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David and Goliath
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Will's books

The Silent Man
5 of 5 stars
Another great John Wells book. I previously compared Alex Berenson and his hero, John Wells, with Vince Flynn and his troubled CIA agent/assassin, Mitch Rapp. Towards the end of Flynn's short life and in his final Rapp books, Flynn got a...
tagged: fiction and troubled-assassin
Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones
2 of 5 stars
When I was looking up reviews of drones on the web, I found several mentions of this "book" (a pamphlet,really). It's OK,but all the information can be easily found elsewhere online. The repeated warning about crashing your drone and sta...
tagged: non-fiction
The Martian
5 of 5 stars
Wow. Just . . . wow. This was one of the most entertaining books I have read in a long time. The story is fabulous and the execution wonderful. Basically a diary of an astronaut left behind in an escape from a failed Mars mission (though...
tagged: fiction
The Target
2 of 5 stars
I can't even begin to imagine why this book has gotten good reviews. I have read and enjoyed Baldacci's books before, but this is the first book in the Will Robie series that I've read. Probably the last as well. It's the third one of t...
tagged: fiction and troubled-assassin
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
3 of 5 stars
I didn't love this book. While I generally like Gladwell's style and analysis, he seems to be running out of interesting observations or topics to cover. There are a few good tidbits and the book is short. If you love Gladwell, it's wor...
tagged: non-fiction
Anthem
4 of 5 stars
I love Ayn Rand's thought-provoking books and stories. I'm fundamentally aligned with her libertarian way of thinking so, for the most part, her stories are just one's that drive home a point that I already agree with or, at least, under...
tagged: fiction
Thinking, Fast and Slow
5 of 5 stars
This is simply a fabulous book about how the mind works and how our behavior is driven by our levels of thought. It's not a terribly difficult book to get through, although it does require a lot of System 2 thinking - Kahneman's term for...
tagged: non-fiction
Killing Jesus: A History
4 of 5 stars
As with the other "killing" books by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, I really don't like the positioning that the book is based entirely on fact - insinuating the other crappy books I've read are made up. In the documenting of Jesus' li...
tagged: non-fiction
Wooden: A Coach's Life
4 of 5 stars
How can one not like a book about John Wooden? The man is a sports icon. Most of all, of course, he's a teacher, which is exactly what he wanted to be and prided himself on. He based his entire life on teaching basketball fundamentals an...
tagged: non-fiction and sports
Dead Eye
5 of 5 stars
Wow. Just. Wow. This is a great book. In the ex-CIA-troubled-assassin genre, this may be my favorite book ever. Greaney does a fabulous job of balancing action with storyline. Never gets boring, but the reader is overwhelmed by ridiculou...
tagged: fiction and troubled-assassin

goodreads.com

A Diesel-Electric Hybrid Arrives . . . for Boats

I have previously talked about the potential advantages of combining powerful (torquey) diesel engines with electric motors into diesel-electric hybrid powerplants.  Like their gasoline-electric brethren that have become the poster child of all things green, an electric motor can be used to augment the fossil fuel powered engine where it needs it most and getting more running time and/or power out of less fuel.

I proposed that combining a diesel motor with an electric one made even more sense than combining gasoline and electric motors since (on an apples-to-apples basis compared to a gasoline engine) 1) diesel engines are more powerful, 2) diesel engines get better gas mileage, 3) diesels  produce less carbon dioxide and with new low-sulfur fuel, produce the same levels of nitrogen oxide and particulates as gasoline and, 4) according to the Department of Energy, if 30 percent of the passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the U.S. had diesel engines, U.S. net crude oil imports would be reduced by 350,000 barrels per day.

For sure, diesel engines aren’t perfect.  In fact, they have a lot of trouble at lower engines speeds.  Diesels like to generate a lot of power, but only within a relatively narrow RPM band.  That’s why they are frequently coupled with turbo-chargers – the turbos help keep them within their best performing engine speed.  So, what if an electric motor is used for this purpose instead?  My feeling is that it’d be like peanuts and chocolate; peas and carrots; well, you get the idea.

Steyr-Hybrid Well, no auto company has has announced such a product, but it turns out that a third -party engine manufacturer has announced a marine engine that has wed diesel and electric technologies.  Steyr Motors is now shipping their MO 256/H45 diesel-electric hybrid marine engine that couples a 250hp Steyr diesel engine with a 48 volt 14hp electric motor.  The engine is designed to fit nicely into “pleasure boats” (boats for individuals) – both new and as replacement engines in older ones.  The engine can be directed to run in diesel-only mode, electric-only mode, or with with both motors simultaneously.

