In honor of Earth Day, I’m re-posting this. Not much I can add to this… except, if you listen carefully, this Grandfather still has hope.
Archive for April, 2011
Big news for us builders, Mavizen, the company that is under the wing of TTXGP (or vice versa) has announced they have inked a deal with A123 to set up a distributor channel.
The press release is on the Mavizen site, here. Here are some of the yummy bits:
Mavizen is proud to announce a supply and distribution agreement with A123 Systems by which Mavizen will offer A123’s advanced Nanophosphate® lithium ion battery technology for two-wheeled high-performance motorsports applications. A123 is the world’s first Tier 1 OEM supplier to directly set up an official distribution channel for the advancement of clean-tech motorsports.
Initially, Mavizen will offer A123’s AMP20 prismatic cells and over the course of the relationship, intends to offer the full portfolio of A123’s lithium ion battery cells, which are designed to deliver a combination of high energy and power density. A123’s solutions also demonstrate industry-leading abuse tolerance coupled with excellent life performance under the most rigorous duty cycles.
Now, that all sounds just a little coy… but enquiring minds want to know: I CAN HAZ A123?
Well now. I just got this note from Azhar about that:
Thought I would clear up some stuff.
It’s a big deal that A123 have selected TTXGP and Mavizen as their platform of choice to engage with motorsport. However we are here to support beyond TTXGP and beyond 2 wheels. We are just about to ship our first 1,000 A123 AMP20 Prismatic Pouch cells to a non motorcycle customer and more are in the pipeline.
Our commitment to A123 is to build expertise and resources around the technology to best support all our partners safely, practically and cost effectively. That means complete systems, trackside support and warranty coverage. Expect the real potential of this relationship to be realised for 2012. This is our build out year.
We have other OEM deals in the pipeline to announce later in the year. The important thing is that our community will get access to the best stuff through official channels in a timely manner.
Be part of it just got a little bit easier.
See you at the races and thanks for your support at New Hampshire.
That sounds a lot like “YES! You can HAS A123!” to me. I’m sure we’ll learn more as the deal gets developed, but this is huge- until now, A123 sounded like it was totally reserved for development for major auto makers, and that was it. It does, however, sound like you need to more than just a casual buyer – not a hobbyist, but possibly a team, (race or research), a small manufacturer, at least someone who is going to invest in the whole system/support package. A123 has long been protective of it’s technology, and my personal opinion is that it’s because if the stuff isn’t used, configured and supported properly the result is a whole ton of bad press. More than that. A whole ton of misconceptions even in the EV community. So yeah, it seems like you have to be serious. But if you are, you got your batteries.
YEAH baybee! Welcome to MY world!
I got emails this morning from both Azhar Hussain and the Infamous and Notorious Brammofan with a cryptic link... and the message “lucky bastard” and “;)”. It seems that a certain “America’s Oldest Race” – the Louden Classic – is meeting up with the AMA’s Newest Championship… The TTXGP is coming, the TTXGP is coming!
OK OK, now settle down… must. catch. breath. OK, here’s the linky for the NHMS. The date? Saturday June 18th.
Will I be there? YA THINK??!!
The TTXGP is coming, the TTXGP is coming!
OK, for you poor, ignorant folks out there who don’t understand just how cool this is… The Louden Classic is the culmination of Laconia Motorcycle Week – what, in my youth, was one of the roudiest rockin-est rallies of bikers in the WORLD, and has since become a little more sanitized and AMA-ified… you know. To attract more families. (biker families…) It started at Weirs Beach in 1916. Yes. 1916. It makes Sturgis look like a kid’s tea party.
Above all, so much more than just an excuse for a bunch of old Harley guys to drink beer and fart loudly in public, it’s about the race, and for the TTXGP to be able to show here is second only to the Isle of Man race in making Motorsports history.
(The TTXGP is coming, the TTXGP is coming!)
I’m using a classic, vintage voltmeter on the bike- analog, a treasure from the MIT Flea Market at $8. It’s a 0-150v Simpson bakelite panel meter, probably around 1960 vintage. So I needed a bracket for it. One that would fit with the big solid aluminum speedo I have.
