Archive for October, 2015

Siemens eHighway for Hybrid EV Trucks + Ethane—This could be a winning combo!

Many in the energy industry know and there is a great deal chatter now these days that a replacement transportation fuel is needed, until the electrical vehicle infrastructure can become more fully realized. I think those in charge are solicitous about adopting an unconventional fuel stock, because so many green fashionistas have undermined the science in the biofuels sector for so many years, too. Unfortunately, there is going to be A LOT of pain, soon. The price of gasoline is low for a reason–we have reached the end of growth. If consumers cannot afford to buy goods and services, there will be little demand, so prices have to be kept low. This is the antithesis of the ‘models’ predictions of economists from years gone by.

This past Friday, the DoE rejected my and my co-collaborator’s Concept paper for their Dual Fuel Fleet Demonstration Project, altho they agreed to recognize, consider ethane as a transportation fuel stock now. EV (Electric Vehicle) was featured prominently in the categorical exclusion criteria scope and their scoring. No surprises. Big auto companies who are trying to get more hybrid-EV drivetrains for trucks, and SUVs into the market are trying to squeeze out any competition, so the (mostly) energy illiterate, entitled masses who lifestyles predicated on hyper-consumerism can continue. This hyper-consumerism lifestyle is NOT sustainable.

This is a DAMN pity. Such hubris. Such stupidity and short-sightedness. Any sensible engineer knows, until batteries and electric motors weigh the same/less, a dense, energy-rich, liquid fuel makes the most sense.  At worst, an intermediate, transitional fuel solution, like ethane is needed–that is if the citizenry is hell-bent on maintaining this quality of life to which they have become accustomed. 

I mean, what, we here in the USA are INSTANTLY going to get an EV infrastructure built?! What emulate Europe’s train/locomotive system, because we were short-sighted back in the day to mostly abandon this for the automobile, which is now going to bite us more in the ass? Sure. How long will this take? At least a decade+, at best. So what about the interim?

I bet the handlers of the engineers who have performed calculations how much space carrying today’s batteries on a semi-truck will take up have been excoriated or ignored. What ~½+ the payload?

Siemens is proposing an EV highway, the eHighway in SoCal for semi-trucks/18-wheelers; results to be reported next summer. However, the question that requires answering is how much power these hybrid-EV trucks will need to overcome to compete with 1,500 lb of diesel in a typical semi-/18-wheeler fuel tank. 

Siemen’s EV Truck

I attempted to locate information on Siemen’s web site with road freight challenges metrics that have to be overcome; there was this:

The main obstacle to electrified road freight has been the size and weight required for on-board storage of electrical energy. For example, a road truck weighing 40 tons traveling 1,000 kilometers would need approximately 20 tons of batteries. This problem can be solved by providing power to the truck as it is driving.

So at least my initial W.A.G. (wild ass guess) about batteries taking up ~½ load was correct. NOT even cost effective today. Let alone all the interstate weight restrictions that would be violated hauling around massive battery packs. It’s not as if the roadway infrastructure isn’t already under maintained, tenuous.  And if there’s no gas tax, then where’s the money going to come from to keep this infrastructure viable, working?!! Is anyone talking about this?! No. Ugh.

I mean, at least delivery companies like UPS get that to get to a point where an EV infrastructure makes sense is to have a hybrid solution, first. Crimey, a fully electrical drivetrain, with a simple gearbox, smaller battery, regenerative braking, and an electrical generator optimized for certain speeds and driving behavior, er like a delivery truck driver in a major metro area. Ethane could be the complementary, supplementary fuel stock for these hybrid-EV trucks, in the interim and perhaps well into the future. I’m just sayin’…


GREEN GONE WRONG | AC Transit using Bloom Boxes to produce hydrogen

Ms. Standridge, legal council for AC Transit has been aware for almost a year now that the Bloom Boxes owned by AC Transit, used to generate electricity to produce hydrogen (a HIGHLY inefficient process) for their fleet of 12 hydrogen fuel cell buses generates hazardous, HIGHLY TOXIC solid waste with sulfur; hydrogen sulfide, H2S to be exact. These fuel cell buses cost $87.6 million of taxpayer and PG&E ratepayer money. Ms. Standridge chooses to let the poor who live nearby the AC Transit (on San Leandro Blvd and Seminary Ave) site be exposed to this waste stream.

AC Transit Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus

AC Transit Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus

Because of our due diligence for the better part of these past 12 months, Lindsay Leveen and I now know by Bloom’s admission to the Board of Public Utilities in NJ, this waste ends up being hauled in sealed metal canister to an EPA licensed site for treatment in TX.  The waste is so dangerous that the sealed canister in never opened until it reached the EPA licensed hazmat site. Ms. Standridge is more than happy simply hide this like Bloom hides this.  She does not give a crap about people.  She does not want answers, or to fix this.  She draws her good paycheck and protects the Board of AC Transit not some poor folks living in East Oakland.

See my first offering to AC Transit’s Customer Feedback form back on 25 Sept 2014, below–which mind you took until 24 December 2014 to receive scathing information via the PRA process that indeed this technology is severely underperforming and emitting improperly manifested hazardous waste stream.

Customer Feedback

Thank You

Thank you for your valuable feedback.

Your comments and suggestions are important to us, as we use this as a tool for maintaining and improving service. Since you indicated that you would like a response, we will contact you after our research is complete.

Your reference number is 366499. Please hold onto this number so that when calling us, we may quickly look up the details or this incident.

