Saturday, June 9, 2012

The US EPA Makes 40.6 equal 118 MPG or 34.4% equal 100%

Bloom Energy claimed 60% efficiency when they actually only had 45.2% efficiency. But Bloom is not the world’s biggest fibber. That honor goes to the US EPA. Has the Green Machine lost it? Is he cozying up to Al Gore and Colin Powell? Is he just plain nuts? None of the above! The Green Machine is now exposing how the US Government can choose to create data that disobey the laws of thermodynamics so that the worthless government policy of favoring plug in vehicles over gas or diesel powered vehicles can be supported by the public. Yes the US EPA chooses to make 34.4% equal to 100%.

Is this just another way for a do good government to dictate that the least smart student in the class gets an A. The socialist inspired nincompoops at the EPA believe the plug in needs higher grades just because three Nobel Prize winners told them so. Two of the prize winners won for peace the other for physics.

The EPA allows plug in vehicle makers to claim an equivalent miles per gallon (MPG) based on the electricity powering the cars motors being 100% efficient. This implies the electric power is generated at the power station with 100% efficiency, is transmitted and distributed through thousands of miles of lines without any loss, is converted from AC to DC without any loss, and the charge discharge efficiency of the batteries on the vehicle is also 100%. Of course the second law of thermodynamics tells us all of these claims are poppycock and that losses of real energy will occur in each step of the supply chain of getting power to the wheels of a vehicle powered with an electric motor.

I started thinking about all of this last night when my wife asked me how the Honda Fit that is now available as an electric vehicle could get 118 MPG as the equivalent rating from the US EPA? I told my wife that was because the US EPA believes in Political Science and not Real Science and that I would investigate this claim for her. Well it is simple the US EPA uses a conversion factor of 33.7 kilowatt hours per gallon of gasoline to calculate the equivalent MPG of an electric vehicle.

Dr. Chu Chu of the Department of Entropy is instructing the EPA on thermodynamics in coming up with the 33.7 kwh per gallon. On a heating value of the fuel 33.7 kwh equals 114,984 BTUS which is indeed the lower heating value of gasoline. The fit needs 286 watt hours to travel a mile and the Green Machine agrees with this for the 2 cycle US EPA test with no heating, cooling or fast acceleration. Using this amount of energy per mile and the 33.7 kwh “contained” in a gallon of gas, the EPA calculates the Fit gets 118 MPG equivalent.

All of these calculations are in fact flawed as the generation of electricity, the transmission and distribution of electricity, the conversion of the AC electricity into DC electricity, and the charging and discharging of the vehicle batteries all have energy losses associated with these activities. The average efficiency of power generation is perhaps 42.5%, the transmission and distribution efficiency is perhaps 90%, the AC to DC conversion and the battery charge discharge efficiency is about 90%. Multiplying all these efficiencies one can calculate that the overall efficiency is 34.4% to get electric power from fuels at the power station into stored electrons within the plug in vehicle’s batteries.

On this basis the 118 MPG equivalent is 40.6 MPG actual for the Honda Fit which is not much of an improvement to the gasoline version of this vehicle that has an EPA rating of 35 MPG combined for city and highway driving. Yes Bloom can make 45.2 equal 60 but your government does even better it makes 40.6 equal 118. Bloom fibs by a factor of 32% while the government fibs by a factor of 190%. That is because Bloom does have a few folks who came from the private sector that President Obama believes is doing so well. As soon as Bloom gets more ex politicians on their board the amount of fibbing will increase. When bloom is entirely “government owned” it will be able to generate electricity in Delaware with 131.3% efficiency.


  1. I already knew this - I do get this a lot when talking about EVs - but the generations, transmission, and conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy (oil/coal/nuclear to electricity) is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT REALM, and should be treated as such.

    Energy production is different than energy use.

    YOU ARE RIGHT THOUGH. I personally think that the EPA is wrong, not in the conversion, but even trying to equate electricity into mpg. Electricity is measured in Watt Hours of battery life, and Internal Combustion Engines do not use electricity. So perhaps a new rating system - 35 kWh@110volts and 28mpg for a hybrid with both ICE and e. more detailed, but also more confusing for the layman.

