Thursday, May 22, 2008

RL3F01A Governor

That's the technical name for my transmission.
I've found a new pic of the governor - it does look different to the earlier one so I'm putting it up here for you to see.

The issue remains the same. I need it to delay the shift to a time more suitable to the Electric motor. I've asked for information on the Nissan forums and I'll go down to the local Auto Transmission specialist on the weekend. to see what he thinks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Transmission Tinkering

Now we're getting somewhere!

The auto transaxle/gearbox in my Pulsar is a hydraulic gearbox, not an electronic one. Some engines have a computer sensor in the engine that tells the gearbox how fast it's going. The gearbox uses this information to select the correct gear, and to know when to change. Mine isn't that complicated, but it's still quite clever.

It has a governor. This is a funny looking stick with a cog at the bottom and two hinged arms at the top. The engine spins the cog, and centrifugal force pulls the hinged arms apart, just like a figure skater spinning on the spot. As the arms open, oil is pushed into the gearbox to make the gear changes. If the governor is spinning too fast for second gear, it won't downshift and blow the motor.

Here's a picture of the governor on a diesel locomotive engine. It's not exactly the same, but you get the idea.

Now the rub: the electric motor has a different torque curve to an Internal Combustion Engine. While an ICE takes a few seconds to really provide power, an electric motor supplies all the power immediately. If I hook up the WarP9 directly to the transmission, it would probably shift right into top gear as soon as I give it some throttle: clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. Not optimal!

So what I need to do is figure out a way to modify the governor and delay the shift. I haven't found an EV out there that has solved this problem, so we might be in uncharted territory... That's exciting, even for this accountant!

Here are a couple of ideas I've had so far:
  • Use an oil pump and a computer sensor/controller. This would probably work, but it's expensive and complicated.
  • Shave some weight off the governor arms. This might work, but a uniform reduction isn't really what I'm after. I need something that will align a straight torque curve (WarP9) to the curved torque curve of the ICE.
  • Add springs to the arms to slow the expansion of the arms. This is what I'm leaning towards at the moment. There may be a formula somewhere to tell me what kind of spring to use, but trial and error may be my last resort.

So, to quote Sherlock Holmes: "The game's afoot!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nissan says moving into higher gear on electric cars

Nissan says moving into higher gear on electric cars
1 day ago
TOKYO (AFP) — Nissan Motor Co., playing catch-up in fuel-efficient motoring, said Monday that it and NEC Corp. will invest 115 million dollars to mass produce new batteries for electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.
The push into advanced lithium-ion batteries comes as Japanese automakers invest in an array of new environmentally friendly car technologies amid soaring prices at the pump.
Nissan has been slower than rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. to embrace petrol-electric hybrids, but it aims to become the industry leader in electric vehicles.
"Our vision for a more sustainable future is clear," said Nissan's executive vice president Carlos Tavares. "Nissan firmly believes the ultimate solution for sustainable mobility lies in zero emission."
"Electric vehicles will be a key product breakthrough our industry can deliver," he told reporters, adding that Nissan was ready to supply the batteries to any company interested in the technology.
The venture, Automotive Energy Supply Corp. (AESC), which was set up last year, plans to build its first battery production line at a Nissan facility in Kanagawa Prefecture southwest of Tokyo.
Owned 51 percent by Nissan and 49 percent by the NEC group, it will invest 12 billion yen (115 million dollars) over three years in the aim of producing 65,000 lithium-ion batteries per year by 2009.
NEC Tokin will invest an additional 11 billion yen to build a new assembly line at one of NEC's facilities in Kanagawa Prefecture to produce components for the batteries, which will be installed next year in forklifts in Japan.
Nissan also aims to use the batteries in an electric vehicle to be launched in the United States and Japan in 2010, along with the first hybrid using its own technology.
It aims to mass-market electric vehicles to consumers globally in 2012.
The dream of an electric car, which has been around since the time of Thomas Edison, has so far failed to break into the mainstream because of limited battery life that makes such vehicles impractical for most purposes.
Lithium-ion batteries are smaller and lighter than the nickel-metal hydride batteries now used in hybrid and electric cars.
But automakers have been cautious about their use following problems with lithium-ion batteries for laptop computers catching fire.
"Because this is for automotive applications, safety is imperative," said AESC president Masahiko Otsuka.
"We have a lot of tests regarding safety. We have cleared all of them," he said.
NEC executive vice president Konosuke Kashima said his company -- which has been researching next-generation lithium-ion batteries since the early 1990s for mobile telephones -- sees good growth prospects for the technology.
"Due to emissions control and rising oil prices, the market (for the batteries) is expected to increase to one million units in 2010 and three million in 2020," he said.
Nissan also said that it would conduct a feasibility study with Kanagawa authorities on an electric vehicle project in the prefecture from 2010 that could include an electricity-charging network and tax incentives for users.
I really object to this journalist's statement that "The dream of an electric car, which has been around since the time of Thomas Edison, has so far failed to break into the mainstream because of limited battery life that makes such vehicles impractical for most purposes." Claptrap. All of the research from the USA, europe and Australia shows that a large amount of our driving is less than 100km (commuting) and usually at speeds less than 90km/h.

The challenge is the remaining 10% of times when we want to take the same car and drive to Vegas/The Snow/Byron wherever... Unfortunately, the gullible public has swallowed this line, proclaimed with evangelical zeal by the oil and motor car companies - to the point where journalists can put it in an article as fact without bothering to check it's validity.

