Wednesday, July 30, 2008

EEStor Confirms Progress Towards Commercialization of its Technology

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Texas based EEStor has just announced a major milestone in the development of their super capacity battery technology. The EEStor technology promises to revolutionize energy storage in everything from stored energy of large format wind and solar installations to electric car batteries.

The EEStor energy storage units, based on barite, have the potential to hold several times the energy at a fraction of the weight and cost of lithium ion chemistries.

According to this Wikepedia entry on the technology...

A full charge should give the capacitor sufficient energy to drive a small car 300 miles (480 km). Although the technology should allow very fast charging (e.g., 5 minutes), standard household wiring is not capable of delivering the power required for this, so charging times this short would probably require purpose-built high capacity dispensing stations.[4] Overnight charging at home should still be practical,[5] as is using a second EESU for the home which could be charged overnight using cheap, off-peak electricity to then charge the EEStor unit in the car in 5-10 minutes on demand.[6] Also, according to Ian Clifford, a normal household outlet with 110 volt supply can fully charge the EEStor powered CityZENN in 4 hours for a 250 mile range and a normal household outlet with 220 volt supply can fully charge the EEStor powered CityZENN in 2 hours for a 250 mile range.
An ancient Chinese proverb holds, "May you live in interesting times". Though there is much debate on whether this statement is meant as a blessing or a curse, and with potential disruptive breakthroughs such as this - ones that have the potential to completely change the future of automotive transport almost overnight - we are indeed living in interesting times.

Next Generation Prius Spied Testing

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First Spy Photos of newly redesigned Prius appear online...

Heavily camo'd and a tad too angular for my tastes, but there you have it.

Click here for full story and more pics

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ed Begley Jr on Larry King discusses alternatives and EVs

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Ed Begley Jr talks to Larry King on energy efficiency, electric cars, solar panels, solar hot water, recycling....

Video: Ed Begley Jr talks energy and EV's on Adam Corolla Show

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Ed Begley Jr visits the Adam Corolla radio show to talk energy efficiency, electric cars and tankless water heaters. Sounds good to us!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

4000w Maxi Scooter...Vectrix Killer?

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The race to electrify the transportation sector is well underway and cannot come soon enough. However, thanks to industrious (low cost) Chinese manufacturing, electrified scooters are here today and improving in speed and range at a rapid pace.

We recently became aware of a 3500 watt e-scooter with "ThunderSky" LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries coming to the US (courtesy of China). Now we hear of a 4000 watt model. Early pricing indicates that the 3500 watt scooter will retail for around $3999. No word yet on pricing or availability for the 4000 watt bike. The video below appears to indicate that both bikes orginate from the same manufacturer and although it's more than we've seen to date, we are still awaiting more video indicative of the real world speed of these e-scoots.

Update (July 30, 2008): According to pre-order customers of these new bikes, they have arrived on shore and have shipped as of Monday. We will post updates as folks begin testing their new electric scoots!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Senate Announces Bill for Flex-Fuel Vehicle Standard

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On Tuesday, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman will stand up with a senator from each party to advocate their new Open Fuel Standard Act. Lieberman, Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Ken Salazar, D-Colo., are introducing the bill, which will demand large percentages of new vehicles be equipped to use alternative fuels.

Half of new automobiles by 2012 would have to roll off the assembly line as "flex fuel vehicles warranted to operate on gasoline, ethanol, and methanol, or be warranted to operate on biodiesel." By 2015, it would be 80 percent.

The lawmakers contend that such a bill would help break America free of reliance on the international oil market.

The significance of the bill will be two fold: first, the inclusion of methanol, along with ethanol will help to significantly diversify the energy mix since methanol can be made from a much wider variety of sources than ethanol. Interestingly, it can be made from CO2 which gives it the potential to address two concerns at the same time. Imagine, sequestering CO2 from coal fired powerplants and repurposing the CO2 for transportation fuel.

The second significance is that it applied to all cars SOLD, not made, in the US. This means that foreign car manufacturers would have to add flex fuel capability to their fleets, in effect creating an international standard for flex fuel which would force gasoline to compete on a worldwide stage with alternative, domestically produced fuels.

