Category Archives: automotive

Decarbonize!

Friday for Future is finished and I feel the need of making sure (firstly to myself) that the process that will bring us totally away from fossil fuel consumption is possible, maybe long, but possible.

Decarbonization (this is the name given to the biggest revamping project in the world) is possible; will require money and time; will require the mutual work of Politics, Science and Industry toward the goals of :

  • producing electricity totally from renewable sources, decentralize prodution
  • reducing the energy consumption in all areas were this is possible
  • decentralize smart grid and electricity storage development
  • substitute direct fossil fuel consumption with renewable alternatives
  • stop deforestation process
  • substitute fossil fuel derived products with fossil derived recycled ones (or carbon free ones if possible)
  • 100 % recycle, waste to energy for the non recyclable

Ambitious plan ? I think this is the biggest revamping project you can immagine and it is already running but I think that the message we all sent last last friday is that we need to ‘deliver’ sooner ūüôā

Producing electricity totaly from renewable sources

48 % of CO2 is emitted producing heat or electricity. Many countries are already active in the area of producing electricity from renewables, take Germany for example. 7 year ago (just after fukushima) Germany started phase out of nuclear power by incrementing the share of energy produced by renewables. Some data :

source

In 1 year Germany increased production from wind energ for example by 20 GWh. Continue this for 10 years and your reach more than half the whole country energy requirements. In fact Germany has also started a plan for removing coal in energy production.

Energy efficency

Again from Germany, a national plan to increase the efficency of systems in all areas which is estimating to produce a saving of 12 to 20% over 2020. Reducing the current energy footprint is fundamental for allowing new segments of activities to start using clean energy (think at electrical traction in automotive which is going to increase national demand)

Decentralize smart grid and electricity storage development

The example here comes form Australia were private energy company GreenSync is stimulating customers to setup local electricity storage to be used when there is shortage of power on the grid. Customers are being paid for the storage. For reason not known to me the biggest development in decentralized grid and storage is taking place in Australia and Japan.

Substitute direct fossil fuel consumption with renewable alternatives, limit impatc of direct CO2 emission

This is probably the biggest task in the project because it is spread over a tens of different segments which need to be revamped to achieve the goal :

  • Road Transportation : around 15% of total CO2 emissions. Redesigning this segment is going to be one of most serious tasks : cars and trucks make up 1/3 of the co2 emissions in countries like US and it is mostly a consumer segment. Battery powered electric cars, pickups and trucks seems to be the directions with Tesla, the real game changer, paving the road. All automotive industry is trying to catchup. 44 Billion investments announces by Volkswagen group over the next 5 years.
  • Agricolture : 13% of total CO2 emissions. These comes mainly from Cattle belching (CH4) and the addition of natural or synthetic fertilizers and wastes to soils. Here the only possible change is reducing the use of fertilizers and reduce cattle breeding.
  • Maritime Transportation : 5% of total CO2 emissions, The world’s merchant fleet consists of around 100,000 ships and these are estimated to consume 250 million tonnes of bunker fuel annually. Just one Capesize Bulk Carrier or Bulker can use 40 metric tonnes or fuel or more a day leading  to an annual fuel consumption of approximately 10,400 tonnes. This results in the emission of around 32,988 tonnes of CO2 and 959 tonnes of SOx or more. This is just from one ship. Still no real prototypes afaik in this area but good project and potential around with project like Acquarius.
  • Air Transportation : 2% of total CO2 emissions . Various activities undergoing reduction of carbon footprint in aviation.

Substitute fossil fuel derived products with fossil derived recycled ones (or carbon free ones if possible)

This is probably the biggest task in the project because it is spread over a tens of different segments which need to be revamped to achieve the goal :

  • Plastics
  • Lubricants
  • Process Chemicals
  • Carpeting
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Rubber Goods
  • Adhesives
  • Cosmetics
  • Footwear
  • Paints
  • Detergents
  • Inks
  • Sealants
  • Fragrances
  • Solvents
  • Caulking
  • Compounds
  • Fertilizers
  • Fibers
  • Tires

This point will require a complete structured analysis by its own. International energy agency dedicates a complete section on petrochemicals. They are not easy to replace : recycle will be the solution while Science and Industry find better substitutes.

