Drumbeat: September 19, 2010

Kan eyes countermeasures in event China begins drilling in gas field

TOKYO — Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday began considering specific countermeasures to be taken in the event China commences drilling at a disputed gas field in the East China Sea, Japanese government sources said.

Possible countermeasures include a plan for Japan to conduct its own test drilling in the sea near the Chinese offshore facility under development at the gas field, over which both Tokyo and Beijing have claimed exploration rights, the sources said.

The move comes after aerial photographs taken by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces showed that China had recently transported what appears to be drilling equipment to the facility in the gas field, known in Japan as Shirakaba and in China as Chunxiao, according to the sources.

Q+A - China, Japan and the East China Sea gas dispute

REUTERS - Tensions between Japan and China have spilled over into new sparring over gas fields in disputed areas of the East China Sea, where the two governments have been negotiating a treaty to jointly develop the energy reserves.

Japan may start drilling near a gas field in disputed waters if China extends its drilling activities there, the Nikkei business daily reported on Sunday.

Here are some questions and answers about the dispute:

Iran now self-sufficient, stops importing petrol

TEHRAN: Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi said yesterday that Iran had now stopped importing petrol, a commodity targeted by world powers in new sanctions against Tehran's controversial nuclear drive. "No purchase has been made of petrol since last month," Mirkazemi was quoted by Mehr news agency as saying. It reported him as saying Iran's daily petrol production had reached 66.5 million litres per day, more than the national requirement of 64 million litres.

Reservoir in Gulf May Still Be Used

While BP plans to permanently abandon its stricken well in the Gulf of Mexico, with little but a plug left at the top, it may yet make use of the reservoir of oil and gas that the well tapped into.

Experts say that there are no technical or commercial reasons why BP — or another company if BP is wary of the political or public-relations repercussions — could not eventually produce oil from the formation, which BP once estimated contained about 50 million barrels of oil. The well spewed only about one-tenth of that amount, according to government estimates.

“The bottom line here is that this reservoir still remains a target for further production,” said Tadeusz W. Patzek, chairman of the department of petroleum and geosystems engineering at the University of Texas.

Gas Explosion Prompts Scrutiny of PG&E’s Profits

Pacific Gas & Electric enjoys a near monopoly over 70,000 square miles of Northern and Central California, with 15 million customers.

The California Public Utilities Commission allows the company to charge rates 30 percent higher than the national average. As a regulated utility, the publicly traded company’s shareholders benefit from a guaranteed 11.35 percent return on equity, which is also above the industry average of about 10.5 percent.

Yet, when PG&E stumbles, the customers largely foot the bill.

San Bruno resident sues PG&E, says recovery fund for victims should be managed by third party

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (AP) — A resident of the neighborhood evacuated by a deadly gas line explosion in San Bruno is suing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Steve Dare filed the lawsuit on Friday in San Mateo County Superior Court. He says the company should turn over a $100 million recovery fund for blast victims to a third party and pay other monetary damages.

Iraq delays gas auction to Oct. 20 - official

(Reuters) - Iraq's Oil Ministry has decided to postpone an auction for three gas fields to Oct. 20 after eight companies asked for more time to study contract terms, an Iraqi oil official said on Sunday.

The auction was scheduled to be held on Oct. 1.

Syria, Iraq to build pipeline

BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Syria and Iraq have signed an initial agreement to build two crude oil pipelines to the Mediterranean Sea, an Iraqi official said.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the larger pipeline with a 1.5 million barrel daily capacity would carry heaver crudes and the smaller pipeline with a 1.25 million daily capacity would carry lighter crude oil, the Global Arab Network Web site reported Sunday.

'Unfounded': Iran denies arresting 7 U.S. troops

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran denied on Sunday that border guards had detained seven U.S. troops, calling the report "unfounded", the state-run English language Press TV said.

The country's Arabic language television al-Alam also quoted Iran's Revolutionary Guards, in charge of Iran's border security, as denying that any such incident had happened in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

For the Auto X Prize, a Race to the Finish

THE $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, the competition to create fuel-efficient vehicles that ended last week with three winners, would have appeared to favor all the technology and finesse that goes with electric vehicles.

But Oliver Kuttner succeeded by using the same nitty-gritty approach that once led him to rebuild a Corvette engine in his college dorm room.

Cleaner for the Environment, Not for the Dishes

Like every other major detergent for automatic dishwashers, Procter & Gamble’s Cascade line recently underwent a makeover. Responding to laws that went into effect in 17 states in July, the nation’s detergent makers reformulated their products to reduce what had been the crucial ingredient, phosphates, to just a trace.

While phosphates help prevent dishes from spotting in the wash cycle, they have long ended up in lakes and reservoirs, stimulating algae growth that deprives other plants and fish of oxygen.

Yet now, with the content reduced, many consumers are finding the new formulas as appealing as low-flow showers, underscoring the tradeoffs that people often face today in a more environmentally conscious marketplace. From hybrid cars to solar panels, environmentally friendly alternatives can cost more. They can be less convenient, like toting cloth sacks or canteens rather than plastic bags or bottled water. And they can prove less effective, like some of the new cleaning products.

“Most Americans want to do things that are good for the environment, but not everyone wants to pay the price,” said Elke U. Weber, director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University.

Breaking our dangerous addiction to oil

The United States needs to reduce our oil dependence as quickly as possible. We cannot continue to depend on an energy source that changes our climate, costs American families hundreds of billions of dollars in imported fuel every year, and devastates our shores from the Gulf of Mexico to the Kalamazoo River. The vast majority of our oil use comes from transportation, which means that reducing our dependence on oil requires building better cars and trucks that get people around using less fuel.

Nuclear 'key' to Britain's energy future, says Centrica's Roger Carr

Roger Carr, chairman of Centrica, has warned that Britain has to wake up to its future reliance on nuclear energy if it wants "to keep the lights on".

Fusion funding slammed in European Parliament

A proposal to fund a multi-billion-euro fusion experiment through cuts in Europe’s research budget has met with a frosty reception in the European Parliament, which must ultimately give its imprimatur to the deal.

EPA emissions rules could hinder ethanol

Washington, D.C. - Biofuels producers don't like to think of themselves as a cause of global warming, but that's how they could be regulated under the Obama administration's regulations on greenhouse gases.

The regulations, due to take effect in January, would count as greenhouse gases the carbon dioxide that's released when corn is fermented into motor fuel or when corn stalks, straw and other sources of biomass are burned to make electricity.

No. 1 Planet for Alien Tourists

“Earth (The Book)” is a mock textbook by writers for “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” — or “the authors of the popular television program ‘The John Daly Show’ ,” as they put it in a fake Wikipedia blurb on the book’s back cover. It is conceived as a handy guide for extraterrestrials who arrive on this planet after humanity has become extinct, in case those extraterrestrials want to know what they’re missing. It explains everyday details about how we live(d), from our use of the fork (“a way to hurt food one last time before eating it”) to our wearing of pants. “We put these on one leg at a time,” it says. “You may require a different approach.”

Bangkok may be uninhabitable in seven years

Dr Ajong Chumsai na Ayudhya, a Thai scientist who has worked with the US space agency Nasa in the past, said yesterday that the areas around the Gulf of Thailand would be hit by tsunamis and that Bangkok would be under water in less than seven years.

Green movement needs a different approach to appeal beyond the usual audience

Campaigners should focus on things people care about, not polar bears and melting ice caps.

Thomas L. Friedman: Aren’t We Clever?

While American Republicans were turning climate change into a wedge issue, the Chinese Communists were turning it into a work issue.

“There is really no debate about climate change in China,” said Peggy Liu, chairwoman of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy, a nonprofit group working to accelerate the greening of China. “China’s leaders are mostly engineers and scientists, so they don’t waste time questioning scientific data.” The push for green in China, she added, “is a practical discussion on health and wealth. There is no need to emphasize future consequences when people already see, eat and breathe pollution every day.”