I made this thing like you’d make a piece of solid silver jewelry- rough cut it with a hacksaw, filed it, ground it and polished it. I feel like I chewed this out of solid aluminum with my teeth, and, damn. If I do say so myself, it looks damn fine.
I will probably mount my Low-Voltage warning light on that cross-bracket, maybe something else too, but I’m going to keep it really simple, and really analog.
If you’ve been looking for a reason to subscribe to HfL, this is it. I can only post a tease here out of respect to the hardest working guys in the internets motorcycle news biz, but here’s a bike designed by Amarok Consultants, what looks to be a motorcycle industry consulting firm.
Here’s what caught my attention: “Unlike the giants it will race against in the TTXGP series this year, it’s the size and weight of a 250GP bike. I’m hoping it goes like one too.” …and you know how I like light and fast. The other thing was a bit of scrutiny on the photo there… a very tight chassis, batteries low and integrated. Sweet, if it’s real.
Whether they can design the Amarok P1 with enough to make it through the race at speed, and still keep their battery weight down remains to be seen. In a climate where Chip Yates and the “weight be damned” philosophy seems to be the thought of the day, it’s refreshing to see this kind of attempt. As the saying goes, however: “On the track, that’s where you see how the ponies run…”
Go to Hell for Leather, and read more here. And pay your money bitches. It’s worth every dime.
Along with the solar array on the roof, the Whole Foods in Dedham has a fuel cell providing around 400kW of their energy needs. So, what, exactly is a fuel cell and how does it work? Take a look at this video from UTCPower:
If you remember back to your Science classes, you may recognize the basic structure – anode, electrolyte, cathode – the same idea as a battery. Push hydrogen through the thing, it makes electricity.
Here’s another short video showing the layout of the three modules that are in the Whole Foods back lot:
It’s not magic, it doesn’t just run on water and air… the one in Dedham runs on Natural Gas, but with this advantage- you’re not burning it. You’re extracting the hydrogen from it. No smoke. It’s very quiet, and it boasts almost 90% efficiency.
Funny, what got me into the electric motorcycle thing at the very beginning was a story about a fuel cell motorcycle. The thing that got me interested was the fact that it was pretty much silent… one thing led to another, and here I am, but the idea of a fuel cell powering an electric vehicle is something you see on a recurring basis… however, probably, unlikely. It’s just too unwieldy for a small vehicle, however Jetsons-like it may seem. As a buddy of mine said once, “I can’t wait for a fuel-cell motorcycle! I’ll park it right next to my Unicorn!”
But wait. What’s this?
This was from 2009. Not much heard from them since, but it’s a lot more real than the last Unicorn I saw. Will it ever hit the market? Hard to say. Still… for applications where it makes sense, some very cool technology!
Wait. What? Whole Foods? Energy? That place you can start your little shopping trip with some awesome gelato and pick up a brilliant bottle of red wine for under ten bucks? Yes. That place.
I was down at the local Whole Foods chatting with the nice people about their Earth Day Block Party event… (OK, yes, the name “Tesla” came up…) and the subject came around to electric motorcycles, (I know, it’s a shock – and a bad pun), renewable energy and such like that. It turns out that my local Whole Foods has a solar farm on the roof – and a fuel cell in the back somewhere. Read all about it here, on their Green Mission page.
As it turns out, Whole Foods has been very aggressive about implementing renewable energy in almost all of it’s locations. The corporate Green Mission page explains the bigger picture, and how it all fits into the Whole Foods corporate philosophy.
Here’s my favorite part:
“Whole Foods Market’s vision of a sustainable future means our children and grandchildren will be living in a world that values human creativity, diversity, and individual choice. … People will better understand that all actions have repercussions and that planning and foresight coupled with hard work and flexibility can overcome almost any problem encountered. It will be a world that values education and a free exchange of ideas by an informed citizenry; where people are encouraged to discover, nurture, and share their life’s passions.”
