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 30 to 40... More
My company:
Fefer Petersen & Co.
My blog:
ipo-law.com
  • What I Learned During Last Week's Visit With EPower 72 comments
    Jul 21, 2013 5:29 PM | about stocks: AXPW

    Last week I spent a couple days with ePower Engine Systems working my way through a variety of business and technical due diligence issues. As always happens with new clients, it was a full immersion course in how ePower's technology works, what the documented performance of the current tractor is, and how that performance is expected to change as ePower:

    • transitions from a four cylinder engine designed for stationary use to an EPA compliant six cylinder engine designed for the trucking industry;
    • automates a new charge control system that will opportunistically charge the batteries in a more fuel efficient manner;
    • evaluates the potential economic and performance advantages of using a rare earth permanent magnet generator instead of a conventional AC generator; and
    • evaluates the potential economic and performance advantages of using a rare earth permanent magnet drive motor instead of a conventional AC induction motor.

    ePower's original development work was done using a 197 hp John Deere diesel engine and a Marathon generator with a rated capacity of 115 kW that can be over-rated to 128 kW for brief intervals. In all but the most extreme conditions, the ePower tractor is designed to minimize generator over-rating by using an array of 56 PbC batteries from Axion Power International (OTCQB:AXPW) for acceleration and hill climbing boost.

    Since the current John Deere engine was designed for stationary use with a generator, it is not EPA compliant and its horsepower rating does not account for parasitic engine loads like power steering, air conditioning, airbrake compressor and other accessory and hotel loads. As a result, the maximum sustained generator output of the current tractor is about 93 kW.

    ePower recently bought an EPA compliant 240 hp on-road Cummins diesel engine that was salvaged from a wrecked truck. Unlike the John Deere engine, the Cummins engine is rated on net useful horsepower at the flywheel after parasitic loads. It's 32 pounds lighter than the John Deere engine and has an advertised fuel consumption of 6.8 gallons per hour at 1,800 RPM. With the Cummins engine, ePower believes they'll be able to run their existing generator at full capacity without difficulty.

    Over the last several months ePower has been conducting fuel economy testing of their current tractor in the Cincinnati region. The topography is best characterized as gently rolling hills with grades of 1% to 3% and typical altitude changes of up to 300 feet. The fuel economy tests were conducted according to SAE J1321 protocols using multiple trips over several 40 to 46.5 mile routes with city, suburban and highway profiles. Data was recorded at average speeds of 55 and 59 mph and any results that deviated from the average by more than 5% were excluded.

    The blue bars in following graph show the documented fuel economy of the ePower tractor with a variety of loads ranging from empty to fully loaded. The red blocks at the end of the current fuel economy bars represent ePower's estimates of the incremental fuel savings that should be realizable with (1) the six cylinder Cummins engine upgrade, (2) automation of the charge control circuitry, and (3) integration of a rare earth permanent magnet generator.

    For purposes of comparison, the graph also includes a single line for the national industry average across all weight classes and the goals of the DOE's Supertruck program.

    (click to enlarge)

    Since ePower's ongoing work is by nature a research and development project, there can be no assurances that the planned tractor upgrades can be completed over the next several months or that the third generation tractor will meet current performance expectations.

    Disclosure: I am long OTCQB:AXPW.

    Stocks: AXPW
Back To John Petersen's Instablog HomePage »

Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (72)
Track new comments
  • pascquale
    , contributor
    Comments (108) | Send Message
     
    John,
    Thanks for the article. It looks like there is no difference in MPG between 55 and 59 MPG at 45K GVW and above in your graphs. Is that accurate?
    21 Jul 2013, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » ePower was a bit surprised that the differences weren't bigger at heavier weights, but for now at least the data is what it is. The more critical performance tests will come after the six cylinder upgrade is completed, hopefully sometime this quarter.