Obama administration leaves climate change to Congress, not the courts

Reporting from Washington — Environmentalists say they are surprised and disappointed that the Obama administration is urging the Supreme Court to kill a major global warming lawsuit that seeks new limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

At issue is a deep dispute over how best to fight climate change: through new government rules only or through lawsuits against polluters.

Though the administration seeks new limits on carbon pollution from Congress or through the Environmental Protection Agency, it says courts should step aside. But some environmentalists call this one-track approach shortsighted and a mistake.

Chinese Oil Consumption in 2020?

Chinese oil consumption doubled from 1998 to 2009, from 4.1 mbpd to 8.2 mbpd:


And their net oil imports went up more than five fold from 1998 to 2009, from 0.8 mbpd to 4.2 mbpd.

I guess the $64 trillion dollar question for the world economy is where will Chinese oil consumption and net imports will be in 2020, versus total global net oil exports?

On the supply side, if we extrapolate the rate of increase in consumption as a percentage of production for all net oil exporters with net exports of 100,000 bpd or more in 2005*, this metric suggests that post-2005 global CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) will be approximately 50% depleted around 2020.

*This does not take into account some emerging net exporters like Brazil, but in the global net export picture, I don't think the emerging exporters will make a material difference; time will tell.

For those who have forgotten how recently China changed from exporter to net oil importer:

This also serves as a light-hearted reminder to foreign readers that the Energy Export databrowser is available in several languages -- look for yours at the bottom of the user interface.

And if anyone wants to help in translating the databrowser into another language we'd love to hear from you at mazamascience [at] gmail [dot] com. We've got a list of key words and phrases that make the actual translation pretty straightforward.



Hi Jon,

I wouldn't mind translating the databrowser in Portuguese (Brazilian). Please let me know.



I would love to have a Brazilian Portugese version! Please contact me at mazamascience [at] gmail [dot] com


The consumption numbers for the net exporting group are pretty interesting--from 16.21 mbpd in 2005 to 17.44 mbpd in 2009, a 2%/year rate of increase. At this rate of increase, their consumption in 2020 would be about 22 mbpd. Consumption as a percentage of production rose from 26.1% in 2005 to 29.1 % in 2009 (28.0% in 2008). At this rate of increase, their consumption as a percentage of production would be about 35% in 2020 (and it would be around 100% in 2055).

If we look at "Chindia," their combined net imports rose from 4.6 mbpd in 2005 to 6.3 mbpd in 2009 (EIA), from 10% of total global net oil exports* to 15% in 2009. At this rate of increase they would consume about 50% of global net oil exports around 2021 (and 100% of top five net exports around 2019).

All of our various projections are of course wrong; it's just a question of to what degree, but IMO the only real question regarding net exports is the slope of the long term global net export decline, but as noted above I think that the bigger problem is the underlying CNE depletion rate, i.e., we are keeping our high consumption way of life going courtesy of a high underlying CNE depletion rate.

*Net exporting countries with 100,000 bpd or more of net exports in 2005.


Jon and Sam and I (along with lots of help from my son-in-law) are doing the final work on our net export presentations for ASPO. Sam and I are doing oil, Jon is doing coal and natural gas. If you have any comments, questions, observations, etc. that you want us to address, let us know.

Your presentation needs to become a TED talk.

I second this motion. Anyone know how to make it happen?

In regards to the news articles above about the China-Japan gas field dispute, my opinion is that China is fully aware of the very difficult oil (and also gas) import situation it will face in the future.

Running through the numbers, the only way that China will be able to increase oil imports in the future is to basically take then away from other countries. To certain extent, their more efficient use of oil will allow them to pay a higher price for oil. But as some have already noted here, specific control of supplies such as direct country to country deals may become more important as future export supplies become more scarce.

I doubt then that China will back down from any confrontation over oil and gas supplies in its own back yard. While I haven't discussed this before, the rising value of the yen vs. the dollar may in some ways be also a part of a subtle 'war' with Japan. Essentially by buying yen bonds and selling US dollar bonds, forcing up the value of yen, China is shifting its currency exchange rate dispute with the US onto the back of Japan. Japan is left to interviene by itself in the currency market as dollars are exchanged for yen.

China Pledges `Strong' Reaction to Japan Detention of Fishing Boat Captain
By Bloomberg News - Sep 19, 2010 9:35 AM ET

China has pledged to take “strong” action to force Japan to release the captain of a fishing boat held since Sept. 7 as state television reported relations between the countries have been “seriously damaged.”

“China will take strong reactionary measures if necessary and Japan will have to bear all consequences,” Ma Chaoxu, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson, said in the statement.


I think that the situation you describe presents a likely scenario. As China depends on exports, their likely competitors are located nearby in Asia and Japan is probably number one. It would seem to be in China's long term interest that Japan's economy shrink and that their industrial capacity be degraded.

Other analysts have suggested that China might use their dollar reserves to influence US trade policy, but it might be much easier to simply force the other nations out of the market by manipulating the currencies of their competitors, picking them off one-by-one over many years. Would the US support Japan if there were a trade war between Japan and China? Perhaps the Chinese have decided that the US would not do so and are now making their move to begin the contest...

E. Swanson

For China, how big a trade partner is Japan? The latter is an even bigger holder of dollars, too. Can't see this apple cart becoming upset too soon.

Looking at OICA production data China cranked out 9,299,180 vehicles for 2008, yet the news is forecasting 17 million+ sales this year. 1999-2008 production averaged about 16% so that would give 2010 output of ca. 10.1 million, leaving ca. 7 million in imports. Gotta be some brisk business for the Japanese there.

What this means for petroleum demand is interesting. EIA info had Chinese gasoline demand at ca. 18% of their total in 2006. One odd thing about this data is that the sum of the components is smaller than the total given, off by 10.5% for 2006, the latest year EIA shows component data for.

Now, JODI has data for all product streams up to July '10, so I thought I'd see what it shows for China. The discrepancy between sum of components and the total is even greater - 75.05% average for May '09-July '10, which, oddly enough is about what I get extrapolating the '05/'06 EIA discrepancy forward. Yesterday's article about a new dawn in Chinese/US energy data transparency is of import, too, as their numbers are fishier than a Melville novel. These grotesque discrepancies don't show up with the numbers for the biggest OECD nations, btw.

The "Total" figure given in the JODI data is much closer to EIA numbers. The components as a % of the total are as follows:

LPG		9.69%
Gasoline	18.82%
Kerosene	3.45%
Distillate	36.06%
Resid		7.03%

Kerosene here includes jet fuel. The total here is only 75.05%. I get very different results when computing these as a % of the sum of components; but the result does add up to 100%. Weird.

Compare the EIA numbers for 2006:

Gasoline	17.95%
Jet Fuel	2.08%
Kerosene	0.82%
Distillate	33.03%
Resid		5.62%
Other		22.17%
LPG		7.76%

Note that these numbers only add up to 89.43%, as per my description above. Which is closer to the truth?

Whether we have reached Peak Oil or not can only be judged in the rear view mirror. Like others on TOD I believe 2005 will mark the annual peak in oil production. It is certainly possible that a new peak year may come to pass in years ahead with serious production investments, but I no longer believe that a new peak will fundamentally change anything discussed on this forum.

The EIA short-term energy outlook for Sep 2010 shows that worldwide consumption will exceed worldwide production in 2011. As the above article makes clear, the growth in non-OECD consumption, especially China, has pushed the limits on supply in a rather short period of time.

My point is that whether we have hit the actual year of Peak Oil remains a topic for debate. The ability to serve current consumption trends is no longer subject to debate. The growth in consumption is exceeding growth in production, regardless of peak.

Over the past couple of weeks I have attempted to reconcile the worldwide inventories of oil against the reality that consumption is already outpacing production. The conclusion I have drawn is that the many millions of barrels of oil that were flowing into the marketplace at the start of this economic collapse backed up into storage terminals (Cushing) and floating storage at sea. In recent months as the world has begun to consume more products this floating storage has found its way onshore. This has given us, according to MSM, a "glut" of products.

