick Bunkley reported.

It also would require the company to overcome numerous hurdles, including crash and emissions testing that can sometimes take years, not to mention arranging a network of dealers.

But BYD, which was founded just seven years ago, is fond of setting ambitious goals. An introductory video played before the company made its announcement said, almost as a side note, that BYD intends to be the largest automaker in the world by 2025.

"We've been talking for years about the imminent arrival of the Chinese, and it still seems to be imminent," said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of, a Web site that gives car-buying advice to consumers. "It always seems to be 'later this year.' "

But Mr. Anwyl said BYD and other Chinese carmakers were making rapid progress, to the point that the quality and styling of their vehicles were less problematic than the difficulty of breaking into a large, mature market like the United States.

"They've got a long-term view, and they've certainly got the will," he said. "When they do come, it's going to almost be as disruptive as when the Japanese came."

The rest of the auto industry is closely watching China. Many carmakers already have become familiar with BYD and other Chinese manufacturers by competing against them in that country, which overtook the United States as the world's largest automobile market last year with sales of 13.6 million vehicles.

General Motors, the Ford Motor Company and others know it is only a matter of time before those companies begin challenging them in the United States, too. Later this year, China's biggest automaker, Geely, expects to close a deal to buy the Volvo brand from Ford, and G.M. could conclude a sale of its Hummer brand to a Chinese industrial equipment maker.

"China's going to be a force going forward," Ford's chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said at the Automotive News World Congress, a conference being held near the auto show on Tuesday.

BYD executives said the first vehicle they wanted to sell in the United States was a battery-powered, five-passenger crossover vehicle called the e6. The company claims it would have a 205-mile range, and drivers would charge the vehicle's battery by plugging it into an outlet at home or at fast-charging stations, which do not exist yet.

The e6 costs about $40,000 to make, so government incentives would be important to making it affordable at first, said Henry Li, the general manager of BYD's auto export trade division. American consumers would buy the vehicle at stand-alone BYD dealerships, which have not been established, Mr. Li said.

Under repeated questioning by skeptical reporters, Mr. Li said that none of the obstacles would be insurmountable for BYD.

"I think the market now is looking for electric cars," he said. But he cautioned, "We don't expect high volumes."

Mr. Li said that the e6 complied with all Chinese vehicle standards and that executives were confident it would ultimately meet far more stringent United States regulations.

"In the design, we already considered these requirements," he said.

This is BYD's third consecutive trip to the Detroit auto show. A year ago, the company listed 2011 as its target for selling the e6 in the United States, and it listed a higher range, acceleration and top speed for the vehicle.

Other Chinese automakers have visited Detroit in the past, only to find that their vehicles — like the rhombus-shaped sedan with wheels on three axles and a bamboo interior in 2007 — were not were not taken seriously, and they have not returned.

Many of the Chinese contenders seemed to market themselves on the idea that they could undercut competitors on price, regardless of quality or design.

That is not the strategy at BYD, which already makes many of the batteries used in mobile phones and other electronics.

"The product," Mr. Li said, "has to be good."

New York Times


BRUSSELS SHOW: Citroen unveils its Mitsubishi-built voltswagen

13 January 2010 | Source: editorial team

Citroën took the wraps off its new Citroen and Peugeot.  Parent Group announced last September that Mitsubishi would supply the EVs, beginning production in October. MMC also builds variants of its Outlander crossover for the two French brands.

Mitsubishi-built all-electric four-seater C-Zero city car at the 88th European Motor Show in Brussels, Belgium, today (13 January). The car is a re-brand of the Japanese automaker's i-MiEV, supplied on an OEM basis from Japan. A Peugeot iOn-branded model is also due out soon.

"Zero fuel consumption, zero CO2 emissions and zero engine noise - the aptly named C-Zero is Citroën's 100% electric solution to meet the demands of modern day urban driving," the automaker claimed (without once mentioning Mitsubishi), adding its compact dimensions, rapid charge and generous (80 miles) make it the "perfect city companion".