     

    After responding to your comment, I asked Jay Bowman for a more detailed explanation and he replied:

     

    "You will not see much difference in fuel usage between 55 and 59 mph average speeds, because up to that point you are mostly overcoming the rolling resistance of the tractor trailer combination. Above 40 mph aerodynamics begin to come into play and at 55 to 75 are a major force of drag to be overcome. The forces are not linear in nature nor the power to overcome them. We did not test at higher speeds due to the lack of generator power."
    21 Jul 2013, 06:14 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    I was going to say at higher GVWs, rolling friction would dominate (think of how the tire footprint has to expand to support increased GW, thus there is more net tire to have to deform-reform with each linear foot of travel) but I guess Mr. Bowman covered it nicely..
    21 Jul 2013, 08:56 PM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (4102) | Send Message
     
    Good info. Thanks JP.
    21 Jul 2013, 06:56 PM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2597) | Send Message
     
    John -

     

    What kind of timeline are we looking at before the 10 trucks will be up and running?
    21 Jul 2013, 06:57 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » The timing will depend on the amount of time to complete the upgrade from the four cylinder to the six cylinder, complete shake down testing and complete performance testing. They'd like to finish those tasks in Q3 but they'll probably spill over into Q4. Once the work is done, they can start placing trucks with users. I expect the bulk of the trucks to be a 2014 event with a few in 2013, but things can certainly go faster or slower than I expect right now.

     

    The critical timing question from Axion's perspective is when will performance data on the third generation tractors be available so that ePower can start pounding the table with documented performance statistics. I think the answer to that all important question is this year.
    21 Jul 2013, 07:06 PM Reply Like
  • Renzo
    , contributor
    Comments (352) | Send Message
     
    John-

     

    Can you tell us how much the upgraded generator and drive motors will add to the cost of the retrofit and how that might affect ROI calculations?
    21 Jul 2013, 07:20 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Unfortunately I don't know those answers because ePower hasn't gotten pricing terms yet. But I suspect that the incremental component costs will be largely if not completely offset by incremental efficiency gains.

     

    ROI is a very funny concept and historically ePower has calculated ROIs based on total retrofit costs as opposed to the incremental cost of doing an ePower retrofit instead of doing a conventional major overhaul.

     

    The ROI looks darned attractive if you work with total retrofit costs in the $70,000 to $80.000 range and arbitrarily assume fuel savings of 5,000 to 10,000 gallons per year.

     

    In reality the owner's choice isn't do ePower or do nothing. His real choice is spend $60,000 for a conventional rebuild with no fuel savings or spend $80,000 for an ePower retrofit.

     

    When you start calculating an ROI based on the spread between the two real world choices, the returns get mind boggling.
    21 Jul 2013, 07:39 PM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (4102) | Send Message
     
    "When you start calculating an ROI based on the spread between the two real world choices, the returns get mind boggling. "

     

    Does that assessment take into consideration probable improvement in mpg performance of a new diesel used in conventional rebuilds versus the industry average mpg? That is, where the industry average mpg may be say, 6 mpg, presently don't new diesels that would replace the old engine get 7 - 8 mpg?
    21 Jul 2013, 08:40 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Every ROI calculation should be based on the incremental costs over the next best option vs the incremental fuel savings over the next best option. Evangelicals may like to compare their best case against fleet averages, but my clients keep it honest or they're not clients anymore.

     

    At this point in time, the only systems that offer significantly better mpg than conventional rebuilds are hybrid systems from companies like Eaton that claim 6 to 7 mpg based on tests performed in places like Miami where there isn't 100 feet of elevation loss or gain in the county. The averages are the averages and so far nobody has improved on them much.
    21 Jul 2013, 09:01 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    John, Understand your point concerning the efficiency savings vs the incremental cost increase associated with the ePower offering.

     

    As for the upgrade decision when there is still usable life remaining on the existing power train, in reality the cost saving should be the 70 to 80k USD number minus the percentage of life already used from the existing power train. You're not going to take brand spanking new trucks off the road and upgrade them so it's not the full cost. Or am I all wet here?

     

    Of course, there are many other factors that come into play as well such as resale value of removed components and, much harder for the fleet manager, determining operational costs differences between the various platforms. Now there's a big task.