My guess is that very soon we will begin to see a significant drawdown in Cushing supplies that are no longer supported by the floating storage fleet. Imports should fall quickly as these ships have already unloaded cargo and are now sitting idle. Tanker rates reflect a very weak market currently.

My conclusion, whether we have hit peak or not I believe we have now crossed the line of adequate supply and may never see this moment again in our lifetime. If true, our inventories of oil will begin a long, terminal decline immediately even if production does ultimately set a new annual peak.

I psoted numerous reports earlier this year indicating that oil and products stored offshore may have reached as much as 200 million barrels in the Spring but went down to as low as about 60 million at the end of August.

While it is hard to see on this chart ( http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=WCRIMUS2&f=W ), the US experienced a conter-trend rise in crude imports in July and August - thereby restoring inventories to above average levels.

More recent shipping reports indicate that tanker rates have dropped so low that seaborne storage may now cost less than storage at Cushing, and offshore storage has started to increase again.

So the present situation should now clearly indicate within a few months if the summer import burst was due to just taking oil off floating storage - or was an actual increase in oil output from exporting countries.

Hopefully the endless discussion by the oil 'bears' about 'high' inventories will be put to rest rather soon. That is of you think a extra day's worth of US oil supplies in storage makes inventories 'high' in the first place - which I don't.

Basically if imports drop as little as 1% - just one percent only - over the next year, the extra supplies will be completely gone in one year. If they drop 2%, not a huge drop, we could have shortages in one year.

I was looking at old EIA docs trying to get some numbers for historic spare capacity. No luck there past '93 but I did notice that they used to provide data on floating storage. Try old issues of the STEO, if you're curious. Wonder why this was abandoned.

Whether we have reached Peak Oil or not can only be judged in the rear view mirror. Like others on TOD I believe 2005 will mark the annual peak in oil production

That's an interesting question, I wonder what the current prevailing view on TOD is?

Personally I see 2005 not as the ultimate peak, but the beginning of a plateau, and I have read with great interest the recent government/military reports from various countries that put the beginning of actual declines in the 2012-2015 time frame.

Hmmm, wouldn't that be interesting? Looking back a decade from now at a "peak" in production lasting roughly from 2005 to 2015 (give or take a year or two), it would only be perfectly natural for people to see the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 as the standout symbol marking for all time the ultimate inflection point for the age of oil.

The literal crashing and burning of industrial civilization as it hits the brick hard limits of energy, resources, and complexity.


I wonder what the current prevailing view on TOD is?

The most commonly used year is 2005 for peak of crude production. For 'all liquids" the common year is 2008. Most conclude that we are in a plateau, that the plateau will continue, and with serious investment and effort some year in the next 2 to 4 may see a bit higher in the all liquids proudction. The problem associated with extending the plateau and edging higher in production is that it makes the downslope a bit more severe.

There are complex economic factors that play into the equation... money available to invest (goes to the supply factor), how much consumers are able to afford (which is a function of the demand equation), and the level of impact on necessaries (food production, essential power, water, and so forth). The last part has to do with reaction by the public, whether and with whom wars are fought, whether and how extensive civil unrest and revolution becomes.

Another factor to consider is simple propaganda. Who decides what facts are published? How are the facts presented and vetted? The PTB want to damp the civil unrest factors, and downplay the impacts on necessaries. We will be told things are getting better until people are starving in the Streets of Los Angeles. The we will be told it is 'just local, until it is seen in New York, Chicago and Denver. At some point, it won't matter...

In the mean time, the US Military forces are preparing for 2015. Though the word now is that we may get a two or three year reprieve from the real crash. Maybe 2018?

Looking back in 10 years, we may think the whole bru ha ha over BP's DW Horizon disaster was overdone, and helped to keep our eyes off the shells while the pea was removed. Mainstream media is pretty well controlled, from Fox to MSNBC! Big money runs the show. And, they don't want BAU to stop...

I actually believe that we will see 2016 in about the same shape we seem to be in today... after that my doomer detector starts ringing...

So, good luck to all, and to all a good night.


Good News from the Pacific Northwest

A couple of articles in the Seattle Times this morning about different approaches toward sustainability that are actually moving forward in the upper left-hand corner:

First step in removal of Elwah River dams begins

About 750 dams have been taken out around the country. But the Elwha dams are the largest ever; Glines Canyon stands more than 200 feet tall. The dam removal is intended to allow salmon and steelhead to recolonize more than 70 miles of pristine habitat within Olympic National Park and restore the natural functioning of the ecosystem, from headwaters to the mouth of the river at the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Next, we have two separate items in this "Sunday Buzz" article:

Developers drawn again to Rainier Valley rail stations

Whether privately funded or publicly supported, transit oriented development is always a good sign:

After a two-year hiatus, developers are beginning to stir once again in the neighborhoods around Sound Transit's light-rail stations in Rainier Valley.
Long-established developer Harbor Properties said this past week that it now hopes to break ground next spring or summer on a 125-unit project in Columbia City.
At the same forum, Seattle Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, a longtime Southeast Seattle resident and activist, spoke glowingly of nonprofit developer Artspace's plans for a Sound Transit-owned site, until recently a tire store, that is literally in the shadow of the Mount Baker Station.

The proposal: a four-story building with 51 apartments for low-income artists, 10 small retail spaces and a community room on the ground floor — and absolutely no parking.

And so is small hydro for the developing world:

Although a floating turbine that generates electricity has obvious applications for less-developed countries, Burt Hamner focused Seattle-based startup Hydrovolts on the U.S. market because "we're a small company and we don't have the resources to do anything international."

Then he got an offer no businessperson could ignore.
Hydrovolts inked an agreement earlier this month that could eventually put as many as 400 of its turbines into a single large canal that flows into India's Ganges River.

Pardon my optimism, but articles like this keep me hopeful that the Puget Sound region may successfully "tumble down the scree slope" instead of "fall off a cliff" in the coming fossil fuels crunch.

Best Hopes for actually implementing good ideas!


The dams on the Elwah River were some of the worst ecological disasters our engineering friends brought against nature, as it contained on of the largest chinook salmon species on Earth, and sealed its extinction.
Lets hope the Snake River dams are next, and then we will begin on the Columbia, with Grand Coulee, one of Earths great ecological disasters, finally coming down.
It will anyway in the future, it would bring some dignity back to humans if we did it ourselves.


I am very sympathetic with your sentiment but I am also aware that the Pacific North West is incredibly reliant on the huge quantities of emissions-free power that come from Grand Coulee Dam.

Any changes to our current infrastructure will have impacts on native flora and fauna -- some very good and some very bad -- and we should be evaluating options with a careful, very-long-term cost/benefit analysis that emphasizes natural capital. From my perspective I would offer the following:

  • Bringing down Elwha Dam is a no brainer. Thank God it's finally happening!
  • Dismantling the Snake river dams is almost certainly a good idea.
  • Removing Columbia River dams is fraught with problems related to flood control.
  • Removing Grand Coulee dam doesn't pass my cost/benefit standards.

Bringing down dams that currently benefit large numbers of people will have many unintended consequences. We need to be careful about trading environmental benefit in one place for environmental degradation in another.

Best Hopes for making smart choices.


Grand Coulee is high on my list, and anthropogenic concerns are overridden by a memory of a rich and diverse planet.

Well, I would echo the sentiment, but in this instance it may be little more than a memory.
Mercury Taints Upper Columbia

Judith Leckrone Lee, an EPA staff member assigned to work on the Lake Roosevelt situation in the mid-1990s, said that after she helped set up the Water Quality Council, discussions there indicated that a cleanup might not be possible.

"I remember there was a sense, and even a discussion from time to time, of, 'How the hell are we going to clean this up?'" she said. "There's no way to clean it up, even with all the money in the world."

I think you have to pick carefully the windmills you choose to tilt at...I would pass on Grand Coulee.

