Thursday, 3 June 2021

My position on Electric Cars

I did my masters research in Environmental Science, my focus was on sustainable development and I believe strongly in the viewpoints of Ecological Modernisation.

So that being said I have nothing against Electric Cars (EC) per se.

Modernisation should be undertaken in a stepwise manner which is consistent with Sustainable Development. I do not see evidence that the EC industry is sustainable, but it is quite happy to ride a wave of public sentiment which is essentially based on the idea that it is a panacea for climate change. It is not. Instead we see Government "picking a winner" (that'd be EC's) and pushing that agenda. This is a bad idea.

What I am against is what I see as the following list problems.

Why do it?

Motivation of Governments should always be viewed with scepticism (see this older post), as should the motivations of industry. When I see things such as the following I find it hard to not be sceptical about the actual motivations.


Such things in the points as diesel cars, curiously touted by governments and backed by fuel price advantages previously, are now bad news; this in a matter of a few years. I understood that the incentives to get into a diesel car are now dwindling ... will that happen to ECs? Well yes, we already are seeing that in places that began adopting them.

While arguments are made for the reduction in "tail pipe" emissions from cars in cities the drive to replace hydrobarbon based conversion of energy into motion in the car to only storage of electricity in the car is not backed up by similar clear spending on generation sources and transmission sources of  electricity.

Its well understood that most generation is not without pollution (even CO2) and the best studies have shown that its at best about 30% reduction of CO2 depending where you live and how your electricity is generated. Yet we do not see a proliferation of ECs in the lower power demands, we instead see them in the higher power demand areas. Tesla leading the charge and BMW and others coming on board.


The prices are certainly not something the average person is going to afford, with them being priced in the order of over AU$100,000.


Top Down Driven:

Meaning that in the "top price tier" there isn't so much of a difference between the xDrive and the older X5 BMW, but for "people's cars" the bill is very high. This is not news to me, as my recent comparison of "like for like" EV vs regular (now called) ICE cars shows you pay more than double (nearly 3 times) down at the lower end for the same thing. 

There is no mention anywhere of how many kW hours per 100km these BMW's consume. Which is even something that the average person (the one expected to make decisions) barely understands. Even when it comes to liters per 100km in their car ICE car. 

For reference my eScooter consumes less than 2kWh per 100km and the most generous figures you can expect from an Electric Car is more than 10 times that, but that comes with the issues of recharging (soon).

Fairly clearly these cars are not aimed at the masses (even the Hyundai EV, for who on the low end can afford 3 times the price for a basic car), nor it seems aimed at doing anything more about reducing CO2 than virtue signalling. Remember, electricity often depends on stuff which generates CO2.

However it goes deeper in my view, because the central (yet to be solved) issue is the cars battery pack. Currently this is Lithium, which while itself abundant currently relies on elements which are certainly not, NOR is there a certain supply of it (places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and China being the world top two suppliers).  Lets side step the supply and ethical issues involved right there, but expect wars over this. Just like wars are over petroleum right now.

Its commonly touted that battery prices are falling (but ignored that the battery packs in cars are requiring more and more battery), with even reputable institutions putting out "public fluff" in blog posts selling the idea that  lithium batteries are getting cheaper.



I personally love the projection into the future ... suggesting it will continue falling, but their point of "look out, auto industry" is perhaps the storm that will drive prices UP not down.  Its quite certain that there is not enough battery being made (probably in any short time being able to be made) to supply the volume of batteries the ECs (which apparently we all need) will require. 

Fun Fact:

Did you know that while your laptop has maybe 3 lithium cells in it, my scooter 78 that a Tesla has over 7000? So if we consider the battery an essentially non recyclable component, and indeed a representing a scarce resource its important to make good use of it. We can make 100 eScooters per Tesla just on batteries alone ... so which would make more impact for reducing emissions? Tesla on the road or 100 more people in (say) London using an eScooter for last mile?

Yep. We are going to need a LOT of batteries. I read recently that a major Italian conglomerate is stepping into the ring:


which may sound encouraging but will this actually reduce prices or will a massive demand increase drive the price higher? 2Giga-Watt hour ... it seems a big number, but how many EC's is that? Assuming that an "average" EC needs a 50kWh battery that's about 40 Thousand cars. Currently the EU buys about 1 Million  cars a year ... so thats enough to give 4% of new car sales. Piffle innit.