The car has a permanent magnet synchronous motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. Maximum power of 47kW or 64bhp is delivered from 3,000 to 6,000rpm and maximum torque of 180Nm from 0 to 2,000rpm.  The batteries can be charged by either by a 220 volt domestic socket or a high speed 400-volt supply which gives an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

The car is 3.48m long, said to have "four real seats" and a 166 litre boot (trunk).  Top speed is 80mph (120km/h) and acceleration from 0-62mph (100km/h) takes 15 seconds. The turning circle is a nimble 9m. 

The C-Zero goes on sale in the last quarter of 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Future of Energy – Part II

Switched-On Highways


With oil under $50 a barrel, does your business plan still make sense?
The cost of the battery [averaged out over its lifetime] roughly translates to about four to six cents per mile. The cost of clean electricity translates to about one to two cents per mile. So [our costs are] somewhere between six and eight cents per mile. If you look at the average miles per gallon a car gets in the U.S., [those costs are in line with oil at] $25 a barrel.

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Denmark and Israel are small, densely populated countries. How do you make this work in the sprawling American Midwest?

If you look at the North American continent, you actually have about 50 urban centers, which are, on the East Coast, so dense that at least half of them overlap another center. If you look at California, the California area is actually covered with four of these dense circles. Imagine a hundred-mile circle around San Francisco, and another hundred-mile circle around Sacramento, and again the same thing in Los Angeles and San Diego. In between those you have three freeways connecting [northern and southern California]. On these freeways, if you put switch stations at a distance of about 30 miles from one another, you would have full coverage across the entire state, which is effectively the most prolific car state in the nation.
We still don't seem to be where we need to be in terms of battery technology. Is it improving?

The Moore's curve for batteries is about 8 percent to 10 percent improvement per year. Do we need to wait for the best battery? We didn't wait for the best chip technology to start the PC revolution, and we didn't wait for the best communications chip to start the cell-phone revolution.

But you're saying the car is viable with current batteries? Many have said that they're too expensive or too heavy right now.

We have a battery in the car today that weighs 550 pounds and takes you 155 miles without air conditioning. It gives you a car that weighs less than any hybrid in the market today, costs less than any hybrid today, and actually drives faster than any hybrid today. What we were missing was a business model. Once we put in place the infrastructure and the business model, batteries beat fuel on efficiency, affordability and convenience. Nobody will send you a Chevron truck to fill your car at night, every night. I can fill your car at night, every night.
We don't produce batteries in the United States. With your plan, instead of sending money to OPEC, aren't we just sending it to battery-producing countries?

[That statement] is painfully right. The U.S. is in a very, very dire situation vis-à-vis battery manufacturing. The government should come up and say, "We're building a battery reserve, much like the national oil reserve, and to build that battery reserve we're willing to take the risk of a loan guarantee to manufacturers."

So in this you do see a role for government?
This doesn't happen without government. This is Silicon Valley meets Michigan meets Washington, D.C.

The Future of Energy - Part I

Switched-On Highways

Electric cars are cheaper and faster than any hybrid on the market, says Shai Agassi.
By Fareed Zakaria | Newsweek

The all-electric automobile is not a new idea: in 1900, a quarter of the cars produced in the United States ran on batteries alone. But when Henry Ford debuted his cheap, gas-powered Model T in 1908, oil quickly became the industry standard. Shai Agassi, 40, a former president at software giant SAP, thinks the electric car deserves to be salvaged from history's dustbin. With his new venture, Better Place, he plans to jump-start the fledgling electric-auto industry by building an entire infrastructure—cars, recharge stations and more—from scratch. Governments in Israel, Denmark, northern California and elsewhere have signed on.

NEWSWEEK'S Fareed Zakaria spoke to him about the company. Excerpts:
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ZAKARIA: What's the idea Switched-On Highways
of Better Place?

AGASSI: We looked at the problem of transport from a very different perspective than the automotive sector has in the past. They've all looked at it from the perspective of how to build the car. We looked at it from the perspective of how to run an entire country without oil. You've got to put the infrastructure ahead of the cars. In our case, the infrastructure is a combination of a massive amount of charge spots and the ability to switch batteries in less time than it takes you to fill up with gasoline.