     

    Anyway, thoughts for the future.
    22 Jul 2013, 08:42 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » ePower is not laboring under the delusion that any owner operator will go to an ePower upgrade that's out of synch with his normal rebuild cycle. I can see the system being installed in new gliders and older trucks that are ready for an overhaul. I can't imagine any operator doing an upgrade two years into a four year rebuild cycle.
    22 Jul 2013, 10:09 AM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    Perhaps, But the economics look pretty good. But it does also depend on many factors like the fleet customer requirements, shop demand and any number of other factors. Unless there are capacity constraints on the ePower side, Heaven forbid!
    22 Jul 2013, 10:44 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I don't expect capacity constraints on the ePower side unless demand goes absolutely crazy and swamps ePower's supply chain.

     

    What a burden that would be.
    22 Jul 2013, 10:53 AM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4538) | Send Message
     
    >JP ... Has ePower considered entering into the owner/operator new "glider" build market. I would think that, at this stage, would be nothing more than asking a few if they might be interested but I know nothing of the nitty-gritty of the trucking world.
    21 Jul 2013, 08:48 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » If anything, installing the ePower drivetrain in a glider would probably be easier than doing a retrofit, but after it gets the system performance optimized, the next step will be training fleet operators to do their own work so that ePower can simply drop-ship kits instead of trying to do all the work itself. Under those circumstances I can't imagine that the drivetrain will be limited to retrofits because some operators would rather have a new truck than a rebuild.
    21 Jul 2013, 09:05 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    ~$60K is a pretty big chunk of money...what do they typically do for that for the conventional rebuild? Just swap out an engine, or is it the whole drivetrain--ie tranx, driveshaft, differentials etc?
    21 Jul 2013, 08:51 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » As I understand the process, the major 500,000 to 600,000 mile rebuilds take the tractor back to chassis and renovate all major systems including engine, transmission, brakes, interiors and paint (although I've heard they use a faster drying kind than we're used to).
    21 Jul 2013, 09:07 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    wow, so that sounds like a lot of value...and sounds like the operator gets what amounts to a virtually new truck on the back end. And now I understand (I think) how ePower can do what it does for not much more incremental cost-- their work has got to be a lot easier when the truck is taken down to bare chassis---they have free access to make their necessary modifications and installs... rather than trying to work around everything that would be there, which seems like it would be a labor nightmare. 'Course, after an ePower rebuild, the operator gets a whole nuther animal entirely...

     

    Also, and maybe you've spoken to this before, but with the ePower retrofit, is the trucker's driving workload reduced with the removal of conventional upshifting/downshifting etc? If so, how big a deal is that potentially for the operators?

     

    ps: my appetizer comment was made just minutes after you posted the article. But as I've been finding...my comment que is not exactly FIFO--heck, sometimes it's LIFO but mostly just seems basically RIRO---random in, random out... Guess that'll teach me to blow raspberries at mt olympus never again... ;)
    21 Jul 2013, 09:45 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    Man this, article was like the most delicious appetizer imaginable. But it was gone in virtually one gulp. Just made me hungrier. I'm going to be a basket case by the time the main course gets here... ;)
    21 Jul 2013, 08:58 PM Reply Like
  • Nathan Kemalyan MD
    , contributor
    Comments (535) | Send Message
     
    I don't recall reading projections on expected battery lifespan in this application. I'm guessing operators expect another 5 years of life out of their trucks after retrofit. Battery costs look like about 25% of the price tag; if they require incremental replacement through the life of the truck, costs will be higher; is the battery manufacturer likely to provide a 5 year warranty?
    21 Jul 2013, 10:09 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Typically truckers expect to get another 500,000 to 600,000 miles out of a rebuild. Under ideal circumstances, you'd like the batteries to provide a comparable service life. When Axion and ePower first started down the path, Axion was talking about a three-year warranty. For the last several months Axion has been getting data downloads on every trip and they've been pulling one battery per month for tear down analysis. Based on the data and the battery autopsies, the discussions of warranty periods are getting longer and it appears that a warranty of up to five years may be possible.
    22 Jul 2013, 05:43 AM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    "Based on the data and the battery autopsies, the discussions of warranty periods are getting longer and it appears that a warranty of up to five years may be possible."