  2. Ejay I have no clue who you are or what you studied. This is not about realms or elms of production or usage. This is about the laws of thermodynamics that are inviolable. The US reports is uses approximately 100 quads of energy that comes from all sources (coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, wood etc.) Some of the energy goes into manufacturing, some goes to heat homes and offices, some for transportation, some for refrigeration, some for lighting, and so on. Most of the 100 quads never makes it into the intended end use and is wasted energy up the stack or waste heat that just gets to float out into space. So now you say let's just look at energy use and that is totally stupid if not moronic. We have to look at the whole system and waste is part of the system and will always be part of the system by the second law of thermodynamics. Morons like you can ignore it but perhaps the smartest minds in the history of mankind have contemplated entropy. We do not need to make this complicated. Useful energy out plus wasted energy equals our usage of energy. That is what MPG or kwh per mile or joules per kilometer, or BTUs per furlong or anything you choose has to account for the energy that is wasted as well as the energy that propels the vehicle or created light or made refrigeration, or heats the home or even powers my computer. As I type my response to your idiotic comment half of the energy from the lithium ion battery in this computer is being dissipated as heat. Are you telling me Lenova can put half the size battery in the computer and it will still work for the same number of hours as you wish to ignore the heat being blown out of the side of my computer by the fan. Maybe you can come up with some perpetual motion CPU that generates no heat. Please don't write popycock comments on my blog and I do not need an idiot like you to agree with me. Cheers

  3. Very interesting analysis, and while I am not a big electric car fan, to be fair, you should do the same analysis for a gallon of gas. It also requires transport, extraction, etc... all of which use energy. The analysis above also doesn't include extraction and transport energy costs for the supply of the power plants main inputs (coal, oil, etc...).

  4. There is also the durability of the batteries themselves to consider. Just as IC engines are affected by temperature changes, the chemistry of all LI and NiMH are affected as well. Internal resistance is a killer, and is a bigger problem when the current draw is constant VS intermittent.

    Many of LI chemistry batteries that I've reviewed for use in large medical equipment have ratings of about 500-1000 cycles before they can only provide 80% of the original watt-hours when new. Perhaps these car manufacturers are using higher priced materials, and getting 2000 cycles or more; either way, the battery performance degrades over time.

    One thing I am curious about is that if one looks at total energy use, one must consider the costs of moving crude about the globe, refining, and trucking to a gas station for one to add to their vehicle. Electricity is definitely more efficient at powering a car, and oil can flow through pipelines downhill for minimal losses....why not a diesel-electric hybrid? Works for trains...

  5. John: you should do the same analysis for a gallon of gas. It also requires transport, extraction, etc... all of which use energy

    That's right. MPG ratings are based on energy at point of delivery. It's the original blog post that tries to compare apples and oranges.

  6. Hey you thermodynamic neophytes. Extracting coal and transporting from wyoming to ohio requires energy. Mining uranium and upgrading to make nuclear fuel rods requires energy. producing, compressing and transporting natural gas requires energy. Actually the extraction, transportation, refining and dispensing of gasoline from crude oil only wastes about 10% of the energy in the crude oil. So both EV's and gasoline cars have to bear a penalty if we go back to the well so to speak. In that case the EPA would make 30% equal to 100% for the EV. I hope this satifies you thermodynamic neophytes. Zachriel you are neither an apple nor an orange you are a banana

  7. >>> that has an EPA rating of 35 MPG combined for city and highway driving.

    Keep in mind that the higher-end (i.e., best MPG) versions of these cars were chased out of production by the Prius and its ilk.

    Before the Prius was introduced, the best MPG commonly-produced vehicle was the Honda Civic VTEC (about US$18k, EPA rating ca. 40MPG). So the current "best" gasoline engine vehicle is probably NOT the best which can currently be produced while retaining the ability to sell them in large quantities and fitting all the BS mandates from the EPA and all the other gummint nannies.

    Note also that the average driver drives 10k-12k miles per year, making the actual GALLON/yr consumption readily calculable, and making the ACTUAL savings at any gas-price point in comparing any vehicles to be easily stated. It's generally FAR greater at US$5/gallon over the 6y typical ownership of most cars than the extra price-point for ANY of these cars -- even IF you GIVE them their EPA rated MPG.

    That often makes an even BIGGER hash of their sh** -- most of these cars can't be economically justified even WITH the ridiculously bloated numbers the government assigns to them. Few would pay for their added expense with gasoline at US$10/gallon -- even more so since people would drive notably less with prices that high.

  8. }}} "is wasted energy up the stack or waste heat that just gets to float out into space."

    Hush. Some Green Idiot is now going to get onto the bandwagon of this contributing to AGW.


  9. }}}}} Electricity is definitely more efficient at powering a car, and oil can flow through pipelines downhill for minimal losses....why not a diesel-electric hybrid? Works for trains...

    Actually, they've been investigating this idea for a long time (whoodathunkit?)

