The Wonders of Regeneration

SNB

It is a known fact among EV owners that their cars use regenerative breaking systems to help charge the car’s battery and extend its range.  Regenerative breaking is defined as:

“In a battery-powered electric vehicle, regenerative braking (also called regen) is the conversion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used later to drive the vehicle. It is braking because it also serves to slow the vehicle. It is regenerative because the energy is recaptured in the battery where it can be used again.” Source Firmware Engineer Tesla Motors.  Read more of Greg’s great article on regen here.

“Vehicles driven by electric motors use the motor as a generator when using regenerative braking: it is operated as a generator during braking and its output is supplied to an electrical load; the transfer of energy to the load provides the braking effect. Regenerative braking is used on hybrid gas/electric automobiles to recoup some of the energy lost during stopping. This energy is saved in a storage battery and used later to power the motor whenever the car is in electric mode.” Source Wikipedia

Regenerative Breaking mechanisms have been used for over a century, have a very fascinating history, have many very interesting applications including early experimentation with the Amitron and Voltswagon concept cars by AMC.  Regenerative systems developed by are now used on the worlds best selling electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf and all other EV’s and hybrids on the roads today.

An interesting video on how the Nissan Leaf’s power/regen system works:

I have owned my 2012 Nissan Leaf now for 13 months and have been keeping detailed daily notes on SOC, distance driven, temperature and other data points of interest. Recently I started taking notes on the regeneration that my car produces during my daily commute. Specifically a the 3.4 mile section of my commute that is almost all downhill (see a graphic representation of the route below).

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Map from www.mapmyride.com

The question

Recently I began to wonder just how far per day this 3.4 mile descent with 845 feet of elevation loss would take me on braking and gravity produced free fuel.  In the hopes of answering that question with some degree of accuracy I developed an experiment with the procedure listed below.

Every day I used in the experiment I drove as I do on a normal day; in ECO mode and with all possible environmental variables such as road conditions, traffic conditions, different routes*, elevation loss or gain, temperature, humidity, wind resistance, tire resistance, speed, accessories used, and others variables in order to keep it as real world as possible.  *I do not drive the same route every day due to errands I often to run after work.

UPDATE 1/25/15; Speaking of environmental variables effecting regeneration, on one recent occasion I had to drive the 3.4 miles section of route immediately after a motor-grader had scraped the road.  The road surface was the consistency of something like thick beach sand mixed with damp oatmeal.  The car bogged down a bit but powered through it but the regenerative breaking system was practically useless since I had to keep gently accelerating in order to keep moving forward.  At the bottom of the 3.4 mile route I had regenerated only 1 mile of range.  I am sure this will lower my overall average just a bit once I recalculate the numbers at some point this spring but science can be a harsh mistress.

The data (so far)

Regenerated potential range at the end of the route for seven days during November 2014

16.0, 14.0, 11.0,13.0, 7.0,14.0,15.0

= 90/7 = 12.85 average miles of potential range regenerated per day.

However, as we EV drivers know, this potential driving range is not an accurate representation of real world driving range due to the variables mentioned previously. In the attempt to deduce just how far in reality the car would go on the regenerated power from the 3.4 mile daily descent, I needed to calculate the distance the car would travel before reaching the pre-route SOC on the GOM (my Leaf is a 2012 so it does not show battery state of charge as a percent–it is a calculated guess by the on-board computer of mileage remaining based on vehicle system health, environmental conditions and driving style.)

The procedure

I first recorded the SOC from the GOM at the top of the route, drove the 3.4 mile route, stopped at the bottom and recorded the number of regenerated miles, reset the trip odometer to 0 and drove until I had reached the first recorded SOC from the top of the route.

The results

The resulting number is the real world miles driven on Leaf regenerated free fuel.  The 7 day adjusted test results are listed below:

16.5, 9.0, 13.1, 7.5, 8.0, 8.7, 9.3

= 72.1/7 = 10.3* average miles of potential range regenerated per day!

*I continue to keep a daily record of regeneration on this route, so this number will change as I average in those numbers.  In the spring of 2015, I will post an update to this story with the updated findings.

Based on the data for the short time period in question, the results seem to indicate that during this 3.4 mile descent my car generates an average of 10.5 miles of potential real world range per work day when driving this route. This data also suggests that the Leaf often powers itself home for free since the route is only 9.3 miles in length from the bottom of the descent to my home.  I have documented this fact many times when upon reaching home the SOC is at or above the starting SOC when I left work.

This ads up to a substantial amount of Leaf produced free fuel, but how much in a year is possible?

10.3 miles per day!

10.3 x 5=51.5 miles per week.

51.5 x 4 = 206 miles per month.