Since diesel motors don’t run at idle well (a necessity for boats cruising through no-wake zones), the electric motor can propel the boat it’s installed in at about 5 knots silently.  As more speed is demanded by the pilot, the engine seamlessly cuts over to all diesel or, if loads of power is required, the electric motor can stay engaged to help the diesel motor get the boat up to speed ASAP.

Unlike with an automotive application, there is no regenerative braking of course – that is, charging the batteries with energy transferred during braking.  Instead, the engine needs to be used to charge the batteries.  Apparently, the electronics optimize this process, but it still requires fuel to generate all of the recharging power.  In the end, the setup would be more efficient in a car, but it seems to work nicely in the marine application.

Steyr provides an example that demonstrates the advantages of the engine.  They replaced the engines of an older pleasure boat – a 34′ cabin cruiser with twin gasoline 225hp engines that cruised at 21 knots and burned 20 gallons per hour.  The same boat with two of their new diesel-electric hybrids cruised at 25 knots and burned 12 gallons per hour.  So, it’s faster and consumes much less fuel.  Sounds pretty cool.

I’m sure some of the efficiencies demonstrated above could be achieved merely by putting more modern engines of any type in the boat.  Engine mechanics have gotten better and engine management has gotten much better.  But still, those are big improvements.

Now we need someone to step up to the plate and put this technology to work in a car.  That’s where it’ll really shine.

  • http://www.accurev.com/blog Lorne

    I’ve often thought that there is a lot of potential regenerative “breaking” power available to ships via lowering a paddle wheel electric generator into the water… hydro power using the momentum of the ship instead of gravity. The challenge is retracting the apparatus and creating neither water nor wind drag.

  • http://www.accurev.com/blog Lorne

    I’ve often thought that there is a lot of potential regenerative “breaking” power available to ships via lowering a paddle wheel electric generator into the water… hydro power using the momentum of the ship instead of gravity. The challenge is retracting the apparatus and creating neither water nor wind drag.

  • http://www.2-speed.com/ Will

    That’s a good point. My guess is that this could be done with a turbine built into the hull with a retractable door – like a submarine’s torpedo tube. It sounds complex, but I think it would be quite easy to do and would conform to the shape of the hull when closed. Thus, no water or wind drag issues when it’s not in service.

  • http://www.2-speed.com Will

    That’s a good point. My guess is that this could be done with a turbine built into the hull with a retractable door – like a submarine’s torpedo tube. It sounds complex, but I think it would be quite easy to do and would conform to the shape of the hull when closed. Thus, no water or wind drag issues when it’s not in service.

  • Dave

    Seems like in the marine application there is also the advantage that when one of the motors breaks, which for whatever reason boat motors seem to do, you have a backup.

  • Dave

    Seems like in the marine application there is also the advantage that when one of the motors breaks, which for whatever reason boat motors seem to do, you have a backup.

  • http://www.2-speed.com/ Will

    Dave, you’re right. The electric motor won’t take you very far, though. If you’re within site of shore, you’re in luck. If you’re far out, though, a call to the Coast Guard is probably still in order.

    Most of the applications for this type of motor will be with twin drives. So, a complete failure will only happen if 1) you run out of fuel and charge, 2) both diesels and both electric motors fail. Unless you’re really neglecting things are taking risks, there should be plenty of backup on board.

  • http://www.2-speed.com Will

    Dave, you’re right. The electric motor won’t take you very far, though. If you’re within site of shore, you’re in luck. If you’re far out, though, a call to the Coast Guard is probably still in order.

    Most of the applications for this type of motor will be with twin drives. So, a complete failure will only happen if 1) you run out of fuel and charge, 2) both diesels and both electric motors fail. Unless you’re really neglecting things are taking risks, there should be plenty of backup on board.

  • http://auto.postedpost.com/ Motor Car

    It is estimated that dual hybrid will improve fuel economy by as much as 25% on current models. Motor Car

  • http://auto.postedpost.com/ Motor Car

    It is estimated that dual hybrid will improve fuel economy by as much as 25% on current models. Motor Car

  • john bower

    Will,

    I know you’ve been an advocate of diesels for some time (at least reviewing your posts). I would fully agree that a diesel electric hybrid is a good idea. In cars I think it is an even better idea but for reasons that aren’t obvious in this marine application.

    Diesel engines really like to run in particular RPM range, so in fact, they are not that good for vehicle applications that demand a wide RPM range. This is why diesel cars have such a bad performance reputation. Electric motors on the other hand don’t mind the wider RPM range in vehicles, and in fact are quite good at very low RPMs. By coupling them together, you can likely eliminate all the performance disadvantages associated with diesel cars. Additionaly, the higher pollution output of the diesel during non-optimum operation, would be greatly reduced.