But by building the infrastructure before you have electric cars on the road, aren't you putting the cart before the horse?

We wouldn't build the infrastructure if we didn't have a massive carmaker to build cars. Renault-Nissan is the first to build the cars for this infrastructure, and we've coordinated so our infrastructure will be in place when their cars hit the market.

How else have you altered the old transportation model?

The second [change we decided on] is that the car and the battery, ownership wise, have to be separated.

Why is that?

You never want to be the guy who bought the previous [year's] battery. We say, you never buy the battery. What you buy is the car. The third change is in the business model. You buy the commute by miles, and commute miles include the battery, the electricity, access to the network and battery-switching. You [sign up for] a contract on a per-mile basis, and you get a rebate based on the length of your contract. That makes the electric car cheaper to acquire than the gasoline counterpart.

Does government have any role in this?

Our model is not predicated on government subsidies. What governments can do is they can accelerate adoption. Every government creates a different policy. Israel, our first site, created a tax differential of 60 percent between buying a gasoline car and an electric car. Denmark went up to a 180 percent difference—180 percent tax on gas engines, zero tax on electric.

This all sounds very complicated. What's the status report from Israel and Denmark?

Our goal for Israel and Denmark is mass-market access by 2011. In 2010, we have a systems-wide test where we have about 100,000 [recharge] spots already installed, a few thousand cars, a few switch stations already in location, the software's already in place, people are driving on customer contracts and are paying. In 2009, we have a smaller systems test with about 50 cars going around Israel and about 50 cars going around Denmark.

Fuel Cell Technology

What Is a Fuel Cell?

Fuel cells are self-contained, power-generation devices that are able to produce reliable electricity for residential, commercial, industrial and transportation applications. A fuel cell can convert hydrogen directly into electricity that can be used to power an electric car, for example, or a home.

What Are the Benefits?

In fuel cells, the use of hydrogen produces fewer greenhouse gases than does burning fossil fuels. Fuel cells convert energy efficiently, which helps conserve energy resources, and a byproduct of this electro-chemical process is pure water — a clear benefit for the environment.

However, hydrogen — a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas — is not found freely in nature. It must be extracted from other substances. Before fuel cells can achieve widespread use in vehicle or stationary-power markets, hydrogen as a fuel will have to be readily available. None of this will happen overnight. Hydrogen will become part of the world's energy supply step by step as technical challenges are overcome and market forces create new opportunities. This could take decades.

What Is Being Done

In San Ramon, California, the first commercially operating stationary fuel cell power plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. The plant turns hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and provides 200 kilowatts of electricity to power a portion of our corporate data center. The fuel cell power plant separates hydrogen (supplied by natural gas, a hydrocarbon fuel) into its basic elements and combines it with oxygen from the air, creating electricity, clean water and usable heat.

The onsite fuel cell has a number of benefits that include:

  • Providing a clean, quiet and reliable independent power source for critical electric loads.
  • Demonstrating an efficient technology that involves no combustion, recovers heat and clean water for multiple uses, and reduces demand on the local electricity grid.
  • Allowing us to monitor and analyze fuel cell performance relative to conventional power technologies in a commercial application.

The fuel cell application is designed to support computer servers that must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the event of a disruption on local utility lines, which also deliver power to the data center, special switching equipment ensures the fuel cell will continue to provide electricity to these servers without interruption. The first megawatt-class fuel cell in California at Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail, the third-largest county detention facility in the state and the fifth-largest in the nation. The fuel cell provides continuous high-quality power 24 hours a day, and the exhaust heat byproduct can be used for combined heat and power for the buildings.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Detroit Auto Show

Honda aims to add flair to hybrid market with CR-Z

AP – Executive Vice President of American Honda Motor Co. John Mendel, introduces the 2011 Honda CR-Z

1 hr 45 mins ago

DETROIT – Honda Motor Co. showed off the production model of the 2011 CR-Z, a sporty two-seater hybrid that will go on sale late summer in the U.S. at the Detroit auto show Monday.