     

    Pro-rated, I hope.

     

    Or Axion can just play Exide and say "NONE". Good luck with that. lol
    22 Jul 2013, 08:49 AM Reply Like
  • wtblanchard
    , contributor
    Comments (2412) | Send Message
     
    Does the (last years?) Penn State research on "battery recovery" play into the warranty?

     

    http://bit.ly/Uztem4

     

    JP, have you heard anything about either new? AXPW "maintenance research" related to the Penn State research or maintenance policies that have been discussed with ePower?

     

    Anyone have an idea of whether the research is

     

    1) "public domain" or

     

    2) since it has been published clear enough to let AXPW run with the "strategy" without any payment/license, or

     

    3) whether AXPW was directly involved with the research?

     

    FOIA candidate?

     

    Situation is another example of AXPW possibly wanting to control the situation ... as not specifying maintenance "protocols" could lead to bad press that competitors might try to exploit. It would seem to be in both AXPW and ePower's best interests to get this right and make it part of the purchase contract if possible.

     

    My guess is that at the least the first 10 trucks will be sold with provisions regarding data analysis (and who owns that data) which involves both wireless acquisition as well as periodic scheduled physical "touch."
    22 Jul 2013, 11:20 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » The Penn State research has absolutely no relevance to the PbC because it's focused on extending the service life of VRLA batteries that have lead-based negative electrodes. Without lead based negative electrodes, sulfation is a non-issue.

     

    While Ed Buiel has commented in the past about the possibility of a refresher charge after a PbC has been in use for a few years, ePower hasn't seen anything to indicate that recurring battery maintenance will be required.

     

    ePower and Axion are working diligently to get more and better real time battery performance data to Axion. As additional information is developed, I'm sure both parties will promptly adjust to the facts.

     

    The primary purpose of the ten truck fleet will be to establish the reliability of the fully integrated system under real world operating conditions. Since ePower plans to build the trucks with its own funds and lease them to users instead of selling them, there should be no question of data retrieval and ownership.

     

    Until the PbC starts to exhibit problematic behavior the only thing anybody can do is watch, study and wait for more data.
    22 Jul 2013, 11:44 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (17739) | Send Message
     
    I especially like the current gains at the 75K GVW loading. That sets a lower "gains" range in what appears to be a 20%-25% range, figuring that a conventional set-up at that GVW would not normally get 6.5 MPG, but more likely in the 5-5.5 MPG range, tops with careful application of the throttle and gear selection over a mixed conditions course.

     

    Unfortunately, aerodynamic drag, regardless of weight, probably sets an upper bound on the gains, sans aero mods, for what seems to be a good portion of the ePower potential customers' routes, well under what would be seen in an environment with a bias towards utilizing the PbC more frequently. Not saying it won't be worth it.

     

    It's a good thing and good work by all, IMO.

     

    HardToLove
    22 Jul 2013, 07:38 AM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    John, I'm curious about the fuel consumption figure for the intended six-cylinder engine-- 6.8 gallons per hour at 1,800 RPM... do you know, is that stated for the full 240Hp output, or at some lesser load?
    22 Jul 2013, 07:51 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » If I understand what Jay said correctly, that's the fuel consumption for steady state operations at optimal torque. In any event, it's a little more power than the generator can use.
    22 Jul 2013, 10:11 AM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    Thanks John, that is a happy fact. Is there a comparable number known for the J. Deere engine? Would be interesting to know the delta. (though I think I understand it would be a bit of apples/oranges comparison because it sounds like the JD engine spends a lot of its time pushing max output)...
    22 Jul 2013, 05:52 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I think the steady state fuel consumption for the John Deere engine is right in the same range. Remember, the Deere is an old genset design while the Cummins is a state of the art high efficiency road engine.
    22 Jul 2013, 05:56 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    Ah, an even happier fact... Though I do see one intriguing wrinkle:

     

    A road engine is EPA approved, but is normally designed to operate over a range of speeds, loads etc.... so the power and torque bands are massaged to yield better driving characteristics..