The Elwha dam removal is one of the most cheerful news stories of my life.
Growing up in the Northwest and being a history buff I always marveled at the tendency towards gigantism in our native flora and fauna.
The upper Elwha chinook were the biggest of the big, the holy grail of freshwater salmon.
Attempting to restore the runs is a long shot but worth the effort.
The spawning habitat is still intact since it is in Olympic National Park.
There is an almost spiritual dimension to the effort given the staggering beauty of the area.
Even an ardent hydropower advocate could admit that this dam at this site was inappropriate and removal now makes good sense.
Another intangible factor not to be underestimated, it does give young people reason to hope for some restoration of a broken natural world.
I do worry, though, as we work and sacrifice to create all this splendid habitat- will it work? Where are the fish?
Seattle Sockeye Run Comes a Cropper
Puget Sound Coho a No-Show

My backyard is s short walk to the most southern run of coho we have left (with the exception of a small run down in Scott Creek in Santa Cruz).
We had no salmon for 2 years, and only 7 returned last fall. Things are dire.

I do worry, though, as we work and sacrifice to create all this splendid habitat- will it work? Where are the fish?

Outstanding question! Absolutely spot-on. Let's see now:

  • Depleted fisheries due to rampant over-fishing
  • Ocean acidification due to rapidly rising CO2 levels
  • Changing temperatures/currents due to climate instability
  • Recurring annual dead zones off the coast of Washington
  • Diseases and genetic defects introduced by fish farms
  • Plastic particles and other long-lived poisons infiltrating the entire food web
  • Drastic reductions in plankton in recent decades, killing off the very base of the food chain

...And the list goes on. Considering we seemingly are doing everything in our power to completely collapse the entire marine food chain I would hazard to say it is a miracle any salmon make it back to spawn at all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for removing dams that are more trouble than they're worth, but let's be clear, it's like celebrating the removal of a thorn from a foot that is already dying from gangrene.


Unfortunately, a very astute post.

I would hazard to say it is a miracle any salmon make it back to spawn at all.

Your list is completely correct and does go on (and on and on). But dams that restrict spawning habitat are surely somewhere near the top. The situation is definitely grim! But I am also continually surprised by and occasionally in awe of the biological resilience of some species -- particularly salmon:

Record Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Run

Reasonable or not, "Hope springs eternal."


I recently had a conversation with a man who helps OSU and NOAA with ocean salmon counts--they found very very few Sacramento chinook, again.

And just think, it didn't take a Jensenite ecoterrorist bombing to do it!

Re: For the Auto X Prize, a Race to the Finish

Nothing new here. There've been lots of high MPG vehicles over the years, including the one I built which achieved 235 MPG at 55 mph back in 1984.

High MPG motorcycle  project

That the Republicans under Ronnie RayGun chose to spend the nation's wealth on building a larger military and fighting wars to capture fossil fuel resources put a damper on all other efforts to solve the problem of energy. Will Government Motors start making millions of these a year? Will they start doing that next year? Will the people in the US decide to scrap all those massive SUV gas guzzlers and buy those high MPG alternatives? It sure doesn't look like this could happen just now, with the Tea Party crowd shouting that there's no problem with Climate Change and that all we need to do is Drill, Baby, Drill to fix things...

E. Swanson

Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.
But imaginary friends seem to be the rage these days, so the SUV will survive.

The Mad Hatter, of course, had a very famous tea party. Ironic, don't you think?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyIZIiY81Ek Someone else also figured out the connection

At first I thought that was an HPV. Anyway, HPVs, which include bicycles, after all, would be way cool as well. Of course, most people are afraid to drive a Prius or other "small" car because of the fear of SUVs. So, fuggedaboutit. People are all for good gas mileage as long as they can get good gas mileage, in, say, a Ford Expedition.

Be sure to attend Colbert's "Keep Fear Alive" rally later this month on the Washington mall. All we have is fear,notwithstanding the Beatles' song about love.

Anyway, way to go on that vehicle you built. Looks awesome.

Sorry to say, the 100cc Honda dirt bike project is long gone. I pushed it into a dumpster when I moved 12 years ago.

It might be fun to attend one of those marches in DC. I think I would go for whatever John Stewart puts together. Way back when I was still a Silicone Valley guy, I remember an event in San Francisco where the Grateful Dead announced over the radio that they were going to hold a free concert 24 hours later in Golden Gate Park. As I recall, 50,000 people showed up...

E. Swanson

1) Isn't keep fear alive in October?
2) I won't attend if I can't bring an electronic sign. How else can you keep the fear alive of the corruption of Governments unless you can SHOW the historic corruption of governments all across the globe? I mean I'd look style'n in my 'the best disinfectant is sunlight' tshirt and all - tis true.
2a) with no electronic sign, how can I display moonites to get the bomb squads excited?

Wonder if the 'corbert nation' will have "keep phreer alive" rallies all across the nation?

Even though the high mileage vehicles have been done before, and not been adopted, that does not mean it is not worth trying again.

Despite my (and many others) criticisms of the X-prize process being too long and arduous, (which mean innovative, but not well heeled teams could not last the year long process), it did actually achieve its aim- to demonstrate a 4 person, road legal, production capable car that can do 100mpg (equivalent), and has a 200 mile range.
The electrics demonstrated 180mpge, the trade offs being they are two seaters and have 100 mile range.

I was particularly impressed with the engineering approach of Edison - they looked carefully at the issues, and found that weight and aerodynamics are more important than the drivetrain/fuel source, and they optimised accordingly. They did not need to develop a high tech engine, or battery or power electronics. They removed complexity, and ended up with avery efficient car. The airlines have been following this model for decades - while people may dream of flying lounges and the like, they airlines know that you need to get the most passengers, and the least unneccessary weight, into the most aerodynamic and fuel efficient plane. And "luxuries" add weight and take space.

The race, and the result thereof is not new, but it does highlight a few things in regards to highly efficient cars;

- weight and aerodynamics are king when it comes to energy efficiency
- the lighter the vehicle gets, the less benefit there is from regenerative braking/energy storage (which itself adds considerable weight and expense
-if you want an efficient vehicle and can live with small space and short range (i.e. city driving) then electrics are a good fit
-If you want en efficient vehicle with long range, at an affordable price, you still need a small(ish) vehicle and an ICE
-If you want a spacious, luxurious vehicle, with even moderate range, it will not be very efficient (unless it is a train)

We have had a spirited discussion of these issues regarding the X-prize over the last few days at;

My take on the results is that it shows (again) that we do not need to spend zillions on developing high tech, high cost electric vehicles to reduce our oil use, we just need to have smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic ones. To do this does not require a radical shift in technology, but merely a shift in expectations of drivers. And if we are not prepared to give up any of our driving comforts (size, range, "performance", luxury), then we will only see marginal reductions in oil use, if any. We can't "have it all", but the trade-off required -use smaller vehicles - is not the end of the world.

And as far as GM goes, it is not necessarily their job to make these sorts of vehicles, their job is to try and make vehicles they can sell and hopefully make a profit from. Of course, they haven't succeeded in this for decades.
Thing is, if GM has the choice to do this, then they should have to live with their choices, not get bailed out when they don;t work. Hopefully we will see some new car companies appear making these sorts of things. But it's pretty hard to do that when the government bails out the dinosaurs that keep failing. Had they let GM go under, then some of the engineers etc might now be forming new companies to make these things, and the capital tied up in GM might be supporting them - that business model has worked exceedingly well for the computer industry.

Aerodynamics can make a large difference in MPG. But, the design mist also match the power supply to the lower power requirements which result from good aero design. The Aptera 3 wheel design was entered in the contest and they are being marketed today, but it's only a 2 person vehicle and they did not complete the distance in the final road test. Their highway MPG was said to be 164...

EDIT: Apparently, the Aptera version entered was an electric car. Also, the company has had trouble obtaining financing and may not have delivered any of either the electric or the hybrid versions.

E. Swanson


I have heard that APtera has had some "customer problems" about their vehicles not meeting claimed performance. In their defence here, the other vehicles were designed for the specs of this competition, theirs was already on the market., so it's no surprise they didn;t win, but 164mpge is still pretty good - as long as you like their car.