206 x 12 = 2472 miles of Leaf generated free electric fuel per year.

If these numbers are accurate, then my car, simply by rolling downhill on the same 3.4 mile route described above, for 5 days each week, regenerates enough power in a year to power itself for the equivalent of two months worth of driving*, all freely powered by the Nissan Leaf!  *I drive an average of 300 miles per week (300 x 8 = 2400)

killawatt

I use a Kill A Watt meter to keep track of my Leaf’s power consumption.

How much has this potentially saved me in power costs for the Leaf?

Driving my leaf costs an average of .03 per mile so .03 x 2472 = 74.16

$74.16 potentially saved each year just driving home from work every day!

And this is only for this one route.  I drive several other routes where I pull a good amount of regeneration from long descents so I wonder how much am I saving in power costs from those routes?

zerogas

In a rough comparison, if I had to drive my 1999 Toyota 4Runner the same distance that my Leaf has driven on freely produced regenerative power, it would have taken me around 8 tanks of gas and cost me around $360.00 in gas at current fuel prices of $2.84/gal!  (2472 miles at 2.84 (per gallon) x 16 gallons = $45.44 x 8 (tanks) = $363.52)

WOW!

Let’s just think about this fact – is there a consumer available, stock built, gasoline or diesel powered vehicle anywhere that will produce it’s own fuel. No. The facts are in: petroleum powered vehicles only take hard earned money from the owner, give nothing back but a ride, require lots of expensive fuel and maintenance, are often noisy, contribute to a polluted environment, enable the continued destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems through oil drilling/strip mining and pipeline construction in fragile environments, are not energy secure, and even fund terrorism.  EV’s give so much back, have very low maintenance costs, are quiet and fun to drive, can be fueled on domestically generated energy and renewable energy generated at home or work and are therefore energy secure, do not fund terrorism, and produce a portion of their own fuel…for free!  It is no wonder that some automakers, fossil fuel corporations and their supporters, and certain oil soaked politicians, are afraid of EV’s and will stop at nothing to ruin their image with negative ad campaigns and tactics.

NDEW9

The simple reality is this; while the currently available electric vehicles do have some range limitations, they are far better in so many ways than petroleum powered vehicles.  Given time, advancements in battery technology, expanded charging infrastructure, and the support from the people and our purchasing power, the EV will one day dominate the roads. Once a person drives an EV and experiences the joy of driving electric, freedom from the gas pump and from years of costly maintenance, more money in their pocket, the resulting cleaner air and environment that comes from driving EV, and with the ever growing option of powering their EV from home generated renewable energy such as solar, wind and micro-hydro–they will see that driving electric is the better choice and will hopefully trade in or recycle their old gas guzzler in favor of the future of transportation, the EV.

NDEW

 DRIVE ELECTRIC!

The Blue Ridge EV Club meeting at the BrightfieldTS solar charging canopy on Charlotte St. in Asheville, NC.

 

 

 

 

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I have been “Coal Rolled”…..sort of.

Well, it had to happen eventually, I’ve been “coal rolled”…well, sort of.

The photos embedded within the story that follows are sad examples of “coal rolling,” a “practice of intentionally disabling the Clean Burn Programming of a computer controlled diesel engine, and/or installing a “defeat device” similar to the one Volkswagen illegally and secretly developed for millions of its vehicles.  This device illegally allows the vehicle to emit an under-aspirated fuel-rich sooty exhaust that visibly pollutes the air.

DARWINLAUGHSATYOU

Practitioners tamper with their vehicles’ emissions controls in open defiance of environmental regulations that require all gas and diesel powered vehicles to have emission control devices and systems that reduce the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. It also may include the intentional removal of the particulate filter. Practitioners often additionally modify their vehicles by installing smoke switches and huge tailpipes and smoke stacks. Modifications to a vehicle to enable rolling coal may cost anywhere from $200 to $5,000…or more.  Rolling coal is a form of conspicuous pollution. Targets of rolling coal often include owners of hybrid vehicles (and now EV’s) as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. (From Wikipedia) 

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My story.

