Plug-In Hybrid: Building Block to Sustainabilty
By EV World
Dr. Andy Frank has been talking about plug-in hybrids for more than two decade, much of it into a "vacuum", in his words. As a professor of engineering at UC Davis, Frank and his students have built many working, full-scale versions over the last decade, proving that the concept isn't just theory, it works in the real world.
His address to the 500 or so attendees to the ASPO USA Peak Oil Conference at Boston University followed immediately on the heels of Toyota's Bill Reinert. Frank contends that not only are plug-in hybrids commercially feasible – he calculates that the price differential could be as little as $4000 -- but they could have a dramatic impact on America's dependence on oil. He estimates that with an electric power-only range of 40-60 miles, annual consumption of liquid fuels could drop to ten percent of their current level. That would be sufficient to completely cease our use of petroleum and shift to biofuels like ethanol.
In contrast to the general tone of the conference that peak oil will have a profound impact on modern society, Frank believes that a shift to a largely electric-powered transportation system that utilizes both battery power and renewable liquid fuels can lead to improvements in lifestyle, especially when all of the electric power comes from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro, which is possible given the energy storage capabilities of electric vehicles.
Referring to Jim Gordon's speech the previous day, Frank observed that when the Cape Wind farm is built, the electrons that are generated have to be used or wasted. Storing excess electrons in electric vehicle batteries is an ideal solution to the intermittency of renewable energy.
"A building block of sustainability, I contend, is really the plug-in hybrid with enough batteries to provide 30-to-60 miles of electric range."
He says there are essentially only two energy infrastructures: the electric power grid and gasoline service stations. The elegance of the plug-in hybrid is that it uses both.
"That's where we have to begin the transition. We cannot transition suddenly to another form of energy... hydrogen or something like that... We have to transition from what we have. The plug-in hybrid would allow us to do it."
He points out that despite concerns about the time it takes to recharge an electric car, most cars sit most of the time during which they can be plugged in and recharge, especially during off-peak hours over night. In addition, each car can operate on its internal combustion engine, if there isn't enough energy stored in the battery.
"It's a dual energy system."
Be sure to watch Dr. Frank's presentation, which EV World video taped in its entirety.
EV World thanks the ASPO USA, the organizers of the Boston conference, for granting us permission to record all of the presentations to audio, and several to video, including Dr. Frank's, many, if not most of which will be available in the future here on EV World.
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