Monday, July 14, 2008

McCain talks up EVs and Plug-ins in Fresno, Ca. (Intro by Jim Woolsey)

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I missed this speech by John McCain, but he needs to take this message to the country at large and beyond the California audience where it was delivered at a town hall meeting in Fresno on June 23, 2008

Thank you all very much. I appreciate the kind introduction from Jim Woolsey, and the warm welcome to Fresno State. I’m here to listen about energy issues as well as to talk. So let me just offer a few ideas before we begin our discussion.

All across this state and nation, people are hurting because the price of gasoline is higher than it should be, and more than many folks can afford. Because of far-off events in the world oil market, a barrel of oil has more than doubled in a year. And the bad effects of that are spreading across our economy. The cost of business is rising, the cost of food and other essentials is rising, the whole cost of living is rising. What isn’t rising is the value of your paychecks and the rate of America’s economic growth. Back in the 1970’s, they used to call this “stagflation.” And it feels the same today, because the unwise policies of our government have left America’s energy future in the control of others.

America imports about one third of its oil from Canada and Mexico and no one need worry about a reliance on friendly, stable neighbors, and partners in NAFTA. The Middle East and Venezuela are a different story. We import roughly a quarter of our oil from them, and they have a disproportionate impact on world prices. When we buy foreign oil from these and other sources, there are many consequences — all of them far-reaching and none of them good. Worst of all, by relying on foreign oil, we enrich bad actors in the world, some of whom finance terrorists.

Some in Washington seem to think that we can still persuade OPEC to lower prices — as if reason or cajolery had never been tried before. Others have even suggested suing OPEC — as if we can litigate our way to energy security. But America is not going to meet this great challenge as a supplicant or a plaintiff. We are not going to meet it with words at all — we are going to meet it with action. We’re going to produce more, conserve more, and invent more. And to a large extent, this strategy hinges on innovations in the cars and trucks we drive.

Ninety-seven percent of transportation in America runs on oil. And of all that oil, about 60 percent is used in cars and trucks. Yet the CAFE standards we apply to automakers — to increase the fuel efficiency of their cars — are lightly enforced by a small fine. The result is that some companies don’t even bother to observe CAFE standards. Instead they just write a check to the government and pass the cost along to you. Higher end auto companies like BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes employ some of the best engineering talent in the world. But that talent isn’t put to the job of fuel efficiency, when the penalties are too small to encourage innovation. CAFE standards should serve large national goals in energy independence, not the purpose of small-time revenue collection.

Innovation in the use of alternative fuels in transportation presents the greatest opportunity for energy independence. At the moment, entrepreneurs and engineers are trying to figure out which among the various alternatives to oil works best. Alcohol-based fuels are the farthest along in both development and commercial use. Some, such as ethanol, are on the market now, and new sources of ethanol are on the horizon that will not require the use of so much cropland. Corn-based ethanol, thanks to the money and influence of lobbyists, has been a case study in the law of unintended consequences. Our government pays to subsidize corn-based ethanol even as it collects tariffs that prevent consumers from benefiting from other kinds of ethanol, such as sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil. The result is that Americans take the financial hit coming and going. As taxpayers, we foot the bill for the enormous subsides paid to corn producers. And as consumers, we pay extra at the pump because of government barriers to cheaper products from abroad.

Here’s a better way. Instead of playing favorites, our government should level the playing field for all alcohol fuels that break the monopoly of gasoline, lowering both gasoline prices and carbon emissions. And this can be done with a simple federal standard to hasten the conversion of all new vehicles in America to flex-fuel technology — allowing drivers to use alcohol fuels instead of gas in their cars. Brazil went from about five to over 70 percent of all new vehicles with flex-fuel capacity. It did all that in just three years. Yet those same automakers that helped Brazil make the change say it will take them longer to reach the goal of 50 percent new flex-fuel vehicles for America. But I am confident they can do more, and do it faster, in the interest of our energy security. And if I am elected president, they will. Whether it takes a meeting with automakers during my first month in office, or my signature on an act of Congress, we will meet the goal of a swift conversion of American vehicles away from oil.