The matching of the powerplant to the vehicle is critical to efficiency - that is why aircraft designers agonise over it. Too much power and you are carrying excess weight, burning extra fuel, and paying more for larger engines. Airlines look for matched performance. But with cars, we always perceive more power as good, but it leads to lower overall efficiency.

The winning teem put up their energy analysis on their website here, with some great charts - very well explained, and should be mandatory reading before anyone talks about fuel mileage and hybrid vehicles.

They analysed the EPA city driving cvcle of a Prius and found that you never needed more than 40hp (for a 2700lb vehicle), but the Prius has combined engine + motor of 185hp!

For their 800lb vehicle, that translates into about 12hp. If they added a regen braking system, the weight of that system itself would have exceeded the benefit when the vehicle is so light!
Their engine could still make 40hp, and I guess it had to for the hill climb test, but carrying around an extra 28hp is not nearly as penalising as carrying around an extra 145hp, and neither does the car have to built heavier to handle it.
I think that was their success, the efficient aerodynamics made for low power which cascaded to lighter weight driveline, and frame, which were already being made of light materials, so lower power still, etc.

Just like designing an aircraft. Only military ones have massive amounts of reserve power and speed, and their fuel efficiency reflects that.

We have become accustomed to overbuilt, overpowered vehicles, and we see a good display of what happens when they are not.
We don't have to give up our cars to deal with peak oil, we just have to give up half their weight and power.

Of course an EPA city driving cycle is not representative of real-world driving, either. Much of any competition is "teaching to the test", versus addressing a viable market.

Most drivers consider a Prius to be on the sluggish side, but "adequate".

The city cycle is by no means perfect, but it is at least a standard by which all can be compared. If does a have mix of stop/start, idle slow acc, fast cruise etc, so it has characteristics of city driving. City driving, will of course, be different from city to city. Have never driven in NYC but suspect it is different to driving in LA and different again to Portland. there probably is a city, somewhere, where traffic matches the cycle, at some time of day..

In any case, for the organisers and the competitors it was a case of use the yardstick, however imperfect, that all cars a re judged by, and I agree with that approach.

As for the Prius, the 2010 does 0-60 in 10s, is that not fast enough? It is only "sluggish" by comparison to other cars that are more "overpowered" Does it really matter if it takes 15s to get to 60 (the X-prize max) instead of 10? The lower that time, the expontially greater the power needed becomes. You end up carrying around a lot of capacity just for the privilege of "lively" performance. Commercial vehicles don;t do that, as it is expensive to pay for capacity you don't need, and then the engine is not running efficiently.
Take a look at the chart below, this is for a 3.0L Cadillac engine on European city cycle. The peak efficiency is about 25% at 2700 rpm and 75% load. The grey shaded plot is the actual use in city driving.

It is obvious that not only is the engine way oversized for this task, but is running nowhere near its efficient range. The numbers are not shown on this diagram, but the best fuel use will be about 300g/kWh, and the region it is actually operating in will be 400-600.

Even for highway cruising, at non-autobahn speeds, it will only be using 15% of it's power. Since most of the driving is at 10-30% of engine load, we could use an engine size of half the power, and be at 40-60%, closer to the optimum operating range, and still with some power in reserve, just not as much.

The Edison team radically downsized, and re-tuned their engine (all 250cc of it) so that the car was in the optimum efficiency range for normal driving. For the hill climb test, it would have been out of the efficient range, but you don't drive like that very often. The Cadillac above would be efficient in the hillclimb, and is inefficient for the 95+% of normal driving.

There is a price to be paid for having that "performance" available, you not only carry the extra weight around, but the engine is producing power less efficiently while doing so.

While the instantaneous milage readouts are good, I'd like to see a car with an instantaneous "thermal efficiency" or BSFC readout (I am an engineer, after all). Knowing that you are getting 30mpg is good, but knowing that you are only getting 10-15% thermal efficiency is even more interesting, IMO. Once you realise how much of of your driving is in the inefficient range, you will think differently about how you drive, and what your next vehicle might. Any person or business that drives for a living certainly does.

I presume that your graph is a "map" of BSFC for the engine. The middle curve of the graph is the operating area with the best efficiency, i.e., highest BSFC. At least, that's what this type graph looked like back when I took the Internal Combustion Engine course in college.

What this type of graph does not make clear is the link between engine rpm and road speed. While driving at a fixed speed with a manual transmission, one can accelerate by pushing the throttle down. In doing so, initially the extra power produced results from moving along a vertical line at a fixed rpm. Thus, the engine's BSFC goes from low to high then back to a lower value again at max power. Once the vehicle has reached the desired speed and the throttle is released to a point which holds the speed constant, the efficiency changes again. I like to think that when the throttle is moved, the power output is actually changed by changing the BSFC up or down.

The point is that the design which produces the best MPG is the one for which the engine is run at maximum BSFC. This is the situation in which the vehicle geared to run the engine at the middle of that set of curves for the desired cruising speed, say 65% power @ 2200 rpm for 65 mph. When the gearing is set this way, there is very little extra power available from the engine without downshifting and going up hill would also require downshifting!

Another way to visualize the situation would be to add the the graph of the power required to push the vehicle along a level road for each gear. Instead of using percent power, use engine brake power. With that type graph, it becomes quite clear that most cars are operated outside the most efficient range for their engine, if only to provide some extra power for climbing hills. One might also see that simply reducing aero drag would likely reduce efficiency unless the gearing were also changed and/or a smaller engine used.

E. Swanson


Yes it is a BSFC chart, or thermal efficiency, take your pick. I lifted it from this site, as it is the only place I have seen that has actual operating range data overlaid on the chart.

Agree totally with you reading of the chart re moving vertically etc.

The problem is, that it is very rare for any normal car to be at even 50% load, much less 75% where the good efficiency is.

For your example of 65mph we can back calculate power from fuel consumption, if we assume a BSFC. For that 60mpg at 2200rom, lets assume we are getting 30mpg, or using 2 gal/hr. That is (I have to work in metric here) 240MJ/hr, or a "fuel power" of 67kW, or 90hp. If we assume an efficency of 20% (BSFC of 310g/kWh), then the engine is producing 13.4kW, or 18hp.
Most cars these days have at least 180hp, so the engine is working at 10% capacity.

If, as you say, we put the cruise in the sweet spot, there is not much left, sso it is indeed a compromise.

For the Edison team, they did the "coast down test" (results here; http://www.edison2.com/blog/2010/8/25/about-coastdown-testing.html)
And from this I calculate they needed 6hp at cruise - their engine did up to 40hp. I was also able to calculate that they were only getting 20% engine efficiency, so they too were not in the optimum range.

Hybrids are an attempt to solve this, though many do not give electric assistance above a certain speed. If they did, then the engine could be downsized.
With a series hybrid like the volt, it should be possible to seriously downsize the engine and make use of the storage and electric motor for those power surges - a perfect spot for a diesel engine. But, this being the US, Chevy did not go that way.
They are about to do so in Europe, this is a 2cyl, 12kW diesel-generator unit design for small series hybrid cars.

Also comes in 23 and 30kW sizes, from here http://www.lombardinigroup.it/lombardini-products/new-projects/ecomove.

Best example of series hybrid performance is the Designline bus, uses a 30kW microturbine for a 12ton bus! But it does have 150kW of electric motors, and ultracapacitors etc.

For different way to do a series hybrid, check out this;

A 16 ton "train" that carries 60 people, does 40mph, can climb a 10% grade and is powered by the engine from a Ford Fiesta (I am not making this up!)

The secret is here;

That round thing in the middle of the chassis is a half ton flywheel, that collects the braking energy through a hydraulic system. While I think regen braking is not worth it in a 1000lb car, it certainly IS worth it in a 33,000lb train! This is the only operational vehicle flywheel system I know of.

More details here;

If this train is not the most energy efficient engine powered train in the world, it's damn close.

The engine power to weight for this train is the equivalent of having 6hp engine in a Prius, but the actual motive power (the hydraulic motor) is probably the equivalent of a 40 hp - which, as we have seen, is enough for a stop/start city cycle at up to 40mph - which is exactly what this train does.

