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The Anatomy of the Plug-In Hybrid—Part 1: What the Heck is it?

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Coastie for Truth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:56 AM
Original message
The Anatomy of the Plug-In Hybrid—Part 1: What the Heck is it?
The Anatomy of the Plug-In Hybrid—Part 1: What the Heck is it? Treehugger


The Anatomy of the Plug-In Hybrid—Part 1: What the Heck is it? Treehugger February 28, 2006 12:20 PM - Jacob Gordon, Los Angeles, CA

You wake up in the morning and get ready for work. You go to your car, unplug it from the outlet in the garage (the same one the power drill is plugged into), and off you go. You go to work, stop for groceries on the way back home, pick up your kid, and then go out to dinner, and even though your car is a hybrid, the gasoline engine never goes on. You do your daily driving purely on electricity. The car is almost silent and even though there’s a tailpipe, nothing’s coming out of it. After dinner you decide to go to a movie. Between the restaurant and the theater the electric batteries finally run out of juice so…the regular hybrid system kicks in and you’re back to getting 40 or 50 mpg on gasoline. Until tomorrow.

This is what life might be like with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV. With additional battery packs added to a conventional gas/electric hybrid, a car can run on electric power alone for somewhere between 20 and 60 miles, at which point it switches over to the hybrid system. Plug-ins, which are not a new idea, may present a logical link between gas/electric hybrids and pure electric vehicles, offering greater efficiency and cleaner emissions than a hybrid, without the risk of running out of juice like a pure EV, or a need for an electric charging infrastructure. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, half of American drivers commute 25 miles or less each day. If these people drove plug-ins, going to the gas station might be something they do only on long trips, and could typically do months of local driving between fill-ups.

Plug-ins are just beginning to come on the market, and their future is still unclear. The first plug-in conversion kit has just recently become available and more are poised to launch soon. For most advocates, though, plug-in retrofits are just a means of leveraging automakers into adopting plug-in technology on a large scale. Conversion kits are not cheap: around $10,000 each. But plug-in hopefuls claim that if automakers would adopt the technology, mass production and accelerated R&D would bring down the price tag to a few thousand dollars more than a typical hybrid, which now cost few thousand more than conventional internal combustion cars.

Most plug-in hybrids that have been created get 100 mpg or more, and because they charge at night when most utilities have lower rates, they cost an equivalent of a few cents per gallon. Plug-ins run on lithium ion (Li-ion) or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, and recent advances in battery technology, like MIT’s new lithium battery recipe, may improve the charge duration and lower the cost of batteries for plug-ins. If plug-ins attract enough public interest and research dollars, hopes are that it could pave the way for batteries good enough to make pure electric vehicles more practical and affordable.

<<<SNIP>>>



Read the whole article here

According to the author, a big problem seems to be that the manufacturers spent so much time, effort, and emotion deriding pure electrics, that the derision effort may have hurt PHEV's.

I remember some kind of a PHEV truck during WW2 (gas rationing) - the green grocer at down at the end of block had one. (I think it may have been a Divco).
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Benhurst Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:31 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for the interesting post. I had never heard of
Divco; but I Googled an interesting site on the company after reading your post.




http://www.divco.org/divco%20history.htm
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Coastie for Truth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #1
11. Back in my day (I'm in my 60's) when most families did NOT have
two cars, and most milk was delivered to your house in glass bottles - Divco trucks were common everywhere.
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gristy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. Interesting article, and I'm a fan of hybrid plug-ins, but I did the math
Most plug-in hybrids that have been created get 100 mpg or more, and because they charge at night when most utilities have lower rates, they cost an equivalent of a few cents per gallon.

I do believe that the hybrid plug-in presents significant economic and ecological benefits, but this statement is a bit of a stretch. I just now did the math, and I find that the cost of gasoline is actually a bit cheaper than electricity (even my night rate) when compared in the same units of energy (at $1.50/gallon, gasoline costs $0.043/KW-H). So to be able to charge the electric car's batteries at an equivalent cost of "a few cents per gallon", the electric car would have to be 50x more efficient in converting electric energy to kinetic energy (i.e. forward voom) than a gasoline car in converting the gasoline's energy to forward voom. It isn't.
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Coastie for Truth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. I don't think we'll see $1.50/gal gasoline ever again.
I have seen calculations that $1.50-2.00/gallon is the equivalent tax for "protecting our oilfields" in Bush Wars for Oil.
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rfkrfk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. lets look at real numbers
at typical EV gets 3 to 4 miles, per killowat hour.
a PHEV is just a short-range-on-EV version of that.

if electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt-hour,
that is about 3 cents of electricity, per mile

How many cars can go a mile on three cents of gasoline?

not a few cents per gallon, but still much less than gasoline

.................................

gasoline contains about 120,000 btu per gallon
optimisticly, that is 40,000 btu of mechanical-electrical energy

one kw-hr is 3412 btu

40.000 / 3412 is 11.7 'kw-hr per gallon'

or, if electricity is ten cents, the gasoline conversion
would be $1.17 per gallon

