O.T. Ain't science grand?

The following letter to the editor appeared in Business section the Tampa Bay Times in response to an article about electric cars and solar energy:

Could alternator be used smarter?

I can see and read about how the big problem with electric cars is lack of range. High price does play a part, but range is the big one. Here is my solution:

We all know that alternators charge the batteries in our cars. Why can't manufacturers put an alternator in each wheel? The combination of all their charging capabilities should greatly extend the range. Instead of just depleting the battery, which has been charged at home, the car itself could be re-charging as you drive. Hybrids recharge their battery while the car is in motion. Why not electric cars?


Another candidate for perpetual motion!


Someone isn't thinking this thru all the way.


What about this alternative greener solution that doesn't violate any physical law? :-)


Now wouldn't THAT be grand! Actually, I would assume (uneducated guess since I know very little about pure electrics), that they DO use regenerative braking. That would at least provide some additional range.




And they new it better a long time ago...

(Touché, my friend!)


Luiz (proudly from the same country)

Edited: 18 Mar 2012, 11:40 p.m.


We all know that alternators charge the batteries in our cars.
Also, we all know that in our physical, technological, knowledge-base domain, energy cannot be generated, instead converted. Indeed, a perpetual-motor believer.

BTW, a curiosity of mine: what is the percentage of electrical energy produced (converted, I know) in the US due to coal burn? I am just curious, believe me, no interest on environment treated or atmosphere pollution, just curios about this figure. No need for the actual amount, just the percentage.


Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 18 Mar 2012, 11:48 p.m.


This is OK in terms of conservative law. When you use conventional breaks, the motion energy (kinetics) is converted into thermal energy (due to abrasion), which will wear the surface of the breaks. The kinetic energy will be converted into electrical energy if you use magnetic regenerative breaks, and the conversion itself is valid. (added) Of course, in the need of an emergency break, the conventional ones are faster because of the surface contact; magnetic regenerative breaks may not be as faster. Also, if you touch the conventional breaks of a speedy car that had them used a lot, chances are you'll burn your fingers...


Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 19 Mar 2012, 12:21 a.m.


Best i can tell and this comes from wiki and the us coal industry at 45 percent. However the union of concerned scientists (coal haters) they say 54 percent.


Regenerative braking has been around for over 100 years. The motor itself becomes the generator.


Regenerative braking has been around for over 100 years. The motor itself becomes the generator.
And is pretty standard on electric vehicles these days. Of course they have conventional brakes for emergencies, but I remeber going for a test drive (as a passenger) in a concept electric car about 25 years ago, and that regenerative braking was pretty sharpish - definitely good enough for bringing the car close to a stop in normal driving circumstances (I was thrown forward quite hard onto the seat belt).

Yup, that's the general idea. I assumed that they were used in electrics but have only done any real reading about hybrids and simply made the assumption that the same technology would be used to achieve longer driving ranges in pure electrics.




E aí, Luiz?

I'm starting to feel guilty driving my 14-year old car instead of a new ethanol-fueled one, even if only occasionally. Eta, nois! :-)




The idea behind regenerative braking is also used in sophisticated slot car setups. In basic track layouts the controller is a 2 wire affair that is either on (with varying degrees of power) or off with an open circuit. When a track is setup with "brakes" there is a third wire that closes the circuit when the power is off. This essentially turns the car's motor into a generator (although no energy is collected) and effectively brings the speeding car to a (potentially, depending on setup) VERY quick stop. This makes the track a whole lot more fun to drive on since you now can drive the slot car a lot more like a real car driving hard deep into the corner before coming off the power and "applying" the brakes. Doing this without braking would reward you with an off-track excursion at relatively high velocity.

Sophisticated controller even allow you to adjust the brakes for an individual car and a given track layout.




I'm seriously considering to buy a bike... and a motorcycle, just in case.


Edited: 19 Mar 2012, 8:50 a.m.