A garbage truck, operating on flat ground, could probably get by with this same powertrain, or only slightly larger, and would likely see an 60-80% decrease in fuel consumption.

Another interesting possibility for this train, is that it can be electric powered as stops. If they are less than 1km apart, you can "charge" the flywheel from a static power supply in 30s, disconnect, and get to the next stop. You electrify the stops, not the tracks. Without expensive and ugly overhead lines, lots of possibilities open up for where you an lay tracks.
These trains go for about $600k each, less than an electric trolleybus. they can lso be made to look like heritage streetcars, if you are into that sort of thing.

In a narrow range of conditions, you can get a high degree of optimisation. If we demand to be able to drive our cars in a wide range of conditions (i.e. floor it on a grade and have substantial acceleration) we give up this optimisation - you simply can't be optimised for everything.

That is why I am an fan of having a city car, and a real car (I only have the latter, at present), but the fuel savings in daily driving would be substantial, and the Edison shows that such a city car could be built very cheaply. Substitute plywood or fibreglass for the carbon fibre, make a few other changes, weight probably at 1300lbs or so, and you would still have a 70mpg (city) car with a small engine and no expensive electronics. See the Marcos car downthread for an example

Only if these efficient vehicles are affordable will they proliferate, and I think the less is more approach is more likely to achieve that.


Fascinating information you've provided today. I'd love to see a top post on some of this.

And please feel free to drop me a line next time you're in Seattle. I'd love to meet over coffee or lunch.


Thx Jon,

You can tell this is an area I am passionate about, and I think is misunderstood by most people. It IS understood by the carmakers, but they have to produce what they can sell, which is not (always) the same thing. But I think sometimes it can be, and that's why I'd like to see something come out of the X-prize winner. A small, safe, lightweight super efficient car would not have sold ten or even five years ago, but it would today.
If you look back in history, all of the most successful cars ever - model T, VW beetle, Citroen 2CV, Mini, original Toyota Corolla/Honda Civic, were small, fuel efficient, sparsely equipped, cheap to buy and run vehicles, and they sold zillions. Today, there are none being made (in n. america at least). Just as the younger generation is rejecting a lot of their parents ways, big cars are one of them. In fact, many are are rejecting cars entirely - they would rather walk/cycle than drive a beast, and pay the costs of owning it. As long as it has an ipod dock, and a heater, that's all the accessories they need - the Edison had both of those, and nothing more (it did have a/c, because the comp rules required it.)

Anyway, I don;t go through Seattle very often, but when I next do, L'll let you know.



I agree that a diesel engine would give the best efficiency and that small one you point to is likely to be our future, at least, in the short term. When I tried to understand how the hybrid drive worked in the Prius, I thought the system acted much like a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), except that it was an electrical one. Replacing the gasoline IC with a small diesel would give a large jump in MPH and a larger battery would add to the ability to produce bursts of power when needed. Less mass for the engine, more mass in the batteries.

I bought a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid last year and drove it briefly before returning it because of a transmission problem. It had a 5 speed and produced around 49 MPG on the Interstate. However, I also learned that this particular model year did not do well here in the mountains, since one could easily exhaust the battery charge driving a long up hill section, which then led to a need to downshift to keep the speed up. Later Hondas have CVT's on their hybrids, which would make the transition to full engine power much less painful.

I think the most basic problem with the small, low mass vehicles is the crash problem. As I pointed out to Amory Lovins a long time ago, in a crash between a heavy car and a "Hyper Car" (as he called them), the momentum exchange is such that the very light weight car experiences a much greater velocity change than the heavy one, thus the G forces on the occupants would likely kill them, even if the carbon fiber structure were able to protect them against direct injury. Sad to say, we already have millions of heavy cars, SUV's and PU's on the road, so the early adopters might suffer many more casualties on any ranking. Of course, after Peak Oil and gasoline rationing is imposed, that might not be such a big problem...:-(

E. Swanson


There is no getting around the physics involved with light car v heavy car. but we already have plenty of mismatch with vehicles ranging from motorbikes to semis on the roads.

I would be interested to see a study of crash statistics to see just how many (and it think it would be very few) multiple car crashes there are where the weight difference was a determining factor.
Still a well designed small car can outdo a lesser designed big one;

Mini Cooper and F-150 in 40 mph test, 2002

And for the hypercars, if they can;t meet the standards, I would have no problem limiting them to 35mph roads, or maybe 45. There is still lots of scope for them in city, and town driving where crash energies are much lower.

With the hybrids, the CVT does seem the best way to get around the gear problem, if we still want to have direct drive. The motor is then just adding/subtracting auxiliary torque as required.

Leaving aside the weight issue, the there are three ways non plugin hybrids can gain efficiency;
1. keep the engine operating in ideal range all the time
2.regenerative braking - additional acceleration, which leads to downsizing engine
3. engine off while idling.

You can best achieve 1 with a series hybrid. For 2 you are much better off to use ultracapacitors than batteries, next gen ones will. They accept an deliver lots of charge, fast, with 95% round trip efficiency. Lighter, too. A 50 lb pack can deliver 150kW for 10s, with infinite cycle life.
3. Is not a not deal with a diesel, and in a series hybrid you don;t turn it off except for a real extended stop (it would do this automatically when the storage is full)

The railcar and design line bus show just how small the engine can be in an optimised series hybrid setup. A car is not as optimal, but as long as the pedal to the metal moments are handled by the ultracapacitors, the engine size is almost irrelevant.
Good info about ultracapacitors here; http://www.maxwell.com/ultracapacitors/applications/automotive.asp

Worst case for a hybrid is a long uphill, where you will exhaust your batteries and have to rely on engine alone. Here and you might have to accept a speed reduction there, or at least, no acceleration if you are already doing 60 up a 5% grade.

One of the problems with our gasoline engines is we don't want to run the at full power, as they will have avery short life if we do. But the diesels "full power" is rated much lower (power per cu.in) and is within their ability to sustain it. so the limiting case is the long uphill grade - that is when the engine can be at peak. You will have more total power available for passing etc etc.
A 1500lb vehicle, at 60mph and 5% grade, needs an extra 10kW, on top of the 10 it needs for flat ground. Slow down to 50mph and the combined total is 15kW - a 16% speed reduction up the grade allows for 25% less peak power required. Speed up to 70 and you need almost 3kW - going from 50, that is a 100% increase in peak power (=engine size) for a 40% increase in speed

For going fast up a hill you get hit with both aerodynamic and hill climbing penalty, but you pay the bill for carrying around this capacity in all your driving.

Another unneccessary hill climbing penalty is a/c. Have the car automatically turn that off when under high power.

If we are prepared to accept reasonable speed limitations up long grades, we can have a very efficient car for the other 99% of time.

On last point on the diesels. For a hill climb type boost, you can get 30% power increases with water injection,, or water/methanol injection - well established art for diesel racers. Was used in WW2 airplanes and in F1 before being banned for too much power!

This system really only works when the engine is under full load, but the hill climb is exactly that scenario.
Car companies don;t like this concept because the consumer has to fill up two tanks. I'll be happy to put water in my vehicle anyday!

When I did my project, I changed the gears to reduce the engine rpm at 55 mph. The little 100cc bike was designed to turn over about 10,000 at 65 mph, producing about 11 hp, if my memory is right. I geared it down to about 5hp at 55 mph. I had several problems which I never solved. For example, the wheels acted as fans and pumped air out the front wheel opening, which was backwards from my original thinking. As a result, the engine ran rather hot. It turned out that other builders got better MPG with larger engines (upwards of 185cc), since they could run at a lower rpm. I never did get around to installing the torque cam from a 125cc engine which I found. Live and learn!

E. Swanson

When you have situations like that, you have to assume the designers knew at least something about what they were doing.
I have seen examples before of the bigger engines doing better - clearly at 10k rpm you are above the efficient range.