    That being said, their is a practical limit on the number of diesel vehicles that can be put on the road as there is a limit in the amount of diesel fuel that can be derived from a barrel of oil.

  • john bower

    Will,

    I know you’ve been an advocate of diesels for some time (at least reviewing your posts). I would fully agree that a diesel electric hybrid is a good idea. In cars I think it is an even better idea but for reasons that aren’t obvious in this marine application.

    Diesel engines really like to run in particular RPM range, so in fact, they are not that good for vehicle applications that demand a wide RPM range. This is why diesel cars have such a bad performance reputation. Electric motors on the other hand don’t mind the wider RPM range in vehicles, and in fact are quite good at very low RPMs. By coupling them together, you can likely eliminate all the performance disadvantages associated with diesel cars. Additionaly, the higher pollution output of the diesel during non-optimum operation, would be greatly reduced.

    That being said, their is a practical limit on the number of diesel vehicles that can be put on the road as there is a limit in the amount of diesel fuel that can be derived from a barrel of oil.

  • http://www.2-speed.com/ Will

    John,

    You’re right about the limits on the amount of diesel fuel that can be gleaned from a barrel of oil. I touch upon this problem in my post, “Is Diesel the Solution” (http://www.2-speed.com/2008/07/is-diesel-the-solution/). The thing is, that amount is set sorta arbitrarily. It’s how we have structured our refining capacity that limits diesel availability more than the technical limits which create the problem. European refineries, for example, produce more diesel from a barrel of oil than American refineries. While it would be a difficult change to make (and, perhaps not even a cost-effective one), American refineries could be “updated” to produce more diesel.

    Granted, there are probably better solutions, economically, than doing this.

  • http://www.2-speed.com Will

    John,

    You’re right about the limits on the amount of diesel fuel that can be gleaned from a barrel of oil. I touch upon this problem in my post, “Is Diesel the Solution” (http://www.2-speed.com/2008/07/is-diesel-the-solution/). The thing is, that amount is set sorta arbitrarily. It’s how we have structured our refining capacity that limits diesel availability more than the technical limits which create the problem. European refineries, for example, produce more diesel from a barrel of oil than American refineries. While it would be a difficult change to make (and, perhaps not even a cost-effective one), American refineries could be “updated” to produce more diesel.

    Granted, there are probably better solutions, economically, than doing this.

  • Steve Szydlowski

    I wonder if this technology is scalable – downward. I’m looking to power a sailing catamaran . . .

  • Steve Szydlowski

    I wonder if this technology is scalable – downward. I’m looking to power a sailing catamaran . . .

  • Barron

    This is a very good article. I am in the planing phase of a new boat and what would be the issue using lets say a backup power D/E generator as the power supply then connected to the electric motor of choice ? And Steve, yes there is someone that can help you, they are in Florida take a look at

    http://www.electricmarinepropulsion.org/index.html
    AND
    http://re-e-power.com/index.html

  • Barron

    This is a very good article. I am in the planing phase of a new boat and what would be the issue using lets say a backup power D/E generator as the power supply then connected to the electric motor of choice ? And Steve, yes there is someone that can help you, they are in Florida take a look at

    http://www.electricmarinepropulsion.org/index.html
    AND
    http://re-e-power.com/index.html

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  • Dave

    Why not use a Jack brake on the engine, like on big rigs. Much more regenerated power potential from the engine than the wheels. Even the new Dodge diesel PU has a engine brake. Or make the drove pod could have a traction motor integrated like a Diesel train to increase drag to slow down faster.

  • http://portablegeneratorsforsale.net/ Portable Generators for Sale

    Very nice article. Diesel + Electric power is a great energy combination. Generators can play a big help for backup energy.

  • Namvet

    some of you were talking about how much diesel fuel they could get from a barrel of crude. Did anyone know that in the beginning Mr Diesel (German)designed his motor to run on peanut oil..thats what makes the diesel such a great engine, it’s multifuel design. The idea of biodiesel is a great one, but we (US) don’t want to change, we like things to stay the same, especially the oil companies, they certainly don’t want anything to change.

  • Sixal

    There is a new solution to the narrow RPM range of the diesel. It is to use a Torque Box. 
    The speed of the diesel (or gas engine) can be regulated and maintained at its optimum speed – all the time. The variations of output power come from the gas intake.
    http://www.TorqueUnlimited.Biz