     

    while,

     

    A stationary engine is (I would think) specifically designed to operate at mostly a fixed speed, varying its torque to drive a generator (or something else such as a centrifugal pump, say) *but* is not normally EPA-road compliant...

     

    So I wonder, even with the cummins being a state of the art road engine, it *may* not be quite fully optimized for fixed-speed use, ie driving a generator its whole life. So perhaps there is a product gap in cummins' lineup, one that will be felt more and more in the future, if the serial hybrid concept really takes off:

     

    Sounds like cummins may at some point want to develop a EPA road-certified engine that *is* specifically designed to drive a genset at a fixed rpm sweetspot for the bulk of its life. IE, an engine specifically purpose-designed for serial-hybrid road applications. If the market for such were to develop. Might be able to wring even a few more percentage points of fuel savings out of such a design...

     

    But of course, as iindelco has noted about various other neat ideas, that would be one "for the future" ... ;)

     

    DTG: 1526 22JUL2013
    22 Jul 2013, 09:41 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » For now let's work with the cards in the deck and dream about new wildcards if, as and when they're developed. More horsepower, less weight and comparable hourly fuel consumption is a darned good starting point.
    22 Jul 2013, 09:58 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    yep. I was just, uh, taking out the old cowbell for a spin and really trying to explore the space...I figure it's always good to have a long-term vision. Once the short term vision is seen to that is...
    But roger--- for now, less cowbell.
    22 Jul 2013, 11:04 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    It occurs to me John, perhaps a late realization, that when you're just a ticket-holding guy in the stands, it's a lot easier to call for and cheer on all kinds of great things to happen out on the field. Enthusiasm and encouragement (and advice) come cheap and unbridled when you're not the guy who actually has to make those things happen. But when you're the guy who has to do some of the heavy lifting, slice his precious time up, make the sticky prioritizations, and expend the calories, well it's a whole different point of view. And now you're one of the guys who is charged with exactly that and more. It's a role change and one that I just didn't think enough about. Your ePower plate must be gloriously full...lots to plan, execute, and all on a full timeline. So yeah I guess it must seem a little silly to get all these nice-to-think-about questions and suggestions about what you should do, about a more perfect engine, or this or that other neato optimization that you really should think about, when you're already working with a *great* engine, are on a solid path forward, and have so much actual execution to do--myriad nuts and bolts issues all to be worked out and implemented, all requiring energy to make happen, your energy.

     

    So a tip of the hat to the man in the arena. FWIW. If the critic may not matter, the fans always like to think maybe they matter a little more. But not much. ;)

     

    DTG 1042 PDT 23JUL2013
    23 Jul 2013, 04:10 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I expect to be a very busy boy for a while, and am really looking forward to it.
    23 Jul 2013, 04:16 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
     
    Most fans long at some point to be able to take just a few swings in the arena themselves, even if their contributions would be meager....so that said if any elbow grease, eyeball grease, or pencil grease from my timezone (in which I am fettered) can ever be of any use at all in the fight...will be ever standing by to help.

     

    DTG 1352 PDT 23JUL2013
    23 Jul 2013, 09:38 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Many thanks for the offer 481086. It's hard to tell what my needs may be but if I need help in areas where I think one or more Axionistas can be helpful I will ask.
    23 Jul 2013, 09:57 PM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2597) | Send Message
     
    John,

     

    This appears to be a good opening article from your ePower visit.
    With hopefully many more to follow. Why not adapt some of it for the ePower website?
    22 Jul 2013, 11:57 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Enough with the website. I have discussed that issue with my client and it's on our to do list. It's just not at the top of our to do list.
    22 Jul 2013, 12:13 PM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4538) | Send Message
     
    >JP ... Thank for that. I agree. A website isn't even needed for marketing and that is really all it is good for at ePower's stage of development. Product is what counts.
    22 Jul 2013, 12:35 PM Reply Like
  • mrholty
    , contributor
    Comments (953) | Send Message
     
    John-

     

    Why is the DOE Supertruck program current less than the current for all the weights above. Is the DOE Supertruck program using an average of the entire nationwide fleet at max weight?