I used to have Yamaha 80 trailbike (2 stroke) as a kid in the early 80's, tacho did not work but redline at 10k - I hope I never got it up there!

Here's a good account of car problems when people change things from what the car was designed for. If owned one of these works of art, I wouldn't fiddle with a thing;

(UK Marcos car, 1967, wood frame, 1.5 L engine)

They went to steel frames in 1969 because wood was too expensive. Frame became 300lb heavier and not as stiff -they had to upsize the engine just to maintain performance.
Dry weight of the wood car was 880lb, and many are still running today, and are generally agreed to be better than the later steel ones.

Good story about modern lightweight car building here ;-

Carbon fibre is not the only option, just the most expensive!

The winning teem put up their energy analysis on their website here, with some great charts - very well explained, and should be mandatory reading before anyone talks about fuel mileage and hybrid vehicles.

Their thrust of pushing down weight, is very good.

However, next is the very harsh reality of the practical/political hurdle of crash testing ratings, for such micro-light devices. Acceptable safety could need outlawing the very heavy vehicles, and the USA might be the wrong place to start doing that ?

If they added a regen braking system, the weight of that system itself would have exceeded the benefit when the vehicle is so light!

Here, I'm not sure they have the details right.
I'd probably make the same KISS call, given such a competition, but the advantages of Stop/Start aka Stop/Go motoring, naturally blend with regenerative braking.
Any such vehicle will already have the weight+costs of a Starter Motor + Battery, so the discussion becomes what is the optimal size for those, in order to also harvest regen braking ?

With the crash testing, all the X-prize cars ahd to be designed to meet the FMVSS (?) requirements, which are quite detailed. Part of the technical evaluation for the cars was a thorough review of the design, and construction by crash test engineers, and they would fail a car that was deemed "unlikely to meet" the rules. We have to assume then that all these cars would pass the tests, or come very close. For the Edison these guys are former race car guys, so they know how to make safe, light weight safety cells.

I don;t think you need to outlaw the heavy vehicles - a semi truck trumps all else, by an order of magnitude, and we have to live with them. The heavy passenger vehicles however, are more likely to get into a crash, as they have worse handling and stability, and longer stopping distances than (well engineered) small light cars. The case of the ehad on collision, the time when the heavier car has the greatest advantage, is relatively rare these days. More crashes are rear enders, side impacts, rollovers, hit tree, etc, and the big vehicles are no safer there.

With the regen, it is easy to quantify it. Kinetic energy is 1/2mV^2
The Prius is 2700lb, and at 40 mph its energy is 2,160,000 units
When you regen brake, the motor/generator and battery will capture 76.5% of that (90% eff motor 85% batt).
When you accelerate, you can get 76.5% of that back, as you get 85% back out of the batt and 90% motor, so you will have 58% of the energy, for 1.25m units.

The Edison was 800lbs, so at 40 mph you have 640,000 units
The round trip regen is 58%, so you will reclaim 371,000 units, so you are saving only 1/3as much energy - it decreases in direct proportion to the weight ratio.

For regen, you also have the problem that, unless you have a log stopping distance you will still need the physical brakes, as the batteries can;t accept the charge fast enough, and the faster they charge/discharge, the less efficient they are (Puekert effect).
I have read that regen actually nets you less than 40% of the energy available.

That motor and battery in the Prius are about 400lbs, or 15% of the weight. For the Edison, it would need to be just 120lbs to be proportional.

But then, on that chart, you move down from the red to the green line, and have to move 120lbs up the green line. At the light end of the scale, that will have used up at least half the advantage you gained.
It will be almost as expensive for the 120lb system as the 400lb system, as the components are not linearly cheaper,and are just as much labour to install, and the control system is equally expensive for both.
So you are indeed getting less fuel efficiency benefit and much less value for money.

The starter/alternator is a different issue though, and the car makers are now doing testing of combined starter/alternators, (altermotors) and also having the altermotor assist during acc, and engage in braking - a "regen lite" system.
You also add an ultracapacitor instead of the battery, where your charge/discharge can be within seconds at 95% round trip efficiency, and you have the makings of a good system
For this car, and a 250cc engine, they probably applied KISS there too. But expect to see these systems appearing soon.

At the end of it all, I have to concur with them, that once you get down to under 1000lbs, the other benefits are getting into dimishing marginal returns, both for weight and certainly for cost - they were judged on the expected selling cost of the vehicle, and it is certainly a real life constraint for automakers!

Of all the cars in the race, this was the only one that used less equipment rather than more, and to win while doing so is outstanding. That is a testament to good design and engineering, rather than high tech. If we needed to, we could out these cars into a wartime like mass production, without breaking the bank. The same cannot be said of Li-ion powered cars.

They analysed the EPA city driving cvcle of a Prius and found that you never needed more than 40hp (for a 2700lb vehicle), but the Prius has combined engine + motor of 185hp!

Just took my son back to Berkeley, with a dorm mini-refrigerator we couldn't just dump him off at the Bart station. I was glad the Prius had more than 100horses to be able to get up those hills (at first glance I wasn't sure it could do it, but it worked just fine).


If you were able to see the power output of your engine+motor, you would probably find that you were still under half output, unless you were anywhere close to redlining it.

For 3000lb of car, moving at 60mph, and using 15hp on the flat (what the Prius uses), another 80 hp will get you up a 15% grade, and you still have another 90 horses you haven't used, and are never likely to. But you are always carrying them around.

I have biked San Fran hills, and I could have used a 1/2 hp hybrid assist then!


Statement from Admiral Allen on the Successful Completion of the Relief Well

"After months of extensive operations planning and execution under the direction and authority of the U.S. government science and engineering teams, BP has successfully completed the relief well by intersecting and cementing the well nearly 18,000 feet below the surface. With this development, which has been confirmed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, we can finally announce that the Macondo 252 well is effectively dead

great. Now we get to listen to the ppl saying there is a well A (or is it b) that is still leaking.

Great, now maybe TOD will lay off on creating a new thread every 30 minutes about every minute news development.

Slightly off topic, but it is Sunday, after all !

I had a paw-paw tree in a large pot stolen from my front porch Friday evening/night sometime.

Needless to say, it was the cause of some amusement when I filed the police report.

People tell me it is the landscaping companies - one guy at the garden store told me a story of a woman who had her expensive, decorative grass dug up, and removed from her front yard.

Note to everyone growing something of value - make sure it is well-protected !

Luckily, I have two more paw-paw trees, enough to get pollination - which may happen a year or two from now - they are 4 years old. Now moved to the fenced back yard.

As if the critters and bugs aren't enough to contend with...

Welcome to reality as we know it.

We're heading into 'Mad ReMax' land! ..

The palm trees planted on the beach for the Buffet concert are still there. Maybe you can pick one up cheap at the end of the season. All you would have to do is come to Gulf Shores and get it, LOL.

Absolutely ! I'm in Chicago though, so they'd have to winter indoors - can't do it if they're taller than seven feet ;)

A lot of people have had cycads stolen from their yards, in places where they can grow outside. (For resale to people who aren't going to ask questions, apparently.)

The suggestion I heard was to run chain through a hole in the bottom of the pot, slide a bar through a link inside the pot, run the chain around a solid object (like a large root or even a tree) and link the other end of the chain to itself. Obviously this has to be done before you put the plant in the pot....

Thanks for the suggestion - in my back yard, I could run one chain through the pots and the garden furniture.

I also decided to buy a can of tree marking paint that forestry uses. $5 at the local hardware store. I figure no-one is going to try and sell a tree painted with orange fluorescent.

Looks a bit weird in the yard tho' ;)

Barcode the trunk with your zip or something. If the bar is in the base of the pot they could lift the plant from the pot, put it in the middle of the root ball or use a pot that curves in at the top.


