Silicon Chip - September 2007

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Thalass
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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by Thalass » Thu, 13 Sep 2007, 07:10

I don't know if anyone else has read the latest Silicon Chip magazine, but I noticed something when reading through it. For the last few months they've had a series of articles on saving electricity, and reducing ones output of CO2 and suchlike, and finally this month they've gotten to the subject of EVs.

According to them, an EV that is charged from a coal-fired power station produces more CO2 per year than a petrol car! Dispite being more efficient, an EV will produce 4.2 tonnes of CO2 per year, compared to 2.6 tonnes for a petrol car! (this is based on ten thousand kilometres travel per year, and 3000kWh per year for the EV, and 2500kWh for the petrol.)


It doesn't make sense in my mind, though I am biased and it's too late at night for maths. I can transcribe the relevant parts of the article, if anyone wants.

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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Fri, 14 Sep 2007, 03:53

Looks a bit off to me as well. But if your going EV then you will probably be paying the extra few cents for green power anyway.

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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by Andrew » Fri, 14 Sep 2007, 04:18

Agreed... I find that difficult to believe. Was the article sponsored by an oil company? :P Although CO2 is more natural than Cardon-mono pollution. What else does the petrol car give off other than CO2 that the electric doesn't?

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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by Thalass » Fri, 14 Sep 2007, 06:03

I think I see where they screwed up... They first quote 1000 litres of fuel as having 10000kWh of energy, and then state (rightly) that an ICE has a 25% efficiency, at best. So from then on they use 2500kWh as their base figure for how much pollution is produced. Yet for EVs they say "However, an electric motor is not 100% efficient; nor do you get all the energy stored in a battery back out again. I'm assuming an efficiency of 90%. So we really need about 3000kWh a year."

Then they use the figure of 1.385kg/kWh for EV CO2 production, and "1 litre of petrol burnt produces 2.6kgs of CO2" for the dino-burner.

So 1000L of petrol = 2600kg of CO2, and 3000kWh of zap = 4155kg (or 4.2 tons, they say. which is pretty heavy rounding :P) for EVs.

I dunno, perhaps in the morning I'll transcribe the article for you all. Or you could make the trip down to the newsagent *chuckles*

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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Fri, 14 Sep 2007, 16:37

Another thing to remember is that they have based this on kw’s produced not km’s travelled. A petrol car is still using kw’s when stationary at lights etc while an EV is not. A true comparison would be average distances travelled per kg of CO2 produced. Also what most people miss is that if things go the way the Gov wants and we keep coal power stations but move to geo sequestration then you can capture the CO2 from a PowerStation but how would you capture it from every car driving around. (PS. do not take this as me agreeing to geo sequestration as a solution to our problems)

I think we should write a reply to Silicon chip, maybe something to discuss this Saturday. I’m going to have to go out and buy a copy of the mag and read the article myself.
Last edited by jpcw on Tue, 14 Sep 2077, 16:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Tue, 18 Sep 2007, 23:36

Here is an interesting take on this subject
http://drivingthefuture.com/97pct.htm
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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Fri, 21 Sep 2007, 16:02

Quick update. The figures on the silicon chip article ARE wrong, at least for WA anyway. Western power quote the carbon usage as 0.90kg per kWh not 1.385

See western powers 2005 annual report on page 15
http://www.westernpower.com.au/document ... orts/annua l_report_2005/Annual_Report_2005.pdf
Last edited by jpcw on Tue, 21 Sep 2077, 16:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Fri, 21 Sep 2007, 20:15

By The way, I left Silicone chip some feedback with the above details.
Anyone else had the chance to give SC their thoughts?
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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Sat, 22 Sep 2007, 02:14

Reply from SC
Dear John - We are both right. Whilst I agree that your particular energy utility is better than the one I quoted, look at the horrifying data in this attachment.

Victoria is the worst state in the (equal to USA) worst country for this. The figure of 1.3 kg/kWh is real and verifiable from many sources.
However I accept that not all power utilities are that bad. For example in the UK the contribution is only 0.43 kg/kWh, due to 40 % of gas fired power stations and 20% nuclear and 3.5 % from renewables. For natural gas, the figure is 0.6 kg/kWh. At that level, my argument breaks down.
Then it becomes a choice between:

A using say, an LPG vehicle with an efficiency of 25 %.

B burning the gas in the power station at 33 % efficiency, reduced by
0.92 (transmission and maintenance), 0.9 (change discharge efficiency),
0.9 (elec motor efficiency) which gives an overall efficiency of about
25 %.