     

    Just eyeballing the amounts in the graphs. These increases look like between 20-30% improvements.
    25lbs @ 55mph - 13.75mpg to 16.25 mpg - 18% improvement
    65lbs @ 55mph - 7mpg to 9 mpg - 29% improvement.

     

    Do I have the scale correct?
    22 Jul 2013, 11:58 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Finding useful statistics on fuel use in trucking is extremely difficult and you often find yourself comparing apples to oranges. The current national average across all weight classes is somewhere between 5.4 and 5.75 mpg. The Supertruck goal is a 30% improvement by 2018. It looks like ePower can already put those numbers to shame.

     

    In May of this year NREL published a detailed report on the performance of the Eaton hybrid system in trucks owned by Coca Cola. The testing involved 33.500 pound GVWs in Miami where the Hybrid got 7.55 mpg on a composite city-suburban duty cycle.

     

    http://1.usa.gov/PYKQYX

     

    I still haven't digested the entire report, but it sure looks like ePower stands head and shoulders above the crowd.
    22 Jul 2013, 12:22 PM Reply Like
  • AlbertinBermuda
    , contributor
    Comments (712) | Send Message
     
    JP all this news re epower is very exciting.

     

    I understand the epower strategy but am wondering how much effort will have to go into the kit creation step. Do they envision the kits being assembled at the epower factory/warehouse and then being shipped complete to the client? Or are certain components being assembled and then sent to the client with the Cummins engine to follow direct from Cummins? Just thinking of the logistics involved.

     

    Similarily will the client engineers/mechanics be trained at epower or at the clients shop? Or will the client just have a video how to presentation or just a manual?

     

    Also are there significant enough differences between the various makes of class 8 trucks such that each will require its own training program?
    22 Jul 2013, 01:19 PM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2597) | Send Message
     
    Found a couple interesting tidbits in that report:

     

    Batteries

     

    "The Eaton system uses lithium-ion batteries supplied by Hitachi for energy storage. These batteries have a capacity of 1.8 kWh and operate at a nominal voltage of 340 VDC. These batteries were not available to NREL during the evaluation period for detailed evaluation. The batteries are included in the power electronics carrier located on the driver’s side of the chassis just behind the cab. No battery failure or a cell failure was reported by Eaton or CCR during the study. The service life of the battery is estimated by Eaton at more than 7 years."

     

    Would a 1.8 kwh lithium ion battery compare to 3 - .5 kwh PbC batteries?
    22 Jul 2013, 04:07 PM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2597) | Send Message
     
    "Idle Time Evaluation
    Table 14 shows details of the study groups’ idle time behavior obtained through periodic ECM image downloads during the study. The hybrid group had nearly half as much idle time as the diesel group. The hybrids still consumed 9% of their fuel while idling, and the diesel group consumed 16% of their fuel idling. Substantial fuel savings are still available to both fleets through further idle reduction techniques. CCR started addressing the idle time issue by beginning to train its 11,000 drivers with a new “smartdriver” training course in December 2010. This course covered not only idle reduction, but managing momentum driving techniques to save fuel as well. The effectiveness of this training was not evaluated in this study as the study location did not receive this training until May 2011"

     

    Interesting numbers on idle reduction. Hybrids still burning 9% of fuel while idling and diesel burning 16% of fuel while idling.
    22 Jul 2013, 04:10 PM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2597) | Send Message
     
    Let me rephrase the battery question. Could a bank of PbCs fulfill the need of this application?
    22 Jul 2013, 04:14 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    John, I'm pretty sure you addressed this before but your answer escapes me. I do like the thought of using the PbC battery string in some manner to function as an energy storage device in support of hotel loads. Like in grid support offering multiple support functions from your energy storage can be seen as a significant advantage. Any possibility of this being somewhere down lower on the "To Do" list? It's an darn good perk if you ask me. Can't think of any drawbacks other than battery warranty to be negotiated and perhaps some aspect of how it impacts other possible relationships that Axion Power might be working on.