The CR-Z hatchback is Honda's attempt to bring a bit of flair to the hybrid segment, whose design has long dominated by the boxy lines and sloping roofs of four-door sedans like the Toyota Prius. The two-door CR-Z, by contrast, features a compact profile and roadster look. It also comes with multiple drive modes that allow cycling between sportier or more fuel-efficient drive settings.

"CR-Z is a look into the future of sporty and personal driving," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda.

The new CR-Z will get 36 city miles per gallon and 38 highway mpg, according to Honda's preliminary estimates. That's below the fuel economy of its flagship hybrid, the Insight. It's also less efficient the2010 Prius, which gets 51 city/48 highway mpg, according to the EPA.

Unlike other hybrids, CR-Z drivers will be able to cycle between three drive modes: sport, normal and economy. Sport mode enhances the car's performance, while economy mode maximizes fuel economy. The 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine will be available in 6-speed manual transmission or with a continuously variable transmission and boasts 122 horsepower.

Pricing will be announced at a late date, Honda said.

Honda Chief Executive Takanobu Ito said during the unveiling in Detroit that the company plans to add hybrid models to its Acura luxury brand. And in an interview earlier in the day, he said Honda remains focused on hybrids and wants to eventually be able to exceed the Prius in fuel economy.

The CR-Z is Honda's third entry in the gas-electric hybrid market, after the Civic hybrid and the Insight. The Insight, a four-door sedan that went on sale in the U.S. last year, was designed to be a cheaper competitor to the market-leading Prius.

While the Insight has sold well in Japan — where it is the No. 2 hybrid and the fifth-best selling vehicle overall — sales in the U.S. have been disappointing and reviews among critics have been mixed. Honda projected it would sell more than 40,000 Insights in 2009, but sold a little more than half that number.

Mendel said the Insight faced a difficult market. The economy disproportionately affected the young buyers Honda was targeting, he said. At the same time, gas prices fell, so consumers were less interested in hybrids.

"Insight is the right car. The timing could have been better," Mendel told The Associated Press in an interview.

In December, Honda sold 1,639 Insights in the U.S. In contrast, Toyota sold nearly 12,000 Priuses.

Detroit Auto Show

Toyota unveils pint-sized hybrid concept car

AP – Toyota FT-CH compact hybrid concept car is shown at the North American International Auto Show Monday, …

  • Mon Jan 11, 2:47 pm ET              

    DETROIT – Toyota unveiled a new hybrid concept car that is smaller than the Prius and geared toward younger buyers, part of the company's hybrid and alternative-fuel lineup, which it is expanding over the next several years.

    The Japanese automaker showed off the FT-CH compact at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday, and it confirmed it plans to expand the Prius brand from a single vehicle to a family of hybrids.

    The FT-CH could be sold under the Prius name, Toyota said.

    The plan to broaden the Prius brand is a sign of its success and loyalty among buyers. The Prius, which launched in the U.S. in 2000, has long been the nation's top-selling hybrid and was the best-selling vehicle overall in Japan last year.

    "The strategy is still taking shape and obviously it will require additional models to qualify as a family," said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, a division of Toyota Motor Corp.

    Hybrids run on batteries and gasoline.

    Toyota said the two-door FT-CH, 22 inches shorter than the Prius, is lighter and more fuel efficient and its styling, inspired by 8-bit video games popular during the 1980s, is intended to appeal to younger buyers.

    The FT-CH, as a concept vehicle, has no official sales or production schedule.

    Toyota said it plans to sell 1 million hybrids worldwide each year by launching eight new models over the next few years.

    It also plans to offer plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars starting in model-year 2012 and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in 2015.

    Toyota recently launched a global demonstration program of its plug-in hybrid technology. Starting early this year, Toyota is sending 150 plug-in Priuses with lithium-ion batteries — less bulky than the nickel-metal hydride batteries that currently power hybrids — to the U.S. for testing.

    The automaker also said Monday it will send more than 100 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to universities, companies and government agencies in California and New York to publicize hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

Ford Fusion Hybrid is North American Car of the Year

Ford Sweeps Honors as Transit Connect is Named N.A. Truck of the Year

#NAIAS - Capping a sweet introductory year, the commercially well-received Ford Fusion Hybrid won top critical honors this morning as it was named the North American Car of the Year by a jury of 49 automotive journalists.

