Sunday, February 14, 2010

JJNN: Electric Bus

Everyone is trying to be more ecologically sound lately. That is a good thing. The more we get used to doing things that are good for the planet the the easier it will be for us to live here. That means doing things like recycling is a good thing even though recycling technology is not to the point where it does anything good for the environment, it will get that some day so we should get used to recycling. Another way to help is to walk, ride bikes or use mass transportation. Any little thing helps.

Any way, the reason I am talking about the environment is this article which I found a couple of days ago. It seems that a city in Japan called Toyama decided to try out electric buses in their mass transit system. Starting from today (valentine's romantic) Toyama city will be using 6 electric busses. This is only a trial so they will only be using them for a month. You can see the ceremony for the busses below.

That is a good thing. If you think about it, all that CO2 that would normally be produced by the gas burning busses is not produced. But, wait... There is still a production of CO2, it is just not at the bus. The buses are charged every night just like any other piece of electrical equipment that runs on a battery. If the power plant that produces the power for the electric buses also produces CO2 than the busses really can not be called zero emission vehicles.

After a little looking, I found that the electricity for Toyama city is produced by the power company Hokuriku Denryoku. Hokuriku Denryoku produces a totally of 8.11 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Out of that 4.4 million kilowatt hours is produced at a power plant that burns coal to produce the electricity. It is close enough to half to say that it is half. I could not find the stats for the busses themselves, but I did find the stats for a similar bus used in America so I will use that. The bus runs at 120kW. Let's say that the busses run for 8 hours a day, that is a total usage of 960kWh. Half of that (or 480kWh) is from coal power. According to this study, a coal power plant produces about 2 pounds of CO2 per kWh or a total of 960 pounds of CO2 per bus per day. For 6 buses that is a total of 5760 pounds of CO2 per day.

That seems like a lot, but how much CO2 do gas burning busses release? According to the article the electric busses produce 30 to 40 percent less CO2 than normal diesel busses. Also, the production of NOx is less for power plants than for bus engines. All very good things.

The point that I wanted to make with this article was the fact that there is really no such thing as a no emission vehicle at the present time. Well, that is if you don't count bikes and the Flinstone's car. There is also the possibility of a car that is hooked up to solar panels or the like, but the efficiency and usability is not there at the moment. Maybe some day.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 電気(でんき). It is pronounced denki and it means electricity. I always try to save electricity, but on cold days it is hard to live without my electric heater on full blast.

See you next time at JJNN

No comments:

Post a Comment