Archive for the 'Tree-Hugging Hippy Crap' Category

Diesel Do

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

So having had the emmissions-test cheat mode removed from my car, I was interested to see on BBC Watchdog (everyone’s favourite combination of fuckwits and whingers) that there seems to be a growing number of complaints following the “service action”.

It seems the complaints centre around limp-home mode getting triggered, and it seems that the EGR valve has been a common failure. It does seem that logically, the EGR may be more active post-fix in order to reduce NOx at the expense of more particulates and reduced power/economy.

The Watchdog article fairly obviously prompted this letter from VW:

Page one of the VW “all is well” letter. Click to embiggen.

Page two of the VW “all is well” letter. Click to embiggen. Note in section 3, bullet point 5.

And there’s something interesting in section 3, bullet point 5 that gives VW a potential get-out. On page 1, they’re saying that they’ll be favourable to clains for 2 years/up to 160K miles, but then say that they won’t cover a DFP full of ash. There’s scant infornmation about what the VW fix does apart from removing the rolling road detection, but consensus seems to be that is alters injection quantity, pattern, and timing, and tweaks EGR. All of these could have an effect on the particulates produced.

Now, since Euro V, we’re not allowed to pump those particulates out to atmosphere (boo hiss!):

So the particulates have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is the DPF. DPFs obviously can get full of soot, and they then need to be regenerated. This can happen passively (if it gets hot enough), or can be triggered by the engine ECU injecting fuel on an exhaust stroke, so that it burns in the DPF. This turns the soot to ash- the ash that VW won’t replace your DPF for if it’s full of it. Which is interesting: you can’t get something for nothing, and the reduced NOx emissions comes (apparently) at a cost of more particulates, which means more DPF regens, and therefore more ash, so a shorter DPF life.

I don’t know what to make of this, to be honest. My own VW seems have economy and performance unchanged, and doesn’t seem to be doing active regenerations often, but you don’t miraculously lose the NOx without paying for it somewhere. I suppose EGR and DPF life remains to be seen. I’d really like to see a full analysis/reverse engineering of the remapped ECU (because, on the 2L engine, that’s all that happens).

This is interesting in the light of news recently that the sale of conventional diesel & petrol cars is to be outlawed by 2040. I think that’s a bit of a non-story: we’re already in the twilight of internal combustion cars: both petrol and diesel cars are now loaded with lots of controls and mechanisms not to increase efficiency or power, but to limit harmful emissions, and even with those they pollute our environment in a way that is impossible to contain. Electric cars will still pollute, of course, (and will still congest the roads), but the internal combustion engine is on it’s way out, inevitably. We’ll still have IC cars on the road by 2040 (and assuming I make it, I’ll be a pensioner), but they’ll be diminishing in quantity.

School of Hard NOx

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Oh dear, VAG seem to have cocked up, huh?

The fact that the EPA in the US caught them gaming the system with emission testing is interesting, and given that they face a huge fine, and the CEO Martin Winterkorn, having recently ousted Ferdinand Piech from his role, has now resigned.

I’m more interested in the tech. Simplified, it all hinges on EGR. It’s a common trick to disable EGR in a tuned diesel- in many ways it’s a huge pain in the arse, reducing efficiency, and therefore power and economy, and being prone to clogging up intakes, so with an EGR delete, your diesel will do better MPG, perform better, and not get so claggy. Also, as a diesel runs with excess air, if you don’t run EGR, you produce less particulates (soot), which is good.

The disadvantage comes with NOx production. No EGR means more NOx, which is one form of pollution generated by internal combustion engines, with health and environmental impact. This, and other pollutants, are regulated by EU Directives in Europe, and the EPA in the states, and cars that do not meet the standards cannot be sold new.

So, there’s a balancing act: try to keep particulates down, power and MPG up, but don’t create too much NOx.

Some diesels do this with AdBlue, but VAG have claimed to be able to meet the latest standards without the extra complication, cost, and space of the kit needed to inject it, managing with just a DPF. Nice trick.

Trick would seem to be the operative word, and you have to admire it. We’ve seen how networked cars are now, and that meant a clever algorithm was able to detect when the car was on a rolling-road being emmission-tested, and crank up the EGR, lovering the NOx output. On the road, EGR is reduced, so up goes the power and MPG. WIN!

How the conversation at Wolfsburg may have gone. From CommitStrip, click for original.

How the conversation at Wolfsburg may have gone. From CommitStrip, click for original.

Trouble is, that’s specifically not allowed by the EPA (PDF, 2.35MB), leaving VAG with a big headache stateside.

This does set me thinking if the diesel car boom could be ending: in particular, the UK’s CO-based taxation favours diesels, but as the amount of emissions gear required to meet the regulatory standards increases, the performance of the engines comes down and the complexity increases, and so therefore does cost. In one way, VAG’s (rather elegant) trick was actually good for the consumer, reducing costs and increasing performance, while seeming to meet all required standards. In another, it’s a cynical attempt to evade emissions law, risk public health, and increase profit. For sure, the fix is going to be painful for both VAG and its customers in the US: it remains to be seen if they have a problem in Europe too.

The Working Day (and place)

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I touched on this some time ago, but it’s time for a revisit.

Why does so much of the world involve 9-5ish business hours, and going to an office to do so?

What first set me thinking on this was tonights commute home. 43 minutes end-to-end, steady speed (so less emmissions and more MPG), and less stress. This is (roughly) 75% of the average lately, and the difference was that I had to change a router after business hours (after a failed attempt a couple of weeks ago), so left work just after 6pm, rather than the 4:30/5:30 rush hour.

Sadly, I don’t have the opportunity to work (say) 7:30 or 8:00-18:00 every day, aviod the traffic, and take a day off a week. That would do good things for me and the environment, but my employer, like many, wants me at my desk during the day.