At the same time, smart policy can also help to broaden the market for energy-efficient cars. Right now we have a hodgepodge of incentives for the purchase of fuel-efficient cars. Different hybrids and natural-gas cars carry different incentives, ranging from a few hundreds dollars to four grand. They’re the handiwork of lobbyists, with all the inconsistency and irrationality that involves.

My administration will issue a Clean Car Challenge to the automakers of America, in the form of a single and substantial tax credit based on the reduction of carbon emissions. For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we will commit a 5,000 dollar tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car. For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit. And these large tax credits will be available to everyone — not just to those who have an accountant to explain it to them.

Furthermore, in the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure. From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success.

I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. This is one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency — and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs.

My friends, energy security is the great national challenge of our time. And rising to this challenge will take all of the vision, creativity, and resolve of which we are capable. The good news is, these qualities have never been in short supply. We are the country of Edison, Fulton, and two brothers named Wright. It was American ingenuity that took three brave men to the moon and brought them back. Think of all the highest scientific endeavors of our age — the invention of the silicon chip, the creation of the Internet, the mapping of the human genome. In so many cases, you can draw a straight line back to American inventors, and often to the foresighted aid of the United States government.

For all the troubles and dangers our energy vulnerability presents, we know that we can overcome them, because we have overcome far worse problems and met far greater goals. Together, we Americans can achieve anything we set our minds to. I believe this about our country. I know this about our country. And now it is time to show those qualities once again.

Averting the global energy crisis. Its not too late, if we....

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  1. We must pass an "Open Fuel Standard" which mandates that all gasoline powered cars and trucks sold in the US must also run on ethanol, methanol and butanol.

  2. We must provide for long term investment in renewable wind and solar energy by passing production tax credits through 2018. This provides the 10 year investment horizon that investors will need to see returns over longer periods for large scale wind and solar installations.

  3. We must provide compelling tax credits for plug-in hybrids, EVs, and natural gas, bi-powered (nat. gas and gasoline) and tri-powered (nat gas, flex fuel and gasoline) vehicles

  4. We must eliminate the excise taxes on Brazilian ethanol to increase the supply of the alternative fuel and lower prices across the board.

  5. We must encourage the development of fueling infrastructure for cellulosic biofuels and natural gas for vehicles by providing tax credits and incentives to grow this vital alternative fuels infrastructure.
These steps, along with current development in batteries, wind, solar and cellulosic biofuels provide the hope and vision for averting a global energy crisis, which leads to a global depression the likes we have never seen.

Can we Avert a Global Depression

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Many voices are now indicating that a perfect storm is brewing leading to an imminent global depression. The causes are not hard to spot. They include the mortgage crisis, the war in Iraq, tensions over Iran's race to secure nukes, China and India's vociferous and growing energy appetites, America's runaway foreign debt, the purchasing of massive amounts of US assets by foreign sovereign wealth funds and on and on.

We here at PetroZero, feel that the near total reliance on foreign oil for the transportation sector is the primary enabler for all of the above.

As legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens has said (and folks from before him), "We are financing both sides of the war on terror". The $700 Billion that we send to foreign governments for oil has brought our country to its knees. As a result of all of these factors, most notably the noose of our oil addiction (We import 70% of our oil, which means we spend $1 Trillion annually on petro), we are on the verge of financial collapse. If left unchecked, our current course will lead to a global depression that will see communist China emerge to take over the void left in our wake.

But its not all gloom and doom. We see many positive trends in the works and $4 gas has appeared to have woken the sleeping dog of US energy policy. American ingenuity and strength, when called to a great challenge such as we now face, will emerge. The question "Is it too late"?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

From the Picken's Plan to the Brainard Plan

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Or perhaps it should be called the "No-Brainard" plan.

Read on to see how the conversion of 4 way traffic stops to roundabouts holds the key to saving millions of gallons of gasoline per year, reducing accidents, decreasing congestion, and generally being the no-brainer idea of the year to help save us from ourselves.

