Seeking Alpha

John Petersen's  Instablog

John Petersen
Send Message
John Petersen is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of ePower Engine Systems, Inc., a Kentucky-based enterprise that has developed, built and demonstrated an engine-dominant diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain for long-haul heavy trucks that promises fuel savings of 25 to 35... More
My company:
Fefer Petersen & Co.
My blog:
View John Petersen's Instablogs on:
  • Jay Bowman's June 20th EPower Update

    Since many stockholders of Axion Power International (OTCQB:AXPW) are interested in the progress of our ongoing development work at ePower Engine Systems, I thought a lightly edited version Jay Bowman's most recent shareholder update would be worthwhile.

    Hello everyone, I wanted to share what we have been working on for the last forty five days since our FedEx run with the truck. As you know we had a battery over-heating issue on the return portion of our trip at a GVW of 72,000 lb. The following week we met with the engineer from Axion to discuss a plan of action that may eliminate the heating problem. This may have been a self caused problem due to the reduction in size of our battery boxes to fit the required amount of batteries onto the day cab chassis we have been working on. This reduction in container size did not allow for airflow between each of the batteries, the engineer felt this could be the cause of overheating. It was decided that we would redesign the boxes and add additional airflow paths in the boxes in an attempt to cure the problem. An example of the change is shown in the pictures below.

    (click to enlarge)(click to enlarge)

    We are also working on the BMS with Axion to provide reliable data collection while monitoring the battery packs. We hope to have this project completed by the first week of July.

    In tandem with the Axion battery heat control project, we have been busy bench testing and road testing other battery chemistries. Our main focus has been on Nickel Metal Hydride, or "NiMH," chemistry as Lithium still requires a costly and unreliable battery management system to work in our application. Our initial test was of a 6.5 Ah battery pack, this is a much smaller pack when compared to the 30 Ah pack from Axion Power. The pack was built to explore any control issues we may have in the use of this battery chemistry for our boost power system. We were pleased to find that the battery chemistry behaves the same as any other chemistry we have tested. The next step was to double the capacity of the battery pack to a 13 Ah capacity. This was completed two weeks ago and road tested for several days. We saw a major improvement in the truck's performance. As we began to get into the 35,000 lb GVW range, we were under-powered during acceleration causing an under-voltage condition in our system. We have safeties in place that prevent damage to our power system, these safety systems tripped as designed to protect the electrical components. While road testing the battery pack we were actively collecting data for an upcoming visit of engineers from a battery company we had contacted earlier. We have issued a PO for a 45 Ah battery pack from this company, batteries to be delivered the end of July. This is why we are testing the MiMH chemistry, as this will be their battery pack chemistry delivered to us for testing. The pictures show four of the eight battery assemblies ready to be placed into our battery boxes. I have also added a picture of the individual 7.6 volt cells we used to build up the packs, in all 224 cells.

    (click to enlarge)(click to enlarge)

    The 13 Ah pack was road tested last week, during testing we saw an improvement over the 6.5 Ah pack. We were still under powered when we ran above 45,000 GVW loaded weights. Not a large surprise but I had decided it was worth the time to explore the possibilities of this battery chemistry in our application.

    Earlier in May I had purchased a set of Maxwell Ultracapacitors, 24 each / 48 volt modules. I was planning to do a follow up test on the truck, after bench testing of batteries in parallel with the capacitors showed promising results. The 13 Ah battery packs we tested were designed so we could add the Ultracapacitors in parallel to NiMH batteries on a truck for road testing of the pack design. This was completed on Friday and we spent the day road testing the boost pack. This pack in preliminary testing shows great promise, while eliminating 2000 lb in tractor weight. The boost system working up to 55,000 lb GVW is very stable and supplies more than enough boost power for acceleration and grade climbs. We will continue road testing at heavier weights after we disassemble the pack and correct some power distribution issues for better performance. We also need to add more data collection points for our BMS to better monitor the battery packs performance. We are excited about the data collected so far, we saw an improvement of 1 mile per gallon in fuel burn at the 55,000 lb weight over previous testing. Again the results are preliminary but for us very exciting. This first test was simply to see if further testing was justified or not, we believe it is!

    These are pictures of the Maxwell Ultra Capacitors being series wired into usable packs to be placed in parallel with the NiMH batteries.