Should you need to follow up with us on this matter, please call Customer Relations: Dial 511 and say “AC Transit,” then say “Customer Relations.”  Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 6 am to 7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 5 pm.

Bus Shelters:

Note: Please report maintenance or safety issues at bus shelters by calling Clear Channel toll free 24/7:
1-888-ADSHEL1 (237-4351)



I think AC Transit needs help regarding your hydrogen fuel cell application.

I think the help you need is in understanding thermodynamics and economics, not buying buses.  I understand you purchased 400 kW of Bloom Boxes to provide electricity to an electrolysis unit that makes hydrogen from water; where the hydrogen will be used in a fleet of fuel cell busses. I also understand you are making claims that you produce carbon free hydrogen as the gas feeding the Bloom Boxes is biogas.

Some facts:

  • The Bloom unit is at best 45% efficient based on the higher heating value (HHV) of natural gas (NG).
  • The electrolysis unit is at best 66% efficient at producing hydrogen from water and electricity.
  • The combined efficiency (45% times 66%) equals 29.7% (~30%) of overall efficiency.
  • One can produce hydrogen by steam methane (CH4) reforming (what the first part of the Bloom Box does) with at least 75% efficiency.
  • AC Transit’s actions reduce the efficiency of producing hydrogen from 75% to 30% ==> They need to use 2.5 times as much NG to yield the same quantity of hydrogen.
  • This system cost AC Transit over $6 million.
    • $4 million given to Bloom Energy.
    • $2 million to the vendor of the electrolysis unit.
    • For the production of the same quantity of hydrogen, a steam methane reformer (SMR) and pressure swing adsorption (PSA) unit for approximately $1 million in total could have been used.
    • This unit would only use 40% of the NG.

Question:  Why take the reformed gas containing hydrogen, run it through a fuel cell to generate electricity, and then take the generated electricity that came from hydrogen in the first place to again produce hydrogen in a electrolysis unit???!!!????

Wasting 2.5 times the precious biogas that was needed to simply make the hydrogen is BEYOND embarrassing. I would like to hear your justification for this complete waste of a vital resource.

I await your reply. Thank you in advance.

I also recently came across this affirmation from Mr. Telsa Motors, Elon Musk, which follows:


At this year’s Automotive News World Congress, Elon Musk (admittedly far from a neutral party) called hydrogen “extremely silly”—perhaps the most polite in a long and continuing string of dismissals from the Tesla head. It makes little sense, Musk pointed out, to go through the trouble of using even renewable electricity to generate hydrogen fuel, when you could just put that energy directly into a battery pack.

It makes even less sense when you have to build new, expensive hydrogen filling stations to do it—then spend years hoping that demand for them will materialize. 



ETHANE | Not just a hypothetical, or hyperbole—when the end of oil FINALLY arrives

Right. We want an EV (electric vehicle) infrastructure in the USA. I want it, too, eventually and in geographically predisposed locations that make the most sense. However, it can’t happen in ‘an instant.’

Sobering sanity check aside: I have a friend/colleague who was working on  electric vehicle prototyping back in the 1980s. Only this past year did this person feel affirmed by work performed on this schema started ~30 years ago was FINALLY starting to mature.

I think (wo)man is being rather short-sighted if we think we’re going to be able to maintain the quality of life to which we have become accustomed is going to be anything but smooth transition, once the end of easily extractable oil comes to an end—a readily available fuel stock is NOT going to be coming to a fuel pumping station to you in the ‘near future’, en masse, if there is not a replacement soon.

THE BIG PICTURE: EVERYTHING in industrialized society is predicated on oil. Think about it, even renewable energy systems technologies [RESTs]. Those huge wind turbine blades don’t make it to the wind farm on their own from the factory.

And once the EV infrastructure becomes fully realized, where is the money going to come from to pay for the infrastructure, er roadway maintenance if there is no longer a gas tax? I’m just sayin’…

We have a transitional fuel opportunity in ‘the low hanging fruit’ of ethane in the USA of Shale Gas that needs to get snatched up. No, I’m not keen on hydraulic fracturing,  but it’s an engineer’s job to make choices on merits, choose a solution that matches the requirements at a reasonable cost. S/He doesn’t look for the perfect solution. S/He looks at available trade-offs and chooses the one best suited to balance the cost to benefit. And right now, capture cleaner, greener ‘waste’ ethane from the natural gas stream is pretty darn cost-effective and attainable for utilizing in an ICE (internal combustion engine) to increase driving range, like this Ford F150 Pickup Truck because:

  • 1st tests: 9%-17% incr. in miles/GGE vs Gasoline
  • Torque increased
  • Performance close to gasoline
  • Potentially reduce emissions after combustion in the engine up to 30%!!
1st Ethane Truck in the World
1st Ethane Truck in the World

I’d rather see compressed ethane used, because it’s residence time is (time it lives in the atmosphere, the troposphere) ~78 days, compared to methane (~10 years) and CO2 (hundreds of years). Otherwise, this wasted resource is going offshore for the manufacturing of more plastics. And somebody’s lord knows, we certainly do not need more plastics on our space ship.

Not to mention, at this juncture in time, using ethane in a ICE is just as effective at reducing GHG emissions than any energy efficiency program, wind farm or solar farm, but those making policy don’t seem to be all that keen to embrace this concept. Yeah, well you know…

Do peep this action. Ethane Low carbon, Low cost, High-performance Transportation Fuel

As always, better…

PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT. because leadership is failing us, HARD…

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What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

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