Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Long drive in our Chevy Volt to RIT and western NY

I had to take a long drive recently in our Chevy Volt and wanted to document the trip and some of the mileage I got during the trip.

The trip was from our area of SE Pennsylvania to Lockport NY with a stop-over in Rochester, NY.

The first day was to Rochester, NY.  The route was mostly highway at 65mph.

Here is the mileage breakdown:
1)  First 30 miles were electric.  I then switched to Mountain Mode for the highway portion.
2)  Next 267 miles were using gasoline at 41.45 mpg
3)  Last 17 miles were electric.
Total electric miles were 47.1 based on the 12.5 kWh charge the night before the trip.
The temperature was about 60*F and this is near the optimial temperature for the Volt mileage but it was raining slightly and I had my headlights on for a couple hours during the trip.

I stopped to charge for an hour at RIT, where I graduated from the college of applied science and technology (1986). The school has four Schneider L2 charger ports available for students and faculty of the Galisano Institute of Sustainability (GIS).  These are good, lower-cost, L2 stations.  They don't utilize a "network" and perhaps cost the college less than going with larger-scale stations.  I would like to see some 120V plugs positioned for students or other EV drivers.  I have to wonder if other students or faculty outside the GIS could have charging stations available to them.

The next morning, I went back to RIT to finish the charge in preparation for the day.    The moon was setting to the west over the GIS building.  Note the solar modules on the roof and the vertical wind turbines to the North of the building.  I suspect these turbines will do nothing more than be an interesting sculpture for the building.  These items do not produce much energy and since the building is so close to them, they will be blocked from any southerly-oriented wind.  By 9:30am, two other volts had arrived and my charge had completed so off I went.

At 9:30am, the charge completed and I headed west to Lockport, NY. I also chose to use Mountain Mode while driving to Lockport. I did not use Mountain Mode from Lockport back to Pennsylvania, however.  Notice that I now only got 38.7 miles on this charge.  It was due to colder air temperatures during the overnight period and the drive west was into the wind and under 48*F.

Here is the mileage breakdown:
1) First 24 miles were electric. I then switched to Mountain Mode for portion into Lockport.
2) After leaving Lockport, I stayed in Normal mode and used the remaining 14.7 miles.
3)  I arrived home after 405 total miles using 8.55 gallons.The gasoline portion was 42.85 mpg. 

The interesting thing was that this was a SE driving direction and I drove slightly faster than the way north.  The weather was better during the drive and it was primarily during the daylight hours with temperatures in the high 60s and sunny.

The EPA estimates for the Chevy Volt are:
  • 35 miles per charge
  • 38 mpg when driving on gasoline
The Volt has done well to surpass my mileage expectations.  It's too bad that GM does not publish the findings that most drivers surpass the EPA mileage in warmer weather.  I think the EPA estimates blend in winter driving which is lower than I experienced during this trip.

Now, I do want to address my notes above about the RIT Galisano Institute of Sustainability.  In fact, there is a small chance that someone high-up at RIT may read this and I thought I'd share.  My feeling is that the GIS should be teaching not only the technical challenges of sustainability but also the multi-faceted cultural aspects of sustainability.  Those include:
  • conservation and lots of it.
  • sustainability outreach to children in the grade and high school levels including annual or semi-annual presentations at RIT.
  • political challenges of sustainability.
  • self-imposed limited birth choices of families in developing countries, cultures and religions.
  • outreach to religious leaders who subscribe to high birth rates and their desire to overtake other religions of the earth.  This is called "competitive procreation" and is well underway in some cultures and religions.
  • outreach to areas of Asia who would like their share of the world resources and who would like to repeat the decades of cheap energy and growth that the USA had experienced in the last 50 years.
Sustainability cannot be imposed through political angles without polarization of nations.  It can only be found through family leadership, religious leadership and cultural peer allowances.  Some of us "white and nerdy" guys buying electric cars and solar pv systems are not going to create a sustainable planet.  People want fun, people want things, people are self-serving.  People enjoy their "bread and circuses" and are not living as do the Amish with a down-to-earth lifestyle which indeed is sustainable.
Sustainability will not happen without deep and lasting cultural and societal change.  It will have to come from the highest spiritual leaders - because in fact, sustainability of this planet is truly a spiritual challenge to grasp.  This planet is a school for all of us and it must be maintained for the next 10,000 generations to come. 

If I can work it out - someday, I may return to RIT to attempt a Masters' degree in Sustainability.  However, I don't want to learn how to make a better bio-fuel.  I want to find a way to reach out to "those who won't listen" and make a deeper societal impact.  We have a dillusion of endless growth (1) in our world culture.  We must be able to see downturns in economies without society falling apart.  I have a saying that may be useful to anyone who wishes to share it:

An economy which requires continued growth in order to survive will eventually do neither.

As they say - GLTA - Good Luck To All. Time will tell if we are or are not just "A virus with shoes".

PS - my son starts his college life at RIT this coming September.  I think he'll enjoy his time there.

(1) quote by Richard Heinberg