     

    Sorry if this is redundant to a prior discussion. Nice to have it addressed in this blog anyway I guess.
    22 Jul 2013, 01:10 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » ePower believes its configuration can simply use the PbC array to carry hotel loads instead of an APU, but for now it's primary focus is on optimizing the drivetrain and control electronics. So the answer is "yes but not yet."
    22 Jul 2013, 04:23 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    Thanks John. I'm glad it's on the desert menu. It'll be another great selling point.

     

    These are the types of things I like to spend a little time thinking about up front even though they are for down the road. Often simple things can be done early on that make integration down the road easier. Doesn't require significant effort to do a little early planning. Just like building a house without certain adders but having the footprint, structure and utilities to add it when its time comes.
    22 Jul 2013, 04:34 PM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2597) | Send Message
     
    John,

     

    I guess that kind of goes to my question as well. To make sure that I am clear, does ePower believe that their system could work for start/stop, APU (while at a rest stop), and optimizing drivetrain and control electronics?
    22 Jul 2013, 05:16 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » ePower's system is designed to opportunistically use power from the generator to recharge the batteries whenever that power isn't needed for the drive motor. So while most engines don't do anything worthwhile when a vehicle is stopped at a light, ePower's engine is busily bringing the batteries back up to an optimal state of charge.

     

    In the unusual scenario where the batteries are fully charged and ready to go when the ePower truck pulls up to a light it might make sense to turn the engine off, but that level of control sophistication does not presently exist and is probably a long way off.
    22 Jul 2013, 05:42 PM Reply Like
  • obieephyhm
    , contributor
    Comments (1588) | Send Message
     
    Alright. I ain't as smart as the rest of you fellers . . . . but this is the way this northwoods country boy sees it -- and, yes, I have skin in the game (I actually hate that phrase) and I'm following Valleywood and trying to do some self-serving 'nibbling' to get more.

     

    I get the science. I get the advantage. I get there are three possible paths for 'success' but that none of them is likely to make a significant impact until late 2013 -- and very probably not until sometime late in 2014. Which means I get more nibble-time, which is fine.

     

    The only significant risk that this tiny-little-brain sees is this:
    are there ANY other players on or near the field that can raise some significant tech and marketing advantage over that 1-2 years of AXPW needs to get one -- just ONE -- path working.

     

    Then the second risk is the same as the first -- IF there isn't anything else for BMW and NS to use that delivers the goods they need -- then once the testing is done, then its just a matter of getting the supply-chain secured (not to minimize the difficulty in doing that, as if it were a trivial thing). BUT, if there's any other players that can or do come along, then the work becomes much, much harder and the path less clear.

     

    Otherwise, to me, this is just a matter of being patient.

     

    Or am I just being stupid in public, again . . .
    22 Jul 2013, 04:00 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » That question is more appropriate to the Concentrator than this Instablog.
    22 Jul 2013, 04:25 PM Reply Like
  • obieephyhm
    , contributor
    Comments (1588) | Send Message
     
    I apologize, John. Sorry.
    22 Jul 2013, 06:42 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    Obieephyhm, You may wish to copy and re-post this on the Axion concentrator.

     

    http://seekingalpha.co...
    22 Jul 2013, 04:08 PM Reply Like
  • obieephyhm
    , contributor
    Comments (1588) | Send Message
     
    uhm, I feel bad that I did something wrong so I'll just go away . . .
    22 Jul 2013, 06:44 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Don't feel bad because it happens to the best of us. I just try to keep my Instablog comment streams on topic so that important points don't get lost in the free-for-all atmosphere of the Concentrators.
    22 Jul 2013, 06:52 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    Obieephyhm, Your question is perfectly good but it would be better answered and shared in the other blog where the focus is Axion and energy storage/apps. My point as well. Don't go away! :-)
    22 Jul 2013, 07:04 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Tom Konrad just asked for permission to reprint this Instablog on Altenergystocks and being an accommodating kind of guy I said sure.
    22 Jul 2013, 04:33 PM Reply Like
  • User432382
    , contributor
    Comments (81) | Send Message
     
    John,

     

    I noticed the DOE Supertruck program uses other improvements such as aerodynamic modifications, low rolling resistance tires, etc. to achieve their mpg improvement estimates. Does Epower use any such improvements in your graph's fuel economy estimates? If not, could those improvements be easily added to the Epower truck and increase mpg even more?