Mayor Jim Brainard made the case for installing roundabouts in Carmel, Indiana by promoting their proven environmental friendliness, safety benefits, cost savings and ability to smooth traffic flow. The City of Carmel began installing roundabouts in 1996 and now has 40 on city thoroughfares with over 20 more planned and funded within three years.

Carmel is located in Hamilton County, Indiana, a non-attainment area designated by the Environmental Protection Agency. This designation can adversely affect aspects of federal funding and growth in the area. Poor air quality is also a detriment to citizens’ health. Roundabouts can help improve overall air quality by cutting down on idling engines that occur at four-way stop and signalized intersections.

When compared with signalized intersections, roundabouts save an average of 24,000 gallons of gas per year per roundabout with traffic counts ranging from 14,000 to 47,000 AADT (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety). This amounts to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as cars continue to move through roundabout intersections by yielding at the entry rather than having to stop and idle. The City of Carmel currently has built 40 roundabouts in the past 12 years with more than 20 planned and funded. This is the highest number of any city in North America.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 Oil Baron Offers A Moonshot Plan to Solve Our Energy Crisis

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T. Boone Pickens, famed oilman and 4x billionaire, has just today unveiled his moonshot plan for energy independence. Via a massive public relations campaign that will blanket the airwaves and media with television, radio, print and internet spots, Pickens face will become very familiar in the coming weeks and months.

Pickens message is clear. By spending $700 billion dollars a year for foreign oil, we are taking part in the most massive transfer of wealth in the history of mankind. In a few years, it will be over a trillion dollars a year. It will bring our economy to its knees.

"This is not about Republicans vs. Democrats," Pickens says. "This is about saving our country from the ruination of spending $700 billion a year on oil imports. Ninety days after the oil hits our shores, it's all burned up, and we've got nothing to show for it. But they (foreign oil producers) still have our money. It's killing our economy."

What does Pickens propose to stem the tide? Stick with me for a moment because it gets a bit interesting. In Pickens view, two technologies hold the key to fueling our future: wind and natural gas.

Since nearly 70% of our oil use is devoted to the transportation sector, Pickens plan ultimately points to natural gas powered vehicles. But where will we get the natural gas? Here's where wind comes in. Since we currently use almost all of the natural gas we produce annually (most in gas fired power plants), Pickens plan proposes to supplant this with wind and divert the natural gas to fuel our vehicles. This (wind production) is the strong suit of the plan, since our current wind production is miniscule compared to the potential, particularly in the sweet spot of wind production throughout the middle of the US from Texas to North Dakota.

Where the plan will face some skepticism and opposition is Picken's plan for the crucial transportation sector. The use of natural gas as a primary substitution for gasoline, as opposed to cellulosic biofuels or batteries, will definitely have to stand up to close analysis. With the current investment in battery technology (most notably lithium based technologies), Picken's sole reliance on CNG to power vehicles seems a bit limiting for an otherwise worthy plan and very high profile advocacy. launches today along with TV spots on major networks introducing the plan.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Continued Woes of Detroit a Panacea for Asian Scooter Industry

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While Detroit appears to be on the precipice of imminent collapse amid increasing signs that gas prices are not likely to return to sub $4 levels, Asian scooter manufacturers are reaping a significant and growing windfall of American dollars as consumers turn in record numbers to the low cost alternative.

Popular European and Asian scooters that are both affordable and incredibly fuel efficient, are being snapped up in record numbers as fuel prices continue to soar and consumers see no alternatives on car dealer lots worthy of the sticker price for a new car purchase in the current energy crazed environment.

Indeed, we are beginning to see car dealers adding scooter lines to their sales inventory in an effort to keep the doors open. Although the margins for the low priced scooters are much lower, the demand is outstripping supply at the moment which is not lost on the cash strapped dealers eager to get customers back on lots again.

The question that has to be asked though is "as the continued transfer of wealth, be it petrodollars to the middle east or scooter dollars to the middle asians, continues to flow outside of the US, what long term affects will this have on the US economy and position as an economic superpower?