Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Mazda’s newest engine technology


Mazda seems confident its spark controlled compression ignition solution – a sort of cross between petrol and diesel engine technology, but running on petrol – can rival electric vehicles in overall CO2 output and hopes to put it on sale.

We get it says TechXplore. Car-makers say they are on board for a next chapter in the electrification of cars and they have teams dedicated to developing cars toward that end.

Well-known brands are looking at alternative-fuel solutions such as hybrid or all-electric. It seems as if the internal combustion engine will be on its way out.

But wait.

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Image credit: easyevcharge.uk


Even a relatively small number of EVs charging at once in a local area could put the local transformer under serious strain, as Phys.org reports.

An influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) charging without coordination could prove challenging to the nation’s electric grid, according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Matteo Muratori, a transportation and energy systems engineer at NREL and author of the new Nature Energy paper, “Impact of Uncoordinated Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging on Residential Power Demand,” created a computer simulation to explore the effects of in-home charging on the grid.

“Realizing the full benefits of vehicle electrification will necessitate a systems-level approach that treats vehicles, buildings, and the grid as an integrated network,” said Johney Green Jr., NREL’s associate lab director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences.

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We don’t normally do press releases at the Talkshop, but this one might be interesting if we can work out what it really means. The fact that they refer to grid stability implies it’s an issue in Germany at least.

Automobile, home and power supply combined to form an intelligent energy network: In a pilot project the Audi Smart Energy Network for the first time interacts with the power grid.

This marks a major advance for grid stability, claims Audi’s press release.

As part of a research project, Audi is running a pilot project with households in the Ingolstadt area and the Zurich region in conjunction with other partners.

This involves combining various sizes of photovoltaic systems with stationary storage batteries. The control software by the Zurich start-up company Ampard distributes the solar power intelligently based on the current or plannable demand from car, household and heating system.

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Hyperloop: Future or fantasy?

Posted: January 20, 2018 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel


Hype or hope? BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones visits Virgin Hyperloop One’s test track near Las Vegas.

So, here’s the plan – we’re going to load you into a pod, and then shoot you at 700 mph (1,123 km/h) through a vacuum, taking you to your destination in minutes rather than hours.

That is the rather unlikely pitch of Hyperloop One.

But the remarkable thing that struck me on a recent trip to the project’s test site in Nevada was that nobody thought it was, well, remarkable.

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Image credit: BBC


Looks like UK councils have better things to do than worry about providing charging points for a few electric car owners. There are no council-run filling stations after all.

Just five councils across England have taken advantage of a government backed scheme for funding electric car charge points, ministers have revealed.

Jesse Norman and Claire Perry, respectively ministers for transport and climate change, have written to local authorities urging them to take advantage of the On-Street Residential Charge point Scheme, which was launched in 2016, reports Utility Week.

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Electric bike crackdown in New York

Posted: December 26, 2017 by oldbrew in Legal, News, Travel
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Electric delivery bike [credit: electricbike.com]


Pollution-free pizza deliveries are too racy for NYC it seems.

Cheap, electric bicycles have made life a lot easier for New York City’s legions of restaurant delivery workers, but the party may be over in the New Year, says Phys.org.

City officials are promising a crackdown on e-bikes, which may be loved by environmentalists and the largely poor, immigrant workforce that relies on them, but are loathed by many drivers and pedestrians who think they are a menace.

Under city law, the bikes are legal to own and sell, but riding them on the street can lead to a fine of up to $500.

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Guangzhou, China


If there were prizes for irony, this would have to be a contender. Does the coal generate its electricity?

China, already the world’s biggest electric-vehicle market, is now using battery power to fuel cargo shipping as well, reports Quartz Media.

A Chinese company has built a 2,000 metric-ton (2,204 tons) all-electric cargo ship, which was launched from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in mid-November, according to state-run newspaper People’s Daily.

The 70-meter long (229 feet) and 14-meter wide (45 feet) ship is equipped with over 1,000 lithium batteries, with a total capacity of 2,400 kilowatt-hours.