     

    I feel the DOE Supertruck estimates in your graph may have an unfair advantage over Epower if they can include these other improvements while Epower does not.
    22 Jul 2013, 09:00 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » ePower is exclusively focused on drivetrain efficiency and other technologies like aerodynamic modifications and low resistance tires will only make the tractor more efficient.
    22 Jul 2013, 09:06 PM Reply Like
  • greentongue
    , contributor
    Comments (803) | Send Message
     
    Not only NOT "Supertrucks" but, using old refurbished trucks and still beating the goal.
    I think their concept can be applied to a lot of power systems, with favorable outcome.
    22 Jul 2013, 09:43 PM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4538) | Send Message
     
    >User432382 ... I can't answer what ePower would kit but buying a "glider" (a truck, body & frame with no drivetrain) with all the SuperTruck aerodynamics would be a candidate.
    22 Jul 2013, 09:05 PM Reply Like
  • siliconhillbilly
    , contributor
    Comments (2139) | Send Message
     
    Just a thought on the APU for hotel loads; there is an obvious immediate question of whether to use the entire string voltage (250-300V from memory) and convert it down to 12/24/36VDC, OR just tap the appropriate number of batteries at the bottom of a string for the DC. The first solution doesn't unbalance the string, but does requires noticeable $$ for the voltage down converter.

     

    But then again, the hotel loads could be split between lower voltage DC and 120VAC for the heat pump (cooler and heater.)

     

    Not so simple after all.
    24 Jul 2013, 01:14 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I think it's safe to say ePower will cross that bridge when it comes to it. For now, there are bigger fish to fry like the six cylinder conversion and refining the control electronics.
    24 Jul 2013, 04:09 AM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (9266) | Send Message
     
    SiHB, Maybe a big ole manual knife switch that when closed completes the 56 battery string (672 VDC?) or when open breaks them up into gangs of 4 to each set (48VDC?). Then add a relay box that puts all 14 - four battery groups in parallel and connects them to the new circuit. Crude but simple. Need to think about the wire lengths on the big stuff though. Maybe a manual switch on each side of the trailer?

     

    Better monitor that and make sure everything opens and closes appropriately and in sequence! :)
    24 Jul 2013, 08:06 AM Reply Like
  • ARGE
    , contributor
    Comments (719) | Send Message
     
    If the new 6C engine get 6.8 MGP at 1800rpm, isn't that the max the Epower truck can get, unless they tune it down?
    24 Jul 2013, 07:44 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Not necessarily. ePower is the first company to run a a diesel engine generator and a drive motor in series with a battery string. In work with the four banger, they've consistently gotten better fuel burn rates than John Deere specifications. It's not a massive increment, but it is important. Jay thinks the incremental economy may arise because the batteries buffer and smooth load changes on both the generator and the drive motor, but until the results are duplicated with another engine it's only a theory.
    24 Jul 2013, 08:08 PM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (4102) | Send Message
     
    If recovery of kinetic energy on braking is in the mix, one might expect mpg to exceed that obtained without the energy recovery where the route involves stops and starts. Using the recovered energy to charge the battery pack should be a bit like adding a little bit of diesel to the 6 cyl's fuel tank.
    24 Jul 2013, 08:41 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » The observed effect is that the four banger uses about one gph less fuel than John Deere says it should use. Instead of speculating from a position of ignorance, I'll let the engineers explain it to me and then I'll share what I can.
    24 Jul 2013, 09:08 PM Reply Like
  • greentongue
    , contributor
    Comments (803) | Send Message
     
    Not 6.8 MGP, 6.8 GPH at full rated load I believe.
    24 Jul 2013, 08:14 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30001) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Good catch. It's been a long day and i missed the error.
    24 Jul 2013, 08:37 PM Reply Like
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers

StockTalks

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.