I went and stopped at the local convenience store and they no longer carry the standard choices at the pump of Regular Unleaded (87), Mid-grade (89 or a mix of the other 2 unleadeds), Premium Unleaded (95), and Diesel. Well now the choices are Regular Unleaded (87) $2.599, MARINE FUEL (89) $2.959, Diesel $ 3.099.
Marine fuel is stickered as 89 Octane rating and less 1% ETHANOL. The dealer claims that it is preferred for older outboard motors and outdoor power equipment as you imagine folks near the beach use much of. This pump is a mile from any waterways. Off the record, the dealer also told me he thinks his mileage in his own personal vehicle has gone up. He is a friend of mine and he knows I always buy the cheapest stuff and drive with mileage in mind. I wonder what the real story is? With an over than 10% additional price, I see no possible savings by burning this fuel. Maybe if it were a nickel apart. I would like to see how Marine Fuel stores in equipment over the winter. I just use fuel stabilizer and run the equipment in the off season once a month.

Edit: I wanted to get a photo of Soda's, the head cashier, gas powered skateboard. I think he uses Marine fuel and oil mix, but he can go a long way on a tank.

I've seen some comments on the net to the effect that E10 is bad for older boats. One claim is that the fuel tanks are likely to be made of fiberglass or other plastic and the E10 destroys the plastic. Another claim (with merit, I think) is that the marine tanks are vented and thus likely to accumulate moisture due to condensation from air exchange with the atmosphere. Using E10, it's likely that the result would be absorption of the water into the fuel, leading to separation of the fuel into gasoline and ethanol. The ethanol sinks to the bottom of the tank and the engine isn't likely to run on straight ethanol. The same thing happened to me earlier this year with a batch of fuel mixed for two cycle use in an older chain saw and weed eater...

E. Swanson

Would you pay the higher price for the Marine fuel and what does Marine fuel costs to make? Who is getting the money? Government as taxes or the oil companies? Middlemen? I doubt the owner profits much more than on the other fuels.

"Marine fuel" here in Oregon is simply ethanol-free regular unleaded. It does make a large difference in performance and safety--people with water-fouled fuel filters and no spare have lost power on the ocean. There is some speculation about several fatal boating accidents involving experienced fishers where this problem was raised as a possible factor.

Ok may I ask some questions?
1. Price per gallon of marine fuel and regular unleaded.
2. Availability inshore.
3. Personal or friends/family purchase of such fuel. How long has it been available?

This is all new to me.

This pump is a mile from any waterways.

We buy fuel for the dive boats from stations away from the water since the ones that supply the boats directly have way higher prices.


Are you buying regular unleaded or marine fuel and what fuel are the water access pumps delivering? Would you pay more for marine fuel? Where are we talking about? Sorry about all the questions but this is interesting to me and on topic IMHO.

TinFoilHatGuy, Here is some more information on this very real problem caused by E-10.


The problem is all alcohol’s are hygroscopic. That means it likes water, and it attracts and couples with moisture in the air, resulting in greater amounts of water collecting in the fuel tank. Since water is heavier than gasoline, the water and ethanol mix settles to the bottom. This is referred to as “phase separation”, and eventually the water/ethanol phase is drawn into the fuel delivery system.

This site is supposed to list places you can buy ethanol free gas, but I haven't found it too accurate. Find ethanol free gas near you!

Luckily the Fuel-oil supplier in town is now selling Non-Ethanol gas, that's all I use now in small engines.

Well, that's quite a discussion about E-10. Us folk up in the north country don't have a choice and don't seem to have any problems. E-10 gas comes in the standard 3 grades and is sold both inland and on the lakes and rivers. all the boats use E-10 for a very simple reason, it's the law up here. You simply can't buy non-E gas. What's all the fuss? We do just fine. We've lived with it for nearly a decade. And don't forget E-85. It's pretty popular also just not cost effective. As for ethanol collecting water and settling out. A myth. Up here we use alcohol in our gas in the winter to thaw out the frozen water. The Alky simply flushes the water through to the engine. Geez.

The stations here carry regular unleaded or leaded (lots of old vehicles cast off from the USA), can't be sure about the water access ones but we don't have a wide selection anywhere here. I may have to go down the marina way some time over the next few weeks so I will try and remember to pop in and take a look. Which fuel depends on what boat you are on (different outboards) and everyone is too cheapskate to pay more than they have to. There are no storage issues as we only get what is needed for the day. Wild, wild, west of Mexico.


PS I have heard things that suggest that old traded in SUVs are finding their way down across the border to Mexico.

You can get old fashioned ethyl? I call that leaded super over 100 octane? If you can, that blows my mind.

Edit: This is a movement. Maybe an anti-ethanol one. What is the real impact if we remove ethanol from fuel. Is there a way to use this a strategy to work toward independence or this as it seems, an increase in demand for oil. It does cost about $ 0.14 extra per gallon. Does the increased mileage and cost allow for a strategy for reduction of overall consumption? It is a counterintuitive argument.


I'll try and find out the details and prices as I need to put some more in soon, will let you know.


IEA corrects oil statistics containing bio fuels

In you article you linked, it mentioned mandating E10. If you look at my post above, I think the capitalistic or tax solution is easy and obvious. Do you think producing Marine fuel cost the same as regular unleaded?

Not a bad idea, IMO. The sewage effluent still has nitrogen and phosphorous in it, making it great for plant growth. Rather than go to the expense of removing it, send it back there where it can be of some use. (it could be of some use in Japan too, of course, but obviously they aren;t doing that now.

Only problem is, will the bacteria start eating the crude oil?

Not a bad idea, IMO. The sewage effluent still has nitrogen and phosphorous in it,

It also has NaCl and various bits of 'modern society' - toxins, endocrine disruptors and things that mimic hormones.

If you want to collect Pee for P and fecal material - better to do that BEFORE you take potable water and make it non-potable.

Looks like the Daily Show (with Jon Stewart) is considering asking Robert L. Hirsch to appear on the Daily Show regarding his new co-authored book on 'Impending World Energy Mess':


I don't usually spam like this, but it would be entertaining and informative to have somebody like Dr Hirsch to be interviewed by Jon Stewart.

If you're registered at the Daily Show forums, please go and voice your support for the idea. My apologis for double-posting, but I don't think anybody is reading the Sept 18th Drumbeat anymore.


‘Extra labeling only confuses the consumer,’ biotech spokesman says

That the Food and Drug Administration is opposed to labeling foods that are genetically modified is no surprise anymore, but a report in the Washington Post indicates the FDA won’t even allow food producers to label their foods as being free of genetic modification.

Darn words just confusing ppl......

I really hope there is a legal challenge to the FDa on this one.

From that story;
It has sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers, including B&G Foods, which was told it could not use the phrase “GMO-free” on its Polaner All Fruit strawberry spread label because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.

If strawberries are defined as produce, not organisms, then they are certainly no GMO organisms, and the B&G's statement is quite true. They can equally label them as having "no trans fats" , "no animal byproducts" , "no peanuts" "no lead" "no pesticides" and no all sorts of other things.

In their milk example, they are correct, all milk contains hormones, so the dairy companies should have said no hormone growth additives or some such more accurate wording. As long as it doesn't have any of what they are saying it does not have, they are within their rights to say so - how can the FDA tell someone they can;t say what they have just agreed is true!

Sounds like good fodder for John Stewart....

And it'll get about as far as Creekside (was it creekside?) farms VS da-government on them being able to label their meat as 'tested for mad cow'.

Alternative Community ?


I think a combined community works better. My primary bike path almost goes to my front door. Have you seen the plane communities?

I am not sure if this is a well intentioned effort, or a well disguised marketing effort for a property development - it is very long on dreams and short on reality.
There is not even a plan/aerial photo of their site, but they are happy to take reservations.

The list of events is so long that only unemployed/retired people will have the time to organise/participate in them.
What will people do for jobs to afford the "highly paid teachers"?

Their list of "Bike Friendly States" is almost all of them!
their list of bike friendly countries is all the OECD ones, plus a few others.
I like the idea of a nice car free city/town, but this seems to be very short on real details.

They are lucky to have a greenfield site (I think) but turning this dream into reality will be very hard

According to the article above, Bangkok is about to become a very "boat friendly" city, since it will be under water within the decade.