By comparison, Tesla’s Model X is equipped with a 100-kWh battery that allows it to drive nearly 570 kilometers (350 miles).

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Getting any response from 13 billion miles away is quite a feat.
But what will the aliens make of Chuck Berry?

Engineers experience “joy and incredulity” as a successful test extends the life of the farthest human-made object from Earth, reports Sky News.

NASA has been able to extend the life of one of its space probes travelling 13 billion miles from Earth by firing up dormant thrusters not used for 37 years.

Voyager 1 was launched in September 1977 and is the only human-made object in interstellar space – the environment between the stars.

But after four decades of exploration which have taken in fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, engineers found that the primary thrusters which orient the space probe had severely degraded.

So, in an attempt to keep Voyager 1 operable, NASA tested four thrusters on the back side of the spacecraft which have not been used 1980.

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Tesla electric truck [image credit: Tesla]


Maybe they could put some solar panels on its roof and only recharge in daylight and/or when it’s windy.

Tesla’s recently unveiled electric truck will require the equivalent power used by up to 4,000 homes to recharge, says Energy Live News.

That’s according to new analysis by an energy consultancy, which calculated it based on the range and charge time for the megacharger.

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A fine day in Antarctica [image credit: BBC]


We’re told: ‘Environmental champion, who was first person to walk to both poles, uses Antarctic trek as green wake-up call.’ But who really needs to be woken up? The polar night means Antarctica is a dead zone for solar power for six months of every year, highlighting the fact that part-time sources of electricity can never be relied upon.

“Thirty years ago, I was the first person in history perhaps stupid enough to walk to the North and South Poles,” renowned British explorer Robert Swan, 61, tells IBTimes UK.

“I had no intention ever in my life of ever walking anywhere cold again – this was definite.”

But that is exactly what he is going to do.

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This must cast doubt on some of the more alarmist claims about numbers of deaths attributable at least partly to emissions from vehicle engines, diesels in particular. It seems recent improvements in technology weren’t fully accounted for.

A team of researchers at the University of York in the U.K. has found that the proportion of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in nitrogen oxides in European traffic emissions is smaller than has been thought, reports Phy.org.

In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the group describes analyzing data from roadside monitors over the course of many years and what they found by doing so.

Drew Gentner and Fulizi Xiong with Yale University offer a News and Views perspective on the work done by the team in the same journal issue and suggest that the team’s findings could have implications for air pollution standards organizations in many more places than just Europe.

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A match for the diesel engine?


The end of the road for the internal combustion engine could be further off than some people think, if innovations like this can live up to their publicity claims without being too expensive for mass use.

Nissan Motor Co. will unveil its VC Turbo engine, which uses an efficiency-boosting variable compression ratio system, at the Los Angeles auto show next week, reports North American Energy News.

Shinichi Kiga, the head of Nissan’s gasoline engine project group, told Reuters that the global automaker plans to keep improving the internal combustion engine and that the VC Turbo engine is part of that vision.

On Nov. 28, Nissan will unveil its Infiniti QX50 sport utility vehicle at the LA Auto Show. The luxury SUV engine uses the variable compression ratio system which will boost thermal efficiency to about 40 per cent, as much as twice the level of current gasoline engines available.

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Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]


Or not – some say it’s too complex and would be too costly to set up. Others claim it could even make car batteries last longer by maintaining optimal charge levels as the ‘borrowed’ power would be returned.

The report below should perhaps start like this: ‘as a small number of people in the world’s richer countries take hefty government subsidies to buy expensive electric cars…’

As the world moves towards low-carbon electric cars, how are we going to power them all? – asks BBC News.

If electric cars really are the future, where is all the electricity to power them going to come from?

There are currently more than a billion vehicles on the road worldwide, 38 million of them registered in the UK. The overwhelming majority run on petrol or diesel.

But the world is changing.
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Record-breaking winter season for Lapland tourism

Posted: November 22, 2017 by oldbrew in humour, innovation, Travel
Tags:

Credit: Visitfinland


This place sounds ideal for an upmarket climate conference. The brand new Glass Resort is ‘situated right next door to Santa’s office at Santa Claus Village’. Just the place from which to send out all those generous climate funds that no country with any sense wants to contribute to.