Ford's mid-sized hybrid sedan, which helped boosts Ford's overall sale performance in an otherwise dismal 2009, has been praised for its smooth operation, fuel economy, looks and interactive information system that helps drivers modify their behind-the-wheel behavior to increase  fuel economy.

Ford dealers sold 15,554 Fusion Hybrids last year, making it the third best-selling gas-electric model in the market behind the industry's perennial leader, Toyota's Prius, the the new and lower-priced compact Honda Insight hybrid.

The North American Car of the Year Award is considered meaningful because it does not represent the judgment of a single publication or media outlet but is bestowed by an independent panel of journalists, including freelance writers and editors and those representing a wide variety  newspapers, magazines and on-line publications.

The 17-year-old award  recognizes what the judges feel are the  most significant vehicles of the year in terms of technical innovation, design, user friendliness, safety, handling and value.

This year's award marks the fourth time - and the second time for Ford - that a hybrid has won since the first gas-electric car was sold in North American in 1999. The Ford Escape Hybrid was named truck of the year by the panel in 2005.

Edmunds is represented on the panel by editors from Inside Line, Auto Observer and

Judges also selected Ford's Transit Connect commercial van, introduced in the u.s. last year after several years of success in the European market, as the North American Truck of the Year.

This marks only the third time the same automaker captured both car and truck award in the same year. Honda was the first to do so, in 2006, followed by General Motors in 2007.


Posted by John O'Dell January 11, 2010, 7:32 AM

2010 Detroit Auto Show

#NAIAS - Hoping to overshadow a recent spate of bad publicity about vehicle quality and safety recalls by focusing on things to come, Toyota announced a U.S. test of its fuel-cell electric vehicle, showed a new dedicated compact hybrid and called for a national effort to develop an alternative fueling infrastructure - all before lunch as the 2010 North American International Auto Show's press preview days got underway this morning.

Toyota's FT-EV concept will become a production electric car in 2012.

The company said its call to provide public chargers for battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen stations for fuel-cell cars is based on its belief that consumers will demand more than home-based refueling systems for advanced technology vehicles and want electrically driven cars to offer the same coast-to-coast mobility their gasoline and diesel cars and trucks now provide.
Toyota Motor Sales USA President Jim Lentz also restated the company's intent to to begin a number of other advanced technology vehicle programs including:

  • plans to introduce eight new, dedicated hybrids - either all-new models or hybrid versions of existing gasoline-only models;
  • introduction of its first lithium-ion battery in a plug-in Prius hybrid (right), to be launched this year for fleet testing in the U.S.;
  • retail sales of plug-in hybrids by 2012;
  • launch of a battery-electric city car as a 2012 model, also using lithium-ion batteries;
  • a 100-vehicle test in the U.S. of its hydrogen fuel cell technology;
  • global retail sales of fuel-cell vehicles in 2015.

Posted by John O'Dell January 11, 2010, 7:50 AM

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Detroit Auto Show

Smaller, electric cars reign at Detroit auto show

AP – FILE - This file image provided by General Motors Friday Jan. 8, 2010 shows the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo RS …

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By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher, Ap Auto Writer – 2 hrs 1 min ago

DETROIT – Electric, hybrid and small cars will grab center stage at the Detroit auto show this week, as the industry adapts to a world reshaped by the Great Recession and environmental worries.

The event will demonstrate just how automakers are responding to this new reality. Ford wants to build on its success in midsize sedans and re-ignite its small car sales, while Hyundai aims to extend last year's triumph in budget-conscious models. GM and Chrysler will start fresh with electric vehicles but also try to boost their small-car credibility. Toyota hopes to solidify its dominance in hybrids.

The new crop of models must be successful if automakers are to reverse last year's 21 percent sales plunge. Mounting job losses, GM and Chrysler's bankruptcy filings and the death of several iconic brands sent sales skidding to their lowest level since 1982.