It’s really no surprise to see this kind of philosophy from a company like Whole Foods, considering the complete package that they give you in the stores- truly, it’s one of the few places where you can get excited about food, cooking, eating, and experimenting with new things, for the simple reason that you know the stuff is good, good for you, and brought to market in such a way that lets you sleep at night if you have even the slightest global awareness. It’s not a surprise, but it sure is refreshing to see a huge corporation, which Whole Foods is, behaving like there’s someone at the top with a brain and a conscience. AND the commitment to put their money where their mouths are…
…and some very cool technology. (May I present…. Fuel Cell!)
(400 kilowatts from UTC Power produce approximately 90% of the store’s energy needs and all the hot water on-site.)
Electric vehicles are a more efficient way to use resources than gas vehicles, right? Right. Compare the drill-to-mile numbers of virtually any method of generating electricity to driving on gasoline and you’ll be amazed at how much more efficient the electric vehicle is at using the energy in fossil fuels. The “…electricity has to come from somewhere, and your electric vehicle really runs on oil and coal.” argument is a common fallacy, and it’s easily refuted.
There are a few other angles to this issue, the strongest one is the fact that your power doesn’t come from one single fuel source. Even now you’re getting electricity from wind, water, coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas, and it’s only going to get better.
Don’t forget solar. And solar is where it gets interesting.
Imagine powering your transportation with power you generate yourself, with absolutely no consumption of fossil, or any other fuel… forget about the complexity of the grid, rates, all that. It’s simply plugging in your charger to a small solar panel and letting the sun do it’s stuff.
It’s as simple as that.
Solar panels are getting very affordable, and really simple to install. Take a look at this product from Northern Tool: a 60W Sunforce panel and converter kit for $500. Plug and play.
60W is enough to give you a slow charge on modest batteries. If you’re a weekend rider it will have your bike ready for that Saturday blast around “the loop”, and it is enough to top off the pack during your workday if you’re a commuter. It’s not free power, but it’s definitely zero-carbon transportation.
Now, it can be that simple, or you can do something a little more elaborate, like my buddy Ed. See this thread: Solar power for fun (and profit? ) Charging up your EV . He has three motorcycles in that shed, as well as an electric car. All of them are charged with his shed. He makes enough electricity to power part of his house. Shed envy indeed.
Everything else aside, the idea of blasting around on your commute, burning up your favorite twisty road or running to the store for beer… powered by the sun? Independent of global events, the whims of the market, cascading issues of social responsibility? How can you beat that feeling?
From rusty frame parts to rolling (yellow) bike:
Trying a new source of funding… Peerbackers is a site that gets the word out, helps you focus your efforts and gives your supporters a way to be a part of the project. Check out the Peerbackers project pitch here.
“Electric vehicles are boring. They’re heavy, expensive and slow. They may be necessary, but they aren’t fun, and certainly not exciting.” Think this is true? Think again.
I’m building an electric motorcycle- my second, and a restoration of a vintage 1972 Yamaha R5 roadracer. Equipped with Lithium-polymer batteries, it will weigh less than the original bike, and be at least as fast- maybe faster.
This bike will be the showpiece of The Electric Chronicles, my website devoted to evangelizing Electric Vehicles, Renewable Energy and a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude to solving our energy and economic woes.
- Stage One is the completion of the bike, requiring additional investment of $5000 for the revolutionary battery system- unlike anything on any electric vehicle currently made- and the regular maintenance and contributions to The Electric Chronciles website and other EV and Renewable Energy websites.
- Stage Two is the rollout of the bike. Scheduled for this summer, we’re planning an appearance at the Virginia VIR TTXGP race- the world-wide all-electric race. We have secure the use of a local airfield for speed trials, where we hope to break the 100mph mark. We have secured the services of an award-winning filmmaker to create a unique, and compelling story of the project.
- Stage Three is the fulfillment of our ultimate goal- to use the website, the videos, the books and, above all, the bike, to travel to schools, events, races and rallies to promote Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy.
In addition, we’re developing several solutions for today’s energy needs, and hope to secure capital to bring these to market. Join us, help us, become part of the Solution!
Help us out, spread the word, and if you like what we’re doing, back us! Thanks to all for your continuing support!