Snow is more popular than ever, says the Barents Observer. About 600 charter flights are landing at Finland’s three northernmost airports in the months ahead.

New hotels, glass igloos, log-huts, snow constructions and ice cottages. Lapland seems prepared to welcome tens of thousands of tourists starting now in late November. Santa Claus is still an attraction, but newcomer of the year is the Snow Man.

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Image credit: emeraldmedia.co.uk


Another example of how the ‘climate industry’ is out of control. 25,000 attendees sounds more like a sports event.

The thousands who flocked to Germany for the United Nations climate summit will end up, rather ironically, emitting thousands of tons of the very greenhouse gases attendees want to regulate, writes Michael Bastasch at The Daily Caller.

The U.N. admits the “lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions” associated with their latest climate summit, and up to 25,000 people are expected to attend the U.N. summit in Bonn, which kicked off Monday.

Most attendees will get to Bonn by aircraft, the U.N. said.

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Waiting for a recharge


One day the loss of fuel taxes will have to be addressed if electric cars are to become compulsory (after 2032 in Scotland, 2040 in England). Automatic pay-per-mile road tolls could be an option, probably still a long way off.

All electric vehicle (EV) charge points sold in the UK will have to be ‘smart’ and able to interact with the grid to help manage the increased demand for electricity expected to arrive alongside higher take-up, says Clean Energy News.

The Department for Transport yesterday published its intended Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, setting out broad stroke proposals for how the government will seek to increase the access and availability of charge points for electric cars.

The document also confirmed powers to make it compulsory for motorway services and large petrol retailers to install charge points for electric cars, as well as ensuring access to live data of the location and availability of charge points.

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Anyone who thought switching from diesel to a petrol vehicle would be a good idea might have to think again, if they ever intended to drive into UK city centres. And that’s just the start, if the Oxford plan sets the tone.

Oxford is to become the world’s first zero-emissions zone, as it looks to ban all non-electric vehicles from its city centre by 2020, says the IB Times.

The university town will become the first city in the UK to ban all polluting vehicles from its centre. All petrol and diesel vehicles, including cars, buses and vans, will be barred from six main streets in the centre as of 2020.

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Teslas in Norway [image credit: Norsk Elbilforening (Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association)]


The electric subsidy party could be winding down for Norwegian car buyers if the government gets its way. It points out that ‘large electric cars wear out the roads just as much as normal cars’.

Norway plans to trim lavish tax breaks for Tesla and other electric cars that have given it the world’s highest rate of battery-vehicle ownership, the right-wing government proposed on Thursday [reports Reuters].

The draft 2018 budget would mainly affect large cars weighing more than two tons, it said. Norwegian media dubbed the changes a “Tesla Tax”, intended to cut down on sales of luxury models such as Tesla’s Model X sport utility vehicle.

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All talk and very little action it seems – so what are these ‘fully informed’ conservationists conserving? This Telegraph report gets funnier as it goes along.

Conservationists may preach about the importance of going green to save the planet, but most have a carbon footprint which is virtually no different to anyone else, a new study has shown.

Scientists as Cambridge University were keen to find out whether being fully informed about global warming, plastic in the ocean or the environmental impact of eating meat, triggers more ethical behaviour.

But when they examined the lifestyles of conservation scientists they discovered most still flew frequently – an average of nine flights a year – ate meat or fish approximately five times a week and rarely purchased carbon offsets for their own emissions.

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No certainties, but some bets are better than others in the mixed-up world of climate-related government policies.

The sage of Omaha knows a policy bubble when he sees it—and electric vehicles are a prime case, reports the GWPF.

A sucker is born every minute, and Warren Buffett just proved it. He agreed to spend an undisclosed sum of his shareholders’ money to buy a controlling stake in Pilot Flying J, the truck-stop chain that sells food, coffee and diesel fuel to truckers.

After all, aren’t truckers about to be replaced by robots, and diesel by battery power? The sucker in this scenario, we add, is anyone who believed such futuristic forecasts in the first place.

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