Americans feel less wealthy — and more certain that the trend toward higher fuel prices remains a threat. It's a change U.S. automakers were slow to embrace — and it cost them the last two years as gas prices surged and consumers stopped spending. Most Japanese and European car makers were also caught in the sales downdraft, even though they depended less on pickup trucks.

In 2010, with frugality embedded in drivers' minds, automakers want to show off new versions of smaller, less expensive cars, many of which get 40 mpg on highways. That also appeals to motorists concerned about climate change.

The show isn't exclusively about small cars. Detroit automakers also will try to revive 1960s-style car passion with muscle cars, a niche that's doing well.

Compared with last year's stripped-down down affair, the show will offer more glitter. GM will have an elevated floor for new cars, a change from 2009's carpet-over-concrete that was just about everywhere.

One big display is a 37,000-square-foot "Electric Avenue" on the main floor, featuring 20 vehicles that run on kilowatts instead of gasoline. Electrics were shown last year, but shared the spotlight with cars powered by conventional engines.

"Last year we had that 'sky-is-falling' mentality, and everybody was running for cover," says Doug Fox, an Ann Arbor, Mich., car dealer and chairman of this year's show, officially called the North American International Auto Show. "We are seeing a little more investment made in the actual exhibits than last year."

Although auto sales improved at the end of 2009, the 41 new vehicles to be unveiled at this year's show will be down from last year's 50, Fox says.

That's because Chrysler LLC, which normally shows five or six new vehicles, has no debuts, and GM has fewer new vehicles because it is shedding the Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and Saab brands, Fox says.

Here are some key trends to watch at this year's Detroit auto show:


Small cars and smaller SUVs — called crossovers — made up only 21 percent of U.S. sales in 2003. But last year, they rose to 32 percent and are expected to grow to 36 percent in 2013. Buyers will see that trend reflected at the show.

General Motors Co. will show off the new Chevrolet Aveo subcompact. The Aveo has been given a more powerful engine, and a lower grille and 19-inch tires for a tougher appearance. The four-door Aveo, along with Ford Motor Co.'s new Focus and Chevrolet Spark minicar, will be part of a small-car blitz. All three will get near 40 mpg on the highway.

"The new paradigm of the American passenger car is no longer great, big rear-wheel-drive luxobarges," says Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst for the consulting firm IHS Global Insight in Troy, Mich. "It's small, efficient and upscale."


Much of the show's buzz is expected to come from electric vehicles, which have jumped off the drawing board and onto the convention floor. Several big automakers plan to sell them in late 2010, giving the broader public its first chance to buy cars that rely more on electrical outlets than gas pumps.

The big draw is the chance to stop burning gas and drive a more environmentally friendly car, but the cars are expensive.

Nissan Motor Co.'s rechargeable Leaf, due in showrooms late this year, will make its first appearance inside a U.S. auto show. The Leaf is purely electric, using just a rechargeable battery for power. But its expected cost is about $30,000. Chevrolet's Volt, unveiled three years ago and for sale this fall, will make a reappearance at the show. It costs about $40,000, although there are up to $7,500 in tax credits available.

China's BYD Co. LTD, which has the backing of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, plans to show the F3DM plug-in hybrid compact sedan and the new e6 that could come to the U.S. late this year.

Among the Europeans, BMW AG will unveil an electric concept car.

Toyota, whose Prius has dominated gas-electric hybrid sales across the globe, plans to show a new hybrid car.

Unlike the last few years, Chinese automakers largely will skip the show, perhaps because they're focusing on their own country's explosive sales growth. Still, any car maker that wants to grow must focus on the U.S., where Asian manufacturers collectively grabbed a bigger chunk of the market than Detroit manufacturers for the first time last year.

One floor below the main level, people can ride with a professional driver in electric cars on a tree-lined course, another sign of the dramatic transition from internal combustion engines to electric.


Muscle cars, while a small part of the market, sold relatively well last year with the Mustang outdueling the Camaro for the top sales spot. Each automaker sold more than 60,000 of the cars.

Ford will put a bigger, more powerful V-8 into the Mustang, while GM plans to show a Chevrolet Camaro convertible muscle car and a sporty GS version of the Buick Regal midsize sedan.