    I gather from my reading that it appears that, once you add in the weight of the electric motor(s) (either one per wheel, one per two wheels, or one single one) and the weight of the generator (that's basically what it is) that the efficiency of the process goes down enough so as to be less than that of the current-optimal ICE alone. I don't see why, since you can lose the weight of transmission (electric motors don't really need a gear system) to counterbalance it, but that's what I've read on the notion.

    Another idea that's been considered is to replace the ICE with some form of steam turbine, on the basis that you can, once more, eliminate the transmission and get rid of that silly "start-the-fire-stop-the-fire-start.." inherent in the ICE. The problem here is quick-start. The ICE lets you get in your vehicle, start it, and get underway within about 30 seconds. Any steam cycle currently available takes a few minutes to Get Up Steam, and thus provides a notable dissatisfaction that it is believed the driver won't tolerate.

    Engineers study ideas like this all the time, but the ICE remains king because it is an optimal match of a number of different competing features -- efficiency v refuel time v range v acceleration v loading capacity v top speed... and so forth. I would suspect the most likely change in the near future is probably not really much of a change -- converting fleet vehicles with a central depot to LNG (or some form of NG) could create a market for LNG vehicles that would then encourage service stations to include/stock NG as a fuel, which would then encourage general consumer use, which would create a consumer-level market for LNG cars. That's speculation, of course, and I don't claim to be any kind of expert -- it's based more on NorthAm availability of NG supplies more than any kind of efficiency improvement.

    Another thing that might change things would be a massive improvement in fuel cells. That's one of those random-breakthrough things that can't be predicted or expected, though.

  10. Anyone else notice, BTW, that Dr. Chu is to physics what Dr. Krugman is to economics?

    It shows kinda what the Nobel prize is worth when the people who get it seem to know nothing whatsoever about the subject in which they got it.

    Obama (and Arafat!) to Peace, too.

    Nobel is spinning in his grave. We should attach a generator to him -- they could power Sweden's entire electricity grid for free.

  11. Yeah the Nobel committee should recall 3 prizes as they can't take one away from old dead yes sir that's my baby Ara Fat Cat. Obama never desrved his for organizing a community. Alaris the Second King of the Visigores certainly did not deserve his for his work on a convenient untruth, and Chu Chu might have known a little about low temperature physics but he does not know shiezen from shinola about energy policy and how to manage tens of billions of dollars. I say Obama's prize should be reissued to the next president in hopes that he saves America. Gore's should be given to his wife the big tipper for having listened to his crap all those years and having danced on the stage with Alfalfa and his boss Bill and Bill's boss Hillary. As for Chu's prize they should give to the next secretary of entropy who will try and get back the tens of billions that were handed out to friends and family of the first president who actually spent his formative years in Indonesia and still claims to have Judeo Christian values. Barak is truly a man who is not affected by his environment. Yes even four years in the white house have not changed the man, he is still a believer in hope as a winning strategy. This is truly like a scene from Being There. Problem is I do not like to watch the US become a minor province of China. Yes We Can get those prizes back!

  12. What about the 75% loss of efficiency that occurs when the gasoline is burned in the engine?

  13. Thanks! I've been trying to figure it out for awhile, but just couldn't wrap my brain around conversion factors. But common sense told me I was on the right path. The Gang Green thinks electricity production is all just magic, and if we get enough windmills and solar panel arrays, it'll all just be hunky-dory. But the windmills kill copious amounts of birds and bats ( and isn't the reason we're tearing out so many dams is because the tree-huggers were upset about the fishies!), not to mention in efficient. (Denmark has enough windmills to theoreticaaly generate about 30% of their electrical needs but the most they've ever been able to get is about 3%.) And take up enormous amounts of land. As do solar panels--which thanks to another law of physics--are terribly inefficient the further away from the equator you get. (Inverse Square Law--I over D squared cosine theta.) Not too mention that areas with any sort of haze just really doesn't have enough sun striking the panels. And let's not forget the environmental damage mining the elements needed for solar panels. (Which come mostly from China so I suppose it doesn't matter then to the Gang Green.)

    Anyhow... Thanks!

  14. Lee you are welcome. The solar panels are cheaper becuase the Chinese workers are kept in the dark like mushrooms. They are kept in the dark, fed horse manure and when they are ripe they are canned. Welcome to China and have a nice day. A for the inverse square rule. As one moves further away from DC the amount of bovine excrement decreases by the inverse of the square of the distance from the offices of the department of entropy. Keep the force of hydrocarbons behind you.

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