A few days ago I was driving my 2012 Nissan Leaf through the small town I call home when I pulled up to a stoplight to wait for it to change. After sitting silently in traffic for a moment I began to hear the unmistakable sound of an idling diesel engine growing louder to the left rear quarter of my Leaf. I glanced in my rearview only to see a large, raised, black, pick up truck with an over-sized tires and a huge chrome exhaust pipe sticking out of the undercarriage in front of the right rear wheel (clearly he must have been compensating for something…). A red alert klaxon Captain James Kirk would be proud of went off in my head: COAL ROLLER! I rolled up the windows and set the climate control on recirculate to keep the inevitable black clouds of diesel soot and ash out of my car’s cabin and out of my lungs. The light changed and I made a split second decision to take action and remove myself from the situation so I dropped out of Eco mode, actuated the accelerator firmly to the deck plate, and was silently, smoothly, and rapidly suctioned into the future leaving the dinosaur-like diesel danger far behind in my clean, statically charged dust while grinning ear to ear the EV grin. I moved silently through traffic for a few moments and was unfortunately stopped behind a slow moving old vehicular construct from the 1970’s and yet another stoplight. A few seconds later the gaudy environmental perpetrator idled up beside me rolling and rumbling slowly forward to get his behemoth of a truck in just the right position to angle his tailpipe in the direction of the front left corner of my Leaf.

rolling-coal-parking-lot-f-150

We sat there waiting for the light: in one lane a massive, towering, Goliath of a vehicle that Mad Max would have been proud of.  It was idling so roughly that I could see the entire truck vibrate with the controlled internal combustion chaos going on in the climate science and common sense denier modified, oil soaked innards of its massive, Cummings turbo-diesel powerplant. In the other lane I sat, like the proverbial David, in my tiny, silent, futuristic, 100% electric car. When the light changed Mr. Diesel dropped all the ancient dinosaur juice and testosterone he had into his illegally modified, anti-environment, fossil burning, ultra conservative, big wheeled statement and out came…a tiny, rather insignificant, little puff of black smoke. Something had clearly gone wrong with his truck’s coal rolling modifications and with his attempt to drench my Leaf in billowing clouds of black diesel smoke.  I grinned again as he sped away thinking he had made some sort of an anti-green, anti-Obama, anti-environment, anti-EV, statement. From my perspective Mr. Diesel’s childish display of blowing smoke seemed to backfire on him miserably and for that I am forever grateful.  Did he learn a lesson from our encounter…doubtful.

rolling-coaldumbass2

This was my first Coal Rolling experience since owning my Nissan Leaf so I decided that “retaliation” was in order so instead of flying off the handle and doing something as idiotic as the “coal rolling” infant – I did some in depth research on the topic.  According to many articles I have read:  the “Coal Rolling” culture is a juvenile attempt to build up the egos of anti-environmentalists and ultra conservatives who feel that their freedoms are being trodden upon.  Many of them are afraid that new, stricter pollution regulations imposed by the Obama administration may cause them to loose some of their access the ultra consumptive lifestyle they have become accustomed to.

JUSTDONTCARE

Another possibility is that with more and more people becoming more informed and conscious of the realities and truths of the indisputable scientific facts and findings in support of global climate change being caused by our daily actions, and more aware of their their carbon footprints, and their resulting impacts on the environment and therefore switching to hybrid and electric vehicles, tiny houses, renewable energy sources, and growing their own food–this could be yet another cause for concern for the Coal Rolling crowd.  They see that their “kind”, their “people,” are going the way of the very dinosaurs that power their smoke belching giant wheeled beasts and their childish coal rolling displays are a visible way of rebelling against the inevitable change closing in all around them.  They are like children throwing tantrums because they do not want to grow up and face the facts of life.

DARWINLAUGHSATYOU2

Whatever their juvenile reasons behind why they “roll coal,” what they are really doing is celebrating an act of the pre-meditated polluting of everyone’s shared atmosphere. Coal rolling is a blatant disregard for the safety and health of other drivers, pedestrians, and the environment and in every way this practice should be illegal and banned everywhere.

This may happen sooner rather than later as the coal rollers obviously do not think before they roll.  Proof can be found in this article where New Jersey Assemblyman and Leaf driver Tim Eustace was targeted by a Coal Roller and now Eustace aims to work to make it illegal in his state. He has announced a bill that forbids coal rolling.  Read more about it here.  Hopefully it will catch on in other states and coal rolling will fade away forever.

WARNING

If you drive an EV or Hybrid, bicycle, or are just out for a stroll or run, keep your eyes and ears open for these small minded, backward thinking, environmental scofflaws in their giant trucks because they target not only EV’s, hybrids and other small, fuel efficient vehicles but also pedestrians, officers of the law, and even the elderly. They clearly have serious mental issues and need some serious help.  If you are “coal rolled” try your best to get a description of the vehicle, tag number, and report it to the police. If enough people report this insanity to the authorities, hopefully the perpetrators will slowly become extinct like the dinosaurs they love to burn.

Funnyman Stephen Colbert did a hilarious and revealing commentary on Coal Rolling here: http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/bfvmgh/coal-rolling

Another good article from Slate.com 

From TYT University on Youtube:

If Coal Rollers continue to participate in actions like this individual, then hopefully they will quietly be weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection – and they should all win Darwin Awards for their ignorance.

breathedeep

 

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