Perhaps they are only in there because of government distortion of the market?

What do I mean? Well apparently Europe has now decided that even Hybrids are not sufficient to satisfy their regulatory requirements


which pretty much leaves EC's which means more battery sales and probably because of demand higher prices for the makers (who are already in a tight margins game).

What is Power

So, if we have an Electric Car we have to charge it right?

The power needed needed by EC's is best understood in Watt hours ... like if you run a bulb for an hour, or a car for an hour you need Watt hours. Most people (or so it seems) do not understand their power bill, so lets have a little look at mine:

So last month I used 168 kWh, if I'd had an EC and was charging it at home, and lets say it was one of the better EC's that uses 17kWh/100km and I did 20km per day (getting to and from work)  that's 100km or 17kWh per week (just to and from work) that's about 70kWh per month. That's a lot less than the average distance driven per week, which is much closer to 260km per week or about 176kWh per month, meaning double my draw from the grid.

Notice I didn't talke about the money ... just the draw from the grid.

So the grid will need to account for at least something like that in order to cope with the load.

Sure, we'll do it in stages, but you know ... somebody has to pay money for all the increased power generation, all the increased grid capacity and probably this will come in the form of increased power costs (so you'll pay more for your power). Also you'll probably have to pay something in the short term because power (measured in Watts) is underlied by two factors (sorry, again the general public is going to have difficulty with this because many failed science); Amps and Volts. Indeed its simple its exactly a multiplication. 

If you are going to pull 1000Watts (that's 1kW) from the grid then (assuming you have 240Volt power as Australia, Europe and the UK do; but America doesn't) you'll have to pull about 4 amps. For every 1Kw you want you'll need to add another 4 amps.

If your battery (like the BMW is 77kWh; go back up and check) and you want to charge it in 10 hours you'll need to pull 7.7kW from the grid for those 10 hours. This equates to about 30amps ... 

So?

Well the average house is wired to cope with pulling about 80 amps from the grid, so I hope you aren't using your AC or Electric Heater, Boiler or other electrical appliances because if you are you'll trip a fuse that's INTO your house and you'll be "off grid"

Clearly unless of course we get some magic solution we will be setting ourselves up for problems.

So back to Sustainable Development to me

  1. none of this seems sustainable ecologically
  2. it does not work economically for the masses
  3. it is a lot of effort for a smaller return, perhaps even a negative return when all the adaptations are counted in.

Alternatives?

To me the Sustainable Development is to do the following

  1. work at actually reducing your driving, get a bicycle or maybe an eBike, a  small motor-scooter (perhaps electric?) or an eScooter for those smaller trips (like getting to work). Myself I've cut my petrol consumption in half using the above.
  2. use public transport as much as possible, perhaps get a folding bike or an eScooter for the "last mile" (*as eScooters are not legal yet in some places (yes, I'm looking at you UK) then perhaps agitate for that?)
  3. try to think deeper and really grapple with the problems and the knock on effects
Friends of mine will know this is not my first post on Electric Vehicles, indeed I've had a few (see here, which will include this). Interestingly this whole thing really hasn't changed in the last ten years, as my first post on Electric Scooters was just over 10 years ago (think Vespa, not the stand up type you can take on the subway). In that post I clarified that it makes no economic sense and returns little benefit to the consumer. Nothing has changed, and all that has happend is we've clarified that without cheaper electricity that is not polluting there is little benefit to the environment then or now for EC's.

Indeed if batteries are wasted (like the 10 year old Nissan Leaf rotting up my street) then the advantages of an EC are quickly negative. I fear that in the hands of "the general public" (because right now its only enthusiasts) we'll see lots more "lost resources" with people stuffing up their EC's by misoperation and general neglect.

Its a path we need to consider carefully before rushing into. Ecological Modernisation isn't just about what technology Society uses, its about how Society thinks and operates ... this isn't just about consuming, about buying more (but Tesla and BMW would love you to think it does), it means you need to engage, you need to understand and you need to act!


because in reality we are fighting for our childrens lives.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Superglue as a wound dressing

For those of us on warfarin (and maybe some others) abrasions and mild cuts bleed like stuck pigs (as the saying goes). As I age my skin seems more inclined to be broken by impacts than at a younger ages and forearms often bear the brunt of this. The other day I caught my arm on something and opened up a wound which of course bled all over my shirt (fuck).