    Over the last 45 days we have made a concerted effort to come up with additional options for our battery boost pack going forward. I now believe that we have three viable options to pick and choose from. The redesigned cooling system for the Axion Power PbC battery, the G4 full NiMH battery pack coming at the end of July and the NiMH / ultracapacitor ePower designed boost pack. This not only puts into a better position technology wise but also on the fund raising side as well since many potential investors were concerned with our total reliance on the Axion Power PbC battery moving forward.

    In May Bob White spent ten days in our facility finishing up his version one, J1939 interface software to enable complete auto shifting of the Eaton Ultra Shift transmission. We are working on the drive side of things with Unico to get the new control systems working properly. I would expect testing to take place in early July in conjunction with further battery testing. This is an exciting advancement in our technology for this truck and future development plans.

    Last week the EPA introduced a second tier of proposed fuel economy regulations for Class 8 trucking. This New York Times article provides a solid overview. While the NYT article says, "The new standards will require truck manufacturers to increase their fuel efficiency by about a third, up from the current average of about six miles a gallon," the requirements are actually more stringent. In the rule release the EPA makes it clear that the 2017 standards represent a 23% increase over the 2010 baseline year, going from 6 mpg to ~7,4 mpg, and the 2027 standards represent a 24% increase over the 2017 baseline year, going from ~7.4 mpg to ~9.2 mpg.

    All of our recent drivetrain testing has demonstrated fuel economy that exceeds 2017 standards. When we factor in the expected benefits of improved aerodynamics and other non-drivetrain efficiency technologies we believe the 2027 standards are within our grasp.

    Thanks Jay

    Tags: AXPW
    Jun 21 10:06 AM | Link | 36 Comments
  • EPower Successfully Completes Third-Party Demonstration Trial

    Since many regular readers of my blog are interested in the progress of our ongoing development work at ePower Engine Systems, I thought a brief update on the successful completion of our first third-party demonstration trial with FedEx Ground might be worthwhile.

    My employer, ePower Engine Systems, is developing modular hybrid conversion kits for heavy duty "Class 8 trucks" with gross vehicle weights of 33,000 to 80,000 pounds. In the summer of 2014, we conducted road tests of our third generation drivetrain and demonstrated 9-mpg fuel efficiency in challenging terrain at a gross vehicle weight of 55,000 pounds. Since then, our work has focused on increasing the hauling capacity and improving the high-speed performance of our drivetrain to better serve the needs of our target market; Class 8 tractors that have been in service for several years and require a major overhaul.

    In late-April, we launched field trials for our fourth generation drivetrain with a select group of independent contractors who haul freight for FedEx Ground and service 30 FedEx facilities in a multi-state region. The four primary modules in our fourth generation drivetrain are:

    • A drop-in genset module that pairs a Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine with a 150 kW generator from Marathon Electric;
    • A bolt-on battery module with 56 PbC batteries from Axion Power International (OTCQB:AXPW) that provides 150 kW of on-demand power for acceleration and climbing;
    • A drop-in drive module that pairs a 200 hp inverter duty drive motor from Marathon Electric with a 10-speed Eaton UltraShift transmission; and
    • A bolt-on electronics module that houses a Unico AC Vector Drive and ePower's propriety power control systems and software.

    Our first trial on April 29th was a 463-mile road test consisting of three legs with two 28-foot box trailers at increasing gross vehicle weights. The first leg from Florence, Kentucky to Indianapolis, Indiana was run with a 66,000 pound GVW. A second leg from Indianapolis to Remington, Indiana was run with a 69,000 pound GVW. The third leg from Remington, Indiana to Florence, Kentucky was run with a 74,000 pound GVW.

    Our 7.75-mpg fuel efficiency for the trial was 38% higher than the contractor's 5.5-mpg average on the same route. We did, however, experience unusually high battery temperatures on the final leg that hurt overall performance. In light of our recent drive motor upgrade, the increased aerodynamic drag from hauling twin trailers and the 66,000 to 74,000 pound GVWs, the elevated temperatures were not surprising. We are working with Axion to pinpoint the causes and find ways to mitigate the known heat issues. We also plan to test two alternative battery pack options before we proceed to the next stage of completing a 10-unit demonstrator fleet.