I’ll stop here at least for now : the message I’m trying to share is that the matter is highly complex and cannot be simplified by just switching off air conditioning or doing these kind of things.

ALL activities have to be done at the same time (thanks Greta for having said this) and Politics IS the driver for all of them.

Self driving is the next big thing

Just a few years ago the idea of a self driving car was seen as a futuristic technology that would take decades to arrive. Now it is only a matter of when it will be available and this thanks to startups that are shaping this segment. Here’s ¬†a list (incomplete) of autonomous driving related companies, hardware, software and services, some of which have recently raised money from vc and investors :

  • lvl5 :¬†computer vision software to crowdsource high-accuracy maps for self-driving cars.
  • starsky robotics¬†, embark : self driving trucks
  • ouster (raised 27M$ ) : best lidar to date
  • AIMotive¬†(raised 38M$ ) : full stack autonomous driving software
  • Nauto¬†(raised 159M$ ) : self driving safety
  • drive.ai¬†(raised 50M$ ) : self driving full stack
  • cruise ( GM bought for 1B$) : self driving full stack
  • pony.ai¬†(raised 112M$ ) : claim safest self driving full stack
  • zoox.com raised 250M$ ) : self driving automaker

Driving a Tesla Model S in Paris

My brother in law owns a Tesla model S in Paris and I had a chance to try it out last week. One of the most exciting experiences (Miles Davis would have added “with my pants on”) of the last times. You are driving with almost no noise ( I know Jeremy Clarkson will hate this but I like it so much) in total comfort on a car that comes from another planet : this is what it looks like.

First of all I must say that I hate cars and what they represent : I’ve always considered them a necessary evil. I spent tons of money around my cars (smashing them so many times when I was in my twenties), doing maintenance and repairing them that I developed what is my personal requirements list for a car :

  1. accident prevention : a car that foresees a potentially dangerous situation and takes control to avoid an accident/crash. With a car like this I would have saved tons of money and a couple of broken ribs
  2. no maintenance or lowest possible : if I have to use a car I want to have the lowest possible maintenance. Brakes, oil and filters, clutch, distribution belts, sparks …. There is always something to do with your car
  3. do not contribute to city air pollution or do it the less possible

Tesla ( and probably other electric cars in the future will )  is matching exactly my requirements for what I want in a car.  Autonomous driving with all the available variants which range from lane/speed/front car distance control to full autonomous driving would make driving safer and reduce accidents and damage to the car.

And electric traction will make maintenance a distant memory : with the Tesla I tried which was set at maximum engine brake I barely never had to use the brake pedal; the cars brakes by using the electric motors as generators so you recharge you battery just by using the engine break

And performance comes last in the sense that I’m not a super car fan but pulling the gas to the floor on the Model S is a breathtaking experience. The picture on the left shows you the warp effect ūüôā

When all 450.000 Tesla model 3 will hit the road …

In a 2 or 3 years all 450.000 model 3 tesla (and probably more) will hit the road and start making an average of 16.550 miles per year. Considering :

this will translate in around 2.5 Tera Wh/year more consumption on the electric grid. Let’s say that in 5 years 10% of all new cars sold are electric. We’ll have an extra 10 TWh per year to reach 1% of all electric consumption in US (in 5 years) and this will just be around 1% of the total number of cars on roads in US. So 1% of electric fleet equals 1% increase over total electricity consumption.

Forecasting increase in electricity needs by introducing electric traction in automobile

A growth in electric vehicles on European¬†roads will¬†need a corresponding ¬†growth¬†in electricity production to serve charging of these cars, both in peak production power and in total annual power. Let’s take italy for example which currently has a total year consumption of around 300 TWh (terna). Considering :

This accounts for 2250 KWh/year for each electric car. Considering 2 milion new cars per year and a 0.5 % of electric cars sold (10000) this means an additional 22 GWh/year to be produced to allow charging them.
So your electric car will consume like a small household (depending on your mileage) and personal/distributed production of electricity (domestic + accumulation) will be necessary.

If you want to really dig deeper : here.