So after I treated the wound basically (clean, apply pressure to reduce bleeding) I mix in a drop of superglue with the fluids coming out of the wound (plasma as well as a bit of blood) and allow to dry. This is what it looked like:


The opening (a skin tear) is a bit under a cm.

The next advantage from Superglue comes the next day when it is much more stable than a scab is and even after a shower you don't need to worry about "wiping off the scab and bleeding again"


Works well and will fall off as the underlying skin exfoliates naturally.

Remember:

  1. apply pressure (with a bit of absorbent paper covering the wound) first
  2. when its not oozing as much (should be no more than a few minuets) apply super glod
  3. DO NOT apply pressure with your finger then ... unless you want a comedy to ensue

HTH


Saturday, 22 May 2021

T-Max blowing after market regulator rectifiers (and how to fix it)

One thing that is annoying lately on my (now elderly) 2007 T-Max is how often the Regulator Rectifier is dying. I've had what are significant and expensive problems caused by this in the recent past and even going back years its stood me up in the past too with a previous model.

I believe that the problem is the construction of the after market ones compared to the original ones, right now (in Australia at least) getting genuine ones is "special order ex-Japan" and they are now AU$360 - fark!

So how can I make do with what's available at sub $40 price, which BTW the genuine ones used to be $80).

What happens?

Thermal failure is what seems to happen. When you pull the regulator you can see that its "popped" up at the back (opposite end to the plug).


Wanting to see what was there I worked at prising it open ...


The first thing that stands out is that its got thermal paste (badly applied) to a heat transfer plate to marry it to the sink body ... so that's a step back from the yamaha design because only one side can shed heat. Next you can see that the backing of the heat sink is not polished at all and so will have even greater reduction of heat transfer capacity (and NO thermal past should not be used like tooth paste, it requires a very clean joint and is only to fill tiny imperfections).

Next we can see that the thermal (tooth) paste application has boiled off and sunk down into the bottom of the crevice meaning that the regulator (encased in plastic) can shed even less of the heat.


Meaning that the thermal paste changes to become "thermal insulation" ... this just can't work for long if it gets hot.

Why will it get hot? Well simply put if the generator (three phase AC stator type) puts out more power than the system needs it can only get rid of that excess energy as heat ... so yes, the regulator becomes a little heater shunting the extra power off. This happens at higher RPM much more so than lower RPM (when the stator is generating less power), and I believe that 5000RPM is the threshold for that: meaning that on the highway is when it will pop. 

AND THAT FITS MY EXPERIENCE

Understanding the problem

Looking at one of these things its pretty clear that its intended to be air cooled:


... with fins all over it like that (note the temperature sensor "blu-tak" puttied in there).

However its located under the rear cowling cover ... which essentially prevents any air flow (where it pinches tight just where it joins at the front).


obviously this provides it some weather protectection, but as you can see also prevents it getting air circulation. This overlay shows where things are under the cover.


(Note the masking tape) 

The isn't much air flow possible, which is even more clear when viewed from behind that it sits in a "warm air" bubble of whatever air can leak through from the engine bay...


Sealed in a pocket of warm air from the engine, its heat shedding possibilities are low. This is verified by a quick run with the cowling on and off (recall that temperature sensor??)


So I did a highway short run with the cowling on, came home, took it off (had to unplug the sensor briefly) and took off again and did the same run with the cowling off and air flow around the regulator / rectifier.

That red arrow indicates a temperature which I consider on the threshold of operation before thermal runaway (meaning it pops) is likely.

So how did the original survive? Well I'd say because its actually not only better made but better designed. You see quickly (if you look) that the after market one. First lets look at the regulator (old picture I'm afraid, I've already binned it)


See that nice aluminium backing? That means that heat can go out through the back too.

So now lets look at where it was mounted...

... and we can see there is not only an area for the metal backing to press against (and shed heat) but there are signs (discolouration) that its been doing exactly that.

Solutions?