There's two solutions that are readily available now: a plug-in hybrid, so you can use the Internal Combustion Engine (might be an advantage to convert it to LPG) for distances beyond the charge of your batteries (just like the diesel submarines) or use the EV as a second car.

Our family has chosen the second option, because we have two ICE cars and are planning to conver them both. The Crysler Neon will be put onto LPG using a professional LPG convertion shop, and I'll be doing the Pulsar conversion to batteries myself.

At the moment I've been doing some general maintenance on the car: Fixing a broken boot-lid clip and cleaning out the footwells. On the weekend I'll give it a good wash and have a closer look at the rust in the driver's door pillar.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Study links air pollution, blood clots in veins

The reasons in favour of this conversion just keep stacking up...

CHICAGO, May 12 (Reuters) - Air pollution heavy in small particles may cause blood clots in the legs, the same condition air travelers call "economy class syndrome" from immobility during flight, researchers said on Monday.
Dr. Andrea Baccarelli of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues said they found the link after looking at 870 people in Italy who had developed deep vein thrombosis between 1995 and 2005. When compared with 1,210 others living in the same region who did not have the problem, they found that for every increase in particulate matter of 10 micrograms per square meter the previous year, the risk of deep vein thrombosis increased by 70 percent.
On top of that, the blood of those with higher levels of exposure to particulate matter was quicker to clot when tested at a clinic, they reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Air pollution from automobiles and industry can contain tiny particles of carbon, nitrates, metals and other materials that have been linked over the years to a variety of health problems. While lung diseases were an initial concern, later research has indicated it may cause heart disease and stroke, possibly because it increases the rate at which blood can coagulate, Baccarelli and colleagues said.
Until now particulate pollution had not been linked to blood clots in the veins. The mechanism that causes problems for some air travelers is related not to the blood itself but to impaired circulation when sitting in one place without exercise for long periods of time. The findings introduce a new and common risk for deep vein thrombosis, the researchers said and "give further substance to the call for tighter standards and continued efforts aimed at reducing the impact of urban air pollutants on human health."
In a commentary, Dr. Robert Brook of the of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said if the findings are proven by additional research it may turn out that "the actual totality of the health burden posed by air pollution, already known to be tremendous, may be even greater than ever anticipated."
(Reporting by Michael Conlon; editing by Maggie Fox and David Wiessler)

Also, I've had correspondence from ZEVA in Sydney. I'll post more details soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Further developments

I haven't had a lot of time recently to devote to the conversion. Our rental inspection is approaching and there is a lot of yard work to be done. Recently I've been having problems with our battery lawn mower due to it's low power. It was fine while we were in drought conditions and the grass was very dry, but with waist-high jungle it just wasn't up to the task.

Fortunately, my Aunt loaned me her 4-stroke mower which finished off in 2 hours a task that the battery-mower hadn't done in 2 weeks! I will be buying a 4-stroke mower in the next few months...

However, the demise of the battery-mower has led to an unexpected supply of parts. A windfall, you might say... Having dismantled the components in an attempt to fix it, I find myself in posession of a small electric motor (which unfortunately is devoid of markings, particularly a power rating), a 12v 12Ah battery, some wiring and a rudimentary battery charger. I am planning to use these parts in a new project, one that will give me useful experience in working with electronics.

I had planned to attach it to my mountain bike as a hill-boost-assist but I don't think the motor is powerful enough to make much of a difference.

Maybe a boat or small barbie-go-kart style vehicle for my daughter?

I was given the idea for a boat during a visit to my in-laws. My brother-in-law Murray has a radio-controlled boat which is fairly small (about 18 inches long) an runs on 6 x 1.5v AA batteries. I'm thinking of taking the motor and 12v battery into the hobby shop and buying a boat kit that will handle the weight... Maybe a 1/18th size Titanic or Graf Spee? We shall see...

In the meantime, please donate a few dollars to this ev conversion. Clicking a few ads in the google ad panel will also generate some cash, although this takes a long time. I've added an "amount outstanding" line which I hope will tick down steadily until I can afford the new motor.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Found: local vendor

Well, isn't this a stroke of luck? I've been putting together a list of requirements and costs based on other EV projects (mainly Kiwi EV) and enjoying the exchange rate between the US dollar and the $AUD - thinking I will have to import most of the parts from the USA.

No more! I've found an Australian company that does all the hard work for me. And you'll never guess how I found them...

As you can see, I've placed a Google Adsense ad in the blog to try to generate some cash to fund this incrementally-planet-saving project. Lo and behold - the first ad to be displayed was ZEVA - Zero Emission Vehicles Australia. My saviours! I haven't had time to really look through their online dogalogue, but a quick browse told me that they have most of what I need:

Electric Motor

Pot box & controller

Cable, wire & accessories

Digital displays & advice

So: I'm very excited as being able to deal with an Australian company makes things A LOT simpler for me, not to mention cheaper.

I am stoked.

I had one of those jaw-dropping moments while reading Dilbert this morning. It appears that the message may be finally getting through to some Americans that there are alternatives and the world isn't going to survive very long on cheap oil: Have a read of the post (it's quite entertaining) but also the replies.

There's an unusually low ration of nay-sayers to proponents and this gives me a little hope that maybe, just maybe we are getting somewhere and the message is sinking in...

As for me, I'm not waiting around for a perfect alternative. As General Patton once said "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow"...