We won’t argue about the few percent my assumptions make. The point here is that you are back to where you started from. Whether you burn the fuel in the car or the power station doesn’t make much difference. The real differences are practical. Electric cars are quiet, low maintenance and low pollution on the roads. The pollution is at the power station.
Their range is limited to commuting type applications. On the other hand liquid, or gas powered cars have a lot of disadvantages but have enough range to go on a holiday. Of course if you need two cars, one of each would be ideal.

Thanks for the comment I should have been more general in my article.
Peter Seligman
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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Sat, 22 Sep 2007, 02:47

Sort of got me going so I sent back the following. Rob, hope you don't mind me using your car as an example.
Hi Peter and thanks for the prompt reply.
I think there are still a few things missing from the equation. In particular most people who go to the trouble getting or converting a car to electric (the latter is my case) are more than likely to subscribe to the renewable energy options that most electric providers in Australia are offering and a lot of us are electing to migrate to grid connect solar systems. Also the equations do not take in to account the fact that fuel delivery and supply is far less efficient for petrol than it is for a PowerStation, even one running on coal. Petrol has very high levels of carbon produced in the refining stage, add to that the delivery costs to and from the refiners and petrol stations and the energy costs of the petrol stations themselves. I admit that Australia is in a better situation than most countries with our coal and gas being sourced local for power stations but this should still be taken in to account.
I will be the first to agree that Electric cars are certainly not carbon free but I still can't see how any equation that takes in to account all the factors can show that they produce more than a petrol car. In fact I specifically bring the fact that EV's still produce carbon to the attention of readers on my website ( http://www.evaustralia.com.au/EVs/tabid/55/Default.aspx ).
I do understand what you are trying to say in your article however I believe that if the figures don't take in to account all the factors then a lot of people who would be able to use electric quite successfully will be put off and that would set back the electric car industry significantly.
It is also my strong belief that the publicised shortcomings of electric cars are not actually correct for the majority of people in Australia. If you take in to account that at least 60% (up to 90% in the cities) of all travel is simply done to and from work then the limited range of EV's is hardly a factor for day to day driving. Add to that the fact that a large majority of Australian households (particular ones who can afford an electric car) are two car families then the holiday factor doesn't really apply. Even in situations where it does it is actually more cost effective to go electric for 90% of the year and actually hire a car the other 10%. Also you would probably be surprised at the range that can be achieved, the below link is to a Mustang that was converted to electric, the owner can achieve up to 150km on a single charge and when you consider that the car gets charged every night that gives him a weekly range of over 1000km or up to 54600km per year if he realy wanted to. Not many people do that in a petrol car.
http://www.evwa.com.au/

I guess I could go on all day, it is a topic that tends to get me rambling and I've had a lot of practice lately :) but I'll leave it there for now

Thanks for your time
Think I started rambling after a bit but I sort of got on a role Image
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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by jpcw » Sat, 22 Sep 2007, 03:37

Well that was worth the effort. Got a nice reply to my reply in about 5 minutes (not bad for 7:33pm on a Friday)

Does anyone have any real figures on what batteries cost energy wise, ie recycling lead acids etc? Looks like they are going to do a follow up article and take everything in to account. I know batteries are the one part that we might tend to be a little red faced with but we have to be fair. Better still anyone who has real facts and figures mind if I pass on some contact details to Peter? I’m just working with what I can google up at the moment.
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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by roddilkes » Mon, 24 Sep 2007, 17:42

I have done some calcs on this in the past.
My EV consumes about 180Wh per km, wall socket to road.
Roughly speaking each KWh from a coal fired power station produces about 1kg of CO2.
So my car produces about 180g /km running on coal.
It is the least efficient (read least expensive) conversion one can do.

It is well known that IC cars (of say Commodore size) produce about 330g of CO2 per km. Smaller cars will produce less. Thats still alot more than my car.

But my car is effectively charged from solar panels on the roof of my house.
Try that with a gas guzzler!
Bring on the revolution and don't let the naysayers hold you back!

Regards, Rod Dilkes

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Silicon Chip - September 2007

Post by Thalass » Tue, 25 Sep 2007, 05:02

I have been tracking my fuel usage in my Subaru, which tells me my average fuel usage is 0.102L/km. Using their figure of 2.6kg of CO2 per litre of petrol, my car produces 270g of CO2 per kilometre. If this wasn't my first conversion I would totally convert my Outback so I could directly compare running cost and such, but it's a bit complex for my first try.

I might make some enquiries with the mini enthusiasts at the Ausmini forums, and see what kind of figures they have.

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