Well if I could be sure that a genuine part for nearly AU$400 would do the job I might be more tempted to give that a go, however my measurement suggest to me that an alternative exists; which is cooling the existing cheapie better. 

Having already established that running without the cover results in a remarkable cooling difference I'm inclined to believe that as long as I can get air in there it will work. So with that in mind I decided to try a little pipe directed ducting

I looked at the overlay diagram I'd made and determined where to drill a hole (the masking tape), and with a hole drill, put in a 24mm hole to take some small flexible ducting


which then comes out on the inside.


where I can then see where it comes out from by using the above overlay technique


Which I sub sequentially tuned it to point more down after this shot. I have found that using my thermal camera that the lower portion of the heatsink generates the most heat. "Tuning" was just bending (its flexible hose right?) and I used a cable tie to hold it down there.

When fitted up to the bike its pretty neat


and I'd say that if you didn't know it was there you would likely not spot it


Lastly I did another run into the next village and did some 6000prm run in a few places (you'll see two spikes in the middle)


which is quite a good result, although not as good as fully open was ...

So for now I'm calling this sufficient but when summer comes I'll need to check that its still safe in temperatures. If it turns out that the 40C days we get bring it too high then I'll consider an option where I cut a section out of the cover and expose the fins directly to outside air.

For now though, this is good enough.


POST SCRIPTUM

I was riding around and thinking about how close that graph got to 50C and thought that since the air temperature right now is like 20C (middle of the day) and that in summer its going to be nearly 50C (coming directly off the road) that will drive that temperature up closer to limits again. So I decided to look for power and attach a small case fan to assist cooling.

See the video for details. Sorry about the mistake in speech, I find it hard to juggle a camera, focus and know what to say on an unscripted quickie. Please find below a video, which may not appear on mobile viewing (because mobile is still shit compared to a desktop experience).

for the screws I used I had to

  1. drill out the holes in the CPU fan I had lying around
  2. bevel the edges with a bevel tool (so that they'd sink in  to look cleaner and have enough depth to bite into the cork
  3. there are no screws at the bottom because there the heatsink "next rail" was too low to support the cork ... I might add some and glue it in place if I feel the need. The fan over hangs on the stand but is vertical when riding so it should be ok (bumps ...).

make sure the cork is in snug (not loose) and apply the hotmelt glue to the join of the edge of the CPU and the tip of a cooling fan. Make sure you do not get overspill which blocks the blades (I have experience using case / cpu fans for a few things). Add a little more on the outside and smear it in with a screwdriver blade as you go. The heatsink will cool and set if faster than the plastic case.

I used both because a synergy of two methods is better than one.

HTH

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Grapefruit and Warfarin

Basically people either like Grapefruit or don't. I'm firmly in the bank of "why would I drink something that I have to ply with so much sugar to even make it acceptable to the taste. The lovers of Grapefruit will say how its good for you, but really there is nothing in it that's not easily (and more palatably) got from somewhere else. 

Some time back I wrote a blog post which identified that taking Grapefruit interfered with most medications, warfarin being one of then. As it happens this was the first blog post I did in the INR series.


The purpose of todays blog post is to add a little more clarity to that post and explain some of what was in that podcast interview.

In that podcast Dr David Bailey mentioned in his discussion talked about enzymes in the gut and the changes of bioavailability. If you just listened to that you may be a bit confused about what's actually going on with this bitter "fruit" and warfarin because you may think to yourself

"but wait, warfarin is highly bioavailable, so how does this influence me"

and that's because there is another issue which Dr Bailey did not cover and that's enzymes in the liver. Specifically thats Cytochrome P450; which as I've discussed elsewhere essentially clears toxins out of the blood (and warfarin is actually a toxin). So the active ingredient in this nasty bitter fruit is furanocoumarins (which you can read about here) that interfere with P450. This is important because if you think about it if you put something into your body where does it go? Does it stay there or go away? Some things are used to build you (like calcium in your bones) and some things are used to fuel you (like sugars) and others are deemed bad for you by the body and are disposed of.

P450 is one of the things doing the disposing. If that disposal is blocked then the toxins build up ... 

If you're actually on any medications its pretty simple : just avoid this nasty tasting "food" because it essentially brings nothing to your table.