    On balance, we're quite pleased with the results of our maiden trial. The driver and contractor were very impressed with our tractor's on-road performance and fuel efficiency. They were even more impressed with our tractor's ability to adapt to load and system challenges and deliver the cargo to its destination on time. All parties remain fully committed to the ongoing field trial program and are eagerly anticipating the next trip.

    ePower has recently launched a $600,000 stock offering that's limited to "accredited investors" who satisfy the stringent requirements of SEC Regulation D. Summary information on ePower, its technology, its business model and its stock offering are publicly available on -

    Tags: AXPW
    May 15 12:50 PM | Link | 101 Comments
  • Jay Bowman's December 5th Update

    Since many stockholders of Axion Power International (OTCQB:AXPW) are following the progress of our development work at ePower Engine Systems, I thought a modestly edited version Jay Bowman's most recent shareholder update would be worthwhile.

    Things are picking up steam at ePower since completing work on the day cab. We have shown the truck at the Ohio Clean Air Coalition in Columbus Ohio and the Clean Cities Coalition in Indianapolis Indiana. Shannon Anderson and I were invited to speak at both events as well as an invitation to return to Indianapolis in mid January. Following our presentation in Indianapolis the Mayor made an announcement that the city of Indianapolis will be converting their city fleet to an all-electric fleet. We were approached with the opportunity to convert two city-owned class 8A day cabs to our system under an EPA clean diesel grant the city has received. Shannon and I are working with the Clean Cities Coalition and the EPA on the funding of this project. The state has the money but we need to qualify our system with the EPA to receive the grant. We also met with people from a large Freightliner dealership in the mid-west; they drove the truck and were very impressed with its performance. I have had several follow up conversations with them and have supplied additional information they have requested. As a result of this event we also have visitors from Amerigas coming into our facility next Wednesday for a follow up meeting.

    In mid November we completed our Application Engineering Review with Cummins and were approved to purchase Cummins components for our conversions. This has been over a year and half long process and strong third party validation that our system works as advertised.

    The end of November we took our trucks to the Florence Kentucky FedEx hub to seek approval for our trucks to haul freight for FedEx. We met with their corporate safety people, corporate head of mechanics, the local terminal manager and around a dozen FedEx private haul contractors. We are now approved for our trucks to haul FedEx freight from the Florence KY terminal. I received a call the following day from the FedEx Director of Sustainability and the terminal manager; they will be keeping a close eye on our progress and mentioned the possibility of some joint promotions in the future. We also have lined up 6 different contractors to begin testing our trucks on their routes after the Christmas crunch in over. I have been busy getting the proper operating authority, tax accounts, insurance and apportioned certificates in place to meet their requirements. I should have this completed next week.

    (click to enlarge)

    Yesterday, Shannon received a preliminary ruling from the region 5 office of the EPA that our system can be sold under the Cummins engines EPA certification of conformity without further certification or verification. They are now checking to see if our system will be exempt from further EPA certification or verification requirements for EPA grant funding opportunities.

    In October our Board of Directors voted to terminate our "friends and family offering" after raising $1.2 million and begin working on a $5 million "A Round" for venture capital and institutional investors. We feel a larger offering at a higher price is justified because if the substantial strides we've made over the last twelve months, including.

    1. A working Class 8A day cab
    2. Mexican and United State Patent grants.
    3. Approval to haul FedEx freight
    4. The Cummins diesel satisfying EPA on road emissions requirements.
    5. Confirmation through testing of a 20% to 30% reduction in fuel usage at weight.
    6. Confirmation through testing of an additional 10% to 25% reduction in fuel usage in new drivers when compared to veteran drivers.
    7. Kit conversion design completed for fleet mechanics ease of installation.
    8. Additional intellectual property developed and in progress.
    9. The interest we have generated in worldwide licensing opportunities moving forward.
    10. A clear path forward to the class 8B (80,000lb load) tractor.

    John Petersen and I have met with and our board of directors participated in several face-to-face meetings and or conference calls with interested parties. John and I believe we have generated a sincere interest in what we are doing. To this point we are not receiving push back on the valuation or use of funds we have proposed. I will send an update out before the end of the year to let everyone know how the fund raising is progressing.

    Thanks again for your support and confidence you have shown throughout this project, I know we would all like to see things move faster but I do feel we have a solid base now to move forward. Happy holidays to all and wishes for a prosperous and profitable New Year.

    Dec 08 9:53 AM | Link | 51 Comments
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers


More »

Latest Comments

Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.