No large batteries are needed. The answer is in Nikola Tesla's wireless energy transfer process and its improvement to today's technology. A lighter vechile with backup gas or electric motor to run on highways that are powered by remote wireless power. Nikola Tesla has accomplished to transfer power over 48 Kilometers back in 1896. Here is a sample of most recent achievements from Wikipedia(Wireless energy transfer ):

2009: A simple analytical electrical model of electrodynamic induction power transmission is proposed and applied to a wireless power transfer system for implantable devices.[116]

2009: Lasermotive uses diode laser to win $900k NASA prize in power beaming, breaking several world records in power and distance, by transmitting over a kilowatt more than several hundred meters.[117]
2009: Sony shows a wireless electrodynamic-induction powered TV set, 60 W over 50 cm[118]

2010: Haier Group debuts “the world's first” completely wireless LCD television at CES 2010 based on Prof. Marin Soljacic's follow-up research on Tesla's electrodynamic induction wireless energy transmission method and the Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI).[119]

2010: System On Chip (SoC) group in University of British Columbia develops an optimization tool for the design of highly efficient wireless power transmission systems using multiple coils. The design is optimized for implantable applications and power transfer efficiency of 82% is achieved.[120]

Edited: 19 Mar 2012, 12:38 p.m.


Please apply for a patent ;-) But don't try here, the European Patent Office won't accept a patent application for a perpetuum mobile anymore. BTW, electrical breaks based on eddy currents are quite common in railways for decades (though not recovering any energy), and even electrical generator breaking is old technology.


LOL ethanol. You Brasilians can grow sugarcane and make ethanol efficiently. Here in the US we have corn-based ethanol rammed down our throats, consuming as much oil as it saves in production and transport, and we get to have our marine outboards ruined by the ethanol sucking water vapor into the carbeurators...and we get bad fuel economy.

The "green" business in the US is all about greenbacks, not about environmentally intelligent conservation. :-(


So then what about the weather? Is the atmosphere "gridded"? Do the Ruskies and the evil US Military-CIA-Complex control the climate through HAARP? ;-)


Too d**n true!



You see, Bill, ethanol production also has some polluting residuals in some considerable volume. One of these polluting residuals is called 'vinhoto' (I do not know if there is an English term for that): it is harmful to the environment and is carelessly discarded in rivers. Some environment protection laws predict and try to regulate such actions, but as just words in papers they are, their power exists only in humans minds. And we miss some of these minds here...

Being aware of these facts is, somehow, even worse.



Hello Luiz,

One of these polluting residuals is called 'vinhoto' (I do not know if there is an English term for that)

In this paper it's been translated as stillage. I can't find the word in my printed Merriam-Webster's dictionary though (and merriam-webster.com is not willing to give definitions for free anymore).




Maybe silage wastewater ? Just a guess ...


Thank you, Gerson and Luiz, for pointing out this paper!

One more reason this Forum is even better than the BBC :-)


The "green" business in the US is all about greenbacks, not about environmentally intelligent conservation. :-(

The US ethanol fuel business is almost completely courtesy of your friendly local Congress Persons and Senators (especially from corn-growing states like Iowa).

No real environmentalist is pushing ethanol!


That is correct.

And real environmentalists should stay the hell away from the term "green" as it has been entirely coopted by the Big Money People.

What amazes me is how the ethanol thing has such staying power. I just don't understand how the congressional minority that is the Corn Growers Associations lackeys have so much power when the rest of the country is being adversely affected. What the hell is with people?


The following letter to the editor appeared in Business section the Tampa Bay Times in response to an article about electric cars and solar energy:

Let's all write in and suggest they put two alternators into each wheel to double the range again.

Ha ha, I remember the the off-track excursions very well, as I never had the luxury of the model with brakes :-))


Wow! I wonder if that scales. :)


Wow, if it really worked so well, maybe you wouldn't need batteries at all! (I'm being facetious of course.)

I do not consider range to be such an issue though. In our 28 years of marriage, never--not once--did we ever have to drive both cars even 40 miles in one day. IOW, one of them could have been electric all along, since they all have more range than that.

In the last few years, I've been driving so little that solar panels on the top, which I read years ago (before they were as efficient as they are today) would give around 30 miles a week of free battery charging, would mean I would never have to plug in.

Edited: 20 Mar 2012, 1:53 a.m.


Have you ever asked yourself why you even have two cars in the first place? Your life situation seems to be a perfect scenario for bicycles (eventually combined with subway/bus/taxi if needed and available).


Actually I do ride bike several times as many miles a year as I drive.


How do you use your two cars then? (Please don't consider this as some lecture on 'going green' or something; if your cars are your personal luxury that's fine with me.)

We also use bikes, cars and motorcycles and I find myself decreasingly using the motor driven vehicles on relatively short distances, but preferring the car for drives of 100km and longer, as it is much cheaper for two grown ups and four kids here in Germany than using the bus/train/plane. Having said that, I don't think I would still own a car if I had only to drive distances of under 60km like you do. But that is of course easy in Hamburg, Germany (pop. 1.7*10^6) with a neat bus/subway/train system and bike lanes.

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