If we’re talking about being at your desk during working hours, why in fact be there at all? I’m a network monkey: I support networks, servers, telephony etc etc. I could do 80-90% of my work from where I’m sat now with an IP Softphone (or a mobile) and VPN. I could conceivably only go to the office 1-2 days a week.

Even for meetings there’s plenty of products that can reduce or eliminate the need for people to travel to meet: If you have a national coverage, that can save a wedge. The Webex product is robust enough to do product demos over, and as a support tool for us techies it’s incredible. For one supplier I use, the account manager works at home several days a week, and I cannot tell if she is there or in the office: the phone seamlesly re-routes. An educational establishment I know of in the Black Country uses mobiles with wi-fi connectivity and SIP together with Asterix and makes the user’s internal extension appear seamlessly on their phone if they are at work, home, or anywhere in between and saves a truckload of cash in the process. I’ve done system upgrades sat on my sofa with a beer; Lee H-W has done his (techie) job from a campsite during the Gloucestershire floods.

So then: in our connected world, with all the enabling tech we have, why does the rush hour persist, at least for those of us office-based?

Will rising traffic levels and environmental concerns see this pattern end?


Nationalise the lot?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Well then, the private sector triumphs again eh?

National Express, the same people that have a near monopoly on buses in the West Midlands, have pulled out of running the East Coast Main Line, as they’re not prying enough money from passengers, and the passengers aren’t happy either. Ticket prices are high, the service is poor.

So then: a question. Do you favour privatisation? Does the private sector improve efficiency, or merely ensure someone gets very rich? Can the public sector manage things effectively? Should the following be publicly or privately owned?

* Healthcare

* Roads

* Public Transport

* Energy supply

* Anything else?

I’ll go on record: I think the private sector just creams off the profits and runs away when things get hard, and I think all of the above should be in public ownership with profits ploughed back in to keeping costs down and service good where the service has a potential to make profit. I think public transport should be run as an essential service, not as a way to make money. Maybe that’s a bit utopian.


New roads and the envvironment

Friday, April 17th, 2009

The journey to and from Bournemouth wasn’t bad: M6T/M42/M40/A34/M3/M27 for most of it. A striking change from the past: the Newbury Bypass makes the drive that way immeasurably better, and I’d imagine that living in Newbury is a whole lot more pleasant now that it’s not smack in the middle of the A34, choked by traffic. Of course, getting rid of the tedious middle-class waster tosspot Swampy will have helped too.

Starting Smoking

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I recently read on a car forum that people with diesel cars have noticed a slight drop in fuel economy of late: So had I, and asking MarkyB (who drives quite a few miles a year), we both reckon we’ve noticed a drop very recently too. Added to this, the Fabia seems a little smokier (booting it away the other day produced a little visible smoke behind), and I’m wondering if this is due to the small percentage of biodiesel that’s allowed now? Normally the warmer weather and fuel without anti-waxing additive would give slightly lower consumption. Also, following a recent Focus TDCI tonight, it seemed a bit smoky, and the Ford TDCI is actually a worthwhile engine, unlike it’s older efforts.

Catching The Worm

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

My, that sounds like a euphemism for a unpleasant practice, doesn’t it?

However, I’m merely referring to the old proverb. Yesterday we went to work early: work by whatever MEB call themselves these days necessitated a bit of remote admin on Saturday to shut off some stuff (reducing the UPS load), and an early start to make sure all was well.

So, we left home at 6:20, took 30 min lunch, and left at 2:30. The net result? We saved about 20 minutes on the journey in, about 15 on the journey out, used less fuel, and had lots of time in the evening. All by going out 1 hour earlier and by taking a lunch break no longer than we needed.

My point? Dunno. But I do much prefer early start-early finish. I hate travelling in rush hour, and it seems so crazy that we all do it each day because that’s how it’s been done. I’m not the only one to think so. The technology is there to allow a lot of people to perform at least some of their job at home- so why damage the environment and frustrate ourselves travelling to sit in an office, especially all doing it at the same time?

Good sense at Last?

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

It’s some time since I ranted, and now there are calls to ban patio heaters, and remove standby from TVs. This makes good sense: while that standby mode of a good, modern TV doesn’t use a bit of power, fitting a proper, hard-wired off switch is a good idea that has little downside. As for the heaters? Calor (who just happen to make the gas that fuels them!) say the effect is minimal.

Right. Pumping several kW straight into the atmosphere for no purpose but to warm up people too lazy to wear a coat? At least the energy wastage from the TV is only a few watts. The patio heater hits things twice too: It heats the atmosphere directly, and produces unwanted emissions and wastes petroleum-based fuel doing so. If you must heat your garden, buy a Chimenea and burn some waste in it- still not good, but better.

The emissions (in carbon terms) from patio heaters probably isn’t that high, but what an utter waste. Like shops with the heating on and the doors wide open, or heated shops with open freezers. Bet that uses more than we’ll save with CFL lights…

Why Bother?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

As any local residents will know, Walsall Council operate a kerbside recycling scheme. This means that they give you a green plastic box, and you put recycleables in it, and they collect and recycle them, saving on the amount of waste going in landfill and helping the council meet it’s targets.

Now without notifying anyone, the rules have changed: You could leave out additional containers, and you could recycle foil, for example. However, on the last few occasions, any foil we’ve left, and anything in additional bags has been left.

Needless to say, what got left went straight in the bin, with a loud ‘well bollocks to that then’.

Surely the idea is to maximise what is recycled? Hardly making it easy, is it?

It doesn’t help that the council’s own website contains conflicting advice. Here’s two pages retrieved tonight that show different lists of items that can be recycled.

Recycle1 (PDF)
Recycle2 (PDF)