Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hybrid Boats? Yup, They're Out There!

While wandering around the piers in San Francisco the other day I came across a boat that sported the label "Hybrid"... Of course, I had to take a closer look and perhaps get a picture or two of this interesting contraption.


I'm not sure what aspect of the boat was "hybridized"--Were the wind-generators on the top deck powering the whole ship or providing only electricity for charging the batteries to power the lighting and perhaps other minor electrical devices on the craft? I would have asked any Hornblower crew around if I could have found one. I'll update here if I get this information. This is an example of wind-energy powering a boat but the boat is obviously NOT a sailboat.



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Inside Workings of an Electric Vehicle

If you've ever wondered what the innards of an electric vehicle (non-hybrid) looked like, here's a view. Pictured under the raised bed of this Xebra Zaptruck pickup is the bank of 6 lithium batteries; the QuiQ HF/PFC Battery Charger from Delta-q Technologies in Burnaby, BC, Canada; the electric motor (next to the spare tire); and the DC Motor Controller. The batteries are connected in serial fashion through the DC Motor Controller which controls the torque/movement of the electric motor. According to the rep I talked to, the vehicle has a range of 25 miles after a 5-hour charge. It has a top speed of about 40mph. It is considered a "motorcycle" by California DMV (because it has only 3 wheels). It is for city streets only--you don't want to take this onto a freeway or expressway.

This is where you plug in the cord to charge the batteries. When closed, it looks like the standard fuel port for any kind of car.

This is the QuiQ HF/PFC Battery Charger -- through a connector/outlet where the gas refill port might be, it charges using a standard 110v extension cord connection.

This is one end of the DC Motor Controller (with connections to the batteries and the control panel in the passenger compartment).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Windmills on Altamont Pass, California

Now these are the huge windmills that generate lots of electricity to be fed into the power grid. Can you imagine if parking lots had windpower generating units in addition to photovoltaic panels on the light poles with plug-in outlets at the bases of the light poles (or at the tire-stops for each designated parking space)? You could drive plug-in-hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs) and not only save energy, but also have enough juice to be going all the time. Parking lots are sort of "wasted space" anyway. The cars sit out there all day and absorb the sun's rays (and maybe become useful as "solar cookers"!), but with the combination of solar panels on the cars' roofs as well as solar panels on the parking lot light poles, there could be some collection of that incoming solar radiation. With small wind generators also attached to the light poles (being that they are high enough off the ground to snag the ambient breezes), you could charge PHEVs both night and day. Guess what? Gas prices are starting to inch their way back up again.... so maybe those hybrids such as the Honda Accord and the Toyota Prius and the others out there might be looking like good investments again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Solar Water/Air Heating Facility Schematic

This is a schematic for a solar water/air heating facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I had a tour of this facility when I was working as a writer/photographer for the local daily newspaper. The interior of the actual facility is shown below.