New designs for both small and performance cars generally are following trends toward smaller windows and higher door lines that rise from the hood to rear. Side and hood creases in the sheet metal are designed to make cars appear as they are moving even while still.


AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach in Beijing contributed to this report.


AFS Trinity, a small company headquartered in Bellevue Washington has developed a system that can turn a production hybrid SUV, strait off the showroom floor, into a 150 MPG Plug-In Hybrid SUV! The Extreme Hybrid (XH TM) is a system that can be adapted to an existing vehicle. Its uses technology we have today so there's no need to wait for fuel cells or pure electric cars to mature. We could all be driving at 150 MPG today.

78% of Americans drive less than 40 miles per day. For these drivers this system may never fire up its gasoline or flex-fuel motor. Instead the batteries and electric motor will power the car from the charge it received at home. When the batteries run low the efficient combustion motor kicks in to charge the batteries and drive the car. In a just few years the system pays for itself in gas not burned.
Ideally main stream automakers take notice of this and all the other technologies popping up this week as a result of the North American Internal Auto Show in Detroit. Hopefully main stream auto makers will jump on board and begin implementing these simple innovative ideas in their own cars. This system for example could easily be licensed by big automakers and installed in cars now.

You can make a significant difference by waiting to buy your next car until a super efficient Plug-In Hybrid is available. When you choose spend your money only on the best technology and you show that you're willing to wait for it, auto makers will take notice and make the right decision. Choose to wait. Choose to buy a 100+ MPG vehicle as your next new car. Vote with your wallet!

Why Hydrogen is a Bad Idea

#1 Commercial hydrogen usually comes from natural gas.
The vast majority of commercial hydrogen comes from processing natural gas. This is because it's cheaper and easier to extract hydrogen from natural gas than through the electrolysis of water.
But let's say for a minute that we were going to get our hydrogen from water. Why would we use that electricity to extract hydrogen? Why not just use it to charge up the electric car? Oh right… Energy company profits would be at risk.

#2 A new national hydrogen infrastructure would be needed.
To build a national infrastructure of commercial hydrogen filling stations would take decades and would probably rely on the current natural gas pipelines like Honda's Home Energy Station. Why not stop using fossil fuels and stick solar panels on out homes instead? Oh right… Energy company profits would be at risk.
In Honda's defense they have also been testing a solar powered system to make hydrogen from the electrolysis of water. Honda seems to be way ahead of the curve and have their irons in many fires. Smart people at Honda.

#3 The largest proven natural gas reserves are in Russia and Persian Gulf.
The largest natural reserves of natural gas in the world are located in Iran and Russia.Why the heck would we want to choose to experience, peak oil, peak coal, and then peak natural gas. Why not start building the world's largest renewable energy system right here in our own backyard? Oh right… Energy company profits would be at risk.

I'm really happy that Obama has assembled the team of smart people he has. Decisions like the DOE cutting way back on Hydrogen is incredibly smart.Hydrogen fuel cells are sexy sounding technology for a fossil fuel sourced fuel. Eventually when it's possible to make vast quantities of hydrogen from the electrolysis of seawater and the electricity used to make it comes from renewable sources (solar, wind, wave, hydroelectric) then the real green promise of Hydrogen might be realized. But this would take decades so it makes a lot more sense to stop throwing tax dollars away on it.

If the energy companies are so hot to see hydrogen happen let them pay for it. Haven't we let them raid public funds long enough with their pocket presidents and oil wars?
Electric cars, while not super sexy today, are a better long term solution and plug-in hybrid technology is here RIGHT NOW! Plug-in hybrids are the best transition technology because for local trips they never have to fire up their gasoline engines. Who knows maybe someone will figure out a flex-fuel plug-in hybrid too… now that would be cool. Battery and charging technology is also advancing very quickly making quick-charge electric cars a more likely near-term possibility.

I'm not on anyone's payroll and I write what I think. What you see here are my humble opinions. If you take a little time and do the research yourself you'll see I'm right. In the end we can make it all happen by simply voting with our dollars. Choose to buy a new car when they deliver a car worth buying. I'm holding out for at least 100MPG.