.......
your talking points come from the Sierra Club?,
I find it intersesting that the SC is shilling
for the gasoline engine
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Coastie for Truth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Too many "calculations" from Nay sayers
come from plugging and chugging the conversion factors in Perry's or Mark's or Dorf's without any consideration of "Third Law" issues ("efficiency")
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gristy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. My talking points?
Can you tell me what you're talking about? Did I make an error in my post?
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rfkrfk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. you are missing an important point
>and I find that the cost of gasoline is actually a bit cheaper than electricity (even my night rate) when compared in the same units of energy<

to convert gasoline to mechanical work,
it needs to go thru an engine, typically
efficiency would be one-third,or so

electricity has already 'done that',

the conversion between electricity and work
is usally very good

comparing electricity to gasoline
on a 'heat / combustion heat' basis is misleading, and,

it is typical of how the NIMBYS at the Sierra Club
would try to mislead people
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:24 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Yeah, fuck those Sierra Clubbers - they just suck
:rofl:
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gristy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. I never tried to mislead anyone. In fact, I thought my post was clear.
If you feel you were mislead, you need to try harder to understand what I wrote. My conclusion was that "the electric car would have to be 50x more efficient" for an electric vehicle's operating cost to be the equivalent of a few cents per gallon (this was the point in the original post that I had highlighted in bold). Conserve your own energy. You're arguing with the wrong guy.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:38 PM
Response to Reply #13
18. What is being overlooked is that the PHEV could and would be
recharged directly from such sources as solar and wind, technologies that are being improved in terms of cost per watt at a dramatic pace. Cars will be coated in thin film solar collection cells that will be working during all daylight hours whether the car is in motion or not. Ten years from now, solar collection arrays will be in places that at present are not being looked at. Parked cars could be plugged into static arrays in such locations as parking lots, any open place where arrays could be used. We haven't begun to seriously look for alternative energy sources, thanks to the fossil fuel company's relentless discouragement.
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NickB79 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 02:32 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. Gasoline will never be $1.50 again
This summer it will likely peak over $3, and within a year or two hit $4/gallon, IMO.

The benefit of electricity is that we can produce it from a myriad of sources. Wind, solar, nuclear, etc. In contrast, we must drill for oil to produce gasoline, and easily-accessible oil reserves are becoming smaller and harder to find.

If it were most efficient to drive cars on whale oil, would you argue we should be using whale oil? Of course not, because that is an energy source that can't meet demand. As Peak Oil sets in, petroleum producers will no longer be able to meet demand either. Without an alternative to oil, we're screwed.
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Massacure Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:17 PM
Response to Reply #2
12. There is no such thing as a car getting 100 mpg.
You burn a gallon of gasoline, and you go a certain amount of miles, definately not 100. Electricity has no impact on how far a gallon of gas will get you. Period.
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
3. Not such a new idea...
don't have links handy, but over ten years ago there were a whole bunch of backyard mechanics who were essentially taking an electric car and stuffing a generator in there to charge the batteries when away from an outlet.

No reason why it wouldn't work, but there are a number of possible production and patent problems bringing such a beast to market by the majors.

10 grand may or may not be a bit much for a conversion kit, but it seems to me that if you grab an old minivan with a blown engine and do the conversion you're gonna come out way ahead.

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Coastie for Truth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Saw PHEV's
without regenerative breaking at EV club car shows "in the old days" too.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 02:08 PM
Response to Original message
6. There are a number of advantages for the PHEV
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 02:09 PM by ladjf
1. On grid solar arrays would be regaining some of the energy for the plug in vehicle (PHEV) during the day and send it to the PHEV's batteries when the car isn't in use. (Also, for areas with adequate wind velocities, the on-grid wind generator could all lots of kwatts.

2. Alternate sources such as company parking lots would have solar panel outlets to the employees or customers who leave the vehicles parked for long periods during the day, possibly for an extra fee.

3. The vehicles themselves will eventually be covered with thin film solar arrays that would use the same plug in technology to add charge back into the batteries continually whether the vehicle is in use or idle.

4. Rather than using the current hybrid concept of having drive power from both electrical and gasoline, future PHEV would have only one type motivating source, electric, either one or more electric motors, with an on board gasoline generators for especially heavy work or long mileage. The on-board generator would be capable of keeping up with the needs of the motors if necessary. This might seem pointless. But, what I have in mind is that the generator would boost the batteries when no other alternatives aren't available, i.e. cloudy, wind less weather.
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gristy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #6
16. Having only an electric motor always made sense to me, but over time
I've concluded that converting gasoline energy to electric and then to mechanical is sufficiently inefficient that it makes more sense for the gasoline motor to not only charge the batteries and drive the electric motor, but also contribute energy directly to the drive train. I think this is the approach that most, if not all, of the hybrid manufacturers have taken.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:32 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Obviously, to simply use gasoline to generate electricity isn't
any ultimate answer. I only meant that the generator would be a backup in the event other sources were temporarily unavailable.

The in-wheel electric motor concept is going to dominate soon. Mitsubishi is showing it's model this year in Geneva and other shows. By have four efficient in-wheel, or hub motors, the simplicity of design will provide numerous other benefits, among them there would be no transmission or drive train and with the battery array flatly configured very close to the ground, the 4 wheel drive vehicle would have an unsurpassed center of gravity. This design will be safe, speedy, attractive, simple, trouble free and ultimately much cheaper to manufacture and will last longer than current designs.
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