Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Driving and the Navy

Here is a quick update on two recent blogs of mine. First the US Navy has joined the USDA (Uncle Sam Dreams Algae) in paying an extra $26 bucks a gallon for diesel from sugar or chicken fat. The navy will purchase 425,000 gallons of bio diesel for $12 million. The recipients of this gift as it is truly a gift to overpay for diesel for this much are three companies. They are Solazyme, Tyson Foods, and Syntroleum. Tyson Foods is the largest chicken purveyor in the USA and they and Syntroleum jointly own a facility that converts chicken fat and other body parts of chickens into diesel. My grandmother used to render chicken fat into schmaltz and gribenes seventy years ago. I can tell you no government department gave her an extra 26 bucks a gallon for her efforts to clog the family’s arteries. Solazyme will get the extra 26 bucks a gallon for wasting table sugar in their feeble attempt to yield transport fuel from the sweet nectar. The 425,000 gallons is only 0.04% of the 1.26 billion gallons of diesel the Navy uses each year. Hey Admiral your gangrene efforts will only save the proverbial drop in the ocean. I can save the navy more than 425,000 gallons of diesel by simply asking them to return to sailing ships. Here is the news on this from AP.

“WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Navy is spending $12 million to buy 425,000 gallons of fuel made from cooking oil and algae that will be used to power vessels and ships in a training exercise.
The government ordered the fuel from a joint venture between poultry producer Tyson Foods Inc. and refining company Syntroleum Corp. called Dynamic Fuels LLC, and from biofuels company Solazyme Inc., the companies and the government said Monday.
By 2016, the Navy wants to deploy what it calls a "Great Green Fleet" of nuclear vessels, hybrid electric ships and other ships and aircraft powered by biofuels. It is investing more than $500 million in the budding biofuel industry with the hope that it will be able to supply enough alternative fuel so the maritime branch can cut its dependence on fossil fuel by 50 percent over the next decade.
The fuel will be manufactured at Dynamic Fuel's Geismar, La., plant.”

Moving on, I also opined that the Leaf would lose a massive fraction of its range if the heater had to be turned on. Well I actually found data to this effect on the official Nissan Leaf web site. Nissan performed a test of driving the leaf at an average of 15 miles per hour when the outside temperature was 14 degrees F. The outcome was a paltry 62 miles of range. Driving the Leaf at 24 miles per hour in warm weather (72 degrees F) with no heater on yielded a range of 105 miles. Of course Nissan never told us just how cold the interior of the Leaf remained while driving at 15 MPH in 14 degree F weather. The heat loss will be less than at 66 MPH as the forced convection is lower but my guess is the interior of the Leaf was not much more than 35 degrees F when they drove the ice maker so slowly in cold weather. Here is the data directly from the official Nissan Leaf site.

Winter, urban stop-and-go, traffic jam: 62 miles
Speed: Average 15 mph
Temperature: 14 degrees
Climate control: On
Though the average speed is only 15 mph with stop-and-go traffic, the 14-degree temperature means the heater is doing a lot of work so you spend considerable time and energy heating your car rather than moving forward. Despite these conditions, it would still take more than 4 hours to run out of charge!

Suburban driving on a nice day: 105 miles
Speed: Average 24 mph
Temperature: 72 degrees
Climate control: Off
The average speed in this scenario is 24 mph; common when commuting and running errands. The ambient temperature is 72 degrees and the climate control is off. Not using the air conditioner and driving at slower speeds mean less energy use and a little extra range.