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Frank Zeman PhD Energy Management NYIT at NYIT campus

March 18, 2011 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Sustainability at NYIT was introduced by John Eff an adjunct professor at the school and a long term LIMBA member.


The subject was the promise of the Plug-in Hybrid. The expectations for this technology were quite high. After a careful study of the technology in real world experience, it fell short of the mark by a lot. It was expected that the Plug-in Hybrid might yield the equivalent of 190 miles per gallon. The testing indicated that this promising technology did only marginally better than a Prius or other hybrids.


After being shown various charts and performance graphs, the audience was prepared to ask questions. The topic, though technical at times, was very well presented by Dr. Zeman. The audience asked, "Why weren’t the mileage goals realized?" Frank stated that there are probably a host of reasons.

Among those reasons were; the weight of the heavy battery, and the lack of optimum driver training. In other words the vehicles were driven in a way that would not maximize gas mileage.


There were other problems too; They went into this thinking the most charging would take place at night, when there would be surplus power on the grid. It turns out that there was little difference between nighttime and daytime charging.


Patent attorney, Chris Garvey, suggested that a high-speed flywheel weighing only 55lbs could replace most of the 1000 lb battery. The flywheel would store an enormous amount of energy and unlike the braking recharging that takes place in a Prius at 35%, the flywheel would capture close to 100%. The feasibility of that was discussed in terms of negative effects that may be transferred to the vehicle, such as the gyroscope effect.


The consensus was that better answers to high mileage vehicles lies in the engineering of lighter but stronger body materials, and lighter more powerful batteries. Are we there yet? No, but we’re workin’ on it. The message of today’s presentation is that science needs to be tried and tested again and again. Or, in the words of Thomas Edison, "My success is the result of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration"— Amen